Sunday, January 02, 2011

Guest Post by L.J. Sellers

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to be spotlighting authors who have been selling a lot of ebooks. By "a lot" I mean near as many as I am, or more.

I can name at least ten authors making a very nice living self-publishing, and most of them don't have the platform, experience, or traditionally published backlist like I do.

There is money to be made, and you don't have to be a midlist writer with years of experience in order to make it.


I Left My Publisher, Gave Up on Bookstores, and Started Making Money
by L.J. Sellers, author of the Detective Jackson mysteries

In January of 2010, I had one book on Kindle and sold 31 copies. I had two print books on the market with a small publisher, and they weren’t selling much better. In December, I had six books on Kindle and sold over 10,000 copies. To get from point A to point B, I had to make some radical decisions.

Several circumstances came together this year that forced me to rethink everything about my publishing career. First, I have to thank Joe for inspiring me to believe that I too could become a successful e-book author. The other incentive came from a round of layoffs in March for both my husband and myself.

I decided I had to stop wasting time and money on things that weren’t working and focus on things that were. What wasn’t working for me was my small publisher, which couldn’t get my books into bookstores. What was working for a lot of people was the growth of e-book sales.
I set aside the novel I was writing and got busy saving my career.

The first step was to rewrite and self-publish on Kindle a standalone thriller I had completed but never sold. I’d once had a big-name agent for it, so I knew it was solid. I also had a second standalone thriller that my publisher had offered a contract for, but I hadn’t signed it yet—because the book wasn’t scheduled to be released until late 2012. That seemed like an eternal and foolish wait. I had a mortgage to pay immediately. What made sense was to get the two thrillers into the digital world where readers were buying. I took the second major step and let my publisher know I was withdrawing my standalone.

I spent a couple months rewriting and updating the stories, then I paid for editing and cover design. I withdrew the money from my miniscule retirement account and considered it an investment in my future.

In August, I published the two thrillers (The Baby Thief and The Suicide Effect) on Amazon’s DTP. At that point, I had one foot in each world. I was self-published, but I still had a traditional press for my series.

Next, I rerouted my promotional efforts toward e-book readers. I quit sending marketing material to bookstores and instead joined several Kindle forums, where I participated in discussions. I got more active on Goodreads and did five back-to-back book giveaways just for the exposure. I wrote a dozen guest blogs and sent them all over the Internet.

My sales jumped significantly. By then my publisher had uploaded the second Detective Jackson story (Secrets to Die For) to Kindle, and I started thinking about how much money I could make if my publisher wasn’t keeping most of my digital profits.

After the third Jackson book (Thrilled to Death) faced the same difficulty getting into bookstores, I decided withdraw from my press. It took a few weeks to finally make the call. Who willingly gives up a second publishing contract? Taking back my series meant foregoing the industry’s stamp of approval. I hated to let it go, but I felt I had no choice if I wanted to make a living.

So I called my publisher and asked for my Kindle rights back. I also asked to be released from the contract for the fourth Jackson story (Passions of the Dead). I knew the manuscript had not been edited, so no time or money had been invested. My publisher was not happy, but graciously granted my requests.

Letting go of that contract was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Not only did it mean taking on the “self-published” stigma, it also meant giving up book signings, which I love. But I had looked into the future and determined that bookstores were not where most people would buy their novels in 2012. For once, I wanted to be ahead of the curve.

I sent my Jackson files to be converted to e-books, then uploaded my versions to Amazon, as my publisher took hers down. At that point, I had five books selling on Kindle, and my numbers were getting better every month. While the last manuscript was out for editing and cover design, I bought an inexpensive ad on the Kindle Nation newsletter and increased my online promotional efforts. Sales took another huge leap.

When I released the fourth Jackson story on Kindle, I dropped the price of the first book in the series (The Sex Club), to $.99. Sales for the first book skyrocketed, and a week later, sales for the follow-up stories nearly doubled.

I’m also fortunate that Mystery Scene magazine has been supportive, giving me great reviews and featuring me as an author. I received another terrific review in its Holiday issue and that pushed both e-book and print sales.

