Saturday, November 17, 2012
Once the volunteer who unloaded my car had all the books in his cart, he started to roll them away. I offered to help him open the boxes. "No, Doc," he said in a thick New Jersey accent. "I have plenty of volunteers who can do that. But there's only one you who can counsel people."
Disappointed, I almost stopped him because I really wanted to see all the books. But I would have lingered, seeing who'd sent them, examining covers and reading the back blurbs, starting the stories, and probably coveting more than a few. So I left.
Then when I got home to Bill's late last night, I had another three boxes waiting. And five more tonight. I'll make another stop to the distribution center tomorrow after my last group and before I leave to fly home. The last two nights were dark and cold, and I quickly loaded the boxes in the car because I know I'll dash out of here in the mornings. So I didn't look at who sent them. But I'm VERY grateful.
Today I did a group at the Senior Center in Sayreville, where FEMA and the Red Cross are set up. As can be typical after disasters, neither organization knew about the distribution center for people to get free food and clothing (and now books.) When a woman told me she had to use a portion of her rent money to buy food and diapers, I told her about the distribution center where I knew they had more diapers than they knew what to do with. She was so happy to learn she could receive free food, clothing, and diapers, and she could return another day if she ran out. After that I made sure the Red Cross volunteers who greeted people and said good-bye to them had the directions to the distribution center and told everyone about it.
Just as I was about to leave the building to go back to Our Lady of Victories Church, where I have done the majority of my groups, a Red Cross volunteer came up to me and mentioned that there was a man who'd lost everything and was having a difficult (and thus emotional) time navigating the bureaucratic hoops that disaster victims often have to jump through to receive assistance.
I approached the man, (I'll make up a name and call him John) introduced myself, and asked if he'd like to speak to me. John was tall and wide, with dark circles under his brown eyes. He wore shorts and sandals on a day that I had on a coat and boots. His expression lit up with eagerness, and he said a strong, "yes!" Then John asked me to wait while he left to do some paperwork, promising to return in ten or twenty minutes. I said I'd wait for him.
John returned. We went to an empty room, and he started talking. Very quickly, I could tell that this was a man who life had dealt some very hard knocks, the latest one being Sandy. He and his 17 year-old son were left with only the clothes on their backs. John was on disability from an injury and didn't have resources to replace what he'd lost. He'd been wearing the same clothes for days.
Early on in our discussion, after I'd said something to validate his experience, John said in a tone of wonder, "You've only been talking to me for 10 minutes, and you understand what I'm going through!"
I could tell he hadn't received much compassion in his life.
John told me a story that touched me and also broke my heart--how when the storm first started, he took $100 of his own money, bought candles, and went door to door at the hotel where he was staying and gave one to everyone.
His son said to him, "Dad, why are you doing this when no one cares about you?"
"Because it makes me feel good," John replied.
I hated to think of that young man (who'd been abandoned by his mother at age six) already having a world view that no one cares.
John and I had a very productive session. He was very open to my feedback and suggestions. I connected him with Catholic Charities for some free counseling and with the church for some spiritual support. At the end, he told me how much it meant to him that I had approached him, that I had listened, and that I had cared. The act of kindness was as important to him as the counseling.
As we were walking out, I told John I wanted him to take his son to the distribution center. In addition to getting food and clothing, I told him to search out the books, and I explained how people from all over the country had sent them to me, and I'd taken them to the shelter. I said I knew there were some science fiction and horror stories (thanks to the author-team at Amazon and also to Seventh Star Press) that I was sure a 17 year-old would love to read. "Yah, he likes those kind of books," his father said.
"Be sure you tell him that those books come from people who care," I said.
John thanked me, almost in tears.
As we parted, I hoped that the help I'd given John would indeed make a difference. Even more, I prayed that his son would pick out some books and, in so doing, would not just receive stories, but hope. And maybe, just maybe, he'd come to believe that there are people who do care.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
As I write this, I'm in Sayreville, New Jersey, doing volunteer crisis counseling for the victims of Superstorm Sandy. I arrived at midnight on the 11th and am staying until the evening of the 18th.
