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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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 Pay It Forward Time: Authors Cross Promoting

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Book promotion isn’t exactly a precise science. Actually, scratch that: I don’t think anyone, including the Big 5 publishers really possess the secret elixir that makes a book take off and become a best seller.

As mentioned in an earlier blog post, I am self-publishing my new book IMMORTAL REMAINS – A TIM REAPER NOVEL. The reasons for this decision are here, if you care to look so I won’ t get into them with this blog post. What I will say is that I’m trying to think out of the box when it comes to promoting this project. And since it is my eighth book, I am not exactly a stranger to the various methods of book promotion that authors are using these days. Here’s the big four methods that I’ve tried since my first novel was published six years ago:

Blog Tours: didn’t work for me. I didn’t see an uptick in sales. Ever. So I don’t recommend them.

Book Trailer: I made two. They didn’t work though they were fun to make.

Guest posts: Again, didn’t really work either because my posts were limited to the blog I was invited to write on. As well, there was the need to give away stuff which I dislike.

Free Giveaways: I have given away four Kindles, about one hundred copies of my books and other assorted junk over the years. Never again. Giveaways never once created an uptick in my sales and really, we authors make dirt money as it is. Scrimping together the cash to give away electronics in order to entice people to possibly read your book is dumb because the nature of social media being what it is, word travels about giveaways and they really become a chum bucket of free crap for people looking to get free crap. Huge waste of time and money. Never again.

I have also posted links to my work on social media but I’ve kind of stopped doing that because my feed is already filled with other authors (traditional, hybrid and 100% self-publishing) are doing the same thing. Add that to the traditional publishers clogging up social media feeds with links to their authors and you basically have what I like to call “book promo white noise”. Everybody is doing it. I doubt it translates into sales.

So I’m thinking outside the box this time and I had this crazy idea that every author out there has his/her own fan base. It seems to me that authors could kind of “pay it forward” by including something in a forthcoming book about another author’s existing or forthcoming book. (This assumes that authors actually want to cross promote. I think, personally, we could all be doing a better job of it, frankly.)

Anyway, I’m going to conduct an experiment. This past Monday evening I created a PHP page and added it to my website. It’s called SAMPLE MATCH. Here’s what it’s about:

What is Sample Match:

It’s a web forum where indie authors can connect with other indie authors with the overall goal of cross-promotion of each other’s novels.

How does it work?

Create a thread with the title of your book along with cover art, what the book is about, links to your website and how to contact you. When two authors connect, they can provide sample chapters of forthcoming or already published books where one or both authors can add sample chapters to a forthcoming book. Or you cold post someone’s cover art. Or whatever you both come up with.

Why Sample Match?

Because the issue of discoverability is the number one challenge facing indie authors. Amazon is the world’s bookstore. Kindle Direct Publishing allows anyone with an Internet connection to self publish a book in a matter of minutes. That means that it’s harder and harder to get noticed. Sample Match proposes that the best way to promote books is for authors to cross-promote within their fan-base. What better place to cross-promote than by adding a sample chapter of another author’s book complete with cover art as well as buying and social media links.

Does this cost anything?

No.

Why should I try it?

Why not? Book promotion is a massive challenge at the best of times. Authors are not competing against each other – we are all on the same side. We want to write. We want to increase our readership and make some money while we’re at it.

Will it work? Who the hell knows? It’s been live since Monday night and I’ve posted on Absolute Write and on Reddit. Nobody has jumped at it yet. So I will leave it live and see what transpires. In the meantime, I’m going to pay it forward right now. I’ve got a book coming out August 1st. I’m looking for two authors of a similar genre to connect with me on SAMPLE MATCH as I’d like to include a sample chapter from their existing or forthcoming book along with cover art. Might as well lead by example, right?

Maybe this will work. Maybe not. But it’s something new and different and I’m not clogging up the arteries of social media with links to my books. I’m not going to do blog tours which are useless and I sure as heck am not going to give away another Kindle.

Check out SAMPLE MATCH and check out my offer.

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Traditionally published authors, self-published authors and being yelly

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Hiya – my name is Sean Cummings and I’m a traditionally published author who has, at times, said some unkind things about self-published books, Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and basically that Amazon might possibly be SkyNet.