Yes, I’ve made all my books available in print through CreateSpace, and I’ve contracted with INgrooves to target all the non-Kindle devices and libraries too.

Interesting side note: For the fourth Jackson book, I made more money from Kindle sales in the first two weeks than I had made from my publisher in two years. If I had stayed with the contract, that book would not have been released for another nine months. Life is too short to wait for someone else’s publishing schedule.

Now in December, I have six e-books on the market, with all the royalties coming to me. The Sex Club consistently ranks in one of the top three spots on Kindle’s police procedural list, and the three other Jackson books are almost always in the top 20 or 30 on the same list. I’m happily writing a fifth Jackson story and calling myself a full-time novelist.

Joe sez: L.J. is a perfect example of all the things I'm constantly harping about:

1. Good books.
2. Good covers.
3. Good book descriptions.
4. Low prices.

She was smart enough to leave her publisher, and savvy enough to do a lot of marketing, including giving away freebies and working the social networks. By treating this as a business, and acting like a pro, she's managed to hit a lot of Kindle bestseller lists. She also has a backlist of several books; which is akin to shelf space in a brick and mortar store. The more books available, the more customers who will see them.

10,000 ebooks in a month is damn impressive. If she keeps this up, she's going to make a nice chunk of change in 2011, and beyond.

Here are some other successful self-pubbing writers whom I've interviewed, or who have guest posted on my blog:

80 comments:

Simon Wood said...

Congrats LJ.

I'm so glad for you.

Simon

Tara Maya said...

This is facinating, and I look forward to hearing how many different authors have made the leap. There are unique paths, but also a lot of commanalities.

L.J., if you are reading this and don't mind answering, how many work hours did you devote to promotion? And what price range was your cover and editing?

Vivi Anna said...

Thanks for sharing these stories Joe.

It reaffirms my decision to self epublish.

Cheery L.J.

L.J. Sellers said...

Tara,
I've spent at least two or three hours a day on promotion for the last six months. That includes online networking, writing blogs, writing press releases, etc.

I've worked in publishing so I have talented friends. My cover designer is a friend and graphic artist, and each cover cost around $200, but I spent the time finding the right image. I also spent about $300 on each edit, because my friends are all editors. :)

I imagine it'll get more expensive for me now. :)

Joe Konrath said...

Just amended the post to add links to other successful writers who have posted here. The list is growing.

Tricia Schneider said...

This is valuable information, especially for those authors who want to survive the bookstore downsizing. E-book sales are growing on a daily basis. Thanks for sharingl

Paul Levine said...

Great piece. One caveat, though. L.J., like Joe, is an experienced, professional author with a reputation and a backlist. For those who aren't, it would be unrealistic to expect similar commercial success.

evilphilip said...

"For those who aren't, it would be unrealistic to expect similar commercial success."

You must be new here. Joe (and others) post examples of people who have had similar success without support from a publisher or an outdated back-list.

Ruth Harris said...

LJ...Congratulations! You did a scary thing and made it succeed. If you don't mind, I wonder if you could offer some details about the "five back-to-back book giveaways just for the exposure." Did you give away the same book 5 times? Or did you offer different books? And where did you announce the free offers?

Ellen Fisher said...

Congrats, LJ, and thanks for sharing your story:-).

Joe Konrath said...

Good to see you here, Paul. FWIW - I sold over 12,000 ebooks in December, and there are indie authors who sold a lot more than that who don't have a publishing background.

Russell Brooks said...

Congrats, LJ.

This is GOLD! I have my first novel out on Kindle and so far it has gotten nothing but great reviews from the blog tour and independent blog reviews that are posted on amazon, Goodreads, and BarnesandNoble.com. I did a press release, am active every day on social networks, I've even given away free copies, but I still feel that its lacking exposure because the sales aren't reflecting the work I've put in. Is there any other advice that you could share?

Russell Brooks
Author of Pandora's Succession

L.J. Sellers said...

Ruth,
I gave away 5 or more copies of each book on Goodreads as they became available. Any author can sign up for the program. I posted about the giveaways a few times, but Goodreads members know to check for the new freebie contests. I had a thousand people sign up to win each book. Great exposure. I've also given away hundreds of copies of The Sex Club at conferences and on my blog. I give away other novels, print and digital, on my website all the time too.

