Come what? May … Results

Sales and Borrowing

I posted on 10th May to say that I was intending to conduct one of my regular experiments. Before I continue, I should say that the only ‘regular’ thing about my experiments is their frequency. I don’t believe indie writers learn anything by sitting still, observing, and waiting for the world to come to them.

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What was I up to this time?

My personal challenge was to refrain from daily promotion of my books for the remainder of the month, which effectively would mean 20 days of not using any of a variety of platforms to ask people to check out my work.

Contrary to what some folk might think, I’m not an ‘in your face’ type person, so the whole ‘self-marketing’ idea was alien to me when I started out as an indie writer. I learned with my debut title that if I didn’t shout about my work, then nobody else would.

I got on with it, and it produced results. Okay so moving on, nothing mind-boggling, but after a change in my attitude to the sometimes embarrassing act of self-promotion I had a few sales, and I realised the truth – if I waited silently, nothing would happen.

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Did I have work in progress during May?

Having a variety of projects on the go at the same time is my preferred method of working. As May got underway I was already working on two novels, and making notes towards the commencement of a third.

I had to attempt a couple of things to make my idea work:

1. Restrict my visits to social networking sites to a couple of short visits per day.

2. Compel myself not to check my sales and lending figures on a daily basis.

3. Remind myself that I was trying this thing for more than one reason.
a) Primarily, it was to free up more writing time.
b) Secondly, it was to see how much effect it would have if there was a lack of daily promotion.

Apart from my own interest, both of those targets were for the benefit of any fellow indies who read my posts, either as subscribers, or by extension when I offer my thoughts on social media.

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How did it go with social networking visits?

I managed for the most part to keep to two or three visits per day. There was an anomaly in this area, because I continued trying to keep up to date with the first charity anthology by the Indie Author Review Exchange group on Facebook. I’m proud to be both a member of that particular group, and a contributing author to the anthology.

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What is that very important collection of stories?

You’re Not Alone by Ian D. Moore and friends.

To be published as an eBook on 11th July 2015.

An anthology of short stories produced to raise funds in aid of the Macmillan Nurses

An anthology of short stories produced to raise funds in aid of the Macmillan Nurses

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Apart from that, how did I get on?

Otherwise, I feel I did well. I avoided getting tangled into the threads on Facebook, forums on LinkedIn, or keeping up with comments on Google+. I have to be honest and admit that Twitter irritates me, so although I use it, I cannot spend good time reading bite-size chunks and random thoughts.

Now having said that about Twitter – I do actually stop and check out books that are advertised on Twitter, which is why I still use it myself, obviously thinking that there might be like-minded souls out there.

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Were there any sales, lending, or slumps?

Yes, and there was no discernible pattern or reason.
— I had sales of various levels except for five days.
— I had lending except for six days.
— There was a two day period when there were neither sales nor lending.

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Did I learn anything else?

Yes, and it’s for the benefit of those indie authors who presently have one, or even two titles out there and are feeling a little disheartened. I’m not a big name, but in only a few years of self-publishing I can say that without a shadow of doubt – more titles means more sales.

That might sound simplistic, but in a blog next week I’ll elaborate on that area. What I have to say in that post may be of interest not only to those of my peers with one title, but also those with low sales figures.

What else have I achieved with my latest experiment – if anything?

1. In that period of 20 days when I was abstaining from advertising, reading mind-numbing messages, and getting involved in conversations and debates – I completed the first draft of seven more chapters of my latest crime thriller, Acts of Vengeance.
If you know how hard I work at my craft you will appreciate that was a feat.

2. Those chapters might not sound too remarkable, but to put them in perspective, I also started work on and completed the first two chapters of my first erotic novel, Give and Take.

3. Again, it may not seem like much, but the exercise has given me a boost in confidence in my own brand. I know there are those who do not believe that an author’s name is a brand, so for you guys, please think about this question:

Would you consider any of the following as brands?

Wilbur Smith, Jackie Collins, Stephen King, Lee Child, Katie Fforde, or James Patterson.

It was just a thought …

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Where do I go from here?

As I assess the positive and negative aspects of my trial, I have to say that I’m happy that I tried such a thing. My initial thoughts are along the following lines:

1. Maintain my writing output as best I can. I’m in the enviable position of only working in a ‘day job’ for three days per week, so I can feasibly get in at least three writing days.

2. Get back to self-promotion, but only on a weekly, or possibly twice-weekly basis:
a) Promotion on Facebook groups which exist for the purpose of reading, reviewing and self-promotion.
b) Promotion on Twitter, because it is done automatically by the Independent Author Network, of which I am a member.
c) Promotion on Google+ because I’m a member and I check out other members news.

3. Blogging activity:
a) Try to write at least one blog post per week.
b) Allocate time to read other blogs. I supposedly have 140+ ‘followers’ but I tend to mainly visit those who I know make an effort to visit mine. It may not be often, but I do get there.

