Connor's Self-Pub Diary

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CJMatthewson

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So...here I go. I want to start self-publishing in earnest and there seems no time like the present, so I've decided to publish my 16k romance novelette on Kindle via KDP. For now at least, I've enrolled in Select with the hope of making a little extra money from Kindle Unlimited.

I've no additional funds to market the book or pay for a professional cover, so I've done the best I can with what I've got, and I know the cover doesn't fit the typical romance mold. I honestly don't expect the story to sell, but it'll be out there and that's what matters.

Currently working on a paranormal romance which I expect will be much closer to novel length, and I hope to have the first draft finished by the end of the year.

I'll use this thread to report on whatever sales I might get as well as how writing future books works out.

Without further ado...let's go!
 

Norman D Gutter

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Best of fortune to you in your self-publishing, Connor.

I visited your blog. What you call "genre hopping" I've named "Genre Focus Disorder". I have it to, a very severe case. So I can't wish you freedom from it. Learning to live with it and still be a functioning writer is perhaps the best we can hope for.

I couldn't find a link to your book. One on your blog was a broken link.

Best Regards,
NDG
 

CJMatthewson

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Best of fortune to you in your self-publishing, Connor.

I visited your blog. What you call "genre hopping" I've named "Genre Focus Disorder". I have it to, a very severe case. So I can't wish you freedom from it. Learning to live with it and still be a functioning writer is perhaps the best we can hope for.

I myself can’t decide whether my ability to hop genres is a blessing or a curse, so ‘disorder’ just about covers it I think. I like that I’m free to write whatever genre I feel like but I’m equally scared of never being able to build up a ‘brand’ like so many authors do because of it.

Thanks for the heads-up on the broken link - all fixed now, hopefully that’ll bring in a couple of sales.
 
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Mclesh

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Connor and Norman, your posts speak to me as someone who hops genres. It's not the most strategic thing to do as a writer. It's harder to build an audience when you keep changing your path. (I have a core of readers who are very patient and read my work because they like me--but this is not a strategic move on my part. ;)) We all have our own personal reasons for writing, though. I write what I find entertaining or what I feel compelled to write. We should love, or at least like, what we're working on, because we're going to be rewriting, reworking, editing, etc, that same piece so many times.

Best of luck with your writing and publishing, Connor!
 

CathleenT

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Just wanted to pop in to offer my best wishes as well. We all know the courage it takes to put yourself out there in the big, bad Amazonian world. :)
 

CJMatthewson

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Thanks Mclesh and CathleenT! I really appreciate the support.

Without further ado, my first update post is as follows:

Naturally, as I'd done very little promotion, the book sold basically nothing in its first few days on sale...and when I say basically nothing, I mean actually nothing. Zero. Zilch. So I did two things in order to drum up interest. I decided to pay someone the grand sum of £5 for a new cover. My old cover was a little it dreary and dark and made by myself whereas the new one fits in much more with the romance genre. I'm glad I spent a tiny amount of money on something that overall isn't all that original but is much more professional looking.

Secondly, I made the book free for three days and posted a promo on my Twitter. I got retweeted by two accounts that follow me with significantly more followers, and I managed to give away 100 copies in the first day, and a total of 100 or so over the next two days which was enough to put me in the Top 10 Free for Gay Romance and Gay Fiction both worldwide and in my native UK, which was an amazing feeling.

Sadly, that amount of buzz didn't result in a review but has kicked up some readers on Kindle Unlimited since the free promotion ended. So far my Amazon account is only showing the royalties for the first reader but I've had a further 3 people read the entire 73 pages via Kindle Unlimited since, and that's what important to me - so far, no one has put the book down before the end, so I'm keeping people interested and each day I've had the entire story read.

Today I've started drafting a spin-off (and planning characters within that story to have spin offs of their own). They're short reads and I'm reducing my hours at work to cope with the start of the University year as well as picking up a puppy at the start of October, so I'm hoping to be able to start churning out these 15k stories at a rate of one every month or so, as I know the romance market tends to like stories at a faster rate than I'm used to writing. It seems despite my fears of being a genre-hopper I've actually settled quite nicely into Gay Romance, at least for now.

So, for those of you who are thinking TL;DR:

Unorthodox Fantasy:
Free units given away: 217
Units sold: 0
Kindle Unlimited Pages Read: 361

My goals for September:
Write the next story in the series.
Publish the next story in the series.
Sell at least 1 copy of Unorthodox Fantasy rather than relying on free promos and Kindle Unlimited.
 
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Lady Fox

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Best of luck Connor. I truly hope it works out for you and you get those sales pouring through.

