Lessons Learned; 90 Days of Self-Publishing

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I’m now out past the dreaded 90 days since self-publishing my novel, Love, Lies & Clones. I posted about my lessons learned in the first 30 days HERE and the first 60 days HERE.

Remember my writing goal? All I want is for people to READ what I’ve wrote. I have no goals to make any sort of real money doing it. (It’d be nice if it wasn’t a money-sucking hobby though.)

Here’s how the first 30 and 60 days went (I published December 16th).

First 30 Days Dec 16th to Jan 15th (Book priced at 99 cents)

  • Expenses: $389
  • Income: $95
  • Profit/Loss: $-294
  • Sold 63 eBooks, 18 paperbacks, and 3824 Kindle Unlimited page reads.

Next 30 Days Jan 16th to Feb 15th (Book priced at $2.99)

  • Expenses: $5
  • Income: $135
  • Profit/Loss: $130 this month profit (but still at a loss of $-259 overall)
  • Sold 13 eBooks & 5 paperbacks and 480 Kindle Unlimited page reads.
  • (Despite making more money, I wasn’t happy that only 18 people grabbed a copy of my novel. Remember, I’m trying to get people to read my stuff.)

So, how did the next 30 days go?

When you sign up for Kindle Select, you are enrolled in a 3 month contract. In that three months, in exchange for exclusivity to Amazon, you receive two benefits.

  1. You are enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited (KU) program. That means that your book is made “FREE” to Amazon’s KU subscribers. As an author, you get paid per page these readers read. (It averages about 1/2 a cent per page.) I had thought this would open my book up to a pile of readers, but I’ve been disappointed.
  2. You are given a choice of two promotions in the 3 month period. Kindle Countdown Deals or “FREE” book day. I wanted to try the countdown deal, since I heard so much good about it making your book discoverable. Again, I was disappointed.

Why is it dreaded to be out more than 90 days? Amazon has lists of new releases. They have a 30 day new release list and a 90 day new release. After 90 days, you’re on your own in the sea of 5 million books. (That’s why, ideally, publishing something every 90 days is helpful for maximum exposure.)

Okay, to the good part of this post. The numbers.

I’ve already posted about my Kindle Countdown Deal I ran HERE. Overall, I was happy to sell 138 books. I had to spend another $219 which I didn’t earn it all back. The rest of the month, I only participated in free promotions. How’d I do?

How’d I do this Past 30 Days Feb 16th to Mar 15th (Book priced at $2.99 with a Kindle Countdown Deal at 99 cents for 7 days)

  • Expenses: $219
  • Income: $121
  • Profit/Loss: $-98 this month profit (total loss of $-357 overall)
  • Sold 140 eBooks & 1 paperbacks and 4572 Kindle Unlimited page reads.
  • (Overall, I got over 140 copies of my book into people’s hands. That made me happy, but there has to be a way to do this without being an expense.)

Lesson’s Learned This Month:

Kindle Countdown Deals: Dropping the price to 99 cents and paying for advertising doesn’t amount to a profit (Unless, you get a Book Bub deal or have more books in a series to sell.) Next, I would like to try pricing my book at “FREE” to see what effect that has–especially since I’ll have another book published and “FREE” sales of one may lead to actual sales of the other.

Kindle Select (Amazon Exclusivity): I’m teetering on whether this is worth it or not. I believe for romance genres, it may be worth it, as there are a lot of Kindle Unlimited subscribers. (Romance readers tend to go through books quickly.) Here’s how I’m torn:

  • Staying in the program: Will my page reads go up when I have a second book out there? Can I increase the number of readers by using Amazon’s “FREE” pricing promotion?
  • Leaving the program: I’d like to be able to give my books away free as a subscriber magnet to build my newsletter, but I’m tied in with Amazon at the moment. Also, I’d have the ability to go “wide” listing my books on other platforms such as Kobo, Google, iBooks, etc. (Though, I understand these platforms are small potatoes compared to Amazon.)

Overall, I decided to stay with Amazon exclusivity for one more contract cycle (3 months) to answer the questions I have about a second book helping the first and how the “FREE” days work.

Amazon Product Page (Sales Page): Three (four?) things REALLY Matter: Cover Art, Title, Blurb, (Reviews?). I think my blurb is good, reviews are good too. Title, I can’t change, but I can add a subtitle. I may have an issue with my cover. I’m completely beginning to buy into it’s worth spending money on a fantastic cover. It really does mean a lot.

