Self-Publishing Confession: I have no idea why this book is selling – 2016 edition

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My dark fantasy thriller IMMORTAL REMAINS – A TIM REAPER NOVEL went on sale back in July and it’s been selling very well. I’m a bit perplexed as to why because, again, I’m not really doing anything spectacular in the way of book promotion. It’s published exclusively for Kindle – I decided against EPUB as the cumulative total of all my other books sold in EPUB numbers under 100 so I didn’t think I’d be losing anything by sticking with Amazon.

It’s now the last day of September, and here are my stats from good ol’ Kindle Direct Publishing for the month.

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The book has been sitting in the top-100 for Dark Fantasy now for about four weeks. It dipped out a couple of times but it always seems to climb right back up in there. I think the highest it has gone is to #19 in that category. At any rate, I’m really quite pleased with these numbers and thanks so much to whoever out there is buying my book! I’m even getting enthusiastic emails from folks wanting the second book which has a teaser at the end of this one.

Book promotion is a mystery to me. The only thing I’ve done differently from when I self-published Marshall Conrad back in 2014 is I did a Fussy Librarian promotion and one Book Sends promo just to see what happened. There was an uptick on both days that Immortal Remains was featured but nothing major – maybe 30 books each time. I’m thinking of throwing caution to the wind and trying to get a Book Bub but I understand it’s pretty hard to get your foot in the door. Oh, and I’ve also added the buying links to my other books in this one as well as a subscribe link for my newsletter. (And people are actually subscribing!)

The reviews for Immortal Remains have been the best I’ve ever received as a published author, mostly four and five stars. I think the cover art is quite good and might be helping – I did it using Canva who, I think might put all the people doing cover art on Fiverr out of business. The templates are easy, fast, stylish. I’ve had a lot of compliments on this cover. I’ve kept it at 99¢ which is likely the primary reason people are taking a chance on it, though the original price is $2.99, a bargain for an ebook IMHO. I’m a little bit afraid of bringing the price back up to $2.99 as I don’t want to lose out on any bargain shoppers who like the cover and the description enough to buy.

So, once again, I have no idea why this book keeps selling but I’m not going to complain. With a little luck these numbers will remain consistent well into October.

Anyway, if you’ve bought the book, thanks again for your support!

 

 

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Why I’m going full Kindle Unlimited for my Self-Published work

Because this:

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I’ve sold less than 100 books on all Smashwords-fed book selling sites in two years of self-publishing. It’s not Smashwords fault, mind you. It’s just that Planet Earth basically owns Kindles far more than it does Kobos (I have one) or Nooks or Sony Readers. I haven’t bothered posting any Kindle sales numbers in the two years since I started self-publishing my back list, but what I can tell you is that my sales have been in the hundreds most months. I can tell you that I’ve received royalty cheques from Amazon each month that have been enough to do a car payment and I can tell you that as soon as I put my book IMMORTAL REMAINS onto Kindle Unlimited, it got a big bump.

Don’t get me wrong: I love EPUB format as much as an individual can love a digital book format, but the fact is that for me at least, my sales overwhelmingly have been over on Amazon and I don’t see any value in keeping my books in EPUB if so few people use it. It’s nothing personal Smashwords … it’s just business. Perhaps if I am fortunate enough to have a runaway bestseller and people might have heard about my books as a result, then I might migrate back to EPUB, but for the foreseeable future, I’m going to be going exclusively Kindle. If you have a Kobo or a Nook and are desperate to read my books, I will sell EPUB versions directly from this here website.

To be honest, when I did the comparison between Smashwords and Kindle numbers it really hammered home just how massive Amazon has become and just how much it really gets to dictate the future of the publishing business because it truly is a planetary-scale bookstore. I mean, I’ve done months with ZERO book promotion and I was still selling more than a hundred copies a month of a given title on Amazon. (And a big fat goose egg over at Smashwords).

So, there you have it. You win Amazon. I surrender to your infinite bigness. You are the book market. Period. Full stop. Just make sure you don’t screw me on those Kindle Normalized Pages please and thank you.

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Hey look … I’m cross promoting another author’s Self-Published book!

I had written about the need for authors to pay it forward by cross promoting other author’s books in the back of their own forthcoming books, and I’ve done it with my newly released IMMORTAL REMAINS.

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The author is Matt Darst. The book is FREAKS ANON. That first chapter reads quite nicely and here are some pics of Matt’s cover art, first chapter, social media links along with the free first chapter of the sequel to IMMORTAL REMAINS.

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I hope this idea catches on with authors. Discoverability is crazy hard in this era of Kindle Direct Publishing and Create Space.

Do Matt a favor and buy his book. Oh … and if you’ve got some spare change buy mine, won’t you? It’s only 99¢ right now for your Kindle.

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An Experiment in Book Promotion UPDATE

Just a quick note to let folks know that I have included the first chapter of Matt Darst’s book FREAKS ANON as a free read in the back of my forthcoming IMMORTAL REMAINS. I’m a firm believer that authors need to help each other out as much as possible in order to get our books noticed. With that in mind, I’ve decided that henceforth, all my self-published books will include the cover art, summary and the first chapter of a recently released or forthcoming book of the same or similar genre as my novel from one or two different authors.

It’s a small thing, perhaps, but in this day and age of “one click self-publishing” it’s getting harder and harder for authors to stand out in an increasingly crowded market. Call it an experiment in book promotion. Who knows, maybe it will catch on with other authors.

