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On Kindle Publishing: Courtney’s Tweetlings

Tonight is the official launch party for our own Courtney Cantrell’s Colors of Deception. If you’re in the Oklahoma City area, come join us at Vintage Timeless Coffee to celebrate her success.

And, remarkably, it’s already success. Even though the launch party is tonight, the book has been officially “launched” for a week now. That gave everyone time to order their paperbacks and have them shipped in time to get signed at the party tonight. Clever, eh?

And, for that matter, the e-Book was actually on sale the Wednesday before that. So, all told, the book has been available for 13 days now. In that time, she’s sold 109 copies. By the time you read this, it’ll be more.

Now, those numbers are not going to put Random House out of business. But to put them in context, I released Gods Tomorrow on October 12 and hit 111 sales on December 31. That’s 81 days. Courtney should reach 111 sales sometime today. That’s 13 days to my 81. She’s in business.

She’s on the bestseller lists, too.

She’s been as high as #3 on both lists.

What She’s Doing Right

So how exactly did Courtney blow my numbers out of the water? The answer to that comes in two parts. The boring answer is that the Consortium has gotten a lot better at selling books since we debuted out very first book last October. I’ll talk a little more about that below.

But first I want to talk about what Courtney has done right, especially because that dovetails neatly with the series I’m running on Kindle publishing. This week we’re going to talk about networking as the new mass medium, and Courtney had been working the network like a master.

She talked about it on her blog just today, with an article sharing 3 newbie lessons from getting published. I’ll let her explain it in her own words.

Thus far, Twitter, Kindleboards, Facebook, and blogging have been my greatest allies in promoting Colors of Deception. I’m tweeting and posting — and to my delight, followers and friends are retweeting and reposting. (Thanks, everybody! You guys are cramazing.)

The result of all this networking isn’t just book sales, though — it’s connections all over the place. It’s encouragements coming in from all sides. And it’s tweets and messages that deserve a personal response.

Right now, I’m happily responding, and I’m making the social media work for me.

The next word after that quote is “but,” and it’s worth reading the article because she makes a very important lesson out of it, but that doesn’t detract at all from what she’s said here. I told Courtney a year ago that she needed to start participating on Twitter to build her brand and for the sake of her blog (which didn’t yet exist). I told her three months ago that she had to get involved at Kindleboards and become a part of that community. If she did, I promised, it would sell books.

Courtney practiced what I preached. I haven’t. I haven’t maintained a regular Twitter presence since that time a year ago when I was first recommending it, and I’m only moderately and grudgingly active at Kindleboards. I could recognize both as valuable media, but Courtney actually put in the time and made them work.

And they’ve worked. If Courtney maintains her presence on those bestseller lists, she’s bound to find her audience eventually, and that will mean the kind of success we’ve been talking about for the last two weeks.

What We’re Doing Right

Now, even though I haven’t been hitting the social media as hard as Courtney has, it would paint an incomplete picture of the situation if I left the conversation at just that. Part of the reason we’ve seen so much better numbers for her is that we, as a publisher, have gotten much better at publishing books.

  • A week after Gods Tomorrow went live at Amazon someone convinced me to set up its product page at Goodreads. I took my time, but over another week or so I got the book’s details filled out, added lovely cover art, uploaded a digital sample for Goodreads members, and finally started my own author page there and started filling that out.
  • Sometime later I was poking around on Amazon’s forums and read a passing mention of the value of Amazon Author Pages. I’d never heard of them. So I did my research, filled out the request, and sometime in November I had my own author page there, too, with links to my book and blog and a bio and a pretty profile pic (courtesy Julie V. Photography).
  • While my sales ticked steadily in, I kept doing what I could to improve them. I reread my product description a couple times, but couldn’t really find any way to improve. Then back in January I thought to name Joshua Unruh our Marketing Director, and asked him to give the description a once-over. He hadn’t even read the book, but he immediately spotted some major flaws in it and helped me rework it to find more zing.
  • In February I dropped in at for the first time ever. It’s a phenomenal community built around the people who own and love Kindles–which is to say serious readers who love books. Every Kindle publisher needs to have a presence at Kindleboards. I started building mine in February. I learned the ropes, figured out how to format a signature that would passively promote my book without irritating the heck out of all the readers, figured out what we could get away with in terms of self-promotion and what sort of conversation got the best return on investment (which, incidentally, was also the most fun sort of conversation: idle chit-chat).

After I launched Gods Tomorrow, I spent the next six months figuring out what information needed to be out there, and where, and how to make that happen. When we launched Courtney’s book thirteen days ago, all of those pieces were already in place for her.

We’re learning as we go. We’re getting better and better. I’m thrilled with Courtney’s success, and I see all kind of promise in it. We’re already seeing accelerating returns, and it should only get better from here.

Random House…watch your back.

One Response to “On Kindle Publishing: Courtney’s Tweetlings”

  1. So by the time that Josh’s and my books are published, we’ll have 100 sales by the first day, right? Right????