Remember Gary Ponzo? He’s the author who visited The Whine Seller back in May of 2010. His post, Why I turned down my book deal, dealt with his decision (and, let’s face it, gamble) to turn down his publishing deal and self-publish his book, A Touch of Deceit, on the Amazon Kindle platform. It was a popular post and as we approach the 1 year mark of this decision, I asked Gary to come back and update us on how this strategy has worked out for him so far.
When you last visited The Whine Seller, you told us about how you turned down your print deal in favor of self-publishing the book as an eBook. Have you been pleased with that decision so far?
Very pleased. My main goal was to attract readers and develop a following and I’ve accomplished that. This decision was meant to be a long term plan for my writing career and I would have to say it’s gone better than expected so far. I’m not J.A. Konrath, I’ve never revealed my sales figures before, not even on my own blog, so in a way I feel a little like I’m coming out of the closet.
Well, after one month (June 2010) I’d sold 35 copies and to be honest they were mostly to friends and relatives. The second month I’d sold 48 copies and my dream of 10,000 seemed far fetched for sure. However, after that I began getting a buzz throughout the social media circles. It received rave reviews from popular blogs and began selling in the hundreds. December I sold 800 books and figured it was because of all the Kindles sold for Christmas, but January I sold 1300 and last month 1400. So to date I’m over 5000 and it seems certain I will reach my goal of 10,000 books sometime over the summer, which would put me close to one year after the book was released.
With some eBooks selling thousands of copies a day, do you find yourself getting discouraged with your current volume? Or do you think there is room for everyone?
That’s easy. No. I’ve never been jealous of anyone’s success. There’s plenty of readers out there for everyone. Eight months ago I was selling 1 book a day, now I’m selling between 40 and 60 books a day. Are there people outselling me, you bet. But does that mean I’m unsatisfied—absolutely not. This is about the future, not the present. Let’s see where I am in 5 years.
What marketing techniques have worked the best for you so far? Which were a waste of time in your opinion?
I’ve done a little of everything, Kindleboards, Facebook, Twitter, Facebook ads, Google ads and Kindle Nation ads. I would have to say the Kindle Nation blog sponsorships worked really well, but the Facebook ads and Google ads were very disappointing. I’d avoid those. As far as the rest, I think having an online presence helps, but it’s hard to quantify. People see your name and really that’s what you’re selling, so the more your name is seen, then more exposure you get. And unless you’re Charlie Sheen, the more exposure the better.
Has piracy or DRM issues had any effect on your sales or marketing technique?
I have no idea about piracy, I’ve never had an issue with it. At .99 cents, if you’re going to steal it, go for it.
What would you recommend to an author trying to decide whether to self-publish electronically or seek a traditional publisher to distribute their eBook?
I’m convinced I made the right decision for one main reason. Pricing. When you’re an unknown author and you’re trying to get people to buy your book, you can’t afford to be out there saying, “You don’t know me, but buy my book for $27.95.” Are you crazy? I was uncomfortable asking my mom to spend 30 bucks on my book. There’s no way I would’ve sold more than 800 books, max. This way I’ve developed fans and, you know this Hillary, it’s so rewarding to hear the comments from my readers on Facebook or Twitter asking me for the sequel. I began this process selling my novel for $1.99, but recently lowered the price to .99 cents. This is about readers, not revenue. At least not yet. That’ll come as my sales grow.
Big thanks to Gary for stopping by again and if you have any questions for him, please leave them below!