My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

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Holly
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Re: My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

Post by Holly » June 20th, 2011, 9:37 pm

Thanks, Dave -- I love your covers, too. The bird inside the foliage is beautiful and the eyes facing in opposite directions are so clever. I'm ordering a Kindle and plan to buy both stories.

The monster foot in my cover Lost Cargo is actually a photo of a real alligator foot. I saw it online, contacted the photographer to ask if I could buy it or license it for an ebook cover, and he graciously (unbelievably) told me to use it without charge. I've given him full credit and a link to his website in my acknowledgments. The stars in the background are from a NASA photo, which are all in the public domain.

Thanks for posting this topic. I'm about to take the ebook plunge and having tremendous fun, too.

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Quill
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Re: My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

Post by Quill » June 20th, 2011, 10:46 pm

Holly wrote:I'm about to put two ebooks online this summer. Here are covers designed by Stewart A. Williams, http://www.stewartwilliamsdesign.com. One is a sci-fi novel, the other nonfiction. Stewart was affordable, prompt and professional.

Haunted Ground has a hand-drawn, historical map of the Gettysburg battlefield behind the title, but the image is too small to make it out here.

You took ghost pics at the battlefield? How intriguing.

There are a lot of students of that battle in particular. And of course the 150th anniversary of the battle is coming up soon. So you should do well with this. Hope you have some marketing plans to reach those who might be interested.

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Re: My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

Post by Claudie » June 21st, 2011, 12:45 am

Holly, those are two really pretty covers. I love them! Best of luck with the self-publish plunge, and do keep us updated. :)
"I do not think there is any thrill [...] like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success... Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything." -- Nikola Tesla

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Holly
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Re: My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

Post by Holly » June 21st, 2011, 4:20 am

Quill wrote:
Holly wrote:I'm about to put two ebooks online this summer. Here are covers designed by Stewart A. Williams, http://www.stewartwilliamsdesign.com. One is a sci-fi novel, the other nonfiction. Stewart was affordable, prompt and professional.

Haunted Ground has a hand-drawn, historical map of the Gettysburg battlefield behind the title, but the image is too small to make it out here.

You took ghost pics at the battlefield? How intriguing.

There are a lot of students of that battle in particular. And of course the 150th anniversary of the battle is coming up soon. So you should do well with this. Hope you have some marketing plans to reach those who might be interested.
Thanks, Quill. Yes, the anniversary of the Gettysburg battle is this July 1-3 (it just fell out that way). I took one photo and my late husband took the rest. He was a huge Civil War buff, which is why we moved here, but nature photography was his hobby. He took thousands of photos of the battlefield, including some strange ones that make you shake your head. We were not ghost people when we moved here, but were hit over the head with it so many times that we had to admit there is something to it.

I took the best 20 photos and made them into a mini-book. The book includes some true stories, history summaries, and driving directions to each location. The battlefield has a famous haunted area called the Triangular Field where a ghost is supposed to tamper with cameras and video equipment. Other people have written about it and a TV crew even went there. I laughed about it until it happened to us. No, I don't have a marketing plan, other than contacting blog review sites and some news sites. I wish I could put it on Amazon, but I can't -- the Kindle is just for black and white. The photos are color and parts of the images vanish into the background in black and white. I plan to put it on Barnes & Noble, the iBookstore, and several other places. I'm basically doing it for fun and to do something with my late husband's photos.

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Holly
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Re: My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

Post by Holly » June 21st, 2011, 4:22 am

Claudie wrote:Holly, those are two really pretty covers. I love them! Best of luck with the self-publish plunge, and do keep us updated. :)
Thanks, Claudie. I'm kind of doing this for fun. Best of luck to you, too!

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Quill
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Re: My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

Post by Quill » June 21st, 2011, 11:19 am

Holly wrote: Thanks, Quill. Yes, the anniversary of the Gettysburg battle is this July 1-3 (it just fell out that way).
Yup. I actually meant the 150th anniversary, which is in a couple years. Be great to have the book well publicized by then, as that is when interest is likely to peak.
No, I don't have a marketing plan, other than contacting blog review sites and some news sites. I wish I could put it on Amazon, but I can't -- the Kindle is just for black and white. The photos are color and parts of the images vanish into the background in black and white. I plan to put it on Barnes & Noble, the iBookstore, and several other places.
Be interesting to try an find a way to attract the attention of re-enactment groups and online message forums populated by Civil War and Gettysburg buffs. I know there are many out there.