Before I came here, I did a book drive, contacting my writers' groups and asking for donations to be sent to where I'm staying. I knew from experience that people in shelters needed the distraction that a good book can provide. I promised that if I had the time and energy, I'd write some blog posts to keep let people know how it was going. So this post in about keeping that promise
First of all, I I want to acknowledge that I've been welcomed with open arms. People are very touched that someone would come all the way from California on their own accord to help out. My friend, Bill, is housing me and driving me around. Through him I was networked into Catholic Charities. (Did you know Catholic Charities helps people who aren't Catholic? I didn't.) Monday, day one for me, was spent in meeting the people from Catholic Charities and determining where my services could be best utilized. Yesterday started with a meeting of all the agencies in the area who are working to help the victims, including the Red Cross, FEMA, Catholic Charities, United Way, and other government and local organizations. During and after the storm, many of these organizations had to deal with the loss of power or perhaps even damage to their own buildings, but the staff worked hard to help others, and managed to get creative and still accomplish a great deal both for their clients and the general community.
The purpose of the meeting was to learn what everyone was doing and to find a way to enhance the communication between the various agencies. I was there to talk about the free trauma recovery groups I was going to do, and also the group I wanted to organize for the people in the room and anyone else who's worked for one of the organizations serving the victims.
After the meeting, I went to the Red Cross shelter at Rutgers. Earlier in the day Shirley Hailstock had dropped off boxes of books and tote bags, and by the time I got there, people were happily reading. I've been receiving boxes of books (and know I have more coming). Tomorrow, I'll donate them to the distribution center.
I did my first group at the Red Cross shelter. By this time, many of the people who'd originally taken refuge there had moved on to live with families or friends, or found local housing. Those who stayed, had no where else to go. Some had been homeless before the storm and were coping with other issues such has not having proper medication. These people have had a chance to have their lapsed prescriptions renewed, and staff members are trying to transition them into local programs or at least a better situation. So they are receiving the support and attention that they normally don't have. One man commented with awe that he'd been taken to the Rutgers football game.
I also had five Red Cross workers join the group, so I had a mixed "bag" of people. Once I started the group, I felt this inner sense of relief. Even though I'd been "helping" since I'd been in NJ, I finally was doing what I'd really come here to do--aid people in their healing process. My crisis groups are usually a mix of education and sharing, and this one was no different, although I had to sometimes simplify things. But afterwards, I had a lot of feedback that the group was helpful--which was good to hear considering I had to meet very differing needs.
After working at the shelter, I had a break from thinking about the work when Bill, who graduated from Rutgers, took me to a popular restaurant and then to his favorite bar. If you know me personally, you know I'm not a bar person, but this was fun because Bill knew the staff, and we had interesting conversations and lots of laughs. The perfect way to escape for a while.
Today I started my first group at St. Mary of the Victories, and it was to help people, such as the staff of Catholic Charities, who'll be working with the victims. This group was both a training for them in what to say and do to help people with their emotional recovery, but also a place where they could share their own feelings and take a little personal time. I enjoyed working with such a great group of dedicated, caring individuals, knowing that they'd take what they received from their experience with me and pass it on.
Ironically, I gave them a lecture in self-care, but hadn't taken the time for breakfast, and then the group went so long it overlapped with group 2, so I didn't have lunch. However, my excuse was I squeezed in a little workout at Bill's gym, which is in itself self-care, and I did grab a protein drink and add a vitamin packet to it. And I had a protein bar in my purse for after the group. So I was doing self-care, just maybe not as well as I should have.
Catholic Charities has supplied me with a car, and Bill programed his GPS for me. So I'll be able to drive where needed.
The rectory at the church has a guest suite, and I was able to take a nap and join the priest for dinner. He shared with me that he was able to get the message for my groups to the community information network. We have them scheduled every day, including Sunday. I took a picture of the television. They missed the 12:30 Saturday group which is scheduled at the Senior Center. If you know of anyone in the area, encourage them to attend.
I'm sitting on the bed in my guest suite, quickly typing this before heading out to my 7:00 group. Please excuse any typos, missing words, and other mistakes because I'm not going to do my normal editing job.
I just wanted to express my thanks to everyone who's supported me, by praying or thinking positive thoughts, by sending books I can donate, or by being a member of this community and doing so much to help me out. I truly feel blessed to have the support so I can give to others.
Saturday, September 29, 2012
As I write this, I'm sitting on my hotel balcony in Montana, looking at the mountains. I've been here for four days, researching, relaxing, reading, and writing. This trip is completely paid for from my self-publishing royalties, and I'm so grateful and excited to be here. I'm having a wonderful time, and I know I won't want to go home in two days.
