Genuine Thanks to Readers
First of all, if anyone had told me when I published my first memoir as an indie author in August 2016 that I would sell more than a couple of hundred copies I would have been excited at the prospect. Three years on and I have sold over 25,000 books, mostly in the past year. I have my readers to thank for this and I am truly grateful.
I’ve moved over to using the term indie rather than self-published because I think it more realistically reflects the independent author as a complete business person. Many indie authors don’t sell more than a couple of hundred books but before we mock, many traditionally published authors sell fewer than 5,000 copies of a book and bearing in mind they receive pennies rather than pounds for each book sold, the majority would struggle to earn a living.
My Journey began with a broken foot!
The journey began in 2016 when I finished a memoir that I’d been writing for a couple of years. I broke my foot in three places while at work and ended up being unable to drive for eight weeks. Having worked in the NHS for around thirty-nine years, I was not used to sitting around and my friends all worked. I remembered the story I had started on the laptop and despite losing a large chunk of it when a hard drive was destroyed, I picked it up again to pass the time. The rest, they say, is history!
I published the memoir and went on a cruise to the Mediterranean. Naivety reigned supreme at the time, and after selling a dozen or so copies to friends and family, I realised there was more to being an author than I had ever imagined. I assumed that after all the hard work, I would put the book out there and the whole world would realise it was a bestseller! Not quite, but you get the picture.
I had given decades of my life to the health service, and the time had come to do something I had always wanted to do – write. I was about to embark upon a steep learning curve because being an author – traditionally published or indie – involves so much more than writing.
Still, the first task is to write something that others might want to read and then to keep writing and this is what I did. In 2016 I produced the first memoir and then in 2017, a second memoir, and a couple of children’s books.
Last year, I wrote my first novel, the first in a cosy mystery series with a second published later in the year and a third earlier this year.
My children’s book listings can be found here.
Whilst Amazon has opened up a new and exciting world for the author who wants to maintain control of their creative work, with over 5 million books on the platform it is a monumental task to get a book noticed. One has to delve into research and marketing to find out what is required to make a book get noticed.
To sell books, firstly the book needs to be worth reading and then an author or publisher must learn a multitude of other things.
Skipping over the steps involved in writing and producing a high quality book such as drafts, editing, beta readers, professional editing and proofreading, there follows many other factors required in order to sell books and keep them visible.
The bane of many an author’s life is the need for reviews. Reviews are required for social proof and they may also be responsible for triggering Amazon’s algorithm among other things in order to make books more visible.
When I buy a product, I check the reviews beforehand and like to see at least twenty or thirty reviews to inform my purchasing decision. They don’t all have to be five star, in fact, if they are I am suspicious that they may not be genuine. You get the picture? People who buy books are the same, they want to see that other readers have enjoyed the book, of course not everyone is going to enjoy a book, so the first thing an author needs to develop is a thick skin. It is devastating when that first 1 star review comes in, but as long as the majority of people like the book, its easier to live with the negative reviews. That said, its hard to get reviews in the first place.
Numerous sources suggest that only 1% of purchasers review a book on Amazon and less than this if the book is offered for free. A new author therefore needs to sell 100 books at least to get 1 review. I never reviewed books until I became an author because I didn’t understand the importance, I now review the majority of books I read, and I read a lot.
If you read a book and enjoy it, please leave an honest review for the author, if you don’t enjoy it, please remember there’s a person at the other end of the spectrum and at least try to say one positive thing if you can. I used to teach on a post-graduate course and I gave a feedback sandwich: starting with the good, adding in the areas for improvement and ending with more good! The feedback was still honest!
Blood, sweat and tears have gone into producing the initial manuscript and getting the book out there, so be patient with the new author (and the not so new)! I think every author is guilty of the “buy my book” syndrome, particularly when it comes to social media. This is mainly down to over-enthusiasm and can also come from desperation!
Social media is a free platform and authors, I’m ashamed to say, myself included, can get a bit carried away. If they don’t learn they will either lose their Facebook friends, or develop a lot of other author friends who are in the same boat but are never going to buy their books!
I have now separated my social media into business and personal. I do still post the occasional ‘good news’ story or special offer but I don’t want my friends to get ‘heartsink’ whenever I post anything! I have a Facebook page dedicated to my work as an author for those genuinely interested in my writing, and here, I would still rather engage with readers than constantly market to them.
Paid marketing is actually the best route for getting a book seen by more people and Amazon, Facebook and others offer marketing platforms to authors. As the majority of indies sell more eBooks than paperbacks, I had to learn not to overspend and discovered terms like Return on Investment (ROI) to make advertising pay.
Up to the end of May 2019, I have sold in excess of 25,000 books and have finally moved into profit during the 2018-2019 tax year.
Over the past two months I have had over half a million page reads through kindle unlimited and over 2.5m since 2016.
For a full list of my books, please visit my Amazon author page.
I continue to publish my books as audiobooks in addition to print and eBook, and Killer Cruise is currently in production. A Cruise to Murder and Deadly Cruise are already available as audiobooks. If you’ve never listened to an audiobook, you can try any one of mine for FREE for 28 days by joining audible. If you find it’s not for you, just cancel before the 28 days are up.
I am working on the fourth book in the Rachel Prince Mystery series, Dying to Cruise will be launched in the summer of 2019. I am also working on a third memoir.
Last month, I was approached by a small publisher with reference to producing a further memoir and negotiations are still underway.
I think I can safely say that although I still have much to learn, I have reinvented myself as an author following a successful nursing career that spanned four decades.