Archive for the ‘money’ Tag

Sales and downloads.

In the past I’ve put up a lot of information about sales and downloads but recently I haven’t updated on the last few promotions – increased busyness in real life reduced time to post updates! Instead I thought I’d put up some total figures as they might be of interest.

A bit of history to start with, publication dates.
Second Time Lucky? and Sovereign Nation went up in mid-to-late September 2013.
Chasing The Future went up on Amazon in July 2014.
The various parts of New Dawns went up in October 2014, with another part going up the end of this week and the final one going up when I have finished writing it.

Second Time Lucky? total downloads: 1,153 (1,146 free, 7 sales).
Sovereign Nation total downloads: 1,243 (1,221 free, 22 sales).
Chasing The Future total downloads: 325 (320 free, 5 sales).
New Dawns (all parts) total downloads: 474 (458 free, 16 sales).

Overall total downloads: 3,195 (3,145 free, 50 sales).

Broken down by country:
2,929 in the USA.
162 in the UK.
30 in Germany.
22 in Canada.
14 in Italy.
8 each in France, India and Australia.
6 each in Spain and Japan.
2 in Brazil.

In just over a year that is 3,195 total downloads! Way above what I would have expected. Yes, it is mostly free downloads but I don’t care about that. Even assuming that the highest downloads (Sovereign Nation) are unique readers and that every other download has come from subsets of them that means over 1,200 people have read something I have written. At least I can be sure it is too many for it to just be friends and family!

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Final free promo results!

Ok – the free days are over, the promos have run their course, it has all gone quiet. So, how did it go? The final download figures are below:

Second Time Lucky (23rd to 27th September)
USA
23rd 592
24th 176
25th 47
26th 42
27th 28
Total: 885

UK
23rd 6
24th 3
25th 0
26th 1
27th 1
Total: 11

Elsewhere: 9

Total overall: 905

Sovereign Nation (26th to 30th September)
USA
26th 197
27th 241
28th 220
29th 80
30th 162
Total: 900

UK
26th 7
27th 7
28th 8
29th 2
30th 4
Total: 26

Elsewhere: 24

Total overall: 950

First conclusion – I really just need to focus on the USA as a market! Second conclusion – Bknights promos work better for free books than for $0.99, by quite a significant factor. Genrepulse’s Fiverr promo seems to be ok but doesn’t provide as big a boost as Bknights. I am unconvinced by Authorchathost’s Fiverr promo, they assure me they promoted the books where they said they would but I couldn’t see them and I didn’t see any uplift in downloads either.

All in all a massive success in terms of numbers though. Both books getting over three and a half times the number of free downloads they’d had in the previous year in the course of a week!

I think as a minimum a Bknights promo can be justified every time the books go free. Now I just need to see what happens when my new serial launches on Friday!

Promotion Of A Free Book – Experiment And Results, Part One.

Ok, I admit it. I am converted. I now believe in paid promotion for my books, even if I am still trying to get it as cheap as I can.

My crime novella Second Time Lucky went free on Tuesday with two of the promotions bknights put up on Fiverr. Before the promotion total downloads 247, of these 241 were free and 6 paid. Here’s the promo so far (as usual, all times are GMT):

23/09/2014 (19:18 – Bknights promos go live)
UK
14:20 (1 download)
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #26,262 Free in Kindle Store
#9 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > British & Irish > English
#11 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > Noir

16:09 (still 1)
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #6,784 Free in Kindle Store
#8 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > Noir
#8 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > British & Irish > English

21:23 (5 downloads)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,607 Free in Kindle Store
#15 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir
#83 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

DE
14:20 (1 download)
Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #31.706 Kostenfrei in Kindle-Shop

16:09 (2 downloads)
Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #2.395 Kostenfrei in Kindle-Shop
Nr. 29 in Kindle-Shop > eBooks > Fremdsprachige eBooks > Englische eBooks > Krimis & Thriller > Krimis

JP
14:20 (1 download)
Amazon Bestseller Rank: Who knows, it is in Japanese!

