Stay Agile with Indie!

Economic seas this choppy aren't safe for anyone, but at least indie publishers are fast enough to be nimble!

Economic seas this choppy aren’t safe for anyone, but at least indie publishers are fast enough to be nimble!

This is Sarah and I’m not going to whine about my indie sales.  To be fair, Witchfinder has done better than I expected.  Not amazingly well.  It’s not sold a million dollars (I wish) or even a hundred thousand.  I didn’t expect it to.


Indie has a rhythm of sales that’s all its own and that is different from traditional publishing sales.  Traditional publishing uses the “fresh vegetable” model of books.  By which I mean, because bestseller lists and bookstore shelves are at a premium, and because books now stay on said shelves maybe two weeks before being sent back if they don’t sell, publishers are forced to put in a lot of push to get all their sales in the first two weeks.  So you’re going to get most of your sales right up front, and if your book doesn’t do well in those critical two weeks, the book/series/career might be dead.

It’s not at that that publishers put a lot of effort into promoting most books – certainly not midlisters or new authors – but what effort they put is targeted to that crucial time period.  And because Amazon allows them to put books on pre-order (this reminds me I’m tired of all the whining about Amazon.  I must write an article on how any serious competitor could take on Amazon on ebooks.  If that’s what they wanted to do.  No. four articles.  Anyway…) for sometimes up to a year, the minute that books pops up, you get a bazillion orders.

Well, indie publishers can’t do that (yet.  There really need to be articles.)  And Witchfinder, as a roll out was sort of botched, mostly because of me.  I’d been dragging it on for so long that I needed to finally send it to my subscribers.  Three editors later, still finding the occasional typo, I decided it wasn’t any more beleaguered than the average traditionally published book and pulled the trigger – without warning, and with about a week of telling people who might publicize it.


The results were better than I expected.  To date, I’ve sold a little more (if my calculations are right.  Amazon doesn’t make this easy and the other vendors are even messier) than 1000 copies.  This is minuscule compared to my laydown for traditional books, but consider most of these sales are ebooks, and it was all done with no warning.  The intake is about five thousand, or what I used to get as advances for my mysteries which were the lowest paying genre.

So I’m not disappointed, and I’m not whining.  From what I understand from my indie-publishing friends, who are the “professionals” in this part of the business, while I’m the raw business, in indie you don’t really get that much advantage from being “a name.” And the business is very much “what have you done for me lately” – by which I mean, I need to bring a sequel or at least a related book out in the next couple of months, and then the numbers will go up again.  Also, books that have more sequels out sell better.  It’s one of those things.  Yes, sequel is in the works and a friend pointed out it’s a YA steampunk, because it centers on Seraphim’s brother Michael who is all of 17 and an inventor.  Never mind.  I don’t need to worry about classifications.  It’s indie.  And it will be finished as soon as my overdue traditional novels are delivered. Anyway…

While I was riding the tale of the release and following up on the intake of my first straight-to-indie novel, I started hearing rumors from my indie publishing friends.  Let’s put it this way: it’s not the “summer of death” – that three months long drought last year, in which nothing sold at all – but it seems it’s not really far off.


For those who haven’t heard me on the subject, in the summer of death, my sales went from around $200 a month (already low from a peak of $400) to $12 a month.  No, I didn’t forget a zero.  And meanwhile, my friends weren’t selling at all.

For me the end of the drought came when I decided to ignore previously useful advice about the minimum price for short stories ($2.99) and went through my stock, willy-nilly pricing shorts at 1.99 or .99 depending on my perception of the “heft” of the story and the length.  Curiously, those stories (and only those stories) started selling.  I have never finished the great repricing, mostly because I’m also trying to do new covers for those stories, and meanwhile there’s two sets of novels (indie and traditional) clamoring for attention.  But that ended the drought.

Now my friends are complaining of a similar drought, which I think was masked for me by the release of Witchfinder.

And today’s economic numbers “unexpectedly” give a huge clue as to why there is a drought in sales.  In the end, we must remember, we’re competing with people’s beer money or, for a novel, about a chicken.  If you manage to make people give up on their chicken dinner to buy your book, you’ve done well.

The thing is, you must make sure the story is worth a chicken.  If they finish too early for their money, then it wasn’t.

The big advantage we have over traditional publishing, in these days when chicken-and-book money is running low is that we’re flexible.

I remember reading in school about how the little English ships defeated the great Spanish Armada, because they were small, could move fast, and could be where the enemy least expected them.


