A Picture of a eBook Español: Foto de eBook Бе...

A Picture of a eBook Español: Foto de eBook Беларуская: Фотаздымак электроннай кнігі Русский: Фотография электронной книги (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, it’s been three months since I self-published my first book “Be Still, My Love” and it’s been quite an experience for me!  I’ve learned so much since that fateful night on December 13th, 2010.  I had less than 100 followers on Twitter and was still trying to figure how best to use that particular social media outlet.  I didn’t have an author page on Facebook, just a personal page with only just over 100 “friends”.  I didn’t have a website (still working on this one!) and I’d just started blogging “Deborah J Hughes, Traipsing Through the Twilight Zone” in late August.  In three short months (that seemed liked very long ones at the time), I’ve come quite a long way!

In late January, I decided to join Amazon’s KDP Select program.  I’d only sold about ten book on Smashwords and none to Barnes & Noble so I figured it wasn’t going to hurt.  Without any thought to marketing and getting the word out, I put my book up for free for three days and had 1,700 downloads.  I thought that was pretty amazing.  Then I saw the numbers other authors were getting downloaded on their free days and realized I had nothing to brag about!  My book made it to #54 for the Ghost and Occult categories and didn’t get below 1,600 overall.  For an unknown author trying to make my own way in the unknown territories of publishing, I was not disappointed with those numbers.  I was excited at the thought that almost 1,800 people (counting book sales) had my book!

When my book was no longer being offered for free, it fell down the charts pretty fast.  I knew something had to be done.  I needed to learn more about marketing and publishing.  So, I started reading the books I’d already bought on the subject but hadn’t given the time to read.  Of course I bought John Locke’s book “How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months“.  Seriously, who in the Indie world hasn’t?  The thing is, he was already a well-known individual and he had what I don’t…money!  Still, I took what I could use from that guide and I try to keep it in mind as I plug along.  I’ve a LONG way to go to reach that 1 million.  (sigh)  The next guide I bought was “Dollar & Sense: the Definitive Guide to Self-publishing Success” written by Carolyn McCray, Amber Scott and Rachel Thompson.  I picked up some more nuggets of advice.  Another book I found helpful was “How to Make Market and Sell Ebooks all for Free” by Jason Matthews.  For a person with little capitol to invest in a career I was most serious about, the title grabbed my attention.  I also bought “Let’s Get Digital: How to Self-Publish, And Why You Should” by David Gaughran.  More great nuggets of advice!  I really enjoyed “We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media” by Kristen Lamb.  She also has a great blog “Kristen Lamb’s Blog“!  I really started learning how to grow my on-line presence with her book.  Joining her “MyWANA” (We Are Not Alone) community has been very helpful.  I now have over 3,000 Twitter friends, good folks who interact with me and Tweet my Tweets while I reciprocate in kind!  It’s all about scratching each other’s social media backs!! The more you help others, the more they help you.  It’s a great system.  Everyone wins!

So, even with all I was learning, I’ve lingered most in the 40,000 range on the Amazon seller’s listing.  I was averaging a whopping 1 to 3 book sales a day.  Yeah, not so impressive.  Even so, I was grateful for those sales!!  Then I happened upon a blog called “The Writing Bomb” by Jeff Bennington.  I’d found him through a Twitter post.  He was offering to take three fledgling authors under his wing and put his marketing strategy to work for them.   I figured, what the heck, it can’t hurt to enter myself and see what happens.  Jeff picked me and my book “Be Still, My Love“!  He also chose Bert Carson’s book “Fourth and Forever” and Robbi Bryant’s book “The Beautiful Evil“.  So, he had his three “guinea pigs” on this marketing experiment of his.  I can’t tell you how excited I was!  In the meantime, I’m getting emails from bloggers asking for interviews!  My first ever interview was with Cege Smith on her blog “Cege Smith’s Books” (interview here).

So anyway, back to Jeff Bennington and his experiment.  His three “apprentices” as we were (sounds so much better than guinea pigs doesn’t it?) were given an advanced copy of his awesome “The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe“.  Jeff shares his own writing journey and some of the things he’s learned along the way to help him gain publishing success.  Most important, his marketing strategy was contained with the pages of this very informative book!

Armed with all the knowledge I’ve gained over the last three months, I put my book up for FREE again.  It went FREE yesterday (25 March) and today is it’s last day as a FREE offering.  Remember, the last time I tried this, I made it as high as 1,600 or so on the Best Seller List.  This time?  The last I checked, I was sitting at number #5 overall and #1 for the “Ghost” and “Occult” categories!!  Not bad!!  What a difference a little bit of knowledge makes!  I know that Bert Carson’s book “Fourth and Forever” and Robbi Bryant’s book “The Beautiful Evil” have done awesome as well!  How to thank Jeff Bennington for believing in me and taking me on?  He’s “the Bomb”, that’s all I can say!  Not only that but he brought Bert and Robbi into my life and I know they’ll remain friends.  By the way, I’ve read their books…LOVED them!  And I can’t praise Jeff’s book “The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe” enough either.  That isn’t the only book he’s written, however!  I picked up a copy of  “Twisted Vengeance” and really enjoyed it (though horror isn’t my usual reading preference).  He’s as gifted a writer as he is a giving, generous person.

A few other great things I did:  Joined Triberr.  If you are a serious blogger and are not part of this site already, you need to be!  You join “tribes” which are blogging communities and everyone Tweets each other’s stuff.  It’s a great system.  I also joined “The World Literary Cafe“.  Now here’s a site for authors and readers alike.  It’s a very supportive community and offers an amazing array of programs to help both authors and readers get what they want…books marketed and books read!  I’m still wading the waters of “Goodreads” but it’s another great place to be part of if you are an author and a reader!  Lastly, but not least, I’ve discovered the joys of Pinterest!  This site I resisted joining because I was having a hard enough time keeping up with everything else, but boy am I glad I finally saw the light on this one!  Now I have a place to “pin” the URLs of all the great sites I find as I explore the internet on my quest to learn about writing, publishing and socializing.  It helps me with organization and it offers another way to grow a community of friends.  When I “pin” something to one of my boards, everyone following me gets notified.  So, of course I “pin” my books and my blog posts!  What a great connected world we have.

I could go on and on about other things that I’ve learned and maybe in other posts I will, but this one is long enough and it’s pretty jam packed with stuff already!  If you have some more great advice and are willing to share it…PLEASE DO!  So, until next time…many blessings to you all and Peace Out!