In the Beginning…

In a comment mesadallas asked how Sing is doing, and since probably anyone reading this blog is curious, I thought I’d just answer in a new post.

Short answer is it’s doing very well. For comparison, both Sing and Eyes were first on Amazon in the middle of a month, and both sold almost the same number of copies in that first partial month (just 2 more for Sing). However, that partial month consisted of 20 days for Eyes and only 8 days for Sing.

For the first ten days or so it seemed as if every mention of Sing anywhere resulted in more sales for Eyes, but that is finally changing. Yesterday Sing outsold Eyes (by only one copy) for the first time. I only check sales figures once a day in the evening, but from their respective sales ratings today, I expect Sing to do better again today and by more than one copy. I still have to get the genre listings for Sing straightened out, but when I checked in Historical Romance – Hot New Releases a while ago, Sing is there at #26. I think getting in that listing helps a lot and helped Eyes a lot once it got going, and since that only lasts for 90 days, getting there as quickly as possible is a good thing.

The conventional wisdom among indies is that a second book sells better itself and helps previous books, and it looks as if that may be true for me this time. With Rottweiler Rescue and then Eyes, I didn’t see it, but they are such completely different genres that was no surprise. In fact what did surprise me with those two books was how many people read both in spite of how different they are.

The area where Sing is not doing as well is reviews. There are only two on Goodreads, a 4 star and a 3, which gives it a mediocre overall rating. Amazon is better with three very nice 5 stars and one 3 star, which at least gives it a 4+ average, but as I remember Eyes has never had anything but a 5 star overall rating on Amazon. Now that it’s selling more, more reviews are bound to show up, and there’s nothing for it but to hope most of these readers like it. It seems all of the readers read both books, and everyone compares. I’m going to have to go read reviews for second books by others to see if that’s just standard. There’s a thread on All About Romance that says something like. Sing is excellent, but Eyes was phenomenal. It’s hard to make “excellent” sound second rate, but that’s giving it a good go. I think I may develop a case of Mama Grizzly over my second romance child.



26 Responses to In the Beginning…

  1. mesadallas says:

    That’s great, Ellen! I’m not surprised it’s doing well- I expected it to. I’m also pretty certain the reviews will start coming in shortly. After all, Sing has only been available for a short time.

  2. That wasn’t my intention, but thanks, guys. ~Ellen

  3. McD says:

    Although both stories – Eyes and Sing – are excellent, I am surprised that other readers have not felt as I have, that Sing was better written. From my perspective any hitches in the actual writing have been ironed out in Sing. It reads very smoothly; there is a real flow to it that Eyes did not quite have.

  4. Trish says:

    Ellen, any idea if, and when, it will be published in paper form? I don’t have an kindle yet. (Hoping to get one for Christmas). I bought Eyes on Amazon & am hoping to be able to order Sing soon too!

    BTW, loved Eyes!

  5. Christina says:

    I totally agree with the statement that Sing is excellent while Eyes is outstanding. That is why I had to give Sing a 3 star rating and Eyes a 5 star rating. It has been my experience as a voracious reader that few authors have more than one or two novels in them that deserve the 5 star rating. I cannot think of any author out of the many that I have read that I weould give 5 star ratings to all of their books.

  6. Anne says:

    Christina, since you were so DISAPPOINTED in Sing My Name, why are you here hanging around Ellen’s blog? As you can tell we are all fans of Ellen and support her so I don’t know why you just don’t go play some place else. Sorry to come across so rude but I don’t think it’s nice to give a bad review to Ellen and then expect her to chat nicely with you.

  7. Hi Anne – It’s nice to see a new commenter. Comments by new people have to be approved, and I approved yours, but let’s leave the contention for the forums. IMO Christina is entitled to her opinion. If she wasn’t taken with Sing and can’t recommend it, that hasn’t changed her positive opinion of Eyes.

    I don’t think a 3-star review is really “bad.” I don’t know how Amazon defines their ratings, but my understanding would be 5 = very good; 4 = good; 3 = average; 2 = not so good; and 1 = crummy.

    It’s pretty hard to have discussion if everyone is just holding hands and singing Kumbaya (or however you spell that). ~Ellen

  8. Hi Trish – Welcome to you too! I’ve just ordered the first proof from Create Space. With the other books, I received the proof within a week. If all looks good, I can approve it then and it will begin to show up on Amazon over the next 5 days to a week. That would make it pretty touch and go for you to get one by Christmas. I’ve been saying it will be available in January.

