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Nine five-star Amazon reviews

edited January 2014 in - Writing Tales
Happy to share this little success...

Last month I printed 100 hardback copies of my latest self pubbed history book and sold out in 13 days!

Since then nine readers have posted reviews on Amazon (though none bought the book through Amazon - I sold them all myself) and they have all given me five stars (out of a maximum of five). None of the reviewers are known to me - I mean, they are not friends, family or stooges.

To think that, only six months ago, I had serious doubts about whether to publish the book at all! Phew!

I've just submitted it to the Writing Magazine SP awards. Fingers crossed!

PS the book is Jack the Ripper At Last: The Mysterious Murders of George Chapman.


  • Congratulations, Helena-W.

    Have you considered an e-book version as well?
  • Hi Carol

    OMG the e-book has caused me more stress, hassle, work and frustration than producing the hardback!

    After three months of ever increasingly annoying attempts, the only way I can publish this on Kindle is to strip it of its images, footnotes, tables and maps. I will get around to doing that once I have the paperback out.

    I don't know anything about Kobo or all the other ways of making e-books.

  • Ah if it has illustrations you need to talk to a couple of the other Talkbackers who can probably help you with their experiences.

    Kobo takes e-books in ePub formatting. If you go to Smashwords and read the info they provide it might help. They provide Kobo, Apple and other e-readers.

    Do have a look at some of the self-publishing threads on here, and last year one of the Talkbackers had an article in WM taking you through the ebook process a stage at a time.
  • Thanks Carol.

    I've been engaging on Amazon Kindle forums on this subject for a good six months, and had five professional e-book converters try to do it. It cannot be done.
  • [quote=Helena-W]It cannot be done.[/quote]

    Hubby managed to add images to my books - but it was fiddly! I had included letters inside boxes in fancy fonts and these were recognised as images, plus in a poetry book for children I had actual pictures.
  • Congratulations on the sales Helena!
  • Many congratulations! (Who said e-publishing was easy?)
  • edited January 2014
    Many thanks St Force, Nell and Mrs Bear.

    I have produced two Kindle books before, and they were easy as they had no footnotes, tables or images. My book has 650 footnotes, 110 high res images, etc etc. I have also discovered that the number of high quality images causes download problems or exceeds the maximum MB size of the file. The mere thought of having to reduce the 110 images fills me with horror.

    I'm afraid my book is not suitable for Kindle unless I produce a sort of dumbed-down version, which I will do sometime this year.

    It's not just the formatting nightmare... there are SO many other problems with Kindle and other ebooks as well ... the way readers have come to expect to buy at rock bottom prices, the amount of royalties taken by Amazon, leaving precious little profit per book. I'd have to sell thousands of Kindle or e-books to make a decent profit, if the profit from each one is only going to be £1 or £2. What is more, no matter what I do I cannot get Amazon to pay me in sterling. And every time I bank one of their dollar "checks" my bank changes me £10. I received a check yesterday for $14, so it's not worth banking it.

    Also, ebooks probably reduce the sale of paperback and hardback editions, so perhaps it's better to wait until the paper editions have been on sale for a year or so before doing an e-book.

    I made a clear £13 profit from each and every hardback I sold. That amounted to £1,300 in 13 days. To make £1,300 from a Kindle book I'd have to sell not 100 but 1,000.

  • Well done, that is brilliant! :)

    I am going to ask a stupid question here. I have people who have bought books directly from me but said they can't load reviews onto Amazon as they didn't purchase the book through Amazon. I am wondering how your readers managed to do it. If anyone knows I would appreciate it if they could let me know. Thanks.
  • ginab.... Nobody told me that they met with any obstruction from Amazon. I held all 100 copies of the books here -- none were sold via ANY bookshop, including Amazon. Maybe Amazon had that policy years ago and recently changed it? I don't know as I never write reviews!
  • You can write a review if you haven't bought it from Amazon - but if the book has been bought through Amazon, then it says 'Amazon Verified Purchase' on it.

    I've got both types. The 'verified' purchase reviews are supposed to be better as it means the book is definitely bought by a stranger as it were.

    You do have to go through the rigmarole of logging in and making yourself an identity, i can see why people might be reluctant to do that if they are not very computer savvy.
  • Oh, and congratulations, Helena, that's a brilliant profit.
  • Well done, Helena-W - sounds as if you're book is doing well.
  • Thanks Liz and Libby.

    I only printed 100 copies and sold them for £20 each. I only sold them direct to readers so I didn't have to pay any retailer to sell them, as is usual in the book trade.

    It will be a different story when the paperback comes out! I will have to give Amazon and all the other retailers their cut. It's very painful.
  • Oh right I understand now. That is probably where they were going wrong! lol. My brain is just now in gear at all! I never though to ask them if they had an Amazon account .... I am so brain dead sometimes. You have done really well Helena-W. Lets hope you have many more sale to come. :)
  • Hi again friends

    Well after about 200 hours of slog, involving three people, and tearing my hair out, I finally uploaded the Kindle version of my book on 23rd January.

    Was it worth it?

    No. I have sold exactly 14 copies in 8 weeks, and after Amazon takes its share that has netted me £56.

    On the plus side, I've sold 100 hardbacks, and I've just had 100 paperbacks printed.

    Also, those 9 five-star reviews are now 14 five-star reviews. Plus one more to come, by a man who cannot remember his Amazon log in!

    I've found a really top quality printer who is incredibly cheap, so if anyone is self publishing hard copies do PM me and I will pass on his details.

    Helena Wojtczak
  • Great news!
  • Fantastic sales figures, Helena. A lot of trade publishers would be delighted to shift that many hardbacks in 2 weeks. You'll have to give us some tips on marketing.
  • Anna, thank you.

    I was lucky. Because my book is about a Ripper suspect, I had a ready-made readership amongst what are known as "ripperologists". I'm actually rubbish at marketing, and trying to sell the book to the big wide world out there is something I don't think I am going to succeed at. My strategy is currently stick it on Amazon and hope that true crime buffs will find it. Yeah, I know, not good, is it? Anyone got any better ideas?

  • Are there any true-crime blogs that might be interested in an interview?

    Any possibility of writing an article for the true-crime type magazines?
  • Don't sell yourself short. To sell so many copies in such a short time you must be doing something right.
  • Hey Carol what great ideas. I never thought of either of them (See how rubbish I am at marketing?) I do not know how to start to find such magazines or blogs, but I will try googling.

    I took delivery of 100 copies of the paperback on 18th March and have 20 left. Of the 80 sold, 49 were sold by Amazon in the last week of March. (Another 100 arrive from the printer tomorrow.)

  • Right I have done as much as I can to find magazines, with no luck. I found a few ... Tru e Detective, True Crime and Crimetime.co.uk. The first look really lurid and sensationalist, which is offputting, but, in any case, I can find no website presence for them and no phone number or address. The last one is published online only and is about fiction.

    Now to look at the blogs.
  • PS re the title of this thread... I now have 20 five-star Amazon reviews. Wonderful!
  • Congrats, Helena! Can you pass on any tips about how you market? How do you spread the word about your work? I know how to and spend an amazing amount of time on marketing (only if it's free!) but seem to miss getting my books in front of potential buyers. Or maybe they just don't like my stuff!
  • Congratulations Helena!
    I am the opposite of an expert, but have you thought of starting a blog about your book? That might get the word out into the wider world if you link it to Google.
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