Hiya – my name is Sean Cummings and I’m a self-published author who has, at times, had really bad experiences with traditional publishing houses and who sometimes thinks that traditional publishing doesn’t have a freaking clue what the hell is going on.

There’s a lot of yelly stuff right now online when it comes to traditionally pubbed authors and those who are self-published. I think, probably, the number one self-publishing website on Planet Earth is The Passive Voice. Here’s where I got called out because of comments I’ve made on my website about self-published stuff.

And here’s where they featured a blog post of mine about my book MARSHALL CONRAD where I suggested that I had no idea why the damned book was, and still is, selling so well.

I’m thinking there’s still a lot of stigma out for self-published books. I think that a lot of people in traditional publishing look down their noses at self-pubbed stuff, and in many cases they are right do do it because metric tons of self-published stuff is crap with bad cover art and terrible editing.

And then there are some amazingly wonderful self-published books. There are authors who have hit paydirt doing it. There are established authors leaving traditional publishing behind to go it alone. There are people like me who are tinkering with self-publishing while still hoping to make it in traditional publishing.

And there’s still a lot of vitriol out there. From both sides.

I think it’s because maybe a lot of us on the traditional side of things thinks that self-published authors don’t deserve to have a book published with the click of a mouse, you know? They didn’t…

a) Earn their way to a traditional publishing deal

b) Experience years of rejection from agents and publishers

c) Experience piss-poor sales once their book got published

That and the market is flooded with self-published stuff which makes it harder and harder to get noticed.

On the other hand, self-published authors often feel that publishers are out to screw authors. That there is nothing a publishing house can do that a self-published author cannot do. That gatekeepers such as agents and editors are part of the problem and there are tons of traditionally published books that are crap with bad story lines and equally bad editing.

So there’s a lot of polarization here. I think it might be due to the fact that nobody has a clue what the hell publishing is going to look like five years from now. We are all experiencing seismic change. Christ, a well respected publisher can start up a young adult imprint and in less than three years shut it down due to poor sales!

The thing is … are we all a bunch of complete assholes? There is vitriol coming from both sides (I’ve actually participated in it, so my bad – that won’t be happening again) and at the heart of things is that whether your a Passive Voice Patriot or you’re “Self-Published Books aren’t Real Books”, you have to wonder if there is any middle ground?

I do a lot of writer’s workshops here in Saskatoon where I live. Every wannabe author I meet gets the same question from me, “why do you want to get published?”

Most of the time the response has to do with holding that book in your hands for the first time or seeing it on the shelf of a local book store. So, you know, maybe there’s some validation things going on there. Let’s face it, it’s good for your self esteem to actually be offered a publishing contract because the odds are so very heavily stacked against you ever getting published in the first place.

Self-publishing advocates see things differently in that technology has democratized the process of getting published. That authors can now be in control. That gatekeepers are no longer a factor.

Is there middle ground here? Why is everyone being so yelly? Why was I being yelly?

Well, I can tell you one reason .. I was a bit smug. There, I said it. I was smug because I had achieved something that most writers won’t. But the funny thing is, I self-pubbed my newest work in spite of the fact that I could have tried traditional. I still often have a knee-jerk reaction to seeing a self-published author doing extremely well when I am not. It’s weird … because I never experience that feeling when one of my traditionally published peers is kicking ass.

Maybe I’m an asshole. Maybe we’re all assholes … who knows?

All that I know is that books matter. Stories matter. Writing is a craft and it’s perhaps there where the smugness comes from. Perhaps those who look down on self-published authors believe that the very act of putting your book through the process of finding an agent, getting a publishing deal and then editing, editing, editing … all that is craft. All that craft is missing when you self-publish.

Beats me. All the yelly stuff is white noise to me at this point. It matters nothing to the book buying public because they really don’t give a shit whether the book was self pubbed or not. Consumers buy books based on a number of factors that are identical whether you are self pubbed or traditionally pubbed: how does the cover art look? What does it say on the back cover? Is the price right? Will I like this book?

I think that traditionally published books AND self-published books can answer those questions. And I think the books that answer the right way will sell. The other ones won’t.

And the market will decide.

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