The air has been a little smoky because of the fires, and the sky has been a pale blue-gray instead of vivid blue. Other than the smoke, the setting is beautiful, and thankfully, I've escaped the Southern California heat. Here's a balcony view, although the picture doesn't really show how beautiful it looks today.
Yesterday, I went for a run. Probably not the best thing to do for my lungs, but before I came here, I visualized jogging through beautiful scenery, and I didn't want to give that up. I ran/walked about three and a half miles, and probably would have gone farther, but the air was dry and smoky. and I hadn't brought water with me. Here's the hill I jogged up. It's one of the foothills before the mountains.
Yesterday was the beginning of the Montana Romance Writers Conference, and they graciously allowed a California girl to attend. It's the smallest conference I've ever been to--about twenty authors--which is nice because I have a chance to get to know everyone. The only person I knew before was Kat Martin, who's here with her husband Larry. I've known the Martins for years. Great people. They took me and Rita Karnopp out to dinner last night. Lots of food, wonderful company, and the best tenderloin ever! (And I'm not much of a beef eater.)
Listening to the speakers at the conference today, helped me dig deeper into the two Montana Sky stories I'm currently working on. I'll be able to add layers and characterization. I've been avoiding writing for the last month--just doing a little a day. Hopefully, I've caught the creative spark and will be able jump back in to a more serious page count.
A nice bonus was that (for some unknown reason) the Montana Sky Series took off yesterday. I had over 400 sales of Wild Montana Sky. Montana Sky Christmas (at only a month old) overshot its previous sales record of 48 and sold 76 books. Yay!
Even though Wild Montana Sky and Starry Montana Sky are Montlake's books now, Amazon has recently installed a dashboard that allows their authors to see their sales figures every day. So, I'm still able to keep track.
I haven't been to Montana since long before I wrote Wild Montana Sky, and it was always my dream to return. It never made financial sense to travel to the state when the Montana Sky books languished unsold, and I had plenty of other places in the country to explore. It was only about this time last year, when my self-published income took a leap, that I started telling myself I'd travel to Montana in September.
I didn't make any plans because in 2012, my personal life had far too much upheaval. I just kept the trip as a vague goal. The writers conference gave me an excuse to come here as well as a starting point for my research, even if Anaconda is south of where my books are set.
Tomorrow, we have a book signing, and for the first time, I'll sign Wild Montana Sky and Starry Montana Sky--another dream come true! Then I'll drive to Missoula to spend the night at Kat and Larry's house. They intend to pick my brain about self-publishing, which as you know from reading this blog, is one of my favorite topics. Larry's promised to grill his special salmon...
I've already been invited back to speak at a conference next summer in Bozeman, and I look forward to many more future visits.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Today I resolved to tackle the paper piles in my house, throwing out what I don't need and filing everything else--a task that's easier said than done. I definitely need to get one of those scan-to-your-computer gizmos. (I found an ad for one in one of my piles.)
The problem for me is that I'm self-employeed and have to save receipts, etc for my records. I have various interests and tend to collect articles that reflect those interests, especially if I might write about or speak on those topics. Then add to the piles the scraps of paper I write on whenever I have a story or article idea, or do some scribbled journaling about what I'm thinking or feeling....
As I sorted out papers, putting them into smaller piles, a stack of bulletins from church started growing ever larger. On Sundays during the sermon, I'm often jotting down quotes, Bible verses, and my own ideas about what's being said. Sometimes, story ideas come to me or a bit of a scene or dialogue. It might not even be about a work in progress, but about one of the future stories I have in my head. I scribble all these things down on the bulletin, which luckily has enough white space in the margins for me to do so, although you might have to turn the paper several angles to read everything.
On the bulletin for New Year's Day, one of my comments at the bottom of the page was: "This is where my heart is leading me. Trust that there's a reason."
Those two lines referred to my concerns about moving away from being a psychotherapist and corporate crisis and grief counselor to becoming a REAL writer. The challenge for me was (and still is) my deeply held belief that I'm a healer--that's my purpose in life. As a psychotherapist and crisis counselor, I touch many lives. I make a difference. And while I know my nonfiction writing also makes a difference, especially The Essential Guide to Grief and Grieving, I'm not sure my fiction does.