I've tried a bit of genre hopping myself and don't think anyone should feel they have to remain in one box - unless of course that's where you feel most comfortable. I tend to veer towards light horror with almost everything I write - though I'm planning an MG fantasy sometime in the near future so might want to kick that habbit before then :e2thud:
 

CJMatthewson

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Sorry it's been so long since I've put out an update. It should come as a surprise to no one that I seriously underestimated how hard juggling university and a brand new puppy would be. I haven't even knitted in the last 6 weeks, and that's very unlike me. I've just started writing a new story, which I'm starting to anticipate may run a little longer than 15k words, but that's fine. I'm setting it from two POVs. Instead of getting a book out per month I'm going to attempt to have it finished by Christmas (as I know December/January are going to be busy months, and I'd ideally like another romance out in time for Valentine's Day).

Unorthodox Fantasy is trundling along for now whilst I juggle puppy training, work, uni and writing my next book. One thing I'm thankful for is that so far most of my KU reads are in the region of 73 pages a day, i.e my readers are reading to the end of the book! That excites me, no matter how many or few readers I might have.

Also, got my first Goodreads review of 3 stars, which could be better, could be worse - considering I wrote this myself with little beta support and no paid editor I think it's pretty good. I'm hoping for more reviews between Goodreads and Amazon to boost sales, but unsure of how to go about it.

Anyway, for the stats to finish off. My last update was the 2nd of September, and since then Unorthodox Fantasy has shifted little, but at least it's something.

Unorthodox Fantasy stats:
Free copies: 217 (0 since last update)
Units sold: 2 (2 since last update)
KDP pages read: 799 (438 since last update)
 

CJMatthewson

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WOW. It's been a while. When searching for this thread, I hadn't realised that it was close to 4 years since I published Unorthodox Fantasy. It's taken that long for me to get my life together post-uni and to get publishing again. I've taken up a new pen name - C.J. Matthewson - to publish under, as my writing got a lot smuttier and I didn't want my parents to find any of the romance/erotica I've been writing. It's taken a lot not to be ashamed of writing sex scenes, but I still don't want Dad to have a heart attack when he sees what I've been writing.

I'm proud of this novel (though it is very short, coming in at 40K words) and the little village I created for it, and I'm buzzing with some very fully formed stories taking up space in my head, which are going to take up lots more words.

I failed last time, and have no trouble admitting that - though that little 16k word novella has sold enough to cover the £10 I spent on covers for it over the 3 years it's been out with little to no promotion, so I can't really complain.

My new goal is to write another 2 books this year - 1 for publication in September and 1 closer to Christmas, so I have a proper trilogy to promote. I want to do my best to get the ball rolling and hold myself to account, but the pressure last time caused me to fail. So if I only get another 1 romance written this year, I won't beat myself up about it.

I'll post once I know how well this baby sells, and if it sells as badly as the last one...I don't care. I'm proud of it.
 
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Nether

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Thanks for the update. Whenever I happen to see an older thread (although I hadn't seen this one), I always wonder what wound up happening.

Best of luck.
 

Unimportant

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WOW. It's been a while. When searching for this thread, I hadn't realised that it was close to 4 years since I published Unorthodox Fantasy. It's taken that long for me to get my life together post-uni and to get publishing again. I've taken up a new pen name - C.J. Matthewson - to publish under, as my writing got a lot smuttier and I didn't want my parents to find any of the romance/erotica I've been writing. It's taken a lot not to be ashamed of writing sex scenes, but I still don't want Dad to have a heart attack when he sees what I've been writing.

I'm proud of this novel (though it is very short, coming in at 40K words) and the little village I created for it, and I'm buzzing with some very fully formed stories taking up space in my head, which are going to take up lots more words.

I failed last time, and have no trouble admitting that - though that little 16k word novella has sold enough to cover the £10 I spent on covers for it over the 3 years it's been out with little to no promotion, so I can't really complain.

My new goal is to write another 2 books this year - 1 for publication in September and 1 closer to Christmas, so I have a proper trilogy to promote. I want to do my best to get the ball rolling and hold myself to account, but the pressure last time caused me to fail. So if I only get another 1 romance written this year, I won't beat myself up about it.

I'll post once I know how well this baby sells, and if it sells as badly as the last one...I don't care. I'm proud of it.
Just flagging that over in the Erotica subforum, there are several people who are very successfully writing and self-publishing erotica. If you're looking for tips or conversation, that would be a good place to hang out at AW.
 
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Maryn

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Plus the Erotica folks are way cool and quite supportive. Except me. I'm just supportive.
 
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CJMatthewson

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Just flagging that over in the Erotica subforum, there are several people who are very successfully writing and self-publishing erotica. If you're looking for tips or conversation, that would be a good place to hang out at AW.
Thanks so much for the tip! I'm part of r/eroticauthors on reddit, I don't know why I hadn't even considered checking here that there would be a subform.

