Catherine, Caffeinated: Self-Printed 3.0

selfprintedsplashbadgeCatherine Ryan Howard taught me how to do a Goodreads giveaway, among other things. Wanna know what she can teach you? Here’s a single Q&A with Catherine, and down below, the scoop on the latest edition of her book Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing.

I asked: Is there any specific data on the ROI for freebies? I’m curious about data like “100 copies given away results in 13 reviews and 3 copies sold” or some such nonsense. Separated by fiction and nonfiction. Also, what’s your opinion on whether such data would have any practical value?

Catherine answered: Whenever I read things like “100 copies given away results in 13 reviews and 3 copies sold” I have to say that I’m usually suppressing a giggle. How in the name of fudge can they determine that? How do they know that those 3 copies sold came from the 100 copies given away, and not just a fluke of timing where someone, say, mistyped a title into the Amazon search box, landed on this author’s book listing instead of the one they intended, got interested and hit buy, and then it happened two more times after that? They can’t possibly.

Self-PrintedBut here’s the thing, as you alluded to in your second question: if we could determine exactly how many reviews and sales specific actions generated, would it matter?

I don’t think so.

I think trying to match up specific sales with specific promotional events you did is a waste of time. When it works, it’s a snowball effect. It’s a cumulative effect. If you hit the bestseller lists it won’t be because you tweeted at 5pm last Tuesday. It’ll be because you’re great on Twitter and you have been for the last year, and eventually your twittering will reach a tipping point and off you go.

Also, I find a lot of this kind of stuff very negative, as in, “Why bother with a book trailer? Do they REALLY sell books? Prove it!” The author is asking because, let’s be honest, they don’t want to be bothered making a book trailer, which is symptomatic of not wanting to bother doing any online promotion at all.

I always say: you do what you have to do. For the self-publisher, that’s whatever they can think of. There’s no point trying to pinpoint what worked and what didn’t on a sale by sale, effort by effort basis. Do everything you can.You can’t tell in advance what will work and what won’t, or how well something will work.

But nothing will ever work if you don’t do it in the first place.


Catherine Ryan Howard is a writer, self-publisher and caffeine enthusiast from Cork, Ireland. SELF-PRINTED: THE SANE PERSON’S GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING (3rd edition) is out now in paperback and e-book and available from Amazon. Follow the #selfprintedsplash on Twitter today (Friday 24th) and/or visit for chance to win an amazing prize that will get your self-publishing adventure started!

“SELF-PRINTED is my self-publishing bible. It taught me how to format, create and upload my e-books and print-on-demand paperbacks. It showed me practical things such as how to build a website/blog and how to promote my books. More importantly, it taught me how to compete with the professionals. Just look at the results – The Estate Series has sold nearly 100,000 copies and following that I got a traditional book deal with Thomas & Mercer too, so I’m now a hybrid author. Jam-packed full of hints and tips all in one place, I’m always referring back to it. In a word, it’s priceless.” – Mel Sherratt, author of The Estate Series and DS Allie Shenton Series

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