The Path from 100 Rejections to #1
By Chris Blewitt

My publishing journey has been long and arduous. I finished my second novel, Deep Rough in 2005 and anxiously awaited all of the agents and publishers to scoop it up. I was naïve in my thinking, but I didn’t know any better. I sent out a handful of queries and then forgot about it. Years later, the itch returned. I had a good story to tell and the world must have it available to read. I edited furiously and then proceeded to send out over 100 queries to publishing agents.

Zip. Zero. Nadda.

Sure, there were a few that said, “Good story, well written, but unfortunately no one reads sports fiction anymore.” I was frustrated and heartbroken. Down and out on my luck, I was put in touch with a published author who said I need to find an agent. Well, I already tried that, I explained to him. He said to shoot his friend an email that had some success in self-publishing.

I quickly learned about Createspace and a few months later, I had Deep Rough in paperback form, in my hands. It was exhilarating to say the least. Seven years after I began to write, I finally had the finished copy in my hands. I told everyone I knew and I sold around 50 paperback copies that first month, October of 2010. I uploaded to Amazon’s KDP and now DR was available in Kindle, and a month later I put it on Barnes & Noble’s Nook.

Now what?

Sales trickled in. Sales were decent in December, about 40, and then completely stalled in January. I sold 4 copies on Kindle, 3 paperbacks, and surprisingly 19 on the Nook. I made some connections and soon I found Kindleboards, an online networking forum for Kindle owners and Indie authors. I lowered my price to $.99 in February and sold 23, up from 4. In March I sold 45 and started to be interviewed on other people’s blogs and websites. I contacted Daily Cheap Reads and they agreed to feature my book on the Monday of The Masters (the subject of my book). I sold around 40 copies that day. I received an email on Masters Sunday from Pixel of Ink and they were featuring my book that day. I sold 65!

I was ranked # 1 in Sports Gambling, Sports, and Golf. In the month of April I sold over 200 copies of Deep Rough. It was a dream come true. Was I making any money? Not really, but at that point I didn’t care. I leveled out at around 100 sales for May and June but maintained the # 1 position in Sports Gambling and the top 10 in Sports and Golf. So I did something drastic. I raised the price to $2.99 and sales fell.

But not by much. I sold 63 in July and made a lot more money too.

Then something strange happened. I started selling more at $2.99 than I did at $.99. 180 in August. 240 in September and 250 in October! Sales have since leveled off which I’m okay with because I’m excited about my new release, The Lost Journal.

So what are the lessons learned:

Never Give Up

  • I went from 4 sales in January to 250 in October

Have a Plan

  • Request to be interviewed from fellow authors. Make sure you are on social networking sites as a reader and an author. Make friends in the indie-world. Get on Twitter, Facebook, and most importantly for me, Kindleboards. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Experiment with Price

  • $2.99 did not work right out of the gate for me. I experimented with $.99 and also $1.99. I got high rankings in my categories so then I raised my price to $2.99. See what others are pricing their books at in your categories and price accordingly, or cheaper.

Everything I did may not work for everyone. You definitely have to experiment. I was on a cover review blog once and they suggested I put something about Augusta on the cover. I did, “A Thriller in Augusta” now appears and I think it helped sales. Most of all, don’t give up. It takes time and energy to get results and I heard this once and it’s a saying I live by: “If you want to be successful, do what other successful people do.”

The Lost Journal is available on Kindle for $2.99. In 1778, during the peak of the Revolutionary War, a secret document is hidden and its whereabouts are known to only one man. Now, more than two centuries later, Seth Layton accidentally discovers the journal that will unlock its location and he is on a quest to find it. Joined by his grandfather and new female friend, Madison, they are chased by unsavory characters and some powerful people through historic Philadelphia to the streets of Washington DC. What American secret will the journal unveil and will Seth and his companions live long enough to reveal it?

Questions? Feel free to shoot me an email at [email protected]

Done with 100 Rejections? Go back to Creative Writing Tips.

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Written by Bryan Cohen

Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on and Facebook.
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