Robin Sullivan said...

Paul Levine said...
Great piece. One caveat, though. L.J., like Joe, is an experienced, professional author with a reputation and a backlist. For those who aren't, it would be unrealistic to expect similar commercial success.


My husband, Michael J. Sullivan has had similar success (he also sold 10,000 books in December of his Riyria Revelations and unlike Joe and L.J. he has no big traditional publishing platform.

L.J. Sellers said...

Russel,
It sounds like you're doing all the right things. Just be patient and persistent. I wrote my first novel 21 years ago, so this success is a long time in the making.

Another thing I've done is contact dozens of book bloggers and ask if they'd like to review my books. I've also contacted lots of indie-focused websites and asked to be featured.

And of course, you should write another book. The more novels you have out there, the more credibility you have.

L.J. Sellers said...

For the record, I have no "big traditional publishing platform." I originally self-published The Sex Club, then my series got picked up by a very small publisher, which was no help at all.

As for my publishing background: I'm a journalist. I worked for trade magazines and newspapers. Very little of my experience translates to my novelist career.

evilphilip said...

"Is there any other advice that you could share?

Russell Brooks
Author of Pandora's Succession"


Change your title and your cover. (IMHO. FWIW.)

Joe has mentioned several times the value of a professional cover.

Russell Brooks said...

Thanks, LJ

I already have a standalone novel that's ready to be edited and hopefully I'll release it later on this year. In the meantime I've prepared outlines for two other novels that will be sequels to Pandora's Succession that I'll start writing in the next few months.

Are there a few indy-focused websites that you can recommend? That's one thing I haven't tried yet.

Russell Brooks
Author of Pandora's Succession

Gerald Hornsby said...

One of the key sentences for me:

"Life is too short to wait for someone else’s publishing schedule."

Congrats, LJ.

Russell Brooks said...

Thanks, EvilPhillip.

Russell Brooks
Author of Pandora's Succession

L.J. Sellers said...

Here's a few indie-focused e-book sites:
http://spaldings-racket.blogspot.com
http://daileycheapreads.com
http://www.thefrugalereader.com

Ruth Harris said...

LJ, thanks for the deets about your freebies. Other than Kindle boards, I haven't done any marketing. Not that I don't plan to but having my novels -- 3 on Kindle so far -- scanned & formated, following thru with proofreading (some of the scans were quite good but others were a time-eating mess to correct), working on covers & creating the product descriptions has kept me busy.

While I am prepping the rest of my Trad-Pubbed backlist for epub, I am working on a marketing plan & am grateful to you and JAK and so many other authors for their advice and input.

Thanks so much...I am now subscribed to your blog.

Oh, and btw, I think THE SEX CLUB is a brilliant title!

Russell Brooks said...

Thanks again, LJ

L.J. Sellers said...

Thanks, Ruth. As a title, The Sex Club has been a mixed bag. Many people in the mystery community hate it! You'll notice the rest of my novels have more traditional crime fiction titles.

CJ West said...

Congratulations LJ!

It couldn't happen to a nicer person.

Always rooting for you.

CJ

Bobbie Crawford-McCoy (Nurture Your BOOKS) said...

WOW, LJ! I am so very happy for you and I am so glad that you made the move to self-publishing; you are one heck of a marketer. YAY for you!

You can still do book signings and readings! Just get a hold of your local and national, independent book stores --- I’m sure they would be happy to host your signing and reading events.

All My Best,
Bobbie

Michelle Oeltjen said...

Wow - what an inspiring post! I'm beginning to rethink attending my first ever writer's conference in Jan and following your leads. (but b/c it is in my favorite city - NYC - I will happily go and smile knowing that no matter what the agents or publishers say to me, I WILL be published!) Thanks again for the great motivation!

Linda Acaster said...

Thank you for sharing your experience, LJ, and your determination. It's a great help to the rest of us.

@Paul Levine "it would be unrealistic to expect similar commercial success."

I'm a (semi) professional fiction writer, but I don't *expect* similar commercial success; I'm working towards it, albeit slowly. There's a difference. Being a professional is a state of mind.

