This Week in Self-Publishing: My Book Is Back on Kobo

This Week

Books sold: 1 ebook (Amazon), 1 paperback

Money earned: $6.12

Money spent: $0

Total

Books sold: 353 ebooks, 146 paperbacks

Money earned (book sales): $1,424.50

Money earned (Patreon): $6,909

Money spent: $4,855.71


Here’s an update on where we are in the “get my book back onto the various distribution channels” process:

  • Amazon: Done! Brand-new ebook via Kindle Create! You can also buy the paperback!
  • Kobo: Done! I had to use the old Pronoun epub because it didn’t include a build-a-book service and I couldn’t export the new ebooks I made on Kindle Create and Nook Press. (We shouldn’t be too surprised that both of these retailers don’t want you sharing their ebooks with other retailers.)
  • Barnes & Noble: Mostly done! The paperback is available, and the Nook Press ebook I created is under review.
  • Google Books: Mostly done! No build-a-book service here, so they’re reviewing the Pronoun epub version.
  • Apple iBooks: Nowhere near done! They’re still reviewing my tax information (so I can create a vendor account), and then I’ll have to decide whether I want to build a new ebook through iBooks Author, which will require me to input my text one chapter at a time (ugh) or just give ’em the Pronoun epub.

Both the Kindle Create and Nook Press processes were very simple: paste entire text, make sure the chapter titles are formatted the way you want them, publish. The italics and special formatting stuff all transferred over; I didn’t have to go back and redo a bunch of itals and paragraph breaks.

AFAIK I don’t think I’ll be able to do that with iBooks, but I’ll keep poking around with it.

Also, now I need to remember to check every retailer every week to see how many sales I’ve made.


In other news, Biographies Vol. 1 was just reviewed on What Cathy Read Next. It’s a lengthy and thoughtful review, so I’ll just quote one paragraph and suggest you read the whole thing on your own:

Meredith is the character that resonated most strongly with me. She’s clever, thoughtful, bookish, protective towards her younger sisters, competitive but perhaps over-absorbed by the desire to get things right and, in this respect, can come across as mature beyond her years. At one point she muses, “I wonder if I am good at anything that I haven’t practiced”. Meredith seems absolutely real as a character with the good points and flaws that make up all humans and I think this is the author’s chief accomplishment that, in this book, she has created truly realistic characters that you feel you could meet in the street or the local shop.

I love reading other people’s responses to this book because there are a number of similarities between the reviews—most of them focusing on character—along with the types of differences that come from personal background, preference, and interpretation. I know I’ve written this before, but I appreciate so much that my book has not yet been misunderstood; whether the readers like it or not, they understand what it is and what I was trying to communicate with the story. They aren’t telling me that I inadvertently wrote a different story than I intended to.

If you’re a book blogger who is interested in reviewing either Vol. 1 or the forthcoming Vol. 2, let me know. I’d be more than happy to send over a copy. ❤️

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This Week in Self-Publishing: My Book Is Back on Amazon

This Week

Books sold: 2 ebooks, 1 paperback

Money earned: $8.40

Money spent: $0

Total

Books sold: 352 ebooks, 145 paperbacks

Money earned (book sales): $1,418.38

Money earned (Patreon): $6,909

Money spent: $4,855.71


Good news for Amazon shoppers: The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 1 is back on Amazon. In ebook and paperback!

I’m now operating through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, and the entire process went very smoothly. Customer service connected my book with its previous sales rank and reviews, the Kindle Create copy looks great, and I’m very happy with everything.

If there was one minor disappointment, it was learning that the honor of being a Library Journal Self-e Selection made me ineligible for KDP Select (and Kindle Unlimited, and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library). Amazon doesn’t want your ebook available ANYWHERE ELSE, and yes, libraries count.

But that means I can put my book on iTunes and Google Play and Barnes & Noble and Kobo!

Which… well, I could do it the easy way and I could do it the hard way.

The easy way would involve uploading my Pronoun-created epub file, which is mine to redistribute however I choose even though it still has Pronoun’s branding all over it. (And outdated links.)

The hard way, which is of course the way I’m going to go, involves rebuilding my book for iTunes, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. They all have their own version of Kindle Create, and I’ve already downloaded the iBooks Author app so I can start the process this weekend.

Google Play doesn’t have their own build-a-book app, so they might get the Pronoun epub file.

But I’d like to get all of this done before the end of 2017, so I can go back to focusing on Vol. 2 in January.


In other news, I’ve been trying to figure out exactly how much publicity I should pay for in 2018. I got an email from a Major Industry Book Reviewer this week offering me a spot on their podcast, and though I knew as soon as I said yes they’d come back and tell me how much it cost—because we’d been through this before when they offered me a spot in their magazine—I replied anyway, hoping it would be under $500.

Well. The number they quoted me was much higher than $500. I’d need to sell nearly 600 books to earn back the investment, and… I mean, selling 600 books would be great, but I don’t think I’ll get that many sales off a single podcast interview. Especially because people who listen to podcasts have to remember to purchase the book after they finish the podcast.

