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Nina_20
01-28-2016, 08:00 AM
A little back story- I self-published my book a week ago! I am so proud of myself for taking that step. My husband and I have been trying to have a baby for 9 years and we decided to adopt but it's so expensive that it was just not an option for us. I have been writing for awhile but bolted myself to a chair about a year ago and came up with, if I may say so myself, a pretty great story. We want to use the funds from my novel to adopt a child. In a week I haven't sold any extra copies than what my friends and family have contributed to. I have advertised on Instagram, Facebook pages, writing blogs, book clubs and I have screamed it from the mountain tops, told every random person I know, and still have not sold even 1 extra copy that isn't accounted for. The book is still up for pre-order.

I don't need it to sell fast. I'm a patient person, after all I've waited 9 years for a kid, what's another 3 or 4. But inquiring minds want to know (and by minds I mean only mine) is this normal? Has anyone else self-published and had a slow start? Is this a result of the pre-order status? Am I doing something wrong? Can anyone calm my nerves the tiniest little bit? TIA!!! <3

Cyia
01-28-2016, 08:09 AM
Honestly, that's pretty normal.

There are several writers around here who have had success of different sizes with self-publishing. You might want to start by reading through their threads to see what has and hasn't worked for them. Try searching out book blogs that will review self-published novels.

AFAIK, those with the most success have published multiple novels. Each new book generally gives a boost to the others as an author builds an audience.

What genre do you write in? That can have a huge impact on your sales, too.

Helix
01-28-2016, 08:41 AM
When I click on your link, it says that it won't be available until 1 March 2016 and there's no 'look inside' feature. I would be strongly disinclined to buy a book on spec from an unknown author when I can't get a feel for their writing.

Do follow Cyia's suggestions. There's plenty of helpful information in the diaries and stickies in the self-publishing sub-forum. Just be ready for a long slog.

Ari Meermans
01-28-2016, 08:44 AM
Hi, Nina

I'm going to move your thread to the Book Promotion Ideas & Advice forum. In fact, I recommend your taking a tour of that forum to check out the promotional paths others have taken and their takes on what does and does not work.

The usual spiel, everyone: Hang on and keep all hands and feet inside while the thread is in motion.

Nina_20
01-28-2016, 12:09 PM
Thank you for moving my thread! I haven't been on the site for awhile and I feel like everything has changed and the new forums are hard to navigate. It is taking me a minute to get used to it! :D

Jeff C. Stevenson
01-28-2016, 06:25 PM
Hi Nina--

What Helix said is key: Add a Look Inside feature.

Also, can you add a "Pre-order" banner because right now, there's no indication it's not available until March 1 unless you read all the fine print.

I don't self publish so I don't know if you can move up the pub date, but I wouldn't expect many orders until it's available so don't be discouraged over that. And March 1 is a long ways away, so promoting it a lot now might be a waste of time since people will see it's not even available yet. Maybe wait until the middle/end of Feb and do a seven day "countdown" -- > "Who will survive, Jake Steele or the Great Inferno? Find out in 7 days, pre-order today!" Just make up a simple teaser every day with a link back to your book; that might help.

But here is the easiest thing to do: Get your family and friends who read your book to POST REVIEWS! That is really key for anything at Amazon; people are more likely to buy or at least stop and look if they see some reviews. The "sweet spot" is at least 30 reviews, but anything helps.

Since your family/friends have already read it and are champions, they can post their reviews as soon as the book is available.

Good luck to you!


We want to use the funds from my novel to adopt a child.

WriterBN
01-28-2016, 09:42 PM
Amazon is clamping down on reviews from family and (supposedly) from friends, so I wouldn't spend too much effort on getting them to review.

But to the OP: self-publishing is a lot of work (1% publishing and 99% marketing/promotion). One week isn't enough to judge, but I believe the overwhelming majority of self-published books sell very few copies beyond a handful of family and friends.

Also, preorders on Amazon don't tend work in your favor unless you're an established author with a devoted following.

cornflake
01-28-2016, 10:00 PM
Along with what everyone above has said, you've got from ages 8-18 and grades 3-12 on there. Is this book MG or YA? I'd say alter your category to suit.

