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Writer's Station > The Taboo Question of money

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message 1: by Everly (new)

Everly Anders | 207 comments Mod
I know this is an awkward thing to bring up, but I think it is important. We all hear the great stories of how you can make a million dollars in a year as a self-published writer, but I think it's important to have a frank discussion about how much people are really making and how many books we are really selling. Don't you?

message 2: by Paul (last edited Nov 30, 2011 07:40AM) (new)

Paul Jones (paulantonyjones) | 12 comments Okay, I'll bite. :)

My first book Towards Yesterdaysells anywhere between 200 and 400 copies a month. I've experimented with the price since I released it in June from $0.99 to $3.99 but settled at a price I'm comfortable with of $2.99.

You can do the math yourselves on what that brings in :) It's not a lot of money but it certainly is welcome. If sales continue at the same level for the next year or two, I'll be happy with the return on time invested. If it goes beyond the 2-year mark at the same level of sales, well, I don't want to jinx it.

I've got another book (hopefully) coming out by the end of December, I'll probably price that around $3.99 (it's bigger and better than Towards Yesterday, so I think the price increase is warranted) and I may well reduce Towards Yesterday down to $0.99 again, as a loss-leader.

How's that?


message 3: by Everly (new)

Everly Anders | 207 comments Mod
Paul wrote: "Okay, I'll bite. :)

My first book Towards Yesterdaysells anywhere between 200 and 400 copies a month. I've experimented with the price since I released it in June from $0.99 to $3...."

Thanks Paul, That is helpful. I am very impressed with you sales, do you mind if I ask (for everyone on here) how long your book has been up and what kind of marketing you did for it?
I think that would be really helpful for people here.

message 4: by Paul (new)

Paul Jones (paulantonyjones) | 12 comments Sure thing, Elle.

I released Towards Yesterday in May of this year.

Quite honestly, I didn't have a marketing plan as such, so I bought a couple of books from other authors and read them. They all basically said the same thing: twitter, facebook, have your own blog etc etc. I tried it all, and to be totally honest, really didn't have much luck with any of it.

I gave copies away for free; I didn't get much in the way of reviews from that (this was before I joined Goodreads, just so you know).

I'm a member of, so I made a couple of posts in their writing and sci-fi sub-reddits, basically saying here's my book. This is what its about. Its $0.99. Have a read of it and let me know what you think of it, good or bad.

I got a great response from those who read it and my first two or three reviews on Amazon. Incidentally, I knew none of the Redditors who posted reviews, so there was no friendship and no nepotism involved, just in case you were wondering.

Another writer who'd read my book recommended it to his readers (thank you Steve Konkoly) which also helped to raise awareness.

I joined Goodreads and began annoying people in the Apocalypse Whenever group. Gertie, the moderator, was kind enough to let me post some questions to her group members to help with my next book.

I requested reviews from blog-sites and got some great and totally unexpected reviews (including a 5-star from Sift Book Reviews and 4 from Butterfly-o-meter). I took excerpts of those reviews and posted them to my book's Amazon page. I think that really helps to lend some validity to my writing and my novel.

I also listened to my readers. When they told me there were errors in grammar and spelling, I went back and corrected them, and made sure that I let people know that I'd taken note of their comments and made the corrections.

Hmmm! What else? I've done some Twittering but, to be honest, I don't think that has helped me. The majority of my followers are other authors, so I get the feeling that I'm preaching to the converted. Steve Umstead would be the best person to talk to about Twittering as he seems to be pretty prolific. I have a problem putting my thoughts into a single sentence that Twitter requires.

Wow! That's a lot of paragraphs starting with 'I'

In short, I think good relationships, good reviews and a good story are the most important aspects that have helped me to sell my book.

Hopefully that's all of some use to you guys.


message 5: by Everly (new)

Everly Anders | 207 comments Mod
Paul wrote: "Sure thing, Elle.

I released Towards Yesterday in May of this year.

Quite honestly, I didn't have a marketing plan as such, so I bought a couple of books from other authors and read them. They a..."

Thank You Paul! I think what you had to say will really help people. Even if they have heard some of it before, it always helps to hear it again and from someone it is working for!

message 6: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Lynne (patricialynne07) Paul, I haven't really seen much from Twitter either. Goodreads has helped, just getting involved with groups and letting people know I have a book, but not pushing it.

I only published my first book at the end of August, and I priced it at $2.99. I'm not a fan of making my first book that I worked hard on permanently 99cents. My sales are very small, but they have been holding steady and growing, so hopefully that keeps up and more people find my writing and enjoy it.

I think it's safe to say, only with persistance and finding the right promotion that works for you, is the only way to make money on your book.

message 7: by Paul (new)

Paul Jones (paulantonyjones) | 12 comments Patricia wrote: "I think it's safe to say, only with persistance and finding the right promotion that works for you, is the only way to make money on your book. ..."

I agree, Patricia. The indie writing arena is really wide open at the moment, what works for me might not for you. That's not a bad thing, of course because there are so many routes to success, but persistence and quality are the two key factors to success, I believe (with a little luck thrown into the mix for good measure).

message 8: by Stuart (new)

Stuart Jaffe | 7 comments I published a short story collection, 10 Bits of My Brain, in July to test the waters. Though it hasn't sold huge numbers (about 40), it was fun to do and encouraged me to put out my novel. The Way of the Black Beast has been out about a month and has sold about 40. It hasn't been out long enough to get much feedback yet but what I have heard is all good. While I agree with Paul and Patricia regarding promotions, I want to add that you have to look long term (at least initially). My sales aren't that huge but I'm doing fine for a start. The question is can I grow that audience over the year, two years, etc?

message 9: by K.M. (new)

K.M. Spires (kmspires) | 7 comments Well, Paul, I am officially jealous of you. ^_~ Those sales numbers are just phenomenal to me. I published my first two books in June of this year and my sales have been abysmal.

