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It’s Been One Month of A Bloody Business

Half update, half reflection, all Stephen A. Roddewig

By Stephen A. RoddewigPublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 5 min read
Caught fresh from the source (KDP)

It’s been one week…

– Barenaked Ladies

I tend to go a bit long in my reflection pieces, so I’ll attempt to buck the trend here.

…even as I continue with my tradition of writing articles of vulnerability in this incredibly public forum.

Ironic, I know.

The Update

Just about a month ago (3/29/24), I released my novel A Bloody Business. Since then, I have had access to a new class of metrics that I normally don’t have for other writing pieces: sales figures.

So just how has it been going?

It’s been good.

Not great. Not terrible. On the whole, good.

Combining the stats from KDP and ACX, I have sold 83 copies as of this writing across print, digital, and audio formats.

Was that the goal? To be honest, I didn’t set one, though I’d love to at least have a nice round 100 to give when the question comes up in casual conversation.

But 83 is a hell of a lot higher than 0.

Mathematicians feel free to check my calculations here^

The other metric I have readily at hand is reviews, the bread and butter of every small-time author. So here’s those totals:

  • Amazon: 8
  • Goodreads: 3
  • Audible: 3

Once again, I’d love to see at least double digits (10+) on all these platforms, but 3-8 is also a hell of a lot higher than 0.

Audible is its own challenge because you have to purchase a whole separate format (the audiobook). Someone can’t read the print version and then come review it on Audible like they can on Amazon and Goodreads. This makes perfect sense, but it also means it’s especially difficult to get reviews there.

The Uptake

So what point am I building to here? Besides the ultra-obvious fact that any positive number is greater than 0.

Simple: the fact that these stats are higher than 0 means I accomplished something.

Publishing the book at all means I accomplished something.

And this is a fact that I have found easy to lose sight of as I refresh KDP multiple times a day to check if I sold another copy. Not that these metrics don’t have their place in the importance chain, but they are not the sole measure of your book’s worth.

They are not the sole valuation of me as a writer.

Perspective is critical in the game of inches that is independent publishing.

I could list all sorts of elements not accounted for by sales metrics and review totals, but I’ll key in on a few examples that have stuck out to me.

Example 1: Childhood Friend

Of the 8 reviews on Amazon, one jumped out at me because of who it was from: someone I hadn’t been in contact with for a decade.

And yet, he somehow found this book, read it, and even went the extra mile to write a review that is both notable for its brevity and for how much it says without needing extra words. Considering the beefier reviews around it, I think it really stands on its own.

I’m incredibly grateful for anyone who reads and reviews, but this one will always be a special moment for me.

Example 2: Author Site

In the run up to the release of A Bloody Business, I decided the existing stephenaroddewig.com needed a wholesale overhaul. I’d known in the back of my mind for a while that the work portfolio with Publications page grafted onto it wasn’t working, but the level of work involved to rebuild meant I could never bring myself to knuckle down and do it.

Until this book with its impending release date finally put a deadline on it.

It’s taken a couple iterations. Phase 1 was more about ripping and replacing all the old content and creating new content focused solely on Stephen A. Roddewig the author.

Phase 2 was then submitting the raw version to my designer friends and implementing all their great aesthetic and UI suggestions (still ongoing). You can check out the newly improve homepage through the link below:

And, back in the realm of stats, the site is starting to see a slow trickle of organic traffic reaching the site. Mostly US-based, but some international! I don’t believe I’ve yet convinced one of these theoretical strangers to buy a book, read a story, or subscribe to the blog.

But there’s always the chance. Getting them to the homepage is Step 0.

Besides, I’m certain that having this site and clarifying my identity on it helped me appreciate the many facets of my writing and not let my writing esteem get swallowed by sales stats.

I’m also fairly certain it’s responsible for Example 3.

Example 3: Google Knowledge Panel

I wouldn’t exactly call myself “famous,” but Google has at least recognized that I’m a distinct individual with my own web presence.

I probably have this unique last name to thank. A lifetime of spelling it out over the phone for every appointment I have made has finally paid off!

Regardless, anyone who searches on my name will now be presented with something like the screenshot below:

Cool stuff! I also anticipate that Google will someday soon catalog A Bloody Business, and then that might appear there as well. In fact, the book’s publication might have also played a role in generating the Google Knowledge Panel along with the website rebuild.

Do I think this is going to make a huge difference when the person is already searching on my name? No. But it is a nice layer of added legitimacy for those already interested in yours truly.

And hey, it’s something cool to show friends and family.

The Words of Wisdom

The publishing process has also taught me an important lesson: book publishing is a marathon that tricks you into thinking it’s a sprint.

Especially on Amazon, where their coveted sales rankings are a tantalizing prize for those who can drive their sales high enough during the release day bump.

And then the sales figures inevitably dip in the days following, and it’s easy to conclude that you have “failed” if you didn’t get a shiny Top 10 in X Category badge out of it. But I can now tell you that I sold more books in the month following release than I did during March.

(Granted, the book was only live for 3 days in March versus 24 days and counting in April, but the point remains)

After all, the book will remain on Amazon and Audible forever. There is nothing stopping someone from buying it tomorrow, next month, or next year.

And these things take time. Time for folks to read, especially if your book joins a big ol’ TBR pile. Time for Google to reindex a site. Time for those who have read to sit down and review it. Time is both the ally and the foe.

Besides, the infrastructural gains I have made between the author site and the Google Knowledge Panel will also remain with me past this book’s release. And the audience who has read this book will be around for the next book. And all the lessons I’ve learned about the process that can be applied to the next book to make the upcoming Dick Winchester trilogy an even smoother endeavor.

To quote the meme of famed U.S. astronaut Buzz Lightyear, “Achievement. Achievement everywhere!”

And if you are at all curious, you can take a glance at A Bloody Business at the link below:

A Bloody Business

(If nothing else, the link proves I wasn't just making this whole thing up 😉)


About the Creator

Stephen A. Roddewig

I am an award-winning author from Arlington, Virginia. Started with short stories, moved to novels.

...and on that note: A Bloody Business is now live! More details.

Proud member of the Horror Writers Association 🐦‍⬛


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Comments (5)

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  • L.C. Schäferabout a month ago

    I loathed putting a book out and am procrastinating on the next one. Sounds like you had a positive experience, though and I'm so happy for you! WELL DONE! It takes guts, and balls, and brains and spine! All the body parts 😁

  • Donna Fox (HKB)2 months ago

    I love the cheekiness of this article and the way you walked us through a lot of your success and experience!! A lot of it is relatable and also very validating to see that I'm not the only one to deal with similar issues. I will say though, your book in the back says it was printed in Alberta, Canada. While mine says it's printed in US... but we both have technically used the same company to print them... it's just interesting to me. Ya know??

  • Christy Munson2 months ago

    Congratulations on the first 83! I would be overjoyed, but if you aren't, that's cool too. You do you. But from where I'm sitting, finding anyone who believes enough in your written word to buy your book is a big dang deal. Finding 83 such folks is amazing. Will is buy you a house in your dream locale? Nope. But you should be incredibly PROUD of yourself for putting your work out there.

  • Babs Iverson2 months ago

    It's very cool!!! Congratulations on your book!!!

  • Matthew Fromm2 months ago

    It's on my books to purchase list still! 83 is a hell of an accomplishment

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