Corvette Sales Update

We’re at the month mark after the release of my novel, Corvette. The book debuted on 21 March but didn’t really take off until April. What I’ll be looking at today are April’s numbers.

Corvette Sales

This chart is from my KDP dashboard and shows the sales of just Corvette. Getting to 50 on the third day was key to kickstarting the whole climb. After that it was the jump to just under 100 that put me on some Best Seller lists and from then on the climb was pretty steady. Getting over the 100 a day peak resulted in a big boost in sales that lasted until the 150 a day period which is still off and on until the end of the month.

The blue line graph is how many page reads the book is getting in the Kindle Select program. Much of the time I make more money off of those page reads than I do by actually selling a copy of the ebook. Amazon pays you for a “sale” after a reader completes 60% of your book. This is why it’s essential for your book to be in Kindle Select.

All Sales

This chart shows how Corvette’s sales are boosting the sales of my other Star Saga books. About two weeks into the month I slid three more of my lower priced books into Kindle Select to boost readers. It’s only just starting to help towards the end of April. This means I had to take the books off sale at Kobo and Nook but that was not a problem since sales on those platforms were non-existent.

I decided to pay for a better graphing tool for my Amazon numbers and here is a late April screenshot of sales using Book Report.

I like this tool because it has graphs and a pie chart and book covers with links to the books. Laying the Kindle Select reads on top of the sales numbers really shows you how they correlate. Select are in blue and sales royalties are in red. I told you being in Select pays!

Also of note here is the widening slice of pie that is Book One of my Star Saga – Starforgers. The thing I want to see is if all those Corvette readers start making their way through the series. This should drive sales more and more as Corvette fades from the bestseller lists.

Here is a breakdown of the earning per book for April. Keep in mind that Devon’s Blade, Ocherva and Blood Empress have only been in Select for a few weeks. Their numbers should grow next month. 

This is a fun graph from Amazon’s back end that shows my Author Ranking which is a Beta program that compares your sales to others in your genre. It changes hourly. I like it because it shows the rise from obscurity to hit in one month.

The last time my sales took off like this I only had one book out and the whole thing folded in about two months. Now that I have close to a dozen books in the same universe, it will be interesting to see if I can gain a following. Once again, spending a decade writing as many novels might finally bear some fruit.

 

Corvette, Written to Market

Last year I read a book called Write To Market by Chris Fox. Chris was no stranger to me having followed his stellar Indy career and read a few of his writing books before. But this book was different. This book chronicled Chris’s attempt to write a best selling ebook. He spelled out how he wrote a Sci-Fi book and took it to market specifically to sell well. This was what I wanted to do. I already had a five book series out but was unable to get any traction with sales. I made so little money at selling them that Amazon didn’t even send me tax information. That sucks.

So I read Chris’s book carefully and I executed his exact game plan for my novella, Corvette. I’m not going to go into all the things Chris tells you to do, you should get his book and read it yourself. But I will say what I had to do to play ball in order to sell in the big leagues. I had to study the market, which fortunately was similar to his market, and read what was selling. I’m not talking traditional books like Scalzi or Weber, but best selling Indy books from authors I had never read or even heard of before. It took some research and some time to read through about four books in the Military SF best seller lists but I started to see what Chris was talking about. I already had an idea about what I wanted to write, but I had no cast in mind. The book would be set about thirty years before the series and could be about anyone I wanted.

Here are my notes written before the novella was started. stating my objectives.

This novella is my attempt to write to market. It will target the self published Military SF market. The plot is similar to the top selling novels in that genre, but it is set in my Star Saga universe. Common tropes that I will use are as follows:

  1. Old captain with an old ship on perhaps a final mission.
  2. Only ship in the area to help find missing colonists.
  3. Secret military mission to find out about mysterious blue skinned aliens.
  4. Happy ending with not a lot of side characters dying.
  5. Violent, overpowering enemy that prove to be cunning and dangerous.
  6. They have to beat the larger, better armed enemy vessel.

I also made notes to remind me to keep the action coming and the chapters short. If you look at those tropes above you can easily apply the to so many SF stories about starships. This was not my usual writing style. I always have action and fast moving plots but I usually didn’t write characters that could fit into any other story. It was hard to not have major characters be women or non-white men, but I was determined to stick to the tropes.