Yet, the doors to my former life seem to be closing. My practice is down. I haven't been getting as many crisis calls. And I don't care! I like having a small practice and only one or two crisis jobs a month. I like having more time to write. And my self-publishing income has made that possible.
On January 1, 2012, I couldn't know that in two weeks I would receive a call from Lindsay Guzzardo at Amazon Montlake, wanting to acquire the Montana Sky series. I couldn't know I'd say yes. I did know that in mid-January, I'd self-publish Stormy Montana Sky, but I didn't know how well the book would do, and that having a third book would lift the sales of books one and two.
On that New Year's Day, I didn't know my sales on Barnes & Noble would finally take off, that my self-publishing income would double and some months even triple, or best of all, that Wild Montana Sky would make the USA Today Bestseller List in April.
At that time, I hadn't conceived of writing a collection of Christmas stories. I didn't even know I could write short stories. But I self-published Montana Sky Christmas on August 27th.
I didn't know I'd make some changes in my personal life, such as breaking up with my boyfriend of six years, which would impact my writing career (more time to write.) Or that my young cousin would be hit by a car and killed, sidelining my writing for several weeks as I dealt with my own and my family's grief.
I didn't realize how much I'd absolutely love the wonderful team at Montlake who worked so hard to make my books a success. Publishing with Montlake has been a dream--so unlike the horror stories I often heard (or hear) about traditional publishing. For example, I never even conceived that the series could have an ad like they made. Wow.
My print books arrived yesterday, and I teared up as soon as I realized the boxes were from Montlake. Even though I've sold about 140,000 ebooks, holding my own print versions was a special experience--a dream come true. Here's the boxes as I've opened them.
The decision to self-publish my books has taken me on quite a journey, more wonderful than I could ever have imagined.
I've followed my heart all year. Sometimes, that's led to some bruising, but for the most part, I think I'm on the right path.
Friday, September 7, 2012
Even as I wrote that email, I was in the middle of coping with my own mistake--probably the first one (at least in my opinion) I'd made along the self-publishing path.
To give the backstory to the mistake...
For the last six months, I've had a series of unexpected life events that interfered with my writing time. When I could write, I concentrated on a collection of Christmas short stories--Montana Sky Christmas--that I wanted to self-publish about the time Amazon Montlake launched their versions of Wild Montana Sky and Starry Montana Sky on August 28.
I started writing these stories in February, and gave each one to my developmental editor, Louella Nelson, as I finished them. I knew she's busy teaching writing classes and working to self-publish her backlist, so I wanted to give her plenty of time.
As my schedule freed up in August, I was busy writing the last of the seven stories and revising them as Lou's edits came back. I also wanted a copy editor to look at the final version, and found one in a student of my online self-publishing class, Linda Caroll-Bradd. For the last three weeks before the launch of Montana Sky Christmas, Linda also edited the stories, sending me her corrections. So I was doing original writing, developmental edits, and copy edits, right up until a few days before the launch date.
Lou, Linda, and my new formatter, Amy Atwell, went above and beyond to make the book happen by my deadline, and bless them, they succeeded. Montana Sky Christmas went live on August 28. I immediately downloaded it to do a final read-through, and MY KINDLE DIED. I went back and forth with Amazon tech support before they determined this, and then I had to buy a new Kindle. So it was two days later before I read the stories, and of course found some errors.
Amy corrected them for me, and I uploaded the new version of the book. Or I tried to... I had problems because I had set a different price for Amazon India. This had NOT been a problem on the first upload, and I didn't realize it was now. I kept getting an error message that I was missing inputs.
Unlike the normal error messages which give you the section you're missing in red, I couldn't find anything wrong. Amy checked the book file, and she felt sure that wasn't the problem. I tried several times to publish the book, but nothing worked. None of my self-pubishing friends had ever heard of this error, although one suggested re-entering the book data. I did so, and still an error. I went over and over each box to make sure I wasn't missing anything, and couldn't see where I'd left something out. The time grew later, and I grew more stressed, frustrated, and tired.
Finally, I decided to change the India price to match the others. That worked. I grabbed the book file to upload it again. All okay. Relieved, I went to bed.
The next day, I started to get returns on the book, very unusual especially since I'd only sold about 30. I had three good reviews, but no one gave me a bad review. So I shrugged it off. At five returns, I checked the book product page and saw that Amazon had put a notice on the page saying something was wrong with the book and they were working with the publisher to fix it. That was news to me.
