How not to market your Indie Book

I self-published my e-book on Amazon through Kindle Direct Publishing about a month ago. The publishing process was ridiculously easy. The marketing was not.

My book was set adrift among the sea of self-published books available on Amazon, thousands of them. Amazingly, I sold eleven copies in the first few days. So far, so good. Probably, these were to people who knew me. I took advantage of the KDP Select Program’s ability to have free days for your book. I made it free for five days. I did spectacularly well in this and got to no 2 free in the Romance section in the US. Brilliant. However, after the free promo days were over I got no continuation of sales. Since the free promo I have only sold two copies. So some people may have read my book but there is no effect on actual paid sales.

I paid for a promo tweet on Facebook. Lots of people saw it. Some people even clicked the link to my book. Nobody bought it. No effect on sales. Lots of people in Turkey like my Facebook page but none of them have bought my book.

I paid for an ad on Goodreads. So far a few hundred have seen it and NOBODY has clicked the link. It had absolutely no effect.

I paid for a boosted tweet on Twitter. I got three new followers and a hundred people clicked the link. Nobody bought the book.

I joined the i-Author platform and created an ad for free. I have three followers and no sales. At least it was free.

I have advertised the book on this blog. I have a few followers, some lovely comments, a pitiful number of visitors each day and virtually no sales.

It appears the market is saturated. Everyone is selling. Nobody is buying.

It may be that my book is no good (possible).

It may be that I am no good at marketing (probable).

It may be that there are too many kindle books on sale (very probable).

I have faffed about with the Amazon categories several times and I have changed the book blurb countless times. I have a few five star reviews which are lovely but do not appear to be generating sales.

It seems to me that advertising doesn’t really work. The only way is to build up a groundswell of word of mouth. This is going to take a lot of time and a lot of work. I have learned quite a lot about marketing. In some ways it has been quite fun. Financially, it has been a disaster. I have little money so I am giving up on the whole marketing thing and my book can languish in the Slough of Despond in the Amazon low rankings.

I am working on my new book and hoping to get a publishing deal with it. If not, I shall have to embark on the self-publishing whirligig yet again. At least next time I know what I will not be doing.

Lynn Matheson

Author of Pearlcasting

Making those mistakes so you don’t have to!

 

Amazon.com review of Pearlcasting

By Diana L

Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase

The title of this book caught my attention. When I read the first line I knew I would like this book as that very first line reminded me of a similar line that I have often said regarding when I met my husband (except in my case I have often said he came with the Spring).

I liked the characters and also the unusual names.
Orla was beautifully created by the author. Her cat Grimalkin was a nice addition to the story. I felt Orla bared her soul in this book, the failed romances that she recalled made her even more real as she wades through her daily job at a boarding school. Just under the surface I could sense her constant pushing down feelings of panic that she would never find true love.

Perhaps those feelings created the weaknesses that snowballed into events later in this story. I’m not going to give any spoilers but this story took a curveball twist that I simply didn’t see coming – but wow what a twist it was- that comes later in the story though.

When Nathaniel entered the story I wanted to see Orla finally find the right one.

Along with Nathaniel come changes and those changes move Orla to make decisions. Those decisions add other characters to this story.

I was quite impressed with this story and the totally unexpected twists. I won’t gave you even one spoiler but I suggest you read this story as I think you will feel the same as I do after reading it- this book really stands out.

Impressive read.

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Review of The Goldfinch Donna Tartt

This is the third novel from Donna Tartt after the bestsellers The Secret History and The Little Friend.

Theo Decker, just thirteen, is left orphaned after a bomb blast kills his mother in an art gallery in New York. In the confusion he steals the painting by Fabritius: The Goldfinch. Alone and suffering from the loss he is taken in by the wealthy parents of a school friend and embarks a strange life as a permanent house guest in their Park Avenue apartment. The action switches to a desolate suburb of Las Vegas as Theo’s long lost father turns up to claim him.  He is befriended by Boris, a young Ukrainian, at school and they begin an intense friendship. The story reverts back to New York as Theo becomes a young man, working as an antique dealer, weighed down with his secret possession of the painting and still haunted by his mother’s death. The book almost turns into an action thriller as Theo is drawn into a criminal underworld in Amsterdam. 

This book has a huge range of characters and a gargantuan sweep through contemporary life which gives it a Dickensian feel. I loved the quality of the writing, most vivid in the descriptions of battered antiques or the vastness of a desert sky. This book is sumptuous.

