On February 4, 2013, I published a collection of novels by Lucy Maud Montgomery entitled “The Anne Stories.” These novels are legally in the public domain, meaning they are no longer under copyright. My collection featured eight books from the “Anne of Green Gables” series. I also included three lesser-known but well-written books by Montgomery. (I have since added one more book of poetry and a collection of 142 short stories.)
I sold the entire collection as a single Kindle download through Amazon for 99 cents.
To be perfectly honest, when I started publishing public domain books for Kindle, I never expected really significant sales from my Anne collection or any other work. My goal was to get a few titles in the store which would each sell between 5 and 15 copies per day.
Not a huge amount, you might say. But with a family of 6 on a single income, every little bit helps. We would have been thrilled with $150-200 per month extra in our family budget.
My expectations have mostly proven true on my other published books – but not on the Anne collection. It started out slowly for the first few days, but within a week it was selling 20 per day – then 30 – then 50.
On the Saturday morning of February 23, something changed. I logged into KDP mid-day and found the book was selling at a rapid rate. Even now, I’m not sure the exact “spark” that caused the acceleration. Amazon may have featured the collection somewhere on its site. Or perhaps a prominent blogger or Facebook user posted it. But that Saturday alone, the Anne collection sold 2100 copies.
The five months since I posted my Anne collection have brought these remarkable results:
Yes, you read that right. My Anne of Green Gables Kindle collection hit the number one overall spot in the Amazon Kindle store. My wife and I checked before falling asleep on the evening of February 26. The book was sitting at #2 behind a novel by Nicholas Sparks.
Luckily, one of my daughters drank a little too much milk that night before going to bed and accidentally wet the bed. She woke me in the middle of the night. After helping out and getting her tucked back in, I happened to pick up my iPad as I wandered back to bed. The book was at #1. Here’s a screenshot from 3:53AM on the morning of February 27.
The book had fallen to #3 by the time we woke up the next morning. Who knew you could ever be so glad to have a child wet the bed!
One of the funny and true lessons I've learned from this experience is this: you never know which of your efforts will fail and which will succeed. That's part of being an entrepreneur. You have to take the risk; you have to try.
I've started at least two blogs in the past but fizzled out when I didn't keep up with the writing and didn't get the readers I'd hoped for. I started a website-moving service last year to help people move their websites from one web hosting company to another. I'm REALLY good at this process and thought it would be a helpful service. Customers to date for my service: ZERO!
But now I've had significant success in Kindle publishing -- something I actually picked up as a hobby. My wife was reading all of the Anne of Green Gables books to my daughters. The existing books and collection available for Kindle varied some in quality and weren't exactly what I was looking for. So I decided to create the best collection I could for them.
So if you have the heart of an entrepreneur, keep trying! Don't give up. You may need to make adjustments or take a new approach on something. But don't quit. You CAN find the place where your skills and passions collide with a service or product others need.
As a final note, I'm doing some work to expand my public domain publishing. I've created a little company and website and company called Timeless Reads. If you'd like to see what I currently offer or sign up to be notified when new collections are released, just scoot on over to: http://timelessreads.com
If you have questions about Kindle publishing, please send me a message through 48Days or send me a tweet at @aaronmkerr. I'm a busy guy at times but would love to help if I can.
Finally, if you use Twitter and would be willing to help me out, click here to Tweet a short message and link to my Anne collection.
After receiving many requests, I've launched an online course teaching my entire process for finding, formatting and publishing public domain content. If you're interested, please check out the link below. Get $48 off the purchase price for a limited time using coupon code 48DAYS.