Now that i have some data points, i wanted to begin sharing more details about our publishing journey. My partner and i have begun laying the foundation for an independent publishing company (mod: i think i understand the difference) by first self-publishing her writing. In the future we will be adding more authors, but for now i just want to share our experiences with the Cooler.
We launched a collection of short stories way back in May 2012 and didn't see much success. We had idealistic views of selling direct to our readers, but we had no readers. I opened a Shopify store and sold a few copies to our friends and family, but only one or two to people we didn't know. My partner, the author, got very discouraged. We decided to take a short break while she worked on some other projects over the summer.
In fall of 2012, we redoubled our efforts and launched a short Regency romance novella she had in the can from a while back. It has a slight holiday theme to it, so we targeted November for the release. After numerous distractions, i was able to get everything together to release it the week of Thanksgiving.
The first day it started to sell. Then it started to sell more. By the end of the first week it was selling dozens of copies per day. All with no marketing. We just uploaded it to Amazon, enrolled it in KDP Select, and off it went.
In December, it reached new heights we never though possible. Two weeks before Christmas, the book peaked at #2 on the Regency list and #10 on the historical romance list. We were selling over 200 copies a day! Neither of us could believe it.
We had another novel manuscript complete, but i was dragging my feet because i wanted to commission an alternate cover design. We decided to release it with the original cover design (which i have since fallen in love with) in order to piggy back on the sales momentum of the novella. I put a sample in the back of the book with a bitly link to buy it. This one i didn't enroll in KDP Select because i wanted to get a presence on all the other ebook retailers.
Lesson #1: Luck plays a huge roll, but you can use some strategy when you have luck on your side. Putting a sample chapter in the back of our popular book led to over 500 click-throughs (who knows how many sales) to the second book. Writing for popular genres also seems to do the trick.
Lesson #2: Seems like people are willing to gamble on a new author for 99 cents (in romance at least). It's been a lot harder moving $2.99 novel than the 99 cent novella. Scientifically, i have no way to know if it's content-related or otherwise and i'm not willing to drop the novel to below $2.99 at this time to experiment.
Lesson #3: Not really a lesson, but we're both really excited to see what happens when we release her next novella (Real Soon Now). Will those thousands of readers dig in for more? Will Amazon's discovery tools work to our advantage? Can we build on this success or have we already peaked?
With the blessings of the mods, i will use this thread to record our journey like other authors have done. I hope that's okay, even though i'm not the author. I prefer to leave her to keep writing.
So, let's cut to the numbers for November and December. These are Amazon-only, but since they include 99% of the total sales, it gives most of the story.
A Winter's Knight
Nov 2012 (US; UK) = 324; 17*
Dec 2012 (US; UK) = 5,452; 526
Love On The Run
Nov 2012 (US; UK) = 4; 0*
Dec 2012 (US; UK) = 434; 24
* November partial month