    The other consideration is that for the other two books, I didn’t approve the first proof but saw things I wanted to fix, redid something and had to go through the process again. So I really think January is a more realistic estimate. ~Ellen

  9. Christina says:

    Ellen, you had enough trouble over at Amazon and I championed you better than most about Eyes. But I do not plan on having trouble here too. You know the flack that I took for you on the Amazon Romance Forums so I don’t really understand why you approved Anna’s comment. That tells me that my efforts on your behalf were too soon forgotten.

    BTW, a 3 Rating means “It’s OK”. I don’t call that a bad rating.

    Good Luck with your future novels. I won’t post here anymore.

  10. Trish says:

    Thanks, Ellen! I’ll be watching for it. If I get that Kindle for Christmas, I’ll be ordering it right away!

  11. McD – This is my guess only, but I think that those who really love Eyes either don’t notice or don’t care about less polished craft in the writing. It’s all the story. Just to hit on one criticism that comes up by those who knocked the craft in the forums – POV.

    Let’s face it, there are bestsellers that have POV all over the place. There’s one author of a long-running mystery series that I finally gave up on because she has POV changes not from scene to scene or paragraph to paragraph or even sentence to sentence but right in the middle of sentences.

    So while I really want to improve my craft as much as possible, I suspect there are all sorts of books out there that don’t sell worth a darn that have beautiful, polished writing but are telling stories that are less than compelling.

    One thing that does surprise me is that people seem to almost think other readers need a warning that Sing’s story and characters are very different from those in Eyes. One of my major gripes with romances has been that many popular authors write story after story with the same characters, just change the names, hair and eye color and then tell the same story again but in a different setting and voila! that’s this year’s book. Admittedly a lot of readers seem happy with that, and it sure would be easier, but I’m not one of the happy-with-that readers.

    One of my worries at the moment is that I’m not going to be able to vary my heroines as much as I’d like because I found out with Sing that I don’t do soft, shy or passive women well. As I’ve said before, Sarah was supposed to be a much softer character than she ended up as and that’s just because I’d put her in certain situations and then all of a sudden the scene would be done and she’d have lost her temper instead of huddling, weeping, or fleeing. I finally gave up on trying to pound her down. ~Ellen

  12. Laurie Osborne says:


    In my Amazon review, I did not really intend to be warning potential readers that the characters in Sing are different as if that variation were a negative quality. Quite the contrary! So I hope readers did not take it that way. After all, I am most impressed by the ways your characters — in both novels — develop distinctive personalities and voices through their interactions with each other.

  13. Laurie – It’s not just you. (And your review was great, thank you.) I think every single person I’ve seen mention the book anywhere has compared in some way. As I said, I’m going to take the time to try and look up some other people’s 2d book reviews just to see because it does make me curious. I suppose the only time it wouldn’t happen is if somehow a second book got a lot of readers who hadn’t read the first book and that’s probably less likely in the romance genre than others. I’m with you that the difference is a good thing, and I worried that Sarah was too much like Anne since she kept getting stronger on me as I did the writing.

    For that matter I actually had one beta reader who saw quite a lot of similarities not just between Anne and Sarah but even between Cord and Matt. She was at the point where Matt went over the chairs in the courtroom to try to get to the person who spit on Sarah when she told me that. She also thought Carter Macauley was rather like Anne’s father in being the pure evil villain. After she said those things, I could kind of see it myself. Maybe next time I need to try for a beta villain. 🙂 ~Ellen

  14. mesadallas says:

    Ellen, I, too, thought that every character had a distinct and well-developed personality. At no time did I ever think that the villan was just like Anne’s father or that Sarah and Anne could have been twin sisters. Yes, both villans were cruel and pysically violent, and both the heroines were strong women but that’s were the similarities ended for me. If you are worried that people are thinking you are repeating your characters – I never saw that.

    I think most people are comparing your boooks and the characters in them due to the fact that you are a new author with only two books. And I might add that both books are getting far more positive reviews than negative ones. They are both very good books, so it’s natural that people are going to compare the two right now.

    And I’m sure you are right on about this being the case for other authors when they were new and had only two or three books out.

    Just curious- how many copies of each have you sold?

  15. mesadallas – The interesting thing, to me at least, is how differently various readers see the same book. Yes, as a reader I always knew it. A friend would say, “Oh, read this. It’s wonderful.” My reaction would be yuck, and vice versa. Other times I’d agree with a friend’s perception of a book.

