My Book Launch, 6 Months Later

It’s been six solid months since I launched The Library of Lost Books. I want to use this post to look back and review the stats, but also to look forward.

I’m collecting the stats on my book launch so that aspiring writers out there can get a feel of what to expect when they publish an e-book. I’ve found it difficult to find hard data myself, so I hope this fills that gap.

First, I’m sure some books did better than mine and I’m sure others didn’t do as well. I hope my stats just add one more data point to what’s already out there.

To set this up, these are numbers from July 12, 2012 to January 12, 2013, or exactly six months of sales for Library. During that time, Library has been exclusively on Amazon Kindle, except for about one week were it was also available on Nook. I took it off Nook because sales were slow and I wanted to take advantage of KDP Select’s marketing programs again which had worked well in the past. Also, except for 1 short story, this was the first thing I ever published. Thus, name recognition was about zerlolb_final_kindle_revo.

Here are the headline numbers for Library over that time period:

  • 1,537 total downloads (includes giveaways, sales and borrows).
  • 175 sales.
  • 10 borrows

I will break down the stats into three sections: Marketing, Sales and Income. Marketing discusses my marketing budget and dollars spent. Sales discusses the number of sales and downloads from Kindle. Income discusses how much I got paid in royalties. 

Marketing Stats

So, these are the marketing activities I used to promote the book: 

  • A group email to friends announcing the book. Free.  
  • Simple pop-ups ads on Goodreads. My budget was small, spread from August until December.  $210 total.
  • I “attended”one author event. A Q and A session on the Readers and Writers group at Goodreads. Free.
  • Started this blog, a Twitter and Facebook account to promote the book. Free.

Here are the stats for my Goodreads Ad Campaign:

  • Total views (really # of times your ad is served): 750,592
  • Total clicks: 470
  • Click thru rate for all time: 0.06%
  • Cost per click for all time: $0.48

In the end my marketing activities (ads, blog, Twitter, event) reached just over 500 people which for a book from an independent, unpublished author wasn’t bad. (My blog has had over 100 views  and I have about 40 Twitter followers).

Sales Stats

How many books did I sell or giveaway in six months? Here are the numbers.

  USA UK Germany, France, Italy, Others Totals per Category
Sold 109 33 33 175
Giveaways 1128 181 43 1352
Borrows 10 0 0 10
Total per country 1247 214 76 1537

I never imagined my book would have reached over 1,000 people. I was hoping to sell about 30 copies just to get one paycheck from Amazon. It’s really exciting to think my book is on that many devices and that I’ve sold close to 200 copies.

Income Stats

I usually don’t discuss how much I make with strangers…but I can’t see any harm in broadcasting the fact that (based on my writing income alone) I’m dirt poor.

So, how much did money did Amazon send me in royalties last year?

  • $66.48. (This includes four checks starting with September and going through Jan. 2013.)

So, you throw in the $210 I spend to advertise the book. Add in the dollars I spent to compensate the e-book designer, cover designer and proofreader…and  you can see it was a money-losing venture. But hey, I’m doing this because I love it. I look at it as my hobby and if I spend a bit of money on my favorite hobby, there’s not harm in that.

Besides, now I can go buy a couple of nice bottles of wine with my Kindle royalties to celebrate.

Would I do it again?

Hell yeah. The most gratifying single thing about this process was the positive feedback I got from a small group of readers whom I had never met before. In particular, three reviewers gave the book five stars and were really blown away by  it. To “only connect” (thanks, E.M. Forster) with just three readers was an enormous high for me and washed away the bad aftertaste from some less-than-glowing reviews.

So, looking ahead…What am I up to? Here it is:

  • Done with a Sci-Fi short story and shopping it around to magazines. No bites yet.
  • Done with a fantasy short story and shopping it around too. No bites either.
  • Deep into a 2nd draft of a 19,000 word novella of historical fiction. I will probably shop this around to journals like The Seattle Review and/or Amazon Kindle Singles.

