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My experience self-publishing for the first time.

Scookey

Author of the AD2045 sci-fi series
Joined
Dec 14, 2018
Messages
144
Location
UK
It's also my understanding that the first week after Christmas is the one to go for. Doesn't mean that Christmas Eve won't be good though. I suppose the hope is that people are relaxed and have maybe had a few and are feeling indulgent, both towards selves and others over the holidays. And yes, new devices and a few quid in people's digital pockets.

I originally aimed for an early December promotion (because I'm clueless) but in the nick of time I noticed that I had set the kdp discount for the UK market instead of US (did I mention I'm clueless?) so had to scramble to reschedule both the kdp countdown and the promo companies I'm using. That's when one of them volunteered the information (very kindly—I hadn't asked) that in their experience the first, second and third weeks after Christmas are the first, second and third best of the year for promotions, in that order.
Thanks to you and Jo Zebedee for the information on all this. Very interesting and important.
BTW, if it is a competion for being clueless, think I'll still be the winner ;)
 

Scookey

Author of the AD2045 sci-fi series
Joined
Dec 14, 2018
Messages
144
Location
UK
I would say 'for better or worse' but the dynamics and people of this forum gives me hope of more better than worse :):):)

Hi, as promised the results of my promo yesterday (Monday - Christmas Eve) are in. A massive 7 book downloads, which doesn't sound much but is signifcantly better than the 2 downloads achieved on a Sunday promo.
As advised by Jo and Guillermo, am now going to organise another for after Christmas - maybe even tomorrow. Probably for two books this time, to see how that goes.

Gone for gold (metaphorically only) and set up the two book free promo for tomorrow. Will post results after and curious to see if any difference between the number of downloads for each...:unsure:

Note this: Amazon chose to move my accepted promo date from 26th to 27th. A co-incidence that on 26th Amazon were making a big deal about, er, Amazon deals? Really annoyed. Just how much do these giants feel they can sh*te on us little fish? A lot and with impunity, it seems.
I moved the promo dates to the end of the month.
 

Cathbad

Level 30 Geek Master
Joined
Dec 9, 2015
Messages
9,105
Location
Everywhere.
Note this: Amazon chose to move my accepted promo date from 26th to 27th. A co-incidence that on 26th Amazon were making a big deal about, er, Amazon deals? Really annoyed. Just how much do these giants feel they can sh*te on us little fish? A lot and with impunity, it seems.
I moved the promo dates to the end of the month.
I feel 'ya! I repriced all my ebooks to 99 cents, wanting to start that promo today - but they still haven't changed the prices on any! (Okay, actually, they changed one of them).

And I suddenly can't see the prices on the UK site!! I know I can't purchase them there, fellas, but I used to be able to see what they're charging!!!
 

Scookey

Author of the AD2045 sci-fi series
Joined
Dec 14, 2018
Messages
144
Location
UK
I published a really award-winning book that was cuttting edge and worked really hard to get it into 50 branches of a renowned book store, only to hear the 'guy' for full distribution say no.

I published a really award-winning book that was cuttting edge and worked really hard to get it into 50 branches of a renowned book store, only to hear the 'guy' for full distribution say no.
One day, someone with his name will be in one of my books and not be doing well. No hard feelings ;-)
 

Jo Zebedee

Aliens vs Belfast.
Joined
Oct 5, 2011
Messages
17,149
Location
blah - flags. So many flags.
I published a really award-winning book that was cuttting edge and worked really hard to get it into 50 branches of a renowned book store, only to hear the 'guy' for full distribution say no.
What awards had it won?

Full distribution is very difficult to achieve. Assuming you’re self published from your above posts it’s almost impossible. If you are not published by a wide distribution model that allows bookstore returns (and prepared to take that financial hit) they will not take the title. It’s not the buyer’s fault - they have supply rules they need to adhere to.

What distribution do you have in place? How many copies had it sold for them (you’d be looking hundreds, into thousands, before central distribution was plausible) What discount/margin did you offer? What promotional margin did you allow them?
 

Scookey

Author of the AD2045 sci-fi series
Joined
Dec 14, 2018
Messages
144
Location
UK
First computer book to achieve Plain English crystal mark, number 446.