For this type of thing to work, I’d have to be on several different podcasts and reviewed or interviewed in multiple blogs and magazines and so on. Advertising is about repetition as much as anything else.

I have some ideas about where to invest my publicity budget to get the maximum amount of quality repetition for my money (repetition and reputation!), but I need to do some more research.

Also, I still haven’t heard back from She Writes Press, which might change the plan entirely. To be fair, it’s just been a month since I sent Biographies for submission.

But that’s all for January. Between now and then, I need to get Biographies back on iTunes/Google Play/Nook/Kobo.

Because I made three sales this week without even announcing that I was back on Amazon.

I wonder how those people found my book.

This Week in Self-Publishing: Migrating to Amazon KDP

This Week

Books sold: 4 ebooks

Money earned: $5.59

Money spent: $0

Total

Books sold: 350 ebooks, 144 paperbacks

Money earned (book sales): $1,409.98

Money earned (Patreon): $6,909

Money spent: $4,855.71


This weekend, I’m going to transfer The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 1 over to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.

KDP is giving Pronoun writers the opportunity to keep their current reviews and sales ranking, so that seems like the smartest move for now.

I used Kindle Create to re-create the Vol. 1 ebook, since the current ebook is Pronoun-branded. (Also because eventually I’ll want both ebooks to match.) It took me less than an hour to dump my .docx file into Kindle Create and format it, which… I don’t think Kindle Create existed last year, or I would have considered it as an option. It is GREAT. Better even than Pronoun was, because it offers a WYSIWYG editor and much more flexibility.

The big question is whether I go KDP Select, which means being Amazon-exclusive. Originally I had thought that I wouldn’t do Select, but after getting this lovely treatment from KDP and discovering how much fun Kindle Create is, I’m a bit… why not go FULL AMAZON?

At least for 90 days.

Because when you go KDP Select, you commit to being Kindle-exclusive for at least 90 days, and during that time your book goes on Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library and you can do Kindle Countdowns and other promotions.

And at this point I’m kinda… why not try it?

I’ve tried just about everything else during this publishing process: querying agents, self-publishing with an indie distributor, submitting to a hybrid publisher (still haven’t heard back btw), and now joining KDP.

I figure I shouldn’t be KDP Select when Vol. 2 launches, if only to give all of the people who bought it on iTunes and Google Play the chance to buy the second one. But there will definitely be 90 days between now and Vol. 2‘s launch. (STILL HOPING FOR MAY 2018!)

It is worth noting that only 45 of my 350 ebook sales came from NOT AMAZON. Seven from Barnes & Noble, 11 from Google Play, 15 from iTunes, and 12 from Kobo. I do value you, 45 readers, and I don’t want to leave you out of the next one, but it’s also clear where the majority of my readers are shopping.

So… I mean, what do you think? What would you do, if you were me? ❤️

Writing & Money Episode 5: How to Deal With Change

ANYTHING CAN CHANGE AT ANY TIME!

Publications can shut down!

Patreon can announce (and then unannounce) new fees!

You can get part of the way into a podcast recording and then have GarageBand tell you it can’t record any more because your disk space is full, so then you clear out a bunch of old files and pick up the recording where you left off, and the recording quality is suddenly way better!

THIS EPISODE IS ABOUT HOW YOU DEAL WITH CONSTANT CHANGE AND UNCERTAINTY.

This Week in Self-Publishing: On Pronoun, Patreon, and Not Owning Your Distribution

This Week

Books sold: 2 ebooks

Money earned: $5.38

Money spent: $0

Total

Books sold: 346 ebooks, 144 paperbacks

Money earned (book sales): $1,404.39

Money earned (Patreon): $6,909

Money spent: $4,855.71


So I’m not going to recap the Patreon thing because you can go look all of that up on Twitter if you aren’t already familiar with what’s going on, but the point I want to make—and I’m just going to get to the point—is that we don’t own the outlets through which we self-publish.

I mean, obvs.

But that means that Pronoun can shut down, and Patreon can announce that its $1 pledges will now cost individual patrons $1.64 or whatever it is, and even if I were to say “well, I’m taking Writing & Money and putting it on Simplecast so everyone can listen for free”—which I am thinking about doing—then Simplecast could go and change the way it works.

Or iTunes.

Or Amazon.

Or Goodreads—remember, it just announced that it was going to start charging authors to run giveaways.

The whole point of self-publishing was to own your work and to distribute it in a way you thought was fair both to you and to the audience. I priced The Biographies of Ordinary People ebook at $3.99 because I wanted as many people to be able to purchase it as possible (while ensuring I earned enough royalties to make it fair for me too), and then I did the $1.99 sale so even more people could buy it, and I set myself up for library distribution so people could read it for free.

I do own my work.

But I forgot that I don’t actually own the distribution.

And before you’re all “that’s why you trad publish,” sure. But even when I queried agents there were situations in which people were moving around from one publishing house to another. Agents and editors can quit, publishers can shut down, etc.

