Experimenting with Self-Publishing: 30 Days Later

I have the rights back to three of my books so I decided, rather than let those manuscript files collect dust on my flash drive (one of two flash drives where I keep copies of everything I’ve written since 2006) I decided to experiment a little with this whole “hybrid author” thing. The good (or evil, depending on your writer’s politics) about Amazon is they have the super easy system to sell ebooks called Kindle Direct Publishing. You’ve heard of them, right? It’s where you can buy everything from steamy erotic fiction with brilliant or brilliantly terrible cover art to some pretty damned fine book by authors doing the same thing I’m doing, publishing their old stuff.

Anyway, I thought to give it a shot as an experiment – mostly to see if anyone was paying attention, but also to see sales of my stuff would stimulate the sales of my two books published by my now defunct publisher Strange Chemistry Books. (PSSTTTTT, If anyone from the aforementioned defunct publishing house is reading this … I want my rights back please so I can self-publish POLTERGEEKS & STUDENT BODIES. I suspect the rest of the authors do too. So, pretty please with whipped cream on top?)

Well, here’s what I’ve learned:

1) I’m selling a lot of my self-published book, MARSHALL CONRAD.

2) I don’t think its sales have done anything for my two Strange Chemistry titles as both are in the basement for Amazon Rankings.

Here’s the breakdown:

Basically I’ve sold like, 150 copies of MARSHALL CONRAD since June 26th and a handful on Kindle Unlimited.






So … what does this all mean?

I have no idea, actually. I mean, I’m tickled to death the book seems to be selling but I suspect it has more to do with the 99¢ price point than how awesome the book is. I’m almost afraid to raise it to, say, $1.99 for fear of plummeting in the rankings. Yesterday, Sunday July 27th, it got as high as 11,525 for the Amazon Best Sellers rank. For the record, I have never, ever ever ever been that high in the rankings on Amazon as a professional author.

Fellow Strange Chemistry authors Larua Lam (who got a six figure book deal last week, and I can’t think of a more deserving author because she’s freaking awesome) has just self pubbed some stuff that looks to be doing well and Kim Curran just self pubbed a book called GLAZE which looks like it’s holding its own.

I’m still trying to figure this whole hybrid author thing out. I’ve got two completed projects that need to find a home in the traditional publishing world. I’d like to wrap up my POLTERGEEKS series with a third and final book, but the dismal sales right now for the two Strange Chemistry titles aren’t exactly inspiring me to start writing  the project, tentatively entitled END GAMES.  (The Kindle sales for both titles sold way better than the print ones, by the way)

Now that I’m selling some books (albeit for peanuts) I’m afraid of dropping in the Amazon rankings if I raise the prices even though I am now getting fan mail for a book I wrote in 2006 which first appeared in print four years ago. I’m even getting requests to write another Marshall Conrad book.

Interesting times. Even more interesting is that MARSHALL CONRAD was on Smashwords for three weeks and didn’t sell a single copy, so I decided that since nobody was buying it over there, I’d throw my lot in with Kindle Unlimited to see what happens.

Here’s what I know: I just want to write freaking books, that’s all. I don’t want to worry about formatting the damned things for Kindle Direct Publishing and I don’t want to worry about the rankings or what to price it at. I don’t want to worry, period. I just want to write and write and write because my head is swimming with ideas and every minute I’m wearing the publisher’s hat is a minute I’m distracted from what I love to do more than anything.  (Well, scratch that. I love to hang out with my wife more than anything, so writing comes in at a close second.)

I’ve also self-pubbed another book called SHADE FRIGHT. It ain’t selling  worth a damn which kind of sucks because I think the cover art I came up with kicks ass. Why isn’t it selling when it’s priced the same as MARSHALL CONRAD? Could be that it is competing with a jillion other paranormal fantasy novels with a strong female protagonist. Or maybe because I’m a dude, or maybe the book sucks or … DAMN IT! I JUST WANT TO WRITE BOOKS!!!

You see my dilemma. Well, onward, I guess. I hope I can find a home for my two completed projects and I wish there were two of me – one to write and one to deal with the publisher side of things because it’s a hell of a lot of work, I have a day job and I still need to deal with the other stuff that authors do.

Happy Monday.


4 thoughts on “Experimenting with Self-Publishing: 30 Days Later

    • As a rule, you can ask an agent about some of the fundamentals but there’s no money in self publishing for literary agents so it’s just one of those things an author has to take on. A number of agencies, though, have set up imprints in-house for their authors to sell their backlist and I expect we’ll see more of that in the future.

  1. Congratulations on reaching a personal best bestseller-rank 🙂

    Yes, I think the 99c price point helps – if people are trying a new author, they want as low a price as possible. So if it turns out they didn’t enjoy the novel, they only spent 99c on it, so not that’s not a big loss. Had you charged $1.99, readers who hadn’t tried your work before may not be as convinced to give you a shot. 99c is much more attractive to potential buyers.

    As for why it hasn’t led to your Poltergeeks sales lifting…they’re different audiences. Yes, they’re both YA, and may be similar in tone, but a lot of adults just aren’t interested in YA.

    Agreed – the Shade Fright cover is good! But it’s a very overcrowded genre, female-character urban fantasy. Male-character urban fantasy doesn’t seem as numerous, so you may have a better shot with that.

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