More Lessons Learned from Self-Publishing

PurelyRelative_ClaireGillian_taggedA post about my self-publishing experiences has been months in the making and I still have more to learn and report, I’m sure. But today, I had a massive epiphany, all due to a silly little email I initially dismissed.

First, a disclaimer. I am NOT a bestselling author, not even close. I’m new and mostly unknown, but I’m trying to move the needle without spamming or gaming the system. To that end, I decided to try self-publishing a novella sequel / filler story to go with my debut novel, The P.U.R.E., released in April 2012.

Purely Relative was intended to be somewhat of a loss leader, even though chronologically it’s a sequel. I published it in late April 2013, about a year after its predecessor released.

I used Smashwords, Amazon and All Romance eBooks site sales / rankings as my bellwethers of how sales were going. I never poked around Smashwords looking for reports about the affiliate sales (Apple, B&N, Diesel, Kobo, etc).

Today I got an email from Smashwords telling me that my sales were triple-reported for June 24/June 25 and my total due was too high by like $16. Yeah, ok. No biggy. But I figured I’d better go looking for whatever reports they did have YTD.

A bit more history to consider first. Purely was free for about 2 months. This price replicated through the Smashwords affiliate network and eventually Amazon matched it. I only watched about 170 free downloads directly from Smashwords click by. That’s a pretty low figure.

I chalked Purely up to a learning experiment and figured there was not that much of an appetite for heroine, Gayle and her love interest in both books, Jon. I had never planned any sequels (not even Purely) and the numbers supported that conclusion. I was somewhat disappointed Gayle hadn’t been a huge “hit”, but not overly depressed about it.

Lesson #1:

I made an error of omission and false correlation. I failed to consider B&N and Apple, erroneously assuming sales would mirror Amazon.

Total downloads to date from Smashwords AND B&N, Apple, Diesel, Kobo, etc. including the free ones (which were  substantial), and excluding Amazon and All Romance eBook downloads:


11,214 worldwide downloads via Smashwords / Affiliates

and add in over 5600 downloads from Amazon for a grand total of:

16,746 total downloads!

(thud…me falling out of my chair)

Lord have mercy! I. Had. NO. Idea. That’s a hellova lot more than 170!

7500+ were from Apple where 96 readers also posted ratings (thank you!!). Over 3600 were from B&N where I picked up another 13 reviews/ratings. (Although many download for free, few actually read and review. To rack up over 100 ratings/reviews, that’s a win!)

332 of the Smashwords / Affiliates 11k were paid copies, mostly when the book was priced at 99 cents, but a third of which were from when it was $1.99, which leads me to…

Lesson #2:

Maybe I was too quick to lower the price to 99 cents based on the sales figures I was watching at Amazon. I’ll never know, but I’ll live.

Lesson #3:

Purely did drive up sales of The PURE as I had hoped. June 2013 was my second highest sales month ever, not that far behind May 2012, the highest right after its release. Yes, more than a year after its book birthday, the novella sequel drove some pretty awesome sales!

Talk about an interesting trio of lessons learned. And the timing couldn’t be more perfect because I was really down about my Lila book sales lately…again, based on Amazon.

So…maybe I will write another PURE mystery. NaNo is just around the corner. How does PURE Chance grab you as the title for Gayle and Jon’s next adventure set in Las Vegas?

P.S. You can still download Purely Relative for FREE from Smashwords (only) if you use code WW66D

4 thoughts on “More Lessons Learned from Self-Publishing

  1. This is fantastic news, Claire. So, so interesting to hear all about your sales and how certain marketing techniques boosted sales. Thank you for sharing.
    I’ve been remiss in posting my review for PURE which I read over the summer. Just loved Jon and Gayle and would love to read another mystery involving them. Pure Chance sounds the business. 🙂

  2. Hi Claire, that’s excellent news! *high five* Maybe in the future I’ll have to pick your brain about novellas and ebooks and self-pubbing (oh my!)

    More Gayle and Jon? yes, please!

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