I first encountered Debbi’s work when she sent me a copy of her snappy mystery, IDENTITY CRISIS. And I’ve gotten to know her further by reading about her publishing experiences in the brave new world of media. I’m very excited she brought some of her thoughts here to suspenseyourdisbelief in this Made It Moment.
It’s a Journey Not a Destination
Yes, that headline may be more than a little cliched, but the thing is, there’s a reason for cliches (just like there’s one for stereotypes). So often, cliches express truths so well that people often simply fall back on them. That’s how they get to be cliches.
In any case, when I think in terms of “making it” as an author, I think it can mean different things to different people. My notion of “making it” may have absolutely nothing to do with Dan Brown’s. But even Dan Brown was once where I am now. So, depending on what stage you’re at as a writer, “making it” can be represented by any number of moments.
For me, initially, “making it” was getting my book, IDENTITY CRISIS, published by a small press. Unfortunately, the press went under. So that was one step forward, two steps back.
But I resolved not to let that deter me from my goal of being an author. So, I not only reissued the novel through Lulu.com, the print-on-demand publisher, but I made it available as an e-book through Amazon, Smashwords and other sites.
The latter decision turned out to be critical, because I’ve been able to sell far more downloads of my book than print copies.
After June 2, 2009, when I first put the book up on Amazon (where I get the bulk of my e-book sales), I started marketing and promoting it through e-mail lists, Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Then, I hit the Kindle and e-reader forums, and my sales started to take off.
By early December, I was selling anywhere from 40 to 70 downloads per month. That seemed good, but I knew of authors who claimed to sell hundreds of downloads a month.
It seemed like as good a time as any for an experiment. I reduced the price per download from $1.59 to $.99. You wouldn’t think $.60 would make such a huge difference, would you? Well, it did.
After I reduced the price, my download count shot through the roof! Suddenly, I was selling 20 or more downloads a day. By the end of December, I’d sold almost 400 downloads for Kindle alone (more than 400, when you count in Smashwords and other sites). And I was well on my way to selling 1,000 downloads total (a benchmark I never expected to hit in less than a year).
At the time that I write this (Jan. 14, 2010), I’ve sold more than 1,100 downloads. All because I’ve marketed and promoted the book and found a good price point.
And would you believe that, with as little money as the author gets from Kindle sales (30% of the price, if memory serves), I’m still making more money based on volume than I was when the price was higher? Now, that’s an eye-opening statistic.
And here’s another eye-opener. Would you believe my e-book has ranked in the Top 10 for sales of hardboiled mysteries in the Kindle store? I’ve been keeping track and it’s been hitting the Top 10 (with few exceptions, when it falls into the Top 15) for that category since December 22, 2009.
Not only that, but my Kindle sales rank overall has risen to three figures on several occasions. Most recently (Jan. 10, 2010), my e-book ranked at #878, my highest ranking to date.
Now, I may not be on the New York Times bestseller list, but these numbers are darned encouraging. And while I may not have actually “made it” in a Dan Brown sense of the word, I’d like to think my journey has taken a substantial turn in the right direction.
Debbi Mack has published one novel, IDENTITY CRISIS, a hardboiled mystery featuring female lawyer Sam McRae in a complex case of murder and identity theft. Her short stories have appeared in the CHESAPEAKE CRIMES mystery anthology and an online magazine called The Back Alley. Debbi will have another short story published in the anthology, CHESAPEAKE CRIMES: THEY HAD IT COMIN’, to be published by Wildside Press in March 2010. After nine years of practicing law, Debbi quit in 1996 to become a freelance and fiction writer. Since then, Debbi has also worked as a news wire reporter covering the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal courts, earned a Master of Library Science from the University of Maryland and served as a reference librarian at the Federal Trade Commission. In May 2009, she organized a fundraiser for dystonia, a rare movement disorder. A native of Queens, New York, Debbi and her husband live in Columbia, Maryland with their three cats.