Busted’s One-Year Anniversary Results
My debut novel was launched on May 17th, 2017, and I’ve wanted to share the results for the last two months. I waited to see the sales numbers, which the publisher posted a few days ago. (It takes eight weeks to receive the tallies from the retailers.)
In previous blogs, I’d mentioned publishing statistics. In Penny Sansevieri’s book, Red Hot Internet Publicity, she states that most books—fiction and non-fiction—never sell more than a hundred copies; 4,500 new books are published every day; 2,000,000 new books are released per year; and that Amazon has over 8,000,000 titles.
We’re accustomed to reading about Best Sellers and the millions of books a particular author has sold. While this is inspirational and motivating, the sad reality is this achievement is extremely rare. I read in June’s Standout Books Blog by Alex, that less than .001 percent of all books sold ever reach a best-seller list; and that in 2017, most books never sell more than fifty copies.
At my book launch, I declared my goal would be to sell 250 copies in the first year. I’m pleased (and discouraged) to announce that in the year since Busted was released, 431 copies were sold. (The eBook version sold 2X as many as the Paperback.)
I achieved my goal—why am I down?
Because I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time learning how to market and promote my novel, and the results do not reflect the effort. After spending several years writing and researching, I had an (unrealistic) expectation that once the book was published, it would (magically) sell.
My two previous careers involved selling intangible products and services. I quickly learned that marketing a book—a tangible item—is a completely different sale.
Recognizing my ignorance, I hired an “Author Marketing Expert” to run a promotion. After spending an obscene amount of money, the expert’s team organized a promotion on Goodreads (which I could have orchestrated if I’d done my homework). The campaign included ten free Paperbacks and ran over the Thanksgiving weekend. Six-hundred and thirty-five people participated, and 264 added Busted to their “To Be Read” (TBR) list. The number of copies sold: 51. I was told this was a “successful” campaign. Unfortunately, very few books on the TBR list are converted into sales. The ROI was so low that I’m embarrassed/ashamed to share it.
One benefit from hiring the “expert” was that she registered me at a Goodread’s online promotion site for authors. From the conversation thread, I learned how to market my novel—what book promotion companies to use, how to advertise, when to advertise, and what to charge during a promotion.
Last March, Page Publishing, my publisher, wanted me to sign another two-year contract. (Yes, it has been two years—one year spent shepherding the book through the publishing process and one-year selling.) Overall I’ve been pleased with their service and while considering it, I re-read the contract.
At Page, each author is assigned a Publication Coordinator (PC). In April of 2017, when I received the suggested $20.95 retail price from Page, I said to my PC, “That’s too expensive!” She responded that was the price Page had set, which was based on the number of pages in the book, the quality of the printed material, and was non-negotiable.
I accepted her explanation.
After reviewing the contract, I discovered the author, along with Page Publishing, determines the price. Frustrated, I questioned my PC, and she confirmed that yes, I did have the ability to set the price. This error is on me—I suspect she was new and I hadn’t remembered that particular clause from reading the contract the prior year.
I lowered the cost to $13.95 for the Paperback and reduced the eBook from $9.99 to $4.99.
The price change occurred in March. Believing the high cost had impacted sales, I expected the results to improve, right?
IT TAKES MONEY TO MAKE MONEY
In May I ran my first promotion with E-Reader News Today (ENT). This site is ranked just below BookBub, which is considered the Gold Standard. I learned that when doing eBook promotions, the book price should be free, $.99, or $1.99. After all my hard work, I couldn’t bear to give my book away; so I charged $.99. Through the $45 ENT promotion, 110 copies were purchased, and I was ecstatic. The bad news: I can only run a promotion on ERNT every three months.
I’ve experimented with half a dozen other sites, and have found three to be worthwhile. In anticipation of increasing sales, I’m scheduling promotions on a regular basis.
THANKS TO YOU
I’m especially grateful if you attended my book launching party, or bought my book. I felt nervous and vulnerable, and your support is valued and appreciated.
And if you posted a review on Amazon, another THANK YOU!