What I’ve Done, Moving Forward:

I played again with my cover for Love, Lies & Clones and am currently experimenting with this one. I’m already seeing some increased sales. It’s still not my answer. I also added a subtitle to the novel: “A Captivating Futuristic Mystery Novel.” Again, I probably could do better, but it’s a start.

llc low

I’ve decided to continue in the Kindle Select exclusivity program for another 3 months, more as a trial than for anything else. Here’s the three things I wish to accomplish:

  • See if by having a second book published, if it effects sales of the other books.
  • I’ll experiment with some FREE advertising days, instead of the Kindle Countdown. I had been hesitant because do people really read free books? At this point, it’s worth a try. Bonus – this achieves my goal of my book being in more people’s hands. I just hope they read it.
  • I’ll also experiment with some variations in pricing. I may become the “All Books Only 99 Cents — ALL THE TIME” author. (I’m happy to give up the 70% royalties at the $2.99 price point in exchange for more readers.)

Take Home Message:

First, despite all these “Lessons Learned” I am very happy on how Love, Lies & Clones has performed. (Especially for someone who had NO IDEA what they were doing regarding marketing. Remember when I thought all I had to do was hit publish and thousands of people would find my book?)

  • I have 23 reviews on it with an average star rating of 4.8 stars. Not so bad for a first book.
  • I’ve had a ton of feedback from people that this book got them into reading again as it was so easy to follow and a page-turner, that they don’t typically read sci-fi, but this book was realistic and enjoyable, and even that they connected with the main character and reexamined their own practices in their life. Win. Win. Win.
  • A typical self-published novel sells about 250 copies in it’s lifetime (stats from HERE). Love, Lies & Clones has sold 243 books so far…and only 3 months has passed.

As I plan the release of my next novel, Blood & Holy Water (launch day is set for April 4th) I’ll be modifying some of the things I tried with Love, Lies & Clones and taking some different approaches. Stay tuned for updates on that launch.

Again, thanks for sharing this journey with me. I’ll post another update on Love, Lies & Clones after this next 90 days.

–Joy

Feel free to share your thoughts and wisdom in the comments.

 

About Joynell Schultz

Writer & lover of all types of speculative fiction. I'm shivering in northern Wisconsin. Learn about my novels here: http://Author.to/JoynellSchultz
This entry was posted in Love, Lies, & Clones, Marketing, My Writing Journey, News! and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Lessons Learned; 90 Days of Self-Publishing

  1. J.R. Handley says:

    Way to break down the numbers for everyone! Basically, your best advertising is simply writing the next novel. But you’ve got this and it’ll take off eventually!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. lorilschafer says:

    A caution about doing the “free” promotion option – you run a increased risk of getting bad reviews. I’ve seen many where readers left one-star reviews saying things like “I hate this genre, but the book was free so I read it (and hated it).” Why people read books they know they’re not going to like is beyond me, and why they then feel the need to leave a lousy review is even more incomprehensible, but there you are. My two cents in favor of the 99-cent option!

    I really, really like the new cover 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. hat’s your game plan for Blood and Holy Water after everything you’ve learned?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great question! I have a plan and was planning on blogging about it in the next week or two. The two main things I did was working on building my audience…through my mailing list, Kindle Scout, Amazon Giveaways, etc. The other thing I’m doing is some advertising for release week to try to build up my sales so people start to see the novel. A more in-depth look will come soon. 🙂 I still think my cover won’t quite do it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Lana says:

    Oooh, I’m really liking the new cover! It definitely adds a more science-y aspect and the colors are really cool together as well. As always, the info was really interesting to read about. Good luck with the next three months! I look forward to the next update! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Well Hello There #Myfirstblogpostrevisited | E. Paige Burks

  6. Pingback: Planning the “PERFECT” Book Launch | Joynell Schultz

  7. Thanks for the info. I worked with a copy/editor for 6 1/2 years, spending close to 10K to tell my true story. When the book released it took off as family, friends, and past business associates rushed to get the behind the scenes goods on a story they thought they new a little about. I poured my heart and soul into this project and am satisfied by the stellar reviews I have had. Then I hit the wall. Sales have come to a screeching halt and I’m drifting into the abyss. I’m not looking for fortune or fame, I just wish my story was more recognizable amongst the marginal work in all the arts that reaches the masses do to name and position. Best wishes to all the starving writers and other artists.

    Like

    • You’re welcome for the info! I had always thought that all it took was one book to mark your place in the world. Now, I’m finding nobody finds you unless you have a pile of them…or you’re traditionally published and you’re lucky. (Like…Oprah picks you up.) Oh well. Write because you love doing it and want to tell your story — even if it resonates with one person, you’ve done your part in the world. Have a great Sunday!

      Like

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