I Must Not Check My Sales Figures

It’s nearly three weeks since I launched my latest two attempts at world author domination. Three weeks of trying to stop myself going on Amazon KDP site to see if anyone has noticed that I have not just three but five books out now. Not just noticed of course but purchased a copy. Oh the joy of that first sale! Then waiting for the storming up the sales charts and rankings. Then there would be the interview with local press, perhaps  a national newspaper and an interview on Radio 2 as the latest greatest Internet phenomena. I mean do we really need to know about another cat or a baby on YouTube or that some Celeb has done something, potentially breathed or uttered a meaningful syllable.

I have books out pay attention to me!

Shortly after my email and phone would be inundated with demands and offers for publishing rights and of course that film deal. Just a couple more sales and it will happen. Look yesterday three copies were sold, I must be edging up the charts now. I’ll do some more adverts that will generate interest 200,000 views, 2 clicks, no purchases.

My hope is gone faster than an elephant sitting on a helium congratulations balloon. Delve into writers forums – it takes time to build an audience, I have less than you, I’m sure things will pick up the usual supportive platitudes from my fellow writers. Plus the other ones, I only had 4,000 downloads last week I wonder what I am doing wrong!

I’ve emailed and twittered, I’ve added my Goodreads folder comments, no spamming – I hate that. I’ve listed my books on sites, added to web sites and blogs. Told family and friends. I haven’t read the first one yet, I don’t have a Kindle, I’m reading war and peace, I don’t read books. Nothing like support when you need it.

Look another sale! Nearly seven billion people on the planet and I get one sale. Unfair of course on the 99.99999999% of the population who couldn’t care less. I’ll run a promotion, give it away, done that before and… That’s not a sale that’s just a statistic a free download, no reviews not even sure if anyone reads the freebies, they just collect them. Don’t log in again, don’t click on the reports dashboard to find out how many. That graph is infuriating surely it means 100’s or thousands not ones and twos. It must be more than that. Log off. Don’t look. Months of effort, hours of drafting and redrafting. On page 36 you used new instead of knew. Damn, damn, damn, correct, upload new version. Did anyone notice? Why have I found out now? After editing, beta readers, more editing, how can that happen? Is that why no one is buying the book, they try the sample and see new instead of knew glaring at them.

It’s been an hour, I haven’t checked. I can’t check at work, I don’t want to check but the bookmark is right there, I can find out in less than twenty seconds. Someone at work says, “I must give your book a try.” I check the report, nothing.

I can’t very well go and shout at them “I thought you were going to buy my book!”

I check a few hours later, one sale! Was that them, no it’s not in the UK unless they are buying from another ID on another site. I must stop this, I’ll check the reviews instead….

This way lies madness.

I need to write instead. Write something different, something better, don’t use the word knew, edit it another time or three. Spend more on advertising, blog more, comment more, tweet more. That next sales rank is just out of reach just a few more downloads away.

I’d better check the numbers I could have sold a million whilst I was writing this. I’ll check the going rate for that Hollywood deal. Log in, no change.

Repeat – ad-infinitum…

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Sales Ranks and Writing

Are sales the bane of a self – pub writers life?

My books rank from 20,000 to over 400,000

Of course I was Number one in free thrillers once  now I’m 217,150 with that book in overall paid. I suppose that is not bad given the alleged million plus books available. Genre rankings are different again, but without getting into those which are further specified by Amazon location we all have to remember one thing. The ranking are driven by weightings and various algorithms which are known only to Amazon. This is not a problem it is after all their store they can sell and run what they like and rank results how they like. The number would be different for revenue in whichever currency rather than just sales. It will differ in Kindle, hardback, paperback and audio too.

To add to the analysis it of course does not include CreateSpeace, Lulu, Smashwords, iBooks, Nook etc. numbers or any authors selling stuff direct. Getting into the famous Amazon top 100 for anything is a start and we would all like to be there but does it really matter? We want high numbers of sales not just for the revenue (why give them away?) but for reviews and attention. We pay for meaningless advertisements and judge those on views and clicks which may or may not lead to sales. We blog – I’m doing it now, we Facebook, we twitter we hope for reviews from mainstream media. We comment on Goodreads and other web sites overall we try and get noticed.

Is this just some giant self-indulgent ego trip “look at me I’m a writer!” Why are so many people trying a creative element not just writing but music, video, arts including the massive increase in photography. Are we all deluded like the worst performers on a talent show or in a karaoke bar or is there something else going on?

The Internet has given us the opportunity, technology has expanded the tool set. The barriers to entry that traditional publishing upheld have been reduced, but a new hurdle sits in the way, competition. The professional element is hampered just as much as the semi-professional or gifted amateur. Competition for the writer is now not just another professional writer but thousands of amateurs and not so amateurs launching their own output onto the unsuspecting world.

Much of the output in all artistic forms may be considered to be rubbish by so called experts. The professional critics or the amateur ones bemoan the lack of standards whether its artistic brushwork, composition or a self-pub’s grammar. I bemoan the number of dog and cat videos plaguing YouTube. One thing for sure we cannot put the genie back in the bottle. The world has changed we are all going to have to lie with it unless some dystopian catastrophe changes the world. I don’t think any of us really want a world without the Internet digital music, photography or the other benefits no matter how much rubbish is attached.

Once upon a time stable lads bemoaned the introduction of the horseless carriage.  To quote a poet (who really can’t sing) the times they are a’ changin‘. We’ll all have to live with it no matter our sales rank.

