Monday, 30 June 2014

Kindle book selling like Hot Cakes!

I am so excited - my Kindle book is flying off the virtual shelves. (Or should that be, 'virtually flying off the shelves'?  Whatever).

I have the book on promotion for the next week.  I only sell ebooks through Amazon, for various reasons.  I know some other self-published authors don't like Amazon and feel they have an unfair monopoly, but I love them.  They pay excellent royalties, they help with promotion and quite simply they sell more of my books.

Anyway, every three months, if you publish through Amazon, you can promote your book for a total of seven days on a Kindle Countdown.  Basically, you sell it for less intitially, and then the price rises incrementally.  I have discovered that for me, the best method is to use all seven days at once.  So yesterday my book cost 99p to download.  It will stay at that price for the next couple of days, then rise to £1.99. And then, after the week is up, it will go back to the full Kindle price of about £3.00. 

This might be getting a bit long-winded, but bear with me.  Basically, I have done these promotions before, with varying success.  The first time boosted sales a fair amount; the next occasion, less so.  Then at the beginning of April this year after a Kindle Countdown promotion, sales took off again.  This was unexpected and led me to wonder whether it was due to the promotion, or whether something else had happened that I was unaware of - for example somebody had recommended my book to a professional network or a group of carers somewhere. 

Anyway, whatever the cause of the sales spike, I was chuffed.  And this time I was prompted to invest a little in the book.  I have been reading a lot about self-publishing and everything I have read tells me that you need a professional cover as well as good content in a book.  So I shelled out for the new cover.

And I am delighted to report that it really does seem to have made a difference!  Last time I checked (and I keep having to stop myself checking) I was at 1,385 in the overall Kindle rankings, which is about as high as I have ever been, since the glory days of 2012 when I first began to publicise the book.

I know that this is a mental health blog, and so going on about book rankings might not seem appropriate or relevant.  But I know an awful lot of people who are as desperate to tell their story as I once was, and so I do try now and again to give them some tips on how to do so.

I once had a comment on a piece I wrote for the Mad in America website, from a chap who said that people like me should not make money from their stories, but should give them away for free, for the good of others.  I am sensitive to criticism and I understood where he was coming from, but I don't agree.  I have given away thousands of copies of my book as free downloads, and I have also given away most of the paper copies I have ordered to sell (to Paul's frustration, I would rather give a book to someone than sell it to them). 

I wrote my memoir primarily to help others to see that there was a way out of the maze of mental illness and its aftermath.  It was almost an act of deliberate self-sacrifice, one that I felt prompted to do, and I was surprised by the fact that actually I found it a cathartic and freeing experience, not least because it enabled me to finally give up collecting disability benefit and consider myself to be a person who was capable of worthwhile work.  Three years on, I am a writer.  It means the world to me.  And I cannot continue to write unless I earn money from my profession. 

I have not earned a lot from my book.  I have never paid tax, in the last three years that I have been self-employed, because I don't earn anywhere near enough to qualify to do so.  But I do earn something; more than most self-published authors and indeed more than many writers in general.  Taking into account that I have four kids, and have to do a lot for them and around the house and so if I went out to work I could only work part-time and also that I would probably only get a menial job despite the fact that I have a law degree, due to the diagnosis and the fact that I have never worked in a professional position - bearing all that in mind, I am quite happy with what the book brings in.  (Whew, that was one long sentence.  Call me brain-dead, but I couldn't work out how to cut it into shorter ones).

I do need to ramp things up with my career now.  Well, not need to - I am pretty content with my life as it is in lots of ways - but I do want to, partly because I need affirmation that I really can write and that comes partly from being well recompensed for it and partly because the kids are growing and we have a mortgage to pay and all that stuff.  Paul has carried all six of us financially for many years now, and I think it would be nice if he could have a bit of a rest at some point.

I mentioned that I need affirmation.  I have noticed that the state of my mental health sometimes seems to be alarmingly linked to the success or otherwise of my book.  When it is doing well, I feel happy - not just because I am earning money, which enables me to stay at home and be a writer, but because I feel validated - I have done something worthy and I know that because I am achieving recognition for it.  Conversely, when the book is not doing so well I find myself becoming morose - as I felt just a few days ago before the new cover had begun to make a difference to sales.  (I was telling myself that I had wasted my money and time on what basically amounted to an exercise in vanity).

I know that the answer to my insecurity issues is not to become a success.  I need to be strong mentally regardless of what happens in my life externally.  I shouldn't need validation from others in any form in order to believe in myself.  But it is a real issue and one that helps to motivate me to keep writing - which is a good thing because if I don't write I really do become a mental wreck quite rapidly.  

I am working on the mental strength thing.  I am tacking my issues of social anxiety, although sometimes I feel that I take five steps back for every step forward.  I keep trying to be a new, improved version of myself.  But meanwhile, I am a writer, and that is something to be proud of.  And I am.   

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