Thanks for the update. Whenever I happen to see an older thread (although I hadn't seen this one), I always wonder what wound up happening.
There are some threads here that inspired me back in the day that I still check on every couple of weeks in the hope that they'll be updated. I think the self-pubbing diary trend seems to have died somewhat.
 
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Maryn

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In my experience, the diary-style threads about the adventures of the self-publishing became so many, and often so similar, that I eased out of reading them altogether. It wasn't that they were not of interest or utility, just the sheer number.

Maryn, of limited attention span
 

Captain

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WOW. It's been a while. When searching for this thread, I hadn't realised that it was close to 4 years since I published Unorthodox Fantasy. It's taken that long for me to get my life together post-uni and to get publishing again. I've taken up a new pen name - C.J. Matthewson - to publish under, as my writing got a lot smuttier and I didn't want my parents to find any of the romance/erotica I've been writing. It's taken a lot not to be ashamed of writing sex scenes, but I still don't want Dad to have a heart attack when he sees what I've been writing.
Congratulations on getting back to writing Connor.

I failed last time, and have no trouble admitting that - though that little 16k word novella has sold enough to cover the £10 I spent on covers for it over the 3 years it's been out with little to no promotion, so I can't really complain.
Do we ever fail? I have friends who talk about writing but never actually do it - you're doing it. Every bump on the road is part of the adventure. We just have to keep moving.

I love that you are thankful for getting (10 pound). The joys of writing.

Wishing you all the best on your creative adventure.
 
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CJMatthewson

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Some updates, which I hope to provide monthly now:
Handy Man sold 28 copies in March, and had 20,760 pages read via KU with very little paid promotion on my part. According to Amazon, that should net me just under £100. I'm blown away by that, especially with the knowledge that romance readers tend to pick up books only when they know an author has written more/committed to a series.

I don't anticipate the same numbers for April - book 2 won't be ready til June/July at this rate and I don't want to spend too much money or time promoting book 1 when I know the best promotion is just to get book 2 out.

In terms of reviews, I have 10 ratings apiece on Amazon and Goodreads, with an average of about 3.6. Two written reviews are very nice, whereas one at 2 stars is pretty scathing. Can't please everyone, I guess, and some points were made that I'd like to improve on, whereas others I'm feeling safe to ignore. Onwards and upwards to book 2.

I'm about 16K words into Bad Actor (title pending) which I anticipate will be about 50K words all in all. If I keep up my writing pace, I should have finished a first draft by mid-May. I also want to write a 10k short story for those nice enough to have subscribed to my mailing list (5 people so far) and start drafting the rest of the series. It's gonna be a busy month.

So, that's that. Hope you're all doing well, and that the weather is better than the twelve different seasons we seem to have had in the UK in the last 3 weeks.
 
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Hey mate, I know the Self-Pub Journey Diary tends to all look the same after a while but that doesn't mean I don't like keeping up on it, and I thank you for diligently sticking with it here. I hope to keep up with how you're going.

Something I noticed though, is that I clicked on your Website Link and while it's a nice enough design, I clicked on "Learn More" and nothing happened in either case. Then I had to look for where your books were as "Work" wasn't immediately apparent. Then when I went there, it was just words about your books, no links. I had to come back here to AW to find a link to your book on Amazon. I was able to get there in the end, but that was probably way too much work for the average folk that just want to see your stuff and what it's all about.

Anyhoo, keep it up and I hope to see your success grow in future posts!
 

CJMatthewson

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Hey mate, I know the Self-Pub Journey Diary tends to all look the same after a while but that doesn't mean I don't like keeping up on it, and I thank you for diligently sticking with it here. I hope to keep up with how you're going.

Something I noticed though, is that I clicked on your Website Link and while it's a nice enough design, I clicked on "Learn More" and nothing happened in either case. Then I had to look for where your books were as "Work" wasn't immediately apparent. Then when I went there, it was just words about your books, no links. I had to come back here to AW to find a link to your book on Amazon. I was able to get there in the end, but that was probably way too much work for the average folk that just want to see your stuff and what it's all about.

Anyhoo, keep it up and I hope to see your success grow in future posts!
Thanks so much for the tips! I've no idea how I hadn't spotted something that now seems so elementary. I've updated the links (and release date/name for book 2). I've read so many things about shortening the reader journey and fell at the first hurdle it seems.

As a general update to my situation, I've almost finished book 2. I thought I'd be done in mid-May to publish in mid-June, but I finally only have half a chapter to go. I was optimistic which is no bad thing, but I seemed to have forgotten that up until this year I hadn't ever finished a single book so to think I could finish another in 2 months after the first was silly. But a book every 4 months or so certainly ain't bad. I'm aiming to release book 2 on August 1st, and have an outline for book 3 ready to release some time between December and January. I'm hoping to get it out before Kindlemas to get its hooks into some new readers.

