Thursday, May 28, 2015

Indie-ana Kim and the Temple of Self-publishing

What up, y'all? (Wait, I'm from Jersey).
What up, yo? (That's better)

I thought I would blog today about how my young indie career is progressing. Not because I'm narcissistic and I want everyone to look at me (See me, please!) No. But because if I were a newbie writer thinking about self-publishing, I'd like to know what it's like out there. The following blog post is not going to be some long treatise on indie publishing. I'm just going to talk about my experiences the last four weeks.

If you had asked me a year ago if I had ever imagined self-publishing, I would've told you no. First, I didn't think I'd be able to afford to self-publish. And second, I really wanted a traditional publishing deal. But then I found KBoards Writers' Cafe, a forum for indie authors. Not only was I was floored by the work ethic of many of these indie authors, but I was amazed at how willing they were to share their collective self-publishing knowledge. I devoured all the posts about publishing schedules, pricing, vendors, promotions, and cover art. Suddenly, I wanted to join their club -- write all the stories I had ever wanted to write and publish them. For the first time, I felt energized about my writing career.

A month ago, I published a novella, a spin-off story to my small-press published book, called The Lady in Blue. I was hesitant about publishing the book myself as plunking a few hundred dollars into my writing wasn't something I could do lightly. I don't work full time anymore and I don't earn outside money either. But I had written a novella and I was anxious to get it out to readers. I budgeted $300 for the project (which included editing and cover art), but I spent $450 because I bought Vellum, formatting software (aka a godsend), for $200.

I created accounts on all the vendors (not Google Play), and did a soft launch -- meaning I didn't release a publication date on social media because I wasn't sure how long it would take to get my novella up on the vendors. I didn't want to say May 1st and get stuck in review until May 2nd. My novella went through review on Amazon within hours, but it took much longer to get it up on Barnes and Noble, iTunes, and Kobo. I assume because I didn't have accounts set up on those vendors yet.
And it was a weekend. Note: BN doesn't work weekends.

When I announced to readers on social media and on my mailing list that the book was released, I had 11 sales on Amazon for the first day. To compare, when Grunge Gods was released, I had 40 Amazon sales on release day, but I did a big release day blitz. For the rest of the week, I had a trickle of sales -- three, zero, five, two, three, four, three, one and then radio silence for a week. From May 10th to May 17th, it was like my book didn't exist. There was no movement on it at all. After only getting five sales on BN and none on the other vendors, I pulled The Lady in Blue from the other vendors and enrolled it in KDP Select so it could be in Kindle Unlimited (along with Grunge Gods). Since doing so, I'm getting a trickle of borrows now as well. Currently, I've sold 40 units and my Amazon earnings are roughly $80. Also, I couldn't be more thrilled.

Right now, I'm working on getting reviews. I've sent my book out to bloggers and I'm delighted with the response so far. I'm also hoping to gain more reader subscribers for my newsletter/mailing list. I will do a promotion as soon as I get more reviews.

Despite my low indie budget, I strive to put out my best work. And despite my meager earnings, I am not dissuaded from self-publishing. I've already commissioned cover art for the first book in my new YA mystery trilogy (coming Fall 2015). I'm hoping to have all three books published by this time next year, but we'll see. I have three kids and all.

Anyway, so that's my indie update. As you can see, there's no real money to be made at first. But that's okay. I'm writing and publishing and I'm incredibly content.

Do you self-publish? How goes it?



Unknown said...

I haven't self-published, but it's something I've certainly considered. Thanks for your insights. Wishing you much success as an indie author!

Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

Thanks, Katie. There's definitely a large learning curve.

Brenda St John Brown said...

Congratulations on your indie success! I'm self-publishing my adult contemporary romantic suspense next month and there is A LOT to learn!!

Jonathan Schramm said...

Thanks for the great insight, Kimberly! It's nice to hear from someone who's actually gone through the self-publishing process. Definitely giving me something to think about. I especially like that the initial launch isn't the end all be all. By getting more reviews, you up the "perceived" quality of your book, and as that creeps up, you probably get more sales. And I'm guessing there's no limit to how many times you can push your book out, unlike traditional publishing where there's that initial push and that's it. Very interesting. Thanks again for sharing!

Carrie Beckort said...

Having now self-published three books, I concur that the launch is not the be-all-end-all. I'll add that it is true that you will gain more success with each book you launch. As I launch a new book, I gain new readers and if they like it they are inclined to go back and check out my other books. And, the process does get easier with each launch :-)

Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

Oooh. I can't wait to hear more about your project. There is a lot to learn, but you learn by doing. And messing up.

Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

You're right about promoting your work as long as you want to. I can get more reviews and maybe next year, do another promotion. It's all about when I want to.

Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

Three books??! You're my guru.

Jill said...

"I felt energized about my writing career." This is so important. It's a huge part of why I go to events (like the recent BEA!): to reconnect with the passion that drove me into this biz in the first place.

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