USA
16:09 (0 downloads)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,394 Free in Kindle Store
#15 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir
#83 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

17:46 (3 downloads)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,394 Free in Kindle Store
#15 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir
#83 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

21:17 (258 downloads)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,607 Free in Kindle Store
#15 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir
#83 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

21:49 (278 downloads)
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #8,155 Free in Kindle Store
#8 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > British & Irish > English
#9 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > Noir

24/09/2014

USA (575 downloads)
06:22
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #410 Free in Kindle Store
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
#2 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Literature & Fiction
#2 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir

12:34 (617 downloads)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #343 Free in Kindle Store
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Literature & Fiction
#2 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir

16:34 (658 downloads)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #366 Free in Kindle Store
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Literature & Fiction
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
#3 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir

21:31 (699 downloads)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #493 Free in Kindle Store
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Literature & Fiction
#3 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir

UK (6 downloads)
06:22
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,168 Free in Kindle Store
#5 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > British & Irish > English
#7 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > Noir

12:36 (7 downloads)
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,186 Free in Kindle Store
#5 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > British & Irish > English
#7 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > Noir

16:37 (8 downloads)
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,611 Free in Kindle Store
#5 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > Noir
#5 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > British & Irish > English

21:33 (9 downloads)
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,863 Free in Kindle Store
#5 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > Noir
#7 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > British & Irish > English

JP (2 downloads)
06:22

CA (1 download)
12:38
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,067 Free in Kindle Store

25/09/2014
USA (768 downloads)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #743 Free in Kindle Store
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Literature & Fiction
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
#3 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir

15:55 (780 downloads)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #794 Free in Kindle Store
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Literature & Fiction
#4 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir

As I sit here typing this it is at 797 free downloads, in two and a half days that is over 3 times what I have got in the last year! The same promos got me a handful of sales at $0.99 / £0.77 so it is safe to say they work better with a free book.

Ok, I know they are sub-categories but that is two number 1’s, my first in any sub-categories!
Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Literature & Fiction
and
Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
with a number 3 in
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir
Way better than I have achieved with Second Time Lucky before, in fact better than I have achieved with any of my work before.

Second Time Lucky is free for today, Friday and Saturday too so there should be a few more downloads but I’m expecting it to tail off a bit now. Then again, Sovereign Nation goes free tomorrow with different promotions set for Friday, Saturday and Sunday and there might be some downloads from people who get that. After this I’ve got high hopes for the Sovereign Nation promotion, it is a full novel for free after all.

Updates will follow.

New Dawns – Season One of a new Romantic-Christian-Science-Fiction serial!

New Chances is the first episode of season one of my new serial, New Dawns, and it goes live on 3rd October! New episodes will launch weekly after that, six in total so far. They will be followed by a Christmas special and, eventually, a collected edition.

Writing a serial is new for me so it will be interesting to see how it goes. Season Two will follow as soon as I’ve got all the ideas together and actually sat down and written it!

The blurb for Season One is below:

The Earth is dying. Humanity’s only hope lies in moving to a new home, the worlds orbiting a gas giant that is a two hundred year journey away. New lives await the first colonists, if they can overcome the weight of their pasts on Earth.

Carl and Martha travel with their teenage children, hoping a new world can help them rebuild their marriage. Their children will need to find new ways to live their lives away from the technological devices that run the overcrowded city they come from.

Jordan fights to escape her past, to find a new role and a new place away from the troubles she is leaving light years behind her.

Carlton and Jacqueline travel in the lap of luxury, transferring their powerbase from Earth to the new colonies. They will remain part of the ruling elite of humanity, they will preserve their wealth. At least, that is what they think.

Father Josiah, an ordinary Catholic priest, leads a pilgrimage to the new worlds. A pilgrimage that will bring him more than he knows.

Mark is an ordinary pilgrim, a man looking for a simple life. His journey will be tougher than he thinks and bring a reward he does not expect.

Together they experience good and bad times, romance and friendships, hardships and troubles as they travel toward a new dawn for mankind. Some will find their journey causes their faith to strengthen, some will find their faith shaken, some will discover faith anew in their new lives.

New Chances is the first episode of Season One of New Dawns, a series of short stories and novellettes (4,500 – 8,500 words) that tell the story of humanity’s new life on new worlds.

Free Books – Second Time Lucky and Sovereign Nation!

This week from Tuesday to Saturday Second Time Lucky will be free on Amazon. I’ve got some promos set up which will hopefully produce good results.

