Tag Archives: indie publishing

Promoting Fairytale Non-fiction

Persinette_2Here are some of the things I have learned in the past three months about selling short (46 page) e-books and folklore/fairy-tale translations & non-fiction.  You have to admit, it’s a slightly different story than trying to promote or sell a novel. In no particular order:

1. Being in the Amazon Top 100 in the Folklore & Fairy Tale categories isn’t enough to sell books, especially when you have no reviews. I figured this out when I was hand-selling copies of my book, before I made its existence public knowledge. These categories are just too small, and not browsed often enough.

However, the same isn’t true for being in the Top 100 in the corresponding free categories. Those do get drive-by “sales.”

2. Here are the three paid promotional sites that produced a spike in sales even though my e-book wasn’t a novel:

3. The Indie View was the only effective way of getting an early review from strangers out of every other method I tried, and it’s free. I searched the first 150 or so of their listed reviewers, looking for everyone who liked fantasy, Christian fiction*, non-fiction, and short stories. I applied to 5 reviewers who listed some combination of these. Of the 5, one responded that they were full up and would have to pass. Then another responded enthusiastically–and bumped Persinette up first in line, ultimately giving it its first 5-star review. 🙂

4. Getting a 5-star review as its first Amazon review has done more to sell the e-book than anything else. This is self-explanatory, and is most likely true for any kind of book, be it novel or non-fiction.

5.  Goodreads is hands-down the best way Persinette has been discovered by strangers, especially once listed on Listopia lists for its various categories.  If you haven’t listed your standalone or first-in-series book anywhere on Listopia, do so. Even just a single-vote by its author is enough to help readers find your book. You don’t need to go extort votes from anyone in order for Listopia to be an effective promotional tool. 😉

6. KDP Select results: I matched my genre pulse ad up with a 5-day free promotional period that started not long after I got my first 5-star review. I was very pleased with the results, though the genre pulse ad was only effective the first 2 days of the promotional period.

If I could do it again, I would split the 5 days of free promotion into a 3-day period and a 2-day period and promote each one.  Experiments, experiments.

Otherwise, the vast majority of my sales have come from the Amazon US store. Only now am I starting to get sales trickling in at the Amazon UK and Amazon CA stores. This is probably due to the fact that the 5-star review is now cross-posted to the other stores due to the fact that someone voted for it as being “helpful”.

7.  Kindle Unlimited results: Persinette has gotten very few borrows in comparison to sales. However, because the e-book is listed for sale at $.99, the royalties from the borrows should pretty much equal the royalties from the sales. I will know for certain when I get the full report.

8. Patreon is still my most dependable fairytale/folklore income stream. I find it ironic that the translations I post for free on my website do more to help support my hobbies than the rather more expensive-to-produce e-book. Still, I wouldn’t change my decision to publish Persinette.

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* – Persinette isn’t actually Christian fiction, but I delve into the French Wars of Religion of the 16th century and their reversal during the 17th century in order to make a few points about Mlle de La Force’s life and bibliography, and so I wanted to be absolutely certain the reviewer wouldn’t be turned off.

Publishing Types

It was mentioned that not everyone who reads my blog understands all the issues surrounding the different types of publication that are available now, such as those I referred to on my post about my career path and goals.  There has also been a lot of hot debate about whether or not a writer who is in charge of their own book publication should be allowed to call his or herself “indie” (short for “independent”).  I thought I’d tackle both subjects here briefly.

Up until 2009 when e-books started becoming a viable reading option, there was a dichotomy in publishing known as “publishing” and “self-publishing”.  In those prior days, nearly everyone was published through a regular book publisher in NY. In order to be published, you first found an agent to represent you and work out a suitable contract with an editor at one of the publishing houses.  The actual publishing process with one of these publishers even now takes years. First your book is accepted, then you go through a series of revisions, line-edits, copy-edits, proofs, and so on. Often you don’t get to choose your cover artist or cover art.

Self-publishing under this system was frowned upon, mostly because self-published books were rarely professionally edited and therefore were poor in quality. Self-publishers wrote a book and published it themselves through a vanity press, so-called because vanity presses publish whatever you give them if you pay them a lot of money upfront. In those days, self-publishers basically had to hand-sell each of their books. Hardly any self-publishers made anything resembling a profit and few managed to sell to anyone but family and friends.

“Indie publishing” as a term actually meant publishing with a small press.  There wasn’t much difference between indie publishing and regular publishing except the choice of who was doing the publishing process for you, where they were located, how many titles per year they published, and how large their staff was.

Now, however, the world has changed.

To differentiate between publishing paths, a new term was coined for the path that everyone took for granted – “traditional publishing”.   At first, this term was met with hostility by the newly-called traditional publishers, but now most seem resigned to it.

The remaining two terms “indie publishing” and “self-publishing” have undergone a revolution as well.  Now small presses, the old “indie publishers”, are feeling resentful that the old “self-publishers” are stealing their title.

Here’s a suggestion on how to differentiate nowadays.

Traditional publishing: Large and small presses that do all behind-the-scenes work in publication except the actual writing.

Indie publishing: Do-it-yourself, entrepreneurial writers who hire seasoned professionals to help them edit, copy-edit, obtain cover art, and so on for their books.  Anyone who does their homework, obtains professional support, but strikes out on an alternative path to the traditional.

Self-publishing: Doing all or most tasks entirely yourself.

I should note that “indie publishing” and “self-publishing” are often used interchangeably, which might be part of the remaining stigma and problem.

Now that I’ve given you a bit of background, hop on over to Kris Rusch’s business post comparing and contrasting traditional and indie publishing.  She also explains why proponents of the two have a hard time understanding each other and getting along.

ETA: I started laughing to myself when I saw her business post this week. (I’d written and queued this post immediately after the tweet that started it all.)  She’s responding to the exact same tweet and blogpost debate as I am, draws many of the same conclusions, but has a lot more experience under her belt. Cue me amused.