Well, as I announced last year on this blog, I decided to jump in with both feet and try indie publishing for my romances. I did this for one specific reason, to see if there was anything I, the writer, could do on my own to affect sales. Working with a publisher means working with a lot of middle men between you and the reader. Indie publishing leaves you with no one to blame if you fail, and I figured that regardless of how my career develops, I needed to know once and for all if publicity and platform building make any difference.
Does it ever. Here we go. In November I released my book Paint Me True, which opened to very strong reviews and has a beautiful cover designed by Jenn Reese of Tiger Bright Studios. I subbed this book to several book blogs and love it very much, but didn't do any serious marketing. Here is its sales curve:
The type is small, so it's a little hard to see, but the vertical axis is the book's ranking on Amazon and the range is between 1 and 400,000 - which means it's never dropped below 400,000. I've sold up to 50 some odd copies of this book a month. In January I increased its price to $2.99, but that made no discernible difference. While it is by no means a failure (a good number of ebooks in Amazon have no ranking because they have either no sales, or sales are so long ago that it doesn't chart), it's no breakout hit. No surprise there. It was my first book under the name E.M. Tippetts for the national market. Before that I'd been a Mormon chick lit niche writer. Talk about specialized.
In December I released Someone Else's Fairytale, which is not Mormon chick lit, but rather mainstream "clean" chick lit (because sex is dirty? I don't like that term, but never mind.) The cover is also by Jenn Reese of Tiger Bright Studios and I love it, but it's split the audience into love/hate groups because it isn't typical of the genre, and the image is somewhat ambiguous. Some think it's a photo, others a mirror, and I, unhelpfully, do not care which they think. While it's more upbeat than Paint Me True, I would contend it's not as sound, structurally, and the reviews have reflected this to some extent. This book I marketed via book blogs and Twitter, investing no money beyond the cost of the cover. Here's its sales curve:
The results of the experiment: Does marketing matter? Yes. Does it require a lot of money? No. Can an author make a difference to their own sales fate? Absolutely. Will any kind of marketing work? I seriously doubt it. I'll write more later on what kind of marketing works - hint, begging everyone to puh-lease read your book will probably drive your sales right into the ground. What has this whole experiment done for me? As I type this I'm on three different Amazon bestseller lists, including the coveted Top 100 for childrens (Fairytale can also be considered young adult.) I sell between 50 and 100 copies a day, this week, and have sold up to 300 copies a day. In short, I can call myself a writer with a straight face. I still need to build out my shelf and get more books out to make a regular income, but now I'm seeing how this could be possible. E.M. Tippetts now makes more money than traditionally published Emily Mah - who earns around $400.00 per short story. This month my income as E.M. Tippetts will be in the four figures.
What should you take from this? The proverbial doors have been thrown open and you can take control of your career and publishing destiny. I couldn't be happier with how this little experiment turned out