Pulling a copy of Scouts Out! from the shelf at Neighborly Books in Maryville, TN, the shop owner took this photo of my smiling mug since I was the author!
Scouts Out! was published one year ago today, on October 1st, 2021. In the 365 days since that time, a whole lot of life has been happening for the Robicheaux household. I’ll start this off by a quick bit of personal information. We sold our house in Punta Gorda, FL (yes, that Punta Gorda which was just so tragically smoked by Hurricane Ian), moved to an apartment for a few months to get my base transfer completed, and then moved to Knoxville, TN. Three moves within twelve months! I don’t recommend doing that unless, like us, you just had to.
Life got largely in the way of “book stuff” as we call it in my family, but we still managed to get the word out and are forever grateful to all of those who helped and continue to help through reviews and spreading the word.
The main point of this post is to share the festive mood of this wonderful anniversary occassion, and present some updates. My secondary hope is that the following data may prove helpful to anyone that may be looking to publish one day, as some of this has been truly surprising. For others that are just nerds like me, it’s at least interesting.
First off, I am pleased to announce that Scouts Out! continues to hold its own within the Amazon ranking system, particularly remaining high up in the ladder among its peers in the Afghan War History category. Here are the Amazon sales totals for the year (01OCT21 - 01OCT22):
Kindle Version: 1,513
Soft Cover Version: 387
Hard Cover Version: 158
Clearly there exists a majority readership base that loves the Kindle reader, or at least the app, on their iDevices. I wasn’t sure what to expect when Scouts Out! was first published, but I do find that Amazon data pretty interesting (I’m not complaining, to be sure!). Amazon has proven to be a Titan in the bookselling world and whether you like the company or not, I don’t think that their dominance will be fading any time soon.
In addition to those books sold on Amazon, an increasing number are being carried by other venues. Those of you whom have requested your local library carry it have my full gratitude. I strongly feel that it’s important to have stories easily accessable for anyone to read.
I also appreciate the increased interest from local/indie booksellers, and cannot tell you how much joy I experience when seeing Scouts Out! on a shelf surrounded by so many fantastic other reads. Perhaps it’s just my area, but I feel as though a resurgence of the local indie bookstore is occurring. On every possible level, I’m all about shopping local (and American made) and will gladly go out of my way to do so. The apparent revitalization of main streets and small businesses is fantastic, and they’ll always be my first preference. If you have a local bookstore near you in mind and want to help out, please ask them to carry the book! I’d love to talk to them, and you, about it further so feel free to drop me a message.
To keep with the data sharing like I promised:
Orders from indie book sellers and libraries combined: 102
Apple Books and Barnes & Noble represent, by far, the fewest orders over the course of the year. This was kind of surprising to me initially, especially since the Books app is native on every single iPhone and iPad. Apple’s book store however is not nearly as robust as Amazon, and it’s rather apparent that Apple isn’t very interested in competing in this space any longer. Barnes & Noble has their own app called Nook, and I’ll be the first to say that it is gorgeous. Reading on their app is a true pleasure, especially if you’re a geek and appreciate the effort put into how realistic they made a page turn appear on a digital device. Despite this, Barnes & Noble has not been a premier place for readers to look for Scouts Out!. The sales from these two venues are as follows:
Apple Books Version: 45
Barnes & Noble (digital only—there are no physical sales I’m aware of): 5
A few international orders have happened, and truth be told I’m not even sure what kind of stores they’re from, if they were special orders, etc. They represent a tiny piece of the pie, somewhere between 10 and 20 total. Funny enough, I even saw Scouts Out! for sale on target.com . This gave me a chuckle because I did not expect to see that, and I also don’t believe a singe one has been purchased that way, either!
The final way that books have been sold over the course of the year is my favorite—in person or personalized copies through the mail. Many months back, I held my first book signing at the Mississippi Ale House during their annual Brewfest event. My old pal and Kandahar roomate Matt Vaccaro even flew down from New Hampshire to join in the fun, and we were surprised that a total of 35 books were sold in such a place! Using the online store that I set up, combined with utilizing Paypal and Square, I have been honored to personalize and sign a total of 130 books (that total could be slightly more, but we'll stick with this conservative estimate).
In absolute total, through all channels and all versions of Scouts Out!, I am pleased to announce a grand total of 2,340 books sold!
Being an independent author, I couldn’t ask for more positive support. Since moving to Tennessee, I have really been enjoying the outdoors and it defintely shows in the less frequent social media or blog posting. That has resulted in lower sales over the past several months since I’ve been slacking, but I intend to redouble my efforts soon enough. A positive side is that I am doing what I promised myself would one day happen, and which was even mentioned in Chapter 22—I’m enjoying the outdoors and time with my family, putting that first before all else in life.
Still, the elephant that remains is what I can only apologize for not having availabe yet—an audiobook version of Scouts Out!. My first excuse is finances. I, like everyone else in the United States and greater global population, am not immune to the dumpster fire that our economic situation has wrought. An audiobook is very expensive to produce if done professionally and correctly, and I refuse to compromise and try to read it myself and/or put out a terrible product. That would be a disservice to the whole entire community which has supported me, as well as a rip-off for what you’d get. Seriously, I read aloud very monotone and you’d fall into yawns and sleepiness very rapidly.
As mentioned in a previous blog, I did think that I had a good fit for a narrator, but he turned out to not be a good fit at all and simply wasted both of our time. The shopping for a narrator who is both professional and a solid fit for Scouts Out! will continue however, as will the saving of any future monies made in the hopes that I can finance and complete the audiobook in 2023. I cannot promise this, but please believe me when I tell you that I’ve gotten pretty damn locked in on doing all that I can to make it happen. For those patiently awaiting the audiobook, thank you for your continued understanding.
But, let’s end on a happy note!
Today I am celebrating this one year publishing anniversary by conducting a book signing at a local bookstore in Tennessee. Neighborly Books of Maryville was kind enough to offer me the space on pretty short notice, as I had at first been fretting over which local coffee shop I should petition for the signing. Thankfully, I’m finally having a book signing which is not in my driveway (it was neighborhood garage sale day and I surprisingly sold a ton!) or a brew pub. This is in an actual book store! If you’re reading this between the hours of 10:00am-4:00pm on Saturday the 1st of October, I am absorbing your good vibes while happily chatting with patrons and signing some books for them!
Since you’ve read this far:
If you’d like a signed copy of the book for yourself or someone else as a gift, I’m tossing out a coupon to show my appreciation for you and in honor of the book’s anniversary. Using the code BELAFONTE will get you the discount and the order can be completed here.
Bela-what? It’s the ship from the movie Life Aquatic, and if you’ve never seen this goofy comedic drama, you should.
In closing, THANK YOU for a great year!
Please feel free to send me a message any time, and thanks for continuing to spread the word about Scouts Out!