The First Year of a New Born and a Newbie Published Author

Last year I rang in the New Year with my daughter, who had just had her first baby. I was exhausted (she had had a difficult delivery) and elated at being a grandmother. This New Year’s day, as I look back at the wonderful year of watching that sweet grandson grow and develop, I can’t help but notice some of the parallels between my experiences as a newly published independent author and that of my grandson.

Last New Year as my grandson was trying to figure out how to nurse, when I added up my first month of sales of Maids of Misfortune, the historical mystery I had self-published in both ebook and print form, I discovered I had sold only 47 books, mostly to friends and family. I had a author website (but no reviews), and a blog (where I hadn’t posted anything yet), and I had read enough advice on self-publishing to know that I had a lot of work to do if I wanted anyone else to even discover my book existed.

In the first six months of 2010, as my grandson learned to hold his head up, blow bubbles, babble, and sit up, I learned how to market my book. I found out who would review a self-published mystery and garnered a solid number of positive reviews; I began to chronicle my journey as an indie author on my blog, posting about twice a month, and had the good fortune to become a regular contributor to Publetariat, expanding my audience considerably; I lowered my price down to $2.99 for the ebook and wrote a short story that I offered for free on Smashwords and 99 cents on Kindle, and between April (when I sold 46 books-the same amount as I had the first month of sales) and May (when I sold 80 book)s I saw the beginning of a steady monthly increase in sales.

In June of 2010, when the book had been out for seven months, my grandson now had his first teeth, and I had succeeded in getting Maids of Misfortune properly included in the Amazon browsing category of historical mysteries. This was just in time to take advantage of the bump in sales caused when Steven Windwalker featured my short story, Dandy Detects, as one of his Kindle shorts on the Kindle Nation Daily. I became a mover and shaker for a day on Amazon and the two day spike in sales pushed Maids of Misfortune to a top spot in the historical mystery category in July, where it has steadily remained ever since. Fortuitously this was the same month that Amazon began to offer a 70% royalty for book on Kindle.

In the Fall of 2010, as my grandson learned to crawl and pull himself up to a standing position, I continued to publish blog posts, join in conversations about self-publishing on different blogs and writer’s and fan sites, seek out additional reviews, answer my first fan emails, and began to work on the creation of a Historical Fiction eBooks Coop that will curate and market epublished historical fiction. Each month saw a tiny increase in the books I sold. In August I sold on average 11 books a day, in September and October, 14-15 books a day, and November, 17-18 books a day.

And then came the Christmas holidays. While we sat around and watched our grandson practice his first words, “back pack” and “map” (he is a fan of Dora the Explorer), and try desperately to take his first steps, I watched my sales climb day-by day. I had already noticed a distinct increase starting with the Thanksgiving holiday, as I began to sell often as many as 25 or 30 books a day. I figured that since most of my sales were on Kindle, this reflected people downloading books to take on their travels. But even in the beginning of December, my print books began to sell at a faster clip, and this surely meant gift sales. Then the day before Christmas my grandson took four steps all by himself, and two days after Christmas, as all those new Kindle owners began to download books, I had my best day ever, selling over 262 copies of Maids of Misfortune. I couldn’t have been more proud of both of us.

So it is now January 1, 2011. My grandson has weathered his first birthday party and birthday cake, and I have added up my sales to discover that in the past year I sold an astonishing 4,625 books, 1932 of them in December alone. I can be pretty sure what this next year will bring for my grandson: more firsts. First skinned knee, first full sentence, the first, but not the last, use of the word no. For me, I hope the future holds seconds: second novel written, second novel published, and second novel selling as well as the first. But whatever happens in 2011, I will never forget how extraordinarily special 2010 was, as the grandmother of a newborn, and a newbie indie author.

11 thoughts on “The First Year of a New Born and a Newbie Published Author

  1. Hey, great post. Great blog. It is fresh and to the point. I just read literally dozens of blogs, because I can’t sleep, and yours is by far the best quality. You know it is rare to find decent content on these things… Most of them are cheap and spammy.

  2. I found your post inspiring (and entertaining), and it’s given me new fuel to find time to promote my historical novel THE PURPLES, which I published in late June. I had some other book projects get in the way, but hope to really join in the community discussions now and at least get the book better known. Congrats on a great, unexpected first year and good luck with your new projects (both finishing them and selling them).

  3. Congratulations. You’re in inspiration to us all. Thanks for documenting all the numbers. The growth of your sales is so impressive. I can’t wait to see what you accomplish by the end of this year.

  4. Hi! Congratulations! I just found your blog and added it to my Google reader. I look forward to following your progress.

    I’m a NYTimes bestselling author and have just started making my OP novels available on Kindle. I will add new work as I go along but I need to figure out the marketing part and know I will learn from you.

    Thanks so much!

  5. Pingback: Self-Publishing: Carnival of the Indies Issue #4 — The Book Designer

  6. I really apreciated this post and I am going to add your blog to those that I read regularly. To have the steps of success outlined so definitely is such a gift and inspiration to the rest of us. Congratulations!

  7. Good on ya! I’m hoping for similar in the works. My wife is pregnant with our first child, due in December, and I’m hard at work on my first novel. Interesting times indeed. Sounds pretty cool to watch your writing career progress, as you also get to watch your grandchild grow up. Congratulations🙂

  8. What a beautiful post! I had a daughter in January, and I love seeing her go through her firsts. She just learned to roll over yesterday. I love the connection you made here.

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