@Joe: Borders closed all its UK stores at the beginning of 2010.

Edward L Cote said...

Wow, this story is kind of... damning. Granted, Ms. Sellers says that her small publisher wasn't able to do much of anything for her, but still, to not just avoid or even refuse a contract, but to back out of one? That makes traditional publishing look like even more of a raw deal.

She mentions the time frame, and that is a big concern for me as well. I'm on track to self publish in March, but if I had gotten that contract in the fall, I probably wouldn't hit the shelves at all this year. I just barely didn't make the cut, but sometimes I wonder if I actually dodged a bullet.

L.J. Sellers said...

Edward, I've come to the conclusion that there is nothing a small publisher can do for you that you can't do, or contract for, better yourself. You have to sell the book yourself either way. You might as well reap the profit. Earning the profit is very motivating to keep selling.

C.Lefeve said...

L.J - I was fortunate enough to pick up a free copy of The Sex Club at Malice Domestic last May. Anyways, I was reading it during lunch and an elderly lady came up to me to inquire about it...she said I looked totally engrossed in the book. When I showed her the cover, she eyed me for a moment before returning back to her table. Ha! Well, I thought it was funny. Thanks for guest posting and you are now on my list as yet another self-published author to admire! Got to get back to writing...

Susan Whitfield said...

L.J. is one smart cookie and she's played the publishing game and won. I wish her every success!

www.susanwhitfieldonline.com

Ruth Harris said...

@LJ: re the title: Sex sells! Even the word.

I don't care what people say, it's what they do! (namely, buy your book)

Tara Maya said...

Thanks, L.J.!

It's great to have an idea of how much time I should schedule for promotion. And I didn't know about the book givaway from Goodreads!

Thanks again,

Tara Maya

The Unfinished Song: Initiate
Conmergence

Karen McQuestion said...

L.J.--I found your story fascinating. I love hearing the story behind the story and I'm always interested in hearing how other authors get the word out about their books.

And Joe, another blog post? Do you sleep at all? You put the rest of us to shame.

I'm happy my name was included on the list. Joe interviewed me last spring and I still get emails from people saying they found me via that particular blog post. Oh, the far reach of Joe's blog! It's incredible.

Like L.J., I also turned down an offer from a small publisher (this was before I signed with AmazonEncore). I talked to the editor on the phone and there was nothing she could offer that would entice me to take my book off Kindle and publish with her company. In fact, they didn't want to have it available as an e-book at all, since they felt it would cannibalize hard copy sales.

If she had called a year earlier, when I first submitted the manuscript, I would have been jumping for joy. But so much had changed in the meantime.

L.J. Sellers said...

Thanks, everyone, for your good wishes. My intent here was to be inspirational.

Karen, it's amazing how much has changed in a year. My original lead for this blog was: "I spent 20 years looking for a publisher. By the time I found one, it was more of a liability than an asset."

I feel bad for small publishers. I don't know how they'll survive.

bowerbird said...

paul said:
> L.J., like Joe, is
> an experienced,
> professional author
> with a reputation
> and a backlist.
> For those who aren't,
> it would be
> unrealistic to expect
> similar commercial success.

it is unrealistic for _anyone_ --
regardless of track record -- to
expect such commercial success.

there are lots and lots of writers
who are not selling tons and tons
of kindle-books. they just aren't
comin' here to talk about it, dig?

you can even have a good story
and a well-written book and a
brilliant cover and nice blurbs
and great reviews and all that,
and _still_ not make big sales...

success is _never_ guaranteed...
all of the cream does _not_ rise.

the message here is _to_try_.
even if you have no record...

and if you believe in yourself,
then you must _keep_trying_...

-bowerbird

Joe Konrath said...

I feel bad for small publishers. I don't know how they'll survive.

I'd give up 5% to a publisher if they took care of all the marketing, promotion, editing, cover art, formatting, and uploading.

Two years ago I called someone who performs these tasks an "estributor" - a person who would take on the tasks of a publisher.

You may think "five percent! that's too little!"

But think long term. I have no doubt that, over the years, my books will sell hundreds of thousands of copies.