I have talked about what I did bring to the story in great detail in other posts. So I encourage you to seek them out and read them. But what I’d like to elaborate on in this post is that I stuck to the tropes and I stuck to Chris’s suggestions as I wrote this story. It was not a hard story to write and I enjoyed the heck out it.

After Corvette was finished and edited and ready to go I had to make sure it had a decent cover and an inviting description. These are two areas I’ve struggled to refine as an Indy writer. When I started my series I used military unit coins on the covers and nobody understood they were Sci-Fi books. So I went back to the basics and put starships on the cover. Again, I’m not your average SF writer and I was able to design and build my own starship models, photograph them and then hand the images over to my graphics designer brother. Byron put together a color scheme that focused on orange and blue, the same as popular action movies.

For Corvette, we used my huge Votainion warship model and I created a new, smaller ship to represent the tiny corvette. I played around with colors but eventually went with green because it was in the story and many newer SF covers are trending green. The cover blurb was designed to signal the tropes and hint at a the inclusion of naval history in the details. Again, I’ve done posts about the story and what I did to make it unique.

All of these intentional moves helped the book do well on opening day and gradually climb up the charts farther than any book I’ve released since my first one, nearly ten years before. It will be interesting to see where the next release goes this summer. It’s not related at all to this book, but it is a betweener novella that links Book 4 to the yet to be written Book 5.

Corvette Launch, Two Weeks On

I thought it was about time for a numbers update on my novella, Corvette. I launched it on Tuesday, 21 March 2017 with little fanfare as an Amazon KDP Select ebook and a KDP Paperback. I did no advertising for the launch. No Facebook ads, no Amazon ads and no BookBub or similar posts. I mentioned that it was available on Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook. I also hit my mailing list with the link to buy it.

As you can see, the first week it started a slow climb up until it reached a few best seller lists towards the end of the first week. Once on these lists it seemed to climb up until this past Friday when it jumped up to about page two on a couple of the lists. Lots of buyers on that day. As of today, Sunday the second of April it

To get on the lists, you need to be selling 35 or more per day. To make mid-list range or in the 50’s of a top 100 list you have to sell over 70 per day. It’s hard for any book to stay up that high for long and I’ve noticed other books bouncing around with mine for the mid 50’s on two lists.

Above you see the three lists Corvette is on at the time of this writing, Sunday afternoon. Hanging in there at mid-list for two and about page three for the fourth list. No idea how long this will continue. I’ll do another update in a week or two.

Below you see my combined sales of all my ebooks for the same time period.

I have a series called the Star Saga that is starting to sell now that Corvette is out. Corvette is a prequel to that series although no characters carry over. So I’m hoping readers find the series and start to make their way through it. The series has three numbered books with two novellas in between them. So a total of five books in the first trilogy. The chart below shows how the series books are slowly rising in sales. This is for April only and most of these only sell about one or two per month normally.

So I’m happy the series is getting some exposure, that was the whole reason this book was written. It’s supposed to be a low cost entry level novella to the Star Saga. I’m keeping Book 1 of the series at .99 cents to ensure the reader takes a chance on the actual series after liking Corvette. If they come back for Book 2, I charge my regular price – $2.99. All of my series novellas are priced at .99 cents for the ebooks.

So how well did the paperbacks do, you might be asking? Not so good. Paper is still not a viable option for me yet. These are my sales for March. So far in April there are no sales.

If you want to check out Corvette you can get it here.

Post Release Numbers

Thought I’d show you the numbers for the week after Corvette’s release. I do this not to brag or to belabor how little money I make on writing, but to help others understand what to expect. So far this book is turning out to be more interesting than any other release I’ve done. I’ve had an out of nowhere hit before and the sales numbers for that were in the hundreds per day. Most of my books start with maybe twenty or so sales and then putter out to about one a day for a while and then a couple per month. Corvette started reasonably well and has showed some staying power over the week.

Here are the numbers just before the weekend.

You can see the spike on release day, in this case I picked a Tuesday (21st March) which is when the Big 5 publishers typically release books. After that the sales take a hit but are still not too shabby. Then they finish the week above 10 books per day. This is where I started to realize this book was sticky. The fall off at the end is just when I took the snapshot early Saturday morning. The red line is all ebook sales and the black line on the same chart is all paperback sales. The blue line represents pages read by the KDP Select program which I enrolled this book into for the first 90 days to generate interest.

