If I’d Known Ten Years Ago What I Know Now

When I took the UCI Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Writing course through UCI’s Extension Program in 2007, I had visions of writing a New York Times Bestseller.

How hard can it be?

Fast forward to reality.

By the time I began submitting my manuscript to agents, the publishing world had experienced a metamorphosis. The evolution and soaring popularity of eBooks hit the traditional New York publishers hard. Revenues sank.

As a result, publishers told agents only to submit established authors’ manuscripts. Unfortunately, many agents couldn’t “sell” their authors’ second, third, or fourth books, let alone introduce debut authors, and many agents closed their business.

Yes, there were a few breakout authors.

I was not one of them. I have a file full of the nicest, most complimentary rejection letters.

After investigating multiple independent publishing avenues, I was thrilled to be accepted by Page Publishing. (They receive 8,000 submissions a month and accept up to 100.) I’m delighted with Page: their guidance and expertise has been invaluable. I learned about editing, page design, and cover design.

How to Sell

When my book was finally available, I faced another learning curve: how to sell. My previous two careers were in sales—I’d been successful selling conceptual, intangible, difficult-to-learn and explain products and services. I naively believed I knew how to sell.


Selling books is a whole new ball game.

So I researched, read, took webinars, quizzed other authors, pelted my writing professor with questions, and signed up for a dozen blogs about marketing and selling books.

One of the first things I learned was that I needed to establish my “brand,” which is myself.

I’ve shared in a previous blog that 4,500 new books are published EVERY DAY.

To get mindshare, authors need to do whatever they can to promote their brand—themselves—using social media and blogging. I blog once a week, which is called “Slow Blogging,” as opposed to posting two to three times a week.

I was making progress; but not enough. So I decided to hire a marketing specialist. She facilitated multiple promotions, including one over the Thanksgiving weekend. You may remember that I offered Busted’s eBook for .99.

I won’t have the final numbers until I receive my royalty report in February, but through Amazon Author’s portal, I saw that Busted’s eBook was in the top 5% the first day, then the top 2% for days two through five. I was pleasantly surprised to see sales remained in the top 10% through December 20th. (Don’t know why they slowed.)

The marketing specialist also helped me establish a presence on Amazon’s UK site, as well as develop a following on Goodreads. By offering a ten-book giveaway on Goodreads, 642 people participated; and now 267 people have marked Busted as their next “to-read” choice.

Industry update

Rachel Reuben said in her January 2, 2018, blog Writing by the Seat of my Pants “…there were no breakout books in 2017.”

Borders went out of business.

Barnes and Noble downsized. In 2008, B&N had 798 stores. According to Forbes Magazine, B&N closed an average of 21 locations a year, and as of September 2017, they had 634 stores. Now they’ve applied for a liquor license, and their merchandise has shifted to include vinyl, toys, and games.

Who’s selling books?

Rachel said, “Amazon controls 71% of the eBook market, and accounts for 37% of all print book sales in the U.S. and has no serious rivals.”

In Penny Sansevieri’s book, How to Sell Books by the Truckload, she characterized Amazon as “…more a search engine than a store. In fact, Amazon is literally the ‘Google’ of online buying.”

Something changed.

This past year, Amazon opened half a dozen brick and mortar bookstores and changed the way books are displayed: their covers face the customer as opposed to the book spines.

Opening bookstores is significant because it’s a paradigm shift from their business model. The retail outlets are not yet profitable. So why is Amazon opening another half a dozen this year?

Because there’s a resurgence in independent bookstores. If the store is convenient, readers like to browse; otherwise, they’ll order online.

Sandra Beckwith, another publicity guru, said in her blog that ninety percent of published books do not sell more than 100 copies. EVER.

My Goal

My goal was to sell 250 in the first year; then 1,000. The promotions were designed to establish awareness, and I’m close to achieving the first milestone.

Years ago I read Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point. I often wonder how many books need to sell before hitting the tipping point? What does it take for a book to develop legs?

Reviews help

When Busted receives 50 five-star reviews, (Amazon only counts the five-star reviews) Amazon’s internal algorithm is triggered, and they will promote my novel; i.e., “People who bought this book also bought Busted.”

As of this blog, I have 47 five-star reviews and four four-star reviews. (Thank you for posting your reviews!).

If I’d known ten years ago how challenging this entire process would be, I probably wouldn’t have started.

And now I’m writing a second novel.

Why would I do this to myself?

Because when I write, I enter a parallel universe, and four hours feels like four minutes. I love being creative.

What about you? Is there a hobby, sport, or endeavor that you love?

Thanks for reading.

Warmest Regards,                                                                                                                      Michele

Author, Busted                                                                                                                                     www.michelekhoury.com                                                                                                                 Link to subscribe to my blogs: http://michelekhoury.com/blog/

2 thoughts on “If I’d Known Ten Years Ago What I Know Now”

  1. Tina Hogan GrantTina Hogan Grant

    Well, I see what I have to look forward to LOL. Thanks for the heads up. 🙂 They say writing the book is the easiest part. I believe that is correct. When you say Amazon starts promoting your book after 50, 5-star reviews, is that from verified purchases only? not all reviews, correct? Congrats on your reviews by the way.

  2. John MorleyJohn Morley

    I am reminded of the quote, “People famous for what they said were first famous for what they did.” And so it is often with books: The ones selling millions of copies are often from (perhaps with a little professional help) celebrities and the ultra-successful. The allure may include some hope that along with the book comes some of the magic fairy dust that contributed to the success of the author (subject).
    Writing even an excellent book is only one of many steps on a long and uncertain path. May you enjoy the journey.

    February 23, 2018

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