I have two names for last Saturday: Black Saturday & The Day The Music Died.
That day, I had a choice – to attend a self-publishing seminar (which promised all manner of tools to boost my sales) or go, as planned, to a day of ‘play’ through art. I debated. Who doesn’t want to boost their sales? On the other hand, I had promised to support a friend who was running an art workshop; I did not want to let her down. In the end, I chose friendship and fun. That’s the resulting masterpiece, right there.
On Saturday night, as though the Universe, infuriated by my choice, struck with a spectacular bolt of lightening. My sales – yes, all of them, tanked. Died. Overnight. If only I hadn’t missed that talk on algorithms. Or that discussion about how an author upped her sales to 70,000 with secret know-how. My masterpiece was no comfort.
A week later, still in silent shock, I went on to amazon.com to see if there had been any improvement. Like battle-weary soldiers, my babies were limping along. Then, I spied, like a spring flower popping up out of the ground, this review. My little flattened heart began to reinflate. It even soared a little. Here was the reminder that I needed that is not all about sales and algorithms and results, it’s about reaching people and THAT is why I write.
So, thank you, Linda Brooks, whoever you are, for sharing the love – and to all readers who take the time to do so. I hope you realise the impact that you can have.
So, last Friday, I reached my first big crossroads. I stood at it. Put my foot out, took it back in. Out. In. On repeat. The decision probably doesn’t seem like a huge one – to stay with amazon exclusively or go for wider distribution. My first three months on KDP Select with Pause to Rewind were up. There seemed a lot at stake.
Pause to Rewind has a pretty respectable ranking on amazon.com. It’s selling nicely and quite a few people are borrowing it through Kindle Unlimited which, for those of you who are unfamiliar with it, is like Netflix for books. Leaving KDP Select would mean leaving Kindle Unlimited. I wasn’t sure I was ready to do that.
Kindle Unlimited has got a lot of flack lately with many authors reporting a loss of sales since it began. The fact is, it exists. Readers who have enrolled will, I assume, chose Kindle Unlimited books over others. Another disincentive to leave is the risk of the book falling in the amazon rankings, making discovery harder.
On the flipside, using other distribution channels such as iTunes would increase potential sales. And it would seem the next logical step in my self-publishing adventure. However, there is the issue of visibility. How would I get Pause to Rewind to stand out amongst all the other books sold through these channels? On amazon, I can play with the price and promote special offers. Elsewhere there is less price flexibility. I’m told by friends who have been self-publishing longer than I have, that the best way to stand out on other distribution channels (if you’re not already a household name) is to make one of you books permafree. I might do that with a short story or maybe the first in a series but not a stand-alone novel. Way too much blood, sweat and tears shed in its creation. Way, too, much.
And so I have chosen a road. It’s the same one I was already on. It does seem to be going against a lot of the advice I’ve read about the changing world of amazon since the advent of Kindle Unlimited. But it feels right for me – for now. If it proves to be a mistake, then in three months, I change tack.
And while that three months is ticking away, I will promote my second Aimee Alexander novel, The Accidental Life of Greg Millar and work ahead with editing my third. Better to go into territories new with more then one offering anyway, me thinks. Though, as you know, I’m just feeling my way.
Feeling a bit like Forrest Gump after Hurricane Carmen.
This was my first Christmas as a self-publisher. I went in blind. Because I love Christmas, I offered my short story, Checkout Girl, for free and reduced the price of Pause to Rewind to 99c. I did not expect sales to fall.
I had not taken into account amazon’s Christmas promotions – where they slash the prices of high profile bestsellers. It was like sailing into a hurricane. All I could do was wait for it to pass and hope I was still afloat.
I had set up announcements of my offers to appear on various websites throughout Christmas. They had little impact. Pause to Rewind slipped to a ranking of about #20,000.
The last announcement I had lined up – with www.fkbt.com – was on New Year’s Eve. At this point, I did not expect a result. I was trying to make a deadline for an article I’d been commissioned to write (on my self-publishing adventure) for www.writing.ie when really I should have been preparing for guests who were on their way to help us ring in the New Year. To check a fact, I went onto amazon.com. Pause to Rewind had jumped to around #4,000 in ranking, reaching #7 in medical fiction on Kindle. I felt like Forrest after the hurricane, still standing, and sailing my Jenny blindly onward.
Shortly after I published Pause to Rewind as an ebook, a reader contacted me to see if I would be publishing a paperback as she wished to gift the story to two people. At the time, I had no plans to produce a paperback. Because of production costs, they are more expensive to produce, retail higher and are consequently less in demand on amazon.
Then I thought, well, this woman had a good experience and wants to share it which is pretty kind. Publishing a paperback would be an adventure. And the clincher: I could give a physical copy of the book to my son, the little boy who features on the cover. (No longer, little, I might add.)
And so, today, drum roll, I can announce: WE HAVE A PAPERBACK. Available on amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. So a big thank you to that reader. Her kindness has changed my plans for the better. Happy Christmas.
I have been sooo quiet. This is because I’ve been as busy as a Christmas elf (excuse the analogy – tis the season of getting away with terrible similes):
What, you might ask, have I been up to? Well, I’ve been editing The Accidental Life of Greg Millar so that it is ready to publish on December 27th. I’ve been working on a paperback of Pause to Rewind which I would LOVE to have out for Christmas, but can’t promise. And I’ve been editing and finding a lovely cover for a Christmas short story called Checkout Girl – the little baby, there, on your left. If your heart is in need of warming, or your spirits uplifting, this might just do the trick. No promises, mind. Happy Christmas.