Cyia
01-28-2016, 10:17 PM
I hadn't checked the link when I posted, but after reading cornflake's post, I took a look.

From the cover design and length, you're definitely looking at something that skews MG in appearance. I don't know if that matches the inside, but it's going to be the likely assumption based on what's obvious to a reader. Even the blurb sounds MG. (a 12 year old protag almost certainly is)

You may be hoping for a crossover audience, which is always possible. However, MG is almost exclusively bought by adults *for* children. A mom seeing so wide of a target audience range is going to wonder if there's material that might appeal to an older reader, but would also be controversial or inappropriate for a younger one.

Eight year olds generally get Ramona or Junie B Jones books in school, maybe the first Harry Potter or Eragon. Those readers *might* be ready for Percy Jackson, if they like adventure, but they're not likely ready for Anna Dressed in Blood. Your advertised age range would encompass all of these.

Metadata is hugely important for getting the right readers to your novel. Choose it carefully.

Jeff C. Stevenson
01-28-2016, 11:21 PM
WriterBN, I don't think Amazon cares where the customer review comes from (how would they know if it comes from a blogger or your aunt?) I know they went through a period of removing "fake reviews" and those that were obviously purchased with the same postings over and over again. But I have no information that legit reviews are being looked over, and that's what I meant.

And to the OP, I forgot to mention that I wouldn't put a lot of hope in this: We want to use the funds from my novel to adopt a child. Best to write for the love of writing and not count on it for a living or earning enough to a adopt and raise a child. Regardless, good luck!

cornflake
01-28-2016, 11:23 PM
Amazon cares - they ban reviews from other writers and family and etc. They do remove reviews; there are just a lot of books to go through, and new reviews popping up all the time.

Nina_20
01-29-2016, 11:50 AM
I appreciate the input everyone! I can def. see the mistakes with the target audience and I did want it to be a crossover. Percy Jackson/Harry Potter type. The book is 50,000+ words also which puts it on the higher end for MG. That was a tough choice and Amazon let me list it that way so I figured.. why not? haha I guess that wasn't the smartest way. - As for not counting on the money to adopt and raise a child I think I would rather hope for the best and promote my little heart out. But thanks for the sentiment :)

Dhewco
01-30-2016, 12:45 AM
I wish you luck, but I second the sentiment about waiting to promote. It's too early. I don't pre-order books myself...not even from the likes of King and Bujold. When I buy a book, I want to read it at time of purchase. (although it doesn't always work out that way, I still have book 3 of the Percy Jackson series to read and it's been a year, lol)

cornflake
01-30-2016, 04:13 AM
I do preorder, but it's books I want the day of release, dangit, and that's pretty much entirely authors whose work I know very well and have checked to see when they're releasing new stuff.

cmhbob
01-30-2016, 04:44 AM
Consider offering eARCs - Advanced Reader Copies, and look at some review sites. Most of the big-named review sites are already booking into early March now.

You could also look into something like Indie Book Promo (http://indiebookpromo.com/submit-to-ibp-3/). They have some nicely priced packages. (Disclaimer: the owner of IBP is affiliated with my publisher.) That's a legit service though, because you're not buying the review. You're buying access to reviewers.

Make sure your social media feeds are actually engaging your followers, not just saying "BuyMyBookBuyMyBookBuyMyBook" every post. Figure at least a 3:1 ratio of regular content to promotional posts.

Remember that you're playing the long game here (http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/perspective/). Even apparent overnight successes like EL James had a bunch of writing under their belts before things took off. Consider writing your first book as graduating from college. You're not going to get the CEO position right off the bat.

Good luck.

cornflake
01-30-2016, 04:54 AM
James was also not self-publishing. Just saying. I'm not saying success isn't possible, but she's not an example of it.

Roxxsmom
01-30-2016, 04:54 AM
Amazon is clamping down on reviews from family and (supposedly) from friends, so I wouldn't spend too much effort on getting them to review.

Yeah, I thought this was poor form everywhere, and specifically forbidden on Amazon, which is one down side of being an author who has a wide network of people they know on social media and so on. It's hard to review someone objectively if you know them, even as a fairly casual, mostly "online" friend. So it can be hard to get reviews initially, until people who don't know you in any capacity have read your book.

