In two months I’ll be taking a year away from dayjobbery and seeing how close I can get to generating a full time freelance writing career. For the next couple of months I’ve the luxury of preparation time, trying to figure out how to make it work and putting some things in place that will pay off down the line (maybe). Then, at the end of September, I’ll take the leap, put all of this into practice, and see if I’m right about any of it. You can browse previous entries here.
The countdown has hit the two month mark. The rush to lay as much groundwork as I can before I start is starting to feel like a palpable thing. There’s no pressure quite like the pressure you put on yourself.
The month just gone gives me hope though, as it went better than I expected. Releasing Craven Place at the start of July was the last (visible thing) I really wanted to get done before the end of September, and my expectations for its performance were rather low. I hoped it would move a few copies, but of all my books I expected it to take longest to earn back its expenses. I’m not quite there yet, but it’s going faster than I predicted, and has already far outstripped the first month’s sales of both previous titles. In the US, Kindle sales of the book for July (sales – this doesn’t include the copies given away on launch day) amount to 238 copies, with another 15 borrows through Amazon Prime (financially, this is about the same as a sale). So, 253 copies. That more than pays for the paperback’s interior art and design, as well as the editor’s time. Another 77 sales and two borrows for the Kindle in the UK, and 14 paperbacks sold via Amazon. Well on the way to paying for the cover design. Just as pleasing is that the book is still being found and bought every day. 346 and counting.
There hasn’t been a lot of spillover into my previous books so far, with thirteen copies of Thy Fearful Symmetry and Cuckoo selling over the month. One point of note is that on top of those ebook sales, Cuckoo sold ten paperbacks. This is particularly interesting, because they weren’t purchased via Amazon or a bookstore. As far as I can tell, they were ordered in bulk on the same day visa the expanded distribution system. My best guess is that a bookstore somewhere in the US will soon have new stock.
I read a couple of months ago (on Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s invaluable Business Rusch blog) that Baker & Taylor, a major book distributor in the US, has changed its policies to make it just as easy for bricks & mortar bookstores to get hold of self-published titles as those from traditional booksellers. Previously, for reasons that Kristine outlines, this has been a huge barrier for independent authors. Now it appears to have vanished overnight. I can’t be sure, but I suspect that those ten copies are the proof of the pudding. I don’t yet know how to pursue this further, but it’s something I’ll be looking at very closely over the coming two months. In the meantime, if you see any of my books in a bricks & mortar store in the US please do let me know.
So, yes, an excellent first month for Craven Place, despite a lack of major promotion since that first week (and that was you rather than me). There’s no point me trying to predict what it’s going to do next, as July has shown, so I’m mostly going to sit back and watch.
My original plan for Craven Place was to release it, wait for a week or two in the hope that some reviews appeared on Amazon to make it a more appealing proposition, and then run a bigger free promo to see if that kick started sales. In the end I held off doing that, as the book was selling anyway and I wanted an idea of what it would do without prodding. On Monday and Tuesday though, the book will be free on Amazon, wherever you are in the world. I’ve notified several free ebook sites, though it’s anybody’s guess whether they’ll run it. Customer reviews factor heavily into their decisions when choosing which books to promote, and Craven Place just doesn’t have many yet. We’ll see. I’ll report back on whether the promo kills subsequent sales, affects them in no way whatsoever, or whether there’s any boost.
By all means, feel free to tell people about the giveaway if you want to. No pressure though – this is mostly a test of those promotional sites and what difference they make (if any). There are many apocryphal stories about them, and I’ve benefited from some of them in the past, but the game keeps changing and I want to find out what their usefulness lies now.
In terms of actual income (it will be next month before I receive payment for all the Amazon activity on the new book), I received my quarterly payment for ebook sales made through Barnes & Noble, Sony, and others this month. $16. There’s a reason why I concentrate most of my efforts on Amazon…
That said, this may be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Driving sales in the other bookstores is much harder though, with several points stacked against the independent author. That’s a whole post in its own right.
Coming soon, and all that…
Before I go, a quick word of thanks to those who blogged about The 52 this week. It was only a couple of you, but the response has been tremendous – we’re now nearly thirty images in, past the point of no return. Many of them are startling and beautiful. There’s no going back now. 2014 will be awash with short stories.
There are still plenty of slots left, of course. If you know of anybody who might be interested, please do nudge them my way. It’s going to be fun.