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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everybody! My name is Daniel Kenney, I write Middle Grade / Kid's Fiction and I last updated you a few months ago on how things have been going. I also promised to keep you all updated on future milestones along with what I've learned.  As so many of you agree, information, and real stats are so important to writers, especially us newer ones. It's good to have one's eyes as open as possible...because that makes it much easier to set your goals and reach those goals.

In general, middle grade fiction is a fairly small slice of the ficiton pie. Self publishing middle grade has its own challenges. Without wide bookstore and library distribution, discoverability is a challenge. But hey, I'm stubborn and a little stupid. I've got 8 kids. Like I said, a little stupid. But stubborn. I like writing for kids and I want to try and figure out how to make this work.

I published my first title in September of 2014. I published my 9 title last month. Last month (May) I had combined createspace sales, kdp sales, and borrows of 875. So far this month (June), things are going even better. Sometime in the next few hours, I will pass 1000 print sales, ebook sales, and borrows for the month. I have no idea if the momentum will carry over through the entire month, but there's a fighting chance I'll break 2000 for the month.

So, what changed in June?

After three straight solid months of slow but steady growth, I landed a book bub for The Math Inspectors for Tuesday June 2nd. I used 2 free days before the Bub, and used 1 free day after the Bub. I bought six smaller promotions to promote those other days. IN total, I gave away a little more than 15,000 books over those four days. And then, I dropped the price of the Math Inspectors from its normal $2.99 to $0.99 when it came off free and have left it there for the last week.

The results have bee terrific both in terms of its impact to my ebook sales and borrows but also to my print sales as well.

So, the more important question...do I expect this momentum to continue? NOT AT ALL!

My operating attitude as a writer is this balance of optimism and pessimism. I'm optimistic enough to think that some of what I write is entertaining and funny. I'm pessimistic enough to think that one month or one week or one day has no relation on what might happen the next. There are times I think that I could be pretty successful with this writing gig, but most of the time I think that I'll be a massive flaming failure :) But you know what? The pessimistic part of me drives my strategy and basically my strategy is this. Get 100 titles. And then get 100 more. And then another 100. Now, how do I get there? Not a freaking clue. But that's where I feel like I need to get. If I can get 100 titles working for me, I think I'll have some success. If I can get 200 titles working for me, I feel quite good about my chances. And if I can get 300? IN the words of Gary Larson, "No size restrictions and screw the limit!"

Now, honestly, will I ever get to 300 titles? Aw hell, probably not. I'm a stay at home dad of 8 little heathens. My life is crazy pants. 300? Probably not. But that's the attitude that drives me every day. If I can create my own backlist and end up hitting lots of little singles? I like my chances.

So, I don't have any Book Bubs scheduled for July. Chances are, my sales and borrows will return to 'human for me' levels. But in a few weeks, I'lll release another title. And within the next four months, I'll release another 4 titles. Along the way, I'll tinker with covers and copy and keywords until I can get some of my assets performing. Case in point, my best seller is The Math Inspectors and I don't think it's close to my best book. But, it's got a good cover, the word math in it, and folks of a certain age seem to like it enough. My best overall book is called Curial Diggs And The Search for the Romanov Dolls. But, the cover on it sucks and I've never really figured out how to market it properly. As a result, nobody buys that book. But darnit, Like I said, I'm stubborn and I'll figure that out. And the funniest thing I've written? A little 7500 word story called Dart Guns At Dawn. Now, I don't know if anybody else in the world finds it funny...but I sure do. And that thinkg doesn't sell either. But I'll figure that one out as well.

And when I say 'figure out' I don't mean 'turn into a bestseller' or 'even a category leader'. I mean, figure out how to turn my assets into solidly performing singles. Because, as i"ve mentioned, if I can accumulate enough singles? Then I've got something.

Finally, in addition to putting out more titles, I'm finally getting serious about trying to grow that all important mailing list. Kid's authors have their own challenges on that front but I'm still going to try. Also, been trying to learn from Mark Dawson and others about Facebook advertising. We'll see what happens. Anyways, I'll check back with you all when I cross 4000 sales and borrows in a month. That's my next big milestone.

Wish me luck!  Daniel
 

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Hi Dan,

Thanks for the great post! As someone about to dip his toes into middle grade fiction it was nice to hear from someone who is already in the trenches. Best of luck getting to 100 :)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
geronl said:
The Beef Jerky Gang!! rofl

Sounds hilarious
Thanks! It's kinda funny. It's definitely weird. 11 year old boys seem to enjoy this one, it's about a group of 12 year-old boys who learn they're living inside of a world completely controlled by girls.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
harker.roland said:
Hi Dan,

Thanks for the great post! As someone about to dip his toes into middle grade fiction it was nice to hear from someone who is already in the trenches. Best of luck getting to 100 :)
Thanks Roland! Hey, best of luck back to you as you jump in the deep end :) And, although I've not that much further into it than yourself, if you've ever got questions, feel free to hit me up. DanielKenneybooks at gmail dot com.

