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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Man, if only I had huge numbers to throw up like so many others who start these sorts of threads!

I started self-publishing last March. During that time I put out 8 pieces of horror/paranormal fiction:

4 novellas
3 short stories
1 collection (featuring the 4 novellas)

I've SOLD 182 books in my first year and GIVEN AWAY about 9500. Could be worse, certainly. Could also be a whole lot better!

I've tried a lot of things over the past year to try and encourage sales. Some worked well, others didn't. I did find that publishing new material tends to help a bit, as does a successful free-run in Select. All of my books are in Select, and have been free at some point. My most successful giveaway was just short of 5,000 books, which by most standards is pretty underwhelming. I re-vamped covers and got positive feedback on that. Improved my blurbs and toyed with pricing a few times. I've also recieved a lot of really nice reviews, as well as a few that were a little less nice. I appreciate each and every one.

Still, the books aren't selling terribly well. I sell, on average, 5-10 books a month... and it's usually closer to 5 than 10. I've been looking at advertising opportunities that will help me gain more exposure, but I haven't got the acclaim for stuff like Bookbub and my genre is a bit less marketable than, say, romance.

I'm entering my second year of self-publishing and I'm hoping to publish even more than I did last year. I also hope to increase my sales!

Does anyone around here have advice/questions for me going into my second year? It seems like every thread I open contains posts from authors who are making a gazillion dollars a month self-pubbing. I want to be a part of that club! Of course, I'm not greedy. This isn't about the money, after all. I'd settle for half a gazilion  ;D

 

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Congratz on the anniversary. :D

First of a 5.000 download free run on what I assume was one of the novellas is not bad. It of course depends a bit on the amount of days you ran, but still a pretty good result.

If I had to come up with some tips and pointers on the marketing front, then I will encourage you to post frequently on your blog (unless you only use it for release notifications). Good activity in September, a post in December and since then the tumbleweeds have taken over.

The link "OJ Connell on Facebook just takes me to my news feed, and I couldn't find any page for you, so if you don't have one yet, then either make one or remove the link. :)

You do not have a newsletter, which is a crying shame, since it is a perfect way for announcing new releases to your readers. You can go with Mailchimp and have a free account until you reach 2.000 subscribers. Do it!

Disclaimer: These tips will not earn you a gazillion dollars (or even half), but they can slowly and steadily increase your presence and your readership, so each new release yuo get out there will hook more and more people to your work.

And of course the most important detail is to bring out new releases to keep your readers entertained and drooling for more.

Finally a question. Are you planning on releasing a novel in your second year or will you focus on shorter works?

Good luck with your second year of publishing. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Avarian said:
If I had to come up with some tips and pointers on the marketing front, then I will encourage you to post frequently on your blog (unless you only use it for release notifications). Good activity in September, a post in December and since then the tumbleweeds have taken over.

The link "OJ Connell on Facebook just takes me to my news feed, and I couldn't find any page for you, so if you don't have one yet, then either make one or remove the link. :)

You do not have a newsletter, which is a crying shame, since it is a perfect way for announcing new releases to your readers. You can go with Mailchimp and have a free account until you reach 2.000 subscribers. Do it!

Disclaimer: These tips will not earn you a gazillion dollars (or even half), but they can slowly and steadily increase your presence and your readership, so each new release yuo get out there will hook more and more people to your work.

And of course the most important detail is to bring out new releases to keep your readers entertained and drooling for more.

Finally a question. Are you planning on releasing a novel in your second year or will you focus on shorter works?

Good luck with your second year of publishing. :)
Thanks!

I blogged a fair amount during the early months last year, but I've definitely slacked off in that department. I enjoyed blogging but never felt that it increased sales/ helped me connect with readers. Perhaps I can give that another shot. I got rid of my Facebook late last year; I was spending way too much time on it and there was hardly any activity on the author page. most of the 'likes' on it were other authors from the KB, lol.

I've toyed with the idea of a newsletter, but kinda fumbled the process and I'm not sure how I should incorporate that.

