This Week in Self-Publishing: I Got My BlueInk Review!

This Week

Books sold: 3 ebooks (Amazon), 1 ebook (iBooks)

Money earned: $11.12

Money spent: $0


Books sold: 375 ebooks, 147 paperbacks

Volume 2 pre-orders: 30

Money earned (book sales): $1,480.87

Money earned (Patreon): $6,909

Money spent: $6,622.57

I am currently at the beginning of what I’m calling the “promotion critical path.” There are certain actions that have to complete (like finalizing the date for the reading/launch that I’m currently planning in Cedar Rapids) before I can start other actions (like reaching out to the local newspaper and local library). There’s a lot of work to be done, but I do enjoy putting to-do lists together and then doing the items on the list!

I also got my first industry review for The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 2. It’s from BlueInk Review, and so far I think the pull quote is “the writing is precise and wonderfully descriptive.” The full review will be on the BlueInk site next week and I’ll give you the link as soon as I get it.

I’ve been getting more NetGalley reviews for Volume 1 (none for Volume 2 yet), and people either really love the book or they say it isn’t their thing, which is fine. Nobody has yet said that the book is bad, or the writing is bad — which is kind of all I care about? If it’s not your thing, no big deal. But if I wrote terrible prose, then that’s on me. So far that does not seem to be the case; the one consistent comment I’ve gotten from reviewers is that the writing is very strong. (Precise and wonderfully descriptive!)

I also found out that I did not make it onto the Foreword Indies finalist list, which is disappointing — but, again, not a big deal. Submitting to awards is the important part; whether or not I win them is out of my control, so it’s not worth worrying over. I have my list of to-dos and I am going to do them, and that’s all I really can do: write the best book I know how and share it with as many people as possible. ❤

Photo credit: Arnolds Auziņš, CC BY 2.0.

This Week in Self-Publishing: The Third BargainBooksy Promo

This Week (technically the past two weeks)

Books sold: 10 ebooks (Amazon)

Money earned: $27.03

Money spent: $0


Books sold: 371 ebooks, 147 paperbacks

Volume 2 pre-orders: 28

Money earned (book sales): $1,469.85

Money earned (Patreon): $6,909

Money spent: $6,622.57

I skipped last week’s update because I had zero sales, zero expenses, and no news to report; this week I still have zero expenses, but I had a bunch of sales because I ran a BargainBooksy promotion on Saturday, March 17.

My previous BargainBooksy promotions had both been Sunday promotions, under the theory that people are more likely to make decisions on Sunday and Monday (I don’t know about you, but Saturdays are generally rest days for me, and Sunday/Monday are action days). Here’s a quick recap of the results:

First BargainBooksy promo (July 16):

Cost: $35

Sales: 28

Net royalties: $75.18

Net profit: $47.18

Highest Amazon ranking: #16,507 overall, #120 in litfic sagas

Second BargainBooksy promo (August 27):

Cost: $35

Sales: 14

Net royalties: $37.38

Net profit: $2.38

Highest Amazon ranking: #31,807 overall, #226 in litfic sagas

Third BargainBooksy promo (March 17):

Cost: $35

Sales: 9 so far (my Amazon KDP report claims I got 9 sales on March 17 and none on March 18, which doesn’t match the sales ranking graph from Author Central; maybe the other sales will record later this week?)

Net royalties: $24.66 so far

Net profit: -$10.34

Highest Amazon ranking:  #39,163 overall, and I know it hit at least the #300s in litfic sagas

It does look like my BargainBooksy promos are showing diminishing returns, although I’ll be interested to see whether I did have some sales on March 18 that haven’t yet been recorded on KDP. My Author Central graph, which you can view at the top of the post, suggests I should have made another 8 or 9 sales on Sunday, so… where are they?

If it turns out that I made zero sales on Sunday but my author ranking remained in the 30,000s  because nobody was buying books that day (remember, Amazon is constantly comparing you to all of the other books being sold in real time) then it won’t be a terrible loss. The biggest reason I ran the BargainBooksy promo was to get new readers who would then pre-order Volume 2, after all — and my pre-orders did go up this week. Still, I’d like to break even on the cost of the promo, so I’m hoping I get a few more sales!

I sent Volume 2 to designer Veronica Ewing to start the “turn it into a paperback” process this week. We have a lot more time to get this done than we did last year, and (I hope) a lot less work; the interior design will follow the template Veronica created for Volume 1, so we don’t have to have a second conversation about layouts and typefaces.

I also asked Veronica to make a few changes to Volume 1; we need to edit the copyright page to reflect the new ebook ISBN, now that Pronoun is defunct (seriously, the fact that we all lost our ISBNs was one of the worst parts of the Pronoun shutdown), there’s one typo in the text that I want to fix, and I need to edit the back cover copy to include the Library Journal Self-E Selection honor.

This is where I want to add “and any other honors The Biographies of Ordinary People might receive in the next few months,” because AWARDS SEASON is starting, but I also don’t want to sound overconfident or presumptuous or jinxy.

Here’s a list of all the places I submitted Biographies Volume 1:

I got my IndieReader Discovery Award Verdict this week (it’s like the BookLife Critic’s Report, they review all of the books before they announce the winners, no doubt to get the extra publicity that comes when excited authors like me share their reviews), and my verdict included “The rather unassuming title doesn’t do justice to the beautifully written story of this typical American family.” So… no matter what happens with these awards, I can still tell people that IndieReader thought my writing was beautiful. ❤


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


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. ❤️