I'm not an expert on self publishing by any means (I'm trying the long, painful slog to trade publishing). But it's my understanding that it can take a while to build a following up to where you make much money in either type of publishing. New self-published authors can expect to sink a lot of their own money into editing, cover design, advertising etc. up front, and there's no guarantee they'll make it back. The vest odds, as I understand it from friends who have made decent money self publishing, are with those who bring new books out pretty frequently (because new books will attract readers to earlier books too).

But if the book isn't available yet, it makes sense that sales would be low so far.

As for the book being a bit long for standard MG length: I wouldn't worry too much about that if it's self published. I think the issues with novel length apply more to trade publishing, which have to consider shipping costs and shelving space for hard copy novels. If your novel is available PoD, a higher word count could drive the cost up, of course.

Old Hack
01-30-2016, 01:56 PM
But to the OP: self-publishing is a lot of work (1% publishing and 99% marketing/promotion). One week isn't enough to judge, but I believe the overwhelming majority of self-published books sell very few copies beyond a handful of family and friends.

Sadly, this is true. There has been a huge upsurge in self-publishing over the last few years: but mean sales figures tend to be low. I wish this were not so.


Amazon cares - they ban reviews from other writers and family and etc. They do remove reviews; there are just a lot of books to go through, and new reviews popping up all the time.

They definitely do.

buz
01-30-2016, 04:59 PM
Hellos :)

Just another idea--

As a reader, or potential buyer for a young reader--well, any cover that looks like it wasn't designed by a professional puts me off. That could just be me, but--if you can't afford professional help with it, I might suggest looking into getting some feedback on the typography of the title and playing around with it.

Good luck :D

.

Dhewco
01-31-2016, 03:48 AM
So, I should just tell my Facebook peeps to not reveal they're friends to Amazon? How do they tell a friend who is effusive and a person who really likes the book?

Lauram6123
01-31-2016, 06:07 AM
So, I should just tell my Facebook peeps to not reveal they're friends to Amazon? How do they tell a friend who is effusive and a person who really likes the book?

It's not about your reviewers telling Amazon that you are their friend. Apparently, they already know who your friends are.

http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2015/07/amazons-personal-connection-review.html

mrsmig
01-31-2016, 06:18 AM
Hellos :)

Just another idea--

As a reader, or potential buyer for a young reader--well, any cover that looks like it wasn't designed by a professional puts me off. That could just be me, but--if you can't afford professional help with it, I might suggest looking into getting some feedback on the typography of the title and playing around with it.

Good luck :D

.

Seconding this. I can barely read your cover copy in full size; in typical thumbnail size it's completely illegible. Do consider a redesign of your cover if you can afford it.

I'm another one who won't even consider buying an unknown author's work if I can't have a look at it first: either by thumbing through a copy at a bookstore, or using Amazon's "Look Inside" feature.

Dhewco
01-31-2016, 07:30 AM
That WB article doesn't seem to mention FB unless I missed it. Amazon apparently has data miners that look for connections. I'm wondering if my posting on AW would flag somewhere...if one of you guys bought my book and decided to review it. I'm not saying we're all pals, but we're not complete strangers either. There's a connection.

The people on FB are the ones I grew up with or met through various dating experiences. I'm FB friends with a guy from England who only friended me because we have the same first and last name....would Amazon flag him as a false reviewer, if he liked my book. It's just so ambiguous.

frimble3
01-31-2016, 08:19 AM
Might I suggest that if you're a relative unknown, and on the day your book becomes available there are several 5 star reviews, none of them from people who are known reviewers (and therefore might have got ARCs), Amazon is going to figure that the only way they had access to advance copies is the 'friends and family' plan?

andiwrite
01-31-2016, 10:56 AM
I don't know if I should be devastated or relieved. I guess I can stop begging friends and family members for (apparently useless) reviews. On the other hand, I'm never going to get a review again, and that's pretty depressing. I have received zero reviews that didn't come from an ARC person or a friend/family member. It seems people simply don't leave reviews. I have multiple friends who are very active readers and they have all told me they would never consider leaving a review. When I asked why, they just say it's an extra task that takes up time, and there's no motivation to do it. A lot of them wouldn't even bother despite me asking nicely.

cornflake
01-31-2016, 11:31 AM
Well people do leave reviews - I mean plenty of books have hundreds of reviews. The percentage of reviewers from readers is small, but they're there.

