Tag Archives: sales

Mindsets and our attitudes to success and failure

Lately, I’ve been watching the sales of my books slide into oblivion, and it’s disheartening, to say the least. I have to admit that at times I’ve been tempted to define myself through that lack of success, to start wondering if I’m a failure at this whole self-publishing gig.

Today, I started reading a book that might just help me to find my way out of that attitude: Mindset by Carol Dweck. Basically, she defines types of mindsets, the fixed mindset and the growth mindset, and describes how they affect how we react to setbacks. What follows is a very superficial summary of what I’ve read so far. The fixed mindset is the camp that tends to believe that talent and intelligence are givens (“fixed”); as a result, people with that mindset are all about validity, seeing the abilities they have rewarded, getting confirmation for their success. The growth mindset is about constantly learning new things, about embracing that kind of learning. People with the growth mindset tend to enjoy a challenge, while those with the fixed mindset are more likely to avoid challenges. They would rather be the big fish in a little pond.

Reading this book is making me realize that I have a bit too much of the fixed mindset in my emotional makeup. Not all the time, of course — I don’t think anyone is all one or the other. And I do have a history of seeing setbacks as challenges, and making something good out of them. When I learned I was probably too old to get a position in the German academic system, I went to Clarion West and started redefining my life around my dream of becoming a writer. When my German publisher decided not to take the second book in The Pendragon Chronicles, I decided to try the waters of self-publishing — and Shadow of Stone now has a better rating on Amazon than Yseult, the first book in the series. So at setbacks, I do tend to react in a “growth mindset” way. But that’s my reaction to major setbacks. At the same time, I also often interpret lack of success as failure. I took the plunge, learned how to make ebooks and book covers, learned some rudimentary marketing. Sometimes I get a kick out of all I’ve learned in the last year and a half. But part of me wishes it were easy, wishes once I’d done the job, I would get immediate validation in the form of runaway sales (fixed mindset). That part of me doesn’t see challenge anymore, it just sees frustration.

I know well enough that the indie authors who do have runaway sales are those who put out several novels a year. Yes, I have put out several books since I started self-publishing, but most of those are previously published material. Mostly short stories. Notoriously hard to sell (despite what anyone else will tell you.)

What I need to do (besides learn how to market myself better) is learn how to write faster. There’s a big reason for my drop in sales — I’ve all but stopped marketing, trying to concentrate on the writing in order to have a more serious number of longer works. I know that, I told myself it would happen, but still I want the validation from sales numbers. I want it to be easy. I have challenges coming at me from every direction, and rather than embracing them, I’m ducking.

Unfortunately, I haven’t had any time this week to test the fast writing techniques I want to try. A big project has been eating a lot of my time the last few weeks. Nonetheless, I did manage to get another 3000 words written on A Wasted Land. I turned the first big chunk of the project in yesterday, though, so I’m hoping that next week I can experiment on myself and see if I’m up to the challenge of learning how to write faster.

Wish me luck!

Hitting the Jackpot with Yseult and Shadow of Stone (The Pendragon Chronicles)

This past week, I had two freebies running for my Arthurian novels Yseult and Shadow of Stone. For both, I followed the schedule I set up several months ago in my post “Promoting Ebooks with KDP Select”. Yseult had a respectable run, garnering over 2,000 downloads in one day.

The day after, the two day freebie run for Shadow of Stone started, book two in The Pendragon Chronicles. And then sales started taking off — for Yseult. Not only did Pixel of Ink pick up Shadow of Stone for its freebie run, they also linked to Yseult in their description of the book. The result was like having the best free advertising slot possible. Within a day, Yseult garnered over 100 sales, the first time I’ve ever sold that many books in one day! The day after it sold another 40 copies. It almost broke the top 1,000 in the Paid Kindle store, (it might have broken it, but if it did, it was while I was sleeping. *g*) and it made it up to #8 in historical fantasy in the Paid Kindle store. During its freebie run, Shadow of Stone was downloaded over 7,000 times and climbed to #38 overall in the Free Kindle store. As I write this, both books are now in the top 10,000 (paid), the top 100 in Historical Fantasy, and #1 and #2 in Arthurian Fantasy. What is probably even more important for sales in the coming days, Yseult is on the second page in popularity rankings in Historical Fantasy, and Shadow of Stone is on the third.

While sales have slowed down quite a bit from my own personal record-breaking run while Shadow of Stone was free, yesterday I broke another personal record and had over 30 borrows in one day. I don’t make as much on borrows for the 3.99 titles as I do for sales (although for the titles under 2.99 I actually make more). But in recent months, the average Amazon paid for borrows has been around $2.00, so that is definitely income too.

It was a very good week for sales. Not so good for the writing. Besides marketing and promotion, I was also getting Beyond the Waters of the World ready for publication — one more read-through, formatting, writing the blurb, that kind of thing. I’ll be looking for some feedback on the blurb, but that’s the subject for another post. 🙂