I’m getting very good a giving away books. I gave away 10,350 Kindle books of Goodness and Mercy and 11,387 of Like a Watered Garden, an out-of-print book I re-released. That’s nearly 22,000 books! By all accounts a very successful promotion.
But, alas, I’m terrible at selling Kindle books.
Since you've been with me from the beginning, generously writing lovely reviews when I put out the call, I thought you might be interested in the results of this experiment. I’m not trying to depress or discourage you but give you a personal look into the independent publishing experience.
And please, please, please hear this: I’m sharing as one writer to another. This is NOT an underhanded attempt to make pity sales. No, I’m learning how this indie publishing game is played and bringing you along on the bumpy ride.
And, hopefully, the story isn't over yet.
For our discussion here, let me focus on Goodness and Mercy. I launched on June 12th with a 3-day giveaway as suggested by several Amazon marketing books I’d read. The theory was to give the book away on Wednesday through Friday to encourage weekend sales, which are supposed to be the best.
I’d paid a fee (a small fee) for the book to be featured on free Kindle book blogs. They promised toplace the book according to genre to capture the highest number of readers. I think there are ways to test their success, but I haven’t done so, not yet. Six blogs featured the giveaway. I also posted made-by-me announcements of the giveaway on my two Facebook pages, plus the Novel Matters FB page. I believe the FB ads were the most effective.
And the reviews rolled in.
Fifty readers have taken the time to write reviews on Amazon. (Thank you!) Nearly 80% of the ratings are 5 stars. And the two 3-star ratings are quite positive. Some have made me cry with joy. This is more reviews than I've ever gotten, even on my traditionally published books. At this point, I was very encouraged.
I made it into the coveted top 100 in free kindle books, which meant lots of people were seeing my book and getting a chance to grab it. They did some great grabbing. Thanks to all who pushed G&M up in the ratings.
Once the giveaway was over, my sales averaged about 50 books per week for two whole weeks. I truly expected that number to rise.
Sales have steadily decreased since the third week out. I sold 14 books last week.
Honestly? I’m splatted on the windshield of life, a bug life marked by a smear of yellow goo. Thissmacks!
Okay, analytical Patti is back. Breathing. Breathing.
I have to assume that the reviewers aren't lying. Besides three or four, I don’t know them, and none of them are relatives. From what they've said, the story is readable, entertaining, and thought-provoking.
So why are sales, well, in the toilet? (Since I put a bug splat picture up, I'll spare you a toilet picture.)
From some folks I trust, one thing to reconsider is the cover. Evidently, it isn't doing a good job at drawing the right reader. I do worry that the cover turned out too sweet. I’m trying to decide if I have the energy and cash to create another cover.
Another thing to consider is the book description on Amazon. Do people read it and yawn? Say huh? Leave the page? I’ll be taking a look at that this week, too.
Finally, I may not be charging enough. The ceiling on Kindle books is 4.99. I have G&M set at 2.99. I may be sending the message that this is a discount story, hardly worth reading.
Meanwhile, what to write next? I've pretty much decided that IF I do write another novel, it won’t be a CBA type of book. The audience is too narrow (as in small), and they want to read something entirely different. Obviously, there are CBA readers who are hungry for a story that isn't a typical historical romance, just not a big enough group to support my habit of writing. Maybe I should be writing something else, a series that has a clever tie-in for marketing, humorous with a touch of romance.
We've talked a lot here about art for art’s sake. The problem is—minus the nasty recession numbers and the low probability of finding a job—if I do a good job, even simply complete a job with some competency in any other area, I will be paid.
There’s lots we could talk about here. When is enough enough? If you are privy to the magic that sells books, we would love to hear from you! Has anyone out there made a living from indie publishing sales? What has worked for you once the giveaways are over? Have I totally killed your desire to self-publish? I would hate that. I do hear happy stories. And mine might get happier yet.