Here’s the breakdown of sales to date for March. Again, this was taken early Saturday morning. Corvette is doing very well with 60 ebook sales. Devon’s Blade is still selling well despite falling to the mid 500,000 ranking. Everything else is just curiosity. What’s interesting is that Books 1, 2, and 3 in my Star Saga series each have at least one sale. This means at least one person is taking a chance on reading the series. I hope that after reading Corvette, I start to see their numbers going up. The whole point of Corvette is to have it be a gateway book to the series.

 

This is a screenshot of the rankings on the book’s Amazon page taken early Saturday. The book has been as low as 10,000 and as high as 16,000 for the week. It’s never gone below 100 on any list but likes to hover just under 200 on a few of them. This puts the book out of sight for even the most bored list readers. So clearly you have to sell more than twenty books a day to get under a hundred on a list. Being in Select is helping get it some visibility for sure.

What about paperbacks, you ask? I’ve sold two Corvette paperbacks. Which is exactly why I’ve never done them before. But enough people who know me have said they would like to purchase them so I can sign them to make it worth going the KDP Paperback route on the whole series. So by the end of April I’ll probably have all of them in paperback. If nothing else it will be fun to have a vanity shelf.

Below you see the numbers come Sunday morning.

Late Saturday before turning in I took this screenshot of the rankings. I think that may have been the best day yet.

Again, more early Sunday results.

The sales numbers for Corvette and hence the Star Saga series are still pretty much small potatoes but they are better than normal and I’ll take them. I’m curious if anyone will feel the need to review the book as time goes on. I’ll do another post on the numbers some time next month to determine how well the book has done. I expect to launch another novella from the series later in summer. In the meantime, thanks for buying Corvette and I hope you carry on with the Star Saga.

 

 

Post Release Day Numbers

Sometimes I do an inside baseball post about publishing and this is one of those posts. If you are a writer who self publishes you’ll find this interesting. If you’re not, feel free to skip it.

Yesterday was a the Release Day for my latest novella, Corvette. This book is intended to be the gateway to my Star Saga series. It is set about thirty years before the series and it features no characters from the series. It is my first conscious attempt to write to market. In other words, the entire story is fashioned to reflect the common tropes in self published Military SF as of last year when I wrote it.

I did no formal advertising as in paid-for ads before the launch. I mentioned it on my blog and in all forms of my social media up to a week before launch. I hit my list with it at the start of the month and the day of the launch with a reminder email. I have about 500-ish contacts on my email newsletter.

My social media reach are as follows: Twitter – 900 followers, GooglePlus – 1,000 followers, Facebook – 87 Reaches.

I don’t have any current stats for my blog.

The book is exclusive to Amazon for ninety days. It has a KDP Paperback version available. The ebook is .99 cents and the paperback is $6.99.

Total Pre-Order Sales 31
Total Ebook Sales 37
Total Paperback Sales 1
 Total Sales 69
 Commissions  $30-ish
Best Amazon Rank 10,444

#187 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Military > Space Fleet

#191 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Military > Space Fleet

#262 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Space Opera

Analysis

I sold 68 ebooks and one paperback. I garnered no reviews. Despite having a handful of beta readers. More arm twisting is required. I made it onto three lists and managed to crack the under 200 rank for two of them. Unfortunately, that’s not going to sustain the book on those lists. You have to get to #20 on a list to achieve enough velocity to do well. Selling only 68 copies won’t get you there.

 

 

 

Launch Day for CORVETTE!

Today’s the official release day for my latest novella, Corvette. You can get it exclusively on Amazon for the Kindle and in paperback. If you have pre-ordered your ebook, check your Kindle device or app to read it now! Corvette takes place before Starforgers, Book One of the Star Saga. It’s a great place to start if you are considering reading the Star Saga. Consider it Book Zero of the series.

Thirty years before the start of the Great War, a small starship has a deadly encounter with a massive alien warship on the fringes of the Outer Rim.

When Lieutenant Armon Vance found himself assigned to the oldest ship in the fleet, stationed on the edge of the known galaxy, he figured his Fleet career was over. In fact he was about to embark on the most important mission of his young career and his captain would rely heavily on him to help them get back alive after encountering a massive military warship of the Votainion Armada. In the spirit of grand Naval adventures of the past, Corvette packs exciting military action into a swiftly moving story of heroics and bravery in deep space.

