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


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.




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.

What Publishing Services I Use and Why

eBook Readers GaloreMichael Porter via Compfight

Ebook Book Publishing Platforms

Kindle: Because they are the number one ebook market right now, and they understand my needs as an indie publisher. When it comes to letting authors do their own thing, Amazon is still the leader. Like it or lump it. I continue to dislike their proprietary formatting.

Nook: Because epub, and a monopoly is not a good thing. I’ve seen sales gradually improving for my books on the Nook. Their PubIt! service for indie publishers is second only to Amazon’s KDP.

Kobo: Because as an indie author, I like to support my local indie bookstores. Also – epub. I have just started to use Kobo and my books as of this post are not live there yet. But as soon as they are, I will link to my local indie bookstore – Rediscovered Books, so they get credit for as many ebook sales as possible.

Smashwords: I have some of my books available on Smashwords. I use them primarily to get my work into smaller markets that don’t have decent, author friendly services like the above three publishers. Please let me upload epubs!

I don’t own or use Apple operating systems so I can’t use iBookstore, and Google Books has no good plan for indie publishers to use their service. I tried using Gumroad and selling directly off this site with them, but only one person used the service in over six months. I still use Gumroad, but the links are now on the individual book pages on this site.

Paper Book Publishing Platforms

Lulu: I use Lulu, a North Carolina based company to print my ARCs. I usually print two copies of my unedited final draft for use by beta readers and myself. They are not for sale to the public. They have simple, white covers and are marked as ARC NOT FOR SALE.

Createspace:  I use Createspace to print the paper versions of my novels. I don’t have a large paper footprint right now, but in 2013 I will be making at least three if not four of my novels available in paperback. I use Createspace because they are easy to use and offer the formats and control that I need as an indie publisher.

My Position on Publishing Options

Oldies are Goldies :D Marwa Morgan via Compfight

I’ve been doing the self-publishing thing now for about five years. I got into it purely from a Do-It-Yourself angle and just kind of stayed around. I’m not one of those hot-headed one way or the highway kinds of people for either traditional publishing or self-publishing. I have done and will continue to do both.

I’ve been traditionally published in an anthology and I sometimes send out novel  manuscripts to agents. But I focus mostly on doing things myself right now because it allows me to write what I want to write and find my own way. Not because I hate the gatekeepers or what not. If by chance an agent or publisher ever considers my work then I’ll go that route and do things “traditionally”. That would be awesome too.

But for now, plenty of paying customers have enjoyed my stories and I continue to build an audience with each novel I release. I expect that as my novels get better and as my audience grows, eventually someone will pick me up traditionally. If that does not happen, I won’t be upset because I’m still in the market place and earning enough to continue doing it myself.

I read all the blog posts and Twitter fires that flare up about publishing just to stay in the know. I follow just about everyone under the publishing sun as a result. But I don’t write scathing posts about the business. It’s not a battle I want to fight. I’m just writing, trying to get better and trying to get readers to come along and listen to my particular brand of Space Opera.

Amazon, Apple and Microsoft

The new Big Three of digital publishing. Ugh! Can I have a new future please? No? Drat. Okay, then put me in two of the three major markets. Apple still makes me pay to play with purchasing an ISBN. Who knows what kind of lame format Microsoft will insist on after they consume B&N’s Nook inventory. Amazon is already in their own darn universe when it comes to ebook standards and availability. Really guys? Are you just trying to piss off everyone?

All three media companies want you to use their own ebook formats. Let’s continue to make the same dumb formatting decisions we made when the web first started. Remember the Netscape, IE, Apple/Linux web browser wars? Yeah, well ebooks are basically just fancy web pages folks. So the battle of the formats continues to rage.

As long as I continue to play the do-it-yourself publisher game, I’ll have to have my books formatted three different ways. Lame. This forces me to make decisions. If I want to be in all three markets, I need to spend more money converting my books. That’s just not in my financial future. Maybe after I start living off my ebook sales, I will have the money to be in all three markets, but for right now, it’s only going to be two. This assumes that Microsoft doesn’t mess with epub for another year or so. But you know they will, it’s in their company genes to make proprietary formats.

