This guest post from Martin Crosbie originally ran on my Blogger blog in 2012, and it’s well worth reading again.
Martin’s excellent self-published book, My Temporary Life, achieved a great deal of attention in the major media for hitting number 1 on Amazon. Here, Martin explains how he did it. This topic became the basis of a subsequent book from Martin, How I Sold 30,000 eBooks on Amazon’s Kindle: An Easy-To-Follow Self-Publishing Guidebook.
Martin also interviewed me about my first novel. That interview is on his blog—but read Martin’s tale of hitting number one first.
In early February 2012, two months after publishing it, I enrolled my first ebook in KDP Select. Did much happen because of it?
Yeppers, in three weeks I experienced more personal accomplishments than I ever could have imagined. First of all, My Temporary Life became available as a free download in an Amazon promotion. The idea is that folks download it for free and with the momentum that builds, when it becomes a paid download, it sells. Well—IT WORKED! It became the most downloaded ebook in North America for one day, in March 2012.
My Temporary Life built up momentum like a rocket taking off. There was nothing gradual about it at all. By the second day, it was second overall in free downloads. On the third day, well you know what happened, because you heard me. Yep, doesn’t matter where you were, you probably heard me. We hit #1 overall.
So, then, “paid” day happened. It changed over at midnight on Sunday and paid sales slowly started to trickle in. The next morning I expected to see 15 or 20 sales. We had over 200. Over 200 folks pulled out their credit cards and took a chance on my self-published book, which over 120 publishers and agents had turned down. (Oh, did I forget to mention that part?)
Sales continued all day, and the days after. We peaked in the overall rankings at #9, but it didn’t stop there. An independent website emailed to tell us that we were the #7 most downloaded independent ebook of the week; we did a bunch of online interviews, emails and reviews stacked up like crazy, the momentum was deafening.
We hit 60,000 downloads, 51,500 of which were free. There were so many requests for information that we issued a press release. Yep, we issued a press release talking about the book that I wrote in the spare bedroom of my house. A Dallas, Texas television station ran the story. They were interested in the fact that over 120 agents and publishers rejected “My Temporary Life,” yet all these folks were downloading it. We were on the Movers and Shakers list. We were one of the top 10 self-published ebooks on Amazon. We were #2 in Romance/Suspense. We were #2 in Mystery/Thriller. And more 5-star reviews came in every day.
At dinner one night, Jacquie and I sat and read the newest reviews. Two of them made us cry. It’s an amazing experience to read about how your work can touch another person. The sales figures really are amazing, but the almost overwhelming part is that you have an opportunity to touch so many people.
Now, while all this momentum was happening, it was also getting a little help: I was spreading the word. You see, although I do trust in Amazon, I was helping it along. I was posting interviews, sales figures, anything I could. I was on Amazon discussion boards, Kindleboards, KDP’s Community site, Facebook, Twitter, even Craigslist! All I wanted to do was tell people about my book. And, in doing all of this, not a lot of other things were happening, including writing. And, you see, there are a couple of things that I have to do in my life to function. One of them is sleeping, and the other is writing. I was sleeping a little bit-four or five hours a night, but not writing at all. That was the first problem. The second problem was the pirates.
My Temporary Life showed up on a piracy site. Someone had taken my work, changed some things, and was giving it away. So, we quickly sent a letter to them, and the owners of the site were kind enough to take it down right away. I remember years ago, sitting in front of my computer and playing with Napster, and I felt karma kicking me solidly on my rear end.
The next thing that happened was we started receiving a lot of emails from other authors asking me what I’d done, or more specifically what I did differently. There are two things that I can definitely recommend. One is Bob Mayer and Jen Talty’s The Shelfless Book. This is it: https://whodareswinspublishing.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=164
The book is actually the contents of their course that I took just before my epbublishing adventure began.
My other recommendation is to do everything you can think of to spread the word. I can tell you that it truly does make a difference when you have a Facebook event or tweet it, or come up with some other novel and original way to reach readers.
Currently, over 90,000 people have downloaded My Temporary Life. Our sales have tapered off a little bit lately, but we are still high in the rankings and we have over 80 five-star reviews now, too, and, oh yes, the sequel has been published. My Name Is Hardly is out. So, thank you everybody for Facebooking, and Tweeting, and emailing your friends. Every time you’ve told someone about my book it made a huge difference, and the book that over 120 agents and, oh never mind, that doesn’t matter now, the word is out there, and people are enjoying the book. Thank you all, it’s truly appreciated!
Martin’s interview of me is on his blog, here.
My Temporary Life is excellent. I recommend it. You can find it on Amazon, of course.
Have you noticed the new functionality?
Written Words has moved from the worthy Blogger platform to WordPress. Along with that, as you can see, it sports a new, cleaner look and new functionality. I like the white space, the categories for blog posts and the ability to search through the blog. I hope you do, too.
The most important difference now is, the Written Words blog is an integral part of my revamped Written Word Communications Company website, writtenword.ca. Since I started the blog years ago—in 2006!—I have wanted to integrate into the website. But mostly because i wasn’t willing to invest the time into figuring out how, I never did—until now.