Then from Friday to Tuesday Sovereign Nation goes free! Different promos set up for this so it will be interesting to see what performs well and what happens to downloads of Second Time Lucky in the overlap.

Once I’ve got some results I will share them.

Promo Experiments

Ok, the promo experiments continue. As Bknioghts refunded me for the last one I’ve used the money to try things again, starting with a cut down Bknights promo. Here are the results:

05/09/2014 – 16:35, the baseline.
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #145,121 Paid in Kindle Store

17:35 digitalbookspot.com ad goes live.

06/09/2014 – 06:10
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,435 Paid in Kindle Store
#70 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers > Pulp

10:25
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,716 Paid in Kindle Store
#66 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers > Pulp

11:48
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,740 Paid in Kindle Store
#65 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers > Pulp

13:28
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,158 Paid in Kindle Store
#63 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers > Pulp

15:06
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,634 Paid in Kindle Store
#60 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers > Pulp

21:44
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,561 Paid in Kindle Store
#73 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers > Pulp

07/09 – 00:47
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,860 Paid in Kindle Store
#78 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers > Pulp

07:30
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,804 Paid in Kindle Store
#90 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers > Pulp

Total sales, 5.

This is where promo number 2 kicks in a new Fiverr promo from GenrePulse.

14:03
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,945 Paid in Kindle Store
#95 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers > Pulp

21:14
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,000 Paid in Kindle Store
#78 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers > Pulp

Total sales, 1.

After this I did a Dirt Cheap Mystery Reads promo, which got me exactly zero sales.

So next up, promos on free days. Sovereign Nation will be going free 26 – 30/09/2014 so I have some promos lined up – yes, you guessed it, Bknights decided their promo didn’t sell enough so they refunded me again! I have lined up the following:
Authorchathost promo 26/09/2014
Bknights promo 27/09/2014
Genrepulse (Fiverr) promo 28/09/2014
Hopefully each promo will build on the previous one to give a big download total!

Promoting Books: An Experiment And A Result

This week I tried out a paid for promotion just to see if it works, I used Bknights through Fiverr as they seem to have a good reputation. I got them to promote Second Time Lucky, my murder mystery novelette (although I have been calling it a ‘novella’ it is apparently too short). As this is a year old, in a ridiculously crowded market and only short I was not expecting huge sale numbers or anything, this is just a test.

So, this is how it went (all times are UK but all sales were in the USA):

18:50, 30/08/2014, before the promo went live – Ranked #627,726 Paid in Kindle Store.

Promo goes live 19:41, 30/08/2014.

04:17, 31/08/2014 – Ranked #100,554 Paid in Kindle Store.
#71 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
#76 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir

05:13, 31/08/2014 – Ranked #57,349 Paid in Kindle Store.
#39 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
#48 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir

08:00, 31/08/2014 – Ranked: #35,885 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#22 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
#32 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir
#78 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Literature & Fiction

12:15, 31/08/2014 – Ranked: #48,194 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#25 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
#38 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir

19:10, 31/08/2014 – Ranked: #51,327 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#37 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
#41 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir

07:14, 01/09/2014 – Ranked: #55,979 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#35 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
#47 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir

Sales: 6 on 30/08/2014 and 3 on 31/08/2014.

9 sales, considering there were only 3 in the month before and only 4 more in the year before that (but 241 free downloads) that looks like a pretty good result to me! Bknights actually apologised for the low sales and refunded my money, they obviously had different expectations to me.

The key thing is that I have learnt that I can get sales through a paid promotion, considering it only cost about £15 (and that got refunded) I am pleased with that. So, I need a plan going forward as I intend to use this service again – I’d imagine with a free book you’d get a lot of downloads.

At the moment I am thinking this:
Maybe try this again with Sovereign Nation at $0.99 and see what happens with a longer book.
Launch my new serial with a $0.99 first part, promoted using this. Release the second part a month later at $0.99 and promote that but also make part one free and promote it too.

It has to be worth a try.

Facebook, New Work and Reviews – An Update On Many Things

Facebook promotions.

