Monday, 12 January 2015

A Tale of Two Novels

First Thirty Days

This blog sets out the outcome of a little experiment. For those of you who haven't read last week's post, towards the end of 2014 I released two YA novels. One was called Inner Fire; the other was A Necklace of Souls. Inner Fire was released with significant publicity; A Necklace of Souls was launched with next to none

More details on the two novels are set out below.

Two Novels

- Inner Fire - YA - thriller/suspense - standalone - publisher: Waverley Productions, 2014
- A Necklace of Souls - YA - fantasy - #1 in series - publisher: harperCollins (Voyager) 2012-13; lately published by Waverley Productions, 2014. Winner: Tessa Duder Award, 2012; NZ Post Book Awards, 2013.

Publicity for Each Novel

1. Inner Fire: 
  • Professional publicist and professional press release
  • Available as on-line and print 
  • Advertising and publicity:
      • Newspaper article (readership 250K +)
      • Radio interview
      • Review in Collected, School Librarian magazine
      • Advertising in self-pub section in Publishers Weekly and application for review by Publisher's Weekly
      • Advanced Readers Copies to local high-volume bloggers 
      • Blog tour to YA bloggers
      • Goodreads giveaway
Sales channels - Inner Fire
  • Kindle unlimited, kindle select and countdown deal.
  • CreateSpace - print copies, including extended distribution
  • NZ specialty bookstores - print copies

2. A Necklace of Souls:
  • Advertising and Publicity:
      • Advance reader copies to Goodreads followers
      • Facebook advertisement 
      • Extensive publicity in NZ 2013-14 through NZ Post Book Awards. Approx 2000+ sales in NZ 2012 - 2013 before rights returned in 2014.
Sales channels - A Necklace of Souls
  • Amazon Kindle
  • itunes, barnes and noble, Nook and Scribd (via Draft2Digital)
  • Print in local NZ bookstores - voyager imprint only
From InkyGirl

Outcome - Caveats

  1. Numbers set out below are approximate only.
  2. The cost of marketing only includes giveaways, publicity and advertising. It does not include cover art, editorial, website design or formatting.
  3. I don't have visibility into print sales through bookshops yet as these are not available until after 3 months. So this print sales volume includes direct print sales through my website only, not retail outlets.
  4. Inner Fire was in the top 50 on Amazon for the YA/thrillers/spies for the first thirty days.
  5. Although the loans look reasonably good for Inner Fire, the revenue for Kindle Unlimited is really uncertain. Greatest returns are through print sales through my website.
  6. There are other rewards than sales volumes. For Inner Fire, these have included people stopping me on the street and saying how much they enjoyed my book; emails from fans; emails from reviewers saying 'it's fabulous'; a parent telling me in a cafe how thrilled they were that their daughter, not a big reader, was reading my book and loving it.


Inner Fire A Necklace of Souls
sales - amazon
loans (kindle unlimited)
sales - print
sales - electronic (other)
reviews - Goodreads
reviews - Amazon
approximate cost of marketing (NZD)$1,000.00$15.00

The Sales Roller-coaster


  • Formatting was a lot harder than I thought it would be; I wasted a lot of time on it.
  • Using a local printer worked well (it was cheaper than CreateSpace), but the lack of print-on-demand facilities in New Zealand makes it expensive unless you do more than about 300 units.
  • Print is a really effective advertising tool. People love getting free books. The Goodreads giveaway (which you can only do with a print book) was an effective promotional tool. However, sales were relatively low - although loans were higher than I'd expected.
  • Using a professional formatter made life a lot easier but it's quite expensive. It is probably more cost-effective to use an outlet like Draft 2 Digital .
  • Using a blog tour is good promotion (and is relatively inexpensive) but offers limited return in terms of sales. However, I gained a lot of followers on Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter following the blog tour, which was useful for the release of Necklace
  • Using a professional publicist meant a high-quality press release and has gained some high-profile reviews, such as a national newspaper article, but has led to limited sales volume.

Final Conclusion

Low-key advertising seems to offer better value. So for A Skilful Warrior (the sequel to A Necklace of Souls) I will have a small blog tour, a Goodreads giveaway and, if you're a Goodreads follower, you might get offered a free advance copy. Get in quick! 
  1. Social media seems to be more effective than paid publicity. 
  2. And finally - these sales volumes will not make me rich. However, other very successful self-published authors report similar sales volumes early on, and so for the time being I'm actually not that discouraged. 
  3. In general, the trend is positive. Reviews are good; readers are enjoying my books. And I'm working out a more hassle-free process as I go. So I do plan to produce one or two more books in 2015. Stay tuned!

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