The first three months as a new author

Vantastic France has now been on Amazon for three months and it has been a bit of a roller coaster ride for me as a fledgling author. I am not going to pick figures out of a hat to make sales look better, just give you the true facts. This might encourage others to follow and publish their own novels on Amazon, because as you will see I am progressing in the right direction.

JANUARY

Early sales of a couple a day were mostly from friends, so was not really a true reflection on whether my novel would sell.  I sold 32 copies in January so I was more than happy selling a book every day. I also realised that some of these were real sales, which was quite encouraging. I also had received a great review, so I decided to have this on the back of the paperback version which would compliment the Kindle version.

FEBRUARY

As I had decided to go with the KDP select programme I had 5 days in which I could promote my book  as a free Kindle download. After reading the KDP forum I was in two minds about offering my book for free. Some people totally trashed the scheme, yet others found it an excellent marketing tool.

It seems that what works for some doesn’t work for others, but how can you tell unless you try and even then you do not know what really would have happened if you had not! So you have to go with your gut feelings on this one and in my mind the free down-loaders would probably have not paid to download it anyway. However the major benefit is that your novel will also feature in ‘Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought’ which to me is the best place to have your book featured. You might also pick up a few reviews and clicks on the ‘like’ button.

My free days were at the start of the months and I have a total of 679 free downloads. I had seen talk of a lot higher figures, but have since read that free downloads are not achieving the same high figures as last year. I had a total real sales of 90 downloads, which was nearly three times the first moths sales, so obviously something was working in my favour.

MARCH

At the start of March I decided to use up my last free days as I could see that daily sales were getting slightly less. This resulted in 614 free downloads and a total of 166 sales for the month, another good percentage rise in sales and now seeing my revenue for the month in hundreds and not tens was also very encouraging.

THE DREADED REVIEWS

I had collected a few nice reviews in the early months, but after my March free days I had a couple of scathing reviews by people who had not paid and even said that thank God they had not. To be honest I felt totally gutted for 48 hours and thought that was the end of my very short career as an author. However all was not lost as I watched my sales figures rising daily after the bad reviews, it was a great relief to see this continue for most of the month.

I have now accepted that it goes with the territory and something you have to learn to live with when you put your work forward to the general public. It also made me reflect on my thoughts while I had been creating the novel and adding a few stereotypical ex-pats. I had   thought then that some of them could well take offence to the way I had portrayed them.

There was also a comment in the review about editing, which I am sure somewhere there is still the odd mistake in the book, but I did have a professional editor give it the once over, obviously not to the standard of the reviewer. All in all it seems that many people have enjoyed reading it despite it not quite being up to standard, which is all I could have asked for as a new very inexperienced author.

Bad reviews also make you reflect on your work and although you will not appeal to every reader, it makes you want to set higher standard for your work in other ways. To be fair I feel I am very lucky to have my work on the same cyber bookshelf as so many brilliant authors. I have a feeling I might not have been able to achieve that without Amazon and had to compete on book-store shelves.

Just while I am mentioning editing your work, I find it is far easier in a paperback version and before you go to print with Amazon Create Space you have the chance to receive a hard copy version. As you have no second chance to re-edit like you can do with the Kindle version, it is worth waiting to have the draft copy sent to you. This took just 3 days to arrive in France from the US,  I did pay for the express delivery of course.

OTHERS WAYS OF PROMOTION

Despite having no clue as to how it all worked I have to say that now I have got my head around it that Twitter has been a fantastic way to promote my book and mingle in the cyberspace world of other authors. There are many great articles for new authors posted via Twitter and other advice from business professionals who can help with book promotions and social media advice. I have to give a little plug for my new Twitter friend Jo whom I have to say has helped me get started on Twitter by clicking on many of her helpful links.

I have also has some business cards printed with the cover of my novel on it and a few details. The flip side has my business website French Classified on it, so I killed two birds with one stone as they are both linked with France.