Latina Bunny
01-31-2016, 02:18 PM
Well, the reality is, there are many self-pub books out there, and most don't sell well... (And most writers don't earn a ton of money, anyway.) Self-publishing is very hard, as you have found out...

Everyone and their child has a story to tell. Doesn't mean that people will buy all of them, or that people are even aware of the existence of such books.

If the book you're trying to sell is the one in your avatar, might I suggest that you make the text readable? In the thumbprint size, I can barely read the words due to the muddy colors and fancy font type.

A thumbprint is whaf I usually see on the online Amazon bookstore, and it's the first impression of a book I often get when shopping online.

I would suggest you check out the self pub part of this site. Look at other people's experience in self pubbing and check out how some people promote their books, etc.

Dhewco
01-31-2016, 05:06 PM
Yeah, Andiwrite, I feel the same way. If not for friends and family, I don't know. I don't really know if they'd do it, either. I've never left a review for someone I didn't know. For famous authors, I figure someone else has reviewed them. For relative unknowns, I figured they had reviewers lined up. Vicious cycle and all that. I realize that Amazon can't trust family member and friends reviews...but they don't know my friends. If they don't like something, they won't say anything...no matter how much I beg. They won't lie for me. Heh, they probably wouldn't review anyway...but if they did, it wouldn't be a lie.

WriterBN
01-31-2016, 09:49 PM
I could pretty much count on a 1% review rate a couple of years ago (by this, I mean organic reviews, not from ARCs). Now, it's much lower, and I suspect the new review format on Amazon is partly to blame. I never liked the whole "twenty questions" approach.

Arpeggio
02-01-2016, 01:21 AM
I have received zero reviews that didn't come from an ARC person or a friend/family member. It seems people simply don't leave reviews.

Indeed, generally people don’t leave reviews. The whole online review thing is pretty dumb.

I notice your book has only been out since Nov 2015. Do you not think it worth carrying on with giving away copies for review?

Dawn Lee
02-01-2016, 02:56 AM
To the OP, you've gotten some very good advice on some tweaks and practical steps you can take. I just wanted to offer a little encouragement. When I released my first novel (a stand-alone), it got great reviews but did very little in sales. I expected that, but it was still disheartening. Seven months later, I released the first book in my suspense series, and things picked up dramatically. There are now five books in that series, and I'm fortunate enough to have my books support me. Series readers have even helped that first novel, which is not suspense, do quite a bit better. One of the best pieces of advice I've ever gotten was to forget about promoting the first book - the best thing you can do for that book is release a second one. In any event, try not to let a slow start discourage you. I don't know too many successful authors who had fast ones. :)

Lauram6123
02-01-2016, 03:20 AM
That WB article doesn't seem to mention FB unless I missed it. Amazon apparently has data miners that look for connections. I'm wondering if my posting on AW would flag somewhere...if one of you guys bought my book and decided to review it. I'm not saying we're all pals, but we're not complete strangers either. There's a connection.

The people on FB are the ones I grew up with or met through various dating experiences. I'm FB friends with a guy from England who only friended me because we have the same first and last name....would Amazon flag him as a false reviewer, if he liked my book. It's just so ambiguous.

This is my last derail, I promise! This video (7 minutes) is kinda long, but it explains how FB and Amazon can intertwine. (You don't have to watch more than the first three minutes to get the gist.)

http://k-lytics.com/video-vault/amazon-link-anatomy-for-books/

andiwrite
02-01-2016, 08:01 AM
Yeah, Andiwrite, I feel the same way. If not for friends and family, I don't know. I don't really know if they'd do it, either. I've never left a review for someone I didn't know. For famous authors, I figure someone else has reviewed them. For relative unknowns, I figured they had reviewers lined up. Vicious cycle and all that. I realize that Amazon can't trust family member and friends reviews...but they don't know my friends. If they don't like something, they won't say anything...no matter how much I beg. They won't lie for me. Heh, they probably wouldn't review anyway...but if they did, it wouldn't be a lie.

