Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Why I Unpublished my book, and What is Next

You know, I'm getting a bit sick of all the tra la la las. Things folk are saying, advice they are offering, and its the same shit all the time. Here's one I hear a lot.

if Stephen King wouldn't do it, I won't do it

Okay, in actual fact, I've never heard that, never with King's name anyway. But peeps keep floating in comments about how a trad pubbed midlist author doesn't do certain things. So Indies shouldn't, cause it makes us look professional (if'n we don't).

Personally, I call that a crock of shit.

Trad pubbed midlisters (TPMLs from here on) have rules to follow, like Never Piss off a Potential Customer, and so on. And if they did, they'd get their asses chewed by their agents and editors and everyone else. It's why so many TPML books are formulaic, and it's why so many readers love the originality and personality in indie novels.

Shouldn't we let some of that originality and individuality shine out of our asses, too? Sorry, I meant shine out of our blogs.

So what makes indie's look professional? Well, great books, great covers, great storylines, good editing. Those kind of things.

I'm not saying you should be like the monkey at the zoo and fling your shit at people, but I am saying with no one breathing down on indie's backs, its refreshing to be honest, and up front, and just be yourself.

I've noticed indies can be a bit "defensive" about certain things, like there are rules
  • don't talk about money
  • don't bad mouth other indies
  • don't bad mouth the trad publishers
  • act like you've got a big stick up your jacksie
Some of that's just pish. Here, look, I'll break some rules and the world won't end.


I published Invictus on Smashwords on Sept 10th, 2010. I put it on Amazon a month later. It is now the 16th of February and I have to date sold (oh my God, don't reveal your sales figures)

50 copies
Yep, that's all.

40 on Amazon, 10 on Smashwords.

Amanda Hocking I aint, huh?

So, what went wrong? Well, it was actually quite a lot of things.

For one, the cover. I like the cover, but it is very plain, very bland. Invictus begins in medias res and never comes down. I want the cover to reflect something of the story, whether it be the airships or the demons, the revolvers or the clockwork robot assassins.

For two, the pacing. Invictus, as I just mentioned, is fast. Very fast. It races from attempted royal assassination to the sinking of the Titanic, setting fire to half of London and crashing an airship along the way. The pacing needs to be reconsidered, and one or two slower moments introduced.

For three, the editing. Which will be a post all on its own.

For four, the marketing. I released Invictus in October, separated from my wife in November, and am just returning to my book in February. All the marketing Invictus had was word of mouth, and that didn't happen much. Not surprising, with the points addressed above.

So, I will work some more on Invictus, which I was planning to do anyway, regardless of how well it was selling. I'm working on the expanded edition, due out hopefully sometime in 2011. If you've already bought Invictus, I'll give you a discount of $2.99 on the new edition, even if you only spent $1 on the Invictus you bought.

I'll also be addressing the problems in Invictus, and re-releasing that.

Oh, look, the world didn't end xx


  1. Good on you mate, you've got balls for sure.

  2. Cover, pacing, editing, marketing. That's quite a list you've got there. Was the pacing and editing conclusions drawn from reviews? Just curious.

    The opening made me laugh. Indie's are a little protective of sales figures. Meh. That kind of info really is only interesting to other Indie's who want a benchmark as to what is "successful".

    Funny thing is, now you've written this post I want your book. Lmao.

    Oh, and robot assassin chicken on cover would be awesome to see.

  3. @Chris, thanks

    @Miss Fletcher. It might only be interesting as a benchmark to what is successful, but it could also help prove that indies are doing really well (for instance, if asked if someone like Amanda Hocking was an exception, and other people could say: we know ten people who sold more than 5000 copies last month).

    I can see why the trad publishers wouldn't be forthcoming, but I don't get why the indies do it. I'm aiming to be transparent with everything from now on.

    I wrote the book to be fast. It's steampunk, but it's also a sort of pulp-styled sword and sorcery. Well, revolver and sorcery. But yes, I did receive a few reviews that suggested the book was just too fast.

    And the editing came from there, too, although I always knew editing would make it better, I never thought about how it would affect sales.

    Not sure were you got the robot chicken (?) idea from, but welcome to my blog. And if you want the book, wait til the new version comes out. It'll be worth it.

  4. I don't share my sales numbers mainly so they can't be misrepresented. I do very well for my genre. I'm right around midlist there in my self-publishing numbers. It's common, in my genre, for an author to sell less than 700 copies in the first year the title is out. Out of the top four publishers in my genre? One years sales top out at around 1,000 sales.

    But, I'll share here with you. :)

    "The Keeper" was released August 2010. To date, I've sold 302 copies of it.

    "Rachmaninoff" was released December 2010. To day, I've sold 271 copies.

    "Catalyst" was released February 11th, 2011. To date, I've sold 87 copies.

    I consider that successful, though many traditionally published authors wouldn't, especially since they would say that I'm barely breaking even on the expenses I've had in just creating the books. My key point is, my books will forever be in print, reaching new readers with each new release. It won't get tied up with a publisher, and once I break even (which happens within the first few months a book is out), everything else is pure profit shared with no one. :)

    So, right now, based on what I've published (those three novels, one short story, and one anthology), I've sold right around 800 books in just over six months. Is is 5,000 a month? No. Why? Because I write gay erotic romance and it has a very specific, limited audience.

    I'm about to write a heterosexual erotic romance, and I think I'll see the sales of that title in the numbers other mainstream romance authors have. Right now, I'm content with my midlist ranking among my genre. :) I am a success, even if I'm not selling thousands of books a month.