TO SUM UP

Do I regret it; NO WAY

Would I publish another novel; ITS A WORK IN PROGRESS

Am I in profit;   YES

What’s my advice for a new author; FOLLOW YOUR OWN INSTINCTS

About Steve Bichard

I run French Classified and Property
This entry was posted in Book Sales and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to The first three months as a new author

  1. Steph says:

    Great post, Steve. Those are really good sales figures and increasing all the time. As you say, a lot of people who got the free download wouldn’t have paid for the book anyway so you didn’t lose sales.
    As for reviews, don’t take them personally. There are some strange people out there who seem to delight in trampling on a writer’s self-confidence. I admire that you’re so honest about how they affected you at first. We all get bad reviews – it’s a part of the package!
    It’s a steep learning curve, authoring and self-publishing, and I’d say you’ve got off to a great start! Looking forward to the next book.

    • Thanks for your comments Steph
      I think some people sit around and wait for a book to sell, we have to use what is on offer or get left behind.
      What I have found that there are a lot of authors willing to share advice, many who are very successful.

  2. Thanks for the plug Steve… and well done on the sales of the book, I’m sure it will only get better! I know from selling my late Grandfather’s book how difficult it is to market a book, so pleased that things are working out well for yours.

  3. Mandy says:

    Steve. First, Well done for actually writing a book and second, well done for writing a book which amused and interested me. So many people talk about it and say “oh I could write a book about the things that have happened to me” but do they do it ? No. You have done it and the majority of your readers have enjoyed it (including me !) I for one am looking forward to the next episode. Steve…….. you are not writing fast enough.!! Come on, are Barry and Linda going to get back together ? Will they stay in the UK or are they coming back to France ? Put down the wine and cheese Steve and let us know what they are going to do next. I lead a busy life here in France and don’t have a lot of time to read but once I picked up Vantastic I couldn’t put it down. Thank you for introducing me to my neighbours !!!

    • Thanks for your comments Mandy, much appreciated.
      Yes I do need to get on with the follow up and I really enjoy creating new characters made up from traits of real people. Barry and Linda will be back with a vengeance, watch this space!

  4. AuthorChristopherLong says:

    Steve,

    Congrats on what I believe are impressive sales stats. It’s rare (and refreshing) to find such an open and honest blog post.

    I can relate to your comments regarding reviews. I too, quickly had to develop thick skin upon the release of my first book in 2010. However, I will admit that my subsequent work has benefited far more from those early negative reviews than from most of praise that I’ve received.

    Thanks for sharing.

    -Chris

    • Hi Chris.
      It would be so easy to hype my figures up, as I am sure some people do. But one of the objects of this blog is to encourage new authors as there is room for all of us. They can see that it is possible to succeed even for a total novice like myself.
      The praise has encouraged me to write a follow up and the negative has made want to write it better.

  5. Julia Stagg says:

    Agree with your points on critical reviews – if the reader/reviewer has made a valid point the author can use the opportunity to learn from it. Well done on the sales and equally well done for encouraging others to have a go!

  6. Hi Julia

    I did feel to say it was ‘absolute Twaddle’ was a little OTT, but each to their own!
    Luckily it did not effect sales and I have moved on, so I better not mention it again,lol.

  7. Andy says:

    Hi Steve
    Very impressive, you have achieved a great deal in the last eighteen months. Your sales stats sound amazing. I know when I started measuring my blog page views how encouraged I was when the numbers started creeping up but it took a long time. You should be pleased having achieved so much in a short time. I think it takes a lot of courage to not only write a book but then to put it out there for anyone to praise or criticise. Well done and good luck with your next one! You have got me thinking now………

  8. Hi Andy
    Well you certainly have a few stories to tell and your posts always make interesting reading. People do not always comment but they do read them, of that I am sure.
    They say everyone has a book in them, and to write about what you know is the secret, with a little spice added of course. I think you should do more than think!

  9. Alice Alech says:

    Steve,
    All this is very encouraging as I have recently uploaded my book on kindle and am wondering how to proceed with print version. An Olive Oil Tour of France, I feel has some potential in France but am wondering if I can deal with French publishers when my KDP three months is over.
    Well done you. I am looking forward to reading your blogs.

  10. alicealech says:

    Thanks Steve very much for adding my book. Thanks to you I have found Jo who is helping me with the print version.

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