Notes from the Self-Pubbed #7 (addendum)

Addendum! Fancy, right? I’m all about the class and the sophistication stuff. But why the addendum? Well, I just got the sales report from Apple and Kobo from my February 6th BookBub promotion of the Grant Scotland omnibus and I’m happy to report they held mother’s milk. I sold enough to recoup expenses and even make a small profit! Read on for numbers! Numbers for the Number God!

 

 

APPLE: (as reported through Smashwords)

Apple sales are reported in a monthly dump, so no per-day sale info available.

44 Units sold during February at $1.99 each (so we can surmise all sales were during promo period).

60% royalty to author yields $1.20 each less Value Added Tax (VAT) on applicable sales. I think this is about 15% before royalty is figured, but it only applies to select overseas sales. So, to err on the safe side, we’ll call it a buck a book.

44 Units @ $1.00 = $44

KOBO: (as reported through Smashwords)

Kobo sales are reported on a monthly basis with day-by-day break down, but all the days were within the promo period.

67 Units sold during February at $1.99.

60% royalty to author yields $1.20 each. No VAT with Kobo, so we get the full $1.20.

67 Units @ $1.20 = $80

REVISED BOOKBUB PROMO NUMBERS:

Expense of Promo: $261

Total royalties from Promo: $283

Profit: $22

 

 

How do you like that?

 

“You might not be as useless as you were before. But you’re still a long way from an invite to Mar-a-Lago”

 

Now, I know these numbers combined with the Amazon numbers result in a quantity and profit margin that is extremely small in comparison with the sales of most other authors, but that’s how it starts.

 

“But that’s how it always begins. Very small.”

 

Additionally, I’m not including sales beyond the promo period which have been not insubstantial and at full price. So, if you throw those in, the profit margin is quite a bit wider. But now this leaves me in a quandary. Sales of Greedy Villain (the only book NOT in the omnibus) have been slow but steady on Amazon since the promotion, but the book is only available on Amazon right now because I wanted to keep it in Kindle Unlimited library to get the sweet, sweet borrowed page reads. However, those haven’t been that impressive and I’d hate to lose the opportunity to get some Kobo/Apple sales on it. I guess I just decided, didn’t I? Greedy Villain is up for renewal in KU in early April. I’ll decline renewal and see if I can get some follow up sales on Kobo and Apple. I can always put it back on KU later.

As for BookBub, my faith has been restored. I can now confidently tell you that if you’re looking to promote a book it is the best advertising option out there. And their follow-up survey is great! I shared my data with them and I’m hoping since my ROI was pretty low it will encourage them to lower their entrance fee a bit. Regardless, I’m looking forward to trying to get the omnibus on a domestic (U.S. only) BookBub promotion in the near future.

I’m in a good mood!

 

Have a drink? ‘Cause I’m having a drink.

 

Oh, and I’ve started receiving my rejection letters from the short stories I’ve sent out! They’re great! Can you tell I’m in a good mood? No, seriously! I feel even more like an “official” author now. My self-published books are making money and my short stories are being turned down by magazines. This is a very exciting time!

Cheers!

 

——————————————————————————————————-

 

Holy crap! This whole thing might actually pan out! Can you believe that? No, don’t answer that. It’s the suspense that’s delicious, isn’t it?

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” – Helen Keller

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Notes from the Self-Pubbed, (Issue #3)

Hello again, self-publishing fans! Welcome to another installment of Notes from the Self-Pubbed, the only self-publishing blog series (except for all the others, of course) that gives you the straight dope on this exciting and wacky internet cottage industry. Actually, although plenty of sites write about it, I haven’t found many that do so in anything but the most vague, self-promotional terms. I did, however, recently find this one. If you like this series, you should check her out as well. She does a good job cutting through the crap. That’s basically what I’m doing here, too. I am very deliberately not trying to sugar coat my self-publishing efforts. This is both for you and for me. If I keep saying things like “sales are steady” or “last week’s promotion increased sales over 200%” when what I really mean is “I’m selling the same 2 copies a week I’ve been selling all year” and “I sold 7 copies this week because I paid for some ad space,” then there’s a very real chance I’ll drink my own kool-aid and burn out and give up once I get tired of lying to myself.

So, I’ll try to keep these Notes as clean of bullshit as possible, no matter the pounding my ego may take. Writing is something I’ll be doing for the rest of my life. Best to keep the fantasy for the fiction.

It’s important to remember that this industry (and this goes for both traditional and self-publishing, actually) is not for the feint of heart! It is not for the quitters! While it’s true that you may get lucky and publish something that becomes an instant bestseller, you most likely won’t. However, if you stay honest with yourself and keep writing, publishing, promoting, blogging, tweeting and doing anything and everything else you can then there’s a not unreasonable chance you’ll someday find your audience. But for self-pubbers, you’ll have the added benefit of having done it without having to give up any of your rights or split your royalties with anyone but your distributor. I think that’s worth the effort and the patience.

