Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Adventures in Self-Publishing: Lessons Learned So Far


That’s how many copies I’ve sold of Courting the King in Yellow since it debuted digitally on October 29, 2012. That breaks down to an average of four copies a week for the six weeks that it has been available. Of those twenty-eight copies, twenty-two have been sold through Drive Thru Fiction, and six have sold over at the Amazon Kindle Store. So far, no copies have sold on the Kobo eBooks Store (although the book has only been on Amazon and Kobo since November 30th).

I think it’s a bit early to start drawing any real conclusions from such a small sample of data, but I have already learned a few lessons that will help inform my next book release in the summer of 2013.

First off, I will need to think about exclusivity. My goal for CtKiY was to release it on as many platforms as possible, but that comes at a cost. Mainly, some sites offer benefits to authors for publishing exclusively through them. Drive Thru, for example, offers better royalties on each sale, as well as increased promotion on their site for exclusivity. Amazon has a very popular program called KDP Select, which you can only take part in if you publish exclusively through them. With KDP Select, your book can become part of the Kindle Lending Library, and you have access to more promotional tools, meaning there are more ways for you to get your book noticed.

The second issue I need to think more about is price. I launched digitally at a $4.99 price point, and that clearly was too high. I have since dropped the price of the digital editions to $2.99, but it’s only been a few days, so it’s too early to say whether or not that will have an effect on sales. While the market over at Drive Thru seems to tolerate higher prices for digital books, both the Amazon and Kobo marketplaces seem dominated by the $.99 price point, especially for indies. I kind of knew this going in, but I took the chance on pricing higher anyway. Not to mention, I don’t want to have wildly different prices on each marketplace.

As I said, it’s too early to drastically change my approach, I think. But now that the print version of the book is available, I do have some flexibility. I could pull the digital versions off of Drive Thru and Kobo, and join the KDP Select program by only offering the digital version of CtKiY on Amazon. And, I could still offer the print version over at Drive Thru, as it would not violate the terms of the KDP Select program (which deals only with digital).

So, I’m thinking if Kobo continues to be a dead end, and sales overall don’t pick up in the next handful of weeks, I may try out KDP Select early in the New Year.

This whole process is a learning experience, and I intend to learn as much as I can before I publish book number two. As I am still building my author platform, I’m less concerned with dollars at this point and more concerned with what the numbers are telling me in terms of self-publishing options.

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