Of course I was upset and embarrassed. And it was the holiday weekend, so I couldn't contact anyone I knew at Amazon directly. (A nice thing about being a Monttlake author is I know people.) So I talked to customer service, who of course, didn't know anything about what could be wrong. But while I was on the phone with the customer service rep, I checked the book in the preview and saw that I HAD UPLOADED THE WRONG BOOK! OMG! I couldn't believe it. I quickly uploaded the correct version.
I told the rep what was wrong. She never really got what the problem was, but she drafted an email to send to KDP, telling them the error was fixed, to take the block off the product page, and to send a new version of the book to the people who'd bought it. She promised a response in the next 24 hours. It was hard to wait because I wanted it fixed NOW.
For the next days I kept getting various emails from KDP that they were working on the problem. At first I could tell that they didn't understand what the problem was. They kept focusing on sending out new books, while I wanted the block to come down first. Secondly, they could deal with sending new books out.
I was very relieved with Tuesday morning came and I could email and call Dan Slater at Amazon, asking for his help. But unknown to me, Dan was buried in work for the launch of the new Kindles and didn't have time to work on my problem.
So more days went by with several "we're researching the problem" emails from KDP and no response from Dan. My frustration level remained high. I couldn't be mad at Amazon because the mistake was my fault, I still fretted about how long the fix was taking.
Thursday, I put another call to Dan, and that afternoon he called me back. He told me about the launch of the new Kindles. (GGGGRRRR because I just had bought one to replace the one that died.) I explained the whole tale, and he said he'd get on it. By late evening, Montana Sky Christmas was again available for sale. This morning the book began selling again.
So.... what's my lesson? Perhaps it's not to push so hard that I'm trying to accomplish something when I'm tired and stressed. Or maybe realize that because I'm in that state, I have to be extra careful.
Since I'm not a person who usually makes stupid mistakes, when I do, I know means I'm over-stressed. I need to relax, unwind, and recharge--something I was able to do yesterday when I knew my mistake would finally be fixed.
So there you have it. Stupid mistake? Yes. Cost me some sales? Yes. Upset me? Yes. But in the long run, it's not a big deal. Under normal circumstances, I'd probably have been able to focus on the fact that the book would eventually be for sale. But I had enough other things in my life last week that upset and stressed me, thus I wasn't as centered as I would have liked. Maybe that's my lesson.
But I can pretty much promise...I'll NEVER upload the wrong book again. I hope other self-published authors learn from my mistake!
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Even though I've seen the ad for over a week now, I'm still moved every time I look at it. I never even DREAMED I'd have something like this. I can't believe it's true.
I'm also looking forward to having print books because I didn't bother to make print versions of my self-published books.
Today, I also launched my self-published anthology, Montana Sky Christmas, a collection of seven short stories set in my small town of Sweetwater Springs, in 1894. These stories take place after Stormy Montana Sky, Book Three in the Montana Sky Series, but they can be read as a stand-alone volume. The stories have both familiar and new characters.
I'm hoping to have the best of both worlds--Amazon's promotional efforts drive people to the series, and thus to this book. And, as the holiday's approach, and people look for Christmas stories, readers pick up this anthology, love it, and jump on the Montana Sky Series.
I'll keep you posted on how it goes! Wish me luck!
Sunday, June 3, 2012
Monday, May 28, 2012
When I started self-publishing, my hope was to make $3,000 a month on my books. I was friends with several self-published authors who were making this amount, and it seemed like an impossible dream to match them.
One year later (and a month as I'm writing this late) I've sold almost 100,000 books (see numbers below.) Wild Montana Sky made the USA Today Bestseller's List, and The Montana Sky series was acquired by Amazon Montake. (The changeover happens August 28.) I've made FAR more than $3000 a month, and have been able to cut back on my psychotherapy practice and corporate crisis/grief counseling at a time when I was feeling somewhat burned out by that work. And my creativity, which I'd boxed away when two agents couldn't sell my books, has exploded. I have lots of ideas for other books. This week, Romantic Times magazine mentioned Wild Montana Sky as a top indie read.
WOW! I'm amazed, touched, excited, and humbled by my year of self-publishing. The journey has been far more than I dreamed possible. What's been a wonderful bonus is all the self-published authors I've come to know. My circle of friends has grown by hundreds, and I've learned so much from them. (And read some great books!) I've had the pleasure of encouraging other authors, both published and unpublished to think about self-publishing their books.
