It's Old Yeller time, friends. I'm putting a book out of its misery.
At the end of the month, My Dog Needs Surgery is going to the big bookstore in the sky. A collection of stories and essays, it was, in concept, a cheap and easy way to raise money for my dog, who needs expensive knee surgery. In reality, it was neither cheap (thanks to the formatting and cover) nor easy. It was just a big mistake. A series of big mistakes, actually.
Mistake #1: The concept (or lack of same)
"I'll just slap a bunch of stuff together and sell it" does not a cohesive collection make. The book needed a unifying theme beyond You wanna help a cute little doggie, don't you?. In fact, at least one person seems to have been offended by the blatant fundraising angle: The book received an anonymous, reviewless one-star rating on barnesandnoble.com the day after it went on sale. Another irate consumer trashed the book on Goodreads because it wasn't actually about, you know, dog surgery. That this individual had purchased the book without reading the product description or any of the reviews seems to have been my fault.
Mistake #2: The title
I know. I've written about this before. Dumb. Dumb dumb dumb. I suppose it really was my fault that some poor schmoe with a sick pooch downloaded the book thinking it would include tips on giving a schnauzer a soothing post-operative bath. I was going for so-blunt-it's-funny. I got so-obtuse-it's-useless. Since putting out My Dog Needs Surgery, I've become much, much more aware of the importance of Amazon recommendations. Someone buys one of your old books, you want them to buy your new one, right? But what's a casual reader -- someone who stumbles across my mystery novels because they like Sherlock Holmes, say -- going to make of CUSTOMERS WHO BOUGHT THIS ALSO BOUGHT MY DOG NEEDS SURGERY? Nothing, that's what. Meaning they'll skim right over it and click on Sherlock Holmes and the Flying Zombie Death Monkeys instead.
Mistake #3: The price
I've written about this, too. Not only is 99 cents a good deal for a collection, it's too good a deal. From the author's perspective, anyway. I went with 99 cents because (A) it seemed like what you'd stuff in a collection jar on a feel-good whim and (B) I thought it might attract some of those Amazon bargain lovers who occasionally descend on a title like a great swarm of prose-devouring locusts. Didn't happen. So the book limped along earning pizza money each month when I needed serious vet money.
Which is why as of March 1, My Dog Needs Surgery is turning back into a pumpkin. Or a file on my hard drive, anyway. I'm going to remove it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. People talk a lot about how easy it is to put out a book these days, but the opposite is true, too. Click click click, and you can make a book go poof.
The stories I'll rearrange and repackage and repromote. Stay tuned. The essays...aww, screw the essays. Who buys essays?
I want to thank all the fine folks who gave the book a boost with online reviews. (Well, except you, anonymous one-star schmuck and "Why isn't there a chapter on pre-surgery shaving?" lady.) Your efforts weren't in vain. Amy still hasn't had her surgery, but you helped pay for many a bag of Beneful. If you come back to help out when I try this again, that dog'll surely have her day after all.