Since I make the lion’s share of my pittance from Amazon, I will have my ebooks there first. Since my ebooks are born as epubs, making them available on PubIt, is a no-brainer decision for now.

You may be wondering why I don’t just throw out a shingle and sell my books on the web site? Because I’m a largely unknown writer selling my own fiction and my audience is too small to justify the effort and money required to set that up correctly. When you are undiscovered, nobody comes to your house. Again, if I were selling thousands of books a day, I’d damn sure have a way to buy from this web site. But until that happens, I have to ride the long coat tails of the Big Three.

But over all, I can’t complain. My audience is mostly finding me on Amazon. Not in great numbers but about a hundred times greater than on B&N and Apple. So it makes sense to cater my ebooks to Amazon the hardest. You can have a thousand lines in the water, but if all the fish are in another pond, you’re not eating fish tonight.

I still feel like Google is sitting this one out. My local Indy bookstores are using them to sell ebooks, but Google’s author back-end is not easy to use and at times hostile to authors who publish themselves. It would be really great if Google spent some time to make their process easier. I’d love to be able to sell ebooks locally and let my favorite bookstores have a cut.


The New Publishing Way

It used to be a fairly straight forward proposition for new authors. Either you went with traditional publishing or you went rogue and did things yourself as a self-publisher. If you got the agent and the agent got you a deal with a publisher you were instantly granted the respect of others in the business and the envy of those still trying to get their first deal. If you did things yourself, you were shunned by the “professionals” and got little to no respect from everyone trying to get real publishing contracts. Even if you amassed a fortune selling things yourself.

But times they are a changing. Now we’re seeing very respectable authors moving away from traditional publishing and we’re seeing rank amateurs who are suddenly rich and famous by doing things themselves and seeking traditional publishing deals. The internet has caused all kinds of havoc in the market place. Major book chains and independent book stores are both closing for many of the same reasons. Authors with traditional publishing deals are now looking to do things themselves on the internet. Everyone is wondering what will happen next.

People firmly entrenched in either traditional publishing or self-publishing tend to become upset by each other’s successes. Old ways of doing things crumble and some hold to them like life vests on a sinking ship. New ways of doing things take off like rockets and the  folks on those rockets develop disdain for the people they leave behind. Both camps need to find a way to come together and just accept each other.

Coming from a mostly self-published career so far, I can certainly relate to the do-it-yourself folks. But I have also been published by a small press and a web magazine. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.  Here’s what I would like to see happen in publishing in the months and years ahead.

I’d like to see professional writing organizations include self-published authors who have risen to some level of steady sales. Perhaps its equal to the first run sales of the average new author in print. This would cut down on the animosity some writers feel towards these organizations for not recognizing that ebook sales are still book sales. There are many successful ebook authors who are virtually unknown to writers in their same genre who are in these professional writer groups.

I’d also like to see those who are doing things themselves and finding some success, back off on the ugly rhetoric that traditional publication is evil and should be avoided at all costs. That’s simply not the case. There are distinct advantages in seeking a traditional book deal. Although at least one of those advantages I’d like to see diminished -the instant respect in the publishing community for a traditional deal. In many ways a traditional publishing deal is easier for new writers. You get to focus on your career and your writing and let others deal with the cover art, editing and printing. The cache of having a physical book that others have made to honor your words, is a huge ego boost. Not to mention walking into random book stores and seeing your work on display, sometimes along side giants in the industry.

Moving from a want-to-be writer to a published writer is not easy no mater which route to publication you take. Being a writer is more of a challenge today than it ever has been in the past. You are part showman and part reclusive talent. You can’t completely tune out the world and expect anyone to notice what you’ve written. You can’t rely on specialized people to sell your work and your brand. You have to do much of that yourself no matter how you are published.

I believe that every writer has to weigh the options for themselves and chose the path that works best for them. I think we will find that in the future, writers will both secure big print deals and do many things themselves.  I know quite a few such writers are doing this today. They are on the forefront of the New Publishing Way. Won’t you join them?