Same. I feel my friends and family were very honest in their reviews. I'm supposed to be punished because people who happen to know me genuinely like my book?? This is really upsetting to me.


Indeed, generally people donít leave reviews. The whole online review thing is pretty dumb.

I notice your book has only been out since Nov 2015. Do you not think it worth carrying on with giving away copies for review?

I would LOVE to if I could. Absolutely. I'd do anything to be able to do this. But the ARCs that went out were given by my publisher. They have control over it and did not give me any to give away myself. :(

Marian Perera
02-01-2016, 09:19 AM
Seconding this. I can barely read your cover copy in full size; in typical thumbnail size it's completely illegible. Do consider a redesign of your cover if you can afford it.

I stared at the cover for a moment and read the title as "Jake Blake and Great Something." Then I read other posts and wondered who this Jake Steele was, before realizing I'd misread thanks to the font.

Dhewco
02-01-2016, 05:23 PM
I feel that anyone, including friends and family, who pay the 3 bucks to buy the book should be able to say what they thought. Denying someone the right to review something they bought is wrong. I don't care if I've developed Multiple Personalities and the other guy wants to review the book.

However, even when I publish with them, I have no influence over the Amazon powers that be.

That said, I understand why they don't like overwhelmingly positive reviews from family. When I search on Travelocity.com, I don't even look at the 4 or 5 star reviews. I don't really trust them. I go for the 3 and 2 stars. Those are the ones I somehow feel are more honest. I need a balanced review, pos and neg, to be able to weigh whether or not I will buy.

David

cornflake
02-01-2016, 08:00 PM
They're there though, pushing up the rating. I think the last book I reviewed, I did so because I'd stumbled upon it, it had like 15 four- and five-star reviews, and when I looked at the 'look inside' pages, it was nearly unintelligible. I don't mean it had a misplaced modifier, I mean it read like a bunch of five-year-olds collectively wrote the thing. There were there/their/they're errors all over, misspellings, wrong words, sentences that made no sense, etc. It was astounding. I couldn't let the stars sit. I gave a detailed review, with one star, and got yelled at in the feedback comments.

You may disregard five-star reviews, but not everyone does, and they move the needle for people who look at the stars but don't read the comments. I don't use comments to choose books; my stack of to-be-reads is long enough without, but people do.

Dhewco
02-02-2016, 12:10 AM
I wonder if Amazon's policy is going to affect those people who write smart-aleck reviews for various unusual items...like coffins and Battle of Yavin jackets. Cornflake's comments about the bad sample got me thinking, wondering if people ever tried that with badly written books.

Twick
02-02-2016, 10:09 PM
That's weird, because I love to leave reviews on things I've read I liked. Particularly if they're new/independent authors who could use a break, as opposed to one review amongst a thousand others. Four stars and "Very enjoyable read, characters were a lot of fun" isn't going to ruin my schedule for the day.

I figure the more I reward people for writing stuff I like, the more they'll keep writing it.

davidjgalloway
02-02-2016, 11:37 PM
I'd second comments on the cover. The tragedy here is that the image is really cool--I was interested as soon as I saw it, and the colors are fantastic. But there's not one letter on that cover that helps the overall impression. The title is unreadable--took me too long to even parse the words--and your name vanishes at the bottom. It's like half of a good cover. I'd really recommend you trying to find a comparable book, one you aspire to be like, and see what they are doing in EVERY detail. Cover, blurb, author central page, samples, inside material, back cover--you name it. Make sure you're at least as good as that. Then, and I think only then, can you start to wonder what went wrong. Right now the only view we get of your product is a cover that is clearly not professional, and nobody is going to look twice. You can also go to cover designers like Damonza, Joel Friedlander's The Book Designer, etc., and see amazing examples of really catchy, properly typeset covers.

I might also rethink the first line of your blurb--using "interesting" in any form usually means the sentence isn't. And add a comma after "burst from within him."

Of course, we can't judge the story, either, so make sure that sample (and do include a sample!) is just knuckle-bitingly good. Absolutely screaming for the reader to continue! Then, I think you will drastically improve your chances. But still, they are only chances. Good luck and keep your eyes on the prize!

