Last week I saw a post on KB that really inspired me. I can’t say how important KindleBoards is for any author. It’s a place filled with great people who are willing to share information and help each other. And each week it seems there’s more and more posts about people celebrating their milestones.
And this post is about one of those people and their milestone…
Ann Marie Novark announced that she has sold her 40,000th book!!!! 40,000… okay, I’ll say it again, 40,000.
Here is her post from KB:
CELEBRATING MY ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF INDIE PUBLISHING: LOOKING BACK
Saturday marked my one year anniversary as an Indie Author. I jumped into this self-publishing adventure on August 6, 2010. I chose that date because it also happens to be my wedding anniversary. Easy to remember and it makes the day doubly special.
It’s been a roller coaster of a ride; the emotional ups and downs literally taking my breath away. People say self-publishing is easy, but they’re wrong. This is definitely not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of work and perseverance and courage. You must be brave to release your books and stories into the wild. Getting your babies out there makes you feel exhilarated, as well as vulnerable. No, it’s not for the faint of heart.
That said, let’s take a look back at the past year. (And since I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, I’ll be cutting and pasting a bit from a couple of previous posts to save time.)
First off, I need to say I had a “backlist” of nine books that I wanted to publish. I’ve been writing a long time. I had been submitting to agents and editors, entering RWA contests and placing in a few. I even received a phone call from a Harlequin editor inNew York. Not THE CALL, but A CALL. Thrilling, I must say. Unfortunately, nothing came of it. I got close, but no cigar.
Then along came digital publishing and the small ePresses. I was lucky enough to sell to The Wild Rose Press and I liked being an eBook author. I didn’t sell much and thought there had to be a better way.
And then came Kindle and Direct Publishing. Bingo!!!
I started out with one book, my Traditional Regency MIDNIGHT MY LOVE on August 6, 2010. I priced it at $2.99 so I would get the 70% royalty from Amazon. It was extremely gratifying to get my first sale on Smashwords literally minutes after uploading it. I sold about 6 on Smashwords and 9 on Amazon during the month of August.
I uploaded my second book, THE DOCTOR WEARS A STETSON, the third week in September. The price was still at $2.99 and for the whole month I only sold 4 on Amazon (total for both books) and 3 on Smashwords. A little disheartening, but not totally disillusioning.
In October, I dropped the price of MIDNIGHT MY LOVE to 99 cents as an experiment and left the other book at $2.99. Sales picked up and I sold 17 copies of the Regency and 7 copies of the Western. Smashwords sales were few and far between. I probably sold about 5 copies that month.
Not really wanting to sell my book so cheaply, I raised the price back up for November. As a result, I only sold 9 books (total for both books) on Amazon; maybe 3 or so on Smashwords.
Everyone in the Indie Author Community was excited about December 2010 with the explosion of holiday sales of Kindles and Nooks. I remember I was eagerly waiting to hit that 100 ebook sales mark.
On December 12, I released my third book, THE COWBOY’S SURRENDER. Biting the bullet, I dropped the prices on all three books to 99 cents to see what would happen. BOOM!!! Sales rose dramatically. At this time, I also uploaded all three books directly onto B&N’s Pubit! instead of going through Smashwords. Immediately, I began selling more books for the Nook than Kindle.
I sold over 200 books in December. Could it get any better? Oh yeah.
In January, I released a fourth book, ADAM’S TEMPTATION. Price? Well, I started out at $2.99. After a week of no sales, I dropped it to $1.99 then to 99 cents. That book was slow finding its way in the ranks, but the other three books went through the roof!!! I sold 643 books in the month of January, twice as many at B&N than on Amazon. (Alas, this did not continue. Sales dropped off at B&N for some unaccountable reason.)
On February 6, I hit my first big milestone: One thousand ebooks sold!!! I was pretty much in shock. And SO happy!!! Sales at Amazon started to catch up to my sales at B&N.
The last week in February, I released my fifth book, A MATCH MADE IN TEXAS. This is the third book in my Diamondback Ranch series. I decided to charge $2.99 since the other two were selling so well. And it worked!!! Readers were buying all three books in the series. AND LOVING THEM!!! An author’s dream come true.
On St. Patrick’s Day, I released my first Regency novella, TO HIS LADY’S RESCUE. This is when things started taking off. I sold over 4000 books in March and gave 500 away for free on Smashwords. By the end of March, I had sold over 6000 ebooks total.
One month later on April 16th, I hit another milestone: TEN THOUSAND EBOOKS SOLD!!! Sales exploded on Amazon. I had two books on the Top Ten Regency Bestseller List. My westerns were also making the lists. I sold 8200 ebooks in the month of April. My little novella was selling through the roof.
It was a funny thing though. Readers either loved or hated it. It was around this time that I received my first one-star review and it was for the little novella. I was devastated. I wanted to pull it. I posted on the Kindle Boards asking how other authors coped with bad reviews and received awesome support and hand-holding. I also received my first Random Act of Kindleness. Another Regency author had read my book and wrote a great five-star review. Life was good.
Earlier in the year, I had asked for and received my rights back to the two books I had published with TWRP. On May 3, I published/rereleased HER RELUCTANT RANCHER. I decided to charge $2.99 since it had already been “vetted” and published. It sold more books in that one month than the 2 1/2 years at the small ePress.
May was my best month ever!!! I sold almost 10,000 eBooks that month. Awesome!!! I finally felt like a successful author.
On May 31, I published TEXAN UNDERCOVER. I started it out at $2.99, but quickly dropped the price to 99 cents. (More about my pricing strategy later.)
