Happy belated birthday to Shizzle, Inc!

With all the recent health drama going on, I completely forgot that on 4 September was the one-year anniversary of Shizzle, Inc (Isa Maxwell Escapades Book 1) hitting the Kindle “shelves.” My brain is slowly returning to its usual programming after I finally heard the three sweetest words in the English language – “it was benign.” While I’m facing several more weeks of tough recovery – I still can’t stand up straight or walk for more than a few minutes at a time – it’s nothing compared to the agony of anticipation and anxiety.

I’ve been a published author for just over a year. How crazy. I have a bottle of champagne in my fridge, which will pop as soon as I’m off the cocktail of painkillers. Too bad I can’t have a sip right now, because I do have quite a few reasons to celebrate. I transitioned from a decade of dreaming about being a published author to having two books self-published. I took a massive five months off work to pursue this writing dream. I started #ComedyBookWeek and saw the inaugural event soar with 117 participating titles. I have made lots and lots of connections with other authors, have learned from them, and shared my experiences in turn.

Speaking of experiences, few things compare to the joy ride of getting your first book published. The high of seeing it on Amazon. The low of pathetic sales. The high of doing something about the low sales, be that paid advertising or trick after marketing trick. The low of realizing this is one of the worst ROIs you’ve ever had. The high of the first 5-star review. The low of the first (and second, and third) 1-star review. It doesn’t end, and it doesn’t get old, and eventually you learn to accept it for what it is. The learning curve is very steep in that first year, and I have learned lots, namely:

  1. I have improved as a writer as I continued to work on the second novel, so it’s been difficult (but necessary) to let go of the first book and stop trying to fix it. I did hire the fourth (!) editor to clean out Australianisms, but will not worry about it again. I will move on and write more, because Ana’s opus is yet unwritten.
  2. I have learned A TON about marketing a book. From cover design to launching, to which paid advertising sites work, and which don’t. If you haven’t seen my Super-Duper List of Book Advertising Sites, check it now. It may save you a few bucks. I haven’t hit NY Times list yet, but while Shizzle, Inc sold 12 copies in it’s first week, Indiot sold over 100 in the same amount of time.
  3. Speaking of sales, Shizzle, Inc sold a total of about 800 copies in its first 8 months, at $3.99, then $2.99, and finally $0.99. Its permafree now and thousands of free copies have been downloaded (I wish I kept a better eye on the numbers, as I can only look back at the last 90 days). It was hard work to push these sales along – I have not made my money back on all of my paid advertising experiments, and even the free downloads have withered down to nothing over the last few weeks, without ads. Just for fun, here are the last month’s charts: Shizzle, Inc free downloads shizzle-on-12-sept …and Indiot paid sales indiot-on-12-sept
  4. Going permafree was a difficult, but exciting decision, and one I still stand by. No, it’s not helping to pay back the investment, but Shizzle, Inc now has 73 reviews, and I am inching my way towards that elusive BookBub promo. Indiot is not doing too shabby, either, with 12 reviews in its first two months of existence.
  5. Speaking of reviews, I’ve learned to accept them as they are. At first, the 1-star reviews hurt so much that I’d even written A Simple Guide to Overcoming 1-star Review Grief. Now I just make sure that I read those bad reviews only once. The 5-star reviews, however, I read again and again. Kid you not, some of the early positive reviews I’ve read at least twenty times, and will undoubtedly read again. They have been a healing balm and a fuel to keep me going.
  6. I’ve learned that moving a book in a brick-and-mortar store is practically impossible. It was a thrill to see my book on a bookstore shelf and then into the bookstore’s front window, but I sold just two copies that way. From now on, I will concentrate on electronic book sales, until one of the big publishing houses offers to take this chore off my hands.
  7. Social media. Oh, boy, what have I not tried with social media? I went wide, and now there are dead accounts on just about every platform. My main lesson there was not to spread myself thin and to concentrate on just a couple of venues, which are this blog and Twitter for me. I did learn a lot about Goodreads, but Found Instagram and Facebook to be too much of a chore with little return.

This was an intense year, and I could probably go indefinitely with the dot-points, but I think the most important thing is that I’m still here and still kicking, despite now being well aware of the realities of self-publishing. It’s difficult, it’s often discouraging, expensive, time-consuming, and confusing. Good thing that it’s also liberating, empowering, educating, and inspiring. I’ve been a self-published author for one year, which is both a long time and not nearly long enough to count any chickens yet. I like to play this game sometimes, where the future me has something to say in terms of advice or encouragement. I’d like to think that Ana 2020 would thank me for not giving up on this dream the way I gave up on sculpture or breeding rare fish (okay, that one was a doozy).

