Kindle Forum banner
1 - 20 of 57 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
334 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Kboards,

I've been trying to figure out how to write this post, which I'm doing under a secret special pseudonym. It's not that I'm a famous author; simply that I don't want to make my books fodder for any of the shenanigans that occasionally crop up.

Okay, on to business:

I started self-publishing last May. I wrote a few erotic shorts, and my first sales made me giddy. I did everything myself: covers, editing, etc. I could churn one out in half a day. My covers weren't brilliant.

I realized that the staying power of the erotic short wasn't great, and that coupled with the adult dungeon have shifted my thinking. Since then have experimented with steamy romance and paranormal steamy romance (Note: I don't recommend that everyone who wants to sell writes in these categories. More on that and writing what suits you and what you love below).

This is where I hope to raise the spirits of some people here.

We read about reviews being essential, of advertising on social media being essential to success. I suspect that they have been integral to the success of many, but I will tell you that in the last couple of months I've had many days in which I've sold 200-300 books a day, and never fewer than 100. That's mostly across just a few titles; a few short books and a couple of novel-length ones. The shorts (4500 words or so) do sell, but not enough to earn me a living.

I have few reviews. Most are good, admittedly, but it's not reviews that sell my books. I know this because one of my bestsellers got to that point with all of zero reviews.

I never use facebook. I don't have a twitter account. I've never run a Bookbub or any other sort of ad. By no means am I telling you not to use these to promote. It's simply that I don't, I suppose because I'm not social in that way. Each writer needs to experiment and find his or her own way. Mine is one of an isolated, curmudgeonly hermit who throws books into the universe and is filled with delight when people buy them.

I don't do freebies. I'm not against them and in fact would assume that they would increase my sales. I simply haven't gone that route yet, but may still.

Everything I've done has been the result of three things:

My mailing list, which is at the front and back of each book. I don't offer anything in return for signing up other than my eternal devotion. My list isn't huge, but it's enough to get me on hot new release lists, which ups visibility, sells books and subsequently gets me on bestseller lists. It's the best sort of vicious circle.

Keywords which maximize my category listings. Research these; they are your greatest tool.

Blurb and cover appeal (I say this, realizing that it is presumptuous as I design my own covers and write my own blurbs---but I know from reader feedback that these are what make people buy the books. And my design skills have improved over the months, from their mediocre beginnings).

My writing income now equals my day job income, and will soon surpass it.

In November I made x number of dollars from my writing.
In May I made about x times 10 (I don't feel comfortable writing a number, but it's in the thousands and enough that I would consider it a nice income even if I quit my other job). It's been a steep curve, and I've learned the following:

If you, like me, hate self promoting but want to sell books, you should seek out a genre that you enjoy writing but one which is also, simply put, popular. I was never a 'romance' reader, and I put it in quotes because I've read many romantic books, but not the best-sellers in that category. I pull from my own experience with books which moved me; in which I couldn't wait for the hero and heroine to end up together, but that didn't necessarily fall into the rules of traditional romance.

At first I tried to be very serious, because I often looked at romances with very tough, tattooed alpha males, and I quickly realized that I'm simply not that writer. I like to amuse myself with a specific sort of humour, and that's hard to achieve with a gritty, darker sort of work, though not impossible; I'm working on one right now which I hope will fit both criteria. Anyhow, when I got over the notion that everything must be serious, I started doing far better, both as a writer and as a person looking to be fulfilled creatively.

Don't ever underestimate the intelligence of your readers. Yes, you can churn work out, but they will call you on your sloppiness. Poor editing, lack of consistency, continuity errors. Do not release sub-par work; make it as good as you can and then allow it to head out into the world. There's a temptation to rush works into publication, but do what you can to fight it. I made the mistake in a panic of thrusting a book out there, and I found so many errors the next day that it wasn't even funny. Needless to say it has since been violated by a fine-toothed comb.

That said, you'll never think your work is perfect. The more readers sign up for my list, email me, ask when the next is coming, the more pressure I put on myself, and something that started as my own private project has become something entirely different. But it's good. Rather than have one boss, I have many---thousands, even, and I aim to do the job they've come to expect. Not everything will please everyone, of course.

That brings me to another point: Reviews. Sometimes the first review to come will be a bad one. Don't assume the worst: that your book will tank because of one review. Remember to give credit to readers. Many, even most, don't care about reviews. If they see a book in a genre they like with an appealing, catchy blurb and cover, there's a good chance that they'll give it a go. More than once I've read a review of an author's work wherein the reader said, "I will not be buying books by this author again," and lo and behold, they've bought the next and reviewed it, sometimes very positively.

This place has been a huge education for me, and if I can give back in some way I'd like to. If I can give hope to someone who's happy to sell three books a month, know this: that was how I started as well. Last month I sold 5000. There are people here who sell many more than that. But I'm doing the slow, steady climb and I recommend that you remember that it's another way to go; instant success is rare indeed. With some serious elbow grease, though, you can work your way forwards. Don't give up, and don't assume, if you have one book out and it isn't selling, that there's no point in trying anything else.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
59 Posts
Thanks for writing this. It's encouraging both in suggesting that slow-and-steady will get me somewhere someday, but also in saying that writing what I like and believing that other people out there will like it too might be successful eventually. (Most of the time, I'm okay with where I'm at, as I should be. Every once in a while, though, a little encouragement to keep on trekking on the slow-and-steady path is awfully nice to get. And tonight was one of those nights!)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
315 Posts
This is incredibly encouraging. I have a few questions:

How many books do you have out?
How many are short?
How many are full-length novels?
How many words are your full-lengths?
How many fans are on your mailing list?
 
