I have just reached a mini-milestone for sales of my self-published novel, The Other Times of Caroline Tangent: 1000 books sold. Whoop! So, I thought it might be of interest for some writers (and readers) to hear how I’ve done that.
Let me acknowledge immediately that I realise 1000 books is very little compared to many authors. But, if I understand correctly from reading other blogs, it’s also more than a lot of self-published books. As such, I hope that this post could be of some help to indie authors starting out on their journey.
I have split this article into two parts because it has gotten quite long: so, the first part (this one) details the background of my book and what I’ve sold, and the second part will detail the marketing I’ve done.
A Bit of Background
The Other Times of Caroline Tangent is a time travel/music story, although it’s just as much a contemporary story about what happens in a relationship when people don’t want the same outcome. I did use editors and a professional cover designer during the writing and publication process, and I decided initially to print a number of paperbacks using Clays printers (and distribute those through Gardners) rather than Amazon POD. You can read how and why I did that on another of my blog posts, Printing Paperbacks with Clays.
I published the book on May 17th 2021 and it is now September 19th, so that’s 18 weeks since publication date; although I did offer pre-sales for 4 weeks prior to that. That means an average of 6.5 books sold per day. That doesn’t sound a lot when I write that, but it adds up!
The Kindle version is £2.99/$2.99 and the paperback RRP is £7.99. (See below for a bit more information on non-UK paperback sales). The pre-order price was £1.99/$1.99.
I only have about 750 followers on Twitter, and negligible numbers on Instagram and Facebook. (I do have a strong LinkedIn network but that is all about my “real” job as an IT consultant for charities.)
I have published one book before this, The Kosher Delhi, which I published with RedDoor Press; I guess I have a few followers from that but it sold less than my new novel and was a different genre, so suspect I may have generated a few sales of Caroline Tangent from those readers.
What Have I Sold?
As you can see in this graphic, the majority of my book sales have come from Kindle sales. Perhaps not surprising for an indie author. They are split fairly evenly between the UK and the US (and 1 sale in Australia!).
My paperback sales through my Clays/Gardners distribution account for about 12% of total numbers; they have been sold by Amazon UK, a few on Amazon.com (USA), Waterstones, The Book Depository and some good folk who have bought the book through their local independent bookshops. I do wish that number was higher.
Just over 2% of my sales have come from other ebook versions: Apple, Kobo, Google Play and a few via Overdrive. I use PublishDrive to manage and sell all those formats.
And finally, something I have only recently introduced, I now also sell the paperback version through Amazon POD on non-UK Amazon websites, but so far I’ve only sold a handful using this method. I’ve realised that Amazon.com is unlikely to stock any copies of my Clays-printed book and so for American/international readers to buy my paperback, they either needed to buy it through an Amazon reseller with expensive shipping costs, or via a UK website such as The Book Depository which offers free shipping worldwide. Thus, POD is probably better for those markers. Do I wish I had done this earlier? Yes, but I’m still happy I printed some books through Clays.
The Highs and Lows
We all want to reach that number one Best Seller spot on Amazon/other sites – I’m a long way from that! But I did reach the dizzying heights of number three on Amazon’s Time Travel Hot New Releases during my pre-sales period (which gave me a great excuse for a few appropriate marketing tweets!); and during my 99p/99c promotion (more of that in my next post on marketing), I squeezed into the top 4000 of all UK Kindle books, and the top 25,000 of Amazon.com ebooks. That’s never going to make me my millions, but considering my average UK ranking is between 10,000 and 20,000, I was quite happy.
Now on to the second part of this blog post – The Marketing I did.