Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Initial Musings From A Self Published Author

On September 17th, I quietly published the e-book version of The Beef Jerky Gang on Amazon. On October 14th, I updated the e-book with a new version and published the print version. That's when I started to tell the whole world.


So, I'm now a month in on this self-publishing adventure and I wanted to share some initial thoughts along with telling you about an awesome sale. First I'll answer some of my own questions.

1. So you're a month into your official first release, how's it been going?

Great! The thing is, I didn't expect much. I expected to sell to family and friends off the bat, and that's what it's been. Thankfully, I have a lot of family and friends, so the sales have been good. But the thing I'm really learning, is that fans have to be earned one by one. What I'm finding so far, is that when kids sit down and read the book, they really enjoy it and they're excited for the next one. That means the world to me.

So far, the majority of my sales have been print copies sold online. The next biggest group of sales have come from print copies sold at our local independent bookstore in Omaha (The Bookworm). The last group has been e-books sold on Amazon.

I need to run the occasional promotion, keep telling people about my book but more important than anything? I need to write the next book in the series and make it as great as I possibly can.

2. If kids love this story, why didn't you wait, show some patience and find a traditional home with this book through a large publishing company?

Great question. The truth? Well, the truth is that back in grade school, high school, and college, I was pretty good at stuff. And then I graduated and entered the big bad world.  And the being good at stuff pretty well stopped. I started as a teacher, but my heart was never fully into it and I wasn't very good at it. And then I left teaching sort of to "find myself". I bounced around trying to figure stuff out. I didn't. Finally, my wife and I switched roles. She returned to working full time, I started taking care of the kids and I began to write fiction. That was three years ago. I'm now a few months away from turning 40 and I need to get some stuff figured out. If that sounds a hint desperate, then I'm communicating clearly. I need some momentum. I need some wins on the board. In another life, I coached high school basketball, and in that parlance, I need some easy buckets. Thus, I didn't wait with The Beef Jerky Gang. I made a few inquiries, got no offers then decided, what the heck. Time to get busy living or get busy dying. I thought I would put out a high quality book and start to build my readership one by one. And someday, when I publish traditionally, I will already have a group of high quality books that I'm proud of. And more importantly, I'll have a few fans as well.

3) What's the most surprising comment you've heard about the book from someone who has read it?

A friend had the book at work and his boss asked him what it was. My friend explained and the boss went home that night and read the ebook. Came back the next day and told my friend the author was "a sick, sick dude" because? Because? Well, because in the book, boys sometimes wear girls synchronized swimming suits. That made me laugh. Still makes me laugh. Couple things. The book is written for 10-12 year olds more than it is written for 50-55 year olds. The whole problem of the book is that boys live in a world controlled by girls, a world where they sometimes have to wear pink swimsuits while they participate in synchronized swimming. The whole thing is meant to be silly and ridiculous...not sick and pervy. But you know what? That's the whole deal isn't it? We authors write the book and readers read it and create their own meaning. I can't fault a reader for what meaning they made, can I? Still makes me laugh though.

4) What's the favorite comment you've heard about the book from someone who has read the book?

It's a tie. In general, I love hearing from the boys who are reading it, reading it quickly, loving it and excited for the second one. But there was a particular comment that stood out. A sister of an old friend from college sent me a message. She loved, LOVED the section I had where I reference the Xyphoid Process. At it's heart, The Beef Jerky Gang is a silly, funny book and her liking that section made me realize...she gets it.

5) What's the best thing you did in publishing The Beef Jerky Gang?

I paid high quality professionals to help me produce the best book I possibly could. I'm not an illustrator, a cover designer, an editor nor a book formatter. I write. So instead of doing as much as I could by myself, I decided to invest in doing it the right way. The result is a beautiful book that kids love and I couldn't be more proud.

6) You mentioned someday wanting to publish traditionally, so what's your plan?

My plan right now is to build my own back list while pursuing a traditional publishing deal. The second book in The Beef Jerky Gang series will come out in April of 2015 and the third and final book in the series will be out by Christmas 2015. Meanwhile, I've got one more series of books I'm indie publishing. It's called The Math Inspectors and the first one will come out as an e-book in a week and as a print book in a few weeks.

Math Inspectors

Finally, I am working on a book about a treasure hunting boy named Curial Diggs which I am pitching though the traditional route. The key for me is to write as much as I can, improve as a writer each day, and then send my stuff out into the world. And hopefully, continue to earn fans one at a time.

Starting today and for the next six days, Amazon has dropped the price of The Beef Jerky Gang e-book down to $0.99.  If you've got kids in that 9-12 ranges (and particularly 10 and 11 year-old boys) then please consider giving The Beef Jerky Gang a try. Thanks so much!  Daniel Kenney



Leandra Wallace said...

Congrats, Daniel!! Such a fun cover! From the humorous way you write on here, I bet it is full of laughs.

Daniel Kenney said...

Thank you Leandra, I appreciate the kind words!