The process of acquiring reviews has been a learning situation. Contrary to popular belief, Amazon is a data mining company first, and a retailer second. When a certain number of reviews are achieved, Amazon will promote the book using the format: “When other people bought X, they also bought Y.” In my case, Busted would be the “Y”. Sounds good.
Whenever Busted gets close to achieving the (evolving) number, I discovered that reviews were deleted. What happened? It turns out that Amazon deletes reviews if they perceive them to be fraudulent. Really? Some of my reviews were considered fraudulent? I investigated and discovered a few authors had posted reviews on their own books. I learned from the Goodreads conversation that Amazon purges reviews frequently, and not to inquire because that calls attention to them, and Amazon will delete more. Yikes.
Why do I care?
Is it an ego thing?
When I apply to a book promotion site, the editors read the reviews. They’ll also read a portion of the book to determine if the quality of the writing meets their criteria and standards. (I’m hoping to receive enough reviews to be accepted by BookBub: being featured on BookBub can help to achieve the “Tipping Point” in popularity.)
As of this blog, Busted has 59 reviews on Amazon, with a rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars.
(If you’d like to write a review, please find Busted on Amazon, click on the number of reviews by the 5 stars, and you’ll be prompted through the process. A review can be as simple as highlighting the appropriate number of stars and typing a few words or a one-line comment. Takes about thirty seconds.)
I’ve been invited to speak at several book clubs, and I have to say, meeting new friends has been fun! To be a guest author is an honor and a humbling experience. Thanks to my dear friends for the invitations, support, and encouragement!
The purpose of blogging is to promote awareness of my novel; however, I tend to write about whatever captures my interest or if I think the information may be helpful. I have to admit, I’ve experienced a love/hate relationship with producing a blog every 7 to 10 days. Researching, writing, editing, and publishing can take 2 to 8 hours. I thought I’d learned a tremendous amount when I wrote Busted. Though the blogs, I’m continuing my education. (Hate the time investment, love the learning.)
I post my blogs on my author Facebook page. For two or three dollars, Facebook will boost my blogs, which provides access to new readers. I tried the boost, and discovered I reached several hundred people, and obtained new followers. Wow. That was an excellent ROI. Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, many of my blogs have been rejected for being political, and FB will not boost them. Frustrating.
VIRTUAL BOOK TOURS
Remember when authors were flown from city to city and attended book promotion/signing events? (The Big 5 publishing houses still do this with a few select authors.) Since the advent of ePublishing, the expensive and time-consuming book tours have evolved into virtual book tours.
I’m participating in my first virtual book tour from September 3-7th. The way it works is that the author submits a unique post for each book blogger (who the book tour organizer has pre-registered). The author is available online for one hour each day at the book blogger’s site to converse with readers and answer questions. It’s another way to expand market share and allows readers to connect with authors.
ENDING ON A HAPPY NOTE…
I’m pleased to announce that my novel is available in four libraries. Thanks to my friend, Kathy Popoff, who requested Busted be available through the Palos Verde Library and the Los Angeles Public Library in downtown LA; and I submitted it to the Anaheim Public Library, who accepted it.
One of my goals was to have my novel available at the Newport Beach Public Library. I inquired with administration, and while I didn’t speak to the decision maker, I was told that it would be highly unlikely that my book would be purchased (librarians make their decisions based on industry publications and reviews); but I left a copy anyway. When I followed up with the decision maker, I learned that Busted had been accepted.
Thrilled, I made arrangements to retrieve the copy. (Library books are ordered through a specific distribution company.) When I arrived, I encountered the individual who approves author events, and she scheduled an author event!
SAVE THE DATE
On October 11, 2018, at 7:00-8:00 p.m. at the Newport Beach Public Library, I’ll be presenting “Busted: The Stories Behind The Story.”
I hope you can attend. (And bring a friend. ☺)
As always, thanks for reading and your support!
Warmest Regards, Michele
P.S. I’m running a promotion this weekend, and the eBook is $.99. You can purchase Busted by clicking on the following sites: Amazon, Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, Google and Kobo. An audio version is available on ACX.