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Sandra Jonas Publishing Sells 100,000 Copies of The Pale-Faced Lie in A Year

Thursday, September 17, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Christopher Locke
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Publisher Sandra Jonas and author David Crow at the book launch party for The Pale-Faced Lie in Washington, D.C., in May 2019 (left) and Sandra Jonas' website announcing the 100,000 copies sold (right).

IBPA member Sandra Jonas Publishing recently passed a remarkable milestone: their book, The Pale-Faced Lie, passed 100,000 sales in just over a year. IBPA spoke to Publisher Sandra Jonas about the marketing techniques they used to reach this achievement; how they also recently finalized an international rights deal with a Russian publisher; and more.

IBPA: You published The Pale-Faced Lie in May 2019 and it just passed 100,000 sales the week of Aug. 16. Can you share the various marketing techniques you used that contributed to this sales number?

Sandra Jonas (SJ): We’ve pursued a broad approach: Amazon ads, BookBub e-book featured deals, a strong presence on social media, industry reviews, contests and giveaways, awards, author appearances, local brick-and-mortar store placements, and reader reviews.

Author David Crow’s initial TV and radio interviews (arranged through a publicist) created buzz and momentum that helped drive sales—not only did the appearances themselves garner attention, but we also had news to talk about on social media. It’s important to note that David’s media appearances were on local shows, which are within the reach of many authors.

IBPA: Was it a complete shock that the book passed 100,000 sales in one year? Was this a consideration when you decided to acquire this book for publication?

SJ: David’s story grabbed me from the start, and I believed other readers would react the same way. But you never know for sure how the market will respond to a title. Once the positive reviews started pouring in and the press began to reach out to David for interviews, we thought we might just have a hit on our hands.

IBPA: Were the sales steady ever since the book was published, or was it slow in the beginning and then took off due to a major marketing push?

SJ: I monitor the sales numbers closely to determine which marketing efforts are working. In addition to David’s media appearances, we secured two BookBub opportunities that helped us early on: a Featured New Release less than two weeks after the book came out and a Newsletter Featured Deal three months later, both of which did well. Those events helped us reach the top of the bestseller lists on Amazon. Once you achieve that, Amazon will market a title on their site and send out recommendations to their enormous email list. This has led to a steady stream of sales.

IBPA: You also just finalized a deal with Russian publisher Eksmo to release the title in print, ebook, and audiobook. How did this deal come to be?

SJ: We received an email from a foreign rights scout who let us know that Eksmo was interested in the Russian rights for The Pale-Faced Lie. I suspect that Eksmo saw the book on Amazon. We’ve been working hard to keep it on the Amazon bestseller lists, and it appears on several Goodreads lists as well. After Eksmo had a chance to review the PDF, they sent us an offer.

IBPA: Can you share three key lessons you’ve learned about how one can succeed as an independent publisher?

SJ: As a small press, we simply don’t have the resources of a large publishing house, but we are committed to creating a quality product. We keep our standards high. Apart from that, here are three takeaways from our experience:

  1. Persistence. The author and publisher must work together on an ongoing basis to spread the word about a title. That includes asking for reviews as often as possible. David Crow is a master at this. Also, no marketing opportunity is too small—you never know what might go viral or catch someone’s eye.

  2. Giveaways and e-book promotions. Goodreads giveaways have been really effective for us, along with social media and email giveaways. As mentioned, e-book promotions have also helped a great deal. Note: Many authors and publishers overlook Goodreads. The site has 90 million members, all of whom are looking for book recommendations. Spending just a few minutes a day on the site can yield huge benefits in terms of growing an author’s platform and increasing sales.

  3. Advertising. Ads (Facebook, Amazon, BookBub) can be expensive, and they must be monitored for efficacy regularly, but they’re a necessity in today’s crowded book market. Now that Amazon has opened up advertising in international markets, publishers can broaden their reach around the world.

IBPA: One of the biggest issues facing independent publishers right now is the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses. Now that we are a few months into this crisis (with no clear end in sight), can you share advice for other independent publishers about how they can weather the impact of the health crisis on their businesses? Also, how are you and your business faring during this health crisis?

SJ: Like all publishers, we’ve faced numerous challenges during this crisis: printing delays, reduced (or nonexistent) customer service [with vendors/service providers], event cancellations, and bookstore closures. As a result, we’ve had to reschedule upcoming titles. But fortunately, we receive a good part of our revenue through online sales, so the closures didn’t adversely affect us. In fact, the opposite was true at the beginning of the lockdown. Because everyone was stuck at home, our online print sales increased.

Throughout this time, we have continued our advertising efforts and looked for creative ways for authors to connect with readers. David’s book club Zoom events have become very popular. Instagram giveaways have also worked especially well.

Patience is so critical right now. And it helps to take the time to celebrate every success, big or small.

IBPA: How has it been beneficial to you to be a member of Independent Book Publishers Association?

SJ: We took advantage of the Frankfurt Book Fair membership benefit. Although it didn’t lead to any publishing deals, it helped us learn more about foreign rights. I was grateful for the sample Translation Rights Licensing Agreement while we were negotiating our contract with Eksmo. Also, we value the support we’ve received through the discussion forums.

IBPA: Do you have any new books coming out soon?

SJ: We’re excited to announce the upcoming memoir A Rendezvous to Remember: A Memoir of Joy and Heartache at the Dawn of the Sixties, scheduled for release on January 26, 2021. Written by co-authors Terry and Ann Marshall, it’s the story of a woman in love with two men—an army lieutenant and a conscientious objector—who must make an agonizing choice.

IBPA: Congrats again on the success of The Pale-Faced Lie, Sandra, and thank you for sharing your story with the IBPA community!

Click here to learn more about Sandra Jonas Publishing.

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