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The third week of my journey into the independent author realm has been so exciting! Yesterday, I sold six paperbacks and one ebook. I was elated! The rest of the week, my sales and pages read were steady. My goal is to get to the point where I am selling something daily, and I am well on my way to doing that! Of course, there were days when my sales stalled a bit, but I just accepted it as the natural ebb and flow of sales. I’ve already exceeded my goal of getting my book in front of 250 readers. At this point, my sales and free download combined are at 332. This is more than I hoped for, and my estimated royalties, are at $135.97 for the month (that’s assuming there is an increase in the KU/KOLL fund). So, I have also exceeded my royalty goal of $100 between July 8th-July 31st. This is great, and I hope that my Kindle Select Pages Read will pick up as more reviews come in. Currently, I am at 3,063 pages read, and even though I am eager to get out of KDP Select, I might as well settle in and see how things go. Who knows. Maybe it will turn out to be a fantastic experience!
Ebooks vs Paperbacks
At this point, paperbacks account for 64% of my royalties. Yes, they are more expensive, hence a more significant royalty, but that’s what I am concerned with how much money is being accumulated. Not necessarily how many books I have sold. If paperbacks are bringing in the lion share of my royalties, I think it is definitely worth my time to take the book wide. What does that mean? That means moving the ebook onto other digital distributors that reach markets Amazon doesn’t. I’ve already canceled the auto-renew function in my account, and I will be very excited to submit my ebook to other platforms-Kobo Writing Life, Smashwords, Apple iBooks, PublishDrive, and Draft to Digital. As I wait for the time when I can “go wide,” I am learning as much as I can about each platform. Of course, I am realistic in that I know it will take some time to build readership on each platform. With that said, less-known platforms might not bring in a ton of money, but each dollar counts.
Advertisement and Promotion
My younger sister tagged me and posted a picture of my book on Instagram. This set off a long list of comments on both Facebook and Instagram. People were asking where they could buy the book and which formats were available. Posting that picture was a great advertising move because Facebook charges for any posts that appear to be selling a product. My blog posts and all posts involving links to my book require a “boost” for them to be shared with a broad audience. So, thanks, little sis! Sharing a picture is a technique I will use in the future. Facebook doesn’t charge for random pictures-no one would use the platform if they tried to do that so, I will get in some free advertising with pictures, minus links to Amazon or my website. After people comment on the picture, I can post a link in response to their comments, and it is just a comment-not a post.
Tools of the Trade
I did pick up a book on Amazon advertisements, and after reading a bit, I made some changes. Surprisingly, it made an immediate impact! Here’s a little backstory. I set up an advertisement when I released the book on July 8th. I set up a campaign budget for $100, and it was a pay-per-click campaign. Basically, the advertisement for the book flashed across the Kindle screen when a user turned on the device. Over the weeks, the ad resulted in one sale and a few clicks. After reading a few chapters of
Mastering Amazon Ads: An Author’s Guide, I changed my advertisement strategy and started using sponsored ads. These are the ads that show up first when people are searching for merchandise, and they have the “sponsored ad” label. Switching from the the Kindle specific ad, to one that is present on the Amazon website, resulted in an increase in paperback sales almost immediately. Also, a few ebooks sales showed up days later. I have had success with the sponsored ad each day it has been live-resulting in at least a few sales-and the daily budget is always exhausted.
I am currently up to ten reviews on Amazon, and two on Goodreads. I am excited that they have started to trickle in, but I’m hoping to see several more reviews next week. With that said, I am pleased with the progress I’ve seen over the past three weeks. There are a few reviews that aren’t as great as they could be in terms of details and information, but at least they let others know that they liked the book.
I signed up for Booksprout, which is a service that has a mailing list of readers who get ARC (Advanced Reader Copies) of books, in exchange for honest reviews. From what I’ve seen, the reviews are honest. So, if you don’t have any reviews, it might be a good idea to get a few from your beta-readers and associates first. I think you want to stick with associates when it comes to reviews. Your friends and family want to help you, but that doesn’t mean that they are are going to read the book and provide a decent review. Also, as much as every writer wants praise, we need to hear the truth. That means mom, dad, siblings, and spouses, are not going to be the best people to recruit for reviews. Look outside of your circle.
My free days have been beneficial. For example, last Sunday, I had 103 downloads, and last Monday, I had 53 downloads. The amount of downloads makes me happy because as I’ve mentioned before, this is building my readership and my new career. I want to capture those readers and have them eager to read the next book in the series, Displacement. I hope that the reviews will start coming in from some of the free downloads. I included an offer for readers to sign up for the newsletter and leave a review once they finish reading the book. Some of the readers will do one or both.