Beta Readers

Anyone looking to be a beta reader for the sequel to An Agent’s Demise called An Agent’s Rise or the first part of my Sci-Fi series called The World of Fives – please get in touch

My Daughter’s Acknowledgement

I’m in trouble. It’s not an unusual state of affairs when it comes to family matters. This one concerns acknowledgements in my second book – To The Survivors.

It seems I gave an acknowledgement in the closing pages to my family except my daughter. At the time she had not read the book, but she has now. Good news is that she liked it, bad news, she noticed her omission. Sorry! You of course helped and supported me and now you have a dedicated blog to acknowledge the fact. She is of course busy with her studies so she has not had time to read the books in the publishing timeframe. Quite right study first, Dad’s requests later.

More generally how many readers actually read the preface/front matter or the closing pages after the end of the story. Kindle defaults settings seem to start at the first formal chapter unless the publisher is careful to change the settings to start at the start. The start of a normal book is of course the Cover. Many writers like me add in quotes, extracts or other starting material. For my first book I added a cast list but I now realise many readers will not have seen it. No wonder they found it complex.  Until I changed the settings to start at the start. Of course many writers have shown family trees or lists. For one of my new books I even have a web site to give the back story and hopefully generate some initial interest.

For acknowledgements it’s harder, I normally skip the long lists found in many books of all those that have helped with producing the book. I keep it down to under a page. Then there are the links to other books, and frequently a sample chapter. I have not produced a sample chapter, but I have added a brief description of other books by me.

Some writers have added reviews from newspapers or web sites to their introductions alongside links to web sites, Facebook, Twitter etc. all hoping that one sale will lead to another.

So acknowledgements are important alongside all the other bits either side of the story.  I must remember to read them myself and not forget anyone. Thank you for your help, Tasha. Now, can you read the others!

Advertising for the Self-Published Author

Accoring to some sources there are 9,000 new books being published each month.  Most of these are new books from self-publish authors like me.  Sometimes we get called indi’ authors as in independent, but whatever the tag line we all face a huge challenge in getting out masterpiece noticed.  Lots of other companies vie for our trade to take our promotions further.  From blog sites like WordPress offering named domains to Publishing companies offering to promote the new tome for a fee.

For this blog I wanted to review my own experiences of several of these services in relation to my different books.  Like all reviews it’s my own opinion.

An Agent’s Demise

My first book received no publicity at all on launch as frankly I didn’t know how.  I did create a Facebook page and set up my website, but there were no Ads.  It was enrolled in KDP Select and had over 3,000 downloads on its free days.  It even got to number one in its genre in the USA for a couple of days.  After it was no longer free it disappeared from the rankings, currently number 272,000 in the rankings on Amazon.com.  More recently it did share advertising space via Project Wonderful.

Result – No publicity worked, no change in sales with Project Wonderful – I put this down to beginners luck and a popular genre. I am now looking to re-edit professionally, if I can justify the fee.

To The Survivors

When my second book launched I was on Goodreads and I joined Bookdaily.  The book has sold steadily.  It has featured on the Project Wonderful Ads and I even did a You Tube Trailer.  Sales have been steady, currently ranked #12,935 the UK Kindle Store and #43 in it’s genre.  It has never been in KDP Select although it did launch at the 99c price point.  The only formal push through advertising was Bookdaily, although it was featured with accompanying articles on two blog sites, which prompted the creation of this site.

Result – Despite a more realistic price and no further advertising, the book continues to sell.  I am now looking to re-edit professionally, if I can justify the fee.

The Persuasive Man

For my third book I have tried, Project Wonderful, Ask David (Twitter), and it has even featured on Goodreads.  It is in KDP Select but sales have been exceptionally disappointing, even with free days on KDP.  Given the amount of publicity I hoped to at least get several hundred free downloads, but no less than 100 worldwide.  It’s now at 99c on KDP.  I have joined Twitter, blogged and talked about it. If I had done nothing there would be no change.  It has one 4-star review, not from anyone I know, and that’s it.

Result – Unclear, it may be the genre that makes it a difficult pick up, perhaps the cover, who knows.

The Methods

KDP and KDP Select –

The jury is out, yes I had a lot of downloads with An Agent’s Demise but virtually nothing with The Persuasive Man despite the publicity.  In the end what is the point of free downloads if it doesn’t generate future non-free sales or lead to reviews.

Project Wonderful

Budget set and controlled by me – 232,000 views of my ads, 81,000 unique, 51 clicks – no attributable sales

BookDaily

Fixed price per month – Featured book in emails, two months of cover to 23,000 emails.  1,500 allegedly read my exert – no attributable sales

Ask David

Cheapest method – 10 tweets to 19,000 followers each Tweet, – no attributable sales

Goodreads

Most expensive per day – 56,000 views of ads, 20 clicks, no increase on to-read lists, no more reviews – no attributable sales

Others

I have looked at vanity publishing houses, paid reviews, author exchanges and most look like scams with no solid results.  Lot’s of blog review sites all fighting for the same audience.

For one of my new books, I am trying a different approach with a story background blog already in place.  Just got to get some people to look at it let alone buy the book when it comes out.

Conclusion

It appears that advertising is a waste of money with these services.  Your advert cannot compete with the expensive adverts from the publishing houses on Goodreads let alone Amazon.  The list of services for Self Pub authors is expanding but getting a reader of a web site to actually purchase is not something any of the advertisers want to talk about.  For the Author it’s very much buyer beware.  The services mesmerise you with statistics on followers, viewers, page impressions, but don’t tell you the results.  The only information needed is how many people buy the book as a result of the advert.  On my evidence it’s virtually none.  Save your money.