Self-publishing update — December promotion and sales

December Promotional Activities

My promotional activities, like other responsibilities in my life, went the way of the abandoned during December as I recovered from laparoscopic removal of my gallbladder, and prepared for Christmas and overnight visits from our children for the week of Christmas. Fortunately I had signed up for the Indie Book Blast that carried me through the month.

A book review by Stephanie Cowart on the blog Your Need to Read came through on December 20th. The post did not receive many comments, so I don’t know how many people read that blog or saw that particular post. But it got my book title out on the web with a few more links back and forth. That always helps with the search engines.

Featured Promotional Activity – Indie Book Blast

I still have mixed feelings about the Indie Book Blast. I paid $50 to participate at a slight upgrade (Minimum cost was $25. The upgrade supposedly got me better publicity in some way. I really had no way to follow it.) When the Book Blast kicked off, I got barraged by emails from other participating authors and I received a rudimentary education in Kindle book rankings.

Everybody participating wanted everybody else to go to their book page on Kindle and click the “Like” button, and then also click on the “tags” at the bottom of the page. The tags are book descriptors that authors (and readers) can apply to the books. These help the search engines find your book. It was a crazy few days trying to keep up with all that. At first I tried to comply, but quickly got disillusioned. Many authors, more than you might imagine, are writing YA paranormal fiction, horror and other types of books I likely would never glance at twice on a book shelf. They’re just not my preferred genre. I felt like I was compromising my integrity by clicking “like” on these books, and that it was disingenuous to “tag” something I hadn’t read. Also, somehow people were blindly tagging my book and I ended up with a “christian fiction” tag and multiple “kindle” tags. The whole scramble to improve a book’s ratings artificially this way really rubbed me the wrong way. I stopped participating and just discarded the emails.

I did learn about the importance of having readers “like” and “tag” my book, however. And I looked at my Amazon best-seller ratings for the first time. Everybody was worried about their ranking. But I have to tell you, I’m not even in the ballpark, let alone the game. In fact I may not even be on the same continent.

I’m not worried about it. This morning, my print book ranks 1,083,088 and my Kindle rank is 159,693. Low numbers like being in the top 100 are good. Authors were keeping tabs on this statistic to evaluate if they were going up or down in the market. I’m going to stick with watching my book sales numbers. Maybe I just don’t have the killer instinct for this. It’s a jungle out here.

I did sign up for a Ning Community of the self-published authors. I really have no idea what that is, or how valuable it will be for me and I haven’t visited it yet. I’m hoping I may be able to pick up a few tips there.

But the Book Blast boosted my Kindle sales a bit, although not significantly. In the flurry of after-the-book-blast emails, I realized that many, if not most, participating authors were disenchanted with the sluggish sales numbers. So I wasn’t alone. I think that authors were buying other authors’ books (I will confess that I did pick up a few bargain books myself that looked particularly good). But this is not my idea of good marketing. I’m grateful for the books I sold. I just hope they’re read. My goal has always been about people reading the book. Meanwhile, I continue to hear that readers are sharing Dancing in Heaven with a mother, a daughter, or someone else. That warms my heart.

December Sales

My sales for December were up slightly from November’s total of 34. The print book sales are down again this month from 14 last month. As you can see, the boost came from Kindle sales where I only had 11 in November.

Bookseller Number sold
Createspace/Amazon(print) 10
Amazon Kindle 30
B&N Nook 0
Smashwords 1
Smashwords/Sony/B&N/Kobo/Amazon/Apple/Diesel not available
Handsold 1
December Total 42
November Total 34
October Total 33
Grand Total 109

I hit my first goal of selling 100 books.

I want to thank everyone who has supported me by buying and reading Dancing in Heaven.

“You can do or be whatever you want in your own life. Nothing can stop you, except your own fears. Don’t blame anyone else . . . you have the power to make the decision. Just do it.”
Nola Diamantopoulos, Greek-Australian creative workshop tutor

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Author: CMSmith

I enjoy reading, writing, gardening, photography, genealogy and travel. I have opinions about many things, but am trying to age gracefully and not continually tick people off with them. Sometimes I can’t help myself.

20 thoughts on “Self-publishing update — December promotion and sales”

  1. Congrats on hitting your first goal!! That’s great! It’s been really helpful watching your journey in self-publishing. I used to think I’d never venture into that territory, but you just never know! Glad to have all the info I can get!

    1. When I finished Dancing in Heaven, I thought I would try to find an agent, but the more I read, the more discouraged I got. You could have a great book, but if you don’t have a big enough platform, most likely no one is going to look at you.

      Platform is also extremely important for the self-published. Either way, you have to build a good platform. That’s the crux.

  2. First goal met!!! That is awesome!! I can imagine it is a little daunting to jump into all of this—I cannot begin to imagine!!! And there are so many authors out there, right??? Yikes!! But good for you for reaching the first goal!!!

