On Self-Publishing

Harper’s Harpings – Self Publishing, the number’s game

image       Numbers, what do they mean? How much attention should you pay to them as a self published author? FB Likes, FB Friends, Twitter Followers, GoodReads Fans, Goodreads Friends, Tumblr followers, Google+, Website followers and on it goes. Then there is author ranks, Amazon ranks and iBooks, Kobo and B&N. Where  should I pay attention?

I see authors on Facebook celebrating their number of likes and giving away books and swag if they reach a certain figure.  I see on twitter that some authors buy 5000/10000 followers to appear popular as no one wants to follow someone with less than 50 follows.  I see it a lot, ask questions and then also ask, ‘but does it work?’ There are two sides that I can see, you can grow your audience organically and slowly or you can burst onto the scene and shout ‘Like me, look everyone else does’.

The volume of followers really depends on what you want to achieve I suppose.  If you only have one book and don’t intend to write any more than perhaps one would be more vocal.  If you want to sell multiple books then buying followers won’t work, because they are dormant accounts that will not give you anything.  FB has changed it s rules now and liking a page is not enough these days to be visible, so having 5000 likes can be counter productive if they like and then never return. And does visibility equal sales?  Minefield!!

So, I quizzed a friend of mine who has released a book in the six months, he wants to remain anonymous so I am going to call him Fred.

Thanks for letting me grill you Fred, tell me about your sales and how you achieved them?

Fred? Where did you get that name from? Anyway, I can tell you what I did for the first three months and then I gave up trying to figure it out.  I tracked everything I did and came to zero conclusions to what the formula might be.  I sold 400 books in the first three months, and did a commissioned story.  Ironically at the time the money for the commissioned piece was more than the royalties for the book that I sold.

What’s wrong with Fred?, Can you tell me what you tracked?

There is nothing at all wrong with the name Fred, I like it. I decided that I wanted to grow my following organically and didn’t want to force the issue.  I am not really a hey look at me person so shouting about me and my book didn’t sit comfortably. For a self published author that is obviously counter productive as I am my own marketer. I tracked followers and book store rankings against sales, I got as far as #30 in Amazon but that only lasted 24 hours.  I didn’t find any formula that told me, if I do this then this will happen.  What I can say is that stories on my blog resulted in a commissioned story.

Tell me more Fred?

Well Serendipity, I wrote a short story on my blog, it was the first one I had done outside of my book and within a day I had a company contact me to see if I wanted to write a short story for them.  Within a week it was written and I was paid.  It wasn’t something I ever considered would happen.  It was that quick and straight forward.

Serendipity? I like it, So, you said after three months you gave up, what did you give up?

Good, it’s a keeper. I gave up caring, to be honest, I enjoy the people I talk with on social media, I enjoy writing my blog pieces and I found I spent far too much time looking at figures than writing.  I swear I could have written a novella with the time I spent analysing.  Knowing the figures won’t change how many sales there are.  Writing more books will, the more that are published the more visibility there is and if you find a core group of people who like your style of writing they will want to read more that you offer. By month three I had 3000 followers on twitter and 400 FB friends.  I sold 400 books in that time, data tells me that those sales are above average for an Indie author.  There was no advertising for the book, I did one blog interview in that time and did a Goodreads giveaway.  The rating for the book based on 50 reviews is 4.58 out of 5.  I do still keep a monthly note of rankings and review ratings but as for the rest they are what they are.

Are you trying to tell me Fred, that there is no secret formula?

Yes Dippy, that’s right, all I can tell you is write the story you want to tell, be kind and talk to people who talk to you.  When I was a child and teenager and read everything I could get my hands on there was no opportunity to interact with the author.  Times change and an author is now accessible.  A self published author is their own brand and needs to ensure that their brand is what they want it to be. I see a lot of negativity from self published authors and rudeness, there is no need for it really as we are all trying to achieve the same thing.  A tip I was given right before I pressed publish was to avoid cliques and interacting with only one group of people.  They said that it will make newcomers feel alienated and can be intimidating, spread your wings and interact with as many groups as possible, was the advice. It is a long-term game, being a writer, if you write they will come, they will tell their friends and in turn they will tell their friends.  My tip for anyone going into this, like you, is just keep writing don’t worry about the numbers.

Thanks Fred for your time, off you go and write another steamy story for me.

Yes ma’am.   So there you have it, no further forward, so I am going to keep writing in the hope that people will want to read my stories.

Thanks for reading



Harper’s Motto: You will not be everybody’s favourite flavour, but that’s ok, because they will not always be your favourite flavour.  Be who you want to be and you will attract the people who will support you no matter what.


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