Meantime, all three of us authors would love to see if this little experiment can get some traction. Click any of the titles below to order!

Onward!

FreaksAnonDigital IMMORTAL REMAINS (1)

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Self-Publishing Confession: Why I’m Self-Publishing IMMORTAL REMAINS

Angels and demons. Huge arseholes.

Back in 2010, my second ever traditionally published novel hit bookstores courtesy of the UK publisher, Snowbooks. It’s called FUNERAL PALLOR, the second in my Valerie Stevens urban fantasy series. It’s basically a book about blowing the crap out of zombies and laying the beat-down on some necromancers. There are headbangers with a zombie plow, a fully sentient zombie named Caroline who is Val’s sidekick. And I introduced a new character – TIM REAPER. The guy who can’t be killed.

A funny thing happened. The feedback I got from readers was unanimous: when is there going to be a Tim Reaper book? Those were the salad days for urban fantasy. Round about 2012, traditional publishing hit “peak urban fantasy” with the market now flooded with paranormal romance eclipsing urban fantasy. I can’t prove it, but I think that to the average reader, the cover art for UF books and paranormal romance looked pretty much the same. And certainly all the paranormal romance was shelved alongside urban fantasy at the bookstores that I visited. Anyway, I started writing TIM REAPER in 2011 and got it off to my then agent in London. We spend the next twelve months revising the crap out of it and, unfortunately, we missed the bus. By the time we were ready to submit, UF was over unless you were an established brand or you were writing something like my books POLTERGEEKS and STUDENT BODIES – urban fantasy aimed at young adults.

My agent and I parted company in 2014 because she’s primarily a children’s and YA agent and I wanted to write adult stuff. She’s fabulous. I would be with her today if I only wrote children’s books and YA. She couldn’t sell the project and recommended I try finding another agent. So … I spent the rest of 2014 back in the query pits and the project I queried? IMMORTAL REMAINS – A TIM REAPER NOVEL. (I also self-published my YA ZOMPOC thriller THE NORTH because I was generally disgusted with publishing all together after my YA publisher Strange Chemistry Books went under less than three years after it arrived on the publishing scene with much fanfare. (Incidentally, THE NORTH sold very well for about a year and a half. Then the sales dropped and it’s now available as a reprint with Severed Press and selling quite well again, thank you very much.)

I did get a number of full requests from agents but they all passed stating that UF was “a tough sell these days”. In January 2015 I finally found a new agent – Lane Heymont from The Seymour Agency. He got the book out there and we got a lot of full requests but after a year of submitting, this spring he said that he’d exhausted every contact and that UF was such a downer in traditional publishing that he actually submitted the book as “contemporary fantasy” hoping we might get lucky. He did a great job for me on the project and I have no complaints. But now I had this completed novel which is, in my opinion, the best thing I have ever written and no publishers were jumping at it. (I came very close with an Canadian publisher who offered the best rejection I have ever received as a professional author). In short … urban fantasy is dead in the traditional publishing world.

What did I do next? Well, I researched. I started looking into urban fantasy and dark fantasy on Amazon, checking out the rankings. What did I learn? That UF and DF are selling very well for a large number of authors who self-published it. I mean there is some excellent cover art and great stories on Amazon. Some really cool series that by rights, should be in your local bookstore under one of the Big 5 publishers.

I had a choice to make. Let my completed project sit on a flash drive and collect dust until some day in the future when traditional publishing decides that urban fantasy is “in” again? Or should I throw caution to the wind and self-publish?

The choice was very clear. I like getting paid. There would be no way for IMMORTAL REMAINS to make me any money sitting on the flash drive, so I decided to go for it once more. And I’m going all in this time because I believe in this book. A lot of people worked hard to make this a great read – my former agent, my new agent, my wife, my writer’s group. The project has been revised now a total of ten times since the first draft. It’s ready to go. It’s a fantastic read. Tim Reaper is an amoral death spirit who really wants to become human. He hasn’t aged a day in a hundred years because he switches bodies when the one he is occupying breaks down. Try to imagine Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer as a grim reaper in human form. And Reaper has some allies: Carol Sparks – a Halifax homicide detective who made the mistake of actually touching Reaper and learning that she would be shot to death in eight years. There are demons, angels and those working for both sides. Of course we can’t forget the premise: there’s a serial killer on the loose and his victims are angels. Only Reaper can stop him and if he doesn’t it’s end-of-days for the human race.

I’ve also included bonus material in the book – the first chapter from the second book, entitled, THE GIRL ON VICTORIA ROAD.

So there you have it. Maybe I can make a success out of self-publishing the book. I sure hope so. I hope that readers buy the book and fall in love with the world I’ve created. Tim Reaper is a bad boy gone good – clumsily, I might add. I was very fortunate to receive a cover blurb from the author of The Collector series as well as The Killing Kind, Chris Holm. He liked it and do you want to know something? I’m a huge fan of Chris Holm’s work. During those days over the past four years when I thought this book would never get published and when self-doubt kicked in, I went back an re-read his blurb. If a cool author like him thought the book was fantastic, then maybe I don’t suck as an author.

I’m going to post regularly on the sales figures for this book. I really believe IMMORTAL REMAINS can do well if I can grab enough people’s attention.

Right now I’m looking for reviewers. If you’d like a review copy for your Kindle or Kobo or Nook, let me know in the comments below and I’ll fire off a copy to your email. IMMORTAL REMAINS is available now for pre-order on Amazon and on Smashwords.

Here we go!

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