  3. I don’t know what makes a book sell or why people read what they do. I can only speak for myself. I’m nearly finished with “Dancing in Heaven,” and I genuinely LOVE it. I’m going to be sad when I’m finished. This window into your world and Annie’s has been dear to me. And your ability to negotiate the sea of family emotions during the death of a disabled loved-one is brilliant, I think. You make ME miss Annie–wish I had known her. What more could you as a writer wish to accomplish? I know I would feel the same way you do about sales not being what you’d like. Your feelings are very normal.

    I will do a review on my blog and promote your book here–I promise. I suppose I should do one of my friend Mark’s novel first, as I promised it a while back, but after that I will do one for you, as well.

    How much have you used Hospice to promote your book? Could you speak at some kind of Hospice gathering. You promote the program beautifully in your book.

    Hang in there, my friend!

    Hugs,
    Kathy

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words about Annie and the book. One thing that you could do to help me fairly easily is post a short review, even just a sentence or two on the Amazon pages: http://ow.ly/8hImO and http://ow.ly/8hIr0 and the B&N Nook page: http://ow.ly/8hIvY you could probably use what you wrote above corrected for person and tense.

      I have contacted Hospice of Dayton and they are going to put an excerpt on their website that they are currently revising. Contacting other area Hospices is on my rather long mental to-do list.

      I’m feeling at peace with the whole process now.

  4. Congrats on your first goal met. The only “truth” I’ve learned about self-publishing is that I, alone, am responsible for creating a desire for someone to buy my book. Our second book came out a couple years ago. We are still holding book signings, speaking, conducting workshops based on the book. Out first book, which came out in 2005, is still selling. There are many non-traditional ways to get the word out. Have you considered speaking? Have you considered joining forces with other authors for a group event? The wonderful thing about indie publishing is that nobody is there to tell us what we can’t do!

    1. This is very helpful. I am finally coming around to getting the picture of the “truth” you mention. I need to get myself out there with some book signings. I really would prefer not to speak, although I did visit a classroom in November and that went well. I’ll keep my eyes open for joining other authors.

      There are still many things that I can do that I simply haven’t gotten around to yet. I’m on the slow track. But your words encourage me. I want to get going on a second book I’ve started.

    1. Thanks, Jolina. You should be getting pretty close now. Can’t wait to read through your transition to motherhood. The world shifted for me. When I left the hospital with our first-born son, nothing looked the same.

      So excited for you.

  5. I admire your integrity . . . and your taste.
    YA paranormal fiction / horror is not my preferred genre either. 😉

    Congrats on passing the 100 mile-marker!

    1. Thank you, Nancy.
      I will confess, I did actually read the “Twilight” series per my daughter’s recommendation. Books are one thing I really like to share with my children when possible.

  6. Congratulations on reaching the 100 book mark. You are definitely slashing the way through the marketing jungle for me. I get the fact that traditional publishing companies need to see that an author has a monstrous platform before taking on the book; however, I just don’t know that I would like the lifestyle a enormous platform would require. So I will have to sell my books one interested person at a time. You’ve inspired me to set a 100 book challenge. I’ve spent days signing up for Red Room, Author’s Den, Goodreads, Shelfari etc. I’m frazzled and tomorrow is back to work day. I guess no one said this was going to be easy.

    1. I know you understand. I remember reading something from you a long time ago about the astronomical numbers of followers required. I think the key is not to invest too much money upfront. That’s what I learned in the workshop I took and I see now how that is true. You have little to lose then and everything to gain.

      I don’t know what Red Room and Author’s den are. I signed up for Goodreads a while back. Make sure you get an author’s page. And do a book giveaway. I gave away 5 books. I felt like it got the name of my book out to readers. So many times we’re in the world of writers, not readers. (Admittedly, writers can also be readers.) I also signed up for Shelfari but haven’t done anything with it yet.

      Frazzled is a good way to put it.

  7. ***109*** is fabulous!!
    I so admire you for admitting you didn’t like the ‘artificial’ promotional aspects of Amazon ratings, Christine. I’ve read some other blogger’s posts along the very same lines recently. It does seem to be a system that needs major tweaking to get it honest. And yes, it sounds like a jungle.

    1. Yes. It was helpful and eye-opening for me. I’m bombarded with tips and “must-dos” on the web as I try to learn from other indies, and it’s really overwhelming. I’m kicking back and doing this the old-fashioned way. I’m not equipped for online warfare.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Congratulations on surpassing your goal, Christine! You are learning some things the hard way, but your experience will help others, I’m sure. Most people know an Annie, or know someone else who is living your story, and word of mouth is going to be one way your numbers grow.

    1. You’re right about that. Most people do know an Annie or “someone else who is living” my story. I hear it all the time when people read the book. I’m at peace with the book whether the numbers grow or not. I realize that if the numbers will grow, it is up to me to get the word out there as well. Time and effort.

  9. You’ve already won in my estimation.

    You’ve gone the whole 9 yards in publishing the memoirs of your beloved Annie. In addition to such a huge accomplishment, in and of itself, you’ve sold in excess of a hundred books. I can’t say as much. And you’re looking to write a second book. I don’t know many published authors…you’re one of only a handful.

    Besides that accolade, you are having to repeat the heartache of another family member with an incurable disease. You are a champion, Christine!

    …to me…and many others… 😉

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