Ok, so I posted my advert for all three books on Facebook on Sunday morning. Posted it in 60 different Facebook groups, all of them dedicated to Kindles, books, authors and so on. The end result of all that posting? Nothing, nada, zilch, zero, not a dickie-bird. So after multiple postings to all those groups over the course of a month or so I got a total of 5 sales. 5. And I’m pretty sure one of those was to my brother. Time for a new marketing strategy!

I think I am going to actually have to pay for some advertising, I just cannot do it myself. Maybe it is just that my books are selling as many copies as they are going to or maybe it is that they just aren’t prominent enough, until I try something serious I won’t really know. Most of the “Writer’s Cafe” members on Kboards.com seem to believe Bknights promos are the best value, cheap but with a reasonable return, so I think I might try one of them.

I have had a brief look at their fiverr profile and it looks like I can get something for about $20, pretty cheap really.
Apparently they work best when your book is free, due to the way the Kindle Select system works I do not have any free days until 20th September (on Sovereign Nation and Second Time Lucky) or 14th October (on Chasing The Future). My next work is almost ready to begin publishing so maybe I will try it for that?

New work.

I’ve decided to do something different with my next work. Different in a lot of ways. First of all it is not a thriller or a mystery, much though I enjoyed writing them I wanted a change of pace. I’ve had a science-fiction idea rolling around in my head for a long while and I’ve tried writing it several times, only to give up after a few thousand words because it hasn’t really worked, now I think I have a handle on it. The end result has no gun fights, car chases, murders or ancient artefacts in booby-trap filled tombs – instead it has ended up with a fair amount of romance and musings on how faith affects people. There is still plenty of story their, it is not a lot of characters sitting around navel-gazing, but it is very different from what I have written before.

The other major difference is that I think I am going to release it as a serial. I’ve got a first part that is around 25,000 words and I’m already starting on follow up parts that will be anything from short stories to novelettes to novellas (check the wikipedia article on ‘Word Counts’ for definitions of these). The parts would probably be released monthly and maybe eventually I would put together omnibus editions. It just seems like the right format for the story as I have got a lot of POV characters so the story seems to naturally split into parts.

A Romantic-Christian-Science-Fiction serial from an almost unknown writer of thrillers, that should be an easy sell, right?

Reviews.

One piece of really good news, another positive review for Sovereign Nation! From one of Amazon’s top reviewers too, brilliant! I love to read reviews of my books that are honest and it really sounds like he’s enjoyed the book and my style of writing so I’m very glad to have the new review, go to Amazon and give it a read.

Authors, Self-Publishing and Money.

