Today is official launch day for YEAR ZERO WRITERS. Three of our books are now available to download, and to buy in print. I'm not going to promote them here, but I will explain how I intend to monitor the progress of my book through this blog so that other writers can see what works and what doesn't work for self-publishers.
I have always said that I want to be transparent throughout the self-publishing process. I believe it's possible to succeed as a self-publisher with books like Songs from the Other Side of the Wall, especially as part of a group like Year Zero Writers. As part of this, I want to be up front about what I hope to achieve, when, and whether I am making that progress. So every month I will report on what has happened in the preceding month and what I expect to happen in the month ahead.
I will begin with an outline of my expectations for Year One - September 2009-August 2010.
Paperback sales target: 500 achieved through a mix: 100 sold through personal signings; 100 sold through bookshops; 300 sold online
Free download target: 5000
Anticipated pattern of sales: an initial spike in September largely to family and friends, and through signings at local bookshops. Sales will be driven largely by reviews online and in the mainstream media, so the marketing priority is to get the book read and reviewed. A review slot on the site e-Fiction Book Club in January is expected to spike sales, but efforts will focus on getting reviews on sites where readers of the book congregate such as Suicide Girls, NME, and Indie/emo culture mags. The main sales flow will start when the ISBN comes through and the book is available, and able to be reviewed, through Amazon. I expect this to be sometime in October.
September forecast: downloads: 150 paperback sales: 30
activity: I am hopeful of a report in the local press, which I hope to lead to a review, but this will not come until October. Local bookstores will get author-signed copies. I anticipate slow but steady sales, whcih I hope to convert to a number of full-scale presentations and signings in November, to coincide with the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. This is the month where sales will be largely friends and family, and the emphasis is on getting people to read the free download and report good word of mouth to their friends.
How I will report
It would be easy to double account my Lulu sales - to show them as online orders when I order copies for direct sale, and then report the direct sales. I will not do this. Instead, I will report on the following headings:
online sales (only those purchased online by other people)
direct sales copies ordered (the number of books I've ordered to distribute myself)
direct sales (sales by me at signings, conferences, festivals & to colleagues/friends/family)
direct distribution sales (copies ordered online from me - I will be offering free posters from October to people ordering in this way)
The book has been available as a free download for a month. Figures so far are:
downloaded from Smashwords: 68
downloaded from Year Zero Writers: 6
downloaded from my website: 12
direct e-mail requests from strangers: 4
Total downloads: 90