A couple of months ago, I began an effort to update the writtenword.ca website. I quickly found that cheap or free web layout programs usually are not that easy to use, and worse, are not reliable. Freeway Express, for example, is free, but it inexplicably changed the names of all my image files. If all I wanted to do were to create a nice website that sat on my desktop computer, it was great. But when it came to uploading it to my domain host, well … I’ll tell you about that in a future post, where I review the software in detail.
Finally, I took the excellent advice offered by many colleagues, some of whom I hope are reading this post now. I decided to move to WordPress. Instead of trying to link the blog to an existing website, with WordPress, you create a website with the blogging interface. Then, you upload files to the domain host that essentially link the browser back to the wordpress.org platform. WordPress takes care of most of the grunt work of keeping track of file directories, and there’s no need to use an FTP uploader. I don’t have to wonder whether Host Name is the same as Server Name. And I don’t have to learn how to write Cascading Style Sheets, either.
WordPress also has a lot of other great features, like comment spam filters, galleries, sliders and carousels for images. MailChimp is integrated into the system, too—not that I’ve used it, but others tell me it’s quite powerful.
But the most immediate appeal was the range of layout templates WordPress offers.
I knew that if I were to try to make this change completely on my own, I’d spend weeks chasing down blind alleys and making all sorts of newbie errors, so I turned to blog expert extraordinaire, and author, Barb Drozdowich of Sugarbeats Books. She’s also the author of The Book Blogger Platform and several other guidebooks for authors, and a founding member of BestSelling Reads. In the next post, I’ll explain all the details on how I made the transfer, along with some key pointers for anyone else who wants to try a self-hosted WordPress site themselves.
But for now, I want to encourage you to explore the site. Click on the house icon at top left for the Home page, and explore the four different service pages: Creating, Polishing, Publishing and Training. Check out the work that I’ve done: Books written, Books edited and Articles written. Explore the blog categories and leave comments.
Don’t ignore those social media sharing buttons. Please, if you like the look, Like it on Facebook, Plus One it on Google+, Pin it on Pinterest and all that other stuff.
Or just go to the Contact page and let me know what you think by email or any other medium.
Thanks for sharing!
There are exceptions to every rule, and I’ll address that in a minute, but for now let me just say, the Indie Market is shit. It’s a little pile of shit, wrapped up in shit, to make a shit burrito covered in shit sauce.
… The unedited, untalented, unresearched drivel that has been rejected by every publishing house
On the other side of that you’ll find authors who have never tried the traditional literary market. I’m going to go out on a limb here and pull this percentage out of my ass…Ahhhhhhh. 96%. I believe about 96% of those who have never tried the traditional market don’t because they know they’re going to get rejected.
I work for a publishing house (and no despite your begging, I will not tell you which one, nor will I give you a recommendation, so please stop asking) so I know what it’s like.
|Image source: The Bleacher Report Blog
The truth is, unless your work is good enough to be accepted by a traditional publisher, it shouldn’t be on the market.
|Source: Rebecca Berto
E-books and print-on-demand have made that model obsolete.
Well said, Scott. I’m self-published but I had a professional cover done and have had my books edited. I also work as an editor and all my clients are, wait for it … self-published authors. Surprise, surprise. Some of us actually do care about quality. We all know there are a lot who don’t, but they won’t stay in the business for long, and because the prospective purchaser of a book can read a sample, well, they can decide for themselves whether the book is up to scratch or not.
Traditional publishers have made a living off authors for a very long time and now that living is threatened. Not only that, contracts are getting worse and so are the editing services some publishers provide. I’ve seen many a traditionally published book that has sub-standard editing. And guess what, Anonymous (at least have the guts to rant with your real identity), a recent survey has shown that readers don’t give a toss about whether the book they’re reading is self-published or traditionally published.
I find [the] rant offensive, ill-informed, self-important and a generalisation. Thankfully, your opinion won’t stop anyone from following their dream to be published. Let the public decide what they like or don’t like. I’m not afraid for readers to have more choice, but I find it interesting that you do. I, for one, won’t let someone else dictate whether I achieve my dream or not .
Emblazon is a new group of authors who write for readers aged 11 to 14 has just launched a new blog dedicated to the art and science of writing for this special audience.
“Some call them upper middle grade; others call them low young adult. They’re somewhere in the middle and can lean either way. We call them Tweens,” the group states on its About page.
Independent Authors International
Member of BestSelling Reads
March 23, 2017
I’ve been thinking a lot about writing style lately. Actually, I’ve thought a lot about it for a long time — as long as I’ve been writing, which is most of my life. I find that my response to a book or to a writer, no matter what the subject is, depends a lot on […]
March 20, 2017
Do you remember songs that made you think, “This tells a story that would make a great book or movie”? There are a few from my youth that made me think that. Songs with great music and lyrics that evoke a story that echoes in my mind for decades. So I finally did something about […]
March 16, 2017
What is writing style? It’s an elusive topic, in many ways. To help me chase down the essence of writing style, I’ve called upon some author friends for their opinions. First, we have Roger Escbacher, author of a number of middle-grade books, such as the Leonard the Great series, Dragonfriend and Giantkiller, middle-grade/young adult fantasy adventure […]