This Week in Self-Publishing: Volume 2 Is Available on NetGalley!

This Week

Books sold: 1 ebook (Google Play), 1 ebook (iBooks)

Money earned: $4.87

Money spent: $1,155

Total

Books sold: 361 ebooks, 147 paperbacks

Money earned (book sales): $1,442.82

Money earned (Patreon): $6,909

Money spent: $6,622.57


Let’s add one more metric to the list: 25 pre-orders.

So this was a big spending week for me; I sent The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 2 to Kirkus, Foreword Clarion, and BlueInk to be reviewed. The Kirkus review cost $425, and the Foreword Clarion/BlueInk two-review package cost $695.

I also spent $35 to set up another Bargain Booksy promotion for Volume 1, in the hopes that readers will buy the first book and then GET EXCITED ABOUT THE SEQUEL.

If you are currently excited about the sequel AND you have a NetGalley account, you can read/review Volume 2 RIGHT NOW. (You can also read/review Volume 1, if you want.)

That’s all the update I can give at the moment because I am very busy singing in the chorus of Revival Theatre Company’s production of Ragtime — which opens this Thursday — but as soon as that is done I will be going FULL SPEED into book promotion and paperback production. More news coming soon! ❤

This Week in Self-Publishing: Volume 2 Is Available for Pre-Order!

This Week

Books sold: 0

Money earned: $0

Money spent: $0

Total

Books sold: 359 ebooks, 147 paperbacks

Money earned (book sales): $1,440.02

Money earned (Patreon): $6,909

Money spent: $5,467.57


The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 2: 2004–2016 is officially available for pre-order on Amazon! (Ebook only. Paperback will come later. The book releases on May 22.)

If you’re a NetGalley person, Volume 2 will be up on NetGalley this week for you to read and review.

At this point I get to switch from “creating the ARC” to “promoting the ARC,” which means I’m going to be reaching out to bloggers and reviewers, running another BargainBooksy promo for Volume 1, and… stuff? More stuff? I need to start doing Instagram posts, guest blogs, podcast episodes, etc. (If you know of anyone who would love to have my melodious voice on their podcast, let me know.)

Thanks for your support throughout all of this. I hope you enjoy Volume 2. I also hope you pre-order it, but that’s up to you. ❤

This Week in Self-Publishing: My Book Is On iBooks Now

This Week (technically “these past two weeks”)

Books sold: 0

Money earned: $0

Money spent: $386.86

Total

Books sold: 359 ebooks, 147 paperbacks

Money earned (book sales): $1,440.02

Money earned (Patreon): $6,909

Money spent: $5,467.57


Sorry to skip last week — I was feeling unwell. I was actually hoping to have done all the work to set up the Volume 2 preorder by now, but that didn’t happen either… however, I did finally finish the process of getting The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 1 back on iBooks (which I keep wanting to write as iTunes), so that’s one item I can check off the list. It should be available for sale by Tuesday at the latest.

I also submitted Volume 1 to the IndieReader Discovery Awards, specifically because they have a Best First Book award and I’m pretty proud of my first book.

I spent $374 to submit Volume 1 to the Literary Fiction category and the Best First Book category and get a discounted book review in the process (because part of the reason you do all of this is to have another piece of promotional material to send around, plus the chance of getting the IndieReader Approved sticker from the reviewer which means extra promo on IndieReader’s part, plus the chance of getting an award and having IndieReader send your book to agents).

Then I spent $12.86 to ship paperback copies of Volume 1 to IndieReader, because I had the choice of sending paperbacks or ebooks and… I’m pretty proud of my paperback, too. ❤

Other than that, I’m going to keep working and try to get that preorder up by March 1. Take care of yourselves, y’all. There are a lot of colds and flu going around, and I am still not completely well from the “probably a cold but I had about 24 hours of mild fever and muscle aches” thing I’ve had.

Photo credit: Josh Newman, CC BY 2.0.

This Week in Self-Publishing: Getting Ready to Announce the Pre-Order

This Week

Books sold: 2 ebooks (Amazon)

Money earned: $4.95

Money spent: $0

Total

Books sold: 359 ebooks, 147 paperbacks

Money earned (book sales): $1,440.02

Money earned (Patreon): $6,909

Money spent: $5,080.71


I wanted to give you an update on Patchwork Press’s NetGalley Co-Op: I submitted The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 1 to NetGalley through the Co-Op last week, and it currently has two NetGalley reviews!

This is worth noting because, as I explained last week, the biggest challenge of marketing Volume 2 will be re-marketing Volume 1.  I actually talked with some publicists who suggested it might be too difficult of a challenge, but… I have ideas. I’ve got this NetGalley Co-Op going, and I want to get the Volume 2 ARC up by the end of the month so reviewers can read/review/promote both. I also need to get the Volume 2 pre-order up by the end of the month so that promotion can drive purchases.

