Tuesday 12 August 2014

Adventures in self-publishing, 1 month later

I've self-published Return on Investment just over a month ago on 12 July, because it's not a romance (though it does have a love plot) and because the alternative would have been to finally give up on the book after it had already languished in a drawer for about six years. Since I will be writing more books like this - books outside the strict m/m romance category but distinctly gay, at times sexy, and with a love subplot - it seemed like a good idea to give self-publishing a try.

(Since then, I've been accused of basically feeling "too good for romance", and me saying "this is not a typical romance" as a cynical marketing ploy.

To that I can only say, I can only write the books I feel, and I don't always feel romances. When I do, I write them. It's basic author mental health - you can only write well what you feel. If I feel like sci-fi or fantasy or hetero books, I'll write them. Life's too short to write other people's books, and writing a book is too much work to undertake it for any other reason than because you gotta - at least that's my take on it. 

On the second point, I really wanted to make absolutely clear that Return on Investment is not a typical m/m romance so people who buy it hoping for a romance won't get disappointed. That's the problem when a lot of your work has been in a category - there will be readers who blindly pick up your next title, hoping for more of the same, and I've spent a significant amount of time and energy trying to explain that I don't write the same category or tone or thing over and over. There's no consistency. I frankly don't know what I'll write tomorrow. And I rather lose a few dollars than have justifiably pissed-off readers hunt me at conventions with pitchforks - not that my readers would, but you get the idea. 

It has nothing to do with marketing - actually I didn't do any marketing, having just started full-time day job again, and with my head elsewhere. Return on Investment emphatically is a book I published because the alternative would have been to take it behind a shed and shoot it there and put it out of its misery, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. That's all there is to it. I'm not James Bond villain who spends his days plotting how I can screw my readers. I'm a guy haunted by books and trying to share the decent to good ones to the best of my ability.)

Anyway, numbers. 

It's a full month now, and I have an update on numbers. This will get a bit less frequent now, as I'm planning to do another update after a quarter, 6 months and a year, and, if I remember, 3 and 5 years from launch. All of this is is a fact-finding, fact-sharing exercise, based on my theory that more information about sales is a good thing - and because there seem to be people out there who believe I'm one of those lucky souls who shifts millions of copies. I'm not and I don't. The good news is: I don't have to.)

So, book launched on 12 July, so I'm pulling data up to 11 August. (I launched the book in the UK afternoon, so it's not exact.)

For that 31-day period, the numbers are:

24 copies refunded
356 net copies sold (royalties: $4.11)
266 copies "loaned" (royalties: ~$2) via KU/KOLL

Money-wise, it has recovered its costs of $500-600 and I'm well on the way to getting enough money from this release to fund the next one - which I expect to cost $1,500ish, as I'll be hiring my favourite editor.

The country breakdown is:

US: 223
UK: 73
Germany: 33
Canada: 9
France: 6
Italy: 5
Spain: 2
Mexiko: 2
Brazil: 1
Japan: 1
Australia: 1

US: 223
Europe, without UK: 46
Europe, with UK: 119
Rest of World (RoW): 14

Predictably, Germany is the biggest market for me in Continental Europe. The US globally by a huge margin, but I'm quite heartened that, together with the UK, it's about 60% of the US sales. It does confirm my suspicion that I have a strong base in Europe overall, possibly because of the more European flavour, which is based on what countries and mentalities I know reasonably well and can write about with some authority. 

In terms of UK sales, ROI has occupied the #1 Financial Thriller bestseller spot for about 3 weeks out of 4 (possibly more, I didn't track it exactly) in the UK Amazon shop, holding its own against an Amazon-published title and a whole raft of much cheaper titles of decent length. That shows Financial Thrillers in the UK is a tiny category where few sales (=> 73 in that month) can get you to the top spot. I found that pretty fascinating. I'm also not convinced I sold more than a few copies to thriller readers, though I gratefully noted that lots of people with financial backgrounds of some description who also read romances seem to have enjoyed it.

It's important to note that 60 of those 358 copies were sold on launch date. As predicted, I'm currently selling 5-10 copies a day, but there's a slight downwards trend. There are days when I only sell 2 copies. If Return on Investment performs as other books of mine, it'll keep going at that level for a few more weeks, and then taper off to maybe a copy a day or less - the good news is that those sales are possibly forever, or "money nobody has to work for anymore". Long tail. It's all long tail for me. One copy a day is still about $120/month for me, minus fees and taxes. Every little helps to push the mortgage down or fund some travelling.


  1. I find these breakdowns really fasinating, im the one in Australia by the way its waiting for me to go on holidays in september. I usually read romance with a plot of suspence so what I look for is a conection between the MC. Quiet frankly I loved Gold Digger so good luck with ur sales for the future.

  2. I thought I was the single Australian. That's weird. I bought it through the USA Amazon site but with an Aussie IP address. So, anyway, Aleksandr, you have two Aussie buyers!!

  3. I really enjoyed ROI. I love romance, but I find as I grow older, I prefer books with mystery or suspense. I enjoy thrillers but they have to have a romantic subplot. This book was an excellent combination.