Celebrating a Happy Semi-Anniversary

Six months ago I held my breath as I pushed the publish button for DOLPHIN GIRL on Amazon’s KDP program.  I had high hopes as I set this book free into the wide, wild world.  Could she survive and make her way?  Would she be a washout?  A lot of people told me  to expect distribution of 100-200 copies because that was typical.  One person told me that because I was “good at marketing”, I might hit 500.

Here’s the thing. I never believed the 100 copy benchmark.

I figured if I got that desperate I could set up a table in front of my Publix supermarket and sell that many by hand.  Aspiring to break the 100 book mark seemed like saying, “I hope to pass this class.”  I never aspired to a D in my life and wasn’t about to begin now.  Who aspires to less than mediocre?  And, why bother?

So, then, the question became, what would be a good grade?  One thing I learned in business was to write that number down.  Don’t be wishy-washy.  Don’t lack direction. The number I chose to write down was 1,000 in Year One.  It was ten times higher than the 100  mark, and because I wouldn’t go out of print it could be quite a nice amount of sales a few years down the road. It seemed realistic and not overly easy.  Because what if they were right and I was wrong?  I didn’t want to sell books in front of Publix, but I would if necessary!

In December — month three of this experiment —  I sold 1,125 copies of the book between e-books and paper and Amazon Select borrows.  Paperback sales alone in December were more than 100 and so the nightmares of the table at the grocery store was never to be and I started to think about how I should adjust my goals, because they needed to be bumped quite a bit.

Pencil and calculator and little green visor (just kidding) later, the number is 10,000 in Year One. It’s 100 times higher than the naysayers, pretty respectable and, I think, realistic.  I’ll let you know in October.  So with bumped goals and a commitment to publish more books, I ventured into 2012.

Two weeks ago I published my second book, WINGING IT! and, so far, it’s doing better than the early days of DOLPHIN GIRL. What does this mean?  No idea.  No predictions.

The deal is to just focus on what’s next, and because the main character in the second book is trying to earn her wings as a Guardian, I figured I’d do a few “angelic” things to get this book going.  So right now there is a five book giveaway over at Goodreads.  It ends next week on April 9th, so if you want to enter go here.

Also next week, WINGING IT! will go free for two days: 4/10 and 4/11.  I’d tell you to mark your calendars, but I’m pretty sure my book’s free days is not one of those priority items that will make it onto your calendar.  Still, if you see the book then, by all means, go ahead and grab it!

From everything I’ve heard about free runs, this means I won’t sleep for 48 straight hours as I watch downloads pour in.  I’d love to blog about it and tell you all how it went, but I won’t be able to right away. Partially because of a lack of sleep, but mostly because starting on 4/12, Grace Lightbourne, the quirky Angel-in-Training main character from the new book, is taking over my blog for about a month to  interview a bunch of authors.

This is probably one of the most angelic things Grace has ever done.

Which really isn’t saying much.

But I hope you’ll follow Grace and the blog and get to know some of these other authors and find some great reads.  Then, I’ll be back in a little while to get bloggy again and maybe let you know about my free run and definitely let you know about the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert last night.

Oh yeah, I went.  It was a beaut!

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April 3, 2012. Tags: , , , , . author interviews, milestones. 4 comments.

Belated Milestones

The tenth of January seems ridiculously late to still be talking about 2011, but maybe I’m nostalgic.  Or maybe we move too fast these days.  Then again, maybe I’m just late.

Anyway…

I always enjoy watching the network’s year-in-review coverage when we all reflect on the milestones we experienced collectively. For me 2011 will always be the year of the Arab Spring, the royal wedding of Kate and William, the passing Steve Jobs. Those milestones   make me think about what I did or didn’t accomplish, what I’d still like to do.

Last year was a very big year for me.  An incredible year really.  To speak of last year’s personal milestones is to think in terms of Stonehenge.  At least,  it felt that big to me. 🙂

The beginning of the year was fairly quiet until March. Using e-cigarettes, I quit smoking after almost thirty years. Big stone, right?