4. Continue to read and review as many Indie Author Review Exchange members’ books as possible.

5. Maintain a ‘maximum of 3 x 15-minute visits per day’ policy for social purposes on Facebook. There is a tendency to get involved in discussions on social networking sites, but time disappears when we’re in touch with those that we regard as friends.

There is a slight twist in that previous comment. I admit openly that I do not socialise in the regular sense these days, and have not for some years. The term ‘friend’ is used freely on social networking by many, but that is effectively where any of my present friendships exist.

Yes, since leaving the military in 1992, I have become something of a social hermit, but I don’t mean that in a pathetic way – it is fact, and through personal choice.

Thank you as always for taking the time to visit and check out my musings. I appreciate all feedback.

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Oh yes, there’s a P.S.

In the last 24 hours I completed the first full draft of Acts of Vengeance. I will now let it ‘rest’ for at least a week. While that manuscript is resting I’ll be active with some more chapters on Give and Take, my secondary work in progress.

I will also be reading, editing, and critiquing work for my peers. One of my favourite background roles is acting as mentor for a fellow writer.

I know it’s still early days, but I already feel that if you enjoyed my anthology Coming Around and other erotic stories, you will enjoy the novel Give and Take.

Thanks again for reading my posts.

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Amazon Bitch – the results

Amaazon author page - crpdAmazon.com Author Page   Amazon.co.uk Author Page

In October 2014 here on my blog, I produced two posts related to self-publishing, and my experiences. For those of you like me who have an aversion to percentages and targets in their private life – I am not intending to give figures, only a general overview.

For the benefit of those who didn’t see the posts, and to refresh the memories of those who were kind enough to read them, I will summarise both posts before I go on.

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Amazon Bitch – Part 1 of 2
I related a brief history of my self-publishing experience on various platforms. It couldn’t help but be brief, because I’ve only been on the scene since 2012.

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Amazon Bitch – Part 2 of 2
My second post of the pair was aimed at sharing ten personal tips to aid success in the world of self-publishing. Prior to making my list I did not refer to the other zillion posts on the Internet with ten tips for success. My wish was to focus on what I knew.
In closing the second post I suggested that I would return with an update if my figures reached a healthy level. For ‘healthy’ in the world of self-publishing, read ‘breathing unaided’.

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It was as we entered November 2014 that I reached a point where my novels, short story anthologies and poetry anthologies were all published on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Having freed myself from other publishers I enrolled all of my work on Kindle Direct Publishing Select (KDP Select), and in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL).

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At this point I’d like to bring up something that may have been overlooked, or misunderstood by some authors. The Amazon Terms and Conditions for publishers are long-winded and detailed, so before you tick all the little boxes and publish all over the place, spend a while reading their terms. If you transgress and you are found out, you could come unstuck. As a guide, it took me 30 minutes to read the terms and conditions.

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Okay, let’s get back on track. By November 2014, I had all of my books published on Amazon and I submitted myself completely. One of my fantasies has always been to submit myself to an Amazon. In this case it was to give my books a chance.

By enrolling on KDP Select my books gained me more royalties, and on KOLL, to buy or borrow was the reader’s choice.
Within a week my novels were being borrowed, which means I was getting royalties from readers who might go on to borrow more of my titles, if they enjoyed the first one.

It should be considered too, that if we humans feel the need to offer our opinion, we do, so that old advertising ploy, ‘word of mouth’ comes into play.

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By the end of November I saw an increase in sales on all of my novels and a regular trickle of borrowing across my entire portfolio – yes, including my poetry series. Really!
In order to stimulate sales, I tried the option of giving away a book for a day. If you want to see a spike in your Amazon sales graph, give a book away for a day and tell Twitter and a couple of Facebook groups. I’ve now employed that tactic a couple of times and it works.

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How does it work for the author by giving away a book?
It works for this author, because at the back of all of my books I have a list of my other titles and each has a brief synopsis.

Looking at my figures from early November 2014 to the end of January 2015, I’m pretty confident that I’m gaining repeat business from readers.

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Does it work being an Amazon bitch?
Personally, I believe it works for me. I have no connection to any of the other publishers and I don’t sell my books from my author website. There is absolutely no chance of me breaking any rules because I’ve affiliated myself to one publishing house.
I don’t conduct a daily sales check, because that would drive me insane, but I do check my sales weekly, and against the marketing ideas I try on a particular date.
The Books page on my author website offers links to both main Amazon websites to buy my work and I think that’s working for me. We reap what we sow, especially in self-publishing, and I take nothing for granted.

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I hope as always that at least some of this has been of benefit to my peers out there. If you are a novice at the self-publishing business and you haven’t read the two posts mentioned in my intro, please consider checking them out – my points are for the benefit of all of us. atasteofhoney(1)

A Taste of Honey was not included in my previous posts, due to it being published in December 2014.

The good news is that sales are climbing and reviews are favourable.
Thank you for taking the time to consume my thoughts. All feedback is welcome.

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