I agree that without persistence and quality, your books don't stand much of a chance for success. I know self-publishing comes along with the stigmata of poor quality/general suckitude, given the cyber slush pile of poorly edited novels out there. Is my book any different? I would like to think so; I edited every single chapter at least a dozen times and my full length novel received a very positive review.

One can never downplay the importance of luck, but we Heathens believe that luck is something you make, not some magical random happenstance. Through Paul's efforts to put his name out there and raise awareness of his book, he snagged the attention of a more well known author that directed part of his readership Paul's way. Had Paul's books been of substandard quality, that spark of interest wouldn't have grown into a blaze of actual viable sales figures. Therefore, "luck" played maybe 1% of the final outcome.

The total combined sales of both my novels are a fraction of what Paul sells every month. I have a Twitter account and a fanpage over at Facebook. I've been a Goodreads member since before I was published. So where am I going wrong?

Easy. I *don't* go out and market myself as I should. If you participate in forums where your target audience is known to frequent, if you strike deals with fellow writers, if you use Twitter, etc., you'll built your readership. How hard is it to do these things? It's not hard, physically, yet I don't because I don't have the time.

I'm a wife and mother of two, which will always come first. After that, I have religious obligations that can't be ignored. When I'm not taking care of my family, I'm trying to work on my next novel (it's about a zombie! :D). These things don't leave a lot of free time for things like networking and marketing. This is actually the first time I've had a chance to sit down and connect with other readers/writers in almost a week. I haven't even updated my blog!

So, yeah. It's not a terribly affirming truth, but I'm totally aware of the fact that my "unluckiness" as far as book sales goes is my fault.

In summation, congratulations, Paul. You've worked hard to put your name out there, so you deserve the success you've received. This is a lesson all self-published authors should take to heart.

message 10: by Dee (new)

Dee | 9 comments Ok Elle - My first - and only - title Better Off Without Him has been selling at $2.99 since March. It was priced at $6.99 with a different cover for a few months prior to that, and sales were negligable. A great cover and good price point are essential. I've been selling between 125-175 copies a month for the past several months, but sales have slowed considerably the past few weeks, tho I can't figure out why. I'm working hard to get out the next title.
I went a similiar route as Paul - found blog sites to give reviews, went onto a few boards, tried give-aways here and on other sites. It's a lot harder to sell a book than to write one.

message 11: by Paul (new)

Paul Jones (paulantonyjones) | 12 comments Dee wrote: "It's a lot harder to sell a book than to write one...."

That about sums up taking the indie-publishing route in one simple sentence.

message 12: by Irene (new)

Irene Pynn (irenelpynn) | 10 comments Dee wrote: "It's a lot harder to sell a book than to write one."

This is the truth!

message 13: by Belinda (new)

Belinda Buchanan | 7 comments Irene wrote: "Dee wrote: "It's a lot harder to sell a book than to write one."

This is the truth!"

You are oh so right!

message 14: by Susan (new)

Susan yeah... ditto ... and what they said. LOL

I was only spreading the word about my book in a couple of groups here in GR. One group has a Book of the Month (BOM) by an author who is part of that group, each month and mine (so far) is in first place - partly because I just had a give-away. (the 3rd since Oct)
Then I announced it on Facebook - but I don't have 2,000 friends etc. - asked them to pass the word. ehhh
Twitter - what in the H do you do on there? I joined but not sure how to "work it"

I've sold about a dozen copies. I've given away over 50.

message 15: by Robert (new)

Robert Boyle (Urgus) | 2 comments You might find my experience with paid advertising interesting in the context of this thread. I'm in Australia but sought a bigger market for my historical fantasy eBook published in July. I paid $US 375 for an advert in the US online and print magazine 'Realms of Fantasy". My daughter is a keen magazine reader and drew my attention to it. It is a fine, well done product, with very attractive illustrations.

My ad was in the October edition and it looks great. But, few sales (less than 5?) have resulted. Hopefully a few more are on the way.

However, the editor has noted on their site that the magazine has been losing money, and the October edition, the hundredth issue, will be the last if a new owner cannot be found.

I had been toying with the idea of repeating the advert in the next issue - reinforcing the message, so to speak. But that's not to be.

A pity. And sorry to see the magazine go.

message 16: by Dee (new)

Dee | 9 comments I found that getting reviews is the hardest and best thing to do to get the word out. Find a reviewer who is sympathetic to your genre - this is very important. If you wrote a great mstery, you've wasted time and energy if the review readers are all sci-fi fans. This is a great help -
As you go through these sites, check out the Blogroll. Usually, you can find more sites that way.

message 17: by Armand (new)

Armand Rosamilia (armandrosamilia) | 24 comments I find that running ads rarely works, but one-on-one with potential customers always sells some books for me... I cross-promote with fellow writers in the horror genre whenever possible (blog tours, facebook posts and likes, e-mail) and we try to hit potential new fans... I even do some cross-promotion with horror movie guys as well, anything to get the word out... I spend at least 1 hour of my morning (usually when the coffee is brewing and I'm eating) to do this before starting to write... just a part of being an author...

Armand Rosamilia
Zombie Tea Party

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