I got a pre-order as soon as I listed it, which I wasn't expecting at all. Yay for keen readers!

I've made about a fiver a month the last couple of months, which with 0 promo and no extra content I will not complain about. Hopefully I'll have a positive update for you all on the 1st of August :D.
 

CJMatthewson

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Update time!

So, Hollywood Crush released on the 31st of July. Overall, I had 11 pre-orders which was more than I expected and nothing to complain about. However, it hasn't actually otherwise gotten off to the same start as Handy Man. I'd discounted Handy Man to 99c/p for Book 2's launch week though (which is still in effect) and it's keeping both books selling a couple of copies a day. I was planning on putting Handy Man to free for a week but a little part of me cringes at the thought of offering up so many months of work for nothing, and I heard Lucy Lennox say on a podcast that free M/M romance doesn't actually tend to shift many extra copies.

One really strange effect I'm seeing is that Handy Man had a lot more Kindle Unlimited Reads early on, whereas Hollywood Crush is seeing sales, which net me more money overall. Maybe there's something to be said for having those inbuilt readers who are now happy to spend 2.99 on a book of mine. I'm just conscious that Handy Man made most of its royalties in its first 20 days, and Hollywood Crush hasn't had quite the same big hit.

TikTok has been quite helpful up until recently, but my videos took a dive bomb in views just in the week leading up to launch, which issued. Not sure what's going on there overall.

So, a mixed bag for Book 2's launch. But hopefully it'll be a consistent seller and I'm 30,000 words into book 3 so I might be able to pen a couple of cheap short stories before I release Book 3 in December.

I'm going to start providing yearly sales figures/Kindle Unlimited pages read below just to keep track, but I'll be doing year to date rather than month by month.

Figures YTD:
Handy Man - 32,441 KU pages read, 49 ebook sales, 4 paperback sales
Hollywood Crush - 3,886 KU pages read, 18 ebook sales, 0 paperback sales
Overall royalties for the year in the region of £220

You know what? now, looking at those figures - Hollywood Crush has been out 5 days, and ain't doing half bad. Maybe I should give myself more credit.
 

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You definitely should. I just went and read the sample pages on the Amazon site and I absolutely love it. I'm not a kindle owner (I have a Tolino reader, which is epub based), so I don't buy ebooks through Amazon, but if I did, you'd be definitely on my TBR list. (y)
 

dickson

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I myself can’t decide whether my ability to hop genres is a blessing or a curse, so ‘disorder’ just about covers it I think. I like that I’m free to write whatever genre I feel like but I’m equally scared of never being able to build up a ‘brand’ like so many authors do because of it.

Thanks for the heads-up on the broken link - all fixed now, hopefully that’ll bring in a couple of sales.
I always though genres were more like guidelines.
 

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Definitely give yourself credit. :) Congrats!!!

Free books really don't move copies, I have to agree there. I'm running a free title now, a prequel (free), and there have been over 700 downloads but only two sales of the novels (which were marked down to 99c.) I would have expected between 2 and 5% sell through, but no.

On the other hand, people who buy 99c books will frequently buy multiple 99c books. So, next time I'll run the prequel at 99c and see if that works any better to sell the novels, also at 99c.
 

chris41336

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Definitely give yourself credit. :) Congrats!!!

Free books really don't move copies, I have to agree there. I'm running a free title now, a prequel (free), and there have been over 700 downloads but only two sales of the novels (which were marked down to 99c.) I would have expected between 2 and 5% sell through, but no.

On the other hand, people who buy 99c books will frequently buy multiple 99c books. So, next time I'll run the prequel at 99c and see if that works any better to sell the novels, also at 99c.
Makes sense to me about the free copies. I don't know why but it seems like freebie hunters just scoop them up and never read them.

Have you guys found there are linear diminishing returns with prices above $0.99, or are sales comparable until a certain price (like $4) where it drops off?
 

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I don't see people buying the $1.99 sale books. I sell more at full price than at $1.99. I sell the most at 99c. Free downloads seem less and less worthwhile to me. I thought they could be useful as a magnet, but it doesn't feel that way anymore.
 
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I don't see people buying the $1.99 sale books. I sell more at full price than at $1.99. I sell the most at 99c. Free downloads seem less and less worthwhile to me. I thought they could be useful as a magnet, but it doesn't feel that way anymore.
Interesting. There is absolutely some kind of psychology around this pricing. $1.99 must not seem like *enough* of a bargain for those who want to buy it cheap, and clearly for others they see value at full price anyway.
 
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