Indie April 2019

A line graph of ebook sales rank for the month of April.

In April of 2019, I sold an average of one ebook per day, or 30 ebooks in 30 days. I’m here to analyze these results and show you what I did. It wasn’t anything genius, but it was something.

My gateway to this was through A. G. Letterman’s Twitter account. From there, I understood that the hashtag of the month was #IndieApril. I would sit there for between eight to twelve hours per day, sometimes longer, refreshing the search bar for the latest tweets marked with that hashtag, analyzing them with my human eyes (no scripts here, I’m not that resourceful) and sharing my book link with or without a summary depending on what was requested from the potential buyer.

If I had a workday, I used every lunch break, washroom break, fresh air break (intervals where I can go closer to the door and remove my respirator to breathe easily), leg of public transit commute, wait at a bus stop, and spare moments before and after a cereal breakfast to search for the next “buy thread”.

“Blurbs”/Summaries

I felt I needed to be quick on the draw, so I did utilize my clipboard whether on a smartphone or laptop. While my Samsung device easily saves multiple things to a clipboard so I could choose which to try this time, I used a .txt document on my laptop to source a nearly identical list of blurbs.

Every blurb began as something I wrote off the top of my head, but I needed to do this when I was dog-tired from work or otherwise distracted. I also needed to keep it fresh by employing differently phrased blurbs, even if they said similar things, so I might sound 2% less like a robot.

Sometimes, I just remarked in agreement with the book buyer’s criteria, or a slight disagreement but hoping this was all right with them if they had expressed a stronger preference for things other than fantasy yet considered it acceptable.

For laptop purposes, I pulled from the URLs in the top/first blurb. For Samsung clipboard purposes, each blurb had the same URL appended to the end.

The Gift-Knight’s Quest
“[Recommended] for fantasy fans who like their stories complex and well-detailed.” – Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review
Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Gift-Knights-Quest-Gift-Knight-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B07585WD8X/
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-gift-knight-s-quest-1
Website (inc. Goodreads, professional review) http://squareonecomics.com/dylanmadeley/sample-page/the-gift-knights-quest-main/

A weary Crown Princess must save an empire from tearing itself apart–but first, she must save herself from the same knight sent to protect her. The Gift-Knight’s Quest

History and two sides of a feud come together in a difficult present, where two enemies must thwart worse evils.

Two descendants of a feud briefly match wits, but there’s far more at stake than family revenge.

Two descendants of an age-old feud have to be allies in order to defeat a more dangerous evil. But does the conspiracy really end with what they can see? The Gift-Knight’s Quest

This is a fantasy story that does have its dash of darkness here and there, be warned; but it isn’t a dark fantasy.

A young woman never expecting to inherit an empire tries to keep her world from unravelling, and a misguided avenger shows up at the least convenient time (but when is a good time, right?)

This is the fantasy story of a guy with no role in life who’s searching, a woman overburdened by a role she never expected to have and the weird stuff that goes down when the two finally get to meet. “The Gift-Knight’s Quest”

They range from serious to lighthearted. I wasn’t that worried about spoilers for a book that’s almost five years old.

Haven’t You Written Three Books By Now?

True enough! I began Indie April by providing a neat Kindle link that would show you the entire trilogy, and that lasted for those days of very few sales at the first week of the month. Then I understood a simple truth: most people have never heard of me at all, so why am I pushing the exciting sequels to something they haven’t even heard of?

I retooled my descriptions and links. For me, Indie April would be about getting people to buy (and hopefully read, and for better or worse review) The Gift-Knight’s Quest. It appears to have worked. The vast majority of ebooks sold were Gift-Knights. There was one Masked Queen that moved, to my surprise.

In addition, a few paperbacks sold online, one of which was a Crown Princess; the other ones, being Gift-Knights and in one case a used copy, aren’t managed in my KDP, but that’s a long story coming to a close that I’ll blog about some other time.

Every book in the series got some form of love, but it made the most sense to sell Gift-Knights to strangers. Should it interest them enough, it would be easy for them to find the sequels.

Lifting Others Up As You Climb

Twitter is a community of conversations. If you get anywhere, you get there by the sheer force of others lifting you up. It’s good to find ways to demonstrate that you wish your fellow indie authors well; you lift them up. It’s a way to help people understand who you really are, within reason and your means.

One basic way to do this was the retweeting/sharing of threads I was hitting up. This not only helped my network of people get a turn to offer their book, but it helped buyers find a platform and access to book buying possibilities. The biggest obstacle indie authors face, off the top of my head, is being in a vast ocean of other authors where most of us have equal access to shout at the same volume. It can all get unintelligible unless we organize the signal and the noise somehow.

Here was an event where someone–many someones–actually wanted me to send a book link, a blurb, something; I feel self-conscious advertising my work, even trying to sell at an in-person market, but this felt liberating. It might have been a strain on any of my usual followers who were geared to get notifications every time I tweeted, and I accept that I may have been muted by some.

I didn’t view other indie authors as my competition. I wanted us all to win, somehow. It doesn’t seem like a zero sum game to me when there are so many threads and so many different buyer criteria, and it’s not like every thread ended with one book being purchased.

I was both buyer and seller. I purchased about 30 Kindle ebooks of varying prices. My royalties went most of the way to covering the difference, but the loss I took was minimal given that I didn’t have to purchase a single ad. Some premium ebooks still lurk in my Wish List for another time. I still look at it as a win despite what the ledger would tell you, because I didn’t just drop money down the bottomless pit of ad spend. I have books to read. If they’re great, I can read them as many times as I want.

Sometimes, I had no hope in a thread because the buyer strictly wanted romance, erotic fiction, sci-fi, LGBTQ and/or POC main characters, and other reasonable criteria that The Gift-Knight’s Quest doesn’t fit. That’s when I simply liked the thread to boost its signal and shared to my expanding Twitter base in case the others had a book that fit the criteria.

(Indie April expanded my Twitter following to 1000+, or about 400+ more than I remember having to start with. The list of people I follow also expanded, though not at nearly the pace. I can only keep up with so many.)

Threads got messy. Helping is about listening, and I tried never to post a blurb/link to a thread where my work was strictly ruled out. I sympathize with a desperate feeling; so easy to say I sought to practice restraint when I was having such a great time, I don’t feel like I’m better than anyone who kept trying just in case. I’m sure I missed the point a few times.

Peaks and Valleys

Amazon Bestseller Rank is an interesting beast I know little about, but I feel like the ranking algorithm approves of streaks. Once the first lackluster week was over and I had a better approach, I was able to start selling on more consecutive days, sometimes 2 or 3 books per day. This led to the highest rank The Gift-Knight’s Quest has probably ever had in the time since I took the ebook reins from Matador Books: 57,777.

From there, I was happy to slow up a bit, not only giving other people a chance by sharing threads with them as I had done all along, but eventually just being satisfied with what was accomplished; by April 23, I tried not to post in any book buy threads again. As far as I know, the remaining sales for the month were delayed/legacy sales from threads where the buyer took time to decide. I may have caved a small number of times right near the end, but nothing like the fever pitch search-bar-refreshing and thread-pushing of those middle weeks.

It was fun. I’m adjusting to my previous activity levels and interactions. There is an Indie May, but it’s more about reviewing the books we bought during Indie April. I’m only on the 4th or 5th book of my purchase list, so I may have to get a move on. Some of us rightly ask why we shouldn’t find ways to promote indies all year.

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