    When you start writing, though, it comes home in a startling way. People see things I never saw when I wrote the book. Sometimes that makes me think, “No, no.” Other times I think, “Oh, you’re right. That’s true, and I never noticed.”

    Just recently there was a thread started in an author’s forum by a new person who is having trouble with diametetrically opposed reviews. One said the characters are life like and great but the story needs work; another said the story is great but the characters are flat. My theory is when the majority of people say something, it’s time to sit up and take notice, but an outlier here and there is just a puzzle. Even so, it’s hard not to sit there and, well, puzzle.

    The thing is we all bring so much of ourselves to what we read, I suspect none of us really read the same book. Just as an example that has nothing to do with my books, there’s so much talk in the Romance forums about proper “groveling” from a hero. Obviously that’s something a lot of readers like and want. For me if the guy is such a jerk he does things he needs to grovel over, he’s not worth the time of day. I wouldn’t waste time on him and obviously neither would my heroines, at least not as the hero, only as a failed previous attempt.

    As to sales, Eyes has been out for Kindle since April and sold a bit over 4,000 copies. Sing is probably going to get to 300 today. Rott Rescue trails with about 2,000. My understanding is that cozy mysteries do better when you hit the point where you have 4 or 5 in the series since cozy readers are more likely to jump into a series that has a few books and then read all to date. That’s true for me. Needless to say I won’t find out if that makes a worthwhile difference for a couple of years yet since I’m planning on one mystery a year.

    Anyway, I’m very much midlist as indie authors go. There are quite a few selling thousands every month and of course even more selling less than a hundred every month. Some are doing so well because they have many books out, but some are doing well with just one book. Some have high sales figures, but they’re selling at $.99, and some even quote “sales” figures when in fact they’re putting books up for free someplace like Smashwords and counting those downloads. This whole indie authoring and publishing thing is a pretty exciting and chaotic new world. ~Ellen

  16. McD says:

    I agree with mesadallas. Because of the ‘interest’ in Eyes, especially over at Amazon, plus the 30+(?) 5-star reviews, I think it only natural readers compare the two books, the two heroes and heroines. And because you are a new author, readers I guess, wonder about how you as an author will vary story, plot, main characters from book to book. I know that’s what I do with a new author.

  17. Well, if you mean “interest” the way I think you do, I don’t believe that has much to do with anything. I released Eyes in April, and its best month for number of sales was June when it ranked as high as into the 300s in overall Kindle sales. (I don’t know if you ever look, but on each book’s Kindle product page it gives its ranking in Kindle sales overall and if the author designated genres, for genres.) After that it held pretty steady right around 1,000 through July and August.

    The events in September were caused by the fact that an indie book was popular enough to be mentioned in the forums pretty regularly. So the mentions in the forums were the result of the book’s popularity; they didn’t cause it.

    Since Eyes resonated with some readers so deeply (and not all, there are sure some reviews by people who don’t like the book), my fear was that that particular story and those particular characters would be a one off and no other story and characters I could come up with would ever work.

    Now I feel more confident. Even if Sing doesn’t do as well in the end, there are some people who do like it too. So if a 3d romance has a lot of people shrugging, I’ll know it’s just that one and not that nothing else I write will ever attract readers. I just don’t see me making a career out of writing Anne and Cord books: Anne and Cord 30-35; Anne and Cord 35-40. You get the idea.

    Reviews sure help, but they aren’t the whole story. Rott Rescue has more reviews but doesn’t sell as well. There have been some articles cited here and there lately saying that Romance readers are adopting ereaders faster than readers of any other genre. I do think the potential audience there is larger which helps, but it seems that it’s the people writing vampire stuff that are primarily the ones with huge sales. I’m afraid I’m stuck hoping for readers from the smaller pool of people who like the same stories I do because I’d rather be a WalMart greeter than read a vampire story much less write one. ~Ellen

  18. mesadallas says:

    Elen,I’m a little confused. Are you disappointed in the comments readers are making about Sing? The reviews are just starting to come in on amazon but from those that are there most everyone loves it.