I’m also submitting Volume 1 to the IndieReader Discovery Awards this week. They just announced a prize for best debut novel, which will be awarded in late May/early June. As with the BookLife Prize, I’ll get an evaluation of my book regardless of whether I win any awards, and I can use that in my marketing.

After I get the pre-order up, I’m going to run another BargainBooksy promo on Volume 1, so people who like the first volume can immediately pre-order the second.

I have a few more ideas but they’re not fully shaped yet, so I’m focusing on these for now. (Yes, I’m still going to be reaching out to blogs/podcasts/publications, etc., and there’s also going to be a local marketing emphasis.)

But the most important thing for me to do this week is get Volume 2 ARC-ready. WHICH MIGHT ACTUALLY HAPPEN THIS WEEK, WE’LL SEE. The pre-order might also happen this week. Who knows? I’m going to work as hard as I can and see how far I get. ❤️

This Week in Self-Publishing: My Book Is on NetGalley

This Week

Books sold: 0

Money earned: $0

Money spent: $225

Total

Books sold: 357 ebooks, 147 paperbacks

Money earned (book sales): $1,435.07

Money earned (Patreon): $6,909

Money spent: $5,080.71


One of the more challenging parts of marketing The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 2: 2004–2016 is that it isn’t a stand-alone book. (As you might remember, it begins at Chapter 71.)

So what I’m doing right now is re-marketing The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 1: 1989–2000 in an effort to get people excited about Volume 2. Last week I contacted nine bloggers & book people about reviewing Volume 1, two of which now have a copy of the book.

I also signed up with Patchwork Press’s NetGalley Co-Op, and Volume 1 is currently available to read and review on NetGalley.

Here’s how the NetGalley Co-Op works: I paid $225 for six months of space in the co-op, during which I can promote multiple books (my hope is to have the Volume 2 ARC available by the end of February). Patchwork Press manages all of the review requests and does all of the back-end work, which is GREAT.

I haven’t even formally announced the NetGalley thing yet and already 17 people have liked my cover. So… I hope this works out as a promotional tool, and I’ll let you know how many review requests I end up getting.


This is probably how the schedule is going to go down, over the next few months:

February: finish Volume 2 ARC (ebook only), submit to NetGalley and industry reviewers

March: start promoting Volume 2 ARC with bloggers and book people, start creating print version

April: continue promotion, launch pre-order, finalize print version, begin planning book tour

May: continue promotion, planning, etc., publish book (which will probably be on May 22 but don’t hold me to that YET)

June: book tour, plus I’ll start hearing about whether Volume 1 won any awards

July: run another big sale on Volume 1 to get people excited about both volumes

I have a lot of work to do, but I am so very excited about getting you Volume 2 and sharing the second half of this story.

I hope you’re excited too. ❤️

This Week in Self-Publishing: Comparing My Numbers to Trad Pub Numbers

This Week

Books sold: 1 ebook (Amazon)

Money earned: $0 (no, I don’t know why Amazon told me I didn’t earn any royalties this week)

Money spent: $0

Total

Books sold: 357 ebooks, 147 paperbacks

Money earned (book sales): $1,435.07

Money earned (Patreon): $6,909

Money spent: $4,855.71


I have some exciting news that I can’t tell you about yet, so in the meantime let’s look at this New Statesman article about how much literary fiction novelists can expect to earn over their careers (hat tip to the Seattle Review of Books for sharing the piece).

In today’s market, selling 3,000 copies of your novel is not unrespectable – but factor in the average hardback price of £10.12 and the retailer’s 50 per cent cut, and just £15,000 remains to share between publisher, agent and author. No wonder that the percentage of authors earning a full-time living solely from writing dropped from 40 per cent in 2005 to 11.5 per cent in 2013.

I’ve currently sold 504 copies of The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 1, and — as you can see above — have earned $1,435.07 in royalties and $6,909 from the Patreon “advance.” Subtract expenses and I’m at $3,488.36 in profit; pull out 30 percent for taxes and I get to keep $2,441.85.

The New Statesman doesn’t clarify how much of the £15,000 goes to the author, or whether that author has yet earned out their advance; there are a lot of apples and oranges involved here, since I don’t know the types of taxes British authors pay, etc.

But is it possible to look at these numbers and think “okay, as a self-publisher I’ve earned roughly as much from my 504 sales as a traditionally published author might earn from 3,000?”

That feels a little presumptuous on my part, but here’s another quote from the article:

Nicola Solomon, chief executive of the Society of Authors, tells me of a writer who had an advance of £60,000 for her last book and is being offered £6,000 for her new one – a not unrepresentative slump.

That isn’t too far off from the $6,909 I earned through Patreon.

The flip side, of course, is that I haven’t sold 3,000 books. What I’ve gained in revenue I’ve lost in reach; it’s a lot harder to get people (and industry reviewers) to pay attention to a self-published book, especially when — as with Volume 1 — I did all of the outreach myself. (That is going to CHANGE, and SOON.)

