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 (And outdated links.)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? ❤️

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. ❤️

This Week in Self-Publishing: The Future of My Book

This Week

Books sold: 1 ebooks, 1 paperbacks

Money earned: $6.46 (No, I don’t know why this number is higher than last week’s, maybe a sale got recorded last week but the money didn’t arrive until this week?)

Money spent: $0

Total

Books sold: 342 ebooks, 138 paperbacks

Money earned (book sales): $1,272.75

Money earned (Patreon): $6,909

Money spent: $4,820.71


One of the benefits of self-publishing—in theory—is that you don’t have to worry about what will happen if your publisher shuts down.

But here I am, with Pronoun announcing that it’ll stop distributing books in January, trying to figure out what to do next.

I have a handful of options. I could send The Biographies of Ordinary People through another distributor, like Draft2Digital or Reedsy’s Blurb—and I did enjoy working with Reedsy on their weekly short story contest—or I could do all the distribution myself.

Or… I could submit Biographies to a hybrid publisher, and relaunch the book with the benefit of their marketing/distribution/publicity teams.

Since one of my big questions about Vol. 2 was whether I was going to hire an outside publicist, working with a hybrid might be one way to get that done. I know I could just hire a publicist directly, and that could still be an option if the hybrids turn me down—because you do have to submit, and they don’t take everybody.

My goal was always to get Biographies to the largest number of readers while earning the highest amount of royalties and maintaining as much creative control as possible. I mean, that was even my goal when I was querying agents and considering the trad pub route. (You might remember the conversation I had with an agent where she told me I could rewrite Biographies to make it more commercially marketable, or keep what I had and sell it as “an art book that would appeal to a select few.” I guess the choice I made kinda contradicted the whole “sell to the largest number of readers” goal, but also she said I had made art.)

So I’m going to submit Biographies to two hybrid publishers and… you know, see what they say. Let them make me an offer, assuming I pass the submission process. I’ll also ask about sales numbers; I’ve looked at some of their authors’ books online and taken note of their Amazon reviews and sales rankings, but that only shows part of the equation—and the part I’m interested in is whether I’ll earn back my investment.

And if that doesn’t work, I’ll sign up with another distributor and keep publishing. ❤️

Photo credit: amslerPIX, CC BY 2.0.

This Week in Self-Publishing: Pronoun Is Shutting Down

This Week

Books sold: 2 ebooks, 1 paperbacks

Money earned: $5.38

Money spent: $0

Total

Books sold: 341 ebooks, 137 paperbacks

Money earned (book sales): $1,266.29

Money earned (Patreon): $6,909

Money spent: $4,820.71


So I flew from Seattle to Cedar Rapids on Monday to spend the week apartment-hunting, and when I took my phone off airplane mode I had an email from Pronoun announcing that they were shutting down.

They shared the same text on their website:

While many challenges in indie publishing remain unsolved, Macmillan is unable to continue Pronoun’s operation in its current form. Every option was considered before making the very difficult decision to end the business.

As of today, it is no longer possible to create a new account or publish a new book. Pronoun will be winding down its distribution, with an anticipated end date of January 15, 2018.

This is hugely unfortunate, both because Pronoun was a great service—I got to meet the team in New York, and they were doing such good work—and because I’m going to have to find another way to distribute The Biographies of Ordinary People.

(I used to link to a Pronoun sales page every time I typed my book’s title. I’m going to have to re-do all those links.)

After I got the news, I put this on Twitter:

I thought maybe it’d work. But nobody contacted me, so I’m going to have to figure out the best next step on my own.

Last week I wrote that Biographies Vol. 1 was going to get a “new edition,” which is still true—I gotta go in and add all those section breaks to make the perspective shifts a little clearer.

But it makes me wonder if I should do a totally new edition, maybe with a hybrid publisher—I’d query small presses as well if I thought they’d accept me—and publish Vol. 2 that way as well.

(Which might delay Vol. 2‘s release. Ugh.)

Because the other option is to throw Biographies up on Amazon, and being Amazon-exclusive has its advantages, but… I don’t want to just be in the Amazon bucket.

Hmm. Hybrid publishing is not cheap. But you get their marketing and publicity team, which is also what I was hoping to pay for with Vol. 2[UPDATE: And then I remembered that I had spent nearly $5K self-publishing Vol. 1, so I could justify spending that much on Vol. 2 if I went the hybrid route.]