In January, I blogged about my sales numbers for 2011. For a brief recap of that blog
Wild Montana Sky: 27, 069
Starry Montana Sky: 10,207
Sower of Dreams: 556
Reaper of Dreams: 243
Here are my numbers since my last sales blog from Amazon and Barnes & Noble combined:
Wild Montana Sky: 5297
Starry Montana Sky: 2045
Stormy Montana Sky: 921
Sower of Dreams: 122
Reaper of Dreams: 65
Lywin's Quest: 7
Wild Montana Sky: 8543
Starry Montana Sky: 3103
Stormy Montana Sky: 3253
Sower of Dreams: 82
Reaper of Dreams: 52
Lywin's Quest: 2
Wild Montana Sky: 6712
Starry Montana Sky: 3198
Stormy Montana Sky: 2997
Sower of Dreams: 86
Reaper of Dreams: 55
Lywin's Quest: 4
Wild Montana Sky: 13, 861(This is the month the book made the USA Today List.)
Starry Montana Sky: 4461
Stormy Montana Sky: 2463
Sower of Dreams: 84
Reaper of Dreams: 46
Lywin's Quest: 4
TOTAL FOR YEAR:
Wild Montana Sky: 61,482
Starry Montana Sky: 23,014
Stormy Montana Sky: 9,634
Total for Series: 94,130
Sower of Dreams: 1,628
Reaper of Dreams: 461
Total for Series: 2, 089
Lywin's Quest: 17
Total books: 96,219
I didn't include books sold at Smashwords or sold in Europe in 2012. If I did, the total would be closer to 97,000.
Not bad for an unknown, unpublished author, eh? This last year has been a dream come true. :) Thanks to all my readers and fellow authors who have supported me.
For year two, I'm hoping to find more time to write, something that still seems to elude me. I think when I finish Harvest of Dreams, the last book in The Gods' Dream Trilogy, my sales of all three books will increase considerably. Right now I'm aiming for a Fall release of that book. I'll also have a collection of short Christmas stories set in my Montana town coming out in August so I'll still have monthly self-publishing income derived from that series. I'll receive quarterly royalties from Montlake for the big books. Hopefully I can also finish the next big book in the Montana Sky series by Christmas.
Saturday, May 5, 2012
About a third of the way through, I started feeling a sense of familiarity to Zac Efron, that became strong enough to pull me out of the movie. I couldn't figure out why. I'd never seen him in anything, wouldn't be able to pick him out of a line up. But I became more and more drawn to him. At some point it struck me that he looked like an old boyfriend, Mike, the young cowboy who I had used for my hero Nick in Wild Montana Sky, although Zac's eyes are bluer, and he doesn't have a broken nose.
Ah, it all came to me. Not only did Zac look like Nick (who looks like Mike) he played a similar character--the strong, silent, supportive, adoring hero. And like Nick, Zac had trouble communicating what was on his mind, and had fallen in love with the heroine because of a picture (for Nick it was a portrait.)
The heroine, played by Taylor Shilling was also similar in looks to my heroine, although Elizabeth is a more classic beauty.
Figuring out the connection to my hero and my book gave an added dimension to the movie. Not only did I fall in love with Logan, but I fell in love with Nick all over again. Watching Zac play Logan, made me wish to see to see him play Nick. It made me remember that I have the screenplay of Wild Montana Sky gathering dust in my computer. Even though the screenplay has finaled in some contests and won an award, I've never submitted it anywhere. Maybe it's time to dust it off and send it to a friend who acquires scripts for a producer.
Anyone know Zac Efron? Maybe he'd like to recreate a similar role, but this time play a cowboy instead of a former marine.
Monday, April 30, 2012
It had NEVER crossed my mind that Wild Montana Sky would make the USA Today list as a self-published ebook, although I had a vague wish that it might happen someday when I became an Amazon Montlake author.
The congratulations came pouring in. The wave of acknowledgment was amazing.
So many of my self-published friends were especially excited because it gave them hope that someday, they, too, would hit the list. (My wish for them too!)
I emailed my Montlake editor, and she called. Lindsay was so excited for me. In her opinion, making the USA Today list was a better achievement than the New York Times list because USA Today List takes real numbers from booksellers, while the stores the New York Times list pulls from are a secret.