The whole thing is dependent on the stability of an outside entity, and the thing I forgot, as I was busily racking up my sales and reviews and honors, is that I was also dependent on other companies.

For my book and my podcast.

And my freelancing work.

I haven’t decided what I’m going to do with Writing & Money. Would it be a viable model for me to go off Patreon, release the podcast for free, and suggest that if people like the podcast, they sign up for my freelance consulting services? Not everybody is going to be able to afford $90/hr, but some people might.

Or I could just release the podcast for free and say HEY, IT’S FREE, but part of the point of Writing & Money is that I’m talking about how to earn money from your writing, so… I need to earn money from this.

(Also I need to earn money for financial reasons. My income appears stable but I keep it that way through constant hustle. Maybe that’ll be the subject of the next podcast.)

I also haven’t completely decided what I’m going to do with Biographies, because I haven’t heard back from She Writes Press, but I am going to transfer Vol. 1 over to Amazon before Pronoun stops distribution, because… again, I need to earn money from this.

(Also, I’ve heard y’all like the book. Library Journal just named it a Self-e Selection!)

But I guess I’m wondering when the next thing will change; all of us creative indie self-pubbers are building these support structures for ourselves, but we’re building them within other people’s companies so… it’s only a matter of time, right?

And on the other hand, it’s like, well, I’m not going to NOT make anything. I have been making art since I was old enough to hold a pencil and mash go on a tape recorder.

So… that’s what I’m thinking about this week. I think a lot of people are thinking similar things. ❤️

This Week in Self-Publishing: My Book Is a Library Journal Self-e Selection!

This Week (technically the past two weeks)

Books sold: 4 ebooks, 6 paperbacks

Money earned: $126.26

Money spent: $35, to submit my book to She Writes Press

Total

Books sold: 346 ebooks, 144 paperbacks

Money earned (book sales): $1,399.01

Money earned (Patreon): $6,909

Money spent: $4,855.71


It’s been two weeks since my last update; first it was Thanksgiving, and then I was moving to Cedar Rapids.

But here we are, with the newest numbers!

More importantly, here’s the latest update about the future of The Biographies of Ordinary People:

Two weeks ago, I submitted Biographies to be considered for She Writes Press. SWP is a hybrid publisher, which means that if they select my book for publication (and if I, in turn, accept their offer) I’ll front some money and they’ll take care of the production, distribution, management, and—if I choose to sign on with the BookSparks publicity team—marketing.

This is not going to be cheap. But SWP comes with a lot of benefits, including bookstore distribution and industry reviews that aren’t necessarily accessible to self-pubbers. Plus there’s the marketing/publicity option with BookSparks, and you already know I’m interested in working with a publicity team.

I haven’t decided for sure that I’ll say yes to them if they say yes to me, but I’m interested in learning whether this would be a good option for Biographies, so I paid the $35 submission fee and sent SWP some sample chapters for consideration.

Then last week, I learned that Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing has set up a special track for Pronoun writers who want to convert their books to KDP titles. I’d be able to keep my sales rankings and my reviews, which… I hadn’t realized I would lose them, thanks.

This option is free, and I don’t even have to enroll in KDP Select (i.e. sell exclusively with Amazon). However, Amazon has already told me about all the benefits Biographies could receive if I went the Select route: my book would be available on Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Owners Lending Library, for starters, and I’d get my cut of that particular pile of money. (Did you know that KDP Select paid its authors $19.7 million in October? Amazon really wants me to know this.)

I’m not super-thrilled about being Amazon-exclusive, and I don’t really think adding Kindle Unlimited as a distribution channel would help Biographies reach more readers. Publicity is what’s going to help Biographies reach more readers, right? (Yes, some of them might prefer to read my book on KU, but that’s putting the cart after the horse.)

So I have to figure out what I’m going to do here. It looks like I have three major options:

  1. Publish with SWP (if they accept me). This would probably mean a relaunch of Vol. 1 next year; it would probably also mean that Vol. 2 wouldn’t release until well after May 2018. This is the most expensive option, but it could bring in a lot of new readers.
  2. Publish with Amazon KDP (either exclusive or non-exclusive) and hire a publicist. This is slightly less expensive than the SWP option.
  3. Publish with Amazon KDP (either exclusive or non-exclusive) and continue to do my own publicity/marketing. This is the least expensive option, but it might limit my reach.

I was about to write “it might limit my reach and my profits,” but I haven’t really done the math on that. (There is a lot of math I need to do, and soon.)

There’s one more piece of news from the past two weeks: The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 1 was named a Library Journal Self-e Selection.

This is the first major honor Biographies has received, and it comes with a bonus for you: Library Journal gives its Self-e Select titles nationwide distribution, which means that if your library participates in the Self-e program, you can borrow the Biographies ebook. Let me know if my book is in your library’s catalog!

That’s all the news I have for this week; time to sit in my partially unpacked apartment and watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. ❤️