5% of $300,000 is $15k. Not bad for some fixed costs.

Joe Konrath said...

and if you believe in yourself,
then you must _keep_trying_...


All of the cream didn't rise in traditional publishing because books had shelf lives.

Ebooks are forever. Forever is a long time, and the chances of rising improve with every passing day.

bowerbird said...

joe said:
> I'd give up 5% to
> a publisher if they
> took care of all the
> marketing, promotion,
> editing, cover art,
> formatting, and uploading.

nice trick.

you get someone else to
cover all the fixed costs,
the ones that are up-front.

and then you expect them to
wait for pay on the back-end?

you let us know if you find
such an idiotic company...

better yet, start one up! ;+)

of course, it won't last long,
which means they won't be
around to demand any pay
once the money does flow!

even better!

-bowerbird

bowerbird said...

joe said:
> Forever is a long time, and
> the chances of rising improve
> with every passing day.

that's great, if you live forever.

van gogh, for instance, would be
quite rich if he had never died...

-bowerbird

Joe Konrath said...

you get someone else to
cover all the fixed costs,
the ones that are up-front.


That's what a publisher does. And those costs aren't worth the 52.5% they take. They're worth 5%.

If publishers don't adapt, they won't survive.

bowerbird said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karly Kirkpatrick said...

Many congrats LJ! I was lucky enough to have her on my blog in December for my Bookaday promo!

This is a great series of posts, Joe. I've got an interview with Tess Oliver on my blog already and one with Karen McQuestion coming this Thursday. Without this blog, I would never have met them! It's great getting a chance to learn from all these great authors! If there are any other YA indie authors out there, be sure to hit me up!

Karly
www.karlykirkpatrick.com

Tina Folsom said...

Congrats LJ!

That's really impressive. I've been quite lucky myself - I've also sold almost 10,000 books in December, however, I have 12 titles out there, so clearly you sell a lot more books per title.

And giveaways and promotions definitely work: since I have a Nook Color giveaway running right now (until Jan 24), my book sales have increased significantly.

Tina Folsom
http://www.tinawritesromance.com

bowerbird said...

joe said:
> That's what a publisher does.

well, yes, but they also take 100%
of the cash that comes in, at least
until they are in the black, before
they'll share _any_ of it with you.

plus _they_ do all the accounting!

(make of that what you will.) ;+)


> And those costs aren't
> worth the 52.5% they take.

i agree. wholeheartedly.

(unless they double the sales...
but i think we agree they don't.)


> They're worth 5%.

well... you know... it's like this...

those services are "worth" what
someone will pay for 'em, i'd say.

so if you'll pay 5%, and no more,
that's what they're worth. to you.
and i have no argument with that.

to me, it depends on lotsa stuff.

but, for either you or me, an easy
way for us to assess their worth is
whether we'd be willing to do it,
and what we'd charge for doing it.

i sure wouldn't do what you listed
for just 5%, nothing guaranteed...

i highly doubt you would either.

further, anyone who _might_ do
such a business will go bankrupt,
and that'd likely happen quickly...

one _might_ be able to work it
if one did very careful vetting
-- and one is a fortune-teller --
and thus avoided losing money
on books that'd never recoup...

but vetting would add a lot to
the already-considerable costs.

so i don't foresee that working.


> If publishers don't adapt,
> they won't survive.

with some unique exceptions
(e.g., the textbook business),
publishers will _not_ survive,
because there is not any way
for them to add enough value
to the ultimate end-product so
they can build a business on it.

especially if they can't predict
the future with any certainty...

-bowerbird

p.s. i do see a possibility for
some writer/editor pairings,
where a combination of their
unique strengths makes the
end-product worth so much
more than before that _both_
parties see it as worthwhile...

p.p.s. as yet another aside,
you are happy to give amazon
the 30% they require, right?

Anonymous said...

Congrats LJ. I am also working with a small publisher for my YA series. What are your views about the future of YA titles on ereaders?

Sean McCartney
The Treasure Hunters Club
Secrets of the Magical Medallions

L.J. Sellers said...

Sean, I think YA titles should do just as well as adult titles on Kindle. Many adults with e-readers like YA titles, and more and more teens will soon have e-readers. Unless your publisher has connections to YA book clubs or other terrific marketing venues, then you'll likely be better off as an indie.

