My first contemporary romance, 'The Apple Tree', was published by Inspired Romance at the end of December, while my second novel, a romantic suspense 'In Loving Hate' will be released by Muse It Up Publications in October or November. With a yawning gap of almost a year in the literary wilderness, I wondered what I could do in the meantime. Well, being a writer, I thought I might as well write another novel – and this one I would self-publish to bridge that empty space.
I decided to try the Kindle Direct Publishing programme, which I’d read a good deal about – both positive and negative. If there is anyone left in the world who is unsure about what this entails, you simply agree to market your book only through Amazon for an initial period of 90 days. Of those 90 days, you can offer your book for free for up to five days. My thinking was that if the public didn’t want it for free, they would be unlikely to want to pay for it.
I opted to use three of the free days at the very beginning to launch the novel. The programme allows you to track downloads in each country so you can see how well your book is being received. On the first day, the free downloads totalled approximately 1500. Now, I've no doubt that’s very modest compared to some, but I thought it was a good start and felt happy. By the end of the third day there had been almost 8,000 free downloads and the novel was soaring high in the Kindle free books ratings both in the US and in the UK. So far, so good, I thought, but the proof of the Kindle pie will be if anyone continues to download it once they have to start paying for it. I doubted that, but set my price low to make things easier for it, (though a writer-friend subsequently told me $1.99 was generally considered a ‘dead zone’ in terms of e-book prices), bit my nails and waited.
I was delighted to see the downloads continuing over the next couple of days and by the second day the novel had returned to the charts, this time on the paid books side. These charts do fluctuate radically and very quickly, but by the third or fourth day, Wishful Thinking hit the number one spot in the UK Kindle charts in two categories (Romance and Contemporary Romance). An exciting moment for me.Of course I’m realistic to know that in the e-book publishing world success like this is transient. The number of novels being released every week is staggeringly high and once a title bows out of Kindle’s top 100, it becomes difficult for anyone to find or notice it and sales will inevitably peter out for new and relatively unknown writers. However, what I did find was that interest in my previous novel then began to pick up. I would love to believe the reason for this to be because some readers enjoyed 'Wishful Thinking' enough to look for my other title.
Whether I’m right or wrong about this, my foray into self-publishing and Amazon’s KDP was an exciting experience I certainly want to repeat. I hope to do just that with my next contemporary romance - provisionally entitled ‘Supermarket Sweep’ – which I plan to self-publish in the next month or two. So, as they say, watch this space.
I’d love to hear your experiences of self-publishing or the KDP programme as a writer or reader.