Pike
02-03-2016, 07:36 PM
I feel your pain. I published my first book on Amazon last week and though I've netted a couple of sales (mostly friends and family) It's been slow going. I've tried the Facebook advertising, run a blog, set up shop on Goodreads, and am branching out more from there. I read that an author needs to become well versed in advertising and marketing and at times I feel like I'm floundering. But it's only been a week. Now, I'm begging those who have bought the book to drop reviews once they've finished... good or bad, I can take it. It's kind of weird but I'm a father of four and at times I'm more anxious about the book then when the little ones were ready to make their grand entrance.

So as far as advice I'm extremely limited as this is my first rodeo but keep plugging your book. Drop content on your blog and spread the word. It's a pain tooting your own horn, almost feels self-righteous at times but how else can we get out the word? Love your baby and show her to the world at every chance you get!

akaria
02-03-2016, 11:28 PM
Self publishing is a game for marathoners, not sprinters. If you want to build a readership and make money you have to be in it for the long haul.

That said, I'm seconding and thirding all the comments about the cover. I saw a lot of orange and black, but couldn't read the title and didn't see your name at all.

As for reviews, I got my first bunch of reviews on Goodreads by giving away free copies in groups I participated in. If you're active in any groups where your book would be a good fit, see if they'd give you a review.

Amazon is not the only place to sell your book. Ignoring B&N, iBooks, Kobo, etc. is like leaving readers (and money) in the trash. Look into Smashwords or Draft 2 Digital for selling through other outlets. I'm partial to D2D for their excellent customer service and user-friendly website.

Is there a reason why you're waiting until March 1st to release the book? Do you have a print copy available? I'm probably old fashioned, but I don't believe in giving 10 year olds expensive items like tablets or ereaders. You can publish a print copy through Createspace which is connected to Amazon.

Good luck and take a look around the self publishing section. It'll give you a real sense of what you're getting into.

Super_Duper
02-04-2016, 01:20 AM
Sorry, but nobody is going to pre-order a self-published book that does not even have a preview from a first-time author they have never heard of. That's just the reality.

Also, I'm also not sure if there are any hard statistics on this, but I don't think a lot of middle grade readers are using ebook devices, which means most of your target audience does not have the means or desire to obtain the means to read your book.

MarlynnOfMany
02-23-2016, 09:23 AM
One way to get non-family reviews is to politely ask one of Amazon's Top Reviewers (http://www.amazon.com/review/top-reviewers/ref=cm_cr_tr_link_1) -- I offered a free ebook to a couple of them, and one reviewed it. The hard part is looking through the list to find reviewers who (1) review books, (2) books similar to yours, and (3) have an email address where you can find it.

There's also the option to look up "Read To Review" threads on the Goodreads forums. You can get free reviews there, and sometimes you can suggest that they post on Amazon too.

Brutal Mustang
02-23-2016, 10:49 AM
I agree with what others have said regarding being able to 'crack open' the book. I never buy a book if I can't read the first few pages or chapter. Heck, I don't even bother downloading a free book if I can't peek inside. Time is priceless and the world is overcrowded with books, few of them written well.

Also, the cover. The orange is over-saturated. It could also use some soft hints of contrasting color in the shadows of the fire (very faint washes of blue or purple in the flames). The title is unreadable. Both of these things make the cover look unprofessional.

Hope this helps, and good luck!

Dhewco
02-24-2016, 03:05 AM
I'm terrified of self-publishing...but I really want to do it anyway. The 'What if's really are circling the back of my head right now. I've got a good cover (you can view it during the video in my signature...about 20 seconds in, or so. I'm not going to change my sig to it until I actually publish). The only thing left is to finish edits on the last 70 pages (about 30k words, give or take) and do the kindle formatting. I keep finding reasons to delay the work. I'm wondering if I'm subconsciously delaying myself to keep from making that final steps. I'm always amazed when someone makes that final leap and puts it out there.

David

WriterBN
02-24-2016, 09:07 PM
For me, the actual publishing process is the fun part. It's when you see a tangible reward for all your work. I can (and do) find plenty of reasons to procrastinate during the writing and editing phase, but once the final edits are done, I'm on autopilot. It does get easier with each book--I have around 20 titles in total--but it's still fun every time.

Don't overthink it. One step at a time.