 

"I got a sword and this here crucifix-softball for anyone trying to steal my royal-ties."

“I got a sword and this here crucifix-softball for anyone trying to steal my royal-ties.”

 

And what precious data have my recent efforts yielded to me? Well, as you may recall, I was dead set on finishing my cross-platform promotion of the Grant Scotland series that I had begun in early summer. I had started with the newest book, Wayward Daughter, in July and achieved less than ideal results. In August, I promoted my first book, Dead Empire, and had an almost break-even return on investment. And at the end of September, I finished the campaign by promoting Troubled King at $0.99 for the week of 9/23 to 9/30 across Kindle/Kobo/Apple/Nook. I used three different advertisers, plus a small Facebook boost on the Grant Scotland Community Page. Let’s take a look at the set up cost:

Booksends newsletter ad space for 9/23 – $25

Booktastik newsletter ad space for 9/24 – $10

EReader News Today newsletter ad space for 9/24 – $20

Facebook community page promotional post boost for two days starting 9/23 – $5

Total marketing expense: $60

——————————————————————————————————————–

And lets take a look at those sales from 9/23 to 9/30:

Spy for a Dead Empire Amazon sales: 5 copies @ $3.99

Spy for a Troubled King sales: 33 copies @$0.99

Spy for a Wayward Daughter: 0 copies @$3.99

NOTE: All sales were Kindle. No other sales reported from other platforms to date.

Total Sales: $53

 

Well, we still didn’t manage to break even, but we came even closer than last time. That’s progress! I bet even The Donald has to acknowledge that!

 

"If I'm ever thinking of hiring you for anything, remind me to fire you first."

“If I’m ever thinking of hiring you for anything, remind me how much you need to be fired.”

 

Ouch. Truth hurts. Ok, fair enough. I guess I can’t claim any real success with this promotion or even with the entire summer campaign. I CAN however claim a lot of important lessons learned:

  1. Stop investing in advertisers that don’t yield satisfactory returns.
  2. Stop scheduling advertisers to run ads on the same day. This was an insight passed on to me by some smart marketing people I know, albeit too late to save the campaign, but it’ll be invaluable moving forward.
  3. It’s not yet time to break from the herd. As expected, Amazon sales FAR outweighed other platforms. Get back on Kindle Unlimited and utilize all that Amazon has to offer.

Oh. Almost forgot. Here’s the sales breakdown by date:

9/23 (Booksends & Facebook) – 9 units

9/24 (Booktastic/EReaderNewsToday & Facebook) – 25 units

9/25 (Nothing) – 1 unit

9/26 (Nothing) – 1 unit

9/27 (Nothing) – 1 unit

9/28 (Nothing) – None

9/29 (Nothing) – None

9/30 (Nothing) – 1 unit

It should be noted that I made an effort to promote the sale on Twitter during several days of the campaign, but I have no way of tracking the effectiveness of that. It’s curious that no sales were made on Apple/Nook/Kobo. It suggests that Fussy Librarian and/or Bargain Booksy has a substantial cross platform following that EReader does not. The dates I got sales on Nook correspond to the dates my ads appeared on both of those sites. Well, good stuff to keep in mind.

So, where to now? Well, I’m obviously going back to Kindle Unlimited with the first three books, but I think I’ll keep the omnibus edition present everywhere. Maybe see if I can sneak in a promotion with that one at some point. Beyond that, I’ll be scheduling some Countdown deals over the next few months and I’ll likely still do some advertising to correspond to the deal days, but I’m not sure how much at this point. Also, I’ve got something VERY special in mind for the height of the Holiday Season. I think you’ll like it. No hints, but you definitely don’t want to miss it.

Until next time, self-pub fans! Take care of yourself and remember to tip your driver!

 

Notes from the Self-Pubbed, (Issue #2)

In the last exciting issue of Notes from the Self-Pubbed, I had been disappointed in the results from my $0.99 promotion of Wayward Daughter, but had decided to soldier on and attempt a cross-platform $0.99 promotion for Dead Empire. Well, I did just that and was able to sign up not just two but three recommended book deal newsletters: EReader News Today, Fussy Librarian and Bargain Booksy(Free Booksy). I had used Free Booksy before, but had never tried their Bargain listing. The other two sites were completely new to me and only available for Dead Empire because it had received more than 10 reviews. Actually, EReader News says they don’t have a minimum review requirement, but since they had passed on Wayward Daughter and accepted Dead Empire, I am inclined to think otherwise.

