As of this morning I’ve sold a total of 21 copies of Perishables. I know that at least (counts fingers) 8 of those are to people I already know but that grey area of happy wiggle room between 10 and 13 is sufficient to declare victory and say that I have reached my primary goal of selling 10 copies to total strangers. Some of the people who bought it have since become non-strangers but that’s just dandy: that’s a bonus, in fact! In the meantime I’ve got three great positive reviews up on Kindle and one on Smashwords. I’m calling this a success all around: at least ten copies sold to strangers within two weeks with almost zero marketing and before Smashwords has finished reviewing it for distribution to iBooks, Barnes & Noble, etc.? I am very pleasantly surprised. Thank you for your support, assistance, purchases, reviews and general attention!
If you haven’t yet read it and you’d like a copy for free, use coupon code WF98F to get it for free from Smashwords in a variety of formats, including Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Sony Reader, PDF, PalmDoc or just to read it in a browser.
Here’s a quick review of what I’ve done to market it and the effects that has seemed to have:
- I’ve developed the cover in public, via Google+, to engage the interest of other writers and of the people who had already circled my cover artist. That produced an initial handful of sales.
- I’ve created the Facebook page for The Perishables Project and mentioned it there. That’s produced a much larger push of sales, mostly to friends.
- I’ve talked it up to two different zombie fiction interest groups/pages on Google+ and those have accounted for three or four sales.
- I’ve posted a coupon code to get it free from Smashwords, then talked that up on Google+ to the same zombie fiction interest groups, and that has generated all the rest of my sales.
- Interestingly, exactly one new person has begun following me on Twitter. I have tweeted almost nothing about the book, but he’s still there. Twitter (for me anyway) has a very high incidence of follow-and-forget, so that’s not surprising.
- Even more interestingly, zero new people have subscribed to the mailing list for announcements. I find that very surprising.
Actions I’m interested in trying but have yet to do:
- When Part I: The Vampire and Part II: The College Town were just rough drafts that I’d posted on a different section of this website, I was at one point regularly receiving emails from people who had randomly stumbled across me via Google, read the stories and liked them. (One was a middle school student who did a book report on me, which is exceptionally strange and sets my inner queen to abject preening.) I have yet to email any of those people, despite keeping their emails for moments when I needed an ego boost.
- I’m curious to see how much it costs to sponsor an episode or two of the podcasts hosted on yog-sothoth.com. They’re some of my favorites and honestly I think their sense of humor, taste for adventure and appreciation of the subtle horrors of humans experiencing the surreal and the terrible are a pretty good match for Perishables. I’ve sent them a note (just this moment!) and am waiting to see if that’s available at a rate that seems like a good way to invest.
- I’m getting more involved in interactions with other writers on Google+. One of the things all this has revealed is that G+ is the social network for creatives. For a really, really long time I have used it solely as the new Google Reader for the purposes of sharing stories with my friends who are active sharers on Google Reader. The last four weeks have revealed a lot to me about the creative communities that are thriving there. My stream is usually a few dozen gorgeous pieces of visual art, some conversation with other writers and my friends. This is a great goodness. G+ definitely has a place in my “working” life that it never has had before. As such, I’m participating in a Blog Tour sometime in the next few weeks and I’m going to be a participant in a Hangout for a zombie book club.
- I’m interested in making greater use of writer-focused Meetup groups in the Triangle, but hell if I have time. I’m interested, though. I even got invited to participate in the construction of a shared-world anthology but then I was so busy I never wrote back and the administrator apparently thought my silence meant disinterest and now I’ve been ditched. I can’t blame him, I sincerely wish them the best of luck and I find it a little funny because I accidentally probably seemed like a total dick when really I’m just busy and now I have no way of telling him that.
- I want to produce a version for DriveThruFiction, the prose side of my favorite online RPG source, DriveThruRPG.
The financials so far work out like this, in brief. There is a small amount of prize money, for which I am intensely grateful and I did not expect and I just get a little giddy every time I think of it because woohoo! A prize! I’ve spent a little of the prize money on a cover. I’ve sold a total of 21 copies of the book at differing royalty rates for a total income of about $40. All told, if I were to consider this as an attempt to gross minimum wage then I would be exactly 40% of the way there.
That $40 in sales is huge for me. It isn’t much, I know, but it’s a nice dinner and it just means the world to me for the potentially seemingly silly reason that no one has ever once tried to give me money for something I’ve written. The last time I had anything published it was a poem in the last issue of a tiny Australian literary zine, circa 1997. I was promised a copy of that issue but never got it because the zine folded basically the day that issue went to press. Having someone say that my work is worth reading is really tremendously flattering. Having strangers form a committee to read really fantastic books and then decide that from among those mine is the best is humbling and terrifying and rewarding and intoxicating and a whole lot of other thick & chunky emotions, all compressed into one multicolored bouncy ball and sent zinging around the inside of my chest cavity. To have a stranger who is just some random person hand me a couple of bucks to read the book is satisfying in some way. The Blotter and the Laine Cunningham Novel Award judges have granted me artistic recognition and my friends have spent years being ridiculously generous with their social support and their patience and their listening to me blather on. Having someone hand me a couple bucks for it is tiny in comparison to either of those motivations to remain creative and has never been why I put down words (I do that to entertain myself and sometimes succeed) but it does fill some tiny niche in a corner of my mind; it scratches some itch I didn’t feel until I moved to scratch another before it. I’m not sure that makes sense or that I’m saying it very well or that I’m not somehow insulting my friends or The Blotter, all of whom – let me be clear – are fucking amazing; but it’s worth noting anyway.
So what’s the new goal? If I hit 25 gross sales, regardless of strangers vs. not, I will up the price on Kindle and Smashwords to $3.99 but offer a Smashwords coupon to keep it at $2.99 only on that site. The vast majority of sales have been on Kindle but in terms of discovery-by-strangers those two sites are running neck-and-neck. I want to see if a price difference between them produces any shifts in behavior if I mention them in the same breath at all times.
I am working on some ideas for Stages Three and Four, yes, but they’re just ideas and they shy away from the light of day.
If you’ve read Perishables, by the way, and you have kind things to say, a positive review on either of those pages would be most appreciated.