In April I began toying with the idea of indie publishing. I spent a lot of time reading popular blogs about it, including those written by Konrath and Dean Wesley Smith.  Sheesh, there was a lot of catching up to do.  Not only had people been doing this for a while, but it seemed like every day there was some new twist.  When I wasn’t reading blogs, I lurked on the Kindle Boards, where I found an incredibly supportive community of authors who share their self-publishing experiences.

By June, I decided I would try indie publishing.  This was another huge milestone for me as I’d already spent the last eight years of my life in pursuit of a traditional publishing deal.  What if I was close and a contract was right around the corner?  I decided, “Oh well, what if it isn’t?”

In July, we took a family vacation.  This might not seem like a milestone (and we do take one every year), but it feels like such a major production to get ready for it and then it’s such a wonderful time when we’re actually on it.  So, my 2011 memory bank is filled with images from a week on the beach and the cute little downtown of Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island.

Along comes August with a meteor-sized stone.  My husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary.  Anyone who is married, or has been married, or hopes to be married  knows that’s a big one.  Typically, I wouldn’t call myself a lucky person, but meeting him was one of the luckier moments of my life.

I spent September getting ready for the last three months of the year.  Those months were crazy, exhausting and fun.  In October, I launched Dolphin Girl as an e-book, following up in November with the paperback.  Sales were small, slow, and steady and I was just thrilled to have any sales at all.  Then, the most amazing thing happened. A complete stranger read my book. And enjoyed it. A lot.

Then another and another. And some more.

To me, this is the milestone. Sure, holding the book in my hands like a baby was thrilling, but more than anything complete strangers reading my writing  meant I was real. Turns out readers were the validation I’d sought for eight years and now that I’d gotten it, I have to say I can’t imagine a contract would ever be more satisfying. Of course, that’s only one writer’s view. Mileage may vary.

Another November milestone was redecorating my living room – yay! The couches we had were almost as old as our marriage.  Yes, I am kinda’ sentimental.  But not about those old couches.  So, I was thrilled that with everything else going on I was able to squeeze in a little home improvement and – whoosh – to get those peach and aqua monstrosities out the door!

Finally December.  It’d already been an amazing year, so I planned on finishing out the book blog tour and then get ready for the holidays.  I’d signed up to participate in a joint IBC promotion where Dolphin Girl would go on sale starting December 12th.  Right before the start of the promotion, Amazon launched a program for self-published authors where they could be included in Prime and could be compensated through the Lending Library for borrows.  I decided to put Dolphin Girl into the program despite the fact that the royalties from the program were an unknown quantity.

Somehow, I got lucky.  It’s bound to happen every twenty-five years or so.  Between the blog tour, the joint promotion and Amazon’s Prime program, it created the perfect storm and my sales started to increase. Like really increase.  Not at some crazy Amanda Hocking level mind you, but two digit sales and borrows every day. It peaked on Christmas Day, when people bought 259 copies of Dolphin Girl.  Crazy.  And I gotta say, that was one wild, unexpected and completely exhilarating ride!

So that’s my 2011.  Which, by the way, is so ten days ago.

Now 2012.

Quitting smoking and reaching a certain age and writing means I need to keep a much closer eye on diet and exercise.  So, I hope to take care of that this year.  And to end up looking more like the people in the front row, instead of the people in the back row of the picture at the right. 🙂 The 2012 home improvement list is long – some painting, a new kitchen table, some work on the patio.  I don’t expect complete all of it – although that would be awesome – but I do expect to do some of it. We’re already tossing around and debating vacation destinations.

As for my indie publishing experience, Dolphin Girl continues to sell.  This morning’s numbers put me over 400 books year to date, so I’m averaging over 40 sales/borrows per day.  With those results, I plan to do more.  How much more? No idea, but more.

So I’d love to hear about your year.  How was it?  What was your biggest milestone?  And what do you have planned for this one?

January 10, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . dolphin girl. 1 comment.

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