Saturday, 11 December 2010


Amazon is my new best friend.

We haven't always seen eye to eye - I remember getting a bit huffy with it a couple of years ago, though I don't suppose it noticed and I've now forgotten why. And ABNA (Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award) is in my opinion a waste of time, a view coloured by my entry, Trav Zander, being kicked out in the very first cull.

But Amazon has done for me what YouWriteOn, Authonomy and two years of submissions to literary agents didn't succeed in doing; it's allowed me to offer my writing via Kindle to the paying public and see whether readers like it.

And the good news is that a lot of them do. As I write, I've sold 3,166 e-copies of Remix since publishing in August, mostly in the last two months. Virtually all those are Kindle sales. I couldn't have done this with the paperback, even if I'd spent every waking hour selling it, because publishers have a monopoly on the paper book trade it's impossible to crack. Even Eragon , often quoted as an indie success story, was a flop when it was self-published; this is a quote from Wikipedia:

Paolini and his family toured across the United States to promote the book. Over 135 talks were given at bookshops, libraries, and schools, many with Paolini dressed up in a medieval costume; but the book did not receive much attention. Paolini said he "would stand behind a table in my costume talking all day without a break – and would sell maybe forty books in eight hours if I did really well. It was a very stressful experience. I couldn't have gone on for very much longer."

I feel incredibly lucky that the launch of the Kindle in the UK coincided with the decision to self-publish my third novel.

Amazon, I couldn't have done it without you. Thank you.


  1. That's a lot of books sold! Well done!

  2. Amazon is fantastic for Kindles, however it really sucks for print. I only make 68 cents per print book . At 8.97 it was a gip. I'll be taking that down soon.

    However you get 70% of what you make on the Kindle. It doesn't even take anytime to convert really, not much.

    I heard about your success on SPR. Congrats!

  3. Thanks, FH :o)

    Melanie, it does seem ironic that at a time when it's possible to produce a really professional POD paperback, it's virtually impossible to sell significant numbers.

    At least one can shift a few via Amazon - but I mean a few, I've sold only twelve this month. I may not bother with a print edition of my next book, unless the situation changes.

  4. Congrats, Lexi. Those are fantastic numbers.

    My print sales have picked up since Amazon UK opened and I make a lot more than .68 a copy even on expanded distribution. I just sold five books in one day through ED so it's either a bookstore or a library. A good omen.

    I think a print copy gives you credibility and I'm at least making enough on print to take the GK's out for pancakes on Sunday once a month. Not enough to buy your penguins, yet, but I'll get there. :)

    Margaret Lake

  5. I'm not sure you need a print book to give you credibility - I think it's the quality of the writing that does that. If I read a sample and it's clear, confident prose then I'm more likely to buy.

  6. Three thousand plus sales is fantastic Lexi and something you can definitely build on. Well done!

  7. "I may not bother with a print edition of my next book"

    Awwww :-(

    I've just read a whole pdf book (advanced readers' copy) and I've got the biggest headache on this planet!!LOL!!

    CONGRATULATIONS with your sales!! Good for you!!!

    Take care

  8. Thanks, Doug, I'm hoping to build :o)

    Kitty, I'll probably succumb, just because it's so nice to hold a paper book you have written in your hand; but it's the ebooks that have paid for the setting up costs of the paperback of Remix, rather than its own sales.

  9. congrats. guess i should finish reading through that Kindle TOS with Amazon so i can get mine up. those numbers are amazing.

  10. Michelle, I'm sure you'll find your book does better on Kindle than on Smashwords; not sure why, but most writers say the same.

    Press on, and good luck!

  11. Gratz, Lexi. It's good to hear you're doing so well. From what I've read on the subject, those sales will probably continue to climb for quite a while.

  12. You'll have to change that author picture to include a glass of champagne.

  13. Jeramy, thanks for dropping by. I do hope you are right :o)

    Cheers, Rod!

  14. Lexi, that is incredible.

    I would think you’ll sell even more over Xmas as lots of people unwrap their Christmas Kindles. Be interesting to see how many you sell on Xmas Day. Are you tempted to inch the price up a bit?

