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.

Write. Publish. Repeat.

If you are a writer, be you unpublished, published in the traditional manner, an ardent Indie publisher or even a mix of Indie and Traditional, you will learn something from this book. I rarely do book recommendation posts but sometimes I run across something that I think every writer can use and this book on the craft and business of writing is such a book.


I’m a big fan of the Self Publishing Podcast and I think this book condenses the best advice Sean and Johnny and Dave have from that show. So if you don’t have time to go back and listen to their entire podcast back list, then get this book and read it. Even as a loyal listener, I value having all the advice in one easy package. It’s a great reference book and I believe the advice inside will hold up over time.

Many successful writers have been saying the same thing about writing today: Write, Publish and Repeat is a very common mantra that everyone seems to agree on. Writers like Bob Mayer, Hugh Howey, Joanna Penn, and Kristine Kathryn Rusch have all basically been saying the same thing. Focus on your craft and turning out quality novels.

This book does a great job in laying out the outline for how to do this in a smart way. You could find this information in a number of other books out there, many of which I have read, but this is a great place to start. These guys tell you what has worked for them and also what has not. They make the material interesting and fun. Now go get it!

Proofing Starveyors

The final printed proof of the Starveyors paperback is in my possession and I’m going over it all one last time. So far I’ve found two cover issues and a bunch of interior issues, primarily related to formatting. We’ll get these things cleaned up this week and hopefully have it for sale in early July.


The folded pages here indicate problems we need to fix on the interior pdf.


This is the final back cover now with the bar code box. I’m very happy with how the artwork turned out. My brother Byron used many angles of the models I built to create this scene from the novel. He got all kinds of detailed by including starfighters in the bay of the closest starship. Click to embiggen the pics.


The Case for Kobo


If you are an Indy author, you really should have as much of your inventory on Kobo as you possibly can. I have all of my novels and one anthology on Kobo right now, with plans to bring my short stories over as soon as they clear the KDP Select program and get new covers.

Here’s why –

Kobo’s Writing Life program for Indy authors is easy to use and feature rich. If you can load your books onto Amazon you can certainly do so with ease using Kobo’s Writing Life.

As an Indy author I’ve also made all the links to the books on my website point to my local Indy bookstore (Yeah for Rediscoverd Books), so they get credit for the Kobo sales from people who loiter on my website. This helps your local Indy book seller and you, the Indy author. If you don’t have a local Indy bookstore, use the closest one to you. If anything it might get you into their store and talking to their staff.

Kobo is a Canadian company and they have lots of hooks in overseas markets. So you can’t lose anything by selling with them. Who knows, you could be real big in Japan and never know it.

In case you haven’t been paying attention to Kobo, they have some really cool ereaders these days. You can purchase the readers from your local Indy bookseller too. Or you could get the Kobo app for your Android or Apple device. You’ll need at least the app to verify that your formatting is good.

It is my contention that Indy authors should both support their local Indy bookstores and be a presence in as many online stores as possible. Making your inventory available on Kobo helps the little guy and adds to the available market place. If you only sell on Kindle, you are putting all your eggs in one basket and that could be trouble if they ever change the rules down the line. The same goes for all the online ebook sellers.

I still get the majority of my sales from Kindle, but in the last six months or so, both Kobo and Nook sales are increasing. Even in the incredibly low margins that I play in, I still benefit from having a diverse portfolio.



Thirty Percent Complete

My current Work In Progress (WIP), the first draft of Starforgers Book 2, The Rising, is now 30% complete. After a lengthy pause last month to get the paperback versions of the Star Saga published, I’m now moving back into full-on writing mode to finish this draft. Well, at least after this holiday weekend in which I will be pushing out new ebook versions of the Star Saga books with re-edited text and new covers. Eventually, some time in the next week or so all the ebooks with paperback novels will be linked together at Amazon and maybe some of the other vendors.

In other book related news, I sold my first paperback through Square, the credit card swiping little device that hooks onto your phone. It worked flawlessly and now I have a new way to sell my books that I have on-hand. This will be handy for various public appearances going forward.