Money. A dirty word in some circles and the elephant in the room whenever there is a discussion about self-publishing. So let us start with a question, are you writing purely to earn money?
If the answer is ‘yes’ then forget self-publishing, in fact forget most forms of fiction altogether. Go out and research what magazines are publishing and try to get an idea of what they will be wanting in six months time, write articles and pitch them to the magazines. Go out and research what the hot trends are in non-fiction books, again try to look ahead of the current curve (this time by a year or two), research and write your book and start pitching it to agents. If you can write decent copy and get to the bottom of the subjects you are writing about you have a chance of making some money. If you are lucky your self-help/cookery/diet book will be a hit and you can repackage the material in different ways for a few years and make a fortune. If writing fiction is how you plan to make your money then changing your name to Stephen King and trying some identity theft might be your best shot, I don’t recommend it as he probably has the sort of lawyers who can get him everything you own and some essential bodily fluids in a settlement but go ahead if you like.
The simple truth is that most of us fiction writers are not going to make a lot of money out of this so if that is your motivation you may need to think about a backup option. Sure, there are many interviews out there with self-published authors saying ‘I sell x-thousand books a month and make a good living’ but they are the minority. I know we all think we will write the next bestseller and it will make us into the next Stephen King (what’s with the Stephen King obsession today, I don’t know) but the reality is likely to be very different.
If I remember correctly a recent poll of writers suggested that even those who consider themselves professional writers (i.e. those that spend more than 50% of their working time writing) earn an average of £11,000 a year from writing. That is what I earned working in a call centre in my first real job 16 years ago answering phones in a call centre. It wasn’t enough to live on then, it wouldn’t even be close now. I suspect if the poll were done again just of self-published fiction writers that figure would plummet.
If you are going to self-publish you have to do it for the love of writing and for that alone, otherwise you will be living with a lot of disappointment. When I am honest with myself I know I will probably never make a living wage from my writing and I am ok with that, I have always written and always will – just getting things out there that a tiny group of people read is enough for me if that is all I will ever get. The best I hope for is that eventually, when I have written enough and improved my writing, I may be able to make a little extra money each month from my writing. Do I wish I could make enough money to be able to hire Stephen King to fetch my tea from Costa every morning? Of course! But I recognise this is as much a dream as winning the lottery or suddenly waking up looking like George Clooney.
There is, of course, the old saying that ‘you have to spend money to make money’ and it is probably true. Spending money on your writing is a way to increase your chances of making some money back from sales, but it only works if you have the money to spend in the first place. So, where to spend the money?
Many, many sites out there will tell you that the first thing you should spend money on is an Editor for your work. Even if you just choose one to check spelling, grammar and the like rather than someone to help the shape of your story they are probably right. I know my three books could all use the touch of an editor. However, the cheapest editors I could see charge around $500 for a 50,000 word manuscript – the majority charge more. I don’t have $500 to spend on editing, I don’t have $500 to spend on anything. It is likely my books will not fare as well as those that have been professionally edited but the reality is that I just cannot afford it. If you can, go for it. I genuinely believe it will increase your book’s sales potential.
Next up on just about every article I read on this subject is the professional cover design, another great idea. Yes, it is also something I cannot afford either. The covers of my books are designed by me, using pictures I have taken myself. Do they all work really well? No, they don’t but they are the best I can do on a budget of nothing. However, if you can afford it then do it. Book cover design is an art and learning it would take a long time, it is not impossible but just about every successful self-published author gets people to design covers for them.
Finally there is marketing and promotion. One of the best marketing tools for a book is reviews, they are also notoriously difficult to get. Yes, there are companies out there who will review your book if you pay them anything from $100 dollars upwards. They all claim they will give honest reviews – if they do it seems a lot of money for something that may actually hinder your chances of selling if it is bad; on the other hand, if they don’t bother with honesty and just give 5 star reviews then how useful is a review that may mislead your readers (honestly, how many of us are really capable of writing 5 star books)? There are review swaps as an option – write a fake review of someone’s self-help book and they will write an equally fake review of your novel. Trust me, the whole thing will just leave you feeling a bit grubby. This leaves us with the option of sending out requests for reviews, there are different options for this:

1) Check on Amazon for people who have reviewed similar books and ask them for a review (if their profile gives contact information). I tried this, emailed a large number (about 100 I think) and got one review. 4 or 5 others promised a review but 5 months later none have come through yet. If you are going to do this it will take time. Ensure that each email you send is a personal one, if you just cut and paste a standard email they will be able to tell and may react against you, which can do a lot of harm.
2) Post in groups devoted to reviewers on sites like Goodreads and Facebook. I have done this several times and so far it has led to one review.
3) Email a request or make a submission to book bloggers. I haven’t really tried this yet but every one I have looked at so far has a warning up about how they already are overwhelmed with reviews so it may take months to get one. Many will not accept self-published books so ensure you check their guidelines carefully.
4) Giveaways. I ran a giveaway on Goodreads (physical books only, they do not allow ebooks) and eventually got 2 reviews from the five books I gave away. A better hit rate than some of the other options but as it means giving away printed books it ends up costing more.

Next up comes the real marketing and promotion. You can email around for chances to be interviewed, find ways of advertising your books, create a social media presence and create a blog – or you can pay someone to do most of that stuff for you. With my budget I have done it myself, mainly through creating a blog and posting in Facebook groups – neither has exactly led to a landslide of sales just yet. I have so far managed to secure no interviews and my one attempt at advertising through Google Adwords was a dismal failure, this may be another area where hiring someone is a good plan if you really want it to work.
Despite all of this I will keep going with my writing, ok so my grand total of copies downloaded is probably somewhere around 400 for three books so far and my total income would barely buy me a cup of team and a biscuit in Costa, but I am not in it for the money. I love writing and I love the freedom of self-publishing and I will continue with both as long as I am able.
Now, all I need to do is to work out how to get someone to offer me a couple of million for the movie rights . . .