The Secret Notebook of Sherlock Holmes, one month on

A whole month has passed since The Secret Notebook of Sherlock Holmes was released into the wild. Sometimes that feels like ages, sometimes the blink of an eye.

A short while ago a friend asked me how I felt about the experience of publishing an ebook. As I’m feeling a bit reflective, here’s an answer incorporating some of the things I’ve learned along the way.

I didn’t have any particular expectations as to how the book would do. Of course I hoped it would be a runaway success – doesn’t everyone? However, as an author with a small handful of published short stories under my belt, I just hoped I’d sell enough copies not to feel, or look, ridiculous. I also hoped that everyone wouldn’t hate it.

Launch day itself was a blast. I’d already written most of the blog posts and other promotional whatnot, and the book had had enough pre-orders to reach the top 100 in its categories on Amazon UK, so I spent much of the day enjoying it while packing to go on holiday the next day. I’m not sure I’d recommend that as a scheduling tactic, but it did have the merit of reducing the amount of time I could spend stalking my book on Amazon for the first two weeks.

And then after launch day, sales dropped somewhat, as you’d expect after all those pre-orders. And there was a day when no copies were sold at all, and I wondered if that was it, and everyone in the world who wanted a copy of the Secret Notebook now had one. The next day I discovered that that was not in fact the case. Phew.

About two weeks in, I decided to put the ebook price up from 99p/99c to £1.49/$1.49. I expected sales to go down as a result, but my reasoning was that I had named 99p as an introductory price, and I could always drop the price again later as a promotion. I did the deed, and sat back.

Sales dipped slightly the next day. But then they went up, and stayed up. I don’t understand why that would be, but one of the things I’ve learnt this month is that things don’t always turn out the way you expect (see my last post about a bad review for an example). For instance, some days I promote the book more than others, or get more shares on social media, and as far as I can tell it doesn’t directly affect the sales.

So at the end of the Secret Notebook‘s first month, I’m feeling pretty chipper. I had a target in my head of the number of ebooks I wanted to sell before doing a paperback version, and that’s been met (I had no idea how long it would take to reach that number, but I didn’t think I’d get there in the first month). Apart from the one bad review, all the others have been positive. The book continues to feature in the Amazon charts for its categories, both in the UK and the US. Here it is sitting next to Agatha Christie this morning, in British and Irish Short Stories.

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 08.22.49

As the book is part of Kindle Unlimited, I’ve had the pleasure of ‘seeing’ how many pages of the book people read on KU each day. April’s pages read total is just over 5000. I don’t know if that’s above or below average, but it equates to about 30 people borrowing my book from KU; one a day.

Finally, I must mention the wonderful support I’ve had from so many people, including but not limited to the awesome FlashDogs. I am very grateful, and hope I can pay back – and pay forward – the favour.

As this is getting into Oscar speech territory, I’ll stop. If you have questions or comments, you know what to do. But just to finish, if anyone asked me whether I’d do it all again, I would say yes at once. Which is as well, because (fingers crossed) the paperback Secret Notebook is coming soon!


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