I don't have my records right with me, but after depositing $1900 (corrected from $1920) from the initial buying wave for Water from a Skull, I received another $220 in checks from subsequent buyers, and finally got my $115 CafePress check (this is money from almost two months ago; you have to wait 45 days to receive payment from CP, to allow customers their mandated 30 days to return any defective or otherwise unsatisfactory CP product). My 96 books sold out, and 20 more have been ordered in case more folks are interested in buying.
At this point, then, it seems I have sold, with the kind help of my family, friends, and the local Korean community:
96 books at (and just after) the book signing*
19 books through CafePress
approx. 10 books through the Korean printing service
22 books in the longer aftermath of the book signing
This puts me at a rough total of 140-some* books sold since mid-March, when the book was initially put on sale. I've got until St. Patty's Day 2008 to sell another 60 or so books and fulfill the literal goal of selling "a couple hundred" copies of Water from a Skull. Can I, should I, aim for 300 in a year? 500?
In the grand scheme of things, what we've accomplished up to now is small potatoes, but it's a great start, and I'm thankful to all the people who have helped me with this initial push-- especially to my parents, who took a major financial hit in order to allow me to earn 100% of the book's cover price during the book-signing event.** I'm no expert, but I'd humbly advise that, if you're considering self-publishing, you should look to your network of friends and relatives for help. You might be surprised at the personal resources already available to you, and at the generosity those folks will show a bloke who's just starting out.
Side note: I looked into getting Publisher's Weekly to do a review of the book, but their submission requirements state that manuscripts must be turned in to them two months before the book's planned release date. That would have been impossible in my case: my release date kept bouncing around!
This, by the way, will be my last finance-related post for a long while. I don't want to keep beating people over the head with figures, but because I blog a good bit about my personal life, and because this entire book-writing and -selling experience has meant a lot to me, I felt you were entitled to know some of the gory details.
*This book count isn't accurate because some charitable Koreans at the book signing actually paid more than the asked-for $20 per copy. I received, for example, several checks for two books that were made out in the amount of $50, not $40. One or two people also paid for x+1 books, but asked for only x books. This charity makes accounting a bit difficult. In any case, immediately after the book signing, I had $1900 in cash and checks; I then received a secondary wave of payments totalling the aforementioned $220 (and that was for 22 books), and my CafePress check was indeed for $115 and change. I mention all this because, if you do the math and try to total up the number of actual, physical books I've sold, the numbers obviously don't add up: my folks purchased 116 books, but not all of them have been sold. So when in doubt, just relax and follow the money. Heh.
**Technical info for those interested in using CafePress: CP offers a bulk-buying discount of about 35%, where "bulk" is defined as "over 15 of the same item." My book's cover price is $21.95; with the author discount (the author doesn't pay the markup on his/her own book when purchasing it for him-/herself) and the 35% bulk discount, my parents paid about $11 or $11.50 per copy. All told, they bought 116 copies of the book, of which 100+ are already gone or spoken for, and more are selling as church members and Mom's coworkers become aware of the book's existence. More aggressive marketing will have to follow if I'm to sustain this wave. Meanwhile, thanks to Mom and Dad for taking a $1300 hit just so I could pocket the profits. Had I done this another way, I would have seen much less revenue-- about $700 less. Wow.