    I noticed you acquired a stalker-ish reviewer who kept posting spiteful reviews, which then disappeared. You know you’ve made it when that sort of thing happens...

  15. Justine, I am rather rubbing my hands at the prospect of Christmas Kindles. Re price, tempting, but at this stage I am more interested in acquiring readers than anything else.

    That reviewer - what was his problem? The irritating thing was, he'd clearly only skip-read Remix. He might have liked it had he given it a chance.

  16. Woot!

    Not much more to add to that. But it does bear repeating.


  17. Alan, I'm wooting right along with you :o)

  18. I imagine you are! I'm nowhere near your sales figures, yet even so it is an exciting time for me too. Many thanks to the lovely, inventive people who have given us this opportunity.

  19. As it happens, Christopher Paolini's success was not all it seemed anyway. His parents published Eragon through their own existing commercial press, so was it truly self-published at all? And even if you stretch the meaning of self-publishing a little, you still have to take into account all the experience that the family could thus call on.

    Another interesting case is that of John Grisham, who is usually said to have published A Time to Kill himself. Not so. He did find a commercial publisher, but poor sales prompted him to buy up the stock and put a huge amount of energy into selling it himself. (Which means, amongst other things, that there is no guarantee that a novel brought out by a 'real' publisher must achieve its sales potential.)

    Self-publishing in hard copy can work in niche areas, but it is almost impossible for an unconnected nobody to do anything with a self-published hard-copy novel unless a huge marketing budget is available.

    So you're right. Epublishing offers the only real opportunity for those I term the unpublishable classes. I hope that it does turn the literary world upside down. What scares me, though, is the marketing power that the big firms can bring to bear. The higher the sales of ebooks, the more likely they are to get a stranglehold of the business by selling JK Rowling, Dan Brown et al. dirt cheap.

    And as for Lexi Revellian and a few others, well, they wouldn't turn down a big contract, would they? So if any self-publishers strike the big beasts as commercially viable, why not just buy them out?

    I'm very pleased at what's happening with ebooks. I'm just not sure where it's going.

  20. Ian, I didn't know that, though one might have guessed. I remember reading a long article in the Telegraph, about a sixteen-year-old getting her first novel mainstream published, astonishing achievement etc. etc.. Buried in the middle of the article was the information that her father had spent thirty years working in the publishing industry.

    It's occurred to me that once the big publishers lumber up to speed with epublishing they could squash me like a bug. But it hasn't happened in America, though the Kindle has been on sale for a while now.

  21. Haven't seen any signs that the big houses over here are planning on undercutting the indies. Not sure how they could do it, anyway. They can't beat us on cost of operation, that's for sure. If there is anyone to fear, I'm afraid it might be Amazon. Who knows what they have in mind for two to five years down the road? They have distribution pretty well locked up and that gives them a lot of power. I think that is what gives the publishing houses sleepless nights.

  22. Hodder released one of S. Leather's back catalogue for 49p, lower than I'm allowed to charge, and it went straight into the top ten. That's the sort of thing I'm talking about.

    Publishers haven't given me a chance; Amazon has, if not on a totally even playing ground. I'm okay with publishing houses having sleepless nights :o)

  23. You can bet they won't keep the price there or do the same with all of his titles. And although he apparently is an "established" author, I don't think he's what we normally think of as a bestselling one. I think they are simply doing what a lot of indies who have more than one book out are doing and that is trying to hook readers with a very low price on one so they can reel them in on the regular priced merchandise. Nothing wrong with that strategy but there is no guarantee of success.

  24. Lexi, huge congratulations on your sales and your foresight. Your post and the comments are fascinating as I consider taking my two YWO published books into e-book format. I know nothing about it, have a lot to learn AND a lot of work, as I now only have PDF files left which must be converted. But your post and the comment gives me hope that the effort might be worth it.
    Onward and upward.

  25. Hi mesmered, now is a good time to go for it. Kindle formatting is straightforward as long as you are painstaking and able to follow instructions, and there's a lot of help on the internet if you get stuck.

    Good luck with your books :o)