How Many Books Have You Sold? · 13 September 2014

A while ago, our youngest son, Thing 3, asked the question: How many books have you sold?

It was innocent enough. (Although I think he was wondering if I was going to make enough money in royalties to buy him a new computer.) But I was curious too, so I said, “I don’t know. Let’s look.”

So we did.

For the month previous to the date Thing 3 asked, I had sold exactly four books. Four. F-O-U-R. I was excited. Really. After all, when we looked back three months previous, I had still only sold those same four books. I was also excited because one of the books was sold in Japan and the other three were sold on the same day. I told Thing 3 that the three on the same day were probably bought by the same person. (Turns out they were not.) And all the sales were probably to friends of mine. Which is great too. After all, it means that somebody is reading what I write.

Now after giving books away (see Just Gotta P), I am not so sure if I want to my son to ask me the question again.

In truth, I am a bit scared. I am scared wondering how many books I will have given away after a weekend of freebies. Frankly, I am not worried that I have given away too many. Quite the contrary. If I gave lots of books away, I would be ecstatic. After all, it might mean somebody is reading. Hopefully, it turns into a few reviews. And some subsequently sales.

No. The reason I am a bit scared is because I would hate to see that I did not give away any books. That nobody wanted to read what I have even though it was free.

The more I think about it, that is the biggest reason most people do not put pen to paper in the first place. They do not think anybody will read. They deem themselves unworthy of the ink. And so they do not write. Even if they have some compelling story.

Which brings me back down to earth. Even if I could not give away any books in a weekend of freebies (I ended up giving away thirty-three), I still consider myself a writer. I still believe in myself. Because I have done it. I have put pen to paper. I have published several books. I have promoted myself and those books. And even if nobody reads them, I can say that I have done it. I may not be an accomplished writer. I may not even be a good writer. But I am a writer. Regardless of how many books I have sold. Regardless of whether my answer to Thing 3 about how many books I have sold is still just F-O-U-R.

© 2014 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Just Gotta P · 6 September 2014

I ought to seek professional help. Or at least I ought to learn a little more about marketing.

Like any naïve author without weekly or daily income statements, I figured I could just write and the readers would come. After all, that is the first thing you need to do to be a writer. Write.

Still, you would think that after writing a weekly blog since 2007 and still having less Facebook fans than friends, I would know better. You would think that I would realize that having a few articles show up in local newspapers or their blogs would not suffice. You would think that after all these years of just writing and not that many people coming to read that I would have it figured out.

Writing is not enough.

Enough figuring.

Now that I have finished a few books and published them on Amazon and sorta mentioned them in my blog (see Ludicrous Man), I suppose I ought to make a marketing plan. For like any worthwhile endeavor to succeed, you need a plan. Of course, it is supposed to be written and have specifics and be done before the books are, but since I did not do any of that, I need to get started.

Actually, I did have a marketing plan. My plan was to put out enough books on Amazon that people would see that I am a serious writer. In fact, nine digital books are sitting there ready for purchase. But there have been few sales so far. I guess it is time to get serious about marketing.

Here is what I have discovered.

It is not much, but if I was to write a new book about writing, I would call it: The Three Ps of Writing. (If you are an author and decide to steal the title and the Ps, at least give me some credit.) The three Ps are: Pen, Publish, and Promote.

It is so simple. To sell books, you just gotta P, P, P.

The first P is obvious. Every writer knows that the pen must meet the paper (or the fingers must pound the keyboard) for anything to get written. The sword must be taken out of its scabbard to do any damage. The pen must be wielded for a writer to really be a writer.

Once writers have conquered their fear of the pen, people will know they are serious. That is, if anybody knows they are writing. Which is why the second and third P are necessary.

The second P, Publish, used to be a daunting task. Even today, writers still sweat when thinking about getting a publisher to look at their manuscripts. They send query after query to publishers and agents trying to sell the merits of their books in a page or two. And if my own experience is any indication, they get rejection after rejection. But with all the resources available now, there is no excuse for any author to go unpublished these days. Amazon, Smashwords, and other services are out there for self-publishing. Anybody who wants to pen and publish a book can do so with ease. It really does just take time and a little effort.

