On August 22nd 2015 I clicked published on my first full length indie title – Glitch Mitchell and the Unseen Planet. Three days later, I officially launched the book.
The Unseen Planet is a science fiction novel inspired by the old Flash Gordon serials that I used to watch on TV when I was young. It’s fast paced, over the top, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. I originally planned the idea as side project that would be posted here on the blog. The goal was to produce ten 1,000 word chapters and post one every Saturday morning. That idea grew into twenty-six 1,000 word chapters, but when I started writing they ended up coming in at 2-3,000 words. The end result was a full length novel that I didn’t quite know what to do with.
The book sat on my hard drive for quite a while until I read a post by some guy called Hugh Howey. He was talking about his new cover designer-M.S. Corley. I was very impressed with Mike’s portfolio, one thing led to another, and I ended up commissioning a cover for The Unseen Planet.
Now I had a cover, I had to publish the book. It took a while, plus the tender ministrations of two editors and three proofreaders, but eventually I had something I was proud of. I set myself a modest goal of 50 copies over the lifetime of the book. I also had a top-secret-I’ll-be-chuffed-if-I-hit-it goal of 100 copies.
The launch went far better than I expected. Glitch even made it as far as the number 2 spot in one of the Hot New Releases charts.
And into the Top Ten in the overall Teen & Young Adult Aliens chart.
That second achievement was particularly good. Every single book above The Unseen Planet in the charts was part of an established series.
I got some great publicity around the launch including my first podcast appearance, interviews on The Leighgendarium and Tash McAdam’s blog, and a spin-off story called Glitch Mitchell and the Deadly Follicle.
Reader reaction to the book has been very good, and I’ve had lots of great feedback, but the million dollar question is how well did the book sell?
I’ve posted sale/download numbers in the past but I haven’t done that for a while. Not because I’m particularly concerned about showing them – it’s just the data comes from multiple sources and I haven’t been organised enough to dig out the numbers. I’ve recently put some time into gathering sales data into a nice spreadsheet (thanks, pivot tables!) which makes it easier to pull up this sort of information.
So, I now know that The Unseen Planet sold a total of… drum roll please… 379 copies. It was also available under Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program for a while and racked up 18,315 pages. It’s tough to translate those page reads into actual books read. Actually, it’s impossible, but it’s equivalent to 75 copies. Or something.
If you’re interested, this is how that breaks down by platform.
No real surprises there, although I do wish Kobo did a bit better, and I was surprised by the number of Nook sales.
The majority of those sales were in the US, but there are also Glitch readers in Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Italy.
So, roughly 450 copies sold. Four and a half times my optimistic goal.
If you’re thinking that’s not a lot, you’d be right, but on average, books only sell 250 copies a year so The Unseen Planet has beaten that.
As you can probably guess from my sales goals, I wasn’t expecting The Unseen Planet to sell well. It’s just not a particularly commercial project – it’s not the most popular genre, it’s middle school/teen/young adult friendly and (most importantly) it’s not part of a series. It generally takes 3-5 books to get people’s attention on Amazon which is where the bulk of indie sales come from.
Really, the only thing disappointing about the book is the lack of reviews on Amazon.com. The few reviews I have a good, but there’s not enough to really drive any interest in the book.
Aside from that, I’m very happy with how Glitch has done so far. And that’s an important point to remember – so far. One of the advantages indie authors have is that we can keep our books out there, keep promoting them, keep racking up sales. There’s no going out of print, no marketing department deciding a book isn’t worthy of being promoted or a sequel. That’s one of the things that appeals to me about indie publishing.
What’s next for Glitch? I hear you say! Well, first up there is a brand new story coming out in a major anthology. I’m not talking about it much at the moment, and I don’t know when it will be released, but I really like the story (and so did the editor). More news on that nearer the time.
Aside from that, I have another idea for a Glitch novel rattling around at the back of my mind. I’m not sure it will ever come to anything, there’s a backlog of other books I want to write, but you never know.
In the meantime, if you haven’t read Glitch Mitchell and the Unseen Planet, I’m serialising it here on the blog every Saturday. This is a limited time thing, once the serialisation is finished, the posts will be removed. You can find the introduction right here.
Or you can just read the full book now. The ebook is currently on offer for 99c/99p, but the price will be going back to its normal $3.99 in a couple of weeks.
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[One Year with Glitch Mitchell by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 26th August 2016]