Monday, March 7, 2011


About a year ago I was offered a publishing deal with a print publisher.  The deal didn't offer any advance or any marketing money, but it was an offer to have my book published and I should've been thrilled.  I was, until I heard the details.  First of all this was a hardcover publisher only and they sold their books for $27.95, no exceptions.  I felt uncomfortable asking my mother to spend 30 bucks on my book, nevermind complete strangers.  Then when I asked people in the industry how many copies I'd expect to sell at that price the answer was a resounding, not many.  Maybe 500-800 for a first-timer.  

Around that same time I had a literary agent, Robert Brown, who's a prince of a man, suggest I try publishing the book as an ebook on Amazon.  He told me to charge 1 or 2 bucks and get a lot of readers to try it out.  He thought the book was strong enough to attract many fans.  After all it had won the Southwest Writers Contest, Thriller category.  So I went into this indie publishing thing very reluctantly.  The question was, "Did I want readers, or did I want to tell my writing friends I had a traditional publishing deal?"  The fact was, I wanted readers.

Now's where I come out of the closet, so to speak.  I'm not J.A. Konrath, so I'm not comfortable talking numbers like he is, but it's time to reveal whether this indie thing had been worth it.  Last June when I placed my novel, "A Touch of Deceit," on Amazon as a Kindle book for $1.99 I sold 35 the first month, mostly to friends and family.  Then 48 the following month.  I felt my decision might have been a faulty one.  Then something happened around September, I began receiving solid reviews from big name blogs and they were posting their comments on Facebook and Twitter.  Then word of mouth spread and in December I'd sold over 800 copies.  It was thrilling to see the support I'd received from so many readers and reviewers.  Finally last month alone I sold over 1400 copies of the book and surpassed the 5000 mark overall.  

It's been a long road, but the future appears bright.  With the sequel, "A Touch of Revenge," coming out next month, I've decided to lower my price even further to .99 cents.  This upsets my mother to no end, since she knows how many years it took me to write and publish etc. . . But this project has always been a long term one and right now it's all about readers and exposure.  Is this the choice all writers should make if they're trying to break into the business?  Absolutely not.  The traditional method is certainly valid and should be given serious consideration.  Am I happy with my decision?  Yes.  I've gotten so much enjoyment hearing from readers who really appreciate my skills and it's humbling to be able to communicate with them in this socially active society we're now in.  Besides, think of how many trees I've saved doing it this way.   


  1. I just started up mid October. It takes a little time Gary at first eh? but you're on the right tracks now. Its wonderful when the figures suddenly shoot up like that out of the blue. I love it how there are also so many wonderful authors to really meet and get to know. Here's wishing you higher and higher sales figures.

  2. Congrats, Gary! Nine months to sell 5000 copies of one book is awesome! I'm 5 months into my epublishing adventure and I just hit 1000 sold for three titles.

  3. Thanks Jacqueline and Derek. I've always been reluctant to talk numbers for many reasons. Just thought it was time to offer my experience so far.

  4. Congratulations, Gary - I knew you had to be doing well, I just wasn't sure *how* well. ;-) Those are some fabulous numbers there...great job! Here's hoping for more wonderful things with the sequel...

    I'm just closing in on 1k total sold since last August...will probably hit that this month with my three titles (the bulk of sales via one title that took off in Dec). But each month sales go up, and I'm perfectly happy with the slow-build I've got going at the moment. I'm glad you decided to post your numbers - posts like this are encouraging and inspiring to me. :-)

  5. Thanks Jamie. You're doing all the right things. You obviously have talent or you wouldn't get as far as you have. It's a marathon not a sprint. Let's see where this takes us 5 years from now. That's what I'm aiming for.

  6. I second Jamie, Congratulations!
    I opted to go with a small press for the release of my first novel, but have made the decision to self publish the book I’m currently writing. We’ve all read the success stories (and for the record, I’ve been reading Konrath since he published his first traditional title) or about self published authors who sell less than fifty copies.
    It’s refreshing to hear real numbers from a talented author producing quality work, who is in it for the long haul. Thank you for sharing. For the record, my own mother’s hair almost stood on end when I shared my plan with her. She knows I gave up everything except work and five hours of sleep each night while writing my first book. The idea of doing it again and charging 99 cents is hard for her to understand.
    Best of luck with your next release,

  7. Thanks Lori. Deep down inside I believe given a choice between making a million dollars from fifty readers or fifty dollars from a million readers, most of us would choose the latter. Let's face it, we're writing to be read. Readers become fans and fans want more of your work. Right?

  8. Gary,

    Another fabulous post from a great writer!

    Thanks for sharing your story. You were one of the few authors I met right away when I emerged onto the Twitter scene with your opening scene contest. This was something that inspired me and it caused me to have great respect for you and your passion.

    Good luck to you and your bright future.

  9. Thanks Daryl. I think both of us have the same notion that writers should help other writers. I don't think that concept should ever be understated.
    I appreciate all your support.

  10. Congrats, Gary! And thanks for sharing the sales numbers with us. It helps to get an idea for how things are going out there. I plan to release my first book this summer. Fingers crossed that I can get the word out and readers will like it!

    I set up a Facebook page as I start down this path:

  11. Good luck Cyndi. I just found your Facebook page and liked it. I really believe there's a bright future ahead of all of us.

  12. Thanks for sharing, and congratulations!

  13. Hi, Gary. I saw and replied to a post you made on Nookboards and decided to look you up.

    Great post you made, and I agree that I really want readers more than just sales. Unfortunately, the reality is that you may have great books but unless you have a lot of marketing skills or word of mouth buzz, nobody gets to read your words.

    I'm learning this the hard way so far.
    Hope you can blog more about how to get exposure from your experiences.
    I don't know how to subscribe to your blog through Wordpress, but I'll be popping in often!

  14. Thanks elijahjoon, it seems my most popular posts are about my writing experiences. I'm a little shy about revealing sales numbers, but I have no problem discussing my journey. Probably should do that more often.
    PS- Click on Follow Networked blogs, I think this allows you to follow from any blog. I think.

  15. I'd definitely be looking forward to those posts about your experiences, Gary.

    I also want to note something: the big sellers on Amazon Kindle and PubIt! are all genre fiction, especially paranormal romance. There's hardly ANY Literary Fiction on those bestseller lists as far as indie authored ebooks are concerned.
    That makes it pretty discouraging for literary authors.
    Luckily, I write both kinds of fiction... Just saying.

  16. is a little bit difficult to be a indepent writer in our days, you have to fight agains many others, and we don't have to talk about fight against the great ones.