publishing

Self-Pubbing Check In

I have about two months under my belt now with my self-publishing experience. My first self-published book, Black Mountain Magic, went live November 15th and I put it on sale for 99 cents on December 15th. I made a post talking about what I learned when I first started this adventure and I’m going to make another update now.

As of today, I’ve sold 218 copies on Amazon, 22 on B&N, 4 on Kobo, 5 on iBooks, and 1 on Smashwords, for a total of 250 books sold. About 75% of those sales have been the result of paid advertising, which I haven’t broken even on, so don’t cheer for me yet!

Here’s where I’ve done promotion. If you’re looking into doing paid promotion, my experiment may help you out:

Total: $203 spent on promotion.

Out of all these promoters, the only two who were any good and worth the money were Ereader News Today (which is ALWAYS gold) which netted me 106 sales on Amazon, and Bargain Booksy, which netted me 73 sales on Amazon. However, I paid twice as much for Bargain Booksy for less sales, so take that as you will. Would I use them again anyway? Absolutely.

The others got me between 0-10 sales. BKnights gave me back my money (I didn’t ask for it) but in the form of a credit to use on Fiverr. Books Butterfly guarantees your sales or your money back, but in the introductory email they tell you this is just ‘store credit’ to try their services again (also they weirdly track your visits to their site and list them in the email). Since they didn’t work for me I’m not even going to bother asking for a refund and chalk it up as a learning experience. Maybe it was my genre or the timing of running the promotion on a holiday (I didn’t pick the date of the promotion, they did).

Ereader News Today (usually referred to as ENT) continues to be the BEST site for promotion outside of BookBub (which is incredibly difficult/expensive to get into) and I’ve used them for almost all my books in the past. Some authors don’t use them because they mistakenly believe you have to have a certain number of reviews for them to accept you.  This isn’t true, you simply have to have an overall decent rating if  you have any reviews at all.

What I’ve learned so far: you gotta spend money to make money. But spend it in the right place!

Other things I’ve learned from self-publishing:

  • If you think understanding your sales with KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) will be easy, you’re gonna have a bad time. Amazon continues to lead the market in not making a lick of sense, so don’t expect the various confusing parts of your sales dashboard and your sales rank to correlate or reflect each other accurately at any given time. Just smile and nod, and understand if you want to get anywhere with self-publishing at all, you need to be on Amazon.
  • Smashwords has a hilarious attitude about Amazon, to the point I’m pretty sure they try to gaslight their customers into believing there’s no such thing as a Kindle. Don’t mention the word Amazon anywhere in your book. In fact, if you wrote a book about the Amazonian jungle, you’ll probably want to avoid publishing it on Smashwords. They seem to believe they’re going to be bigger and better than Amazon. Just smile and nod.
  • Send your book to reviewers and review sites yourself. Don’t pay for reviews, as this could get you kicked off Amazon for life. Of the 1,000 sites you send a review request to, about 10 will say they’ll review it and 2 will. However, don’t believe the scare tactic of “Reviews are the only way to sell books! Ooooh!” It’s not true. I’ve sold 250 copies with one review. I would rather get them organically than pander.
  • Trying to size book covers correctly is the devil.
  • If you’re not a super-duper popular author, the only real reason to produce a paperback copy of your book is so you can buy insanely discounted copies for yourself to not sell to people who don’t want them (also so you can run a Goodreads giveaway because you can only give away physical books).
  • Just keep writing.

So that’s my two-month report. The second book in the series, White Witch Magic, will come out February 21st and I’ve already racked up a wonderful 16 presales for it! I’m a superstar!

Release Day Is Almost Here!

My first self-published release, Black Mountain Magic, will come out on Tuesday! I’m really excited about it. You can pre-order a copy at all major online retailers right now if you like.

I’ve learned a whole bunch of stuff on my first self-publishing excursion. I’ll share with you some of those lessons, if you’re planning on doing the same and still need advice:

Thing I’ve Learned About Self-Publishing

  • Use a simple, non-fancy font on your cover flat. I learned this the hard way, after I received copies of it. The cover flat is the back and front of your physical book, that you upload to a place like CreateSpace. The font I used for the blurb on the back looks wonky. No one I’ve shown the book to so far has even noticed it, but it bothers ME, so I’m in the process of re-doing it. Making a cover flat and getting it to fit right is harder than you think. You might have to tinker with it over and over again.
  • Don’t be afraid of reviewers. I sent my book to a bunch of reviewers pre-release and some of them actually said they’d review it! I found them through reviewers who had reviewed my traditionally published works, as well as through the tour service I do blog tours for, and Manic Readers. You can also just Google ‘book reviews (your genre).’ Make sure you read each reviewer’s guidelines for submitting books and MOST will tell you if they review self-pubbed works.
  • Have a Goodreads giveaway! This is only possible if you have physical copies of the book to give away, since you can’t do an e-book giveaway. It’s free, and tons of people have entered my giveaway, much to my surprise. A large portion of those people also added it to their to-read shelf and a few pre-ordered.
  • If you publish through Smashwords, they will distribute your book to places like Kobo and B&N as well. I didn’t even realize this. Whoops.
  • If you don’t publish through Smashwords and use Nook’s self-publishing platform, you can’t put your book up for pre-order. However, if it’s distributed by Smashwords, you can do pre-order on Nook.
  • Most people have no idea your book is self-published unless you tell them. I haven’t had a single person ask who my publisher is. Most people don’t buy books based on the publisher, either (unless they’re looking for books from a publisher-specific imprint).
  • If you made your own cover, don’t tell people. Let them see it first and get their honest reaction before you tell them. 😉 I was pleased so many people exclaimed “oh, I love the cover!” only then did I buff my nails and do a little bragging.
  • Don’t check your sales obsessively. Seriously, doooooon’t.

I’ll come back AFTER it goes on sale and I’ve had a little experience with that and let you know what else I’ve learned. I’m sure there will be plenty!