Daniel
 

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Congrats on your sales. Thank you for the sales information. It's writers like you that inspire me to have patience and let my sales grow. You have a perfect approach to writing, a balance of optimism and pessimism is key I think. Good luck on everything. Hope all goes well.  :D
 

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Daniel Kenney said:
Thanks! It's kinda funny. It's definitely weird. 11 year old boys seem to enjoy this one, it's about a group of 12 year-old boys who learn they're living inside of a world completely controlled by girls.
Boys Liberation Now! lol
 

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Discussion Starter #8
danielareyes said:
Congrats on your sales. Thank you for the sales information. It's writers like you that inspire me to have patience and let my sales grow. You have a perfect approach to writing, a balance of optimism and pessimism is key I think. Good luck on everything. Hope all goes well. :D
Thanks Daniella. And along with the optimism/pessimism thing, I also think its really good to be patient/impatient. I'm ridiculously impatient and it helps me get a lot of stuff done. Also, I'm not writing Newberry's here. I'm also not writing bestsellers. I'm writing fun, entertaining books...and my business model is, that these books don't have to be perfect. And I'm really impatient to write them, finish them, and get them out into the world. On the other hand, I"m patient enough about hte business side of things to know that it is going to take me a long time to really put together somethign that looks sustainable. Daniel
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Susanne123 said:
Hi Daniel,

I really like your attitude and your pragmatic approach to publishing. Thanks for the update. Milestones are good :)
Thanks Susanne!!! Back at you :)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
UnicornEmily said:
That book does look fun! I hope you have lots of success with middle school boys loving it. (Judging by your awesome reviews, I think you're well on your way!)
Thanks Emily, Middle school boys seem to like it, especially the pranks. Girls seem to enjoy the fact that I poke lots of fun at both the girls AND the boys :)
 

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Your book titles alone are hilarious. I think that my 11 year old son is going to love these.
Dude, I have two kids and am tired. I don't know how you do it, but my hat is off to you.
 

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What a great post - best of luck!
I'm curious - how is it possible to build a mailing list for middle grade fiction? Aren't there special legal hurdles?
 

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Daniel Kenney said:
Thanks! It's kinda funny. It's definitely weird. 11 year old boys seem to enjoy this one, it's about a group of 12 year-old boys who learn they're living inside of a world completely controlled by girls.
Must...resist...Gamergate...jokes... :eek: (And good luck, Dan!)
 

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Thanks for the post! Middle grade is on my to-do list so that my kids can read some of what I write. It's good to know there's a potential for a market. I'm not sure how I'm going to handle my books. I'd even be happy just having them for my kids, but it would be fun to do more than that.

I love your covers.
 

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Fantastic to hear from another middle grade writer and one that is doing so well! It must be great to have kids in the right age group to try your stories on and I'll bet you are reading everything that appeals to them at the library too. Your stories sound spot on.

I had the audacious goal of ten books and when I cracked that I super sized to twenty - which is what I'm working towards now. I waited till I had a few books to start promoting as I assumed it would take lots of time and if I have books discounted and cheap I wanted plenty more that were not. It's early days for me but I'm very grateful to hear from someone else in my niche who is doing well. It's hard to know if some of the strategies I read about that work for other genres could work for middle grade. I will pitch in too if I have any insights but you seem ahead of me.

Ps I'm astounded you can find time write with 8 kids!!
 

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Good to hear your experiences with children's fiction. I'm not sure I really count as a middle grade author (most of mine seem to be read by 12-14, despite being marketed at the 9-11 age group over here in the UK by their original publishers), but I think print is important for both these age groups so would be interested to know what proportion of your sales are Createspace? I'd agree ebook sales for younger fiction seem to be a challenge.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
EmparentingMom said:
What a great post - best of luck!
I'm curious - how is it possible to build a mailing list for middle grade fiction? Aren't there special legal hurdles?
Thank you! Yes, mailing lists are very tricky for middle grade. COPPA is the legal hurdle you're talking about and there's many people on the boards who are much smarter than me about this issue. The answer for me is that I'm going to build my list very carefully. I won't have the kind of explosive list growth that genre writers of adult fiction will have. And so, I'll just leave it at that. Very carefully :)

ruecole said:
You're doing amazing, Dan! :D

Rue
Thanks Rue! You're the best. Congrats on typing THE END!

Robert Dahlen said:
Must...resist...Gamergate...jokes... :eek: (And good luck, Dan!)
Robert!!! Yes, please resist Gamergate jokes at all costs...please??? And thanks Robert!
 
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