Everything I've learned about writing a book, Grammarly, Hemingway, and AutoCrit Apps, getting Amazon Book Reviews, Indie and Audiobook Publishing, Book Promotion, the (huge) importance of Amazon keywords, Cover Creators and other things to help authors write and sell…
Two and a half years after I published my novel, it is still selling several copies a day.
Earlier today it had a sales rank of 50K (see the above screenshot). Sales have certainly declined from where they peaked about nine months after I published, but sales continue at a steady pace. And my novel is in a pretty small niche, so book sales have only so much upside in this niche.
My book is priced at $1.49, and it has been at that price for almost the entire time it has been for sale on Amazon, so I’m not wracking up sales by selling it at $.99.
Below you can see my Author Rank as tracked by Amazon. Even two and a half years after I launched my book it is still doing better than it did the month after I launched it. Again — see my blog on keywords. That dip the month after I published my book was because I did not know what I was doing (like most indies) with keywords. After that, I got my keywords figured out and my sales did much better.
My first attempt at a novel was a dystopian science fiction story while I was in 7th grade in Hays, Kansas. It focused on the Junior High students and our coming challenges as we were to be protected from a cataclysm that would wipe out society before were were to restart humanity. Probably not the best sci fi book plot of all time.
This book came up in a discussion I was having earlier today. Published in 1968, and an eventual bestseller, The Population Bomb asserted that within 10 – 20 years the world would be wracked by starvation and wars for food.
In my early teens in the ’70s I lived in a small town in western Kansas surrounded by literally an ocean of wheat that farmers were going broke producing because the world had too damn much of it. So I could not reconcile the dire warnings of “The Population Bomb” and the reality around me.
Think the success of the great novel you are working on is all about the writing? Think again if you want to have a successful book launch.
BookBaby has published the results of a survey which they describe as such: “The 2017 Self-Publishing Survey conducted by BookBaby was focused specifically on revealing the most successful book marketing and promotional strategies for self-publishers. The 56-questions survey targeted two subgroups: authors who have published at least one book (either self-published, traditionally published, or both), and aspiring authors who have not yet published a book. The online survey was conducted between October 24, 2016 – November 28, 2016, and was completed by 7,677 aspiring and published authors.”
Aliens has long been one of my favorite Sci Fi movies. It is not great movie making, and it is not great Science Fiction. But it is a great action flick with lots of worthy special effects and various thrills. There is more than that, though, and it comes to a head when Ripley shouts out at the alien: “Get away from her you bitch!”
One of my daughters was given a scholarship to help fund her education in Art (medical illustration) by the art community of Spicewood, Texas. Spicewood is a small town southwest of Austin’s southwestern suburbs, so definitely out in the country. They asked her to join in their 4th of July celebration, so our entire family went. We cheered for the parade and then went to the community grounds where ~300 of us enjoyed hot dogs and cokes and a local band performing old favorites intermixed with short speeches. Near the start, a young woman tried to sing the national anthem. It did not start well.
Six weeks ago I was on the verge of sending my manuscript to my editor, but I had a few interruptions: My older twin daughters (yes, we have two sets of twins) graduated from high school and we had to visit the colleges they are going to for orientations, we moved to a new house (which was a ton of physical work, and I aggravated an old collarbone injury), my boss (and friend) was fired and I’ve taken on a bigger role at work, and my wife and I have both had to travel for various other reasons.
I saw some of this coming, so I decided to take advantage of the pause to have two more beta readers go through the manuscript. Both are accomplished readers with keen and critical eyes, and both are preparing to publish their first novels. I finally had some time today to look at their feedback in detail…
One of my 18-year-olds was the captain of her varsity soccer team and is a regular at the local cross-fit gym. She convinced me to join her on her first Spartan Sprint. At times it felt like an Army obstacle course, which I have not done in more than a few years. My train-up was less than rigorous, but we got it done without any injuries and without too much soreness.
I’ve long enjoyed military science fiction, so I have had The Forever War on my to read list for…well…you know…forever. I’m glad I did. Finally. It is not just damn good, it is good for a reason. Several, in fact.