Lee Goldberg said...

LJ,

Great post, LJ.

I have some dumb questions...

Who was the publisher you walked away from??

What is INgrooves...and why did you choose them over Smashwords?

Lee

L.J. Sellers said...

Thanks, Lee. My publisher was Echelon Press.

INgrooves is a distribution service that also handles music and other media. I chose them over Smashwords because I could supply my own epub files, rather than have Smashwords do the converting, which I understand produces ugly e-books.

INgrooves also negotiates better royalty rates for their authors, and they are setting up distribution to libraries as well. They constantly look for new places to sell e-books, so they're an active partner rather than a static middle man. But I just started with them in November, so it's too early to say how it's going.

Anonymous said...

Russell - I agree with a former poster. You really need to get a decent cover for the book.

Good luck!

- J

Teresa Burrell, Author, Attorney, Advocate said...

L.J. I'm so very proud of you and happy for your success. I know how hard you have worked and now we can all see it start to pay off.

Your books are very good and now there are 10,000 more people who know what a great writer you are.

Teresa

Lee Goldberg said...

LJ,

Thank you for the info. I had never heard of INGrooves before. I will be very curious to hear how that works out!

I mean absolutely no offense by this, but walking away from a contract from Echelon, a tiny POD/ebook press with very limited distribution, in favor of self-publishing on the Kindle wasn't as tough call as turning your back on a contract from small print publisher or a major house would have been.

You made a wise move...because you never really stood a chance of making real money or breaking through with them.

It was bad idea for any author to go with a press like Echelon back then...and it's an even worse idea now...as your success proves.

In fact, there is absolutely NO REASON for anyone to sign with one of those POD/ebook presses today. Anybody with a credit card, an Amazon account, and an account at Lightning source can call themselves a "publisher"...and now, in the age of the Kindle, what do you need these pseudo-publishers for? There is nothing they can do for you that you can't do for yourself. (Especially now, when authors like Joe doubt even a major house holds any benefits for them!)

I expect the majority of the remaining small POD/ebook houses -- many of them cash-poor, badly managed, and run by people with little or no publishing experience -- to fade away very soon.

Lee

Tara Maya said...

It was bad idea for any author to go with a press like Echelon back then...and it's an even worse idea now...as your success proves.

In fact, there is absolutely NO REASON for anyone to sign with one of those POD/ebook presses today.


I agree, mostly, or I wouldn't have decided to self-publish my fantasy and science fiction.

I got my start with one of those small presses though, and have soft spot for them. The first $$$ I ever earned writing. I still get the royalty checks, though much smaller than the first year. Could I make more if I asked for my rights back? Maybe but since those books were written under another pen name in another genre (romance), it's not where I want to focus most of my promotion activities anyway.

Tara Maya
The Unfinished Song: Initiate

wannabuy said...

LJ,

This also struck me "Life is too short to wait for someone else’s publishing schedule."

That simple phrase hides a lot of guts. To do what you did was a daring move. If you hadn't walked away from that two year delay in publishing, you wouldn't be where you are now.

It was also a gutsy move to drop the price for the 1st book in the series. Thank you for sharing and the best of luck to you!

Joe:
Kudos to you for sharing the limelight. I'm looking forward to this 'spotlight series.'

Don't take it the wrong way, but you're going to need to 're-spotlight' some of the early authors. In particular Karen McQuestion.

@Teresa and now there are 10,000 more people who know what a great writer you are.
I 2nd that. Well said.

Neil

L.J. Sellers said...

Thanks, Neil, for your supportive comments. It felt gutsy at times, especially since I spent money to make it all happen. And with both of us unemployed, it was a risk. But it paid off.

dr.cpe said...

LJ... congratulations! thank you, like Joe/ others here too, for turning back to offer map of your own pathway... for others of us still wandering about a bit, but knowing where true north is... just bogged down in some of the details to get 'there.' I appreciate your generosity.

