Happy Birthday, Whatley Tupper

It’s been exactly a year since I clicked the “publish” button on the Amazon KDP site.  Not the most climactic way to have something released, but it was still an exciting day for me.

It’s been a good year.  I didn’t know what to expect, and so perhaps that meant my expectations were low, but things have come together pretty well.  No, I haven’t had any bestsellers, Whatley Tupper didn’t go viral, I haven’t retired to focus on my writing.  But that doesn’t meant hat things haven’t gone well.  Whatley Tupper was a book that Daniel and I knew was weird and funny and yet it sat, collecting dust as they say, for several years.  With the current publishing climate, I don’t think The Adventures of Whatley Tupper would have ever been released in the traditional manner.   And now it’s out, almost 12 000 copies floating around in the various Kindles around the world.  Of course, the vast majority of those copies were downloaded for free during a five day stretch in June and I’m sure most of those haven’t even been opened–but compared to sitting in a box under my bed just a year ago, 12 000 is pretty impressive, at least I think so.

It’s been a while since I released a sales graph, and so there is it.  That one five-day spike really screws with the vertical scale and smooths out all the many jagged slopes on either side, but it sure shows how dramatic the effect of a free book is.  The Year We Finally Solved Everything is still free after more than two months (although I don’t know why) and while it’s always been a much less marketable book, it’s actually my most downloaded book.  Until publishing using KDP, The Year We Finally Solved Everything was, at best, destined to be published by some small Canadian press, most of which only release a couple of thousand copies and offer small, $500 – $1000 advances.   I don’t care about the money, so I’m fine with it remaining free.  As far as I know, it will remain free for years.  Amazon works in mysterious ways.

It’s been a great year although I know I could have done a lot more to promote my books.  I find it difficult to get into the social media game.  I just don’t really enjoy facebook or chatting on online forums or tweeting my thoughts.  I don’t even like talking on the phone.   Kindle Boards has been great to ask questions and learn of new developments, but I’m not interested in spending much time on these places each day–this is not a slight to anyone on these places, it’s just not me.  I just can’t do it–I’d rather spend my time writing or editing or planning.  Which means that I’m cutting myself off from a lot of potentially influential people.  I know.  And I used to care more about this.  And maybe I’ll care more about this in the future.   Yeah, receiving royalty cheques is always cool, but that’s not been the best part.  Until a year ago, I’d been writing for more than a decade with having anything published.  There were several close calls, a few broken promises, and even a scam, but nothing in the end published.  That has a way of diminishing a man’s desire to write, of his inspiration.  But in these last months I’ve been writing more than I have in ten years.  I have more ideas than time to get them down.  If anything, I have to keep myself from clicking that ‘publish’ button too soon, without taking the time to make sure that I’m releasing my best work.   A year ago I became liberated and I’m still relishing my new-found freedom.  It’s all up to me.  That is the greatest feeling.  I always loved writing, but now I have more of a reason to write.  Because I can put it out there.  And someone might read it.  And someone might love it.  And someone might hate it.  And someone might shrug indifferently towards it.  But it’s out there.  It’s not sitting in a box under my bed.

Happy Birthday…


I Have a Day Job

The Adventures of Whatley Tupper is now free at both Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.   So, with The Year We Finally Solved Everything, just about everything I have published is free.   I have no complaints–I made these books free at Smashwords so that this would happen.  Now, how long this will last, I don’t know.  But, I can’t help but think that this is far better promotion than any banner ad or sponsorship.  And it costs absolutely nothing.

Again, right now, all it seems to take is to make a book free at Smashwords (as long as it’s been approved for premium distribution), and within a few weeks, it’s free at Amazon (I also may have sped up the process by clicking on the Amazon link where you can report a lower price elsewhere several times).

Amazon didn’t use to do this, so I don’t know how long they’ll continue to do this.  So, I’ll roll with it while I can.

