Sunday, February 5, 2012

Self-Publishing: What Works--Writing a Series

Although I've heard from a lot of authors that writing a series makes for better selling books, I'm having a chance to experience the truth of that advice. I released my the first two books in my Montana Sky series at the same time, the evening of April 28, 2011. Book one, Wild Montana Sky, gradually started selling more and more books per day, until it reached it's current 150-210. Book two, Starry Montana Sky, began selling at a ratio of about 1:6. Gradually the ratio changed until it became about 1:2 or 3.

Wild Montana Sky is my weeding out book. If readers don't like it, they don't go on to book two. Therefore readers who buy Starry Montana Sky are predisposed to like it. That's even more true for book three, Stormy Montana Sky.

I'd written the first 50 pages of Stormy Montana Sky, way back when--probably 2003-2004--but I gave up on it because Wild Montana Sky couldn't sell. So it took me a while to finish it. Then another two months for my editor to give me revisions and for me to do them. Then I had to get it to those the people who did the copyediting for me. Then off to the formatter. So the book didn't go live on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords, until January 14th--at the price of $3.99.

Day one it sold 30 copies. By the end of the first week, it was averaging 30s-upper 40s. Week two it headed into the 50s and 60s, and week three into the 70s, 80s, and 90s. This week, it started outselling Starry Montana Sky. Today Stormy broke through 100 sales to end up at 105, leaving Starry in the dust at 72 for the day. (Not that I'm complaining about 72 sales for the day. I've very grateful for each one of them.)

It took Wild Montana Sky (priced at .99) four and a half weeks to first hit 100, and Starry Montana Sky (2.99) four months (and it only happened once. It's been close, but not over 100 since.)

The sales pattern has also told me that I have readers who read the first two books in the months before Stormy was released, as opposed to reading the all three in the last three weeks. So somehow readers have found it, even though I haven't done anything (besides the last couple of blogs) to publicize the book.

In three weeks, I've made over $3,200 on the book, both because of the sales numbers and the higher price. I've been astonished and excited at how well Stormy is doing. It's definitely made me wish I had already written more books in this series!


  1. So do you think it was a benefit to have the first two out and then release the third?

  2. It would have been the most benefit to have all three ready to go because I would have been selling Stormy all along and might have had more sales of the first two. Not that I would have held back the first two until the third was ready, but maybe I could have written Stormy faster. :)

    If I was psychic, I would have known to finish Stormy when I first started writing it. :)

  3. Thanks for sharing Debra.I discovered that putting a book for free for three days was the best promotion. After doing that, both of my books remained in the the top 100 for three weeks.

  4. Mona,

    I'm glad that worked for you. Free is often a successful promotion. I haven't done it, and as of now, don't need to. However, I think people should study the pros and cons of free before they chose to do it, so they can maximize the results.

    One con that's not often mentioned is that free pulls in a lot of readers who aren't the right fit for your book. Thus you end up with more bad reviews. Three weeks of being on top of a list and the resulting sales are great. But they are also temporary. A bad review is there to stay.

  5. I enjoyed your blog. Good points all.