Anyway, before I get to the results, about which I’m sure both of my readers are on pins and needles, (no, literally – I know you’re both part of a mental rehabilitation experiment for internet trolls, forced to read the most uninteresting blog on the internet while sitting on a chair whose seat is made of standing pins and needles… it’s just… well, I wanted to contribute to science in some way and… OK. Fine! It’s a paid trial and I volunteered my blog because I needed the money!) I wanted to point out something I had forgotten to mention last issue. I have actually done a few paid promotions before the ones I talked about previously. In fact, I’m pretty sure I ran them before I even had a blog. Mainly they were free giveaways and aimed simply at getting my books in front of as many eyeballs as possible. I talked about it in a somewhat dry (PINS!) and boring (NEEDLES!) fashion a little while ago. I just wanted to set the record straight that there was a Notes from the Self Pubbed issue before the first official one – HIGHLY collectible! Not worth much now, but when my audience reaches a critical mass and…

 

OK, Batman, OK. Sheesh! Like I'M the one who dwells too long on his own personal struggle. (Don't hit me)

OK, Batman, OK. Sheesh! Like I’m the one who dwells too long on his own personal struggle. (Don’t hit me)

 

So! To the Bat Stats!

I ran a week long $0.99 promotion for Spy for a Dead Empire from 8/19 to 8/26. The book was available on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Apple and Smashwords. It’s also supposedly distributed through Smashwords to sites like FlipKart and OverDrive among others, but I’ve seen little evidence and even less sales to prove it. Anyway, here are the promotion expenses:

Fussy Librarian newsletter ad space for 8/19 – $23

Bargain Booksy newsletter ad space for 8/20 – $40

EReader News Today newsletter ad space for 8/22 – $20

Facebook community page promotional post boost for two days starting 8/19 – $5

Total marketing expense: $88

——————————————————————————————————————–

And lets take a look at those sales from 8/19 to 8/26 (PINS AND NEEDLES!!!):

Spy for a Dead Empire Amazon sales: 36 copies @ $0.99

Spy for a Troubled King sales: 2 copies @$3.99

Spy for a Wayward Daughter: 3 copies @$3.99

Spy for a Dead Empire Nook sales: 5 copies @ $0.99

Total Sales: $61

… and perhaps a sale or two from Apple and Kobo, but they haven’t reported in yet, so I have no idea. Maybe a sale or two, maybe not. But, in total, not bad. Certainly better than the last effort, but let’s check with the Donald:

 

"I only read authors who can turn a profit."

“I only read authors who can turn a profit.”

 

Wow. Rough, but I guess I always knew the Donald would be a tough one to please. Anyway, let’s look at the sales breakdown by newsletter run date. In previous promotions I had tried to stack newsletter run dates on top of each other to try to game Amazon’s ranking system, but there’s some debate whether that’s still possible. In prior years, you could push yourself up Amazon’s sales ranking by having a bunch of people download your book on the same day and get an additional advertising boost from Amazon, but it’s unclear if that’s still the case.

8/19 (Fussy Librarian & Facebook) – 8 total units

8/20 (Bargain Booksy & Facebook) – 14 total units

8/21 (Nothing) – 1 unit

8/22 (EReader News Today) – 17 total units

8/23 (Nothing) – 2 total units

8/24 (Nothing) – 2 total units

8/25 (Nothing) – None

8/26 (Nothing) – 2 total units

Well, EReader News Today definitely showed a return on investment. That’s pretty cool! It’s a little unclear about Fussy Librarian, but I know next-day sales are real, so it’s probably close to a wash. Bargain Booksy seems like it was more expensive than it was worth.

So, overall I’m still disappointed, but not disheartened. I briefly considered ditching the $0.99 promotion thing and fleeing back to Kindle Unlimited, but I think I’ll do one more cross-platform run for Troubled King. It’s almost certain it’s going to lose money, since I likely won’t get a spot on EReader News Today with the six reviews I currently have, but I gotta run it anyway. It’s the last promo I had planned for this round! I gotta do it! I may be losing sales and borrows the more time I spend away from KU, but this is my personal quest we’re talking here. I gotta get the ring to Mordor. Que music: Don’t say – I didn’t tryyy…

 

Thank you, Emmi. Seriously, this song makes me weep with creepy-haunted-haunts. Yeah, that's a thing. you can look it up.

Thank you, Emi. Seriously, this song makes me weep with creepy-haunted-haunts. Yeah, that’s a thing. You can look it up.

 

So, I’m planning the next promo for late September. I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, I’ll probably post some silly nonsense about tropes and shenanigans in popular pieces of film, TV and “print” in a jealousy-fueled, contempt-riddled attempt at comedy. Be sure to check back soon.

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to tip your driver!