  19. mesadallas – Oh, no, to the contrary, I’m pleased close to the ecstatic point that people are saying they like Sing too and that a few even say they like it as well or better (the reviews you see and comments here aren’t the only feedback; I’ve already gotten some private email from readers too). As I said, I went into putting out Sing rather worried that most people would say, oh, second book syndrome, it’s pretty blah. Yes, I am one of those people who is always going to fasten on something to worry about. You beta readers gave me confidence as the actual time approached.

    If what made you wonder was when I said, “Even if Sing doesn’t do as well in the end….” all I meant by that is I don’t think there’s any way to make predictions. Rottweiler Rescue was very quick off the mark sales-wise for a first book, but it tapered off quickly too. Eyes started out much slower but went higher and has sustained better. So here’s Sing out in the world. I can say how it’s doing right now, but there’s no way to predict six weeks, much less six months from now.

    McD – I realized I never addressed the character comparisons. You’re right that the comparisons are to be expected. In fact I was doing it myself while I was still writing Sing. So the fact that comparisons by others surprised me just proves that I’m a little slow around the edges. Can I use the excuse that Sing isn’t really my second book, but my first second book in the same genre and that’s what led me astray?


  20. mesadallas says:

    Oh, Good! I didn’t want to think you were beating yourself up with worry over any comparisons being made.

    I know you said you didn’t want to keep writing Anne and Cord books, but something think on- how about going 25 years or so down the road and giving their son a story of his own? Many western romance readers love a sequal book, myself included. Some of my favorite westerns involve either the sibling/s of a first novel or their offspring- and you have had quite a few readers who have mentioned that they would like to know what happens down the road. This wouldn’t be a series of “Anne and Cord” adventures but would satisfy the curiosity of Anne and Cord fans as well as target a market of repeat customers.

  21. mesadallas – No beating self up. So far out of the three books the only thing I regret is that I didn’t have beta readers to tell me how many people would have problems with Cord’s brothers. I wouldn’t have changed that thread in the book but would have beefed up the motivations on both sides.

    Reader reactions are endlessly fascinating to me. People see things I didn’t see, don’t see things I thought I put in, take things differently than I do and bring their own experiences and personalities to what they get out of books. Knowing in your mind that happens going in is one thing. Actually seeing it over one’s own books is different, and as I said, fascinating. Maybe over time I’ll get used to it, but not yet.

    As to Anne and Cord’s kids, they’d be adults after the turn of the century, and for some reason that’s a period that I just don’t like much. My guess is that’s because it was when autos and machines were coming in and horses were going out, but the fact is it’s just not a time I like much in history.

    I’ve actually had a couple of emails suggesting a story for Anne’s brother, but IMO what he did in Eyes was so weak and scummy he could never be a hero. I’ve thought about Frank’s son but so far no inspiration there.

    On the other hand, from Sing, I’ve thought about a story for both Roddy and Beau, but so far no one else has mentioned seeing potential there, and in fact the next story is kind of already bubbling in my mind, and it’s another standalone. I’ve got half an outline down for it to start after the next mystery. ~Ellen

  22. mesadallas says:

    I think 1910 Colorado would probably still be pretty much like it was in the 1800’s but I sure do see your point – and I actually have the same feelings about prefering the 1800’s over the turn of the century.

    Roddy and Beau… now there’s a great idea…and A lot of potential!

  23. Pat says:

    I just finished Sing and would love to read Roddy’s and Beau’s stories, each with his own book. Both of their back stories would be really interesting as well as their futures.

    I didn’t realize there was such controversy around the books. To me they were both highly satisfying novels. Thanks for letting me get a world away from my health problems for a while!

  24. Hi Pat – Thanks for stopping by and commenting. The next romance that is kind of bubbling inside and wanting to be written is going to be another standalone. However, I have some vague ideas about stories for Beau and Roddy and think they’ll be coming to the surface in the not too distant future.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the books and hope you get your health problems resolved soon. Merry Christmas. ~Ellen

  25. Laurie Osborne says:

    As far as Eyes goes, I think that a story about Rachel Miles would intriguing (after she loses the very proper but not-so-nice husband). Maybe Rachel and Rob? After all, Rachel already has several issues to overcome, and maybe Anne could help her out! And Cord could advise Rob — in a very laconic way, of course. 🙂

  26. Hi Laurie – You aren’t the first person to suggest that Rob could have his own story. However, I have to admit that after what he did – and didn’t do – in Eyes, I can’t see him as a hero. Guess I’m just not as forgiving as some readers. It would be nice to rescue poor Rachel. Bump off her husband for her if nothing else. ~Ellen

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