First computer book to achieve Plain English crystal mark, number 446.
Got blocked and badgerd out by established publishers
 

Jo Zebedee

Aliens vs Belfast.
Joined
Oct 5, 2011
Messages
17,149
Location
blah - flags. So many flags.
First computer book to achieve Plain English crystal mark, number 446.
Cool. Just had a look. I don’t think that’s an award but a quality standard (which is great - I’m a quality manager and love quality standards) but if you’re claiming it’s an award winning book the buyer will be looking for something like a Stabby, or Clarke award or something like that :)
 

Scookey

Author of the AD2045 sci-fi series
Joined
Dec 14, 2018
Messages
144
Location
UK
No hard feelings. :alien:

Cool. Just had a look. I don’t think that’s an award but a quality standard (which is great - I’m a quality manager and love quality standards) but if you’re claiming it’s an award winning book the buyer will be looking for something like a Stabby, or Clarke award or something like that :)
Sorry that replied mid your reply.
 

HareBrain

Smeerp of Wonder
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Supporter
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Messages
10,418
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West Sussex, UK
@Scookey, Just a note that we prefer members not to post several posts in a row. You can edit posts up to an hour after if you want to add something. If you want to reply to several posts at once, you can highlight the text you want to reply to in each one, and a little tag will come up with "quote" and "reply". "Reply" will put the highlighted text in the new posts box. You can do this at any time to add text from another post. :)
 

Scookey

Author of the AD2045 sci-fi series
Joined
Dec 14, 2018
Messages
144
Location
UK
@Scookey, Just a note that we prefer members not to post several posts in a row. You can edit posts up to an hour after if you want to add something. If you want to reply to several posts at once, you can highlight the text you want to reply to in each one, and a little tag will come up with "quote" and "reply". "Reply" will put the highlighted text in the new posts box. You can do this at any time to add text from another post. :)
Many thanks for the info HareBrain and apologies. Will be a good boy in future :)
 

Guillermo Stitch

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2018
Messages
168
OK, so for anybody who might find it useful, here is an approximate, but fairly accurate, accounting of my expenditure on the publishing and promotion of my novella, Literature®. I say approximate because at most times I have been paying people dollar prices and my conversions are rounded. My final figure will be a Euro figure. It's near as dammit.

The publishing date was July 1st but the spending of course started earlier. What a writer will spend money on pre-production will depend on their skill set. As a photographer and digital artist I was comfortable taking on the cover—I'm happy with my cover even though I know it divides opinion. Also on editing, I was able to get away without a spend. I was not without support—my wife has eagle eyes and chapters went through the Scribophile site before final draft stage. It goes without saying that a writer without the necessary skills and who isn't able to access them for free, will have to pay for these services.

What I did spend money on before the publishing date was: proofing, formatting and a Goodreads Giveaway.

We proofed and tweaked the book's formatting and design by revising a series of Createspace hard copies. We went through many proof runs. The total price of all that hard copy, shipping etc was 180 euros.

The price of the Goodreads Giveaway was 100 euros.

The price of posting hard copies to the bloggers and reviewers that insisted on hard copy was 113 euros.

I avoided paid reviews, not because I wasn't tempted, but because of the prices. People like Kirkus, for example, were simply outside my reach. I did pay 50 dollars to the Midwest Book Review, who provide reviews for free but guarantee them for ebooks for that price. Actually, it was a mistake, as two of the book bloggers who eventually reviewed my book were Midwest contributors, and those reviews were always going to go into the review anyway. You live, you learn. I also paid 50 dollars for a San Francisco Book Review blurb, because I was worried I wouldn't have any quotes for the back of the book. Actually, in the end, I did, so I'm not sure that spend was justified.

The above figures account for less than half of my overall expenditure—the rest went on promotion. I haven't run any ads—I don't really understand them—but I have used promo companies periodically who promote the book on their site and in newsletters on a particular date which I lined up with KDP Countdown promotions. I did do one free promotion which got 3000 downloads but I haven't repeated it. Subsequent promos have been .99 cents (usual price 2.99).

Bookbub seems to have the best reputation but my little book doesn't make their page count threshold, so I have used others: bookgorilla (ok), bargainbooksy (meh), fussy librarian (ok-ish), bookbarbarian (ok).

