Yesterday morning, I opened Amazon to check on sales for Silence at the Lock, which comes out in just six days, and I saw this little #1 New Release tag.  I was over the moon.  Then, when I told Philip, he dove deeper and let me know that I’m beating Trevor Noah in book sales. James Patterson, too. Talk about a boon!! Whew!!

After what felt like a disappointing week last week, I’m starting to see some things turn up.  That’s partially because my amazing launch team is grooving on the shares and such. I’ve also implemented some strategies that are really getting things moving. Finally, I also had a bit of a mindset shift, which is helping a bit with sales and a whole lot with how I see this book and its promotion.

The Launch Team Rocks!

As we move into this final week before launch, the team is really stepping up with shares and promotions. The review numbers on Goodreads – the only site available for reviews during pre-order – are climbing, and generally, they’re getting caught up in the thrall of release, just like me.  I love that.

These folks believe in this book. They love its message. They have told me quotes they love and reasons they find it meaningful.  They have shared on social media and in their newsletter.  In short, they are this book’s champions, and I’m so grateful.

A Few Key Actions

As part of Mark Dawson’s Self Publishing 101 course* (which closes today, incidentally), he has a video about launches, and I reviewed that this week.  His tips convinced me – finally – to do a few things:

  • I dropped the price of the ebook to $.99. This price point will help me sell books quickly for the next week, AND it makes it a bit easier for my launch team to buy the book and, thus, get the verified purchaser tag on Amazon.
  • I sent my email list (of about 125 people) the first chapter of the book just to whet their appetite. My hope is that this will encourage these folks to share the book, but I’m also hoping it might encourage them to buy it, too.
  • I set up emails to ALL my lists (I have several for various kinds of readers – people who are invested in African American history and genealogy, a magical realism list, etc.) to tell them about the book, the $.99 price for the ebook, and the pre-order bonuses.

There aren’t massive changes – and they weren’t hard to do at all – but already, I’m seeing returns.  (The numbers are below.  Just one sec.)

The Mindset Shift that Made ALL the Difference

This past week, I listened to an episode of Mark Dawson and James Blatch’s Self Publishing Show, and they said something off-handedly that was just what I needed to hear.  They said that we, as writers, didn’t need to act like people were doing us a favor if they read our books. Rather, we needed to remember that we were giving readers a gift in our work.

Maybe some of you already know you’re giving a gift, but I struggle with that idea.  I believe it completely for other people’s books, but for mine, I struggled with believing that idea.  But I know it’s true. I know that books have saved my life. I know that books give me joy. I know that I value them and their authors.  If it’s true for the books I read, why wouldn’t it be true for my book?

Taking that shift to heart, I’ve shifted my language when I share the book. I tell people about the book’s content. I tell people why I know the book matters. I tell them why they’d like it.  I don’t ask them to buy it as a favor to me. I don’t tell them how it helps me when they buy. I focus on them, on why it helps them.  It’s a struggle every time – I’m so entrenched in this idea that people are helping me by buying my book – but I’m working on it. . . and it’s working.

Now, for the Numbers

As of Tuesday afternoon, I have sold 70 pre-orders: 33 print and 27 ebooks.  Net Total Income – $240.45 

Now, in terms of ROI, I’ve only made back 10% of my total investment in the book, but I’m pleased with those numbers. Here’s why:

  • I still have a week left before the book is even released.
  • The numbers above do not include pre-orders of the book from retailers other than Amazon.
  • This book is third in a series, so it may indeed spark sales in of the other two titles in the series.
  • I have a couple new paid promos planned for the first book in the series, and I’m going after a few other promos for this book over the course of this week.
  • I’m doing a big push to local bookstores (and maybe some other shops) this week, so I’m hopeful
  • I’m just getting started on the “all in” of trying to make a living primarily from book sales.  I’ve got time.

There’s a lot of work to do, but I’m ready to do it. . . and I’m really excited. Oh, friends, I’m so very excited.

A couple other numbers are important here, too.

  • My Magical Realism email list is up over 200 people as of Tuesday, and I’m in two BIG ‘promos right now. So I expect that number to grow significantly.
  • The sales of my other books are growing the more I market, EVEN though I’m marketing a very specific series.

Book Sales Are Up!

All this effort is paying off.  I won’t lie – it’s a LOT of work, but oh, the possibility that I could be writing and making most of the money we need for our family’s finances – that makes it all worth it.

Next week is launch, so stay tuned for the first day’s results.  I can’t wait.

Meanwhile, if I can answer any questions or point you to resources who might be to get you more info, let me know in the comments.  I’d love to talk with you about what you’re doing that works and about what hasn’t worked for you.

P.S. If you know Trevor Noah, feel free to forward a link to this post. 🙂 


If you like ghost stories, appreciate books about the way racism has affected us and continues to affect us today, or just love a good story with a quirky, fun heroine, I think you’d like Silence at the Lock.

Get all the details including the specifics on the pre-order bonuses here.