Tuesday, 13 March 2012

A Few Thoughts On Self-Publishing And What It's Done For Me

Okay, so it's fair to say this blog is sorely neglected, but in the past few days Blood Guilt has passed a few landmarks that I think it's worth posting about. It's now been in the overall Amazon top 100 Kindle bestsellers chart for five months straight, climbing as high as number two and selling almost eighty thousand copies. Combined sales for all my available e-books stand at around ninety thousand. Ninety-nine percent of those sales have come since October 2011.

A number of people have asked me how I achieved this. The truth is, I'm not exactly sure. I've done very little promotion beyond putting the word out there on twitter and e-book forums, and approaching bloggers for reviews. Luckily for me, Blood Guilt was simply a good fit for the Kindle market. When an e-book starts selling on Amazon (especially an indie one), it's like catching a wave and riding it - there's not much you can do except wait and see how far it takes you.

I think what's struck me most about the Kindle market is that it's incredibly specific. The top 100 is stuffed full of crime and chick-lit. So logically the perfect fit for the market is a book that combines elements of those genres. A glance at the 'Also Bought' bar for Kerry Wilkinson's phenomenally successful Locked In bears this out. The book appeals to readers of both genres. Whereas Blood Guilt's audience primarily consists of readers of crime thrillers. Hence the fact that Locked In has sold twice as many copies. It's an obvious but crucial point to consider for any author looking to write a novel that specifically caters to e-book users.

So, apart from earning me a few quid, what's self-publishing actually done for me? For a start, it's brought me to the attention of people within the literary industry to whom I was previously invisible. I've been writing seriously for over ten years. In that time my short stories have been published in some of the UK’s best literary journals and anthologies, none of which stirred even the faintest bit of interest outside those publications’ readerships. Like many other hopeful writers, I’ve sent out dozens of query letters and sample chapters. Again, no takers. In recent weeks, I've been approached by agents and publishers. I’ve signed with an agent I hope to be working with for many years to come. And for the first time I’m contemplating the fragile possibility that at some point in the near future I might be able to make a living from my writing. I write first and foremost for the love of it. Always have done, always will do. But let’s face it, it would be nice to make some decent money at the same time.

Of course, none of this would have been possible without readers. I just want to say a huge thanks to everyone who’s bought Blood Guilt – especially those who’ve left some wonderful reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and got in contact to let me know how much they enjoyed the book. It blows me away that so many people have been willing to part with their hard-earned cash for an unknown writer.

And for any writers thinking about self-publishing, I’d say go for it, you never know where it will take you.

14 comments:

  1. Congratulations, Ben - sounds like all the hard work's really paying off. Well done and good luck! Val

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    1. Cheers, Val. Self-publishing was a big leap in the dark for me. I went into it with absolutely no expectations and have been blown away by the response. It would be premature to say it's launched my career as a novelist, but it's certainly opened up the possibility that such a thing might happen.

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  2. Superb! It was your blog that inspired me to start one to promote my writing. I'm delighted you're doing so well.

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    1. Thanks, Jamie. It means a lot to me to know that.

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  3. Excellent news Ben. Look forward to reading more of your work!

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    1. Cheers, Luca. Bloggers like yourself, Darren and Fiona have been a huge help to me.

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  4. Excellent Ben! So pleased to hear about your success. I shall pass this on to Fiction Forge!

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  5. Cheers, Jo. Lovely to hear from you. Hope everything's well over at the Forge.

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  6. Huge congrats Ben. Amazing stuff.

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    1. Cheers, Adnan. Hope your writing's going well too. Last I heard of you, you'd been shortlisted for the Willisden!

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  7. Believe it or not, this is my very first blog. I have just finished reading Blood Guilt. Thank you so much for taking the chance on self publishing, giving readers the chance to enjoy your work. I shall be looking our for your name again & recommending your work to everyone I know. Blood Guilt is a real page turner (I just stayed in bed till 10.45am to finish it off!!! Thank you again.

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    1. And thanks to you, Jackie, for taking a chance on my book. It's great to know you enjoyed it!

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  9. Big congrats on your books and success! It's good to know that ePub is working. ;-)
    New to writing and ePub, I'm blogging and slogging ahead with 1 book ('Genome') published on Amazon and a humorous SciFi series in the wings.
    Keep up the good work!
    garyalanhenson.blogspot.com

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