Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Somewhere To Start From ... is One!


Happy Birthday, Somewhere to Start From!

It's the publication anniversary of my anthology, and although I had ambitious plans to mark the occasion with something exciting, like a giveaway or contest of some sort, I have to admit defeat and confess that I haven't had time to organise anything worthwhile. So, I'll just have to settle for a blog post instead.

I expect most of you know the story of how the book came into being, but for those who don't, I decided to self-publish (via Lulu.com) a collection of my short stories in preparation for running a flash fiction workshop as part of the Guernsey Literary Festival; I wanted to have something professional-looking to read from as a way of establishing my credentials as a writer. Initially, that was pretty much the extent of my ambition for the book, but as it came together I started thinking, "This isn't all that bad, actually," and I added a few extra copies to my order in case anybody coming to the workshop fancied a copy too.


From these humble origins, the book has gone on to be ... well, more successful than I expected. Okay, it's not bothering the bestseller charts and it can usually be found loitering around the 1,000,000th mark on the Amazon sales tracker, but I'm still pleasantly surprised by how it's doing. All but one of the people who attended the workshop bought a copy, then family and friends bought them (which just goes to show how brilliant and supportive they are - nobody demanded a free copy), and - most excitingly of all - complete strangers bought copies! And then gone on to say nice things about the book! Exhibit A - Exhibit B - Exhibit C

I read in Writing Magazine a while ago that self-published books typically sell around 40 copies. Allowing for a few held in stock in the Press Shop in St Peter Port in Guernsey, and Books & Ink in Banbury, plus a handful at home, I've sold about 60 copies. I think that's a good result, considering I haven't done that much to promote it, and I haven't had a lot of work published in the past 12 months, so getting my name 'out there' hasn't been easy. (In that regard, please visit my new author page on Facebook - it would be great to get a few more 'likes')

So, what lies ahead? I'm planning to get my act together and sort out an e-reader version of the book and see whether that can unlock a few more sales. I have an idea or two about new ways to promote the book, and I will try to get more stories into print or online. I know this book isn't going to make me rich or famous, but it has given me an interesting insight into how promotion and bookselling works, and it's been good fun. And, really, I can't ask for more than that.

7 comments:

Nik Perring said...

Happy birthday, book!

Teresa Stenson said...

Happy birthday, DANTHOLOGY!!!!

(you did write this post so I'd come along and say that, right?)

Dan Purdue said...

Nik - thank you very much!

Teresa - Yep, that was the main reason I wrote this.

Louise said...

Happy First Birthday to your book. I was in Books and Ink last week, love that shop :)

Dan Purdue said...

Thanks, Louise.

It's a great shop, isn't it? Well worth a visit.

digestivepress said...

Hi Dan. Congratulations STSF! Can't quite believe it's nearly a year since the litfest, but there you go.

There's an interesting contrast between this post and your last one which kind of reinforces my own feelings on the whole submitting work v. self publishing dilemma.

It seems from what you've written that you have found the whole process of putting your work together and having control over presentation, marketing etc. to be very satisfying.

On the other hand, to have a story out there which you can't do anything with as it is tied up in copyright issues seems really frustrating. I know that this is not the case with most competitions so I may be guilty of labouring a point here, but I wondered how this has all influenced your ideas of what you might do with your work in the future?

It's something I've been wrestling with for a while, whether to submit to more competitions or concentrate on going down the DIY route, so it would be interesting to read if this has affected your thinking...

Dan Purdue said...

Hi Ric,

Sorry to leave your comment hanging. I got distracted by a bunch of other stuff, but I have been thinking about it.

I didn't deliberately put these two posts together, but you're right that there's an interesting contrast between impressions they give of the brave new world of self-publishing and the cumbersome, traditional route. I would stress that the experience I've had with Chapter One is the exception rather than the rule, so perhaps the differences are not usually as extreme as they're presented here.

I'll give this some musing - it seems like the kind of thing worthy of being explored in a post of its own.