Tuesday, 9 August 2011

My first year of Kindle self-publishing

Exactly a year ago today I published Remix on Amazon for the Kindle. I didn't blog about it, because I wasn't expecting much. If I could magically whisk back in time and tell my younger self she would sell over 40,000 e-copies of her books by the same time next year, she'd be astonished. And so is the older me, except I've had time to get used to it.

August 2010 I sold 3 copies of Remix on Amazon. Near the end of September, I lowered the price, and sold 78 that month. In October, it was 700, and Remix went into the UK Kindle top 100. That Christmas, the Kindle turned up in lots of UK Christmas stockings. Sales exploded. In January I sold 5,939.

Many factors affect sales, and most of them you can't control. As you sell more, Amazon makes your book more visible - but the opposite happens if your sales falter. As Remix sales dipped towards the end of March for a variety of reasons, Replica was out with beta readers and I was designing its cover. Replica was published 9th April 2011, and Remix fans sent it straight into the top 100. In May my sales were 7,196. Remix has spent over eight months in the top 100.

Like many writers, I dreamed of mainstream publication, and spent a year submitting Remix. But as someone who has always been self-employed, and as a single mother, I'm used to doing everything myself. I've enjoyed learning how to do covers and formatting, and writing a blurb is much easier than writing a synopsis.

Publishing is changing so fast, who knows what is round the corner? Is this a brief golden age for indies, an opportunity that will vanish as the industry gets its act together? Maybe. But it's really nice while we've got it.

Grateful thanks to Amazon, and especially to all my readers.


  1. Oh, well done - those are impressive figures for one doing it all herself.

    How have you found the promotion? Has it been a case of just throwing the book out there and word-of-mouth + Amazon visibility being its success, or have you had to spend horrendous amount of hours participating in forums etc. etc.?

  2. I did what I could with promotion - joined forums, contacted book review blogs etc., but I concluded that as you say, word of mouth and Amazon's clever algorithms have the most effect.

    And luck. Don't forget luck :o)

  3. Not so sure luck comes into it in this instance - much more having good book, good title, good blurb and putting in the effort to get those first sales which will propel it into view for Amazon customers.

    Nah, it's "well done" and not much else really - luck's taken a back seat here... ;)

  4. Yay for you!!! You've done brilliantly and don't forget you were in the papers too - remember your book - Remix was no.2 in the romance chart and the feature was about the state of romance novels etc!! So good for you!!

    Oh but I'm so glad I have your books in print! :-)

    Take care

  5. Kitty, I'm extra grateful to readers who shell out for the paperbacks - and you'll have something to barter when civilization collapses and Kindle batteries run down for the last time...

  6. Great to hear of someone who has made such a success of this, Lexi. I'm trailing behind you - just dipping my toes in the water of publishing (which translates as fannying about trying to decide what to do . . .). Good for you!

  7. Dive in Jo, while the water's nice and warm, is my advice :o)

  8. It's great to see you succeed!

    You worked very hard on the book. It is a great story.

  9. Congratulations on your first year. Here's to many more years of success.


  10. Awesome numbers - but well deserved.
    The quality of the stories is what's done it Ma'am, your next one will be well awaited and snapped up by me and thousands of others so just keep write on to the end of the road.
    (That sounded sillier than I meant it to!).
    I don't always comment, but I do always follow.
    Good on yer mate.

  11. Congratulations! You've done really well and you have only yourself to thank because you did it all! It's very impressive and I'm so glad it's worked out for you.

  12. Thanks, all of you - cheers!

  13. It's an amazing achievement, Lexi! You should be suitably proud.

    One thing that intrigues me is whether you could use this success as leverage to get a more traditional publishing deal...

    Sorry not to have commented on any of your posts recently. Have been having lots of problems with Blogger. It kept saying I didn't have a valid user ID, including on my own blog!

    Best wishes


  14. That is an awesome story, Lexi. It also reinforces one thing I've heard elsewhere about self-publishing: it helps to have a second (and maybe third) book lined up and ready to go. If I end up going this route, I'll want my sequel at least drafted and in revision before the first one hits the stores.

  15. Bot, that would be a very sensible strategy if you could be sure the current situation was going to remain the same. But everything is in a state of flux, and in a year's time, it may not be possible for an indie to do what I did. Or it may get easier, we don't know.

    But I'd advise anyone with a polished book thinking of self-publishing not to wait.

  16. Guy, I thought maybe agents might be impressed by my sales figures. I tried six with Replica, and of the five who replied, only one mentioned my success.

    I'm not approaching any more right now. I'm not as interested as I was in a trad deal - not when publishers' main asset is their ability to get books into bookshops. The rise of digital books makes this increasingly irrelevant.

  17. A whole year! Congrats on the anniversary.

    I missed the whole Kindle launch in the UK and really hadn't given e-publishing any serious thought at that stage.

    It was your trail-blazing that made us and many others realize Kindle UK was worth a try. Your place in history is assured!

    With very few exceptions UK agents seem to be living in a time-warp. In the US some, at least, are more forward thinking and that's where our thoughts are now.

    That said we've already had to reject a few US agents who approached us, but who clearly only saw sales numbers. One told us we couldn't write in any other genre for at least three years!

    Thanks, but no thanks.

    For anyone still on the fence about self-publishing I can only echo what Lexi said above. Get in now, while you can. Every day you wait the competition becomes stronger. And who knows what options there might or might not be in a year's time.

  18. It was Eric Christopherson's trail-blazing with his thriller Crack-Up that set me off.

    I am very taken with the thought of you rejecting a few US agents. That bit of role reversal brings a smile to my face.

  19. Congratulations - I love reading these success stories! Gives me hope. Agree Amazon is very very clever at placing books in front of target audiences. Every time I log in I'm tempted with their recommendations. I'm not leaving it all to Amazon and am having fun interacting with other social media - tho' its time consuming I've made some good friends if nothing else! Best wishes and thank you for sharing your success and thoughts. Julia x

  20. Congrats on your first year's success. But here is what everyone really wants to know...

    When's the next book coming out!


    I'm serious.

    Stop blogging and do some real writing!


    I really need to learn more emoticons.

  21. One advantage of being an indie is not having an agent and publisher breathing down one's neck - there's just me, and I can't breathe down my own neck.

    The next book will be out when it's finished to my satisfaction, whenever that is...


  22. Good answer!

    We will all wait patiently for The Tattooist. I like a good police taunting novel and I am sure you will do the genre proud.

    Nice emoticon.

  23. Yes, I feel obliged to do something about the dearth of serial killer thrillers, particularly ones involving grisly violence against attractive young women.

    After The Tattooist I'm thinking of writing The Piercer, about a serial killer who targets attractive young women, leaving them not only dead, but with multiple piercings. The troubled female cop is obliged to consult the Tattooist, now safely behind bars (or is he...?) in order to track down the Piercer.

    It's all rather ground-breaking stuff, but I hope will find a readership.

  24. I myself am working on a kinder, gentler version of this compelling sort of story. "The Hairdresser" captures attractive young women who have made unfortunate choices in hair style, subdues them with Josh Groban tunes, styles their hair in a way much more suitable and then releases them back into society with no memory of how it all happened. The bald Inspector Sooritay tracks down the culprit and, well, that would be telling.

  25. Speaking as one who has just had her fringe cut slightly too short, what I want to know is, does "The Hairdresser" do hair extensions?

    Also, who is Josh Grogan?