Traditional publishing isn’t the enemy.  (At least I like my publisher, and I’m sure some other writers do also) but the analogy holds other than that.  In the turmoil of market, indie authors like the British ships are small and nimble and able to change price, time releases, write whatever you think will be good escapist fiction for tough times.

Traditional publishers have a three year from acceptance to publication schedule.  A fast publishing rush is a year.  They have offices and receptionists, and secretaries and publicists, all drawing a salary.  They can’t just in the middle of a day say “Let me reduce the price of half my inventory and see how that helps.”

Indie authors can.  And my indie half can too.  One of the things I’m working on, very back-burnered, is a series of novellas that assemble into a novel, set in the world of Darkship. Once they’re done, I’ll be publishing them once a week and then, a month or so later selling them as a novel.  It’s an experiment, and I have no idea how it will play.  Which is scary, but also exciting.

In the terrifying economic turmoil and technological change, indie can be agile and change, and keep on top of things, which increases the chances indie will survive.

Let’s help some indie authors survive, by giving their books a shot.

Remember, tell all your writer friends to send the AUTHOR, TITLE, a SHORT BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK to [email protected] to be plugged here on PJ Media.

It really helps if you don’t bother with HTML magic at all, because we just have to parse it apart to put it into the template. The ideal submission is like


My Book


My name as it's on the book cover.



no more than about 100 words.


By E.C. Blake 

In Aygrima, magic is a tangible resource manipulated by a select few. The despotic Autarch maintains strict control over his people with the enforced use of enchanted masks that can reveal traitorous thoughts. When 15-year-old Mara, magically gifted daughter of the Master Maskmaker, goes for her own Masking, the ceremony fails and she is immediately sentenced to the fate of all unMasked: life in a brutal labor camp. In transit, she’s rescued by the rebellious unMasked Army and dropped into intrigue and danger. As she struggles to survive, she discovers the true strength of her magic-manipulating Gift.


The Right Place
By A.C. Extarian 

The year is Ct2293 and humanity’s advancement has started to expand to the stars. Earth’s last military has made a discovery that is deemed impossible – rocking everything humanity has known. United Fleet Ensign Sharyn Cameron is on the case when she meets Judas Extarian, a guard working in a nearby Ci-Tek building. Extarian’s boredom comes to an end when Ensign Cameron comes to him for help with a problem – and both of them end up with more questions that neither of them can answer. Clues point to the building that Extarian guards. New Adelaide isn’t boring after all!


Elizabeth of Donatello Bend
By Alma T.C. Boykin 

Now in possession of a traitor’s lands, Elisabeth must regain the people’s trust and return the estate to prosperity. At the same time, her vows as a Postulant of Godown conflict with the needs of international diplomacy, putting her in a bind. Meanwhile, she must learn to lead an army while fending off the increasingly interesting attentions of the Emperor’s youngest brother. All she needs is time, but the Empire’s enemies have their own plans.

Even Snowy the Killer Mule may not be able to get Elizabeth out of this battle.



After the Scythe (Scythefall)
By James Young 

For the people of Newton’s Village, the end of the world was just the beginning. The town’s denizens thought they’d witnessed the worst in humanity when all hell broke loose on the night the president announced the imminent arrival of the asteroid Scythe. Four weeks later, after Scythefall killed almost a third of the nation, they are about to find out just how wrong they were. After the Scythe is the story of every day people’s sacrifice and resolve in a struggle against desperation, violence and lawlessness.


By Pam Uphoff 

A year ago, Rael Withione was one of the elite. A Presidential Guard. Now she’s a handicapped hero, going home to finish her recuperation, and hoping to achieve average. She wasn’t planning on dealing with a new illegal drug nor a murder that is much too close to home.

(The thirteenth book in the Wine of the Gods universe.)


The Seals of Abgal
By Woelf Dietrich 

Bookstore owner and novice antiquarian, Sebastian Kaine is proud of his new profession and even prouder still of the collection of antique books on the occult that he keeps locked away in the basement of his bookstore. But his little utopia is shattered one night when he wakes up in that same basement, bound and bloodied, and his prized collection all but destroyed.

Making matters worse are the two strange men responsible for the carnage. They want The Seals of Abgal and insist Sebastian is in possession of it. Though he denies having any knowledge of the book, Sebastian soon finds himself at the receiving end of a brutal interrogation–one, he fears, he may not survive.

As he tries to stay alive, Sebastian discovers The Seals of Abgal is far more than just an ordinary grimoire for it holds powerful secrets. Secrets that are older than time itself, and these men searching for it are no ordinary thugs.

But then, Sebastian is no ordinary bookseller.


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