An author, posting to a popular Facebook group: 20Booksto50K shared her success in publishing that seemed noteworthy to share with you (with her permission, of course, although she did request I not include her actual income figures. If you want to see those join the FB group above and you will see her post there.)
While this strategy worked well for her, it may not work for you. That said, it is an excellent study in planning and perseverance.
Sheridan Anne wrote:
I can’t believe I’m making this post. It’s scary as hell, but after a little arm twisting by Simone Lockett, I’ve been convinced to put this up to share my experiences on my latest launch with you to let you know my way up the mountain and hopefully inspire a few of you.
A little background about my publishing career. I started writing as a hobby about 4 or 5 years ago. flat out refused to read a book before the age 18 and only did when my twin sister threw a book in my face and insisted she wouldn’t leave me alone until I had done it, so naturally, I cave and I fell in love (It was twilight btw and yes, I’m still crazy obsessed.) I also failed English and I’m sure many of you can see that my grammar absolutely sucks!
My first book was a fantasy and took me two years to write (it’s only 80K words). I was terrified to publish and held onto it for ages while writing other books. As I mentioned, my grammar sucks and my work was filled with errors. I wasn’t at a stage to have my work edited.
I started working on other projects and in December 2017, I published my first book – a New Adult Romance. This book was self edited and had a cover which I’d created myself. I made HUGE mistakes with this book/series. It quickly turned into a 4 series and by this point, I’d had a 70K novel down to 4 weeks writing time. I published each book roughly a month apart and continued this schedule throughout all of 2018 – It wasn’t easy! So, so much goes into doing it all by yourself. By the end of 2018 I had 14 published titles.
My editing seriously sucked, my blurbs were ok but I was lucky that I seemed to have done an alright job with my covers. Each month, with each new release and new series I worked on, I was steadily increasing my income. By the end of 2018, I was happily making [a modest amount] a month, though it took nearly the whole year to build up to this.
All these releases were done without a news letter, bookfunnel, FB or AMS ads. Basically, no marketing at all, but I was still earning pretty good money and I was happy with how things were going. This proved to me that I didn’t need to be spending big bucks on certain things, though it certainly would have helped.
Here’s where things started to blow my mind! Oh, I only have 20 titles btw, not 47 but with Kindle, print, and Box sets, it looks like I’m better than what I am!
I had an idea for a YA high school romance and I wanted it to kick ass!
I got busy and wrote the first book in 2 weeks. The rest of the 6 book series followed just like that (I was averaging 7K words a day with – I go into each day with a clear understanding of what I want written. It’s like the next scene plays out as a movie in my head and I just have to write it down). It came easy and I realised that maybe this is the genre for me. I did my covers and call me cliché, but I knew I was aiming at a young audience who would most likely be female, so my covers are pretty in pink. I lost the naked man chest and opted for a pretty girl, super casual. Here’s the kicker – I made it damn obvious what the book was about and titled it after the high school.
The series is called Broken Hill High. When people scroll past it, they instantly see that it’s high school, the rest of the cover makes it clear it’s a YA romance. I followed suit with the rest of my covers, making it obvious they were a series.
With covers out of the way, I made a description that I thought kicked ass. it was fun and pulled in an audience from the first line. I learned how to do that by studying all the posts in this group about writing descriptions. If you haven’t already utilised the information hidden within this group, then pull on your big girl/boy panties and get on it!
Knowing reviews help to kick off releases, I got a booksprout account and I believe this helped to make a good launch, incredible. I had roughly 20 reviews at release (not great but effective)
I had planned for a rapid release. I was releasing every 2 weeks. I put up my pre-order for book 1 and was shocked that I had 53 pe-orders by release day.
On release day, I made sure I was enroled in KU and made sure to release the pre-order for book 2 with a link in the back of book 1. KU was like some kind of gift given to me by Amazon and counts for two thirds of my income. I will never come out of KU – some days I had nearly 500K page reads.
By this stage, I had a qualified friend helping me with editing, however she doesn’t do this professionally.
By the time book 2 was released, I had 500 pre-orders and I was in shock.
I followed the same process and started some Amazon ads (the first two months I maybe spent about $700 – this has now dropped to about $300 a month). I still don’t have a clear understanding of them, but pushed ahead with them anyway. By this stage, book 1 was #1 in my sub category and book 2 was #2. By the time the 6th book was released, I had taken up all 6 top places. Still now, three months later, I can hardly believe it.
There are a million ways up the mountain and though I didn’t slave over amazon ads or marketing, I believe with a great cover, blurbs, rapid release and some reviews under my belt, it made all the defence.
As you can see from my pictures, my series gained popularity as each book released. Release days were asweome and the hype only grew for the next release.
During my first month, I managed to make an astounding [mid-range income], by the second month, I’d more than doubled it and reached [a professional level income], the third month the final book released and I reached [close to that again].
Now, in May, my books have fallen off the cliff and are still managing to pull in some great income (believe me, I’m still in shock). This new series has managed to bring in new readers for my other series and has opened doors for me that I would never have imagined to be possible. I’ve had Tantor request the audio right, people all over the word wanting me to attend book signings, been asked to attend a massive event in Sydney by one of my absolute favourite authors (Still can’t believe it), and just this week I have had someone in the movie business asking my thoughts on if she can pitch my series to her producers.
I’m planning my next series for a June release and I’m hoping I can replicate the same susses. Hell, now I can afford an editor! Though, I still have a long way to go. If any of you have looked up the price of living in Sydney with two babies, you know it’s not cheap. On the other hand, I can buy as much McDonalds as I want without feeling guilty about it!
This goes to show that you don’t need to throw all your life savings into make your dream a reality. Put the hard work in and you can make it happen. Everyone’s road up the mountain is going to be different. The way I have done this won’t necessarily work for everyone, but hopefully this post is enough to help someone get to where they are wanting to go.
You can see how I struggled at the beginning and how I slowly increased to being able to quit my job.
I’m open to questions, but even after all this, I still feel like an amateur so I hope I’ll be able to help!
Also, after sharing this, please don’t hack my account or flood my inbox, that’d be great! 😉
–Sheridan Anne, Sydney, Australia.
Stories like Sheridan’s are encouraging. The take-away is mostly WRITE and don’t stop writing! With a solid plan you can make it work.