This is the first post in a new, ongoing series highlighting self published authors who are making a living from their work – not in the triple digit income category, not scoring a BookBub promo every month, not ranked among the Top-Selling Authors on Amazon. Just folks like us, paying bills and trying to figure out what works. Today, I’m pleased to introduce Giacomo (Jim) Giammatteo, self published since 2012. He’s going to share his numbers, what has and hasn’t worked for him, and promo plans and strategies for the future. Welcome, Jim!
Product and production
Hello, authors and readers. My name is Giacomo (Jim) Giammatteo, and I currently have seven novels published (three different series) in the Mystery/Suspense genre, plus three non-fiction books. My first book was published May 2012, with releases following on 10/2012, 3/2013, 7/2013, 12/2013, 6/2014, and 8/2014. My production goal for 2015 is to release three fiction and two non-fiction books. I hope to broaden my offerings to include the fantasy genre. I have three books written – now I have to edit them.
Sales and exclusivity
I earn about 60% of my sales from Amazon, but my books are not in KDP Select, and I don’t believe in exclusivity so I don’t plan to ever be in Select. I reached $1000 in sales across all titles by my third month in business, in August, 2012. My approximate sales to date in 2014 are $21,965. My best check of all time (to date) was just over $5,300, during a month I ran a Bookbub ad. In 2014, my highest-earning month was $4,755, my lowest-earning month was $1,027.
I think most indies price their books too low. I have mine at 4.99 and 5.99 for novels, 2.99 for novellas. I will probably raise those prices before the end of the year and see how that goes.
BookBub is an author’s best advertising resource. I ran two BookBub ads in 2012, five in 2013, but only one in 2014, all of them 99 cent sales. With each BookBub promotion, I would typically run a Kindle Books and Tips ad, sometimes a BookSends and Ereader News Today (ENT) as well.
My BookBub advertising has decreased for two reasons: 1) I decided not to promote any book unless it was the first in a series, and 2) BookBub has become more selective, and I haven’t been able to get my other two “first in series” in their listing. I think BookBub helps gain a following, but you have to have good books to keep that interest.
Best overall promo in 2014
My best promo, if you want to call it that, was the pre-order for my latest book. I had it available for pre-order on Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Amazon. It sold more than 600 books on launch day. I set the pre-order price at 2.99 and raised it to 5.99 two days after launch.
Building readership – future focus
Without question, the #1 mistake I’ve made so far in my writing career was spending far too much time on social media. Looking back, I realize I should have focused on building a mailing list a lot earlier. I (foolishly) spent a lot of time the first two years on social media, and I have come to believe (at least for me) that it doesn’t pay off. It simply sucks time away from more productive efforts, like writing.
So now I’ll focus on building my mailing list and producing more books. My mailing list is finally starting to grow, but it is nowhere near as big as I would like it to be. I offer my novella free to readers who sign up for my mystery list, and I offer other free items to subscribers on my career site. I’m fairly convinced that continuing to bring out good books is the #1 ticket to better sales and a more loyal following. I seem to gain more followers and readers with each new launch.
I write 3 blogs per week on average: one for the Giacomo Giammatteo site, which deals with almost anything – the animals on our sanctuary, family, writing, books, etc. The other two blogs I write are for my non-fiction career books. I post one article per week on my career website and one per week on LinkedIn. I also write a blog once a month for the Alliance of Independent Authors, as their watchdog. Most of that deals with issues surrounding third party service providers for authors.
I’m happy to share my experiences with other self-published authors, and I hope this helps!
About Giacomo Giammatteo
Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. He also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series. When Giacomo isn’t writing, he’s helping his wife take care of the animals on their sanctuary. At last count they had 45 animals – 11 dogs, a horse, 6 cats, and 26 pigs. Oh, and one crazy – and very large – wild boar, who takes walks with Giacomo every day and happens to also be his best buddy. Connect with Giacomo on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
Readers, do you have questions or comments for Jim? Do you see similarities between what has worked for you – and what hasn’t – and Jim’s experiences? Please leave a comment and share!
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By the way, are you a self published author who is successfully earning a living from your books? Leave a comment, and I may be able to profile you in a future post.