Friday, April 8, 2011

Guest post: John G. Hartness

John G. Hartness is another indie author working hard to succeed in the new era of self-publishing ebooks. He's contributing a Black Knight Chronicles short story to the Twelve Worlds anthology coming soon. We recently traded excerpts of our novels and it's been working quite well. Here's what he has to say about it.

Writers of the world untie! (or how a simple idea led to some nice sales for everybody)

I blame David McAfee. Let’s face it, blaming the horror writer is always pretty easy, but in this case it’s also fairly accurate. A few months ago, I saw a post from David on KindleBoards mentioning that he was going to put excerpts from a few other indie authors in the back of the new version of one of his novels that he was uploading.

“Wow,” I thought. “That makes a lot of sense. It doesn’t cost David anything but a few minutes of time, and might do something nice for everyone.” Then I filed the thought away and forgot about it. Until January, when my third novel, Back in Black was ready for release. As I was finishing up the formatting I remembered McAfee’s idea, and decided to steal it, inserting a preview of my first novel, The Chosen, into the back of the book.

This was also about the same time a group of us indie authors were getting rolling on the Twelve Worlds anthology, a charity project that was spearheaded by Derek Canyon (you’ve probably heard of him, since you’re reading his blog and all). I thought Derek seemed like a nice guy, and I liked the story he put in the anthology, so I figured it might be a nice thing to include an excerpt from one of his books in the back of Back in Black. Kind of a “Thank You” for driving the whole Twelve Worlds project.

If you’re not familiar with Twelve Worlds, then follow the linkies! This stuff doesn’t underline itself, you know. It’s a project with more than a dozen stories by indie sci-fi and fantasy writers to benefit Reading is Fundamental. Obviously we hope to see some residual sales out of it on our other projects, but all proceeds from this book go to charity.

But I digress. Really, I do. It’s kinda my thing. Birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, I gotta digress.

So I contacted Derek and asked if he’d like to put a sample in the back of my book. He said yes, and then was kind enough to reciprocate by putting a sample of Hard Day’s Knight in the updated version of his first full-length book, Dead Dwarves Don’t Dance. Then we sat back and watched to see if anything happened.

And it did. Not at first, but proving the old adage that “a rising tide lifts all boats,” after a few weeks Derek and I started to notice something - our books showing up in the “Customers Also Bought” section of our product listings. Right now, there are six books listed in the first page of the Also Bought section for Hard Day’s Knight. Two of them are mine, two of them are Derek’s and two of them are Jon F. Merz (who I obviously need to hit up next time to swap previews, since my readers like his books!).

Then when I click over to Dead Dwarves Don’t Dance, both of my vampire books are on Page 1 of Derek’s Also Bought listing as well, so there’s some obvious cross-pollination going on. Now I can’t draw a ton of conclusions based on our limited sample size, but both Derek and I have seen significant upticks in sales over the past couple of months.

I hesitate to draw a direct parallel between Derek’s spike in sales and his feature in the back of my book, or my spike in sales and being featured in the back of his book. But I know a few things for sure - it didn’t hurt my sales any, it was fun to do something collaborative with another indie author, and it didn’t cost me anything except less than an hour of my time. So I’ll have more books coming out this year, and each of them will have a preview by another indie author in the back. Because of that whole rising tide metaphor.

So thanks, Derek, for letting me ride your coattails in DDDD, and for letting me come by your blog and hang for a little while. See y’all in the funny papers!

 And thanks to you, John! Your Black Knight Chronicles are a fun read and I encourage all my fans to check out your stuff. Everyone should also visit his blog.


  1. Great guest post John.

    I think collaboration among like-minded writers is such a fantastic thing. I hope to be part of such a writing team someday too.

  2. I've been meaning to do the same thing. I think it's a terrific idea and definitely one of the advantages of the ebook format is that it is easy and free to include more material with the book.

    Tara Maya