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February 2, 2013

I published my first book a little over six months ago (June 1 to be exact). Since then I’ve tried to get the word out in a variety of ways, mostly through author interviews, requesting reviews from blogs or other writers, starting a newsletter, or posting on various sites such as Kindleboards, Goodreads, or World Literary Café. Through all of this, I never had anything in the form of feedback or assistance from Amazon. Earlier this month, two people sent me emails they’d received that featured my book as one of the suggested purchases. Of course, the first thing I think is Woo-Hoo! I made it! I then cracked a cold brewskie and waited for the checks to start rolling in.

Check out a new review for APB, and a 5 star review for TCV!

A little over a week later, I’m still waiting. While there has been a noticeable uptick in sales over the past month, I have to wonder if that’s more due to publishing my second novel, or if other readers are getting the emails suggesting they purchase my work. Of course, if the mighty Amazon algorithms decide to include me in the suggestions for all fiction or action/adventure readers, I’d expect sales to skyrocket. By that I mean to get above the 100,000 ranking on the charts, which is about as high as I’ve ever been (broke into the 98,000 for one day last year). Before you get lost in a haze of abstract ranking numbers, let me explain further.

Most of the time either of my books are ranked between 150,000 and 350,000 overall. My own rough calculations reveal that a sale or two a day will get you into the 100,000’s, and if you don’t sell anything for a few days, you’ll slide down near 300-400,000. I’ve been hovering between 150-200,000 the past week, averaging at least a sale a day.

During this self-publishing odyssey I’ve been fortunate to read a few fantastic blogs by some very successful authors, all of whom are happy to share what they’ve tried in terms of gaining exposure and readers, going down any number of paths before I do and letting their readers know what works. Russell Blake, Lindsay Buroker, and JA Konrath are invaluable sources of information, so if I’ve only served to confuse you as to how this whole process works, hop on over to their sites and take a look at what they have to say. Based on what I’ve learned and seen, it’s my belief that the best was to promote your novels is to write more of them. If you consistently put out high quality work for which there is an audience, readers will find it. The vast majority of us aren’t going to experience the overnight success that you read about, catch a ride on the rocket of a best-seller. I think the best way to become an overnight sensation is to spend years honing your craft, building a backlist of titles, connecting with readers, and producing the highest quality product. We’re competing with the New York houses, corporations that have spent decades selling books, and you have to put out a product that a reader will look at and think, “You know what? That looks like a damn good book.” Getting people to part with their hard-earned money isn’t easy, and while you may be able to fool someone once, if they get stuck with a turd, they won’t forget it.

I’d be interested to know what’s worked and what hasn’t for anyone else who’s published a book. If you haven’t had a chance, check out my newest book, The Crowns Vengeance, and contribute to my beer fund. It’s cold this time of year.

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