The second week of having my novel, Who She Was: A Sylvia Wilcox Mystery on sale, has brought new insight into the independent author experience. This week I have been binge listening to Joanna Penn’s podcast and filling my head with information about the writing life. I have enjoyed her upbeat voice, positive spirit, and global perspective. She has taught me more in the past week than all the time I’ve spent in virtual writing groups and communities. With that said, she has strongly suggested a few things that I will be trying with Who She Was: A Sylvia Wilcox Mystery, as soon as my stint in Kindle Select expires. More on that later, but for now, let’s take a look back at the week.
Last week 122 people either downloaded a free copy of my ebook or purchased a copy of an ebook or paperback. This was mostly spurred by social media posts from my sister and a few friends. The previous week I paid for Facebook advertisement because anything I post on my Facebook Author Page is held back from the timeline unless I boost the post. Well, my sister and friends were taking pictures of the book when it arrived, tagging me, and posting it on Facebook. The image generated a buzz that led to a steady stream of purchases. It was beautiful, and it gave me an idea to post a picture of my author copies, cleverly arranged in my office when they arrive. A workaround for Facebook marketing! Yay!
I FINALLY got my website under control last week, and I was able to write a few blog posts. In addition to selling books and figuring out some technology, I set up my email list form, revised/wrote about 10,000 words on my new novel, and started using Reedsy.com for my rough drafts.
Last week my paperback sales increased by 90%, and 10% of my ebook sales were outside of the United States. The more I listening to Joanna Penn’s podcast, the more I start to think about the global market. Looking at the downloads I received from outside of the United States, is helping to reshape my thought process when it comes to the audience. Millions of people around the world speak English, and I want my writing to be available for all to enjoy, regardless of where they live, or what ebook platform they use.
So, that is how my week went, and I am calling it a win-win! I am looking forward to the next steps in my writing journey.
The number one takeaway from my week-go global! This is something I am super excited about, and can’t wait to get off the ground! Over the past week, 10% of the downloads of the ebook version of Who She Was: A Sylvia Wilcox Mystery have taken place outside of the United States. Now, this may not seem like a great deal, but consider the fact that Amazon is not the go-to ebook seller in EVERY country. What type of reach could I have if my ebook was on Kobo, or if I submitted it to Smashwords? I can’t be sure what that would mean for the popularity of my book, but rest assured I will be trying it out.
Submitting to IngramSpark is also on my list of things to do in the next week. It will take a couple of hours of frustration for me to learn the platform and submit, but learning new things is all part of my writing life. In addition to learning how to format and submit for IngramSpark, I will also be assigned a unique ISBN number to my book. I made the mistake of going with the “free” Amazon ISBN number, but it won’t do that again. ISBN numbers are a little pricey, but after further research and review, I’ve discovered that there is baggage attached to the Amazon ISBN number.
Amazon wants you to use their ISBN number because it means that your book will only be sold on Amazon. Now, on the surface, this is not apparent because distributors and libraries can purchase your book from Amazon. But here’s the catch-22. No distributor or library is going to buy from Amazon because they don’t offer any discount. This is a game that is played with Amazon’s ISNB and their misleading “global distribution,” but we’ll get into that later. I went to submit my book to IngramSpark, but was informed that an ISBN number was already on file for my book. BUT-distributors don’t buy from Amazon, so my book is available, but it will not be purchased from Amazon. For example, your local librarian may be super excited that you have published a book, but they won’t be able to stock your book in the library if your book is exclusive to Amazon. So, for indies who haven’t hit the publish button yet-don’t use the ISBN number provided by Amazon. Bite the bullet and buy ten ISBN numbers from Bowker. Why ten? It is much cheaper to buy ten ISBN numbers than one. Also, you will need one for each format that you publish-ebook, print, and audiobook. Technically, you can skip the ebook ISBN, but it’s not a bad idea to assign a number to your ebook as well.
Taking the Ebook Global!
Smashwords is not just another place for you to post your ebook. I will admit, I thought it was only another version of Kindle Direct Publishing, but that was dead wrong. Smashwords is a distributor of ebooks, also known as an aggregator. Uploading your book to Smashwords will get it to markets that Amazon ignores. For example, if you want your writing to be available to readers in Africa, or American libraries, you will need to submit it to Smashwords. Here are some of the platforms Smashwords distributes to OverDrive, Kobo, Library Direct, Barnes and Noble, Apple Books, Baker & Taylor, and Scribd. That list is not exhaustive, and while you may not sell a ton of books on these platforms, it is worth having your title listed. There are readers around the globe just waiting to read your book.
The Power of Free
No one wants to offer their book for free, but you have to be realistic about the market. Readers are getting content for free on several websites, and while they aren’t entirely opposed to buying books, some are not going to take a chance on an unknown author. So, with that in mind, I have offered Who She Was: A Sylvia Wilcox Mystery for free for a total of three days over the past two weeks. The results have been interesting, and I will use the strategy in the future to sell my series.
How did my free promotions go? Very well, of course. People love free things. I don’t care what it is. My hope is that some of those readers will read the book, make it to the end, leave a review, and sign up for my newsletter. This-I hope-is a free and easy way to get some people on my newsletter list. I don’t think EVERYONE is going to sign up, but I include a serial story for newsletter subscribers. I have multitudes short stories I’ve written over the years that I don’t intend to publish, so I will use them to feed my readers’ hunger for stories.
The next thing I need to learn is how to set up a book signing. It sounds simple enough, but I am sure there are some best practices out there. My first book signing has been proposed and accepted. Someone from my church offered a space for me to have a book signed. I didn’t even have to go out there and beg anyone to let me set up and sign books in their business! Yay!!
My writing goals for the week:
14,000 words completed on my novel this week.
Get my book in front of at least 250 people for July.
Record the first episode of my new author, podcast-Indie Rising.