IWSG–Do I Have the Magician’s Secret?

When my YA debut novel, 18 Things, released to instant best-seller status on Amazon on January 24th, many people emailed me asking what my secret was. Sure, my sales couldn’t rival those of Stephen King or anything, but as an unpublished nobody, the sales were pretty awesome! (Psst . . . here’s an insider tip  you may not know. Have your buds buy your book AND also a bestseller of a similar sort (something huge like Stephen King) to get Amazon to recommend your book alongside theirs. Didn’t know this until after release day. DOH!)

Anyway, the answer is yesss, I do know magic . . . because I know all of YOU! The first important step I took to success? Immersing myself into the blogging community at the start of 2012. Now, I’ve had this blog since August 2010, but I didn’t give it the love and attention it needed until I made it my 2012 New Year’s resolutions (ha! sometimes those things do work!) So, I thought the Alex J. Cavanaugh’s IWSG was the perfect place to share my journey . . .

Buccaneer Blogfest and IWSG

So, first thing’s first: I truly appreciate EVERY reader who bought my book, even the ones who hated it and gave it two stars. I appreciate you taking the time to give me honest feedback, and it’ll make me a better writer. I know I can’t please everyone, and honestly, my book won’t be for everyone. About that same time I took that leap into the blogging community is when I finally embraced that God had given me a gift besides teaching to empower young people. And the good news it, every teenager that I’ve heard from so far *fingers crossed* has absolutely loved it. They are my target audience, so if I’ve inspired them even a little, that’s my success. I could care less about best seller status . . . I only wanted that to push it to a place of influence to reach others. I took profit off the table a long time ago. Not that I wouldn’t like it. I’m a teacher by day, and Lord knows I could use some extra cash. But if that’s truly what I was after, I would’ve gotten a part-time job a long time ago. It would’ve been less work for way more money. But like teaching, writing is my PASSION. I take it very seriously that people are inviting me to entertain them every time they buy a book.

But let me say this to people asking me how I did it and assuming I’m quitting my day job soon because I’m rich: DO NOT assume that once you write a book and it trends in the top 100 on Amazon in a few categories that you will become rich and famous. Amazon is being stingy with my exact figures, and all I have is how many ebooks were bought on release day . . . somewhere between 120-150. So my cut is anywhere between $245-$340. I’ve already given that much away in charitable contributions. So nope, not in it for money! Still, not bad for one day’s sales, if only the trend would continue!!  *BTW, if you didn’t know, which I didn’t, Amazon’s cut is a 30% commission. Here’s what I watched unfold with tears (of joy) on January 24th:


overall sales ranking on amazon 

For one night, I was ahead of John Grisham. This blows my mind!


beating James Patterson

And I’m under James Patterson–my literary hero! Here’s hoping his success rubs off on my book:-)



And #3 in Hot Releases for Paranormal-now THAT is beyond the scope of normal scientific understanding.

Now, I was bummed my paperbacks weren’t available release day like they were supposed to be, because I spent a lot of time organizing this Book Bomb event on Facebook. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check it out here. I have no clue how many paperbacks I’ve sold so far . . . hopefully another 150 since 313 had RSVP’d to my Book Bomb Event (the paperbacks became available the next day, Jan. 25th). But turns out, paperbacks are more of an advertising thing, not profit, especially with other physical retailers. So yeah, beginning to see why Amazon is so appealing to authors from a business side of things. Still, my goal is to get my books into the hands of READERS, so I’m not taking it off of B&N.  But just Fyi, my print sales from B&N leaves me with about seventy-five cents per sale. Yes, I did say CENTS. After 3 1/2 years into this writing business, do you see now why I say it’d make more sense to just get a part-time job at the Outback restaurant or something if money is what I was after? (I say Outback b/c when my hubs worked there in 2005, he brought home more money than I did as a teacher that year!!)

But hey, seventy-five cents a copy is still better than the 3 years of rejections I had piling up. Every book bought is validation . . . every 4 or 5 star review is another validation . . . I’m on the right path. This is what God had in mind for me from the beginning:-) So what if I have no money? I’m rich in spirit, faith, love, family, & friends! You all are truly the magic!!!

But my realm of influence only spreads so far, since I’m not rich and famous. So you might be wondering what will I do now to get my sales up? Because of right now as I type this post, I’m #45, 681 in the Kindle store and #74, 434 for paperbacks on Amazon. Yep, not exactly trending in the top 100 anymore! Well, I feel like I’ve done my part. I did a bucket list blogfest the week leading up to release, with a giveaway of 18 donated prizes *thanks again, peeps!!!* That was helpful in spreading the word. Now I’m on a blog tour with 18 stops, which goes until the end of this month. Here are the most recent posts since last Wednesday’s blog, incase you missed the links around Twitter and my Author’s Facebook page:

Stop #6: Gwen Gardner’s blog: My guest post on writing paranormal: Do You Believe What You Write? I share my real-life story about a time I met an angel, so check it out!

Stop #7: Jennifer Eaton’s blog: Where the Little Blue Lady from outer space interrogates interviews me *highly amusing, IMHO*

Stop #8: Marcy Blesy’s blog: Interview focusing on a first time author’s perspective *Marcy interviewed me on HER release day for her new book, Confessions of a Corn Kid. She didn’t even tell me it was her release day until afterward–how’s that for selfless?!