The third P, Promote, does not really come chronologically after the second P. Like I already said, apparently, authors are supposed to promote their books even before they publish them. Thankfully, with the advent of social media, there is no reason authors cannot promote their books to the world. In fact, I joined Facebook and Twitter long ago to promote my websites and other writing. I did not realize that people need to read those posts for anything to happen. Or that they wanted to have conversations. Now, I am starting to have digital conversations and only really promote myself every once in a while instead of just promoting myself once in a while and not having any conversations.

In light of my newfound knowledge and in order to help me get on track, I figured I ought to give away a few books and ask people to give reviews. You see, apparently, there is some Catch-22 in authordom that says people will only buy books that have reviews, but people will only review books they have bought. Or at least that they have gotten for free. Which means that I need to give away some books (since I cannot seem to sell them).

So for a few days (September 4, 2014 to September 8, 2014), I am giving one of my digital books away for free. It is a middle grade fiction book called Autobiography of a Sixth Grader: Show and Tell and The Great Ice Cream Caper. (Just click here to get a copy.) So tell anybody and everybody to download a copy. And then read it. I would love a few reviews out of the deal too, but I just want to get copies out there. It may not be the smartest way to market, but I am going to do it anyway. After all, a writer’s book does not do anybody any good sitting on the shelf. Even a digital shelf.

Of course, I am not sure what I will do if nobody buys the books for free. I might cry. I might even pout. Regardless, I will keep writing.

I am not sure what the experts would say about my marketing plan, but right now, I just want people to read my books.

What I do know for sure is that I need to P P P. Maybe I do need some kind professional help.

© 2014 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Free Ice Cream Caper Book · 30 August 2014

I decided to give away my first middle grade novel for free. At least for a few days.

I wrote and published Show and Tell & The Great Ice Cream Caper several years ago and it has been sitting on the digital shelves at just waiting to be downloaded. That is the trouble. Even if I was a good writer, I have not yet been discovered. The book has not just jumped off the shelf into people’s Kindles.

So I figured I ought to do something about that. Which is why I am going to give it away for free. Just for a few days.

Show and Tell & The Great Ice Cream Caper is my first foray into middle grade fiction and is part of a series called Autobiography of a Sixth Grader. It is the story of a boy and his friends growing up in middle America. The story is somewhat autobiographical, but the me in the story has more adventures than I ever did.

There is the story of the first day of school. With all of the nerves and anxiety that go with it. It even gets told twice. (You will need to read it to find out why.) There are days of show and tell (thus the name) and the planning that goes with it. There are the normal everyday happenings of the classroom and stories of family. And of course, there is The Great Ice Cream Caper (no spoilers here).

One of the reasons I wrote the book is to share some of my family history. Stories of my real family are woven into the book and ought to elicit some emotion from those who share my DNA. Then again, they ought to elicit emotion from just about everybody as many of these stories (or at least similar ones) have been playing out in all our lives.

At least that is my hope.

So from September 4, 2014 through September 8, 2014, I will be giving away the digital version of Show and Tell & The Great Ice Cream Caper. (Grab one today.)

I do have one favor to ask those of you who decide to download my book. Actually, two. I would like you to do more than download the book because it is free. I would like you to actually read it. Or at least give it to somebody young who will read it. It is appropriate for kids of any age. In fact, all of my writing is rated G. Or at most PG.

Besides reading, I would ask that people review the book too. Good, bad, or indifferent. Just rate it. Any review is better than no review. (For some reason, people do not read books that others have not reviewed.)

I know I already plugged my book when I put it out there a couple years ago (see My First Novel). But I never had a release party or anything like that. After all, I figured that my readers (both real and imaginary) would all go out and spend a couple bucks just because I put it out there. Little did I know that my imaginary readers were bigger spenders than my real ones. Either that or I had already given all my real readers advanced copies.

I hope people decide to take advantage of me and download my book for free. Just remember to read it. And remember that it is only free for a few days.

© 2014 Michael T. Miyoshi

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