Happy Birthday, Shizzle, Inc. I’m so glad to have you in my life.

 

 

 

51 Comments

Filed under Self-publishing and marketing

51 responses to “Happy belated birthday to Shizzle, Inc!

  1. olivia Barrington

    Happy one year anniversary!! My how time flies when your an author. So glad of the three words, I just knew you would be fine. The healing will go by fast, thank goodness you can take painkillers. I’m allergic to almost all of them. Hope work on your books is helping take up your time. That and Netflix. HA,HA! You’ll be walking much better in a couple of weeks if that long. Eat healthy and clean, think positive and smile. Your marrying a great guy and your a published AUTHOR!!!! Take care of yourself! 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you, Olivia. In so glad I’ve been exercising and eating well beforehand, I think it’s making my recovery a lot easier. Time flies, and I can’t wait to find myself on my honeymoon, which is only a couple of months away. I’ve weaned myself off TV and onto reading, next step is to start writing again, which has been tough to do. I’ve started cracking jokes around the house, so should be back to my normal clown self soon 🙂

      Like

  2. Ana, I’m two months ahead of your Shizzle Inc one year anniversary! My self published YA Collision came out July 2015; Corrosion, Bk 2 in May this year.
    All you say about this writing/ publishing/ advertising roller coaster is true… and I’m here for the long haul as you are.
    Thanks for your generous advice along the way, and mostly I’m so pleased your health is on the mend.
    In the end, such scares help to put the rest into perspective, don’t you think?!
    Love, PJ

    Liked by 2 people

    • It does put things in perspective, PJ. Previously, I took it so hard and personally when sales waned or I got a bad review. Now I’m happy to have an opportunity to continue, and very much determined to keep on pushing through. Belated congrats to you too 🙂

      Like

  3. Tony Poulsen

    Happy Anniversary, Ana ! I see alot of Twitter ads from various authors and that seems to do the trick. Changing up the ads help too.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Happy Birthday, Shizzle! Please tell Ana that book sales are a tough slog, perhaps not worth it all financially, but more than worth it for the enormous satisfaction of accomplishment that a published book represents. Huge! Congratulations!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, James. I still hope that one day it will pay back, though – but it will probably take many years. For now, I’m very happy just to see myself grow and to read the reviews that say I made people laugh. Such an amazing feeling 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Happy birthday, Shizzle, Inc.! I enjoyed the book muchly and am looking forward to reading the next two.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. So glad to hear your good health news! Thank you for sharing what has worked for you in this past year – you are a generous soul.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Great news on you health issues, Ana. 🙂

    And Happy Birthday, SHIZZZLE INC!

    I totally concur with all you wrote about ‘highs’ and ‘lows.’ I must admit, I didn’t take my ‘Damp Dogs & rabbit Wee’ quite so seriously, but it too has now just passed its first anniversary. I didn’t so so well as far as sales go, – only 50% of Shizzle, but I spent nothing other than some freebie copies to bloggers,, until my final push towards USA. I had two paid-for ads with EReader Cafe and Fussy Librarian. I did spent loads of time trying to get the word out through various other means, local and national / international

    Like you, I found it reallly hard to let go. I’ve now taken DD&RW on that long, sad trip to the book vet for … ssssh … well, you know. No point in flogging a dead, erm ..ok.

    Yeah – time has come to concentrate on the new book. My long awaited fantasy / comedy. I’ve had great feedback from some established published comedic writers, so watch this space. 🙂

    But most importantly, it’s great to hear you’re on the way to recovery, Ana. Take care.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Cee Tee, and I’m glad to hear you are writing a new one. I’ve learned this lesson from a sculptor, actually, who advised to finish pieces and forget about them, instead moving on and on. Hope you get to publish in time for January #CBW!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Congratulations and very well done. Happy to hear you’re recovering. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Happy anniversary!!
    I did enjoy Shizzle Inc (keep meaning to do a review and get Indiot…I’m a hopeless reader at the present)
    Well done for all your efforts and best wishes for the future

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Excellent news, and happy anniversary.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Tamara Kulish

    Sorry to hear about your health struggles but very happy about the good news you received! Yay!