I published/rereleased the last book in my backlist, TALL DARK AND TEXAN, on June 2. I put it up for $2.99. In the month of June, I sold over 9000 eBooks.
What goes up, must come down. This is where the not for the faint of heart comes into play.
The third week of June, I gave a workshop at my local RWA Chapter on SELF-PUBLISHING: THE NEW PARADIGM/Living My Dream. (You can read excerpts Part One and Part Two here.) I’m glad I gave it when I did, because it wasn’t long after that the summer slump settled in and my sales started decreasing.
Not fun. You know, it’s great when your books are selling like hotcakes and all’s right with the world. It’s a whole nuther thing when sales start to tank. Interestingly, as my sales declined on Amazon, they started picking up on B&N. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to any of it. Not for the faint of heart.
I shouldn’t complain too much. In July, I sold over 5000 eBooks. I gave 1000 away for free on Smashwords. I’ve sold close to 40,000 eBooks total. But watching my sales decrease by 50% and more is not a good feeling, let me tell you.
I try to put it all in perspective. I started out this venture with the goal of making around 300-400 dollars a month. I’m doing that and more. Readers are reading my books. I’m writing what I enjoy writing and finding like-minded people who enjoy reading what I write.
It is truly an awesome time to be a writer. To celebrate my one year anniversary, I published my tenth eBook and first short story–TEXAS TWO STEPS: DARCY AND GABE.
I’m looking forward to the next year. My goal is to release ten more stories of various lengths. I plan to charge $2.99 for my novels and 99 cents for my shorter works. I’m positioning myself for this next holiday season and beyond.
The eBook sensation is revolutionary. More and more people are going to switch over to digital reading devices, and that will hopefully be more readers for all of us. Writers need to write and publish and be ready for them. That’s exactly what I plan to do.
Look at that post. Read it ten times if you have to. Those months where we sell next to nothing can crush us… but look what happens. Time works itself out and if you’re doing the right thing, you’ll get there.
What did Ann Marie do right?
First off, she had nine books ready to go.
Second, she had the background of writing. She understood what it took to write a novel. She understood rejection. And she had thick skin, prepared for putting herself out there for the world to read.
And look at those sales in the beginning. They were low… but they were sales. And let’s not forget that here… sales are sales. A sale is someone buying your book, paying you for your words, giving you money for entertainment through a book. Even if it’s one copy, be thankful.
Once Ann Marie’s sales picked up, she kept releasing.
These are all vital parts to her success.
And now look at her plans for the future… 10 more releases! That’s a great plan.
Ann Marie took a few minutes and answered some questions I had for her.
What was your biggest influence in writing?
Being a romance reader was a huge influence on my decision to start writing. I’ve read hundreds of romances and I believe that love conquers all. My writing style and the genres I choose to write in reflect this inherent belief.
Another huge influence is my mother. She’s a traditionally published author, as well as independently published. She taught me a whole lot about technique and craft. Our writing processes and voices are very different, but we beta read and critique for one another.
How did you get yourself through bad days? Or bad weeks? (Sales slumps, writers block, etc…)
It’s not easy being a writer. We hear these voices in our heads, and story lines and characters infiltrate our brains and won’t let go. Let’s face it–writers are not like normal people. Getting through good days is difficult enough. Getting through bad times is doubly hard.
I’ve had bad days, bad weeks and bad years. For five years, I was in a writer’s slump and couldn’t write a word. Okay, let me rephrase that. I wrote off and on, but not a lot and I couldn’t seem to finish anything. I’d had many rejections and it all just got to be too much and immobilized my muse. I lost the joy.
So what did I do? I kept going to my writers’ groups and surrounding myself with kindred spirits. I kept reading the romance novels that made me want to write in the first place. I just kept the faith that one day, I would find the joy again.
Along came Kindle and Direct Publishing and now I’ve found the joy again.
I’m in a sales slump right now, but again I’m keeping the faith that things will get better. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to write what I like to write and find readers who enjoy my books.
What kind of marketing did you do, if any?
I have a website and blog. I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Kindle Boards. I participate in Smashwords’ Promotional Give-Aways. I’ve given away 1500 free eBooks this year. But honestly, I believe the best marketing tool is writing the next book.
What advice would you give to a new writer who just uploaded their first book?
Rejoice and celebrate!!! You’ve actually accomplished something that millions only dream about or think about doing. Then go write the next book and the next. The more books you have up, the easier it is for readers to find you.
What comes next? More books? A vacation? Haha!
I’m working on my next Damsels in Breeches Regency Novella and a short story in my Texas Two Steps Series. I plan to go live with them in the next two months. I will be working on the final books in my Diamondback Ranch Series. I have readers anxiously waiting for them. Isn’t that great? I’m focusing on writing the next book and the next. I want to build my footprint in the digital world so more readers can find me. It’s an awesome time to be a writer!!!
I love this interview because we see why Ann Marie is so successful… she’s not just a sweetheart of a lady, but she’s honest and can see things in a true perspective. She understands how hard it is to write. She’s had good days and bad. And I love her quote that writers aren’t normal. My, oh my, how honest is that? Our minds can’t stop, and don’t. Even in our slumps and our really bad days, we can’t just turn our minds off.
Again, if you’re not on KindleBoards, sign up. Even just to read the posts. There are so many milestone moments for authors that just fill you with hope.
And for Ann Marie, I thank her for letting me bug her a little… because come on, how awesome is it to sell 40,000 copies in your first year?! She’s a great writer and a great person… and I could only hope that soon enough, she’ll be returning right here to this site to talk about her 100,000th sale.