07 July 2011

Self-pub Q&A

Q's from Dave:

1) What can you say about your method for tracking sales data? How do your sales trends influence your decisions about timing of new releases, advertising etc?

2) Given your experiences with Glacial Decisions Publishing Inc, have you foresworn traditional publishing altogether or are you still trying to get some of your work into the trad pipeline?

3) What haven't you said yet about your cover design process?

Sales data

Tracking sales data for a self-publisher is fairly straightforward (unlike traditionally published authors, whose sales numbers may as well involve sorting through the entrails of a goat, so far as I can tell).

I e-publish through KDP, which posts sales within an hour or so (broken up between the three Amazon areas - US, UK and DE) and Smashwords which posts sales immediately for sales made on site (and emails you about them if you want), and sporadically posts data from other distributors that I sell through via Smashwords (Apple, Kobo, etc).  Hard copies are through CreateSpace, which again is fairly immediate data.

These are my US KDP sales so far this month:

As you can see, my rambly SF diary is just a tad better a seller than my high fantasy, but that's apparently a general trend - high fantasy is considered a very non-hot genre at the moment.  [Of course, it would help immensely if I did more promotion work.]  I'm nowhere in the league of people making a living off their writing (hundreds of sales a day), but I've been having a great time reading some of the reviews popping up on Amazon which show me that for a couple of people I've become a "to buy" writer - that I meet their particular tastes, which is a really nice thing for me.  [I also have a hilarious one-star review for being a swear-bear.]

Timing of new releases, advertising

Sales trends have no influence whatsoever on what books get put out when - I put them out when I'm satisfied with them, and they have a cover.

In terms of advertising, I haven't tried to time anything as yet, though I gather people buy more leading up to Christmas, but for e-books post-Christmas is the biggie, after all those new e-readers are unwrapped.

I do tend to second-guess myself about pricing, and it will be interesting to see whether sales drop off drastically for Stray when it goes back up to $2.99 in a week (let alone my high fantasy going up to $4.99).  I've decided to stick to the pricing schedule I posted, at least for a while.

Traditional publishing

I don't submit any more, and have no particular motivation to return to the submission queue.  I suppose if I started selling amazingly well a publisher might approach me, and I'd have to make some form of decision.  It would be sensible to work with a traditional publisher for foreign language sales, but for English language books I'm not sure I'd want to give up e-book rights and apparently e-book rights are the big deal-breaker these days.

Still, not something I need to worry about unless that whole "selling amazingly well" thing happens.


Are fun!  I'll talk about them more when I'm finalising the cover for Voice.


  1. I think you might have to change your preferred field to hard-bitten crime noir or paranormal romance if you want to hit the mega-numbers, but 20+ sales in a week looks pretty respectable to me. Let's just say *until* the selling amazingly well thing happens.

    As you say, the real reward is actually finding an audience that takes pleasure in what you've written. Always a nice feeling, that.

    Hmm, I'd never heard of CreateSpace. The Amazon equivalent of Lulu, is it?

    (Heh. I meant for you to get three blog posts out of those questions. I'll just have to keep thinking of more questions, I guess. In fact, here's one - what sort of self-promotion options do you consider are open to you, apart from spending your hard-earned bucks on targeted advertising?)

  2. Yep, CreateSpace is the Amazon-owned equivalent of Lulu. Another major option is Lightningsource, which I've been researching vaguely (but is irritatingly short on details unless you create an account with them).

    I talked about things you can do to promote at least briefly in an earlier post, but I'll come back to it at some point.

  3. I'm so excited to find your blog! When I read online that THE SILENCE OF MEDAIR was self-published and had become a Finalist in the Aurealis Awards, I purchased it immediately. When I saw the amazing prices of your Kindle books, after you reduced them to 99 cents each, I bought them all. I’m delighted that you self-published your books, so that we can read them! (I’m also a writer experimenting with self-publishing, and so far I like the experience.)

  4. Hi Marilyn! I hope you're enjoying the books. [They're only $0.99 until the 14th, so you got them at a good time. ;)]

    Self-publishing is definitely a good way to get your work out. I've been enjoying the process a great deal.


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