Friday 30 October 2009

Hold Me to Account: Month two stats of a self-publisher


Smashwords: (this month has been much flatter and more consistent - and I've been on holiday so I can't be exact - so I won't give the day by days) 266

My website: 2

Year Zero Website: 1

e-mail requests:

Scribd: 3

Total: 272 (target 300)


Direct from Lulu: 1

My orders from Lulu: 15

Sold through bookshops: 13

Direct sold by me:

Ordered online from me: 1

Total sold: 15 (target 25)

Significant events:

There were no significant events plugging the smashwords downlaod, as I noted last month. This month I have been gearing my energies to the book launch in Oxford (specific blog on that coming in the week), and launching the blog of the Year Zero website.

At the start of the month, I joined operation ebook drop, a project launched by ex-serviceman Ed Patterson in which authors offer servicemena nd servicewomen free ecopies of their book to put on Kindles so they have something to read on their tours of duty. My involvement is not something I've publicised because it's not designed to promote the book but to help peopel who need books to make a terrible situation more bearable, but it may be relevant. I have had two personal e-mailed responses, so this accounts for at least two downloads.

I have had 3 reviews this month (links from here):
3 October from Scott Pack of 5th Estate who used the phrase "Some moments of genuine promise in this debut novel suggest that Holloway could have a future outside of the world of peer review sites and print on demand"

6 October from DJ Young, who was using the book as an example of "the quality of what can be: ebooks or print-to-order offerings from independent or self-publishers are often maligned as the ghetto of the publishing world. With so many economical changes happening, the idea of the author/entrepreneur who provides direct commerce with his readers is no longer a bad joke publishers and agents can tell themselves anymore."

28 October from Erica Friedman, CEO of Yurikon, the lesbian manga publisgher who said "Songs From the Other Side of the Wall is a *very* good book"

October 10: the Year Zero blog goes live. We have had new fiction there almost every day since, in additionto articles on the craft and nature of writing and a weekly advice column. This has improved our visibility across the web. We are by no means anything other than minnows, but we have gone from around 50-60 hits a day to over 200, and yesterday we had 356

A number of articles came out aboutYear Zero this month, where my name has been mentioned, at Emprise Review, Editor Unleashed, Moxie Mezcal, and Fake Plastic Souks. And on 29 October Digital Book World referred to this monthly column. (All the links are available here)

29 October was the launch for the book in Oxford. It was held at the Albion Beatnik bookstore in Oxford, in conjunction with the album launch for singer-songwriter Jessie Grace, whom I chose because she sings like the main character in my book (she is also brilliant)

On 6 October the book was featured on the Aspiring Mangaka and Writers Club book tour

I was on holiday and utterly inactive on the web from 15-22 October (not pre-announced for security reasons)

I missed both of my targets this month. That despite a successful launch (all 13 bookstore copies were sold there, and aroudn 60 people were there on the night) and some favourable reviews.

I am still not Amazon listed after the Published by You debacle on Lulu. I have not been able to afford my ISBNs through Nielsen (more pricey than through Lulu) and have chosen to wait rather than get a free Lulu one. I believe this will hold back sales considerably online.

Nonetheless, I am upbeat about the possibilities raised by the launch and the progress on the Year Zero site. I am planning another event in London in December. Now that I know I can both organise such an event and coordinate with musicians successfully, I will be uch more proactive in seeking regular media coverage. My naming names policy means thatI must point out that my local paper, The Oxford Mail, refused to cover this event, which I find both surprising and highly disappointing, as they have covered previous things I've done (maybe that's why!!). I hope they will be supportive in future, but I also hope my "I don't change policy" means I stick to my guns - I am the same now as I will be if I ever get successful, and my book is the same. I hope I am polite and courteous always when I approach people, and I hope I offer interesting content. If, therefore, I DO ever get successful, media who give me the brush-off now will get the very minimum cooperation from me then.

Coming next month:
My university alumni office has arranged a big event in Berlin celebrating the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. As this ties in with the book so well, I decided it would be daft not to do something with them. They have agreed to promote the book and I will give them £1.50 from each book sold from Lulu in November and December. This money will be donated to the Student Counsellnig services. If this works and sells some copies, I would like to extend it to causes I care about much more next year,and to whom I can present figures.

I believe a couple more reviews will come out next month.

I will be focusing my efforts on organising and promoting the main Year Zero launch in London, and Free-e-day, and will have little time to promote my own book. On the ther hand, the Year Zero press material wil be much more organised from this month, and will be more targeted, and the book will be included in the "our books" part of the press pack. Nonetheless, in the light of this, and the ongoing ISBN dilemma, I expect November to be a fallow month. So my predictions are:

Downloads: 200

Books: 5


  1. Fascinating insight. I particularly welcome the comment by S.Young.

  2. Interesting stuff. Good idea to co-operate with Jessie and the Berlin Wall anniversary/uni event.

    I think this will be a long process but Rome wasn't built in a day - keep on keeping on and big things may well happen.

  3. Michele, I think this is what a lot of self-publishers and collectives get wrong - they have an initial peak and then fizzle out. I get the impression with Songs AND with Year Zero that by putting in the groundwork, keeping going, being flexible and realistic, we are actually building momentum as well as reputation - I am actually feeling very confident about Year Zero (will post an update soon) - I DO think the next books will do much better than the first books initially as a result, which is not so good for me but great for Daisy, Marc, and Marcella - most of al it's fantastic for US.

    @Sulci - DJ is @dijeratic on Twitter - she's one of the most articulate people I know

  4. Doh - I'm not very good with this whole avatar/online identity thing. Good job I wear a balaclava

  5. It is interesting to see your statistics. I wonder how much they will improve once you get a few more reviews. I plan to read your book soon - I really hope that I enjoy it and that my review helps you to sell a few more books - good luck!

  6. Hi Jackie! What a lovey surprise to see you. It's too early to tell what Erica's review will do - I was blown away by it. I wonder how important the unavailability through Amazon is - as in, would it stop people who read a good review buying it? I really want to quote The Unbearable Lightness of Being about having two lives, but I guess the point is it would be good to have a control- other books as comparison just don't work -too many variables.

    I hope you enjoy the book - if you don't, then you must feel free to say so and say what's wrong with it - I consider you a cyberfriend, but that actually makes it easier for you to be negative, because whatever you say, I know you've said it from being honest to your readers, so it would be impossible to take it personally.

  7. I really appreciate writers who share their business end nuts and bolts. It helps aspiring writers make well reasoned decisions, one way or the other, when trying to decide how to go forward. Thanks for sharing your insights.

  8. Thanks for sharing those stats, Dan. Those reviews are all very encouraging, and your book launch sounds a lovely event. Well done! And may things continue to get bigger and better.

  9. Jon, you're welcome - it will be most useful a year from now when there's a bigger set of data, although obviously those coming to it now will not want to wait. You're right - I'm a real advocate of self-publishing, but only in certain circumstances - I'd hate for someone to go ahead with it if they weren't in possession of the facts and both sides of the argument

    @Shayne - I'm totally stoked by the reviews, I must say - especially Erica's because she was very sceptical to start with. And the launch was super - will post video link v soon. Thank you!