What a way to wrap up my one-year anniversary! I'll be posting a blog in a few days that discusses my year long numbers. But I have some number crunching to do before then.
What did change this month was for some (unknown) reason Wild Montana Sky started to sell well on Nook. The numbers kept escalating, double and even triple the amount I sold on Amazon. I hit the top 100 Nook list and dropped as low as #20. I've been on the list for about two weeks. Currently I'm #40. The sales for Starry Montana Sky and Stormy Montana Sky were less than Amazon all month, but increased as the month went on and readers came back to buy the second and third books. I've ended out-selling Amazon in total numbers for the Montana Sky series.
Here's the cake from my former writing teacher and current editor, Louella Nelson. She took me to lunch on Saturday.
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Monday, March 19, 2012
I mentioned in an earlier blog that I would have an announcement to make, and I've waited to go public until I signed the contract.
1. My sales are mainly on Amazon.
2. Montlake will able to target the UK market, which I think is an untapped market for me, which I haven't cracked. For example, currently for the month of March, I've sold 19 books in the UK and 1 in the rest of Europe. In America (on Amazon and Barnes & Noble) I've sold 8,686.3. I'll be able to work closely with the marketing team.
4. Stormy Montana Sky (book #3) is my option book, thus I'll be able to keep it self-published for a while, giving me a chance to see how the program will really work.5. I'll be able to have print books, without the hassle of doing them myself. Granted, those print books won't be in most places, but with Borders gone, I don't think that not having print books in Barnes & Noble is that big of a deal. I'll still be able to have ebooks there. Apple people can download the Kindle app and buy Amazon books.6. Montlake only wants my big books, so I will stilll self-publish novellas and short stories set in my series.7. When they do the switch over of my books to their's, it will be seamless. I'll still keep all my reviews on their site. (Although I wish I could dump a few. :)
I realize I'm taking a risk. I have the belief that the books have already done far more than what I ever dreamed and have made far more than if I'd traditionally published them in the first place. (I'm SO thankful for all the rejections over the years. :) Therefore, going forward, everything I achieve is a bonus and a blessing. If it's less than I'm currently making, so be it.I have already experienced the rollercoaster of self-publishing sales. After having a steady increase of sales for my first four months to an amazing amount, I had a steady decrease until Christmas. Still great numbers that many would envy, but a third to half of what it had been. Christmas popped me back up, and publishing book three made a HUGE difference. So I know and accept that there will be ups and downs, whether I'm self-published or with Amazon.
Friday, February 17, 2012
Sunday, February 5, 2012
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Stormy Montana Sky went live on Amazon and Barnes & Noble on January 14th. As of yesterday, January 27th, the book paid for itself. From here on out, it's all profit, except for any money I'll spend on promotion. (So far in self-publishing I've spent almost nothing on promo.)
Saturday, January 14, 2012
I've had a crazy busy week with several corporate crisis/grief cases, preparing Stormy Montana Sky for self-publishing, and involvement with my local writers organization. So I'm too tired to write a blog. However, I did want to say that Stormy is live as of last night. I went to bed and it wasn't live and woke up to five sales. How cool is that!
Sunday, January 1, 2012
Happy New Year to all my blog readers!
WMS 11 (.99)
SMS 5 ($2.99)
SOD 3 (July 31)
SOD 97 (.99)
ROD 45 (Aug 7) ($2.99)
During this time, I've done very little promotion. I've written some blogs and done some guest blogs. I've requested reviews from about 10 review sites and the books have been favorable reviewed by all those who said yes. I had a brief pop of sales in October from Pixel of Ink picking up the book. If you look back through my blogs over the last six months, you can read about other things I think work.
Barnes & Noble sells very few of my books in comparison to Amazon. I'm frustrated with that company because there's so much more they could do to improve sales for all their authors. (But that's another blog post.) However, in adding up the numbers for this blog, I was able to see how the consistent (although small) sales can add up over time.
I'm more grateful than I can express to all the readers who bought my book and to the authors who led the way on the path of self-publishing and to those who continue to support and educate me.
I hope you are all taking the time to reflect on the coming year and what you can do to make it the best year ever! Best of luck with keeping all your New Year's resolutions. Here's to a wonderful, healthy, and prosperous 2012!