Whatley Passes 500

So, after almost exactly seven months, The Adevntures of Whatley Tupper has passed 500 sales through Amazon.  I’m not sure how others will take this.  I’m sure some will think, ‘That’s it?  After seven months?’  I’m not sure.  But, considering that the book tends to hover in the #20 000 to #40 000 range of the bestsellers list, that means that are a lot of books selling less.  So, I think it’s good.  Like I’ve said before, I had low expectations.

I do, however, have bigger hopes and dreams for The Redemption of Mr. Sturlubok, which is just about ready.   Right now, although there are other choose-your-own-adventure ebooks for adults out there (about 7 or 8 now for the Kindle, that’s it), The Redemption… will be the first follow up book.  It’s not a sequel, but it’s clearly part of the same series from the name and cover design.  I would hope that some people who purchased and enjoyed Whatley Tupper will do the same with this.   We’ll see.  It will be my first big test of the effectiveness of building a fan base.

And within a few weeks, I’ll be offering free preview copies of the book.  I hope some of you are interested.  Who doesn’t like free stuff, anyhow?

Another review for Whatley Tupper

Big Al’s Books and Pals review’s The Adventures of Whatley Tupper today.  Here’s the review:

The concept is simple enough, a “choose your own adventure” book for adults. Is this great literature, the next Hemmingway, Dickens, or Fitzgerald? Of course not. Is the plot, actually any of the many potential plots, a fantastic story? No, not really – at least none that I found.

But all these questions miss the point. What Whatley Tupper aims to be is fun (it is). Funny (that too). One review I saw called it a guilty pleasure, a description I can’t argue with either. It’s strange, ridiculous, and downright weird at times (if you pick the right – or is that wrong – choice). If you don’t like how it turns out, just try again. For a bunch of laughs and a ton of fun Whatley Tupper may the perfect choice.


Adult adventure means “not kids.” Don’t read too much into the “adult” tag. Although there are a few sexual situations those I found were tamer than a typical bestseller and many YA books.

Kerhoven and the mysterious Mr. Pitts are co-authoring another choose your own adventure book, The Redemption of Mr. Sturlubok, with a planned release of April 30, 2011.

Format/Typo Issues:

I found very small number typos. For a book of this type, formatting along with a table of contents (normally not much use in fiction) is critical. The formatting and table of contents is top notch. Everything works as it should.

Rating: **** Four stars

Six Months to the Day

So, it’s February the 20th, which makes it exactly six months since The Adventures of Whatley Tupper went live on Amazon’s DTP (now KDP).  I started this blog primarily so that other unpublished authors interested in self-publishing could have an idea what to expect.  So, how are things going?

First, an updated sales graph:

You can actually see the slope of the graph change from Christmas onwards.  It begins a little to the left of the last big spike, which was my Kindle Nation Daily sponsorship.  Overall, I’m pleased.  I never had great expectations about how my ebooks would sell–honestly, I expected one a week, or so, at least for the first few months.  So, now that I’m averaging a couple a day since Christmas, I’m pleased.  I think anyone who is self-publishing for the first time should be pleased with that.  Yes, there are the Amanda Hockings and Victorine E. Lieskes and H.P. Malloys who went from complete unknowns to extremely successful writers in a matter of 6 months, and rightfully serve as an inspiration to many.  But, they are the outliers.  They’re the outliers of outliers.  The Adventures of Whatley Tupper has sold around 450 through Amazon.com, and it’s generally been in the #20 000 – #50 000 ranking range, which still puts it ahead of almost three-quarters of a million other ebooks.  If you’re a self-published author, that’s how much competition you have.  So, like I said, I’m happy with what The Adventures… is doing.  I didn’t get into this to make money.  I self-published to get my writing out.  Anyone who’s written for a long time and suffered through countless rejection letters knows what I mean.  You just want to get your work out.

