A couple of weeks ago, we talked about how self-publishing your first book is kind of like making your first pancake–it may turn out just fine, or it may be a scorched, runny mess, depending on how good a job you do of making the batter, setting up the griddle, etc.
I managed to get The Demon Always Wins set up for pre-order on Amazon on July 31. As of last night, I had 63 pre-orders. That may not seem like much, but according to Kameron Hurley, the average self-published book sells only 250 copies in its lifetime. And while the average traditionally-published book sells 3000 copies over the course of its publication life, 250-300 is the usual first year total.
So, with twelve days remaining till my book actually becomes available, I’ve already hit 25% of average lifetime sales for self-pubs and of first-year sales for traditional books.
Some of this was due to the friends I’ve made in the romance writing community over the past few years, including my Romance Writing class at McDaniel College, my RWA® Golden Heart® classes and the wonderful folks over at Argh Ink, where Jenny Crusie so generously provided me with a bump and the Argh nation, with equal generosity, turned out in support.
Okay, enough hoopla. Back to the tricky stuff.
Despite the above celebration, setting up my book on Amazon for pre-orders is definitely an area of questionable pancake for me. Although other platforms roll up your pre-orders and include them in your first day’s sales, Amazon does not. When you set a book up for pre-order, Amazon’s calculation looks more like:
Debut Day Sales + 1/2 (Debut Day – 1) Sales + 1/4 (Debut Day – 2) Sales + 1/8 (Debut Day – 3) Sales, etc. (I think this goes out 30 days).
Which means that the 60 or 70 books I sell before my Debut Day won’t help my Amazon sales rank to any appreciable degree.
Despite this, I’m still okay with my decision. Setting the book up for pre-order allowed me to work through a series of decisions, missed deadlines and outright errors before I was able to make the ebook available for pre-order. And, since I have a publicity team setting up blog tours and ads based on a September 1 release date, releasing late would have created a bigger issue.
The other value of pre-orders is they will allow me to measure the effectiveness of of my publicity team, because I’ll be able to compare how many books their publicity sold compared to my own efforts.
Would anyone out there care to throw out some words of warning about other potential pitfalls?