I recently released a box set of my dystopian science fiction saga, The Dead Planet Series, and it reached number one in cyberpunk and was adorned with a shiny, orange, bestseller flag. It was awesome. It was unexpected. And it was four years in the making.
In March of 2013, I published the first book in The Dead Planet Series. I did not set up direct deposit and it took eighteen months for me to receive any royalties. Even when I did, it was less than one-hundred dollars. Never mind the fact that I gave away a few hundred copies and only sold about fifty that first year. This was in the day when Hugh Howey was hitting it big and I was hoping for the same thing to happen to me. It didn’t. I was crushed. But not enough to quit because I am a stubborn ass.
Fast-forward four years and a lot has changed. The quality and quantity of my books have increased dramatically and I think I have a good idea of what to do, even though my execution is often flawed. With that said, something happened that I did not expect. I became a bestseller on Amazon!
I’m not going to lie, I have been included in bestselling anthologies and bestselling, multi-author box sets in the last two years. Seeing the orange flag of destiny is not a new experience for me, but this was the first time that it adorned the cover of a book that only had my name on it. There is something magical about the experience and it is very motivational. Unfortunately, it is also short-lived. Three hours later, I was back to number two in cyberpunk lol.
A lot of my fellow authors asked me how I did it and honestly, I didn’t do much to warrant this kind of success. The truth is, my friends in the genre are my champions. Without name dropping, more than a dozen science fiction authors shared my box set with their newsletter and I shared with mine as well. All I did was ask for help on Facebook and people came running to assist me. Sure, the three-book bundle only being 99 cents is a deal, but those things are scattered all over Amazon. What made the difference was exposure and I am lucky in the fact that people were willing to support me. I’m very thankful to them too, because otherwise I would have sold about one-hundred copies and floated in the ranks at around 35,000. One-hundred copies sold is actually pretty good for a launch without buying a bunch of ads, but you won’t rank that high right out of the shoot.
So, why did I publish the box set? Honestly, it was a last-minute idea preceding a group event in one of the Facebook groups I am a part of. I wanted to do something for the people who attended the event, so I rushed to publish the bundle. In fact, it went live about twenty-minutes before the event started and I had to scramble to get the link ready to share. Also, there was no visible book cover when it went live. It was completely unprofessional during that event, but people didn’t seem to care. The cover was visible about an hour later and it looked like any typical book on Amazon then.
Scrambling last-minute to publish a book was kind of stressful. In fact, I didn’t have a plan for what to do other than send to my mailing list. This prompted me to ask for help on social media and the rest is history. I’m shocked I had such a positive response. It’s three days later and the box set is still in the top ten in cyberpunk and I sold about eighty copies yesterday. My highest sales day ended with one-hundred-ninety-seven books sold, a majority of them being the box set, thought I did have some trickle sales to other books thanks to the exposure I received. All-in-all, it was an amazing and humbling experience.
Is relying on other people to heft you up and carry you to such a lofty goal a good plan for launching your book? NO, but for me it was a happy accident. I doubt I could replicate those results with my next launch, nor would I want to burden the people who helped me by asking for the help again. I owe each of them a favor for getting me to this point, and it is something I hope I can do that makes it worthwhile to them because they deserve it.
So, there you have it, that’s how I became an overnight success in four years by becoming an Amazon bestselling author. This is a little tongue in cheek, but it’s the truth. I thought the series was dead, no pun intended with the title of the series. Instead, I think it found a new life as a box set. Maybe there is a lesson here about that, but as I said before, I think I would have a hard time replicating the experience and the success. Instead, I’m moving on to write the next book, happy at my success and grateful for great friends.
The future is darker than you think! Grab the bestselling saga, The Complete Dead Planet Series box set today!