I should make a point about The Year We Finally Solved Everything.  Unlike The Adventures…, there’s nothing gimmicky about it.  It’s not genre fiction.  I’m not sure what genre it fits into, perhaps on the edge of Literary, which is why it sells much, much less–probably at a ratio of 1:10 compared to The Adventres….  If you look at all the top self-published books, they are all genre books, with thrillers and paranormal romance (of course) being the biggest sellers.  I do feel (although this is just what my gut tells me) that Kinde owners don’t represent a complete cross-section of readers.  I think the people who would be more inclined to buy a more ‘literary-like’ novel are the same people who are reluctant to give up paper books.  Combined with the fact that such books are rarely ever big sellers, I expect The Year We Finally Solved Everything to continue selling like this.  That said, I’m still planning on releasing another similarly-non-categorical novel later this year, and I have no expectations of it selling a lot.

So, six months in, I can’t complain.  The entire process has pushed me to write more than I have in years, which is perhaps the most important consequence.  I feel like I have a voice, even if it’s a small voice, and that’s fine.  I never wanted to yell.

Finally, I wonder what things will look like in 5 years.  I don’t mean in regards to my sales, but instead concerning the model of self-publishing.  Right now, Amazon dominates, and, honestly, I like it this way, because I think Amazon has a very good model that is good to authors.  But, who knows what will change.   Because it will.  And hopefully for the better… hopefully…

Thanks to Kate the Book Buff

A nice review for The Adventures of Whatley Tupper at Kate the Book Buff today.  It’s funny, because she admits that at first she didn’t care for it, but with time it really grew on her.  I’m glad she took the time to get into it.

Here’s the full review:

When I was a kid, Choose Your Own Adventure(CYOA) books were big, and my favorite brand was the Goosebumps ones by R.L. Stine because the plot lines were significantly weirder and more twisted than your average CYOA.  I think that is why I ultimately enjoyed The Adventures of Whatley Tupper–because it was super weird.  Honestly, at first, I didn’t care for it, in fact to put it bluntly, I thought it was dumb and I just didn’t get it.  The first storyline I happened to pick my way through wasn’t very zany, but quite straight forward with a neat and tidy little ending and felt a bit flat.  So I went back to the beginning and picked a completely different route and was happy to find myself reading about ridiculous alternate universes, Tom Selleck and Phil Collins obsessed custodians, and a long lost son named Whatlito with a Robin Hood complex.  The plot lines are ridiculous in the very best way.  The story lines are all fast paced and the flow of events is abrupt and awkward, but that is what makes it funny and entertaining.  I really love just plain old weird, off kilter stuff, and Whatley Tupper totally fits the bill.  After a while, I did get a little bit pooped out going back and forth looking for new story lines, but such is the nature of the awesome beast that is CYOA. Thankfully the authors provide a wonderful little cheat-sheet on their blog that helps you sort things out, if you want to take a peek.  Lastly, something I very much enjoyed was that after reading through several story lines, you start noticing that there a lot of inside jokes and references to the other story lines, which adds fun little layers of enjoyment to the reading experience.  I really enjoyed reading this book and rate it a 1, Pay Full Price, because for hours of disgustingly ridiculous fun, the book is a great price.

Whatley Loves KND

So, the second Kindle Nation Daily Sponsorship for “The Adventures of Whatley Tupper” was on Friday, and here’s the updated sales:

About 80 sales can be attributed to the ad, which compares to 65 the last time.   Having more reviews surely helped this time around.  Again, I have to say that I am always impressed with the effectiveness of the KND sponsorship.  No other advertising tool that I’m aware of comes even close.  And these sales do not include people who would have downloaded samples and have not yet made a purchase.

Of note: I sold more than last time (which was in early October) but my sales ranking didn’t come near my previous peak (in October, my ranking made it into the 500’s, this time no higher than the 1300’s).  This shows that people are buying a lot more ebooks of late–which is good news for any author, except for those obsessed with their sales rankings.  I would guess that Amazon Kindle book sales must be close to double what they were back in the autumn.  I think that at this rate, in another year or two cracking the 10 000 mark will become quite an acheivement.

Finally, I have three more KND sponsorships lined up: Mid-March for “The Year We Finally Solved Everything,” early April for “Whatley Tupper” and April 30th for the release of “The Redemption of Mr. Sturlubok.”