As always, please be kind and leave a review. Thanks!

 

 

 

Making of a Cover – Corvette

One of the best parts about being a self-published author is getting to do your own covers. Most writers don’t want anything to do with the process. But for me, I see it as a great way to showcase my model building hobby. I’ve always built plastic models since the time I was a kid. When I was a teenager my buddies and I would scratch build our own models from cardboard and bits of broken kits we had on hand. They were pretty cool for the time but limited to what we could scrape together with our allowances. We drew hundreds of drawings of starships we never got around to building for a Sci-Fi epic I was slowly writing. Skip forward about thirty years and now I’m writing novels about those starships and those novels need cover art.

About the time I started writing these novels I picked up my scratch modeling hobby again only this time I could afford to make them the same way they used to be made in Hollywood when I was a kid. The only tough part now was figuring out how to arrange them on a cover in such a way that would make someone want to buy the book. For this I enlisted the talents of my graphic artist brother, Byron. Byron takes the elements of each model, combines them with cool backgrounds and effects and then overlays the titles on them. He makes the models come alive as if they were real.

For my latest novel, Corvette, it all started with a thumbnail I did in Gimp using a model of a Votainion warship that I already had and a stand in model for the yet to be built corvette.

I knew we were going with orange and blue for the main colors of this series so I used those colors for the titles. It’s crude but it lets Byron know what I want without actually drawing it. Sometimes I do start with sketched but this time I just hacked together stock images of similar models to get the idea across.

Meanwhile, I had to build the actual corvette model and you know, write the book. The model was scratch built using a drawing I did based on the SS Sokol model featured on other Star Saga novels. It was built to the same scale as the Votainion warship model – 1/350. Below you can see it coming together on my workbench some time last year. For a complete account of this build please check out this post.

The Votainion warship was sketched out years ago and built a few years back for the first few books of the series. Here’s what the original sketch looked like below.

Here is a shot of the larger model under construction. For a more detailed look at how I built this model please check out this post.

Here are both models being photographed against blue screen for the cover of Corvette. I use a Canon digital SLR to photograph the models in high resolution then hand off the images to Byron for Photoshoping.

This is the first attempt at the cover using the new corvette model and the older warship model. I chose a green background because in the novel, the sh

First version with new Corvette model. This was another Gimp thumbnail that I did and the colors are all washed out so we could focus on placement of the ships.

    

I decided to try a different direction, using the Gimp paint filter. I was hoping this would produce an image that looked painted. But after examining it we decided it made the Votainion warship look like it was sculpted out of clay. I also tried making the larger ship bigger and that didn’t quite look right either.

Below is Byron’s first green nebula and laser guns. Author name has the wrong font. I had to explain that the corvette used a rail gun instead of an energy gun so we would have to change the red lasers. Also, we wondered if the background needed to be green or not, so I had him try a blue background.

    

We tested the blue background with random folks and everyone seemed to prefer the green so we dropped blue.

The cover was nearly complete at this point when I realized three major issues. First of all, the corvette looked better at an angle in front of the warship for giving the cover depth. Secondly, the author name was in the wrong font. And thirdly, the rail gun rounds just didn’t pop.

After those changes were made, the cover seemed to pop right out and demand your attention. So we left it alone and went to press with it.

This process took the better part of a year to complete and was started about the same time the book. I had to build a model at the same time as I wrote the novel, which is not unusual and affords me a great visual aide while writing. I think the finished cover is one of our best yet and should help sell the novel and bring in readers to the series. If you purchase the paperback of the novel the cover really shines with a glossy cover.

Corvette is available to purchase Tuesday, March 21st from Amazon as a Kindle ebook and a paperback.

Corvette Paperback

Corvette is the first novel that I have released in paperback and ebook at the same time. The novel is enrolled in the KDP Select program and will only be available on Amazon for the first 90 days. I have also used the KDP Paperback program to convert the ebook into a paperback. Amazon purchased the print on demand publisher – CreateSpace a few years back and now they are finally linking that software to their successful Kindle Direct Publishing program. The KDP Paperback program is still in Beta, but I thought I’d give it a try for this new release.

I uploaded the ebook to the system and it converted it into a 5×8 inch paperback sized Word document. I then downloaded that document and tweaked it a bit to make it more like a proper paperback. By that I mean I brought some of the front matter – copyright page, for instance to the front of the book and added page numbers. Since I’m not used to using Word templates, I had to mess around until I figured out how the page numbering worked.

