Thursday, 12 April 2012

Twelve Months as a self-published author

Twelve months ago this month, I feverishly did the last edits for Treespeaker and bit my lip as I pressed the button to upload it to Amazon. Yes, Treespeaker is one year old. So how has the year been? Have my dreams come true?

Firstly, I don’t think I set out with the idea of racing to fame and fortune. I’d heard the words, ‘It’s a marathon, not a sprint’ so many times, the reality was there in my mind. Still, Treespeaker shot out of the gates and I thought I was off to a great start. Beginning a marathon with a spurt, however, is not a good idea. The energy can’t last. It didn’t. Pretty soon I was down to only a few sales per month and I have to admit, I was rather despondent.

Publishing a second book, ‘The Dragon Box’ didn’t have any effect either. A short flurry of sales for that quickly fizzled, despite the blogging, Facebooking and Twittering. Belonging to writer groups on the internet, while helping hugely with the encouragement and contacts for marketing, blogging etc, at the same time took up lots of time. I needed to find readers, not writers who were mostly struggling as much as I was.

Then in December, along came KDP Select. For those of you who don’t know, this is a scheme brought in by Amazon for the lending of ebooks to its Prime members. An author can opt to let their books be borrowed (for a per-book fee) and in exchange, Amazon allows them 5 days per 3-month contract to run free promotions. I have to admit that at first I was very sceptical. How could giving books away help sales? Furthermore, I really didn’t like the fact that to join the scheme, the book had to be exclusive to Amazon.

It took a while for it to dawn on me that, in fact, ‘The Dragon Box’ was already exclusive to Amazon. The hoops I’d had to jump through to get ‘Treespeaker’ onto Smashwords and the stores it distributes to, had put me off getting my second book there until I had lots of free time. I figured there was nothing to lose by experimenting, so I enrolled ‘The Dragon Box’ and set it to go free for two days just before Christmas. The result was magnificent. I gave away lots and then sold lots. Not huge numbers compared to some of the big successes of the indie publishing game, but for me, incredible.

Mark of the Dragon Queen’ came out on January 1st and I enrolled that straight away. If I thought that maybe the sales of ‘The Dragon Box’ were just from kids filling up their Christmas Kindles, I had to think again with my first free promotion of my new book. I gave away more, sold more. Since then things have improved even further. Each time I have a giveaway, free figures get better, sales get better. I’m not banking on that keeping up forever, but while it lasts, it’s wonderful!

I got my first cheque from Amazon US last month. Being overseas I had to earn a certain amount before they’d send me a payment. I figure I should be getting a few more in the near future. I’m even expecting one from Amazon UK. It’s not enough to think of giving up my day job, but it is enough to satisfy me that I did the right thing. My books are being read. They are definitely being read a whole lot more than if they were sitting on my hard drive, Meanwhile, the need to spend massive amounts of time marketing has diminished for now. I’m getting reviews from the free books, I’m getting sales from the reviews. I have groups of lovely people on reader’s forums talking about my work. Even ‘Treespeaker’ which isn’t in the scheme, is selling. It’s all very encouraging and makes me want to get more books out there.

So, I’m off to do some more work on ‘Song of the Jikhoshi’, sequel to Treespeaker. My main character is in a bit of a predicament, and I’m not really sure how he’s going to get out of it, but he has to…so I’d better go and work it out.

By the way - to celebrate Treespeaker's 1st birthday, I'm having a birthday special. From now until after I get the sequel out there for you to read, the price will be 99c! That's from Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Apple - everywhere it's available. Get in quick!


Clare said...

Happy Birthday, Treespeaker!

Well done, Katie - I hope people reading this don't underestimate just how much hard work went into not just writing the books but editing and proofing them prior to publishing. It's been a real joy reading all your books - I hope your next amazon cheque is even bigger with many more to follow.

Kate said...

Thanks, Clare. There'll be a blog about the work side of things very soon!