I’ve been reading Let’s Get Visible by David Gaughran. David’s blog and his two books on Self-Publishing are some of the best most sane advice you will ever find about publishing on the web. If you don’t already have his first book, Let’s Get Digital and are not already reading his blog, do it now. I read many books about writing throughout the year to stay on top of my craft. But if you only read a few, I recommend these two by Gaughran.

The above image is from my cube at work. I don’t have room at home to display my starship models, so my co-workers get to suffer them. Yesterday I turned them both around to view the port side details for a while. That’s the GCU Sokol in the background and the SS Sokol in the foreground. Someday I’ll make proper display mounts for them with varnished wood and brass rods or something.

Am I the only one who wishes Commander Hadfield was still in orbit? I hope we begin to see more astronauts take up where he left off as far as inspiring the public. Welcome home Commander and thanks for inspiring us with your pics, videos and tweets!

My youngest son is saving his allowance for a Google Chromebook. The one that Samsung makes that only costs a few hundred dollars. He’s convinced that he needs it and is just counting the allowance until he can get one. I’ve been looking into how he can continue to learn Python with browser based IDE’s and all the cool Chrome apps that are now available. Chrome OS is getting better all the time and I can see a point where I would be tempted to replace my laptop with one. Since I usually get about five years or so out of a laptop, my next laptop could very well be a Chromebook.

The blogification of Starforgers, Book One of the Star Saga is now complete. You can now read the entire ebook on my blog. The experiment with selling the ebook for only .99 cents is coming to a close. Next week it will go back to the regular price of $4.99. So if you still want to get the ebook for a buck, do so this weekend.




Library Talk on Ebook Publishing

Getting Your Work Published Online SATURDAY, MARCH 16, 2013, 1 – 3PM
Location Library! at Collister
Room Sycamore Room
Registration Required No
Contact Name Jim
Contact Phone 562-4995
Location Library! at Collister
Type of Event Classes/Workshops/Speakers
Age Teens

Young Adults grade 7-12 join local author Ken McConnell, author of the Sci-Fi novels Starforgers, Starstrikers and Tyrmia, to explore the why and how of self-publishing and showcase some of the tools needed to render your work. Getting Your Work Published Online is part of the Collister Media Arts series of programs.

Total Sales 2012

I’m a little bit behind the curve in reporting my numbers from last year. These things don’t really mean much to me yet, primarily because the numbers are so small. But hey, I managed to buy a replacement laptop with my earnings, so that’s pretty awesome.

I sold 624 ebooks last year. That’s spread out over four books, one anthology and around ten short stories offered in ebook format. Amazon continues to be my largest market, followed by Barnes and Noble. I didn’t start selling on Kobo until this year. Sales on Smashwords are a far distant third.

Near as I can tell, paperback sales for my Mystery novel were under five. Being completely unknown in that genre and only having the one book and a short story, meant dismal sales all around.

When it comes to advertising in general, I do as close to nothing as humanly possible. I don’t send my books to reviewers and I don’t bother people 24/7 on social media. In fact, unless you were paying really close attention to me, (read: a fan) you might not have noticed that I published a book late last year. In fact, I published two books the second being a Omnibus version of the Star Saga.

Most of my precious little time spent on writing, is spent writing. The reason I don’t bother advertising is because without about a dozen books or more on the market, there’s not really much point. The last time the Amazon Gods smiled on one of my books, all I had was one book and it lasted about three months. I’d rather be ready with a ton of books the next time that happens, rather than sitting on just one and riding the wave up onto the beach.

I have a decent day job and so I don’t write for a living. There’s no reason not to take my time, write one book a year and make it as good of a product as I can. Which is what I try to do. I like to think I’m in the middle of my ten to twenty years of tolling in solitude before the rest of the world takes note. Of course, at that rate I may be dead before anyone notices my work. So be it.


Here are my sales totals for the past three years. The huge numbers in 2010 were the lightning strike on Starstrikers. The bump up last year is attributed to the KDP Select program. The only ebooks still enrolled in that are the short stories.

1,443 in 2010

279 in 2011

624 in 2012

Paperback Proof of Starstrikers

The latest proof for my paperback versions of the Star Saga novels arrived this week. Above is a picture of both books together. We opted to go with a series banner at the top and this causes a slight realignment with the other elements of the cover. Both books are 5×8 format and are printed by CreateSpace.