G

·
Indiecognito said:
This place has been a huge education for me, and if I can give back in some way I'd like to. If I can give hope to someone who's happy to sell three books a month, know this: that was how I started as well. Last month I sold 5000. There are people here who sell many more than that. But I'm doing the slow, steady climb and I recommend that you remember that it's another way to go; instant success is rare indeed. With some serious elbow grease, though, you can work your way forwards. Don't give up, and don't assume, if you have one book out and it isn't selling, that there's no point in trying anything else.
I don't hate promotion, and I've sold more than three books a month since I started this a couple of weeks ago, but I really appreciate your post. :) The slow and steady climb is my focus, for sure! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,911 Posts
This is really great advice...thank you for sharing it! For the most part, my experience has lined up with your own...reviews don't seem to have a huge net effect on sales, although I've noticed that the more reviews my books have, the steadier they tend to sell (not at chart-busting numbers, unless I do a BB ad, but still very steady, and enough to live on!) And like you, great cover, well-written blurb, keywords, and mailing list seem to be the most important factors in reaching my audience. :)

Don't worry, those of you who don't have a lot of reviews yet! You're going to be okay!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,198 Posts
So true.  Persistence really is the key to a steady build of income.  It may never equal a full time gig for some (which probably includes me) but consistently putting out new work DOES lead to a gradual increase in sales.

And genre does matter.  Which is kind of tragic because I apparently have a passion for writing in very niche scifi markets.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,828 Posts
Thanks for this, and I'd just like to say, as a fellow author who doesn't do anything in the way of facebook, goodreads, etc (I tweet but I have like 30 followers and I only tweet to say I've got a new book out), I agree with pretty much all of it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
466 Posts
I am writing this more as a reader: I just need to discover you somehow.

This can be through Amazon "others have bought this" or a podcast I listen to and I like the premise, or some of my friends posted something ... you need to be 'in my way'

And then i need to be able to find more from you if I like you. Maybe not all of you, but usually of that series.

I read the first Marion Zimmer Bradley - mist of course - in german and hated it. When my aunt - who shared my general reading habbits - suggested another book I was against it. Turns out, MZB in english is much better - but still I only want Darkover, don't care about the rest.

I recently hear Michael J sullivan on the Sword an Laster podcast talking about "him not using fancy words" - something I like very much. I personally don't care about people being oh so creative. I read his free 5 chapter preview and read through the night with all of his Riyeria books. I looked at some of the other stuff - not so my interest.

Now MZB is dead and the person who took over the legacy is a "nothing that women had a finger in i will spend even a cent on", so that is dead and Sullivan maybe writing another book in this series - that is all I care about. Not his other stuff, but this.

Summary: Understand that if people like you, they will want more from you - offer it easy for them.
If you have other stuff, make it easy for them to ease into (samplers)
If you do a mailinglist, make sure I can just subscribe for that one thing (segments)

Keep social media profiles on low key, so that if I write about you, I can reference you - and a friend of mine can follow the bread crumb trail to you and get a taste of your work.

All very low key, all very simple to do and set up. ;)

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
691 Posts
*crosses fingers and toes* Please let this be true, please let this be true. It's my lifelong DREAM to be a curmudgeonly hermit tossing books out into the world and running back into my hobbit hole.

I do want to echo something about the mailing list thing. I released almost a month ago, and while I'm not exactly setting the world on fire with my sales, I've had a steady stream of people signing up for my mailing list. And since I haven't done a lot in self-promotion, the logical reason is they've read the book and want to know when the next one will be available.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
925 Posts
Harry Manners said:
This is a breath of fresh air. It means to the world to know that Bookbub and its ilk aren't everything.

Cheers!
Oh, boy, do I agree with that one! This was a wonderful post. Thank you for taking time away from your writing to share with us :D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
334 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
To the thankers, you're so welcome, and thank you everyone here, because I've seen most or all of you around and any encouragement has helped me, as has the advice here. I hope people continue to post their own experience and advice.

How many books do you have out?
How many are short?
How many are full-length novels?
How many words are your full-lengths?
How many fans are on your mailing list?
How many books is a funny one. Last month I sold across 19 separate titles. But many of those are the short stories I mentioned, some of which only sold a copy. 5 novellas (anywhere from 15,000 to 25,000 words) , 2 novels (those are a little over 40,000 words, which seem acceptable under the title 'novel' by readers of romance, at least for ebooks). Five of them sell really well, all under one pen name.

I think that answers the first questions. As for fans, my mailing list is so far only about 120 people after a couple of months. I find that if I sell 30 of a title on day one, that's enough to get me on the hot new release list, which as I mentioned is the sort of kicking off point for future sales.

What I've noticed at last is a sort of longevity (albeit a brief longevity) setting in for longer titles that didn't for the shorter ones. Getting on also bought lists is helpful but something you can't really control, so don't worry too much about that. It comes with sales.

Little tip on keywords, though I'm not exactly an expert: Look for books in the genre you're in, and scroll down on the sellers to see what categories they're in. Some will occupy up to thirteen categories. Use those in your keywords if they're suitable, eg. "Toads, Coming of Age for Toads, New Adult Toad Lit, Contemporary Toad, Paranormal Werewolves and Toads."
 
1 - 20 of 57 Posts
Top