I need to make some calls and send some emails, is what needs to happen.

First I need to add those section breaks, so I can send the shiniest version of Vol. 1 out when I re-query.

And before that I need to fly back to Seattle from Cedar Rapids.

And during all of this I need to move to Cedar Rapids.

(And run a podcast, and edit The Billfold, and keep the rest of my freelance career going.)

It’ll all sort itself out, I’m sure.

But it’s going to take some work. ❤️

Photo credit: Mike Steele, CC BY 2.0.

This Week in Self-Publishing: Asterisms and Changing the Past

This Week

Books sold: 0 ebooks, 0 paperbacks

Money earned: $0

Money spent: $0

(Wow. This is the first week with zero sales. I should start thinking of new ways to reach new readers.)

Total

Books sold: 332 ebooks, 136 paperbacks

Money earned (book sales): $1,241.14

Money earned (Patreon): $6,909

Money spent: $4,820.71


My BookLife Prize Critic’s Report for The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 1 noted that the text included “awkward shifts in perspective.”

That’s the type of criticism I can do something about, unlike, say, Kirkus’s “why is everyone so polite?” (I love that they wrote that, by the way.)

The majority of the Biographies chapters take place within a single character’s viewpoint, meaning the perspective shifts when the chapter ends. No big deal. Readers are used to that kind of thing.

But there are a handful of chapters in both volumes—the ones that deal with major life transitions like graduations or weddings—that give us multiple characters’ viewpoints. Since I’m a musician, it makes sense to alternate between solo pieces and choral numbers; since I’m a musical theater nerd, I also liked the idea of placing those big ensemble pieces in exactly the right spots, dramatically.

And yes, that type of “head hopping” is an accepted fiction technique. But you have to make sure the reader can follow along and that the shifts in perspective aren’t, to borrow the phrase, “awkward.”

One of the best ways to help the reader follow along is to put breaks between perspective shifts. Pronoun did not not include that feature when I published Vol. 1—like, there was no option for a double hard return, much less an asterism*—but it has since been added, and I have been happily applying it to Vol. 2 to indicate both shifts in perspective and (in the example pictured) shifts in time.

I want to go back and add it to Vol. 1 too.

From what I understand, updating my ebook files with Amazon will not affect the books you have already purchased unless you enable “automatic book updates” in your Kindle settings.

So you’ll have to decide whether you want the “with asterisks” version or the “without asterisks” version. (All new buyers will automatically get “with asterisks,” after I make the update.)

I also plan on updating the Vol. 1 print copy, both to add the asterisks AND to fix the single mistake I found after I thought I had found all the mistakes. Also, I want to rework the back cover copy slightly.

This feels a bit like “changing the past,” but books can have more than one edition! It’s a thing! Just like head-hopping is a thing!

And if it makes it easier for readers to follow the shifts in perspective, then it’s a good thing. ❤️

* Yes I know that an asterism is actually three asterisks in a triangle shape, and I’d really love for Pronoun to let me create asterisms PLEASE PLEASE NEXT UPDATE

This Week in Self-Publishing: On Intuition

This Week

Books sold: 1 ebooks, 0 paperbacks

Money earned: $2.79

Money spent: $0

Total

Books sold: 332 ebooks, 136 paperbacks

Money earned (book sales): $1,241.14

Money earned (Patreon): $6,909

Money spent: $4,820.71


I just have a few more Volume 2 revisions and rewrites to make this weekend, and then I’ll be ready to move on to the next phase of the publication process.

You’re going to ask me “how do I know that the revisions are done?”

The short answer is that I made a list of everything I wanted to revise.

The longer answer is intuition.


In non-self-publishing news, I’m thinking about moving from Seattle to Cedar Rapids. This is where I should explain that it’s close to my parents and there’s a community arts scene and the cost of living is much more affordable and the Iowa Writers House is nearby and I just wrote two whole books about growing up in the Midwest and etc. etc. etc.

But this is what I want to tell you instead.

For the past few months, I’ve been carrying around this feeling that I finally named “evolving,” because I didn’t know what else to call it. (Also, I am well aware that evolve is an action and not an emotion.) It’s hard to describe—which is to say that some of it is very easy to describe, like the urge to purge my social media of all the people who aren’t actually part of my current social/professional circle.