A common complaint from readers is that my stuff is too short. "This was good, but I wish it was longer" etc. I'm trying to produce longer works this year, but they'll still probably be on the shorter side. For whatever reason I can only write short stories/novellas at the moment. It's what feels right. I'm trying to improve in that area but it's a slow process.

Thanks for the tips!
 

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It's a good start! Well done!  :D

Don't fret the "wish it was longer" comments, everyone gets them, even if you write a long novel. I think it might be, for some readers, a way to say they appreciated the work.

I don't have many tips, since I'm starting now to write fiction. Try to grab as many returning readers as you can, and connect with them if at all possible. Friends are more likely to recommend your books than strangers.  :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Nathalie Hamidi said:
Don't fret the "wish it was longer" comments, everyone gets them, even if you write a long novel. I think it might be, for some readers, a way to say they appreciated the work.
I tend to interpret it that way too, haha.
 

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I don't know the best places for your genre, but if you do decide to advertise, look for the best fit.  Another thing that I do is run my titles on sale in clusters. So that with one ad/promotion I can juice the sales of my other titles. I've done this with free runs too, meaning one book free and the others on sale. It definitely helps because you have some increased visibility for a short while.

Good luck with Year 2!


   
 

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I just finished my first year as well. I completed three books and almost got my fourth book done in time and sold approximately 350 units. One third of those books were actually sold in the first two weeks of my books publication. Few knew of an experience I had a teenager and when I posted a link to my book on my Facebook wall...everyone I knew and their second cousin twice removed ran out and bought the book. I thought the sales would continue and a slow month may produce, 350 books in a month. I've since been educated. Sales came to a halt compared to the first couple of weeks. I sell on average 15 to 18 books per month at this point.

I've had free promotional as well but struggled to break 1000 on two runs. My time in select expires in May and I'm removing the two books and I plan on going back into the other stores. I got it out of my system, I wanted to try Select. My next title I plan to maximize all of the outlets available to us.

I've had a few moments when my books were snapped up. I rented a table over December at a community yard sale at a retired US Army fort. The craft fair lasted about three hours. In three hours I sold about 25 books. Over the fall, I arranged some one on one time with local youth pastors in an effort to raise awareness to suicide and discuss a possible guest speaking engagement. The members of the churches would buy all three copies at one time. I've been messaged by readers asking why my books, "aren't out there?" So, I know they have a readership potential.

For my second year: I plan on publishing my fourth book here next month. I have committed myself to promoting my suicide prevention books this year more so. I plan on investing $100.00 a month. With this money, I will use snail mail and mail old fashion letters to: Councilors, churches, groups like, "Celebrate Recovery", and suicide prevention groups. It's about 50 letters a week. I only need to take about 5 orders to cover my cost. Who knows, maybe this is what it will take to get my books out into the proper audience and get more invites to come public speak and earn income as a public speaker and promote my works as well.
 

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I also have a book of novellas and in the short time my stuff has been out, it is my lowest seller compared with two novels.  A good question is what are you charging for stuff?  People may be hesitant to pay for a short story from an unknown writer, even at fifty cents.  I think novels are where to go to get to where you want to be but it cannot be forced.  Some stories are just better fits as novellas or short stories and if you persist in making them novels, they will not come out right.  Congratulations on the first year and good luck!
 

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Congrats on the first year! Money is one thing, but don't let it overshadow your biggest accomplishment:

OJ Connell said:
During that time I put out 8 pieces of horror/paranormal fiction:

4 novellas
3 short stories
1 collection (featuring the 4 novellas)
 

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Honestly - your covers are holding you back. I had no idea they were horror by looking at them in a passing glance. Especially that first one. It looks almost non-fiction about some historical happening. I'd suggest changing them drastically.

