DREADNOUGHT AND SHUTTLE: anatomy of a book launch


Dreadnought And Shuttle, cover art by Chris Howard, c. 2016

Dreadnought And Shuttle, cover art by Chris Howard, c. 2016

A year ago, I shared the real numbers – earnings and expenses – from my launch of ITHAKA RISING, Halcyone Space book 2. Today, it’s DREADNOUGHT AND SHUTTLE‘s turn. To catch you up, the Halcyone Space books began with the June 2014 release of DERELICT, which for completely random and mystifying reasons, rocketed to the top of several Amazon SF subcategories and sold close to 8,000 copies over that summer and over 10,000 to date.

Book 2 has, to date, sold about 10% of the copies as book 1.

DREADNOUGHT AND SHUTTLE released on June 1, 2016. In support of its release, I had offered eARC (electronic advanced reader copies) to interested reviewers and dropped the price of book one from $4.99 to $0.99. I had applied for a Book Bub ad, but got turned down (again).  One new thing I did in support of this release was a series of guest blog appearances that have spanned the entire month of June and will continue into the beginning of July.

I also took part in two anthology projects with fellow writers of SF, using a prequel short story as an introduction into the series. (You can get STAR REBELS free, both on Amazon and all other retailers.)

In addition, I sent out an issue of my monthly (or less) newsletter with a copy of the Halcyone Space prequel short story for subscribers.

As you can see, I’m fairly allergic to formal promotion and advertisement. Perhaps I am being short sighted, but I can also only do what I can do and I believe that organic growth of my audience and fan base is the only sustainable kind.

So here’s what this launch looks like so far.

Days available: 20

5 star: 9 (4 on Amazon, the remainder on Goodreads)
4 star: 5 (On Goodreads)
3 star: 0
2 star: 0
1 star: 0

CreateSpace (Print): 6
Self (print): 0
kobo: 0
BN: 0
Smashwords: 0
Google: 2
Amazon: 209

approx $705.

Since my costs (editing + cover + isbn) added up to approx $1800, I’m more than 1/3 of the way to the break even point.

While this might not seem like big numbers, I’ve seen a significant uptick in sales for the other two Halcyone Space books along with this release. Now that there are three books in the series, it seems more attractive for readers. I have averaged over $100/day in earning from my book sales over the past week. Again, not setting any records for stardom here, just steady sales, decent reviews, and a small but loyal cadre of wonderful fans.

To put it another way:

I have six novels for sale, all published since January of 2012.

Four of those novels have earned back their expenses and continue to sell, one of them quite significantly.

One of those novels has not earned back its expenses to date, but is more than covered by the successful ones.

The newest novel will likely earn back its expenses by the end of the summer.

Last calendar year, I earned just shy of $5000 from my writing. This year, I will likely exceed that. No, that’s not enough to live on. No, it’s not one of those wild success stories you see with indies being offered six-figure advances and rainbows and glitter and ticker-tape parades. I share the reality of my experience because I suspect my numbers are more typical of what it means to be successful in this work. And it’s actually quite a respectable start in building a career as an independent author.

If you’d like to read the book that started the Halcyone Space series, DERELICT is available for kindle for $0.99. If you prefer epub, the book is drm-free and you may convert it as you need, or email me lisa@ljcohen.net 


LJ Cohen

LJ Cohen is the writing persona of Lisa Janice Cohen, poet, novelist, blogger, local food enthusiast, Doctor Who fan, reading omnivore, and relentless optimist. Lisa lives just outside of Boston with her family, two dogs (only one of which actually ever listens to her) and the occasional international student. In love with words since early childhood, Lisa filled dozens of notebooks with her scribbles long before there were such a thing as word processors.

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  1. This kind of article is one I am the most hungry for.

    Realistic breakdown of how the back office is going, all those details that are often invisible but most useful for those of us laying a foundation and just starting off.

    Thank you so much for sharing this.

  2. Holy smokes is this ever encouraging. I really want to sink my teeth into this stuff now. Can’t wait to really get started!

    • It’s a slow slog, but one I have found to be worthwhile. Glad to be traveling this road with you, Lance!

  3. You are welcome. Have a post on G+ with more numbers/details. We’re all in this together.



  1. A Year in the Publishing Game . . . | The Scriptors - […] week, Lisa Cohen did a blog post about the numbers behind her latest release, Dreadnought & Shuttle, and as…

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