Whenever I've looked at the sales information on my Smashwords account, I've seen reports of a few sales directly through their website, and a bunch of zeros for all the other places they distribute my books. I assumed this meant that the books weren't selling any copies anywhere else. And then, yesterday, I realized there was a little 2013 button showing up on the page. I clicked that button, and saw that copies of the books have been selling, especially Zombie City, especially through Nook. It was a wonderful, and significant, surprise.
See, I'm a pretty insecure guy, and even though I've been writing for almost 20 years now (since I was 15), I still sort of tend to think that no one out there is going to want to read my stuff. It hasn't stopped me from writing--indeed, writing seems to be a sort of compulsion that I can't stop doing, no matter what--but it has inhibited my self-promotion efforts, and impacted my motivation.
Up until yesterday, I'd figured the Zombie City series was a failure. I'd sold about a dozen copies through Amazon, and just a few more than a dozen through Smashwords, in the three months since I'd published the first episode. I figured people weren't that interested in it. I didn't try to promote it, or to find any reviewers willing to rate it. I'd even decided to put it on the backburner for a while, to see if I could come up with a different story that people might want more.
But yesterday I found out that people have been buying it. There have been about 55 Smashwords affiliate sales for Zombie City, mostly through Nook.
I know, I know: 55 sales is pretty small potatoes. Still, I was excited, especially by the third episode sales. I reason that if people are going on to buy the third episode, they're pretty invested in the story. Not everybody keeps going, but more than half of the people who bought the second episode also went back to buy the third.
For me, that's validation I can use to beat back the paralysis my insecurities had given me about that project. It tells me that there are some people out there who want to read what I write.
So here's my plan:
1) I'm going to jump back into the Zombie City series. I hope to finish Episode 4 before the end of January, and maybe wrap it up with a fifth episode sometime in February.
2) I'm going to try to get Episode 1 to price-match for free on Kindle. Right now it's free everywhere else, but Amazon hasn't price-matched it yet, and I haven't really made any effort to get them to do it (cause I figured no one wanted to read it anyway).
3) I'm going to start trying to promote the series. Most importantly, I'm going to start contacting reviewers, in hopes that I can get a few ratings to show up for it. Right now, none of the episodes have any ratings, and I get the feeling that people are much less likely to try a book if they don't think anyone else is reading it.
4) I'm going to get more active in my efforts to build a mailing list. So far, the only thing I've done to get people to sign up is post a widget link on this blog, which hardly anyone reads. I'm planning on including a link to the sign-up in the books themselves.
Basically, in general, I'm planning on working harder at this whole self-publishing thing. There's definitely a lot more effort I could put in, and seeing that there are people out there who want to read my writing has motivated me to try harder.