If I don't sound like I'm brimming with enthusiasm for book promos then consider this: at no point has a book promotion of mine paid for itself in sales. I normally net half or less in royalties than what I have spent on the promotion. I have had to tell myself that a) its not exclusively about sales but also about getting the word out and building whatever cache I can to support future projects/submissions and b) that I would persist in promoting for the calendar year 2018 and then stop. The truth is that none of this would be affordable for me, but a little unexpected cash came my way in 2018 and this is what I've done with it.

I strongly suspect that my promotion results are affected by my being anonymous and unknown, by the book being standalone and not a part of a series, by its page count and by the difficulty in ascribing it a clear genre tag. More established writers out there who are playing the market game, whether cynically or by happy circumstance, will be getting better results.

So that's it for me and this book for the time being. To be honest, I'm kind of burned out with it. I am happy that I've given it everything I've got in terms of time, effort and money. But what the rewards will be in the medium and long term remain to be seen.

The total figure is just under 1000 euros.

Sales are in the low hundreds, so I am nowhere near breaking even on this, and wonder actually if I ever will. Again, I have had to hang on to the idea of more nebulous, longer term rewards. I'm proud that my little, self-published book has earned praise from some industry big hitters and that a small but significant number of credible readers (pro critics, fellow writers and so on) have been able to get excited about it.

But I am also done with it, at least for now. I need to get back to writing, on a draft of a thing that is currently melting my head.

Would welcome any questions/observations/discussion.
 

HareBrain

Smeerp of Wonder
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I also paid 50 dollars for a San Francisco Book Review blurb, because I was worried I wouldn't have any quotes for the back of the book. Actually, in the end, I did, so I'm not sure that spend was justified.
I'm surprised you can do this. I remember thinking it was one of the things that gave your book a lot of credibility (though I would have read it anyway) but I assumed it was a review gained in the normal course of things (advance copy) or maybe through a contact.

To be honest, I'm kind of burned out with it
I completely understand that. Effort and expenditure without obvious reward (and which doesn't even give you any personal pleasure) is bound to do that, really. But the book is there to be discovered by anyone who reads whatever you write in the future, and the reviews you've had for it so far will stand it in good stead when they click onto it on Goodreads or wherever.
 

Jo Zebedee

Aliens vs Belfast.
Joined
Oct 5, 2011
Messages
17,149
Location
blah - flags. So many flags.
Okay, these are a little rough as I didn't go back over my old tax books for the exact amounts but here goes:

For Inish Carraig

I paid around £600 for editing. Part of this was editorial before it went to an agent who then extensively worked on it, part of this was copy editing, for which @TheDustyZebra needs to charge me more for next time, part of it was an editorial review pre publication. I was lucky that a substantive amount of editing was done by the agent, but her version was not the version released so there was some additional work getting it put back to how I wanted the book. Overall I think this is good value for money and I would not release a novel without paying for substantive editing.

Promos - these are mostly Bookbub (the king of them all), Bookbarbarian (always turns a small profit for me and always easy to deal with), Bookends, and a few others. Around £300 over the lifetime of 3 and a half years. When sales are lower than projected, it's always worth telling the company that - many will offer a second promo or even money back.

Cover - Gary Compton kindly produced the cover free for me, so I had no costs.

So, all in around £900.

I didn't pay for a proof, but ordered copies instead. This was risky but I was assured the internal files were correct, which they were.
I haven't - and don't ever plan to - pay for reviews. I'm lucky in that I have cover and blurb content in place. In fact, I used @Brian G Turner 's very excellent review on the paperback cover.

Sales - paperback sales are around 200. This is accounted for by it being locally popular and lots of people getting signed copies over the years, as well as sales at conventions etc where I can offer a slightly lower price. Ebook sales sit in the low 4 figures. I've also given around 700 away free as promo.

Overall, then, I spent around £900 putting it out and I've taken in a good four-figure profit (based on £2 per book as an average - some will have sold for 99p but some for significantly higher) but it did take me at least 18 months to break even. It still ticks along steadily and when I do ever get the sequel out, I'd expect another little gain in sales.