Good luck!

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Re: My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

Post by justcrash » June 29th, 2011, 2:21 pm

Dave, thank you for sharing. As I get closer to the editing stage of my first finished MS, I need to be giving these things some serious though. I appreciate your honesty, sir.
I finally have a website/blog! Check it out, I need the attention!

Follow me on Twitter! I will return the favor!

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Re: My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

Post by dgaughran » July 1st, 2011, 10:13 am

Hi all,

People seemed to find my sales breakdown last month of interest. So here are the numbers for June. As if to shield me from any accusations of trumpet-blowing, sales almost halved this month.

Dave

Full Breakdown for June

If You Go Into The Woods

Amazon US 33 (down from 88)

Amazon UK 3 (down from 15)

Amazon DE 0 (down from 1)

Smashwords 5 (up from 4)

Sub-total 41 (down from 108)

Transfection

Amazon US 23 (down from 40)

Amazon UK 4 (up from 2)

Amazon DE 0 (no change)

Smashwords 10 (up from 3)

Sub-total 37 (down from 45)

June Total 78 (down from 153)

CUMULATIVE TOTALS:

If You Go Into The Woods (on sale since May 4th) – 149

Transfection (on sale since May 21st) – 82

GRAND TOTAL – 231 e-books sold since May 4th.

Analysis

Sales almost halved this month. There are a number of factors I can pinpoint, but some things are a mystery.

Tags disappeared for a couple of weeks. And at the same time, Amazon ran a sale called Sunshine Deals. 600 popular books from large publishers were slashed to prices as low as 99c.

This made it very difficult for a lot of indies, especially those like me who were selling short stories for that price. The sale ran for the first two weeks of the month, and it killed me.

Sales were around 4 a day going in to the month, but by the second week of June they had dropped to one every other day. All of John Locke’s books were knocked out of the Top 100. Amanda Hocking had a big drop in rankings. Joe Konrath was down 15% for the month. If those guys were going to be affected, I had no chance.

As soon as the sale ended, my sales climbed back up to the old level. However, they just flatlined again for the last few days of the month. I have no explanation for that.

Additionally, I did very little promo this month as I raced to finish a new book. Writing comes first, so that doesn’t bother me. I had some promo benefits – stuff I had set up in May, such as reviews – and that kept my numbers out of the fire.

Perhaps a far bigger factor than reduced promo was the lack of a new release. I had two books out in May, and two corresponding sales spikes (and in fact the second release raised the sale of the first release hugely).

Now I have (almost) two months of data. It’s too early to make judgments on anything, but I can at least highlight some things I need to watch. Transfection is not selling as well as If You Go Into The Woods. That has surprised me. I thought it would be the other way around, for a number of reasons.

Having said that, my first title got all the promo love before I had to knuckle down and finish my book. It has received way more reviews (book blogs and Amazon), and was the focus of a more sustained push. The second one didn’t get the same help at all, but I can address that this month.

Something else I need to watch: my UK sales. While the numbers are in line with the US, I have sold maybe one book there in three weeks. Not sure why.

That’s all the negatives out of the way. And I’m not too disappointed with this numbers. I have sold 231 e-books in my first 2 months. I think that’s pretty impressive. I have covered 75% of the costs of my first release, and paid off a chunk of the second.

Plus, I am now in the Smashwords Premium Catalogue, and the books trickled through to Barnes & Noble, and iTunes in the last few days. I know I have some sales there, but they are not included above – I won’t get those numbers for a while.

Also, I didn’t spend a dime in June, my Smashwords sales have doubled, and the blog is exploding in popularity.

I had over 11,000 views in June, with 4,000 of those coming in the last 7 days. Blog subscribers have tripled. On days where I don’t post, I am hitting 400 views. When I do, it can be as high as 700. For a blog that is less than three months old, those are astounding numbers.

