Tag Archives: sales

It’s my second Indie birthday!

Hey Scribblers!

PJ Sharon here. Today I’m celebrating two years since I first published my debut novel HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES. In honor of the occasion, I’m giving away an audio book copy to one random commenter. Chance to enter ends Monday, September 30th at midnight.

So what’s it like being an Indie toddler?

Believe me, there are days when I want to have fits like a two-year-old. But there are also days when I can’t imagine a more exciting pursuit. It seems like just yesterday I was posting my first novel onto AMAZON, B&N, and Smashwords, taking the giant leap of faith that I had done enough to ensure it was as close to perfect as possible. Five books and a zillion lessons later, I’m still working to improve and streamline my process. Everything from formatting, cover art, editing, and marketing, to managing the business end of being an author, is constantly changing, making me feel like a perpetual newbie.

Here’s a short list of what I’ve learned in my first two years:

1) Relax and Breathe-I really stressed out my first year and a half as an author. The past six months has been about letting go for me. I can’t control it all, I can only do so much in a day, and the to-do list will still be there tomorrow. Making time to write is non-negotiable. It’s what keeps me moving forward and brings me joy. I manage what I absolutely have to do each day, and try to remember that I’m the boss.

2) Hire as much help as you can afford-I’m a big fan of bartering services, but there are some things you just can’t do that with. Figuring out a budget and investing in creating a superior product is worth the effort and money. Hire a good cover artist and excellent editors, and pay for the RIGHT advertisement, and you will make your money back. Caution: BE SELECTIVE. Get references and do your research.

3) It’s good to have friends in the playpen- I would know nothing if I didn’t belong to such Yahoo Groups as IndieRomanceInk, Authors Network, and Marketing for Romance Writers. My local RWA chapter has been invaluable, and the contacts I’ve made through YARWA and the WG2E street team are like family. I am constantly amazed by the generosity of the writing community.

4) Patience grasshopper-  I’m only two, for Pete’s sake! We have to walk before we can run, right? Everything requires a process. In people years, a toddler is only just beginning their journey. I can’t expect myself to know everything, do everything right, or earn a solid income in only two years time. Every business model I’ve ever seen considers a profit after five years, a success. Most businesses will fail in those first five years. I take comfort in knowing that the only way I can fail is if I stop writing books. I’m more and more convinced that money comes with time and persistence. I’ll let you know how that theory works out in another three years when I graduate to kindergarten.

5) Perspective is everything- I originally set the goaI that I would sell 10,000 copies of my collective books in a year. I guess I didn’t necessarily mean the first year…or the second. Well, maybe I was just being optimistic. I could have been disappointed when I didn’t meet my mark in 2012, but it didn’t really phase me. Mainly because I knew that if I had sold 5,000 the first year, the second five would come eventually. I still haven’t quite reached the 10K mark yet (there will be cake when I do!). But I consider every sale, every contest win, positive review, or reader comment a measure of success. Most importantly, my level of enjoyment with the process is my biggest measure of success these days. I keep a copy of each of my books close at hand to remind me of what I’ve accomplished in just two short years.

There is so much more that I’ve learned, but I’d have to write a book to contain it all and my publishing schedule is booked for the foreseeable future. So instead of me blabbering on about my toddler years, why don’t you guys tell me about your journey.

How long have you been writing?  What has it taught you? Have you made the leap into the publishing world? How’s that going for you? Let’s chat!

Fight for Your Goals, Live for Your Dreams

Happy Friday everyone! Casey here.

UndeadSpaceInitiative_400Now that I’m plotting my next book, I’ve been thinking about my writing career a bit. As a rule, I don’t think too much about where I see myself in the future.

Probably a bad thing, but I’m a worrier by nature and I’m trying to curb the habit by living more in the moment. That means learning to accept the things I can control and letting go of the things that I can’t.

One thing I’ve noticed since I’ve become published is that there is a lot more pressure (often not self-imposed) to promote the heck out of your books and/or yourself. I admit that I have promoted myself through social media, blog tours, paid ads, ect.

And for the most part, I’ve resented all the time it’s taken away from my writing. I am one of those people who subscribes to the belief that the best marketing tool is your next book. Yet, I got sucked into the promotional vortex and paid the price by only completing two books last year (and one of them two days before X-Mas!).

I know writers who would kill to finish two books in a year, but for me, I wanted three. Maybe this year, I will meet that goal.

Before I go further, there is a difference between a goal and a dream. A dream is something out of your hands (like winning the lottery, making the NY Times Bestseller list, going to Mars).

Hope Springs
Fake movie theater – Stonington Point, CT

While a goal, is something you can achieve through your own actions. Want to be on the NY Times Bestseller list?  First, realize this is a dream and not in your control. But what you can do, is control yourself by writing the best books you can. You can continue to learn the craft of writing so readers, when they do discover you, want to read more of your books. If you’ve been spinning your wheels on the same book for years, time to think about changing focus.

If you want to be on the NY Times list, you’ll also need to recognize one simple fact – you can’t make anyone buy your book. Remember, dreams are outside your control.

Not sure which is a dream and which is an achievable goal?

Dream: win a RITA (or other award) Goal: learn skill ___ to improve writing. Take a class, read a book on craft, find a mentor (wash, rinse, repeat) Goal: submit published novel (or unpublished manuscript) to contests (again, you can’t control if you win, but you can use it as a learning experience to improve your writing.)

Dream: become rich and/or famous with your writing Goal: complete a novel in 2013 or

Goal: submit polished novel to agent or editor or pursue indie publishing.

