Transparency in Indie Publishing: Month One

As promised, I’m going to share my sales for my indie-published novella series here, so that others considering indie-publishing can have as much data as possible to make their decision. I’ll also try to share any insight into my sales numbers, and what marketing efforts I’ve made (and if I can see any correlation between those efforts and my sales figures).

So, February was a short month, and Aboard the Unstoppable Aerostat Fenris wasn’t widely available until the 4th or 5th. So right off the bat, I was working with a month that was only about 24 days long.

Also, I did virtually no marketing ahead of time. Sure, I’d posted here a few times about the book and its progress, but I didn’t send out any review copies, I didn’t do any real networking, prior to the release date. Mostly, it was because this is my first go at indie publishing fiction, and I didn’t want to shoot myself in the foot if I ran into problems getting it out there. I decided to go with the slow-and-steady approach.

Here are my sales for the month of February:

Smashwords: 2 copies (I know both people who bought it there)

Barnes & Noble’s PubIt!: 6 copies

Amazon: 14 copies, but one was returned immediately after being purchased, for a net of 13 copies

Net Total: 21 copies

Honestly, it’s about where I figured it would be, which is a good feeling. I wanted to sell at least a dozen copies in the first month, and I was hoping for a copy-a-day average, which I came very close to.

I know a lot of you are interested in what marketing I did for the month, so here’s a breakdown of that:

  • Blog posts here. I wrote six posts related to the book in February.
  • Facebook Page. The FB page launched on February 1st. It currently has 49 fans, and I’m happy to report that a significant number of those are people I’ve never heard of before. I try to post a few times a week, both with links to the book and related info, as well as to other steampunk-related links.
  • Twitter. I posted on a fairly regular basis with links to buy or to the Facebook page. I also participated in #SampleSunday twice (on 2/6 and 2/27), with a total of six re-tweets.
  • Interview on the Kindle Author Blog. The interview was posted on 2/10, and I saw no noticeable uptick in sales. This link was also shared by the Tor.com Steampunk Facebook Page, which has around a thousand fans.
  • Interview on Greta van der Rol’s blog. I might have had an extra sale or two because of this.
  • Interview on Noelle Pierce’s Candles of the Night blog. Again, I might have had an extra sale or two because of this.
  • I posted announcements on Kindle Boards, Nook Boards, and UK Kindle Users.
  • Posted an announcement on the Absolute Write forums, and on the Authonomy Forums. I scored one glowing review on Barnes & Noble from an Absolute Write member.
  • I updated my signature and avatar on all the writer and book forums I participate in, to reflect my book cover and links to purchase. No idea whether this has had any effect or not.
  • I’m trying to be more active on Goodreads, and networking there. Currently, Aboard the Unstoppable Aerostat Fenris is on fourteen “to-read” shelves and on three listopia lists: #98 on the Best Steampunk Books (out of 174), #17 on the Steampunk/Romance (out of 41), and #13 on the Best Steampunk and Gaslight Works (out of 57). If you’re a Goodreads member and have a minute, I’d appreciate any votes!

This month I’ve already had one small blog feature, and I have three or four reviews and more guest posts and interviews lined up. I also need to get back to sending out review requests.

In all, for a soft launch, I’m not disappointed with the progress so far. And, with the launch of the second book later this month (I’m in the proofreading/copyediting stage at the moment), hopefully sales will pick up more.

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4 thoughts on “Transparency in Indie Publishing: Month One

  1. Congratulations Cam.

    I hope your sales numbers compound as time passes.
    I wish I owned an e-reader:(
    When will the hardcopy version come out?

    • Thanks! I hope to release a print version of the first three books as a single volume once the third book is out (and then the second three books will be released as another volume later). Since these are novellas, it’s not really cost-effective to release them individually (and I don’t want to charge $10 for an 80-page book).

      I’ve been debating releasing some Penny-Dreadful-style, ‘zine-type books as a limited edition (maybe 20-30 of each one), but just haven’t had a chance to look into it much. If I did, I’d probably sell them for not much more than the ebook edition, plus shipping. I’ll update here if I do. :)

      If you don’t have an ereader, you can buy the books on Smashwords and download a PDF or RTF version. You can even print those if you don’t want to read on screen.

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