Jeanne: The First Pancake

PancakeThere’s a wonderful indie comedy from 2003 called Pieces of April about a young woman who invites her suburban family to her walk-up apartment in the Bronx for Thanksgiving dinner, only to have her oven go out Thanksgiving morning. I saw it years ago, but there is one line that stuck with me.

Asked by some friends about her relationship with her parents, April says, “I’m the first pancake.”

The film goes on to explain that the first pancake is the one you throw away so the others will turn out okay.

The Demon Always Wins is starting to feel like the first pancake.

I thought learning to write a book was hard–and it was, it’s taken me 15 years of dedicated effort to get to this point–but I’m starting to think marketing may be even harder.

On Sunday, I uploaded it to Amazon and set it up for pre-order. That involved making a some decisions, both about the book and about my business path.

Business decisions:

  • Where should I  put the money (!) Amazon pays me?
    • Based on conversations I’ve read on Marie Force’s Author Support Network Facebook page, I know that Amazon sometimes recalculates their payments and takes money back out. I’ve been married to Old Dog long enough to know he’d have a howling fit if he saw that going on in our shared account, so I decided it’s better to send it to an account where I’m the sole owner.
    • I actually have two accounts like that. One is at the credit union where I used to work. Now that I don’t have a paycheck feeding into it, it’s no longer very convenient, so I’ve been planning to shut it down, but I haven’t quite gotten there yet.
    • The other account is at the bank where Old Dog and I have our shared account.
    • The next decision was whether to use the bank account that I use to pay my credit card off every month, or to use the credit union account. The plus for the credit union is it would make it easy to isolate transactions for my tax guy in January. The negative is that it’s still inconvenient. Also, I don’t know the institution routing number.
    • Bank account it is.

Book decisions:

  • What 2 categories should I choose?
    • I went with Fiction/Romance/Paranormal and Fiction/Romance/Romantic Comedy
  • What 7 keywords should I use? I selected:
    1. Redemption
    2. Temptation
    3. Feel good
    4. Soulmates
    5. Forbidden love
    6. Opposites Attract
    7. Tortured hero (snicker)
  • The good news is, I can change those as often as I like. And there are tools available to help me fine-tune them once I have some data.
  • Do I want to enable Digital Rights Management, aka DRM?
    • DRM determines whether Amazon will allow a buyer to share my ebook with another person. This is one where you have to make a one-time, up-front decision and live with the consequences.
      • On the surface, it sounds like a bad idea–whoever buys the book will be free to give it away at will.
      • On the other hand, returning to our first pancake metaphor, anybody you can get to eat this slightly-burnt, slightly-raw sucker is one more reader who may buy a future book for actual cash.
      • Note: The Demon Always Wins does not feel like a first pancake to me. It feels like a beautiful, brilliant, funny, touching, heart-warming, feel-good story that someone would have to be crazy not to love. That said, back in 2015, one of my Golden Heart judges gave it a two. The reality is, every book is not for every reader.
      • I think I’m going to bypass DRM on this one. (Ouch.)

Okay, more stories of the trials and travails of the self-publisher next week.

6 thoughts on “Jeanne: The First Pancake

  1. Whenever Lois McMaster Bujold publishes one of her self-published novellas, there are a few howls that go up from people about the evils of DRM, and how they’d never buy something with DRM. So, you do lose those customers. On the whole, I agree with you about the non-DRM — better word of mouth, and there are a lot of people who will buy it if they like it . . . or at least spread the word to people who will buy it.

    (-: I love the first pancake metaphor, and I feel I need to take it more to heart. Mistakes are built into the first pancake system; it’s still delicious, and someone will still eat it, but it doesn’t have to be perfect (or even close to it). It also implies a second, third and more pancakes in the future.

    (-: I believe Jenny always badmouths her first pancake, but IIRC, it’s not a bad read. It has a lot of the hallmarks of a Crusie book, and while I haven’t had a burning desire to re-read it (until now), it’s definitely something I don’t regret reading. AND, look at the pancakes that followed, boy howdy!

    • It’s a good reminder that, to become an accomplished grill-mistress, you have to be willing to turn out some pancakes, even if they’re not perfect right off the bat.

  2. I also love the first pancake metaphor. You know it won’t be perfect, though it will almost certainly be edible. It’s just something you have to do if you want to serve up a stack of lovely, fluffy, delicious offerings.

    Thank you also for being first into the frying pan 😉 I’m learning from you all the time (right now, thinking about which bank account I could use), and looking forward to next year, when I’ll be growling over a flabby, spongy semi-disaster and you’ll be flipping and garnishing like a pro 🙂

    • I’m guessing I’m several pancakes away from expertise, but it seems reasonable to expect to get better with each outing. The worst score that The Demon’s in the Details received this year was a 7, compared to The Demon Always Wins getting a 2.

  3. Given my deep and abiding love of pancakes, I never throw out the first one :-)! That being said, I think your first pancake is going to pretty damn awesome, given all you’ve put into it.

    One of the decisions I have yet to make is whether I’ll put up my first couple of books for pre-order, as there are penalties from the Zon if something unforeseen happens and you miss the release date. My novella won’t be ready for prime time and ARCs until October, just a month ahead of the November release. But maybe I’ll feel confident enough to set up the pre-order then.

    • The threat of winding up in Amazon jail (or expelled from the entire Amazon kingdom) scared me, but I decided to bite the bullet, partly because I’ve hired a publicist and I need to have the book up on time for her work.

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