I dream of Shirley Link over Piccadilly Square!
My mother was in my head, as usual.
She’s old-school and doesn’t take to this whole new digitalized twitty world and virtual socialized friendship thingy. She also doesn’t know what to make of independent authors partnering with Amazon. She just knows she doesn’t like it. She advised against relying on Amazon for my new book, Shirley Link & The Safe Case. She’s an accomplished author so I tend to favor her opinions. But after years in the online games business, and jumping spastically around the brushfire of free/.99 cent apps, I know where this ebook inferno is going.
Still, she’s my mom! So against every old bone in my body I opted into Amazon’s KDP program when I self-published Shirley. What’s KDP? It’s a lot of things to a lot of people. In a nutshell, KDP asks for exclusive distribution of your book for 90 days, which seems a little excessive to me. 30 days would be cool – but 90? In return, you can opt into the Kindle lending library, which lets you collect funds from a bucket of cash for the author community every month. I have yet to see if that will yield much dough, but will update one way or another when I find out.
The other benefit of the KDP program is the ability to give away your book for any 5 days of your choosing (within that 90 day exclusive window). Big deal, right?
Yeah, it is, actually. It’s the biggest deal Amazon offers authors.
On Shirley’s free day I saw 3000 downloads and would have seen at least double that if I’d kept it going for two days. Yes, they were free but somehow I still made .02 per copy. I’m not sure why that is, but when I find out, again, I’ll update here.
The sales the day after were disappointing, with only 17 sold. Some writers report a conversion rate of 10% within two days. I’ve seen examples of a book giving away 8000 copies over two days and then selling 800 copies within two days of the sale. Shirley converted at .04%
As I get more experience with self-publishing I’ll determine the reason for the dismal sales rate post-promo.
On the upside, wow. One day, 3000 downloads.
Well that didn’t go as planned.
After months of preparation for the launch of my new chapter book series, Shirley Lock, I released it to the world on the 3rd of July, 2012. A big day!
I’d put off writing professionally for decades, in my quest to make a lot of money doing boring work. The pent-up desire to tell stories was reaching critical mass. So, as I pressed the “publish” button on CreateSpace and Amazon KDP, it felt like losing 450 pounds in a split second.
I always knew that it would be tough to put my neck out there with a book. It’s hard for every writer and artist to release their work into the big, bad world. I was nervous. But I was ready!
Or was I?
One hour into promoting my newly released book, I got two messages on Facebook from “Friends”. The messages were posted on one of my promotional posts announcing Shirley Lock & The Safe Case.
One comment read, “What the HELL…”
The other comment read “Do you have something you want to tell us?”
Since my wife knew them better than I did, I asked her if she had any idea why these two were posting such cryptic messages on the first promotional post for my book. She said she was chatting with one of them on her computer.
He was claiming we stole his idea.
The following is an excerpt from my new book, Shirley Link & The Safe Case, now available for sale here! Enjoy, and please review on Amazon, if at all possible.
On our first day back from vacation Mr. Brown asked the 8th grade English class to write a report called What I Did This Summer. The title may be elementary, but for good reason.
“I don’t want to hear that the assignment is unclear from any of you,” he said. Mr. Brown knows us well.
I thought I knew him well, too. I took a chance. I wrote an accurate account of my terrifying summer.
He gave me a D.
“It’s not a creative writing assignment. You were supposed to write about what actually happened, Shirley.”
“I did,” I say, louder than I mean to. I’m tapping my pencil on his desk. It’s a nervous tick I have.
“No. You gave me a gripping account of that stolen painting fiasco at the museum that I read about in the paper.”
“Yeah, I spent a whole week solving the case,” I say. “ I mean, I knew it was the curator’s wife within minutes but I needed proof.” He thinks I’m kidding.
“Be grateful you got a D. I didn’t give you an F because it was well-written. Next time, check the attitude at the door and do the assignment. That’ll be all, Shirley.”
This is how it is to be Shirley Link, the best detective in the world, if I do say so myself. I can spot a lie like most people spot a zit. I see connections where they hide best. And I get in trouble every time I try to tell people what I do with my free time. Only a handful know about my talent. I usually prefer to keep it that way. But when I trust someone, well, I just feel like telling them the truth. Is that wrong? I guess Mr. Brown has provided the answer to that mystery.
I’ve always had an eye for what evades us. My mom likes to tell the story about how the family got lost in one of those haybale mazes that Mr. Jones builds on his farm every Fall. Unfortunately, a twister suddenly whipped up that day. We could hear it beating hard on the corn crop nearby. It made sense to me that if we hugged a wall, headed right and traced one path then we’d find the exit. Mom caught the whole thing on her video camera by accident. It was dangling from her wrist so you can’t see much of what’s going on, but you catch glimpses of me walking with a big smile on my face even as the tornado came down on us. You see Dad scoop me up and run for the shelter when we escaped. Mom posted the clip to YouTube. It got two million views last I checked. Search for “3 Year Old Saves Her Family From Twister!”
So, the good thing is that I can always help Dad find the TV remote. The bad thing is I have to pretend to be someone else to fit in.
I don’t blame Mr. Brown, though. It’s my fault. I should have known better than to tell the truth about my life in a class paper.