The big 6 with their 'one book a year only' trope, is so frustrating, not to mention being 'in line' behind other authors for 12-18 mos once book is complete. I learned that being 'in line' has to do with matters an author might never consider; e.g., the big guys trying to buy paper in bulk at favorable $ and committing books according to cheapest paper stores on hand, and thereby not wanting to upset the queue to publish anyone 'sooner'. Serious. Just my .02, holding books back from authors reminds me of egregious and unethical practices years ago of not allowing a woman to give birth even though the child was crowned, til the doctor got there... from his golf game, or whatever. Serious. Many children harmed that way.
I believe cd be same for various authors: there's often a rhythm to writing, sometimes writing in tandem. WHen it's time, it is time. The book is crowned. The author's screamin' ready to release it into the world. (I know guys understand this in their own ways) To delay the output 'till the doc get's there' can damage, I believe, the living birthing process which doesnt depend on dead and dry paper stores, but on the radiant living imagination.

Might you LJ have a take on non-fiction's possibilities in ebks? Psych., parenting, children's creative lives, etc. I would like to know as that is my past in print, and my future hope w/ ebooks (although tangled up at moment w pub I broke bk contract w/ so I dont have clear pathway to pub in print or ebk my fully completed ms without them threatening /extracting various. Ah me.
Defnintely right decision to 86 them, tho.

So, non-fiction is me true Jones, tho I swear you and McQuestion with your great names- Sellers- would be great characters if I could ever ascend to novel writing. Yes. lol).

I hope we will receive updates of your trajectory as you go along. Will be interested too in hearing about 'post honeymoon' w/ INGrooves, esp if they can format poetry, quotes, & endnotes for ebooks that dont look li
ke this w
hen enlarged.

hope most are laughing with me about that

Thanks Joe for continuing to give venue to authors. Class act.

dr.cpe

Jude Hardin said...

Great post, L.J. Congrats on all your success, and thanks for the insights.

dr.cpe said...

LJ,

brave, I forgot to say 'brave.' What you and Joe and others have done re literally setting out into unknown waters, is brave. I tell my children and grandchildren, "brave often means: Being Reckless Always Values Effectiveness."
dr.cpe

Lory Manrique-Hyland said...

That was a fascinating story. You're brave, clever AND have foresight. You've gotten the wheels in my head turning...very interesting. Question: do you think you can make money the rest of the year on Kindle like this, or only at christmas? All The Best, Lory

Heather said...

Joe and L.J.

This spotlight series is a great idea thanks! I am getting ready to publish my first novel as an ebook (thanks to Joe's inspiration, hopefully by February and I just took a full page of notes from LJ's interview on where to go to begin marketing myself once my book gets out there. This is great because I was at a loss how to begin to market myself in the ebook world, so thanks for the info and keep it coming.

heatherhildenbrand.blogspot.com

Ruth Harris said...

Here's a question David Carr posed today in his influential Monday Media column in the NYTimes: "Will the book business do the math and realize that in three years — which is when any book conceived right now would be published — there will probably be more than 100 million e-readers capable of rendering books in new ways?"

Will they? What will they do about it? And, probably even more important, what will writers do about it?

There's a humungo market out there...just waiting.

L.J. Sellers said...

dr: I think the potential for nonfiction e-books will steadily increase. Right now, if the content is mostly text, nonfiction will sell as well, if not better, as an e-book. For work that requires graphics, maps, etc., the technology is still new and will improve.

Lory: My run-up to these numbers was rapid (and stunning to me), but it's not about Christmas. It's about people buying e-readers and loading up on inexpensive books that look good to them or that they've heard about. I expect to continue promoting and to continue to sell.

As info, if anyone cares, nearly a third of my sales are in the UK, and my numbers are getting better there all the time too.

Anonymous said...

LJ,

Out of curiosity what ad did you use with the Kindle Nation newsletter? It sounds like a great idea.

Sean McCartney
The Treasure Hunters Club
Secrets of the Magical Medallions

L.J. Sellers said...

Sean, I think I ended up with two daily sponsorships, and I also had the first three chapters of one of my books accepted as a KN Short. The excerpt and the sponsorships ran close together and that effective.

Robert Burton Robinson said...

Congratulations, LJ, on your great success!