Here they are side by side, spines out. Two things of note here. The first is the removal of the coin at the bottom of the spine. It was determined that the image was unreadable in final form, so we replaced it with the name of my imprint. This brings the book into compliance with my imprint format that we established with my Mystery novel, Null Pointer.

The second thing we added was a series number in a black circle. You’ll note that Starstrikers is actually book 4. Starforgers is book one and Starveyors is book 7. Yes, just like Star Wars. I have essentially three trilogies in this nine book series. I wrote the first book in each trilogy to establish the characters and world building. Each series is separated by 500 years and each has its own set of characters.

The numbering convention will confuse the readers and make them wonder WTF is going on. There is no getting around that. But when you flip through the opening pages of each book you see a graphic that informs you of the time between books. So it’s safe to read books 1, 4 and 7 first and then come back and read the other two books of each trilogy. You won’t have spoilers.

Here is another look at both books. Starstrikers is pretty much dead on what it will look like in final form. The spine text will be aligned better when we are finished.

This is the back cover of Starstrikers. Now it can be revealed why I spent so much time building an awesome plastic model of a starship! For use on this cover, of course! ;-)

The red banner color was chosen to reflect the war years. Starforgers will have a blue banner and Starveyors will have a green banner. More clues to the reader that they are from separate trilogies.

Here is a shot of the graphic that explains the time line of the war in which the books are set. This same graphic is currently in the ebooks.

One more book to go and we’ll have three proofs. I expect that the Starveyors proof will be just about perfect.

I’d like to thank my brother for his tireless work in bringing these books to life. He’s been doing everything on them. From the interior typesetting to the cover art and design. If you’re looking for a top-notch interior or exterior book designer, I can’t recommend him more. He’s available too! Check the blogroll for his contact information.

Writing and Publishing Update

I’ve been plugging along on the second Starforgers novel, The Rising. Up to 18,000 words on the first draft. Happy to be back in this time period writing about Devon and the Silicants again. This is the second book of the Starforgers Trilogy, so expect some serious white water on this ride.

Byron and I have been working hard on getting the paperback versions of Starforgers, Starstrikers and Starveyors ready to sell. We are going with the 5×8 format and are using CreateSpace as the printer. We used them for my Mystery novel and it looked fantastic.

Here is the first proof copy of Starforgers. We always do several of these for each book to tweak the final look and feel of the product. The binding and interior layout are perfect in this first try. But the cover suffers some pinking in the color and the spine is slightly miss-aligned.

I also use this first proof as a copy edit, reading through it looking for typos and formatting errors. We went with white paper on this version and I think it looks real sharp. But I have to admit, the cream colored paper is easier on my eyes and more like a traditional hardback book.

Here is a comparison of the two books, Starforgers at the top and Null Pointer on the bottom. You’ll notice the line spacing is smaller for Starforgers. This is so we can squeeze a longer novel into the same thickness as Null Pointer. We do this to decrease page count and thus keep the price under ten bucks.

Book sellers have told me that if I can keep the price of my books lower than twelve dollars, customers are more willing to buy them based on hand selling. I personally think it’s a steal. You get a larger than Mass Market paperback for the same price as most ebooks by the bigger publishers.

We don’t really make much money on these paperbacks primarily because the sales numbers are so low. But you really need a physical product to sell in local indie stores and to do signings with. I usually have a few in my car and will give one away if I think someone will read it. The cost to me is about the price of a fast food burger. But if that person reads it and tells someone else about it, the cost is justified.

This is both paperbacks together for comparison. They look pretty sharp for a Self-Published effort.

One last look, this time at the interior, to show off Byron’s fantastic layout design. He uses Adobe In-Design to do the layout, the same software the big boys use. I can’t recommend his services higher. If you are going the Self-Publishing route, get a professional to layout your book. You won’t regret it and your readers will love you for it.

We’ll spend the rest of this month and next month doing this for Starstrikers and then Starveyors. Our goal is to be finished with them in time for me to take some to Norwescon in March. I think we can achieve that.