IamA self-published author who has sold over 100,000 books in five years, hit the UK top 100 multiple times and become a Kindle AllStar. Ask Me Anything!
May 4th 2017 by Sean_Campbell • 33 Questions • 100 Points
I am Sean Campbell, co-author (with my brother) of the DCI Morton series. Five years ago on St Patrick's Day I bet that I could write a book in 90 days. By May 4th it was done, and Dead on Demand was the result.
In the five years since then we've written four more DCI Morton novels, hit the charts multiple times, and earned nine Kindle AllStar bonuses (which are given to the 'most read' books in Kindle Unlimited). We're now full-time authors.
As I don't want to sell books to Redditors, I'm making FOUR of my books free for you guys. I'd love to make the fifth one free too, but I'm not quite that generous.
Dead on Demand is free all time time. viewbook.at/DeadonDemand
The Patient Killer is free today viewBook.at/ThePatientKiller
Cleaver Square is free from May 7th to May 11th viewbook.at/CleaverSquare
Ten Guilty Men is free from May 10th to May 14th viewbook.at/TenGuiltyMen
My apologies for the need to stagger the freebies. I have to work around our 90 day rolling Select commitment to Amazon. Feel free to use RemindMe to nab them as they become available.
Oh, and if you've got questions for Dan in particular, post 'em anyway, and I'll get you an answer.
EDIT - 22:00 GMT: Thank you for all the questions so far. Keep 'em coming. I'm offline overnight, but I will respond to each and every one of you tomorrow morning.
EDIT - 05:00 GMT: Back, all caught up. Shout via PM if I missed you.
Hi Sean. Do you think the situation has changed a lot since you published your first eBook, or do you feel like if you had made that bet today you could get to achieve the same popularity even nowadays?
Did you have a job beforehand that you quit for this? Are actually filthy rich, or just able to live off it?
It's changed. There were about half a million Kindle books back then. Now there are four and a half million.
Back then free / 99p was a big deal. It was new. Now it's pretty saturated. I think new authors have it harder than I do. They've got a bigger hill to climb in a more a crowded market with fewer levers (like price) to rely on.
Previous jobs.. I've done quite a bit. I was a tour guide, made (rubbish) Drupal websites during Uni, and even worked as an event photographer for a while. That paid my way through Uni.
I became a consultant after Uni working for a major publishing company (on the non-fiction side) doing big data analysis to try and upsell our customers. I can't be too specific about that because much of it was proprietary. I learned a lot about the publishing industry from the inside, and met some truly incredibly people.
Then there was a stint doing Software-as-a-Service Project Management.
Unfortunately I was balancing everything - studying and jobs - with looking after my Mum who is disabled. She's bed-bound, and requires full-time care. Writing was just one thing I could fit in around her hectic care schedule. I'm really lucky that it became a career.
I'm not filthy rich. Do you want the actual numbers? I'd have to go double check. But it's enough for two of us to live on (Dan and I split everything).
Dude you're awesome. I'm goin to buy the one which you recommend first. I have some ideas on thrillers. I always start writing and end up drifting the story line I chose.
Grab today's free one (The Patient Killer). The first four are free at various times this month (see my OP) so if you like 'em, grab the rest.
Thrillers can be quite hard. I like outlining for thrillers and mysteries so everything stays where it should. Russell Blake's "Outlining Made Easy" method is excellent. russellblake.com/outlining-made-simple/
Damn you sure do love to write, thanks for being so thorough with your responses
No problem. I'm nothing if not thorough. I'm heading offline in a couple of hours, but I'll come back in the morning to answer any outstanding questions (and I'm always available via pm/email for anyone late to the party / for follow-ups).
Having read most of it, if you packaged it and put it up for $0.99 I'd pay for it.
Hah. Keep your 99c. Put it towards producing your next book. Or buy a random redditor's book with the money. I'm sure we'll have a few volunteers.
Hi sean. I've been working on a novel for a couple of years now and want to self publish on Amazon. Is copyrighting or trademarking necessary for self publishing? And do you have any advice for a story being expanded into a trilogy?
If you're in a Berne Convention country you already own the copyright to anything you write. If you're asking about copyright registration in the USA, I can't advise you because I'm not a US attorney. My understanding is that registration offers enhanced damages, and that it's cheap, but I can only offer the standard 'get a lawyer' advice.
Trademarks are another one for a lawyer. Most authors do not use trademarks. Generally the rule, at least here in the UK, is that single books are not trademarkable but series names are in theory (assuming they're unique). I don't use trademarks in fiction as I don't think the benefit is worth the cost, and there are other detective shows using the name 'Morton' now so I'd have a challenge to enforce the mark (and enforcement is obligatory - it's a blunt tool).