So… a thing happened last week, and contrary to my fears, the world didn’t stop spinning. Nor did the barbarian hordes sweep down from the north to sack Rome for an eighth time. In Las Vegas, we did have a week of unseasonably warm weather for November, but something tells me that had nothing to do with my book launch.
Even so, it’s been quite the week. I’m going to do a real post-mortem sometime next month–to, you know, give the mortem time to happen–but I wanted to offer a quick post-release update.
When is a book launch like a boat launch?
When it sinks, just off the pier1.
Thankfully, that hasn’t been the case so far with See These Bones. I’m a long way from showing up on any bestseller lists, but sales #s have still exceeded my expectations to this point. Some of that is because I have a large and pretty fantastic group of friends and family, of course, but I’m also seeing positive ratings (on goodreads) and reviews (on amazon) from people I don’t know. The very fact that there are strangers out there buying my book and enjoying it is humbling. Sales rankings are updated hourly, but for a brief time, I was in the top 20k of all digital books on Amazon (of 1 million+), and the top ~170 of two of my book’s select categories. That’s pretty damn cool. As a self-published debut author without dozens of advance reviews2, I’m very happy.
I’m also happy that none of the things I found myself stressing over at the 11th hour came to pass. The IngramSpark paperback pre-order that Amazon had for some reason auto-imported was successfully overwritten by the Amazon paperback edition3. Neither format was rejected at the last minute by Amazon. The start reading location was set correctly when the kindle format was finally published4. And nobody has reported any glaring print issues or typos5.
The paperback edition did go live two days earlier than the ebook, but that wasn’t a big deal. Amazon tells you that it can take 1-72 hours to publish, so it’s a bit of a crapshoot deciding when to actually push the button. I gave them the full 72 hours, but the listing went live in less than a day. C’est la vie!
Two charts and seven take-aways
- Amazon’s beta KDP reporting is fantastic. Royalties reporting is a bit odd, but the many charts are colorful, easy to read, and offer a wealth of information.
- Paperback has been way more popular than I expected. For the first few days, it was a solid 40% of total orders. That ratio is 28% now, and I suspect the initial flood was due to friends and family. Even so… when I made the book available in paperback, I expected 2-3 people to buy it6. I’m very pleasantly surprised.
- Releasing the book on IngramSpark was a last-minute decision. It was an extra expense, a lot more work, and I wasn’t sure I’d get any sales there at all. As it turns out, I’ve sold more than a dozen copies7 already. My book is in some bookstore or library out there. That’s fricking cool!
- I’m not a Kindle Unlimited user, so I had no idea what to expect. As you can see from the first chart, KU is actually a large chunk of my current consumption. Going Kindle Select8 will be a no-brainer for all future books.
- The one down-side to KU is that Amazon only reports on total pages read. A day with 2000 pages could be 200 people reading ten pages each before quitting in disgust. Or it could be 5 people reading the entire book. More insight here would be fantastic.
- The vast majority of my sales have been in the US. That’s not a surprise. But I also have sales in the UK, Germany, Canada, and Australia9. In the UK, royalties are roughly equal between ebook and Kindle Unlimited. Germany is 3:1 in favor of ebooks. Canada has no KU page-reads at all, and Australia only has KU page-reads. Meanwhile, paperback sales are limited to the US. I don’t know what any of it means, but it’s interesting!
- My book showed up on illegal download sites a full day before its release. That’s efficiency! There’s not really any way to stop piracy, so I just posted on one of the larger forums, and asked them to leave reviews if they liked it. We’ll see if anyone takes me up on the offer.
Cool story, bro. So when’s the sequel?
Now that I’ve taken a week to obsess over sales, it’s time to get back to writing. I’m planning to release Red Right Hand, book two in the series, in late 2020. We’ll see how that works out. In some ways, RRH is an even bigger challenge than the first book, but I know where it and its sequel need to go. Now, I just need to actually write the books!
Of course, before I do that, I’ll need to finish my rewrite of the first book in my other series. My plan is to release two books a year, with books from The Many Travails of John Smith releasing every spring, and The Murder of Crows releasing every fall. With See These Bones out, I’ll focus on rewriting Investigation, Mediation, Vindication. I’m hoping to finish it by the end of the year. That would give me plenty of time to edit, commission a cover, and start sending the book out for advance reviews.
So what else is coming? When See These Bones has sufficient reviews, I’ll launch BookBub and Amazon promotional campaigns for the book. I’m also looking into making an audible version. (Hopefully, voice actors don’t mind swearing!) I have a third novelette to write in the Dr. Nowhere universe, Fire of Unknown Origin. And then there’s Tomorrow, the City, a novella in an entirely different setting, which I’ve been chewing on for years. Lastly, I need to get back to my Thursday poetry days, because poetry is my happy place.
Now that the launch craziness is behind us, I’ll revert to my standard posting schedule. That means a poem early in the month, and a blog post at the end. In December, I’ll also write my Annual review. Something tells me that See These Bones’ release will feature heavily!
Until then, have a wonderful holiday season. Thank you all for making this fun. Your support means everything.
- Thank you, thank you… I’ll be here all week.
- Although I tried… really, I tried!
- Which is what other writers said would happen, but which Amazon customer service itself told me would not. Go figure.
- As I’ve noted before, the SRL isn’t set until publishing, and it’s done by Amazon, ignoring any contrary settings in your document.
- Although I know there are unnecessary commas somewhere. They’re kind of my thing.
- Hi, Mom! Hi, Johanna!
- Not included in these charts, as IS and Amazon are separate entities
- Which forbids you from selling the book in digital format anywhere other than Amazon, but enrolls you in the Kindle Unlimited program and gives you higher royalties on digital sales
- Sorry, Canada and Australia… as the low countries on the sales chart, you get stuck with the ‘Other’ label. You know what must be done to fix this travesty of justice.
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