Sunday, July 29, 2012

Going Indie - Day 11: Lessons Learned

My Bestselling Title!
My neck was feeling better today until I pried myself away from the keyboard.  Still, I managed to publish Adorable Dogs: Bulldogs in one day. Did I push myself too far? Probably. But I wasn't about to be denied. I've got books to write, and I can't afford to miss out on another opportunity.

Today was different in the sense that I didn’t know I was going to do any real work when I turned on my computer this morning. I figured I'd take it easy because of my neck. Famous last words. I was dying to get my hands dirty, so I picked a "simple" project, which wound up taking the rest of the day. (Eventually I will learn not to underestimate these children's books, but I have a very hard head.)

I did clear some potential hurdles before jumping in, which made all the difference in the world. Progress was smooth and effective, and I didn’t get stuck at any point. I also did a better job of putting my thoughts down beforehand. It feels good to finally follow one’s own advice. ;D

Now that Adorable Dogs: Bulldogs is done, I can create the compilation and step away from dog books once and for all (or at least until the following week). While it was fun, I really need to move on. My popular works need sequels, and I'd love to do something more sophisticated, like Enura.

Slowly but surely, I'm getting there…

As for the month of July, I was able to stop the bleeding and turn my sales around. I added 21 new products, and put many of them on free promotion. Although none of them were blockbusters, I learned quite a bit:

Germany Is A Decent Market

Doing German translations of My Little Pet Dragon and My Crazy Pet Frog was an excellent idea. I gave away nearly 3,000 copies in all (the most I've ever given away in a foreign market), and was able to trigger a few sales. This is a big deal to me, because last month I didn't sell anything in Germany. I've heard of other people doing well over there, but not with children’s picture books. It was definitely worth the risk.

If You're Going To Do An Alphabet Book, Make It An Animal Alphabet Book

Unfortunately I learned this the hard way. I created 6 different alphabet books this month, but only one did decent numbers during its free promotion. (Ok, 2,500 copies isn't great, but some of the others didn't even reach 500.) A few alphabet books by other authors have done well (Dragon's Alphabet Soup by Rachel Yu comes to mind), so I'll keep trying until I find the right chemistry.

It's Better To Follow Up Your Successful Works Rather Than Build A New Franchise

The title speaks for itself. Although I was extremely productive this month, my time would have been better served writing the sequel to either My Little Pet Dragon or My Crazy Pet Frog. I took a gamble with Taming Your Pet Monster: An Operational Guide, but it didn't pan out. Still, I'm satisfied with the final product, but it's time to move on.

It Only Takes One Product To Change Everything

I gave away over a dozen different products in July, and while sales improved, it wasn't until my free promotion of My Little Pet Dragon that things turned around. It’s hardly a surprise. My Little Pet Dragon is my bestselling title.

Put everything into the title you're working on. You never know. You may just have a hit on your hands.

Choose Wisely

I have tons of ideas for new books each day, but unfortunately, there's not enough time to do all of them. As your sales will indicate, not every title is worth doing. Some wind up being great books that no one wants to buy, others, only minor hits, and the select few, blockbusters. But if you never experiment, how do you know what will sell?

I've followed my instincts thus far, but I'm slowing beginning to realize that it's very much a game of hit and miss. Not every title is a winner. Analyze your catalog. Take a look at what’s selling. That should give you plenty of ideas on where to invest your time.

Ultimately, if you love what you're doing, it doesn't matter. It's those pesky bills that get in the way.


Expanding my catalog by 50% didn't result in 50% more income. That's because I didn't choose the best titles. In many cases, I took the easy path and picked some low-hanging fruit.

That will not be the case in August. I will make significant financial progress, even if I only publish a few titles. I have to be cautious with my next few moves; a lot is riding on it. It's not good enough being productive anymore. I need a legitimate hit.

That's why I'm trying to wrap up all these alphabet and puppy books before the end of the month. I don't want these projects hanging around; I want to be totally focused, and put out the best quality work that I am capable of. Afterwards, I will return to my crazy/productive ways.

Live, learn and adapt,

Scott Gordon
Proud Indie Author


  1. Hi

    A fellow Kindle publisher here. Just wanted to say congrats on the amount that you have published so far. It seems that quantity is the answer when writing for kindle.

    I had one question, if you don't mind me asking. Are you working with a particular budget in mind? Or do you source free images for your books? I have only just started and have made about $10. Is that good for 2 months? I don't know.

    I am enjoying your day by day journaling of your experience and look forward to learning more.



  2. You're doing fine.

    $10 is normal when you're just getting started. In October of last year, I made $8. The following month, $20. Keep in mind, this was during the Christmas season, not the summer downturn (arguably the slowest time of the year).

    I didn't see any real money until I promoted my works. In a nutshell, I took the easy way out and enrolled my books into KDP Select. The free promotional days that Amazon gives you can work wonders if your book is well-received.

    While KDP Select is a great way to establish yourself, I wouldn't recommend it as a long-term solution. You need to get your e-books into Barnes & Noble (B&N) at very least. Friends and family have told me that B&N accounts for 40% of their sales (it used to be 10%). With those kinds of numbers, it would be silly to remain exclusive much longer.

    As for your question, I purchased a subscription, so a budget is unnecessary. I do not use free/public domain images in any of my works, but there are some good ones out there that could definitely work.

    Quantity is great for drawing people to your work, but a blockbuster title can push your entire catalog once it gets going. (In reality, you need a little of each.) Around your fourth or fifth title (under the same name), you should see a significant increase in sales, though it could take longer.

    If you've written any short stories, put them to work. Don't give anything away for free unless it's during a free promotion (which has a clear sales objective). I have one title that earned me $0.35 this month, but I'm extremely proud of it. Sure, not everything's going to be a hit, but that doesn't dampen my enthusiasm one bit.

    So get yourself out there, feed your audience a steady diet of your work and you will succeed. It's a mathematical certainty.

  3. Thank you so much. This is just the sort of encouragement I need to keep me going.

    I look forward to learning more about your own journey.

    Here's to our sucess!

    Victoria :)