I’m starting to get a handle on Twitter. In June, my followers jumped from 180 or so to 1,800. This has been one of the biggest drivers of traffic to my blog. I have seen a few posts in the last couple of weeks go “viral” to some extent, and I am picking up 50 to 100 followers a day at the moment.

All of this is building nicely towards the release of Let’s Get Digital. That’s with the editor now, and my cover designer is beavering away; I’m looking towards a mid-July release. I have high hopes for it.

I think the combination of a guide to the nuts-and-bolts of digital self-publishing, with an overview of the publishing industry, plus all those success stories could be popular. When you add that to the PDF version being available for free, it has a chance of taking off.

It will be interesting to see if a new release in a completely different genre (and non-fiction rather than fiction) will lift the sales of my existing titles. I think it will, but even if it doesn’t, I have some promo stuff planned for those too (especially Transfection). I will also be working on new stories, and preparing a novel for an end of summer release.
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Re: My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

Post by ToniD » July 1st, 2011, 4:36 pm

Congrats Dave on your success. I think you can move from experiment to proven theory. :D

Just guessing, but I'd say much of your success comes from your widespread online presence, and on willingness to help other Indies.

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dgaughran
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Re: My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

Post by dgaughran » July 6th, 2011, 11:28 am

Hi Toni,

Thank you very much. I wouldn't say anything is "proven" just yet. I'm still in the red, for one. I said at the start that I would judge this after six months, and we are only three months in, and only two months since I first e-published. It's looking good so far, but it's still early days.

I'm having a hell of a time, though!

Dave
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Re: My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

Post by dgaughran » August 1st, 2011, 11:08 am

Final sales numbers are in (bar Apple, B&N, Sony, Kobo etc. - no idea when I'll get those). Here are the rough tallies:

May: 153 (about $70)
June: 78 (about $35)
July: 255 (about $425)

Pretty pleased with the big bump in July, especially after the dip in June. Predominantly down to a new release, the first priced at $2.99, which sold around 200 copies in the 12 days it has been out.

There will be a longer analysis of the month on my blog in a few days, but I'm very happy with July. I've a novel slated for September release, so August will be spent on the final pass.
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Re: My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

Post by TaylorNapolsky » August 7th, 2011, 2:21 pm

"One of the frustrating things about the Amazon system is that they only let the reader sample 10% (and I think that is 10% of the file rather than the word count), so for a short story, a reader isn't given enough to be hooked. I'm sure that has an effect on sales."


Can you please explain how the sample system works? I am about to put out a novella and I was thinking about having the people who formatted it send me a separate file with the first chapter.

But you just said Amazon only lets you sample 10%. Is this something Amazon does automatically? If so, where do I find the sample? I searched the amazon page for Go Into the Woods, and didn't see any link to download a sample.

Thank you very much for the help!

Taylor

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dgaughran
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Re: My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

Post by dgaughran » August 18th, 2011, 11:58 am

Hi Taylor,

I'm sorry, I didn't seem to get a notification that you had posted here.

If you go to the book page for If You Go Into The Woods - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004YTI01Y - you will see the sample button just under the "Buy" button.

They also have a "Look Inside" feature for e-books which seems to show 10% of the book too - although it messes with the formatting (it's a lot neater in the real version).

Dave
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Susan Quinn
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Re: My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

Post by Susan Quinn » September 14th, 2011, 10:37 am

Dave - Thanks for sharing all your data! Very helpful. I've read "Let's Get Digital" and found it very insightful (even blogged about it a while ago in one of my Notes from the E-Revolution posts). Best of luck in the months ahead! :)
Sue
Susan Kaye Quinn (young adult and middle grade author)
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dgaughran
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Re: My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

Post by dgaughran » September 15th, 2011, 3:23 pm

Hi Susan,

I'm glad you enjoyed the book.

For anyone else keeping track of this experiment, the numbers for August are in.

The headline is 392 books sold, $870 in revenue. Best month yet by far. However, it's not all rosy. September has seen a HUGE slowdown. But don't worry, I'll post those numbers at the end of the month too.

Full breakdown here: http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2011 ... ise-again/
Image   Image Image   Image <---NEW RELEASE!!!
Download the FREE PDF version at my blog: Let's Get Digital

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