It’s hard to believe, but we’re coming up on bookbabys 1-month birthday! Time sure does fly. How are things going? Glad you asked!
Does it seem like book promotion, silly memes, & writing are all I ever post on social media these days?
First, The Sharp Edge Of Yesterday is my first new book release in 4 years, so it shouldn’t be a big surprise that playing with the baby is my whole life right now.
Second, congrats, you’re among the approximately 15% of my following that sees book posts! I get better engagement on my lunch photos. (unless I mention books or writing in them.) I’ve been posting a lot of shared memes lately because I have a Facebook surfing problem, but after Sharp Edge’s one-month birthday, the apps will get deleted from my devices & I’ll take time offline except for some scheduled book posts.
Which is all to say, the evil Facebook algorithms will disappear me from your newsfeed entirely, unless you like & comment on whatever posts FB deigns to show you. Just saying.
I’m committed to doing the whole transparency thing about my publishing experience, so I’m about to throw numbers out there. Skip down to the cute red panda pic if you aren’t interested in nuts & bolts.
Sharp Edge out-performed all its predecessors by a 3x multiplier. 32 copies was my previous first-week release record for a new title. Sharp Edge came in at 110 copies. Is that good? That depends. For me? Absolutely yes!!! I’m over the moon ecstatic about achieving triple digits. But in a strictly commercial sense? It’s a non-starter.
But look. I didn’t expect to take the bestsellers list by storm. Do I wish everyone who read it was telling every other person they know to go buy & read it, in the kind of numbers that make a word-of-mouth bestseller? Hell, yes, of course I wish that. I HAVE BIG PIE-IN-THE-SKY DREAMS. But 2 decades of retail bookselling means I’ve always known the odds. Books sell when they get in front of a lot of eyeballs, getting books in front of people is a bear of a job, and I’m a bad bear wrestler.
I don’t have a large following either as an author or as a human being, this book has a good hook but no critical pick-it-up “wow” factor, and I didn’t go Amazon-exclusive & perform the pricing tricks necessary to attract the all-powerful algorithms. And live conventions haven’t been happening, so I couldn’t engage new readers that way.
True to my expectations, sales crashed after the first-week flurry, excepting a blip here & there on Amazon.
I don’t even know where most of the sold copies went. They aren’t showing up as scanned at bookstores, (yet?) and no one’s ‘fessed up to buying a bunch from Ingram just to make me happy. (Why would someone do that? How? I don’t know, ask my Impostor Syndrome, it’s the irrational little weasel who thinks up weird ideas like that.)
But I digress. That makes this a great spot for a word from our sponsors. Behold, my books!
Back to the crunchy numbers & meandering prose…
Bookscan (a database that literally records how many copies of a book were scanned at participating bookstores) indicates my paperback sales have been overwhelmingly local, which not a huge surprise. It also shows sales in eleven states overall, and that’s both exciting and unprecedented.
Sharp Edge is still not in WorldCat, which is one of the bigger library cataloging databases, so I guess no libraries have picked it up yet. Or at least none who use WorldCat’s database (like my local ‘brar) Or it’s still in the acquisition process. Or something else I haven’t guessed. Basically, it’s early days and unknowns outnumber knowns. I’m gonna pretend lots of folks have recommended library purchases that haven’t gone through yet.
The review tally is stalled at 7 ratings on Amazon, 3 on Goodreads & 1 on B&N. Are those numbers good? Depends on perspective. The numbers are spectacular considering I did nothing to ensure that I came out of the gate with any at all.
In a perfect world, or a world where I had lots of extra silverware or the willingness to let go & hire someone to organize my life, I would have spent the months before opening up pre-orders lining up reviewers, scheduling interviews, readings, and pursuing many other marketing & promotional opportunities. Initial sales success is grounded in PRE-publication build up. And I didn’t do any of that. I didn’t give myself enough time.
Sharp Edge was long overdue already. I needed to get it out there in the world before something else horrible happened in the world or my personal life to delay it again. That was my choice, and I’m comfortable accepting the consequences.
My marketing efforts weren’t a total crash & burn. I lucked into a podcast interview and I was generously offered the chance to be featured at a local (online, thanks pandemic) reading series. And I might do more. Maybe a Goodreads giveaway or throw a copy up onto NetGalley. I could throw money at a Bookbub ad or try for the golden ring of a Bookbub promotion, even. Post new-release, return on investment isn’t historically good.
The reviews so far are all fair to glowing, which is gratifying and a huge relief. But it takes a LOT of ratings to make shoppers pause, especially when the ratings are all high. (Except with romance. With romance, the blurb is ALL) Sharp Edge has a long way to go before it hits the “Hm, other people appear to like this, I should take a look” tipping point.
Full disclosure, only 1 of my books has more than 20 reviews, and another is a romance. They’re also the only 2 titles I get occasional surprise sales on.
All done with numbers stuff.
Sharp Edge Of Yesterday is now heading into the big world of “it isn’t new anymore.” Before we go, I’d like to get in one last pitch to please review it if you’ve read it, even if you thought the book was meh, maybe especially then.
The more reviews & word-of-mouth interest Sharp Edge gets, the better it will do long term. Reviews raise the visibility of the book and legitimize it in the eyes of potential readers. Goodreads or other places that let you post “want-to-reads” and “reading” flags–those are the online version of “word of mouth” and they’re platinum.
Every mention by people other than me helps. The more the merrier, the more the better. Not just online. Real world. That advice, if it’s advice, goes for all your favorite authors. If you love someone’s writing,
put a ring on it tell friends, tell family, tell perfect strangers.
And on that note, in the next post, I’ll make mention of all the great books I’ve been reading lately.