(You know the joke about how our phone numbers represent the places we lived in 2008? In my case, my social media accounts represent the person I was in 2013.)

Anyway, evolving made me prickly and disinclined to do much besides work and read, and if you’re thinking “that doesn’t sound like the optimistic and cheerful Nicole I’ve been experiencing in person and online,” I will remind you that we contain multitudes and my optimism will always be part of me. Or at least I hope it will.

(My favorite jokes are the subtle ones.)

And then I went to the Safeway to get a roll of quarters so I could do laundry and I saw a copy of the Seattle Times that had a front-page article about just how much it costs to live here (we are now the third-most expensive city after New York City and San Francisco) and in that moment I knew I was going to leave Seattle.

I wasn’t even supposed to be in the Safeway that afternoon; I had gone a few days before to get groceries, and I did the thing where I paid with debit and asked for an extra $10, and then I asked if I could have it in quarters, and both of the register clerks were out, so I had to come back.


Then I bought a tarot deck.

Specifically, I bought Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven’s Prophecy tarot deck, because I still haven’t been able to get the Raven Cycle out of my head, it’s like all I want (in addition to all of the other things I want) is another five days to read the whole thing again, and even though I had thought I was a person who was VERY UNINTERESTED IN THIS KIND OF THING I got my deck and opened the book that came with it and read this:

To me, [stories] are the soul of tarot. Every spread is an opportunity to shape our current life events into a story with ourselves firmly installed as the hero at the heart of it. Stories are a way of imposing structure and control, and tarot is a way of imposing structure and control on our own spiritual growth.

And I was like yes, this aligns with my heart. 

(Also the part where Stiefvater writes that this particular deck is about being an artist.)

Having the deck first felt like having a toy, and it’s been a long time since I’ve actually had something in my hands that I could play with. I took the unshuffled, straight-out-of-the-package deck and asked it to show me my card and I pulled out the Queen of Coins and laughed, because I am currently the Queen of The Billfold and also please see that ACTUAL SPREAD OF COINS AT THE TOP OF THE POST.

Now, obviously, that’s a very literal reading of the Queen of Coins, but I didn’t know that then. The cards showed me what I needed to see at the time—or, if we’re going to get technical about it, I pulled out a card and gave it a personal meaning, but I do not want to be technical about this.

What I want to do is tell you that I played with the tarot deck like it was a toy, and then I figured out that it was one of those toys that could make you cry. Or guide you towards emotions that you might have been avoiding. Or help you draw connections between ideas.

Or, in my case, help me realize what all of this evolving was for. What could happen when I came out the other side. What I should move towards—and what I should move away from—to get there.

(Again. The subtle ones.)

I’m not going to share the full spread I did—or the question I asked when I did it—because that is way too personal. But I will share three cards I recently drew. They represent past-present-future, and you don’t need to know the more nuanced meanings of these cards to get the jist.


I used to play the piano—like, at the concerto-competition-winning level—and one of the reasons I am excited to potentially move to a place where I could rent a better apartment or an actual house (or eventually buy a house) is that I could have a piano again.

I know that if I move into an apartment I’m likely to have to get one of those headphone-capable electronic pianos with the weighted keys, the kind of piano that comes with apps and firmware updates, and I was trying to figure out why I felt so badly about my piano being a computer, because I certainly don’t mind my Kindle being a computer, and I won’t mind that whatever used car I end up getting will also be a computer.

So I was watching YouTube videos of people playing these pianos, listening to the just-like-a-real-piano sound and appreciating that somewhere, a real pianist created all of the actual piano samples that were shoved into the computer, and then I understood why I didn’t want one.

When you play a real piano, you’re playing both the instrument and the entire room. You are choosing how to touch each key to make it sound in a specific way that is unique to the space and how well you’ve warmed up and how recently the piano has been tuned and even what the weather is like outside. It’s magic in the Lev Grossman sense, and it’s worth noting that he was also a musician.

But you can’t mentally work out all of those circumstances before you sit down to play. (Some, but not all.) You have to listen, and you have to use your intuition.


I’ve been reading those essays and interviews with Philip Pullman, all the ones that say La Belle Sauvage is the best new book ever, and I keep thinking that I don’t want to know what happens to Lyra.

[Spoilers ahead.]

