In the second scenario, it's this author's third completed novel length manuscript. It has been read by a number of people prior to publishing. It has seen the benefits of a writing group, an editor, and a copy editor. He self-publishes it and makes it available in both paperback and eBook.
Guess which one sells better in the first six months? Since we love irony, or its close relatives, you're probably thinking that the first book sold more. You would be correct. What's interesting, is that it is not even close. As I am a visual person, I have some charts to illustrate the disparity. The first one isn't so horrific, it shows how many free copies were "purchased" for the two books. This would include promotional give-aways and some Amazon free programs such as Select and the lending library. Book One is the god-awful first book and it gets 8x the number of downloads.
One thousand versus 150. But, these are only the free copies, so they don't matter as much, right? Sort of. It's still publicity, and people spending time with your work. But, let's look at the real number. The actual paid for, sold units. Drum roll please . . .
Ouch. See how Excel couldn't even render a visible color for Book Two due to the scale difference? Nearly 3,800 units sold versus, almost 30. Or in other words, the second book hasn't even sold 1% of what the first book did.
I took the first book down after the six month mark, as I couldn't abide by the idea that a work of mine was available to the public in such a raw and half-assed form. It also didn't help that I had some readers gouging their eyes out after trying to slog through the error-infested work, and weren't shy about expressing their experience to me. It was a fair complaint though, and it helped me develop a thicker skin
I admit to entering into Book Two, a.k.a Rise of Raulet (ROR), with a fair amount of naive expectations. My first book sold relatively well and I had improved since then, and I put more time, money, and effort into this next project. I made sure to do all of the "right" things, involving a team of folks to help me fine tune the book. So, if book one sold that many in such a sorry state, imagine how many this next book would sell?!?! Yeah, it sounds asinine stated like that, but in my heart, I believed it.
Granted, it's not an apples to apples comparison of course. Two books never are. The first book was in 2012 and a lot has happened within the self-publishing realm over the last three years. And the first book came out at $0.99 and I priced the second one at $2.99 (eBook). I did recently lower the price to $0.99 just to see if it does any differently.
I'm hoping that I can soon arrive at a place of acceptance with ROR sales being virtually non-existent, and my first walking nightmare doing so much better. There is some feeling of redemption in putting ROR out there, to "prove" that I can produce a book of good quality, but I already knew I could.
In the self publishing arena, you have the opportunity to oversee elements you wouldn't normally get to in the traditional publishing world. But, even with that additional influence, there are still numerous factors outside of your control. You just have to accept that fact, and keep at your art in whatever form that takes and damn the numbers.