Okay, so it's fair to say this blog (Ben Cheetham- Crime and Fiction) is sorely neglected, but in the past few days Blood Guilt has passed a few landmarks that I think it's worth posting about. It's now been in the overall Amazon top 100 Kindle bestsellers chart for five months straight, climbing as high as number two and selling almost eighty thousand copies. Combined sales for all my available e-books stand at around ninety thousand. Ninety-nine percent of those sales have come since October 2011.
A number of people have asked me how I achieved this. The truth is, I'm not exactly sure. I've done very little promotion beyond putting the word out there on twitter and e-book forums, and approaching bloggers for reviews. Luckily for me, Blood Guilt was simply a good fit for the Kindle market. When an e-book starts selling on Amazon (especially an indie one), it's like catching a wave and riding it - there's not much you can do except wait and see how far it takes you.
I think what's struck me most about the Kindle market is that it's incredibly specific. The top 100 is stuffed full of crime and chick-lit. So logically the perfect fit for the market is a book that combines elements of those genres. A glance at the 'Also Bought' bar for Kerry Wilkinson's phenomenally successful Locked In bears this out. The book appeals to readers of both genres. Whereas Blood Guilt's audience primarily consists of readers of crime thrillers. Hence the fact that Locked In has sold twice as many copies. It's an obvious but crucial point to consider for any author looking to write a novel that specifically caters to e-book users.
So, apart from earning me a few quid, what's self-publishing actually done for me? For a start, it's brought me to the attention of people within the literary industry to whom I was previously invisible. I've been writing seriously for over ten years. In that time my short stories have been published in some of the UK’s best literary journals and anthologies, none of which stirred even the faintest bit of interest outside those publications’ readerships. Like many other hopeful writers, I’ve sent out dozens of query letters and sample chapters. Again, no takers. In recent weeks, I've been approached by agents and publishers. I’ve signed with an agent I hope to be working with for many years to come. And for the first time I’m contemplating the fragile possibility that at some point in the near future I might be able to make a living from my writing. I write first and foremost for the love of it. Always have done, always will do. But let’s face it, it would be nice to make some decent money at the same time.
Of course, none of this would have been possible without readers. I just want to say a huge thanks to everyone who’s bought Blood Guilt – especially those who’ve left some wonderful reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and got in contact to let me know how much they enjoyed the book. It blows me away that so many people have been willing to part with their hard-earned cash for an unknown writer.
And for any writers thinking about self-publishing, I’d say go for it, you never know where it will take you.
(If you want to find out more about Ben Cheetham or his books, you can do so at http://bencheetham.blogspot.com/).