By Scott Bury
I don’t know what, specifically, is going on, but my admittedly very slow sales have picked up since mid-January.
My sales numbers are still far from huge, but I’m not complaining. I’m seeing daily sales numbers for The Bones of the Earth, Initiation Rites (which is Part 1 of The Bones of the Earth), and even my short story, Dark Clouds, rise almost each day. Most of this is happening in the UK, but sales are up strongly in the US, too.
Naturally, I’m happy. I might attribute it to the general improvement in the economy, six long years after the “financial crisis.” Maybe it’s Obama’s doing. Or maybe a post-Olympic high.
Seriously, though, I am sensing a surge in mainstream acceptance of the independent author and e-books.
Yes, e-books are mainstream. And independent, self-publishing authors are mainstream, too. The commercial publishing industry just hasn’t figured it out, yet.
I may feel chuffed by a relative, if absolutely tiny, increase in sales over the past six weeks. But then I see something like independent publishing machine, Russell Blake’s
post on Facebook, and I get depressed.
Russell’s not the only one. Toby Neal, independent author of thrillers, published candid numbers on her blog. She invested $12,000 in the editing, design, production and marketing of her first book, Blood Orchids, and netted over $100,000 over the last three or four years.
Now, thrillers are the second-biggest selling genre, after romance, and far ahead of fantasy in the overall book sales picture. But paranormal author Jami Gold pulled together some analysis by other authors and found that writers who treat publishing as a business and keep putting out good product are more likely to make a living at it. More than half of authors who have written more than 12 books are making over $50,000 a year or more, she found.
Probably the best-selling self-published novelist of all, Hugh Howey, author of Wool, has stirred up a lot of dust by publishing an analysis of sales numbers posted by Amazon and major publishers. When it comes to genre fiction, e-books account for 86 percent of books sold, and independent authors outsell the Big 5 commercial publishers combined.
Writing is an art, but publishing is a business
As I mentioned in my December post on this blog, we independent authors of genre fiction need to approach publishing as a business. And since we individually don’t have the depth of pocket to compete with the Big 5 in marketing, we need to find other ways to reach audiences.
We need to work together in a coordinated way to raise our profiles and promote books. Together, we can provide all the functions and intelligence that a commercial enterprise can bring to bear.
I recommend to anyone who wants to know how to reach a wider audience to read Martin Crosbie’s excellent book, How I Sold 30,000 EBooks on Amazon’s Kindle — An Easy-to-follow self-publishing guidebook. It’s exactly what it promises: a step-by-step guide on establishing relationships with authors and audiences, building goodwill and promoting your book. He also spells out in detail how to use Kindle Select, free promotions and discounts to boost sales, and on what techniques work and what don’t.
Maybe we should prevail on Russell Blake to detail “How I sold half a million books in two months.”
How do we reach wider audiences? The answer is obvious: treat selling your books like a business. Have a strategy that involves cooperating with other independent writers. Cross-promotion, group sales events, using social media effectively.
So what do you say, fellow authors? Who is ready to spend their promotional time more effectively by coming together and working strategically