The end of the His Dark Materials trilogy is perfect. Not just because I have this like-an-animated-GIF memory of where I was and what I was wearing when I cried over Lyra and Will. (There have been exactly three books that have made me cry: The Last BattleThe Amber Spyglass, and The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 2: 2004–2016.)

The ending is perfect because Lyra learns that it’s going to take her “a whole long life” to learn how to read the alethiometer, and as a reader who also experienced childhood prodigity that faded into adult have-to-work-for-it, my automatic response was to think of Lyra working—and then to think of how I might work, in my own whole long life, towards similar wisdom.

I don’t want to know what Lyra did next. I want both of us to keep working.


The question Lyra asks at the end of The Amber Spyglass is, honestly, “how do I make art if I’m just an ordinary person after all?”

It’s also “how do I interpret the symbols on this emotion-reflecting, future-predicting toy?”

The answer is work.

And evolution.

And intuition.

And love. ❤️

This Week in Self-Publishing: The Fussy Librarian Promo, and What Happens Next

This Week

Books sold: 1 ebooks, 0 paperbacks

Money earned: $2.79

Money spent: $0

Total

Books sold: 331 ebooks, 136 paperbacks

Money earned (book sales): $1,238.35

Money earned (Patreon): $6,909

Money spent: $4,820.71


This week, I ran a Fussy Librarian promo (pictured above) that cost me $16 and earned… well, it’s a little hard to say. Did I sell just one book?

I know I didn’t sell a lot of books, thanks to Amazon’s metrics:

As you might remember, that spike on September 19 came when I discounted the book to $1.99, and sales stayed high for the rest of the month, during which I ran both a ReadingDeals and a ManyBooks promotion.

The smaller spike on October 8 was the day the Fussy Librarian promo ran.

Yes, you could say it was because of the news or something, but we’ve had bad news pretty much every day since… well, you know since how long.

So I have to conclude that the Fussy Librarian wasn’t a great promo site for me.


I’m on target to have the revisions completed by Monday, October 23, after which I’ll start doing everything else that is on my enormous Volume 2 burndown chart: writing back matter, seeking permissions, thinking about my ARC strategy, and so on.

I gave myself a huge amount of lead time to complete this project, which means that even if I fall behind schedule I’ll still have time to catch up. I also gave myself a lot of lead time because I have a lot of questions to think about in terms of marketing: what am I going to do differently this time, can I afford to hire some outside help, etc. etc. etc.

I haven’t yet done the serious thinking on how much this book is going to cost me; I mean, I have an idea of what it might cost, because I’ve been tracking Volume 1‘s expenses every week, but I need to sit down at some point and write out my anticipated income and expenses through… I don’t know, next summer… and figure out how much I might be able to spend on publishing and promoting Volume 2.

Publishing is relatively inexpensive, even with print costs, so what I actually mean is what I can afford to spend on promotion. I feel like there are two ways Volume 2 could get traction, beyond the people who buy the book because they enjoyed Volume 1: either I pay a publicist who knows how to contact the right people in terms of interviews, ads, etc.; or Volume 1 wins at least one award and both volumes get attention that way.

I didn’t do a terrible job of marketing Volume 1 on my own; I was on a handful of podcasts, I placed a bunch of articles that were about the process of writing the book, etc. (People are still reading and sharing the piece I wrote for Jane Friedman’s blog.)

But I feel like Volume 2 is going to be my last chance to get people excited about this story, and I want people to read it because it’s a really good story. By this time next year, both volumes will be “old releases” and we’ll have moved on to something new, so I have to figure out how to optimize the time I have.


The other question is  “what happens after Volume 2 is published?” I have some ideas. The obvious thing that needs to happen is that I start writing another book.

The smart move would be to start writing the new book while I was prepping and promoting Volume 2, and the reason I’m not doing that comes down to time management; my days are already filled with freelance work and Senior Editoring The Billfold.  We have yet to see whether self-publishing will be a successful career path for me; freelance writing has been a very successful and fulfilling career so far, so it gets priority.

But it’s also okay that I’m not starting a new book now because I don’t really have a new book to write. I have ideas. Nothing that’s gotten to the outlining stage yet. They’re more like… trying to describe the dream you had last night. There’s a feeling and an image and maybe one character, but you can’t see their face clearly. You know there’s a whole story in there, but you’re going to have to make it up. ❤️