For the cover I used on of Amazon’s canned templates to make things easier for myself. I think in the end the book looks quite nice and should please most readers. However, it is not as good as you can do if you hire a professional graphics artist to do the cover and the interior yourself. Previously that was my approach to making some of my other novels in paperback through CreateSpace. You can still upload your own professionally produced PDFs of the interior and exterior if you have them, but I wanted to see how good of a product I could make by myself with very little effort. I guess readers will have to let me know in the reviews whether they like the format or not. To me, the book looks clean and neat, but very self published.

I have decided that I can do without a perfectly produced paperback until I gain a much bigger following and could afford to pay to have nicer versions made. While I was doing the Corvette paperback I was also doing the Devon’s Blade paperback using KDP Paperback. Both books are now available through Amazon. A photo album of the proof copies and some comparisons is available here, for those of you considering whether or not to roll your own paperbacks using this system.

The Name Game – Corvette

Last post I talked a bit about the inspiration for the ships and their names in my new novel, Corvette. Today I thought I’d talk about where some of the character names came from. When I have to come up with new character names sometimes I get creative and other times I have a bit of fun with the process. When I was writing this book last year my beloved Chicago Cubs were making a historic run for their first Baseball title in over a hundred years. To honor the team I decided to use the last names of Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant. So in Corvette, you will find two Army soldiers with those last names. One of them, Bryant is a woman and the other one, Rizzo, becomes a key player in the story and he’s actually a black man. There is one other Cubs sounding name but whose last name is spelled differently and that is Lestor. That was unintentional and to be honest, I didn’t notice it until I had finished the novel. The Cubs pitcher John Lester’s name at least sounds like my first officer’s name. Of course my FO is a woman, so the names really only go so far and the characters are usually nothing like their namesake’s. There is one other Cubs name on the bridge and that is Jenkins. What can I say, I love my Cubs. He is named after Canadian and Cy Young winning pitcher, Fergie Jenkins.

The main character of Corvette is the First Officer, Armon Vance. I didn’t directly state his ethnicity, but I wanted his first name to suggest he wasn’t your stereotypical white male lead. My captain was inspired by that Old Man of the Sea himself, Ernest Hemingway. Captain Xander’s name just sounded exotic to me at the time. But he is your basic SF tropic old white man of space. For my Security Officer, Lt Boxer I wanted her name to suggest motion and physicality. When it came time to cast my Engineer I knew I didn’t want an Irishman, so I went with a Chinese man with a vaguely Irish sounding, Qin. I knew the Captain and the Engineer had to be old friends and each were a good twenty years older than the rest of the crew.

Ship names part two. There are a couple of ships mentioned in the book that others had served on. One of them is the Lysander. I’m pretty sure there is an Admiral Lysander in one of the Star Saga numbered novels. I want to say Starstrikers. Also, the exploration ship that is destroyed early on in the novel, the Wayfinder, is named after writer Hugh Howey’s boat.

If you spot any more similarities in character names to real people my other books, let me know. I can tell you there are definitely more out there.

Corvette Draft One Complete

Yesterday morning the house was quiet with everyone asleep, so I wrote the final two scenes in my latest novella, Corvette. It feels good to have that behind me. I was thinking it might stretch out to be a novel, but at under 50K words and about 215 pages, its a decent sized novella. Corvette is my attempt to write to a market and create a prequel to the Star Saga. The structure and tropes that I used are similar to what is selling right now in Military SF. I hope to have it out in ebook form early next year.

Right now my writing sprints are focused on the second draft of K’nat Trap. This is the novella that I wrote earlier in the year and its set a few years after Starstrikers, Book 4 of the Star Saga. Looking forward to making the changes my beta readers have suggested and tightening up the second draft. With any luck, it will be out before Corvette, sometime next year.

In other news, I’ve nearly completed the K’nat fighter model for use on the novella’s cover. Here are some shots of the model on my bench.

This is a 3rd Generation Votainion starfighter and appears in Starstrikers and K’nat Trap. It has a standard engine and two NexGen space/time drives that let it move through space and time for short duration.

It’s quite the challenge to paint and weather an all black fighter. The canopy in these shots is just primer gray. Eventually it will be painted.