The Next Novel
This week I have completed close to 9,000 words on Displacement the prequel to Who She Was, and since it is Saturday night, I still have one more day in the week to write. The words come much easier now that I’ve decided that this is my career, and there is no question that several hours of each day will be spent writing.
I have also added the other books I am currently working on in Reedsy.com, the typesetting program I am using. It’s free, by the way! So, the plan is to release the next novel in November, the third novel in April 2020, and the fourth novel in November 2020. In addition to the writing going along swimmingly, I also recorded my first podcast. It’s not award-winning, and I’m going to rework it, but I did it! It took hours to figure out the tech, and I still don’t have intro music, but I decided to do it. Now, I need to learn how to do it well. Once that happens, I will start sharing it here on the website.
My Amateur Opinion-Tips
It is possible for independent authors to be very successful, but they must approach writing as both a creative endeavor and a business venture. Yes, I am allowing the creative juices to flow, but writing is no longer just a hobby for me. This is a job, and I need to treat it as such. I can’t expect overnight success, or for any part of this career to be easy. Instead, I will approach it the same way I made my teaching career. 110%-daily. That’s just how it has to be if you want to succeed as an indie author. Here are a few tips from this amateur indie author:
Your first book will be imperfect. Yes. It is true. Your first book will not be your best work, and that is okay. Consider this. Henry Ford created the Quadricycle long before the Model T. BUT, he drove the Quadricycle around the neighborhood, and eventually, Ford sold the cycle for $200 and used the money to start working on the next car. Do you think that the Quadricycle was the best invention Henry Ford ever came up with during his career? No way. There were a few problems with the Quadricycle, but it ran, and it helped move Ford along in his career. Your first book is similar to the Quadricycle. It won’t be your best work, but it will be a great addition to your legacy when you look back at your writing career, and you can trace your growth. Put it out there, don’t be afraid to fail, and recognize that you will improve over time.
Get reviews. Family members and close friends might not understand the importance of writing reviews. A significant number of them will NEVER read your book, so don’t go to them for reviews. You also want honest reviews, and it might be hard for loved ones to provide useful feedback on your book. Don’t put them in that position. Look for associates or strangers that volunteer to be beta readers and reviewers. Check out Booksprout, Bookfunnel, and StoryOrigin if you can’t find anyone to serve as a beta-reader or reviewer.
Run a few free promotions. One important point I have come to understand is that there are no “rules” when it comes to the most critical aspect of being an independent author. BUT, it appears that a large percentage of indie authors agree that free promotions work. I have had success in running free promotions on Sundays and Mondays. Sundays tend to get more downloads than Mondays (in my limited experience), but I am sure that you could have success on other days as well. This has been an excellent tactic to get foreigners to try my book. During the free downloads, the United Kingdom and Germany came in second and third behind the United States, and a few other countries-Canada, Spain, Australia, the Netherlands, and India also made a list. About 12% of free downloads take place in foreign countries. This is very encouraging! If you can gain readership in markets around the globe, you have a better chance of making this writing “hobby” an actual career.
Get the word out about your free ebook. There are several places where you can advertise your free book promotion. Of course, once things get rolling, it may be worth it to pay for a Bookbub advertisement, but in the beginning, when you don’t have a ton of reviews, you can take advantage of free sites and social media pages.
Sites that help writers get free exposure:
Facebook groups that allows self-promotion: BOOK PLACE, E Books Rock, and genre specific Facebook groups.
Twitter: Hashtags that may help get the word about the #readingcommunity and #freeebooks
Instagram: I am not a huge Instagram user, but it is a fantastic place to post free promotion. Use a ton of hashtags to help boost your post. Here are a few to get you started: #indieauthors, #readingcommunity #indielife, #indiewriting, #iamreading, #iamwriting, #writersofinstagram…Just to name a few.
Writer websites: Make friends with your fellow indie writers and ask if they would like to swap ads with you. You would feature an advertisement on your site of their book for a short time, and they would do the same thing for you.
Be careful when vetting sites where you plan to place a link to your novel. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Skip sites that appear shady and find ones that don’t make any promises. There is no guarantee that anyone is going to download your book, so if a site promises that, don’t use it.
Goals for Next Week
At least 10,000 words completed on Displacement.
Write and publish four blog posts.
Continue to interact with readers and other writers.
Finish an outline for The Road to Nowhere, the fourth book in the Sylvia Wilcox Mysteries series
Weed the garden and clean the house. Well, maybe I’ll just weed the garden.
Happy writing! https://www.bluehost.com/track/brayleeparkinson
Click here to order: Who She Was: A Sylvia Wilcox Mystery