Filming - Hope Springs - Stonington Point, CT
Filming – Hope Springs – Stonington Point, CT

Dream: sell X number of books. Goal: schedule an appearance at your local bookstore or library.(Remember, you can’t make people buy your books but you can make a favorable impression.) Goal: write your next novel and stop worrying about sales.

Now before you raise your arm and shout “Blasphemy!”, consider this - Do you let other people tell you what to buy? If I followed you around a store, chanting, “buy my book, buy my book!”, you’d call security. Then you’d probably never buy anything of mine ever again because I was obnoxious and rude. Not to mention, no one likes other people telling them how to think.

Hopefully, you’re sensing a theme: you can control your time, your output, your quality and yourself.

So, no matter how much control we writers have over our work these days, some things haven’t changed. Readers want to discover good books and they will find you eventually. As my fellow Scribe PJ says of a writing career, “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

In the meantime, here is my goal for 2013: head down, write more, learn more, and be considerate to others. Always!

Share and share alike. What has your experience been? What strategies do you use to fight for your goals?

Results of FREE Promo

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas, Scribe fans. It’s been an amazing year. Four YA novels and a short story published, and I’ve learned tons about the business. A huge thanks to all those who have read and helped spread the word about my books this past year. There is no way I could have done all of this without you. I’m truly grateful and humbled by the generosity of my writing community. You guys rock!

I just came off a two day Free promo for Heaven is for Heroes and On Thin Ice. Sales for both books had trickled to a slow drip over the last six months and I thought a run in the KDP Select program might breathe new life into my visibility through the holidays. As with all of my promotional efforts, it’s pretty much of an experiment each and every time since what works one day in publishing may not work the next.

In hind site, my biggest mistake was that I didn’t plan far enough ahead to garner a spot in any of the paid advertising sites like Pixel of Ink, E-reader News Today, Kindle Nation Daily, or one of the newer sites Book Bub, a site that I’ve heard is getting some impressive attention. Some of these sites take one to six months to get an ad, and some cost as much as $200 for a one day advertisement. Pricey, but usually worth it to reach the 10,000+ mark for downloads in a two day period. The consensus seems to be that two days is the charm, as downloads usually drop by day three and if you haven’t hit the top 100 list on Amazon, you’re not likely to beyond day three. The idea is that if you can get enough volume of downloads, it will affect your rankings and set you up for a nice bump in sales once the book goes back into the paid store. At least that’s how it used to work.

Amazon appears to be fond of changing the rules on us Indies as soon as we figure out how to make the system work for us. I’m sure you’ve heard or read about incidents of things like reviews disappearing arbitrarily, algorithms changing to favor traditionally published and higher priced books, and the shifty way they manipulate the rankings after a free promo. In other words, it’s beginning to feel like the cards are stacked against us.

For example, in March I did a two day FREE promo for Savage Cinderella. Granted, I was part of a group of 19 authors giving our books away and cross-promoting the event, clearly able to reach many more readers than going solo, but I had 28,000 downloads, made it into the Amazon top 100, and had an uptick in sales for about three weeks after the promotion, selling about 800 books that month. This week’s promotion didn’t do nearly as well, but I didn’t expect it to given I hadn’t advertised ahead of time and didn’t have the cross-promotion benefits. I did get several new twitter followers and a few new FB “likes” out of the deal and my books are in the hands of a few thousand new readers—always a good thing! Hopefully, it will translate to some postiive reviews.

Here are my results:

Heaven is for Heroes:

2,868 US downloads, 96 (UK), 25 (de), 3(Fr.), 1 (es.), 4 (It.), 1 (Jap), and 7 (Ca.)

Amazon Bestseller Rankings:

#130 Free Kindle store

#8 Kindle store>e-books>teens

#32 kindle store>e-books>fiction>genre fiction>romance contemporary

On Thin Ice:

825 US Downloads, 114 (UK), 22 (de), 2 (Ca.)

#453 in Kindle store

#14 Kindle store>Kindle books>teen>romance

OBSERVATIONS:

Not bad numbers overall, considering there were no paid ads and I basically depended on Twitter and Facebook for advertising. I listed the books on half a dozen Facebook pages that allowed for promotion of free books, focusing on YA sites. I belong to several writers loops and had lots of help spreading the word (THANK YOU Wana Minions, CTRWA buddies, Authors Network and the WG2E Street team folks.)

I had low expectations of this promotion since it was a last minute decision and I scrambled to pull it together. I’ll see over the next week whether sales are given a boost, but I’m not anticipating that since the rankings dropped back to the pre-promo numbers as soon as I came off of FREE. It used to take a few days for this to happen, but Amazon’s new practices seem to expedite this process, making it that much harder for authors to take advantage of short term boosts in rankings. I was hoping I’d stay in the visible top 100 to catch those new Kindle owners after Christmas, but I’m thinking that’s not going to happen either. They’ll likely be loading up on the FREE books going up next week, the zillion .99 cent books that will be available over the next month, and the lucky ducks sitting on the Top 100 list that most people find as soon as they fire up their Kindles.

One interesting note is the number of downloads of Heaven is for Heroes verses On Thin Ice. On Thin Ice has been my best seller for several months, selling twice as many in the UK as here in the US, and outselling my other titles three to one. Heaven is for Heroes 72 dpi 600x900 WEBSITE USESince the only thing I did to change the game was to change my cover for Heaven is for Heroes, I’m wondering if that might be what gave the book a boost.

My favorite takeaway from this promotion is seeing downloads in Italy, Japan, and Canada, new markets previously untapped for me. Very exciting!

I hope Santa was good to you all and that whatever you’re doing today, you’ll find some downtime to escape into a good book. Merry Christmas everyone!

Any questions? Thoughts? Ideas?