As you know, the second edition of The Exercise Of Vital Powers was released a week ago today. But how has it been faring in that short time? Do I have a bestseller on my hands? Am I giving J.K. Rowling a run for her money? The answer, of course, is no. Consequently, I won’t be relinquishing the “Worst Selling Author” moniker any time soon, although it is worth mentioning that the new edition has already sold more copies in a week than the first edition did during its eight months on sale. Admittedly, that’s not saying much, but I consider it a good sign that things are moving in the right direction.
The most noteworthy observation about sales so far is that the non-Amazon platforms have contributed almost 20% of the books sold. This is a very significant development when you consider that Amazon accounted for 99% of sales for the first edition of the book, last year. I’m pleasantly surprised about this because I don’t won’t to be overly reliant on Amazon, so I’m making a concerted effort to draw more sales from elsewhere―particularly Kobo and iBooks
Having said all that, I’m not actually concerned about sales figures for the book, and that is why I haven’t set myself any sales targets to meet. My principal reason for re-releasing The Exercise Of Vital Powers is to increase the size of the potential audience for the sequel when I eventually publish it. Obviously, it’s far too early to make any judgment as to whether I’ve succeeded in this goal, but I have set myself a few end of year targets which should provide me with a reasonable idea of how worthwhile this second edition really is. These targets are certainly ambitious, and in all likelihood I won’t get close to meeting them, but if I could manage to achieve some (or even all) of them I will consider the new edition a big success.
The first target I have set is 50 reviews on Amazon. It is a generally held belief that once a book gains fifty verified reviews from customers, Amazon’s algorithms kick in and start promoting and recommending the book, giving it greater visibility on the site. There’s not much I can do to influence this beyond encouraging those who read and enjoy the book to consider leaving a review.
The next target is 1000 ratings on Goodreads. This will probably be the most difficult target to accomplish, and would almost certainly be impossible if I chose to rely solely upon readers who purchase The Exercise Of Vital Powers, especially when you consider that most traditionally published books don’t even sell a thousand copies. Fortunately, unlike the Amazon target, I can do something to influence my odds of accumulating these ratings. During the past two weeks I’ve been trawling Goodreads to identify users who are likely to enjoy my book based on their profiles and shelves, offering them a free copy of the ebook. I’ve given away several dozen copies so far and I will continue to offer freebies, at least until the end of the month.
My final end of year target is 10,000 mailing list subscribers. On the surface this seems like it should be the hardest goal to attain, though in reality it’s the easiest. The are a number of ways for indie authors to get thousands of people to sign up to a mailing list. Until now I’ve avoided going down these routes as they invariably result in subscribers who have no genuine interest in being on the mailing list of the author. However, having a large number of subscribers (even if 90% are not genuine) is very advantageous when it comes to securing cross promotion opportunities. It’s for this reason, alone, I will (in the short term) pursue the goal of ten thousand mailing list subscribers. When that goal has been reached, I will eventually cull those subscribers I identify as not being genuine fans, once they have served their purpose.
Obviously, achieving these end of year targets won’t actually mean that my book is any good. Nor, by the same token, will failing to meeting them mean it is crap. The only way to gauge the critical response to The Exercise Of Vital Powers is via reader reviews. Though there has been one new review so far (5 stars, by the way) I’m not really expecting more reviews to start showing up until August. Hopefully, then, I can start gauging how much interest there will be in the sequel.
As things stand, I am content with how the re-release has gone. There is much greater interest in the second edition of the book than had been with the original. I’ve even had an interview request from a well known fantasy book blog that I, obviously, accepted. Over the course of the past week, my book’s Goodreads average rating has risen from 4.03 to 4.24 (at the time of writing), and the number of people adding it to their ‘Want To Read’ shelf is slowly increasing.
While I would love to be one of those people who has “overnight success” off the back of marketing hype and bandwagon jumping, I’ve always accepted this was never going to happen for me. A few years back I watched an interview with Michael J. Sullivan in which he stated that he had to build up his audience one reader at a time. I know that finding an audience for me and my writing will, likewise, be a slow process, but it’s a challenge I’m more than ready to take on. The Exercise Of Vital Powers is simply the first step in attaining my dream, and I know that, ultimately, all the hard work will be worth it in the end.
Thanks for reading,