brendandetzner (brendandetzner) wrote,

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Regrouping part two

So picking up where we left off, I've released four books since I first decided to start taking self-publishing seriously. In order of their release:

Beasts, my second short story collection, released in print and in e-book.

Millersville, my standalone social technically-science-fiction-but-not-robots-and-jetpacks novel set in a maximum security prison for teenage girls, released in print and in e-book.

The Orphan Fleet, a fantasy novella that is the first of an open-ended series, released in e-book only for right now.

and White Rabbit Society Part One, a very odd and hard to explain horror/dark fantasy story, first of a two-part series (that almost could have been released as one extremely long novel), released in e-book form only for right now.

Of the three, Beasts has been far and away the most successful in terms of reviews and sales. I did lots of things to promote Beasts that turned out to not be cost effective. The particularly expensive one was mailing out lots of print copies to prospective reviewers: running the numbers later showed that reviewers who got a print copy were actually less likely to follow through and leave a review than the reviewers who just got an electronic copy, which was free to make and distribute. If I hadn't given away so many print copies of Beasts it would have just about broken even by now. This is very strange because short story collections are supposed to be non-starters commercially. At the time, I figured that the sales that Beasts got were going to be my floor and that I'd do better with subsequent releases.

Instead, Millersville tanked almost completely, The Orphan Fleet sold a few copies but not nearly enough to pay for the expenses involved in putting it out, and White Rabbit Society completely zeroed. Millersville was never a commercial proposition (as many kind rejection letters from small publishers were kind enough to explain), so I can take the hit there. And even The Orphan Fleet's modest success was promising even as it cost me money, given that it was a genre shift even by my genre-agnostic standards. But I honestly thought that WRS had more going for it than either of those. I mostly have a reputation as horror writer. It's a big old horror novel. Not a novella, not a short-story collection, not a weird literary exercise. It was a big fat coming-of-age story with monsters in it. And nobody bought it.

So what's up? Strictly in terms of sales, I've been losing momentum over the course of the last year, when I expected to be gaining it, so I'd better figure out what's going on. I'd be lying if I said I knew for sure, but I've got some ideas. I'll post again in a couple of days.

Tags: the plan
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