Doin' the e-Math

Luckily I had no preconceived ideas about what would happen to my fledglings once I'd flung them out of the nest that had been their home for the past 2-8 years i.e. the dusty bowels of the C-drive and into the world wide web-o-sphere of e-publishing.

Okay then, so half of me (and this is where my *maths gets REALLY shonky) thought maybe I'd have a lucky break and my Big Brave Move would be the absolute making of me; I'd soar the dizzy heights of self-publishing stardom and I'd have the world eating out of the palm of my hand-held-e-reader.
Another half of me was dissecting the world of writing whilst breaking blueberry muffins with Kerry Wilkinson and Amanda Hocking in Starbucks. And the other half (*see what I mean?) was rocking plaintively and dismally in the darkest recesses of the smallest room in the house wondering what the hell had possessed me to be so utterly reckless in the first place.

Because I hadn't a clue what to expect and equally hadn't a clue how to 'promote' the fact that I'd done it  - or even if I should promote the fact I'd done it at all.  And anyway, what would 'friends' on Facebook think? *in my head* "Oh ffs, there she goes, she can't get an Agent, she's clearly plummeted the depths of desperation and she's self-published.  I'd better 'like' it and say I'll buy it just to make her feel better". And that wasn't what I wanted.  Not what I wanted at all.

I am not one of life's natural 'sellers'.  Give me a vanful of double glazed windows and I will paint pretty pictures on them rather than push them on unsuspecting members of the public.  Give me a bag full of leaflets to hand out and I'll turn them into swans and fans in lieu of squashing them into unyielding palms of strangers. Give me a market stall and instead of bawling "Grabba bargain over here love, pound of spuds fer a pound!"   I'll  hand out steaming cups of tea and slices of cake and have chats with anybody who feels like stopping by.  In short, I don't 'do' selling.  If somebody wants something, they will, as Darwin would probably corroborate, go out and look for it and ask for advice if they need it.  After all, that's what I'd do.

So I didn't want to make a song and dance.  I wanted my words to just be Out There.  Like they would've been had they been printed on paper and bound and wrapped in a lovely enticing cover and placed nicely on a shelf in a bookshop. Only the e-way. And anyway my Facebook friends weren't my target audience.  Hell, some of them don't even know what a book is *waves to husband*.  So I did a couple of 'Promo's i.e. I put my books on for free for a 24 hour or 48 hour stretch to see what would happen.
And guess what?
The figures speak for themselves.

'Dead Good' = 11 'Re:Becca' = 1
February :
'Dead Good' = 583  'Re:Becca' = 276
'Dead Good' = 12 'Re:Becca' = 1 'Let's Go Round Again' = 626
'Dead Good' = 13 'Re:Becca' = 2 'Let's Go Round Again' = 12
'Dead Good' = 3 'Re:Becca' = 241 'Let's Go Round Again' = 5

So, when I've promo'd my book for free on the 3 days that I've done it (Amazon do their own freebie days and authors get 5 days per month of their own choosing) the 'sales' figues have absolutely rocketed (*see above*). BUT this doesn't mean that the book is getting read.  We've all done it - I'm not without blame.  If there's a free read going and the opening sample is interesting enough and makes me want to read on, then I'll download it.  I might not read it right now, but I have it on my system ready for when I remember it's there and I need something to read.

And it's this little spark of knowing that somewhere someone has - during the free promo at least - read the opening sample of my books and thought 'yeah, that looks good enough to save for later' and has gone to the trouble of actually bothering to press a few keys and downloaded it for ... whenever.  I don't mind.  It's out there and even if it never gets read or reviewed, I know that for a few brief minutes it was worth it - because they thought that it was.

p.s. I won't mention the very hurtful (and ambiguous) "units refunded" column on the download report and how I'm automatically drawn to the *1* that sits sadly in that list.  I have already assumed the worst.  It was such a sh*t read that the purchaser felt compelled to demand the 99p refund or it was an accidental download which wasn't even worth keeping as a back-up... sometimes I really don't like the Math 'cos the imagination gets way too involved.

p.p.s  I've just added it up and I'm averaging approx £5.38/month in 'royalties'. I'm sure that must say something but I don't think I'm listening!


Jackie Buxton said...

Yes and YES! Did I write this piece? Perhaps! But not as well... I love your picture of your not selling-self (the tea at the market stall, tee hee!) and concur with all. This is why I'm flying the weary flag of the first time author subbing to traditional publishers. Even though I have that niggling voice now shouting in the back of my mind that publishers want to see if your first book will sell as a self-pubbed e-book and then they'll consider taking you on, the pride thing of others thinking I self-pubbed because I failed is just still too prominent and peacock like for me.
Congratulations on your £5 per month. It's 100% more than I'm getting for my first novel :) Great post!

graywave said...

You know, I've often wondered about those returns figures. It's not as if you don't get a chance to read a fair slab of the book first on Amazon. It's not as if 99c is even worth the bother of working out how to do a return. In the end, I concluded it's some kind of scam and people do it to get free ebooks.

DT said...

Figures are figures and readers are readers! Money? Well, that's something else entirely. And now that your work is out there, you have products to drop into conversation or to add as a tagline after your email address. And, should you decide to approach a mainstream publisher for a paperback version, you can show that your books have been downloaded 'x' number of times.

The maths obscures as much as it tells us. I once sold some greetings card content for hundreds of pounds - gags that took maybe five minutes to create. Hurrah, I thought. Many, many submissions later and they've never bought another thing from me.

Brenda Gunning said...

Congratulations ! Hope the ratings - and profits - keep on rolling in. Your blog has reminded me about that option of putting your books for free on Amazon fir a certain number of days. I did it when I first put Crossing Borders and Walking Towards the Sun on, but then forgot about it. So thanks for the reminder and once again congratulations !

Fionnuala said...

I think this post is fab and honest and thanks so much for giving us some facts about the initial results of epublishing. I'm still not sure myself... I got as far as thinking about getting it edited, organising a cover and then I chickened out.
Thing is - I want to be published the traditional route but I just don't have the energy for it at the moment. I also know that to be successful doing it the self published way requires constant self promotion. and I'm a bit like you when it comes to the spuds n stuff... X

Sandra Davies said...

So much of what you said about selling chimes with me, (except I have been able to sell other things that aren't mine in a low-key sort of way) Having aleady bforced myself through the self-promotion bit with prints I wasn't bothered with my books (not hungry enough?)and have confined myself to Lulu, being unsure about the ISBN business and their fixed prices.
Not a sale so far ... (but it's only been three days)
And I bet the refund of yours was because someone pressed the button twice by accident.