Her Roman Holiday Cover art (though this pic isn't of Rome. It's somewhere in Tuscany, I think. But my Rome photos didn't have the right "feel" to them). Courtesy of vacation pictures, Phoster, Hipstamatic and 15 minutes of my time.

It has been a busy couple of weeks, so I haven’t done as many “outreach” type things (emailing review sites etc.). But still, it has been rather productive…

  • figured out how to generate kindle and epub formats. The kindle simulator I downloaded as well as the rendering on my devices (once I figured out how to transfer the files) seemed just fine, so hopefully there are no anomalies. I don’t have a kindle though (YET), so I can’t test it there.
  • Uploaded my two Regency romances to the Amazon.com kindle store (the link is to my author page, which has click-throughs for the two titles) for $2.99 each, and added an e-pub format to the lulu.com listing.
  • Uploaded my three Harlequin Presents-style romances to the Amazon.com kindle store under the name Jamie Anderson (just to keep it clear that these books are in a very different style–and again, the link is to the author page).
  • Created “cover art” using low-cost apps from the app store (phoster, tilt shift generator, hipstamatic, photoshop) and my own photos, for the three above books. Now, I won’t say that they’re fantastic, or even that the books are spectacularly branded or anything. In fact, they could be a lot better. But for fifteen minute covers, and so that there’s some picture there, instead of the little Amazon icon (and the books are .99 so I’m obviously not trying for a premium brand, here), they’re not bad. Also, to my great sadness, I can’t draw worth a damn, and these are better than the “drawn by a distracted three-year-old” style covers I would have created had I tried to put pencil to paper and draw something!
  • Decided to release Fire Rusalka as an indie title and did a pile of research on what that entails.

  • Ordered cover art from an artist whose work I really love (such a tough choice–it came down to two artists, both of whose stuff is fantastic and around the same price). He’s going to start on it in mid-September. This will be the highest cost element of the venture, as most of the rest I can do myself (and I’m control freakish enough to want to do it myself). But even if the book doesn’t make back the cost of the cover art, this is also kind of a treat to myself. The book I’ve written isn’t really easy to categorize, but I’ve had the idea for a long time, worked on it over several years and am really fond of it. So this is to pay a bit of homage to all that work. I’ll do my best to market it and all, but otherwise, I’ll just have an edition of this book that I can really love and it will be out there, garnering the occasional sale, at least.
  • Got about halfway through my closer edits and sent that half to a kindly friend who has agreed to look over the story for me. One more quick pass for continuity after this.

It’s kind of cool to have an instant backlist–it’s just too bad that the branding is so diverse. The three HP style romances are not likely to appeal to many Regency readers, and only a subset of those are likely to read the fantasy novel I’ll be releasing in a few months. But still…

It’s also exciting to see copies selling–of course, for now I’m logging on obsessively to check on sales. I need to stop that. At this point, I won’t get rich, but it’s nice extra money, and might fund my “gadget habit”–I may be able to indulge in one or two new acquisitions (or many new app purchases) in a year! And I’m hoping that as I grow my backlist, sales will fill out a little more. It is also interesting to note that in the week that An Immodest Proposal has been up, and the two or three days the others have been live, I’ve sold almost as many copies as I had on lulu after several years (totally unpromoted, though). Of course, I haven’t made as much money because the profit margin at lulu was higher at the time. I’ve lowered all the prices now, so it will be about volume (hopefully) rather than units sold…

And now… back to edits and research. I have a lot to do before school starts–and even more to get done by mid-September, when the cover art stuff will be underway!

Aug 7/2011 Update: I have now had An Immodest Proposal online for a full week. That title has sold the most: the others are lagging somewhat. But, by end of day yesterday, my kindle listings officially exceeded the number of units sold on lulu. There is a bit of a skew involved: on lulu, the three separate, 99 cent romances were sold as a single volume, but the three volume edition on lulu was only ever downloaded once, and was never purchased in print. On the other hand, I had an early Fantasy novel listed on lulu that I have yet to transfer into kindle format. If memory serves, I don’t think it’s strong enough for the genre it’s in (but I haven’t read it in a long time–maybe if I re-read it and find otherwise, I’ll put it up in the kindle store), so that added to my sales figures on lulu.

Worth noting:

  • I haven’t actively promoted either site (lulu or amazon) by telling friends and family about it and asking them to pass the word along. I have listed it here, but I don’t necessarily have the kind of site stats on this blog that would explain the sales I’ve been getting on those books. I did update my Amazon author pages and have the books listed there, so people can click through and download the other titles by the same author–a possible source of additional sales. So this is all Amazon and its mysterious algorithms that are somehow leading people to these titles.
  • Because of the markup difference, though I have sold more than twice the number of books at the kindle store (in a WEEK!), I have made about half the amount of royalties so far (so 1/4 the markup). But if these kinds of sales aren’t just a matter of an initial spike because of some “new on the kindle store!” listing, and they continue, then it seems likely I will have exceeded and doubled my multi-year lulu income over the next few weeks. Yes, it’s still pizza money at this point–not untold riches, but I’m still thrilled that people are buying these books at all, frankly! They’ve been languishing on lulu, and it’s nice to imagine that maybe some people are now reading them (and hopefully enjoying them). It’s the thrill of finding an audience.
  • An Immodest Proposal, which is the highest seller, has a little band at the bottom saying “people who bought this also bought”. None of the others have this yet (which leads me to infer that maybe there aren’t enough stats re co-sales to allow for a listing like that to be generated for the newer listings?). It will be interesting, if sales continue, to see whether that band shows up on the other listings, and whether the “also bought” books will include other titles I’ve listed (i.e. repeat customers) or not.

BTW, if you’re self-pubbed and are willing to share some of your own findings re sales and kindle store and so on, I’d love to hear from you (need not be numbers if you don’t want, but just your experiences with the kindle bookstore or any other stuff). It can be so useful to compare notes on this stuff, especially if, like me, you’re just starting out on doing it as a serious venture. Email me at writer [dot] katanthony (at) gmail [d0t] com.

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