100 Not Out!

Which, as titles go, could refer to the number of days of the current lockdown, but would I really be that cynical??

If you’ve read any of my posts before, you know that’s exactly my sort of humour!

But no, this isn’t about lockdown. It’s all about the numbers today folks, for with my most recent kindle sale my little novel has just tipped the scales at one hundred sales! Which I’m thrilled to bits about, but we’ll get to that in a minute. For anyone who has clicked the links I shamelessly plug at the top of each post, thanks very much. I owe you a digital beer.

But let’s get to some other numbers first. According to my blog records it has been four months since I last posted, which is pretty poor really. It’s not as if I’ve has much to do. Well, apart from being in and out of work like a hokey-cokey champion thanks to the pandemic. Let’s open the pubs, no let’s close them again, no, lets open them for a fortnight with no alcohol … and let’s close them again.

What a farce it has been. Still, at least I’m getting paid to sit on my arse, so I can’t complain really.

But yeah, four months with no posts. The problem is I have nothing to write about. Either I’m thoroughly uninteresting or have I no stimulus. I’d love to suddenly stumble on an idea for regular content, but alas it’s not easy to get eureka-moment brainwaves when it’s just you, the same four walls and your stolen cat for company. Well, he isn’t really stolen, he simply migrated from next door and now we face a nightly fight to find the sly little bastard, wherever he’s hidden around the house, and put him out before he starts making this his forever home!

What I have done in the last quarter of a year is write a ton more fan fiction, then get all morose that it isn’t getting the reads that I think it warrants. It’s a crossover fic this time, between Harry Potter and His Dark Materials, which I thought was handily timed on account of the excellent TV adaptation of HDM. I’ve written three complete, novel-level instalments of the series so far and have just started Volume 4, so it’s not at if my creative hands have been idle. I just have to bully people to read. I have some funky cover art for them though, which you can click if you fancy a read.

And in between the fan fiction I’ve been steadily watching my Kindle sales for Emerald Tablet creep up. Not gonna lie, I think 100 sales is pretty decent, considering I have no financial backing and that I’m doing this solo. That means 100 people out there (who aren’t me or my family) have bought or downloaded my little book. That’s quite something, really, and I’m quite pleased about that. It’s odd when your sales/downloads graph actually has something on it like this:

But perhaps the other, equally more pleasing graph, is the kindle reads one below it, which looks something like this:

See? I’m not fibbing!! That means that people have actually opened the digital novel and turned the pages, which is obviously the thing you hope for after a download. I’m both happy and surprised to see anything on these graphs, especially when the numbers go into the hundreds for the page reads as on the pic above. With the novel standing at exactly 350 pages in length, a hundred turns means someone has ploughed through nearly a third of the book, which is promising.

If only those numbers translated into ratings. Apparently, the algorithm that Amazon uses to rank items pretty much ignores any product with under 50 ratings, no matter what it is. I currently have 4, which could be seen as a damning  indictment of the book’s quality, as out of 100 sales only 4 people have rated it, and one of them is me! It’s quite possible, the book might be absolute rubbish. It didn’t even get an honourable mention in the 2020 Wattpad awards, so that tells it’s own story …

The big conundrum for me is do I think the story is worth pitching along the traditional publishing route? I mean, I did all this because the self-publishing on Kindle process is – a little bit like me – cheap and easy. But do I go old school and start sending stuff off to London again? Could I handle the rejection when the standard ‘thanks, but no thanks’ letters or emails come flooding back to me? At least with my Kindle sales and pocket money royalty cheques I can at least pretend that I’m a real author!

And the Kindle Process isn’t even as cheap as I made out. I set up marketing campaigns with fairly conservative budgets, and the UK one barely cost me twenty quid a month. So I popped one onto the US version of Kindle expecting the same. Imagine my horror to receive an invoice of 160 Dollars on Christmas Eve! I practically spat out my Merlyn Cream Liquor, only I didn’t because it’s the angel’s ambrosia, and who wants to be wasting that liquid silk? But seriously, 160 Bucks. And do you know how much money I made in sales/royalties from this hefty outlay?

£3.43. As the Americans say – ‘You Do The Math’. Suffice to say that ad campaign was about as useful as a waterproof teabag, only with less to show for the effort.

But, I did say I would plough on regardless, and once I hit 100 sales I wanted to have a workable skeleton plot for book 2, which I sort of do. The problem is the feedback, I think. Fanfiction can get like crack when it’s going well. I mean, check out this graph for one of my Works In Progress:

To translate, that’s upwards of 2k readers PER DAY for one of my stories, which is pretty good going. I mean, I’d give COVID a bash if I was promised numbers like that for Emerald Tablet! 20k readers for the month of January for that story. And I can hear all the eye-rolling – yes it’s fanfiction, yes it’s borderline plagiarism, but it’s still real people reading my words. So I’m taking that as a win and running to my corner to covet it!

But yes, I do have to get cracking on Book 2. It took ten years to decide on a plot for ET, so let’s hope I get my self in gear before then. It is, of course, hard to write when your stolen-not-stolen cat demands attention … or did he really write the novel himself????

You decide!

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