I read your sample for the boxed set and I can see what the reviewer was suggesting. You need to loosen up a bit. You use a lot of dialogue which is great but you can give us some descriptive instances in there as well. I'll admit I didn't read the sample for the others so maybe you already corrected this. Show some more instances of their personalities ie. the neighbor keeps shifting her eyes, wondering if the supernatural creature followed her.

Novellas are a hard sell. I don't suggest keeping a blog because seriously, have you ever read an author's blog? I know I haven't and my audience (YA) generally doesn't although they have a few. Get active on Goodreads. Find groups that read your kind of book and ask about their R2R program or anything having to do with authors. Most are extremely accommodating. Congrats on a good first year though. Selling even 1 book is a great job. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you all for the tips and well-wishes! I'm hoping to release a new book by the end of the month, and will probably run a Select promo on other books in the series to drum up interest. Year 2 will be more exciting than the first, I hope!

Still curious about paid promotional opportunities. Anyone have any insight to share on promoting horror? BookBub and others have rejected me in the past, so my options may be limited.
 

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I love posts like this. Gives me hope  :D

The fact that you are up and running is awesome. I'm mired in logistics: website, social accounts, illustrating, editing, ISBNs and copyrights. Coordinating that while trying to write the sequel is dragging me down.

Blurgh.
 

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Christian Price said:
I just finished my first year as well. I completed three books and almost got my fourth book done in time and sold approximately 350 units.
Christian, I was wondering about you the other day. You and I were new posters during the same time frame, but I haven't seen anything from you for a while. You are doing better than I am. One factor is that my next book for publication is still not finished. It's good to hear from you again.

Edit to correct typo
 

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You might want to put one work up as perma-free to buy yourself exposure that may boost sales of the other books; I've read good things about that here. Working on trying thatout myself right now but too early to tell if it's working.

Good luck! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Javier, it depends on how short the short stories are. Some writers recommend publishing short stories individually AS WELL AS in collections. Some authors here have seen success with this. Food for thought.

Thanks for the suggestion, S. Shine. I've considered going perma-free on a book or two. Perhaps I'll give that a shot in the future. The sell-through to other books in the series might be enough to help me pick up some steam.
 

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Danielle Kazemi said:
Honestly - your covers are holding you back. I had no idea they were horror by looking at them in a passing glance. Especially that first one. It looks almost non-fiction about some historical happening. I'd suggest changing them drastically.
I agree. Your covers need help. I'd troll the boards to find a designer who might trade you for their skillset...or maybe you can invest a few bucks and hire one? They always say (and in this case "they" are always right) when it comes to indie publishing you absolutely DO judge a book by its cover.
Good luck and, whatever you do, don't quit! :D
 

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Danielle Kazemi said:
Honestly - your covers are holding you back. I had no idea they were horror by looking at them in a passing glance. Especially that first one. It looks almost non-fiction about some historical happening. I'd suggest changing them drastically.
That was my exact thought.

Congrads on your first year!!!! Just sticking in there is quite an accomplishment. I'm glad you are taking all you've learned and meeting year 2 head on.
 

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First, congrats! You've published stories you've written and sold them. Most people in this world cannot say that. :)

Second, you wanted advice, so here's mine:

1. Cover change on all of your covers. You have to compete with others in your genre and people DO judge books by their covers. Your covers are not engaging, eye catching, or genre-specific.
2. You're a good writer. (I read a couple of your samples.) You're lucky because that's something that's hard to fix! I recommend you find a writer who has a similar style to yours and find out where that author's readers are. That's who will read and enjoy your book. You need to bring your book to their notice.
3. Get some reviews up there!! Your books were published in 2012. Without reviews, they scare would-be readers away. I'm not saying get fake reviews, no way. I'm saying encourage your readers to leave them. Ask for honest reviews in your front and back matter of the books, on your Facebook, on your website. Ask and ye shall receive.
4. Engage with your readers via Facebook or website. Readers invest in people who care about them and what they think.
5. Write some full length novels, preferably in a series.
6. Get a mailing list going, put links in the front and back of your book, and stay in touch with your readers.

Best of luck to you!
 
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