 

My journey to amateur writer (part 2)

So it was at the University of Edinburgh that I found out I was stupid. I was studying English Literature and Philosophy though I was more interested in the English and thought Philosophy would be an interesting side issue. It all started well enough and I got merits for first year. My tutor was quite nice. Second year was awful. I got bad marks for every essay however hard I tried and the tutor was unapproachable and unhelpful.  I was probably spending too much time with my first serious boyfriend who dumped me anyway the following year. Due to the bizarre system employed students with marks below 60 % were not allowed to proceed to honours. So I hadn’t failed, couldn’t retake but could not do honours English. So I had to do Philosophy. Though my interest in it was minimal it seemed to come easy to me. I was gutted and internalised my stupidity for a very long time – probably about twenty years. 

On graduating I felt I was too much of a failure to go for a prestigious career like journalism or publishing so I chose teaching and enrolled on a PGCE. So I taught for a very long time in various schools all round the country in both England and Scotland. At times I enjoyed it. The intelligent children with a gift for writing were a joy. They were rare. Mostly it was slog. I started lackadaisically but over time I really threw myself into it and tried to be the best teacher I could be. I did get better but my behaviour management was usually not the best. In fact I worked so hard I gave myself a grade A nervous breakdown and had to give it up. 

During the university and teaching years I hardly wrote apart from diaries and journals. There was no time. I was permanently exhausted and always had work for school to do in the evenings. I still read as much as I could.

My way out of breakdown and depression was to start to write again – fitfully and painfully with huge breaks and then spurts of activity. Pearlcasting was the result – a novella. It took me two years because I didn’t write every day. I had no discipline, no schedule, no plan. I wasn’t sure if it was any good. I sent it off to agents – thirty-two to be exact and to date I have received twelve rejection letters. This leads me to doubt my ability of course like many others before me. 

I noticed on Twitter – a lifeline of connection for me during the dark time – that lots of authors were self-publishing. I took courage and uploaded my book to Amazon with their Kindle Direct Publishing tool. It was an amazingly easy process. I used a formatting guide that I bought on Kindle and the layout worked perfectly. I have only had the book out a couple of weeks and sales have been minimal. I was amazed though that some people who didn’t even know me took the time to write a review. They seemed to have enjoyed it. This gave me much joy. I did a free promotion for five days and many more people downloaded it. So though I made no money at least people were reading my words. 

So I still don’t feel like a proper writer. I am not one of those people who works from 9 to 5 or through the night or some other very worthy writerly habit. I am fitful. I  wish I could have managed a proper book deal like some old university acquaintances have. I feel they are proper writers and I am improper but I have started on the road. I am still an amateur but I have achieved something. 

I have started my second book. Who can know what the future holds? Not me.

My journey to amateur writer (part 1)

So where does it start? This love of words, this madness, this desire to write. 

For me it has always been in me. I could read before I went to school. I wasn’t ever taught. I learned by being read to. I followed the words. I cracked the code. I understood. I loved books. I read all the time: before school, after school, at the table, in bed, while the TV was on, while the endless English rain fell outside.

 I remember the first day of school. The teacher had my name written in neat black felt on an orange card.

“How does she know my name?” I thought.

I remember being asked to read. The teacher had me read from a Ladybird book, a reading scheme: Janet and John.

“This book is stupid!” I thought. 

I wanted to go home and read my beautiful books, fairy tales, princesses, adventure…proper stories.  The teacher asked me to sit down and never asked me to read again. Junior school was the best. I blossomed. I learned to love creative writing. Oh to be at school in England in the seventies – Paradise. Michael Gove had not been invented, Tony Blair was a sci-fi nightmare of the future. There were no tests, no hoops, no inspectors, just unbridled freedom to be creative, to write about whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted. I won the Easter poetry competition every year. Writing was the one thing I could do. I was painfully shy, skinny, no good at sports, bamboozled by numbers, almost friendless…but writing. That was easy for me. I was a writer.

Senior school. Not so good. Dull curriculum, uninspiring teaching at a rough northern comprehensive. Some of the teachers oozed contempt for us out of every pore. We were working class kids from a northern steel town. Who did we think we were? They corrected our dialect and told us we would not study Shakespeare as he was too hard for us. I was still a writer. My stories were read out in class as good examples. This was still something I could do. Achieved straight A s in the ridiculously easy O levels.

Sixth Form College. There was no more creative writing but English Literature A level. We had to learn to analyse, to criticise. I wasn’t so good at this but I learned what was expected. I loved the books chosen: Emily Bronte’s wildness, Seamus Heaney’s sensuous words and finally Shakespeare – a treasure trove. Creativity fell by the wayside but somehow I was still a writer. I managed straight A s again and a place at the University of Edinburgh to study English Literature and Philosophy. It was the beginning of the fall.