This is my third post of my series on writing, where I reflect upon general writing topics to help other authors.  Today, I’ll be focusing upon the end goal for many self publishers- sales.

This post covers the self publication of my first book, Til Death Do Us Part, and its performance in the Amazon marketplace.  But first, let’s go over some background.

Til Death Do Us Part took 6 months to write, clocked in at 55k words, and was written in one draft – this information is important to calculate its monetary return compared to other novels with a similar amount of effort poured into their creation.  I priced Til Death Do Us Part at $.99, a reduction from $2.99 of its price during this time period.  And at the time of publication, I had somewhere on the order of 600o fans through radish, royal road, social media, and wattpad. I was at a local peak of posting activity, and my mailing list had approximately 250 people on it compared to the near 2200 today.

Here’s how the book did in the short term:

 Mountain View

Overall, that’s a bit over $500 (~$.35 each sale) revenue for Til Death Do Us Part due to the slashed price, and I spent about $200 on adverts through Kindle Nation Daily and other promo sites. I do not know how well these worked, but I suspect I got a good chunk of sales from them.  During the spike in the graph, I was constantly posting to all forms of social media so my fans could purchase a copy.

So here’s the problem- after that initial spike, sales dropped dramatically despite 80 reviews, 4.7 out of 5 stars on amazon, reaching the #2 slot of its genre subcategory, and hitting around #250 sold on Amazon.  This method isn’t sustainable- that initial bump made me back my initial investment, but didn’t do much to afterward.  The real question is how to achieve sustained sales, which is much harder in my opinion than an initial blip.

Here’s what I think went wrong:

  1.  The cover:  Though I think it’s well designed, and the artist did an awesome job, I also don’t think it is well suited for the target audience.  This cover might sell well on the shelves of Barnes and Nobel, but online with thousands of more evocative covers screaming at readers mine didn’t stand a chance.  From a glance you can’t tell the genre, you can’t tell the story, and readers can’t tell if it is up their alley.  In the future, my covers will be more “telling”, or revealing.
  2. The story:  The story is somewhat wacky- it describes a prison break by toddlers who are recent reincarnations of at large criminals.  People enjoyed it (Hell, some people loved it, but I also got my first one star review!), but what genre does that plot fit into? How the hell do you sell that?  What is my target audience?  For this reason, I think potential customers had a hard time relating, and therefore buying.
  3. Lack of passive drivers to bring in fans: After my launch, I’d used up all my social media outlets to reach fans.  Sure, I could pester them, and sure, I could try to guilt them into purchasing, but I really value my fans.  The last thing I want to do is abuse them, and I didn’t get into writing for the money- I got into it to tell stories people would enjoy.  Since then, I’ve developed this blog, I’ve created more free content to get my name out there, and I’ve written more books to drive satisfied readers towards my works. And I’ve seen this reflected in my sales, as will be covered in a future blog post.  For those of you looking to expand your audience, check out Your First 10,000 Readers – the author on there has some AWESOME advice for free that I unfortunately discovered when it was too late to implement it for my first book.  I haven’t purchased his system, but there was enough free advice to set me on the right track, and I might buy into in the future if sales can justify the cost.

Unfortunately, Amazon planned “prime day” on the same day as my launch, which I think hurt my sales and promotion due to dilution and being eclipsed by a “Ready Player One” discount sale.  Otherwise I’m 99% sure I would’ve hit that #1 slot, but I can’t say for sure 🙂

Let me know below what else you think I should have done, or what you have done that was successful in your own launches.  All feedback is appreciated, and remember, I’m still at the start of my career as a writer.  This information is posted to help me grow as much as it is to help others.

Wishing you the best, and until next time,

Leonard Petracci

PS- if you want to get a feel for my writing for free, check out my web serial The Bridge!  Or, if you prefer wattpad to my blog, check out Life Magic!