Monday, April 07, 2014

The Frustrations of Self-Publishing

Hello all.
Today, please forgive me, I am going to be quite self indulgent. I will do my best to keep away from 'Oh woe's me!' and the like, but I can't make any firm promises.
So this self-publishing ebook lark. I started back in 2011 with no real idea what I was doing. I just got the first volume of Dhaka to Dakar out on kindle, and then wondered when someone was going to buy the thing. Forgot a bit about it as sales weren't forth coming and I was getting married and moving to Japan etc etc - life goes on.

2012 and I pressed on eventually with the second volume once settled here in Japan. I decided I could get SOMETHING out quicker if I released it chapter by chapter initially. And so I did that. And yes, I have a few more sales and I think it was a good idea simply because this way the titles were one-country specific, and not too broad. If someone was to search for a book, say, on Bosnia Herzegovina, my chapter on that might come up, and all the chapters were and are only 99 cents, aimed at actually making sales rather than money. And I continued on for the third book, Across Africa, which I think is easily the best of the three, the best written and the most interesting. And then combined them and put them out as volumes, and turned the first book Journey Through Asia into single chapter releases as well.

I mention the books in relevant blog posts, I hope I don't push too hard, and for a long while, apart from the very occasional facebook mention, that was all I was doing. As I was blogging very infrequently, that wasn't much in the way of publicity.

Last year in October I released Short Journeys: Ethiopia. I decided to do more writing, perhaps therapeutically more than anything else, but I included information on transport and accommodation as well as I continued the line with more Short Journeys, the most recent being Short Journeys: India.


And this year I looked up the net for advice on how to publicise my ebooks. 2013 had a couple of good months, but to be honest I have never made more than 15 bucks in a month from my ebooks in total. So I read 'use twitter and social media', I found 'Goodreads' and have been listing my books there. When school finished I had a lot more time for this stuff, and I got into twitter, but I have to say - it's bloody exhausting! Publicising, listing in different places. As you know I've started publishing also with Payhip, which let's me keep 100% of the money made, and Lulu which doesn't, it keeps the first 99 cents as well, but it also put me on ibookstore, Nook and recently Kobo.

I made a page (and will make more) on Squidoo, my first was about India. I've connected with so many people in the last two weeks, primarily over twitter but tried to read as many blogs on travel as possible, like people's facebook pages if they like me back (I've had a lot of requests from people I started following, but any that didn't follow me back I can't even reply to!). I've thought about paying for campaigns but I'm not really sold on that. I joined tumbler but haven't started there as I don't really know what it's all about. I downloaded 'tweetdeck' (thanks to Dan Collins for that recommendation) so I could schedule tweets when I'm asleep and reach people awake on the other side of the world. I am living in Yokohama with no job other than this self publishing publicity lark (and writing) until May 9th when I return home to Australia and honestly, after just over a week here I'm a little crazy and bit depressed.

So where am I as of April 7th, 2014? How's it all going?

It's all, honestly, one big stressful ball of 'Argggggggghhhh!'.

Status of Payhip - around 6 weeks, with no sales. Maybe to be expected, it doesn't publicise your book at all and you publish in the rather boring PDF format.

Lulu. This picture says it all. I've link numerous times to Lulu and chatted about it here. I was very excited after my first sale, which took about five weeks. The graph went up. But now it's back down again. Second sale... where are you?

As for Amazon. Well, this year had been building very steadily, since December really. A few more sales each month. March I started to get into Twitter as I said. March turned out to be the best month ever in terms of total sales, I was really happy. Especially with Short Journeys. Short Journeys: Ethiopia has been the most successful book every month since it was published bar the first one I think.

A is for Amazon. But it is also for April. And despite the best of my publicity efforts, it's a week in and it's a shocker. TWO sales in a week. I've met my target 3 months running, but boy it's going to be hard with this start in April. I'm not sure what's happened. Have I over publicised? Have I reached everyone who was ever likely to buy the books in the first place? Who knows...


One thing that's frustrating is getting reviews. I have two reviews for the Kazakhstan book, one for the Cameroon book, one for Dhaka to Dakar Book One: Journey Through Asia, and one each for the Bangladesh and Burkina Faso chapters, and that's it. All the reviews have been very positive thankfully. So, dear reader, I would ask that if you have read any of my books, and you don't mind, please do submit a review to Amazon or Goodreads, or even Lulu. They don't have to be more than a couple of sentences, and please... be kind!

I had no idea that this review existed for six months on Amazon for my Burkina Faso chapter of Dhaka to Dakar, it's really very kind.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent travel journal account of Burkina Faso September 1, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book, especially given its modest cost and production efforts. The photos are great and were easy to view in my Kindle Paperwhite. The author has an engaging writing style. I was trying to do some research on Burkina Faso as a country for human rights reporting purposes. This book gave me a very good anecdotal coverage of the people and countryside. I was especially intrigued to hear of the author's ability to use Internet cafes everywhere he went, which helped me establish in my human rights reporting that Internet access is possible in the country, even if it is one of the poorest and most technology-challenged countries in the world.

Thanks for your time today in my little self indulgence. Three places you can find my books -

Andrew Boland at Goodreads
Links to Amazon, every book listed, some videos also linked to certain books.

Andrew Boland at Amazon - Author page
All my books are released on Amazon first.

Andrew Boland at Lulu - Author Spotlight

Normal service will resume shortly! May the journey never end.


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