By contrast, I paid £300 for the return of the Abendau rights to me and the configuring of new covers and so far I've recouped just over a third of that cost. I'm happy it should come back to me with time, and I have had no other costs for producing those books as the publisher paid for editorial and covers, but the bulk of sales were with Tickety boo prior to me purchasing the rights back. But, as I intend to write more in that world, I'm just happy to have the ownership with me.

I think it's worth hanging in there, @Guillermo Stitch - the longer a book ticks along, the more reviews it gets and then promos etc work better. :)
 

Guillermo Stitch

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2018
Messages
168
I'm surprised you can do this. I remember thinking it was one of the things that gave your book a lot of credibility (though I would have read it anyway) but I assumed it was a review gained in the normal course of things (advance copy) or maybe through a contact.

Pay for a blurb? Christ, any number of options out there. What you can't pay for with SF Book Review is a positive blurb. Their get-out is that if you don't like what you get, the fee you've paid can go towards advertising with them. I liked what I got, so I've used it—nobody was ever under any kind of pressure to use a word like 'masterpiece' so I owe someone called Kristi Elizabeth a beer. That said, I posted what I did because I think transparency is a good thing and might be of help to some. I'm not recommending any marketing service over any other. It's the same with their reviews—if it's negative, you can tell them not to print it and use the money to advertise instead. But I never even considered the reviews—even though the SF Book Review and Kirkus and Indy Reader and some others seem to have sound enough reputations, they fleece you. And their fees go up all the time. The price of a blurb is more than twice what it was when I got one, six months ago!

My actual reviews have come from the hard work of soliciting reviews from people whose interest I have been able to attract—I'm happy with the credibility of my book (if not the sales), having earned thumbs ups from Publishers Weekly, Anne Cunningham of the Independent, Interzone, and various other excellent websites and reviewers. That side of things is something I have done rather well at. It's selling books I'm having trouble with.
 

Guillermo Stitch

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2018
Messages
168
Okay, these are a little rough as I didn't go back over my old tax books for the exact amounts but here goes:

For Inish Carraig

I paid around £600 for editing. Part of this was editorial before it went to an agent who then extensively worked on it, part of this was copy editing, for which @TheDustyZebra needs to charge me more for next time, part of it was an editorial review pre publication. I was lucky that a substantive amount of editing was done by the agent, but her version was not the version released so there was some additional work getting it put back to how I wanted the book. Overall I think this is good value for money and I would not release a novel without paying for substantive editing.

Promos - these are mostly Bookbub (the king of them all), Bookbarbarian (always turns a small profit for me and always easy to deal with), Bookends, and a few others. Around £300 over the lifetime of 3 and a half years. When sales are lower than projected, it's always worth telling the company that - many will offer a second promo or even money back.

Cover - Gary Compton kindly produced the cover free for me, so I had no costs.

So, all in around £900.

I didn't pay for a proof, but ordered copies instead. This was risky but I was assured the internal files were correct, which they were.
I haven't - and don't ever plan to - pay for reviews. I'm lucky in that I have cover and blurb content in place. In fact, I used @Brian G Turner 's very excellent review on the paperback cover.

Sales - paperback sales are around 200. This is accounted for by it being locally popular and lots of people getting signed copies over the years, as well as sales at conventions etc where I can offer a slightly lower price. Ebook sales sit in the low 4 figures. I've also given around 700 away free as promo.

Overall, then, I spent around £900 putting it out and I've taken in a good four-figure profit (based on £2 per book as an average - some will have sold for 99p but some for significantly higher) but it did take me at least 18 months to break even. It still ticks along steadily and when I do ever get the sequel out, I'd expect another little gain in sales.

By contrast, I paid £300 for the return of the Abendau rights to me and the configuring of new covers and so far I've recouped just over a third of that cost. I'm happy it should come back to me with time, and I have had no other costs for producing those books as the publisher paid for editorial and covers, but the bulk of sales were with Tickety boo prior to me purchasing the rights back. But, as I intend to write more in that world, I'm just happy to have the ownership with me.

I think it's worth hanging in there, @Guillermo Stitch - the longer a book ticks along, the more reviews it gets and then promos etc work better. :)

Thanks for all this!
 
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