    I’ve had far less sales than you had, which in turn affected my sense of self worth more deeply than I thought could happen. (I’ve also been without an income for over a year and a half, due to my daughter working quite far away and needing to leave before dawn and returning at close to the kid’s bedtime. I’ve stood in the gap to take care of the kids and the house, but having no income and my daughter paying my bills for me has been very difficult for this independent spirit to accept!)

    I recently spiraled downwards and knew I needed to do SOMETHING to pull myself out of that rabbit hole, but all I was able to manage was to beat myself up more! I needed some guidance and help!

    Thankfully the universe stepped in and I received a free book from Hay House Publishing titled “Adventures of the Soul” by James Van Praagh.

    This book is amazing! He’s a well known medium who has written about what he learned from different departed souls in his communication with them. I feel he has “insider knowledge” which is helping me to reconnect with my inner sense of my life mission and to feel the Divine Love once more.

    This is in spite of my present circumstances!

    I highly recommend this book for anyone who is searching for answers and needs a boost! I’ve started blogging about my “Aha” moments, and will continue to share as I carefully and mindfully work my way through the pages!

    Peace to you all!
    Tamara

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Tamara, sorry to hear that you were feeling depressed, but glad that you’ve found an inspiration in this book. Hope you spiral upward from here. Publishing is a tough business, so I don’t put all my eggs into this one basket, but see it as a bonus and an awesome adventure. Still have to plough on with my regular job, but who knows what the future holds 🙂

      Like

  12. amyk1960

    Ana, you are an inspiration to us all. Reading your post 3 times and taking alot of strength from it.AK

    Liked by 1 person

  13. You know, you’ve done so well with your books. If I’d sold 800 copies of my first novel, or was in any way going to make it to 100 copies in the first week of my second novel (first week ends on Friday), I’d be dancing for joy.

    And I’m so glad and relieved for you that the tumour was benign. You must have gone through hell and back waiting for the results.

    I get the feeling that this is going to be a good year for you all round.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much, Sarah! I hope it will be a great year. One thing for sure, a wedding and a honeymoon are not far away! In terms of numbers, I realise it’s better than average, just frustrating that I’ve put so much money and effort into the ads for this moderate result. And since Indiot went back to $2.99, the sales fell off. Tough business.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Did the sales fall off altogether on Indiot, or did you get less sales that overall made you as much money but made your ratings fall. I’m interested, as maybe I need to at least reduce my first book to $0.99. With my more recently released one, I’ll run a countdown deal after 30 days and see how that goes. If the lower price works, then I might reduce it to that price for November & December. So far, my paperback sales exceed the Kindle ones on this second book, probably because it’s a children’s middle-grade crossover novel (meaning that adults are probably buying copies to give to their children, while having a sneak read themselves! It’s all about dogs, too (albeit strange ones), which might help, as lots of people love dogs. As usual, I’m finding the US market hard to break into, so most of my sales are in the UK.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, yours is a different type altogether. I have previously found with the first book that my sales and royalties were better at $0.99 as compared to $2.99. I’m gonna wait a bit more, but if it’s not selling, reduce the price. Frustrating, since my first book is already free.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m guessing that we indie authors earn only 1,000th of the minimum wage, if you count all the hours of work we put into producing our books and marketing them, and yet there are many people who think we should work for free. Those same people would throw their hands up in horror, if it was suggested that they worked for nothing. I agree, it’s very frustrating.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Unfortunately it’s the laws of supply and demand. Too much supply out there, of variable quality. I do believe that if you (or I) persist, you’d eventually rise above the ocean of pulp. The same issue happens in acting, you should see how many actors are willing to work for free to get something for their showreel.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Congratulations! Has it only been a year? Seems longer. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Congratulations and best wishes on your continued journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Yay for Shizzle Inc! Hip hip hooray! Congrats!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I’ve enjoyed following your journey and learning from your mistakes.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Glad to hear you’re in recovery now, that sounded very frightening! And congratulations on all your hard work with the books and the blog 🙂

    Like

  19. Brainless me.
    Reviewed on Amazon May 2016.
    But up-dated on WP, my blog ; https://wordpress.com/post/heroicallybadwriters.com/2498

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Thanks for posting this, it is very encouraging if a little daunting for someone who is edging towards self publishing. congratulations, well done and keep going.
    Get well soon
    Martin

    Like

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