Shannon Heuston writes for fun, mostly. It isn’t the paralegal and future lawyer’s day job, yet it’s her passion. To date, the SUNY graduate has written 11 books, and shows no sign of slowing down.
Wrath of the Sister was reviewed 538 times, and earned $6,000 in 2020, which is really saying something.
According to Forbes, the average self-published author earns less than just $1,000 a year, so Hueston must be on to something.
Swallow Books: What do you like about being a self-published author?
SH: The complete control it gives you. You decide when to publish, what to publish, how something is published, how much you want to spend, and how long you want to promote your books.
Swallow Books: So how is what you’re doing different from traditional publishing?
SH: If your book is a slow starter that’s it. Most publishing companies will scrap it in in favor of something new. But when you’re a self published author, you can literally promote your book forever.
Swallow Books: How?
SH: Try Freebooksy. They run about $100 to advertise, which I usually make back. There are other smaller, cheaper promotions I use as well: ENT, Book Runes, Book Doggy, Book Sends.
When you have multiple books, it’s advisable to have a free day, and run a promotion 1 week, using one of the less expensive promotion sites. This keeps your books in constant circulation and generating readership.
Swallow Books: Which of these methods has worked out best for you?
SH: I’ve had the most success with one day paid promotions that I run on free days. I am enrolled in KDP select, which means my books are exclusive to Amazon, and people who pay for subscriptions can read my book for free. Meanwhile, I get paid at the rate of about $5 per thousand pages. KDP select gives you five free days every three months.
The trick is to use only one of these days at a time, and run a book promotion on that day. You can also combine and run a couple of promotions the same day.
Swallow Books: It still seems hard to make money, so how do you?
SH: Easily. First: There is always a small percentage of subscribers, who click the “read for free” button (which means you get paid at the rate of $5 per 1000 pages) instead of the “buy for free” button. Your report on Amazon doesn’t tell you how many people did this, but the more free downloads you have, the better.
The second way you make money from doing a paid promotion is people who don’t open their e-mails until the day after the promotion and choose to buy the book anyway. This is where having a lower priced book than traditionally published authors works to your advantage. Someone is more likely to shrug at paying $2.99 once the freebie has expired, but they will pass on paying $7.99.
Swallow Books: So what’s the most expensive way you’ve promoted your books, and was it worth the investment?
SH: My best results came from a BookBub featured deal. BookBub accepts roughly about 20% of their submissions and they are expensive. Their price varies by genre, but I paid $626 for the psychological thriller category. I was accepted twice for Wrath of the Sister.
Swallow Books: Why did you choose this particular novel to promote?
SH: It’s my most popular book, making it to the Amazon top 100 paid bestseller list for a couple of days after the promotion ran.
It took a few days to see the bounce, but I was generating about 20,000 pages read a day, which means I was making a hundred dollars. In a single week, based on page reads alone, I had the equivalent of six hundred books read.
I made the ad back in about a week and a half, and after that was pure profit, PLUS it led to another smaller bounce in my other books. I learned it’s good to have links to your other works in the back of the book. If people read the free one and like it, they may read your other offerings as well.
Swallow Books: Thank you so much, Shannon. You rock! Any other words of wisdom for we Indies?
As a self published author, your first goal should be to get your book read, everything else-monetary profit, is just gravy. It can take a while for you to see a profit, but like anything else, you need to hang in there and keep trying!Shannon Hueston