I am happy to share that since I last made a donation in March, my sales of Youth In Asia about the 173rd Airborne Brigade during the Vietnam War have generated more than $600 of income for me. Not bad for a book priced at just $1.49, and of which I only get 30%. Since I’ve promised to donate half of my earnings, that is $300 more to donate.
Additionally, Crawford Roberts, the accomplished producer of the audiobook version of my novel had offered his services at a discounted rate, and then, after working on the projected, offered to complete it for free. I did not feel right keeping the $200 I had promised him, so I have added it to the $300 I will contribute. That makes $500.
Better yet, my employer again agreed to match my total contribution, so (in part due to Crawford’s and my employer’s generosity) I have just made a $1,000 contribution to the VFW’s National Home for Children.
With your help, I have now donated $1,650 to the VFW, Wounded Warrior, and similar organizations from my book sales to help our veterans
I will also donate a portion of my revenue from Lonely Hunter. Two of my children are chronically ill, so I’m happy to give to organizations doing medical research from which my children and all children will someday benefit.
I took my four teenage daughters to see the sci fi movie “Rogue One” a few days ago. There were some really strange coincidences between the movie and my forthcoming novel, Lonely Hunter. But first, some thoughts on Rogue One.
None of my kids are particularly dialed into Star Wars, but a few have seen a prior movie or two. I’ve seen four of them (swore I’d never go to another one after Clone Wars). Three of my kids enjoy various Sci Fi-ish flicks from time to time such as Hunger Games, Inception, the Marvel franchise, Transformers, etc. We all thought the trailer looked interesting, so we gave it a shot.
The consensus coming out was that it was underwhelming at best. But what was really weird were the number of coincidences with my own novel.
As I continue to edit my work in progress and think about meeting readers’ expectations, especially when it comes to descriptive writing, I recently came across and interesting review of Peter Mendelsund’s What We See When We Read, “a book that explores how people imagine and remember the things they read.”
I’ve always been loath to write (and dislike reading) detailed descriptions of characters and settings. I’m OK with details that surface as the story progresses when they are relevant, but one of the fastest ways for me to lose interest in a book or story is a front-loaded block of description sentences which have no other purpose, and an abundance of adjectives and adverbs. She was tall and had green eyes. She stepped over the puddles with her long legs while smiling at Bob, showing off her perfect, white teeth… Ugh.
Since I recently released my first audio book, I thought I’d provide a summary of my experience publishing an audiobook via Amazon’s ACX Audible to help anyone headed down the same path. The book has gotten strong reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, but I wanted to make it available so people could hear it as well as read it on their Kindle Fire.
None of us want to fail as writers or have to admit to our families and friends that after all our hours in seclusion banging out our manuscripts they failed to sell even 10 copies. That is the height of embarrassment that none of us want to experience. As an indie publisher, it is critical that we understand what we are getting ourselves into and how to be successful before we start. This is doubly true as I am writing a book, and I hope this second one is even more successful than my first.
A recent article argued that there is a formula to writing bestsellers. The article says the algorithm is “built to predict, with 80 percent accuracy, which novels will become mega-bestsellers. What does it like? “Young, strong heroines who are also misfits (the type found in The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). No sex, just ‘human closeness.’ Frequent use of the verb ‘need.’ Lots of contractions. Not a lot of exclamation marks. Dogs, yes; cats, meh.” So if you are writing a novel and want to trump your competition, you should abide what this book says, right? Let’s see how I’m doing with my upcoming science fiction novel:
* Young, strong, heroine — check. * Misfit — check. * No sex — this one is an in betweener…you’ll have to read the novel to understand. * Human closeness — check. * Frequent use of the verb “need” — hmm… 154 times in a novel of 116k words…I can work on this one. * Lots of contractions — I probably need more, so this is fixable. * Not a lot of exclamation marks — I’ve got too many. I can fix this. * Dogs — Several of them. * Cats — One. Dead.
I suppose if I put an image of a young woman on the cover… Bestseller, here I come!
I think about writing like I think about long distance biking. I (used) to do a century (100-mile) bike ride about once every other month and even tried a double century (but only made it 172 miles ). Tour de France rider I am not.
The analogy is this: Writing is a long-haul exercise, just like any endurance sport. And if you are into endurance sports you know you are going to hit really bad times along the way. It’s going to happen. You have to be ready for it, or you will give up when you hit the hard times.