I was asked a question by someone on the Bookgoodies Facebook page, or maybe it was just a comment, though I have been asked the same question before, and expect to be asked it again. How do I get my numbers? Which is a good question, considering that I really don’t know. This month, on the last day, I have almost 6,900 sales, and would like to see it hit 7,000, something I have absolutely no control over at this moment. Add to that over 350 borrows on the Kindle Owners Lending Library. Pretty good for an indie who was selling about 12 books last June on Amazon and Smashwords combined. There were some strategies I took to help move sales along, but I really have no idea how much each of them contributed to the total. I have fans comparing me to David Weber and John Ringo, or saying things like the best scifi they have ever read. I’m not sure about either of those, but the fans seem to like it. About half of my almost 400 reviews are five star, eighty four percent are four or above, so I must be doing something right in the work I produce. I get some bad reviews. While some have compared me to the greats, others have said that I should go to work digging ditches, based on what they perceive as my talent level. I am not trying to write the Great American Novel. That is not what I grew up loving. I want to write good speculative fiction. Someday I would like to win a Hugo or Nebula, though I have no control over that, and am not even sure if an indie can win those awards. No matter. I know I have talent. I have been told so by some professionals I respect. But talent is not the whole deal. I have a great imagination, and can take concepts from other stories and blend them to make them my own. Not sure if that’s the whole story either. I have done give aways on Kindle, some have led to great sales of that particular book (The Deep Dark Well), some have led to mediocre sales (The Shadows of the Multiverse) and some have led to very poor sales (The Hunger). And I believe some of those giveaways were the spark that started people reading the Exodus Series. I think that The Shadows of the Multiverse is as good as The Deep Dark Well, and The Hunger as good as either. Recently I have bought advertising for the Hunger, $500 for two months, and have so far seen 14 ebooks fly off the electronic shelf. I have a variety of books out there, a steampunk fantasy called Daemon, a two near future scifi novels, The Scorpion and Diamonds in the Sand. I put books out I have written over the past decade, after submitting them to agents and publishers and collecting rejecion letters that basically said they weren’t going to make a fortune off of me.
So what is the secret? A couple of years ago, just before I jumped into the indie publishing game, I read a book by James Scott Bell called Self Publishing Attack. The best advice in the book was to get a lot of books online, and keep putting out new ones. I had the advantage of having quite a backlog of ready to publish novels, so I was ahead of the game there. And the advice seems to have panned out. The Deep Dark Well and its Sequel have sold enough to send me on a couple of vacations. Same with the Refuge Series. Shadows of the Multiverse would pay for my gas for a year, while Daemon, Aura and The Hunger have allowed me to eat out and see some movies, and that’s about all. If any of these had been my only books on Amazon, I probably would not have been able to quit my day job. The Exodus Series allowed me to follow that dream. And I had no idea that would be the breakaway book that took me to self published full time author. So I guess the lesson is to keep putting out books, and never get so invested in one idea that you get locked into a losing proposition. I don’t think just putting out a lot of books is the complete story. They have to be good books, or at least good enough that your target audience wants to read them. And a good start to that is to write the book you would want to read, then the next one in the same vein.