Set Phasors On Fail!

The week that I released Castskinner’s Book I sold seventeen copies of the e-book.

The week that I released Cannibal Hearts I sold eight.

What this tells me is that, far from building a following, I’ve lost one.  Evidently most of my initial sales of my first novel were to friends and family who felt motivated to support my first novel, but don’t feel so strongly about any subsequent ones.

Sure, I’ve garnered a lot of glowing reviews on the first book, mostly from people who got the book for free. (I have 23 reviews of Catskinner on Amazon–that’s more reviewers than people who actually paid for the book.)

When I compare the amount that I have spent promoting the book versus the sales that I have made, I estimate that I’m about two hundred dollars in the red.

So I’m not going to spend anything promoting Cannibal Hearts. I can’t afford to.

Meanwhile, this year’s Hugo Award has been given to a Star Trek fanfic written by the president of the SFWA–coincidentally the organization that gives out the award.

Over the past year I have tried to follow the advice of successful self-published authors and treat my writing as a business.  The net result is that I lost a lot of money and learned to absolutely hate to write.  I can’t even stand to read for fun any more.


About MishaBurnett

I am the author of "Catskinner's Book", a science fiction novel available on Amazon Kindle.
This entry was posted in Cannibal Hearts, On Promotion, On Publishing, On Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Set Phasors On Fail!

  1. Well, if it’s any consolation, I’m reading Cannibal Hearts right now and quite enjoying it 🙂

    I’m trying to think why the books aren’t doing well. Hmmm … I mean, from what I understand of marketing, book sales tend to come down to a few things. One is exposure, but that takes a lot of money, which we self-published authors tend not to be rolling in. Second is the product itself – cover art, book description, genre listing on Amazon, reviews, etc. What about re-releasing these two books as “second editions”, using different cover art? I like the simple black and white of the current covers, but maybe they don’t have enough oomph to catch people’s eyes? Also, when I looked at the Cannibal Hearts genre listing, it’s all in Fantasy. What about switching one of them to Sci-Fi, and see if that gets any takers? It strikes me much more as a Sci-Fi than fantasy book, so maybe all the talk of aliens is throwing fantasy-lovers off?

    Beyond that … it sucks that more people aren’t reading your book, especially your friends and family. Maybe they do want to support you, and have “buy the book” on their to-do list but haven’t gotten around to it yet? I think I’d only circulated the book to five or six people during the first three months Imminent Danger was out … and then I bought a box of the books and whenever someone came over or I met them for coffee or literally ANY time they were anywhere close to me, I would shove a book in their hands and be like, “Here you go, that’ll be $20.” 🙂 I suggest you adopt a similar scorched earth policy!

    As for your last paragraph … I’m no expert, but I believe what you’re feeling right now is a “slump”. I went through one of those over … well, pretty much this entire summer. Remember my post about that writing prof guy who read Imminent Danger and said it was just plain bad and that I should abandon the series and write something that’s actually a real book and not waste my time on self-publishing and “juvenalia” and whatnot? I kind of glossed over it in my post, but that really hurt me and shook my confidence, and I basically haven’t written anything the entire summer. Then, around mid-August, I was like, “Screw this, I actually do really like my book, because it makes me happy and it makes *most* people who read it happy, and I really do want to write a sequel, and if he doesn’t like it, well, f**t it. Can’t please everybody.”

    I’m not sure where I’m going with this comment, besides rambling at excruciating length. I guess what I’m trying to say is that, if you’re feeling some book-hate right now, maybe try switching to another medium for a bit and give literature a break? I have a feeling that, in a few months, the book-bug will come crawling back and pique your interest once more. And for the record? I absolutely LOVED Catskinner’s Book, and Cannibal Hearts is shaping up to be just as good. So, in the immortal words of Tim Allen, “NEVER GIVE UP! NEVER SURRENDER!”

  2. sknicholls says:

    How sad Misha. You got to give it a chance. I was told not to expect anything for the first year as people have to actually find your work. Keep writing! Keep Reading!

  3. LindaGHill says:

    I suppose that’s why they say it’s best to write for yourself… Sorry you’ve had such a discouraging experience.

  4. Jade Reyner says:

    That’s not good Misha and sorry that you are so down. I echo the thoughts of Michelle above, and I think the slump is what we are all experiencing – for some reason we are all struggling to find our readership even though our ratings on Amazon are essentially good. I would hate for you to give up something that you are clearly passionate about but perhaps, if you now hate it, it is time for a break, a breather and a change of direction. It won’t be long before the old juices are flowing again and you are back with a vengeance, ready to take the literary world by storm. I haven’t read either of your books but I shall download the samples now and give them a look. Chin up – worse things happen at sea! (That’s a dreadful quote isn’t it?) 🙂

  5. kingmidget says:

    I feel your pain. I’ve had the same thing happen between my first book and second book. And I don’t get it either. But don’t give up on writing or reading. I haven’t read the second book yet, but if it’s anything like the first, you’ve produced two novels that tell incredible stories. Keep plugging away. Some of this takes time.

  6. Dave Higgins says:

    It might not help you now but, based on both the careers of dedicated self-publishers I know and advice from gurus who do not advocate carpet-bombing the world with adverts, the point at which you develop enough of a following that it sustains itself is 5 books – unless you happen to be an outlier. So the drop on one week’s data is not evidence of a trend.

    You have already demonstrated you can write books that readers like, so in the mid- to long-term, just writing more should create a bump in sales for all of them. In the short-term, I suggest taking a break until you start getting the itch to write again, then writing for yourself.

    Optimistically, maybe Fauxpocalypse will do the work of several books and your following will pick up sooner.

  7. Papi Z says:

    Reblogged this on The Literary Syndicate and commented:
    Authors, Misha brings up some valid points in this post. I am certain that all of you have felt this way at one point or another. Check it out friends.

  8. Sue says:

    Since they took the tags section off Amazon I have a hard time finding genre, but from what I could see, it is listed under sci fic.

    Most of my author friends belong to on line writing groups and do a lot of interviews and shout outs to get their books out there

    At least you’ve finished and published two novels. I have published a short story but can’t seem to complete a novel.

  9. sstamm625 says:

    Don’t stop writing, Misha. And do you really hate the writing itself or is it the marketing and other parts of the process? I just posted a note on your Buy My Books page, before I even saw this post, saying how much I’m loving Catskinner’s Book. You’ve got a great voice! Don’t let discouragement keep you from using it–unless you REALLY DO hate the writing itself. You gotta be true to you and what you want. By the way, I haven’t sold many copies of my book either, but I keep telling myself I’m in this for the long haul. I’ve invested way more money than I’ve made, but I do have a day job.

  10. Pingback: Fame, Fortune, Readerships and So On | pigeon weather productions

  11. cyelkoth5637 says:

    Don’t know if this helps, but I just read the first chapter of Catskinner from the “sample” you offer on Amazon. I’m going to buy the kindle version based on that. Very intriguing. As another self-published writer–hang in there. 🙂

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