On Self Publishing So Far / by Josh Guess

I promised that this blog would partly be a running account of what it's like to be an indie writer, trying to build an audience and get to a point where I can live from the income from my self published books. I'm not going into this with my eyes closed. I know it's going to take a long time and a lot of work to manage it, but for everyone out there who writes as a hobby, let me say a few things.

I'm getting some encouraging signs. My zombie blog, Living With the Dead, is doing fairly well as far as readership goes. At least, as I personally judge it, she's doing well. I get between fifty and two hundred or so page views a day, usually spread among twenty to fifty readers. Those are averages, of course, but come pretty close to what I can expect any given day. I have a link to the first six months of the blog in eBook form on the amazon Kindle store at the upper right of LWtD's page, and I think this is helping me sell some of that collection, titled Living With the Dead: With Spring comes The Fall.

I'm certainly not making a living from these sales. As of today, I have sold thirty copies of this collection this month, and I am pretty happy about that. Remember that I published it at the end of October, and that on the first day of it being live I sold eleven, mostly to friends and family. I saw a bit of a pickup the first few days of November, selling about two copies a day. From then, though, sales became erratic. I would sell two in one day, then none for a day. Interestingly, I have sold three each of the last two days. I think this has to do with how Amazon ranks and connects sales.

It's pretty neat, really. If someone looks at my book, Amazon tracks that. If they buy it, they obviously track that too. About 88% of the people that look at this collection on amazon end up purchasing it, which is a pretty high rate. I expect it to go down eventually, but now that enough people have bought my book, it will start getting a little more exposure. Now it shows up in the nifty little bar in the middle of other people's amazon pages as a suggested read. See, when people buy one book and then another, it starts to build the suggested reading bar. So when a person buys "World War Z" by Max Brooks along with my blog collection, both pages will start to recommend the other work for sale.

If you have something you are thinking about putting on the Kindle store, I say go for it, with one or two provisos. One is that you need a good cover, or at least not a bad one. I made my own for the six month collection as well as the 99 cent march collection, but they are obviously not that complex. I think they look good, and I have some graphics experience. Not to mention that I can't afford what it costs to hire a cover artist. So keep that in mind.

Two, make sure your formatting is consistent if not professional. Having to pull everything from the blog and reformat it took a long time, and the process wasn't perfect, but it worked. Make sure that you search around for some formatting guides to make sure that what you are uploading for conversion will end up looking good on a screen.

Third, and last...

Keep in mind that you probably won't be making big money right off the bat. If the pattern of the last few days holds through to the end of this month, I will make about seventy bucks. Of course, I won't get paid that money until the beginning of February, keep that delay in mind as well...but it's seventy dollars that I don't have to do anything for. Nor will I next month, or the month after that...

I work a full time job, and my wife does as well (plus a part time job) to try and save up some money. Any extra income I get is just bonus points right now, and the idea of making essentially free money every month is awesome. Yes, I spent a lot of time writing the blog. But I did that as writing practice, never expecting to make any money from it. If you discount the forty minutes or so a day I spent writing, the total amount of time I put into making the cover and formatting was about four hours. Seventy dollars this month for four hours of effort?

That's a win.

And as I write and publish more (including my debut fantasy novel sometime before the end of the year) I will hopefully make more each month. And hey-- Joe Konrath points out on his blog that sales of each new book he puts out increases sales for his other books. What it boils down to is that it can only get better from here.

So publish away!