LJ: I've spent at least two or three hours a day on promotion for the last six months. That includes online networking, writing blogs, writing press releases, etc.

I think this is one of the things that newbie ebook authors oftentimes don't understand. Yes, Amazon will promote your book through "also bought" recommendations, etc., but first you have to sell some books on your own.

It's only after you get a good number of sales that Amazon's marketing kicks in. After that, every time your book sells, Amazon gives it a better chance to sell again.

Keep up the great work, LJ. And thanks for sharing.

wannabuy said...

@LJ And with both of us unemployed, it was a risk. But it paid off.

My respect for you just went up another order of magnitude.

And thank you on the UK sales info. 1/3rd... or about 50% more income! :)


I'm with others on the 'one book a year' just not working. There are exceptions (Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson) for long novels it is somehow more 'understandable.' :)
A full time *experienced* author should be able to write 1200 to 2000 pages per year that are of publishing quality. (Not that I could...) I can understand it if some works do not see the light of day... but the majority? Ugh...

There is a reason I'm loving ereaders and ebooks!
Neil

Rebecca Stroud said...

Like you, L.J., my background is in journalism (primarily, newspapers) so my first attempt at epublishing was a compilation of my pet/wildlife columns. It sold a minimal amount of copies but the lessons I learned were invaluable.

So I jumped back in with both feet and, last week, epublished a suspense novel I'd written years ago.

Again, like you - and many others - I don't have the time to wait for traditional publishing. Nor do I have the patience. Don't get me wrong: I can be Job's daughter when it comes to my own schedule. But I have no tolerance for being at the arbitrary mercy of someone else's.

That said, I thank you for the "promotional" links as marketing my work is my Achilles' heel. I'm hoping to cure that affliction in 2011.

Rebecca Stroud
Devil's Moon
The Animal Advocate

Selena Kitt said...

I'd give up 5% to a publisher if they took care of all the marketing, promotion, editing, cover art, formatting, and uploading.

How about 10%? That's all Excessica takes. ;) And at one time, we only did anthologies (stories donated by authors) to cover business costs. But we've gotten bigger.

Lindsay said...

Thanks for the great article, and congratulations on your success!

"When I released the fourth Jackson story on Kindle, I dropped the price of the first book in the series (The Sex Club), to $.99. Sales for the first book skyrocketed, and a week later, sales for the follow-up stories nearly doubled."

I can't wait until I have more books in my series out, so I can try this (or maybe even give the first one away free a la Brian S Pratt).

~Lindsay
Ebook Endeavors

AuthorHouse said...

You can still do book signings and readings! Just get a hold of your local and national, independent book stores. Good Luck!

Anna Jeffrey said...

Where can one find a decent copyeditor who doesn't charge $2,000? I've been searching online and that seems to be roughly the going rate.

Trish said...

Congratulations on your success--your tenacity in following your instincts about self-publishing and your efficiency in your book promotion efforts--they obviously have worked for you.

L.J. Sellers said...

Anna: Check with the editors on The Blood-Red Pencil.http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com/

Most are very affordable. I also recommend Jodie Renner.
http://www.jodierennerediting.com/

Patricia Stoltey said...

L.J., I'm so impressed with the choices you've made and the way you've tackled the promotion aspect of writing. Although it has been great fun to go the traditional pub route for my first two books, I got just as much of a thrill getting that out-of-print first mystery back into circulation as a e-book.

Thanks, Joe, for featuring another inspirational author who shows us it can be done.

Russell Brooks said...

LJ,

I got the new book cover. What do you think of it?

www.russellparkway.com

Russell Brooks
Author of Pandora's Succession.

T.S. O'Rourke said...

More power to you, sir!

http://tsorourke.blogspot.com/

Russell Brooks said...

If you're referring to me, TS, thanks.

Russell Brooks
Author of Pandora's Succession

order online viagra said...

We absolutely love your blog and find almost all of your post's to be exactly I'm looking for. Would you offer guest writers to write content in your case? I wouldn't mind creating a post or elaborating on a lot of the subjects you write regarding here. Again, awesome weblog!

Anonymous said...

1. Good books.
2. Good covers.
3. Good book descriptions.
4. Low prices.