Adventures in Indie Publishing: Part 4

Crunching Numbers

Hopefully, if you run a free promotion on KDP and promoted it properly, you will have benefited from a few hundred, or even a few thousand downloads depending on how much marketing you do. Incidentally, you can track exactly how many copies are being downloaded , and in which territory, in the ‘Reports’ section of your account. This is an invaluable tool because as you progress through your marketing campaign it allows you to instantly see which strategies are working for you and which ones are not. There are some general rules that it’s worth applying; probably the main one being that most people have more leisure time on weekends and are more likely to download your book, so when utilising KDP promotions, make sure the promo runs over Saturday and Sunday.

In the first three days X: A Collection of Horror was up for free, it was downloaded 368 times in America, 157 times in the UK, and 17 times in other countries, for a total of 542. The following month I put it up for free for another two days, and shifted another 362, for a grand total of 904. I have no idea if that’s good or not. It peaked at number 14 in the Amazon free books horror section, if that’s any indication. I priced paid copies at $2.99 (£1.87, approx) which meant I gave away $2702.96 (£1690.48) worth of books, before tax and Amazon’s 30% cut.

That’s one way of looking at it.

But obviously, most of the people who downloaded my book for free probably wouldn’t have forked out actual money for it, anyway. So the other way of looking at it is that I gained 904 new readers.

I’m not stupid enough to think that every one of those 904 will get around to reading my book. First and foremost, I am a reader. I download a lot of free books to my Kindle, a lot of which I never actually read. I am assuming most people do this. There are a lot of free books out there. Making a rough estimate based on my own reading habits, I imagine around half of that 904 will never open my book. Still, looking on the bright side, that leaves 452 who might!

The Selling Game

From here on out, bar the occasional other promo I do, every book I sell makes money. That should be all the incentive you need. Now, it’s time to go to work and step up your promotion efforts. You can’t force people to buy your book. And begging is just embarrassing. In the most basic terms, you have to get your book in front of people who might like it and persuade them that they need to buy it.

It helps no end if you have a good, concise, well thought-out blurb, or product description. Make it exciting. Check out the blurbs on top-selling titles in your genre for some tips, taking note of what kind of words they use. This may not work for every book, but soon after I put out my latest release, X: A Collection of Horror, I revised the product description to include the following:

WARNING: Adult Content.

At first, I just wanted some kind of safeguard in case I started getting emails from angry parents of kids who had downloaded it. The strange thing is, after I inserted the warning, there was a mini-spike in sales. Then I started thinking, what happened back in the 1980’s when the PMRC made record companies put parental advisory labels on record sleeves? That’s right, sales went through the roof. I don’t pretend to know why, I’m not a psychologist, but I can tell you that after that, I left the warning there!

Getting noticed

The media industry may be in flux, but there are more markets, and more ways to access these markets, than there ever has been before. The sheer number of websites, blogs, magazines, fanzines, newspapers, radio and TV stations, is bewildering, but the one thing they all have in common is that they all need content. You can provide that content for them, either by way of giving interviews or simply sending out review copies of your book. Don’t forget to tell your local newspaper. They love local-boy-does-good stories, and so do readers. However, don’t expect to command a fee. You aren’t Dan Brown or Stephen King. Just be grateful with the column inches and hope they translate to sales.

Try to get a handle on things and focus your efforts. I made up a list of blogs, websites and publications that may be interested in promoting my book either directly or indirectly, then contact them systematically. If you can count some fellow writers amongst your friends, offer to do a guest blog for them. In this manner, you can even organize virtual blog tours. Within the first couple of weeks X: A Collection of Horror was on sale, I managed to secure publicity interviews with:

Zombie Girl Shambling:

http://zombiegirlshambling.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/x-collection-of-horror.html

Daily bookworm:

http://thedailybookworm.com/christian-saunders-interview/

Gingernuts of Horror:

http://gingernutsofhorror.com/5/post/2014/03/horror-author-interview-cm-saunders.html

None of the above are massive sites, but every bit of exposure helps build your platform, increase your profile, and boost your internet search rank.

My first indie offering, X: A Collection of Horror, is out now:

amazon.com/dp/B00IGHTFC8 

Adventures in Indie Publishing: Part 3, focusing on promotion and social networking can be found here:

https://cmsaunders.wordpress.com/2014/05/25/adventures-in-independent-publishing-part-3/

Part 2, covering advice on editing, cover art and priming the market, can be found here:

https://cmsaunders.wordpress.com/2014/04/20/adventures-in-independent-publishing-part-2/

Part 1, featuring an overview of the industry and an introduction to Kindle Direct Publishing, can be found here:

https://cmsaunders.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/adventures-in-independent-publishing-part-1/

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About cmsaunders

I am a writer. I write. My dark fiction has appeared in Asphalt Jungle, Raw Nerve, Roadworks, Dark Valentine, Screams of Terror, Shallow Graves, Fantastic Horror, Unbroken Water and several anthologies. My first book, Into the Dragon's Lair – A Supernatural History of Wales was published in 2003, and I have also worked extensively in the freelance journalism industry, contributing features to numerous international publications including Fortean Times, Bizarre, Urban Ink, Loaded, Record Collector, Maxim, Nuts, and a regular column to the Western Mail newspaper. I lived in China for over five years where I taught English during my search for enlightenment, before moving back to the UK in January 2013 to work for a men's lifestyle magazine. I was senior writer on Forever Sports magazine and associate editor at Coach magazine, before leaving to chance my arm in the world of pro freelance. In recent times I have devoted more time to dark fiction, my latest offerings being the contemporary ghost story Sker House and No Man's Land: Horror in the Trenches. I am represented by Media Bitch Literary Agency and drink far too much coffee. View all posts by cmsaunders

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