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Old 01-18-2013, 12:46 AM   #1
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A publishing journey

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
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Old 01-18-2013, 12:48 AM   #2
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Congradulations. That level of success is amazing
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Old 01-18-2013, 01:23 AM   #3
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Wow, that's really fantastic! Congratulations on your success.
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Old 01-18-2013, 02:39 AM   #4
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Absolutely wonderful! This kind of early success deserves a happy dance.
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Old 01-18-2013, 03:09 AM   #5
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Wow, well done, that is excellent.
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Old 01-18-2013, 05:55 AM   #6
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Awesome. Thanks for sharing this.
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Old 01-18-2013, 01:27 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingsley View Post
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.
I think you probably do understand the difference, kingsley. Please note, however, that while you're encouraged to have a diary thread to record your self publishing endeavours, it would be inappropriate for you to use this thread to discuss your efforts to publish other people.

I'm also concerned that you intend to publish others when you have so little experience in publishing. It's fine risking your own work by self publishing it: but it worries me when people start to risk the work of others and if you look at our BR&BC room you'll see many threads about publishers who started in this way, with really good intentions, who crashed and burned, taking their authors with them. Please be careful. I really don't want to see any of AW's members involved in such a mess, no matter which side of it they're on.

Quote:
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.
My bold. If you're planning on publishing other writers without marketing their books, I'm not sure what you're offering them which they couldn't do for themselves.

Quote:
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.
That's ok for now but be aware that it's not usual for us to allow such things. The thread might end up being locked if it becomes clear that this isn't about a self publishing journey, but is instead a promotional attempt by a publisher.

Quote:
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
Your December figures for A Winter's Knight are good for a self published book, but not so good for a trade-published book; and as you said you didn't market this title it seems to me that luck played a big part in you selling so many copies (they were all paid-for copies, weren't they, and not freebies?). If you're still planning on publishing other writers, you might want to consider how you could duplicate the luck you had, which is going to be very difficult.

I'm also concerned by the number of errors which have crept into your post (grammar, punctuation, homophone substitution). That doesn't bode well for the quality of your editing, I'm afraid.

I'm sorry to be so blunt, but I'd rather point these things out before you start signing other writers, so that you're alerted to them and can deal with them now. It's heartbreaking when things go wrong, and I don't want that to happen for you or the writers you end up working with.

Despite my many reservations and my grumpy-sounding tone I do wish you the very best of luck with this project. I hope it all goes brilliantly, and I look forward to your updates.
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Old 01-18-2013, 07:03 PM   #8
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Old Hack, thanks for the concerns. We are taking the long view of this journey and we don't have any plans in the near future (2013 or probably 2014) to publish other authors. We want to learn as much about the publishing business as possible by doing, though, so we're getting our own stuff out there to figure things out. That's why i started this thread: to document our journey as self-publishers, not to promote our publishing company.

I've been experimenting with marketing since our initial success and i will try to share those experiences with the Cooler as well. I genuinely want to give back to the community and i hope the AW members come to understand that through my posts here and in other threads.
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Old 01-18-2013, 07:09 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
luck played a big part in you selling so many copies (they were all paid-for copies, weren't they, and not freebies?). If you're still planning on publishing other writers, you might want to consider how you could duplicate the luck you had, which is going to be very difficult.
They were all paid copies. We have no plans to run free promotions. Our first title was enrolled in KDP Select, but that was a mistake and i don't intend to use it again.

I fully acknowledge that luck had a role in our initial success, but there are a few things that worked to our advantage. We launched a holiday-themed story at the right time. We priced it at the right price (99 cents seems to be the sweet spot for holiday romances). And we are publishing in a very popular genre (historical romances).

When we launch our next title, i will share those experiences here to see if we're able to duplicate and build on our success. I hope you join in the discussion because i know you have valuable thoughts to share.
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Old 01-18-2013, 10:20 PM   #10
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Looking forward to following your journey.
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Old 01-19-2013, 01:29 AM   #11
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Good luck, k and partner, in your self-publishing endeavors. May you have many more sales to go with the many you've already had.

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