Stop #9: Amy Kennedy’s blog: 18 Things You Should Know About Writing *things I WISH I would’ve known when starting out!*

9 down, 9 more to go! The other thing I did was sent out a press release. I only got 2 responses so far. Here’s an article from the Grand Haven Tribune. Grand Haven is the wonderful community where 18 Things is set. If you’ve never visited this small town during the summer, add it to your bucket list!

And soon I’ll be going on a local news show called The Morning Blend. What else? Hmm . . . my first local library event is next Wednesday, as well as my first school author visit! I’ll be a part of two book festivals coming up–one in March in the Fort Myers area and another in April in Orlando. I’ll be happy to blog my experiences afterward and tell you if I think it was worth the effort. In the meantime, I’m contacting YA book blog reviewers. Three have already agreed to read and review. I love these girls better than coffee and cakepops!! They provide an enormous service to us little authors, for the love of reading! LOVE it!

Sorry this post was longer than usual, but inquiring minds were asking me. Now I’ve probably crossed the line of TMI (as usual).

Do you have any strategies for magic that I left out?!

Have your read 18 Things yet?

One thing I will caution against is don’t read the whole book waiting for the paranormal. It’s only like 10% paranormal, and it has to do with the God aspect. I didn’t choose the categories on Amazon, and have no idea how those appear, but I was still extremely grateful to be trending in them. But if you only love reading purely paranormal books, then 18 Things isn’t for you. I think it’s still a decent book (although, some people would argue that point!), and if you felt cheated, the sequel is 90% paranormal to  make up for it;-)

OH! One more thing before I return to working on my next book . . . my CQ partner in crime totally surprised me with this book trailer. I didn’t even ask anyone to do it, but she did because she is awesome. Seriously, if you look up awe*some in the dictionary, Courtney Worth Young’s picture is next to it, in all her HP Geek Glory:-) Enjoy!!!

31 comments on “IWSG–Do I Have the Magician’s Secret?

  1. Wonderful trailer! How awesome it must have been to see your name up there with those authors and over them! I have to laugh everytime someone says writing will make you rich. Seriously, delivering newspapers brings in a higher income/hours. I think as long as we let God guide, it all turns out as it should — and nope, money isn’t His top priority 😉

  2. Those numbers are fantastic, Jamie! You deserve them, and I’m loving 18 Things. 🙂 So far, (I’m about 1/3 in) the paranormal is just about right for me. I love the little hints that something is just a little off, and I can’t wait for the payoff. Great work. 🙂
    I always knew that writing was never going to make me rich, but where else can one dabble in magic?
    I can’t wait for the sequel!

  3. I think you are doing great!! It takes time for those of us not like Stephen King or JK Rowling. Slow and steady heading toward the goal in sight! Best of wishes to you. 🙂

  4. Woohoo!!! Love your success story! I loved seeing those pictures, and reading about your heart for making a difference in teens’ lives. I love that, and I think that’s why your book is doing so well – because of your heart and how that shows up in your book. I haven’t finished reading it yet . . but when I do, I’ll post a review. You can never have too many, right? And what an awesome friend you have that created that book trailer!

  5. Congratulations – the money will come eventually…possibly. It’s still a huge success. And I LOVE your cover. Thanks for sharing the details of your experience.

  6. Jamie, you not only have a magician’s secret, you have an awesome friend. That trailer is oone of the best I’ve seen in a long time. Honestly, it captures the essence of 18 Things perfectly. Keep the faith and continue on your journey 🙂

  7. I’m so happy for you, Jamie, and not because you have the same name as my son. Haha. No because you worked hard and it paid off. Hooray!!!

  8. Jamie, because everything you do comes from a place of love and giving, the Universe (God) can’t help but give back. Although, I will say, those are some awesome tips!

  9. So great! I love that everything’s been so exciting for you! Having that one stellar release day is worth its weight in gold. What a fab feeling that mustv’e been! And keep in mind that this is your first book and your name is just now getting out there as an author. As more books come, you’ll become better known. The important thing is you debuted with a book you’re immensely proud of. ANd you should be. I love the message and it’s on my TBR list.

    BTW what book festival in Orlando in April? I need to check it out and stop by! Would be fun to meet in person. 🙂

  10. Hi Jamie,

    Aha, I note a lot of my adoring fans have left comments on here. Excuse me, I’m been known to make delusional statements! 🙂

    As promised, I’m here to leave one of my award winning comments. Sorry, there I go again. Indeed, my friend, you have magic. The magic, the passion that is the written word, beats within. Your determination and resilience is testimony that when we dare to dream, we can do our best to make it a wondrous reality.

    Many kudos to you and hearty congratulations. You will inspire and that’s most powerful.

    In kindness and admiration, your way, Gary, looking remarkably like Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar! 🙂

  11. Thanks, all!!! As for more secrets . . . I think the only thing I could’ve done differently to help is to start planning 3 months ahead of time, and get reviews BEFORE it came out. Lesson learned for next time:-)

  12. Thanks for the recent add, Jamie. New subscriber here. I think it’s great that your book has been so successful. Good luck with all your writing endeavors this year.

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