Plus, once you’re a midlist author you might get other paying gigs — teaching, speaking — that I am not currently eligible for.

However, the fact that I was able to turn a profit on my debut novel will make it easier for me to publish the second one and invest a little more money into it. Which in turn might lead to more sales and more profits. Maybe. We’ll see what happens. ❤️

Photo by Antoine Dautry on Unsplash.

This Week in Self-Publishing: An Update on the Lyric Licensing Project

This Week

Books sold: 1 ebook (Amazon)

Money earned: $1.71

Money spent: $0

Total

Books sold: 356 ebooks, 147 paperbacks

Money earned (book sales): $1,435.07

Money earned (Patreon): $6,909

Money spent: $4,855.71


I wanted to give you a quick update on the whole “trying to license a Hamilton lyric” thing.

To recap: since licensing lyrics can get expensive, I rewrote all of the sections of Volume 2 that included song lyrics except for one. As I explained in last week’s update:

Whenever I rework a piece of text so it doesn’t rely on a character singing or remembering a song lyric, I do feel better about the text afterwards. Yes, it would be nice if I could write out the actual phrase that is stuck in a character’s head (or that a character is singing onstage, or rehearsing with a choir) but it’s also fun to figure out how to allude to it without quoting it.

[…]

But I decided to go ahead with the permissions request [for the Hamilton quote] because I’d never actually sent one — you might remember that I thought about sending out requests for Volume 1 and then ended up rewriting all of the sections — and I wanted to get over my fear of doing it.

So I filled out the request form and very quickly learned that my request had been denied.

I wasn’t expecting this. I’ve licensed cover songs before — like the Gruber sisters, I grew up in a family of musicians — and that process was almost like going to a store: you pick the song you want, select the number of times you plan to license it, and pay the fee. If you sell more copies than you have licenses, you go back to the licensing site and pay them again.

However, if there’s one thing I am used to in this career it is rejection, so I have no problem rewriting the chapter. It’s probably the stronger choice anyway. ❤️

Photo by Valentino Funghi on Unsplash.

This Week in Self-Publishing: My Book Is Back on Nook and Google Play

This Week

Books sold: 2 ebooks (Amazon), 1 paperback

Money earned: $8.86

Money spent: $0

Total

Books sold: 355 ebooks, 147 paperbacks

Money earned (book sales): $1,433.36

Money earned (Patreon): $6,909

Money spent: $4,855.71


Two pieces of exciting news this week: first, thanks to a great tip from Art Kavanagh, I was able to use Pages to create a new epub… which I then uploaded to Kobo and Google Play, since they were the two retailers that didn’t have their own built-in epub creator.

This means that none of the current ebooks have Pronoun branding or dead links to Pronoun sites. Yay!

My ebook is also now live on Google Play, and my ebook and paperback are live on Barnes & Noble. I’m back on every major retailer except Apple iBooks, because… I don’t even want to get into it. Oh-my-GOD Apple iBooks is complicated. I currently have a help desk request out with them and I’m hoping I can get some help with this.

The other piece of exciting news is that I started permissions requests for the lyrics and copyrighted text I want to quote in Volume 2. This actually means that I spent all morning looking at the various lyrics I wanted to quote throughout the book and then went “I can rework you, and you…” because quoting lyrics isn’t free.

Whenever I rework a piece of text so it doesn’t rely on a character singing or remembering a song lyric, I do feel better about the text afterwards. Yes, it would be nice if I could write out the actual phrase that is stuck in a character’s head (or that a character is singing onstage, or rehearsing with a choir) but it’s also fun to figure out how to allude to it without quoting it. The Biographies of Ordinary People is about musicians, so there are a lot of songs referenced in the book, and I don’t expect everyone to get every reference — so the challenge is to make the paragraph work whether or not the reader knows which song the crowd sang when they stood outside the White House on the night President Obama was elected.

(It was “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye.” I was there.)

I did end up sending out three permissions requests: one so I could quote a prayer, one so I could quote from a sorority creed, and one so I could quote from Hamilton.

The prayer and creed requests went out via email to their organizations’ respective administrators (I’ve already heard back about the prayer; it’s in public domain). The Hamilton request required me to fill out a form with Alfred Music and email them the chapter in which the text will be used; I’ll hear back in 45 days.

I could have rewritten the chapter so it didn’t include a direct Hamilton quote, and I may still do that if it turns out to be super-expensive to use it. But I decided to go ahead with the permissions request because I’d never actually sent one — you might remember that I thought about sending out requests for Volume 1 and then ended up rewriting all of the sections — and I wanted to get over my fear of doing it.

I also wanted that particular request because… um… then I could tell the Hamilton people that my book has Hamilton in it. (Like, on Twitter. We know they like fanart.)

Anyway, I promise I’ll tell you when I hear back from Alfred Music, and I’ll also let you know more about the “how to get a book on Apple iBooks” process as soon as I figure it out myself. ❤️

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. ❤️