As you can tell, I’m taking a different approach to getting my stuff out there. I plan on trying to submit my works to magazines/publishers first. The pieces that don’t make it I will most likely publish on Kindle/Nook if I feel they rise to a certain level. For my readers, this means the pace at which new works get released will slow. But it doesn’t mean the pace at which I’m writing is slowing down. All I can say is, be patient and keep watching the blog for more news.

That brings us about to the end of this long post. It’s trite, but true that an end is also a beginning.  I’ve learned a lot in the last year about writing fiction, about marketing and publishing and I’m looking forward to bringing that knowledge to bear this year. I’m also eager to get going on new stories, new novels, new plays. I can’t wait until Sunday, when I will settle down in the café and start tapping out some new stuff.

Before signing  off,  I want to thank all of you who bought/downloaded the book. And an especial thanks to all who read and reviewed it. Your feedback has really inspired me to  improve as a writer and keep going. And thanks for giving me one of the great experiences of my life.

As always keep reading, keep writing.



Grab bag: A Rejection, Nook and Duotrope

And I’m back.

After a nice visit out to California, I’m back in the saddle for another year of writing fiction. Today’s post is a grab bag of updates and musings. I’ll take them on one by one.

SF Story Rejection
My science fiction short story finally got rejected by Analog. The story was held up for quite awhile as they had some management changes over at the mag. But hey, it was a form rejection from the Editor with some useful, though boilerplate, tips for what they’re looking for. So what did I do? Dusted off the story, queued it up and sent it to the next magazine on my list for Sci Fi markets. However, I am thinking I will try some horror mags next (that is, after the next rejection) as the piece is on the border between both genres. (One of Analog’s tips was that they won’t consider stories where the science is incidental or peripheral. My story is set in a future world, but the science fiction takes a back seat). If you have suggestions for markets, let me know. It’s my 3rd rejection for the piece and I’m eager to get it out there. I also submitted another fantasy piece to Daily Science Fiction and will let you know what happens.

Why Nook Sucks
Don’t get me wrong, Barnes and Noble has created a great device. But the news this past week that Nook is not doing so well wasn’t a big shock.

First, I look at it as a writer. Amazon lets me self-promote with easy tools on it website. It lets me giveaway my book for FREE five days for every 3-month period. I’ve given away over 1,000 copies of The Library of Lost Books using their KDP Select program. They let me put in as many books as I want, which encourages me to write more. And I can make my book eligible for “borrowing” which at $2 for each borrow, adds up.

Last I checked Nook has nothing like this. Instead under the header for “marketing” it has useful tips on how to self-promote your book. Not exactly what I was looking for.

I’ve also heard from users that the Nook website can be frustrating when you want to buy something and that the customer service isn’t the best. I don’t know about you, but  I’ve never had those problems with Amazon.

In the end, I hope B&N uses this as an opportunity to change their game plan, focus on digital and self-publishing and get the Nook back on track. The last thing I want to do is be a creative negotiating with a monopoly. B&N could start by offering a KDP Select-like program that would let you giveaway a limited amount of books. It’s just the sort of thing that would get me to post my books on their shelves again.

Why Duotrope Rocks
Finally, this  brings us to Duotrope, the friend of every writer trying to publish short stories.

The website used to be 100% free and based on donations (I sent them a donation in 2012). They switched to a pay model January 1. At $50/year or $5/month it seems a little steep to me, but on the other hand you do get some great content:

  • Detailed listings for magazines and publishers in almost every genre imaginable.
  • Data for magazines like average acceptance rates, average response times, etc.
  • You can input your story’s exact parameters (science fiction horror, 7,000 words, paying markets only) and the site will spit out a listing of mags looking for just that. Duotrope’s  Killer App!

So, I sucked it up and paid the $50. It’s well worth it for those serious about submitting a lot of stories.

Alright, that’s your post for this week. Hope you writers out there found it useful. I’ll see you next time.