Over the course of the past three months, I have self-published four titles as ebooks and brought one of those titles out in print. Two titles are making steady sales. One is struggling to gain traction as an ebook but has already earned out as a print title (very soft release on May 10). And one is only 12 hours old so it's too soon to tell.
All sales in the 12 weeks have come from Amazon.
Smashwords reported one sale very early in. Although downloads of the sample were brisk in the beginning, the books haven't moved since and the downloads did not translate to sales.
No sales reported through iBooks
No sales reported through B&N
No sales through Kobo because they are experiencing delays (as per Smashwords) getting titles listed and to list them myself, I'd have to do some reformatting. Which I might one day when I have time.
In fairness to the other sales channels, the titles were listed with zero marketing and I haven't investigated any promotional opportunities that may be available through them. Here is why: Marketing takes time. Precious time from writing new work, editing current work, formatting, and reading up on changes in the industry just to keep up. Plus I have a wedding to plan in September.
From a business perspective (Hey, I watch Dragon's Den) Amazon is getting me where I want to go faster with the least time-consuming effort. If I enroll all four titles in KDP Select, I can manage promotions in one location for no cost. It's 90 days. Titles are listed with KDP exclusively. At this stage in my self-publishing journey, my priorities are to keep costs down and write new content.
So although it seems counter-intuitive, I'm going to list my titles with KDP Select, run some promotions through Amazon, write the next book and at the end of September, I'll evaluate the strategy. Many authors feel Select is not worth tying up their books for 3 months exclusively, but when I weighed the pros and cons it came down to time. I just don't have time to effectively promote in other channels right now.
12 Weeks SP Positives:
Self-publishing was the only option left for Iced Under and The Grey Lady. If you think getting a new book published is difficult, try attracting interest in a book that has already been under contract. Win!
Self-publishing was the only option for my three romance novels. Surprising, successful, fun and creative, I'm really enjoying giving this older debut work new life. Bonus!
Self-publishing gave print life to The Grey Lady and I've sold out my initial print run. Validation!
I have two full length novels waiting to be revised and formatted to be published. And the book I've started writing as well as two new series I have outlined will keep me busy until 2016. My old enthusiasm for writing is back. Productive!
12 Weeks SP Negatives:
A lot of work. Long hours at my desk. There is always more to do. Time.
The feeling of having no back up. Writers are for the most part generous with support but I miss having the structure of a publishing house behind me. Or maybe I miss what I imagined a publishing house to be... Exposed is the feeling. It is just you and your books. Solitary.
You make ALL decisions for your books. Everywhere. Constantly. Sooner or later you're bound to make a poor one from sheer fatigue. Responsibility.
There's no money or very little money. There was no money for me the other route so this isn't a total negative but one to keep in mind. No money. No advance. Frugal.
For the author just starting out, I'd recommend pursuing traditional publishing before self-publishing for a least a year. If no one bites, revise the manuscript and then go ahead and self-publish. I'm glad I had my trade publishing experience before I took the leap. But at the same time, I am very glad I took the leap.