Happy Anniversary to Indie Me!
I’m celebrating this month. Two years ago I published my first book as an independent author (I was traditionally published prior). It was a non-fiction book about investing in stocks. Shorter than most trad books, but I was happy with it none-the-less.
At the end of my first year I had published four books under my real name, and four short stories (fiction) under a pen name.
That year I made $4,104.09
In my second year (the past twelve months), I published two more non-fiction books, twelve short stories, and three novels, under various names.
This past year I made $8,432.96
I doubled my income. (Sure, it’s a little way off, from my overly optimistic prediction of $40,000 that I made last year, but, ahem, still a good result, right?)
I’ve moved further into fiction now, predominately everything I write is something I make up. It’s such fun.
My first year was about learning how to self publish. My second year was learning about writing fiction.
Going forward, my third year, will be about improving my skills as a fiction writer. Improving my ‘craft’ so to speak.
My earlier stories were (putting it nicely) not great. But they were the best I could do at the time with the skill-set that I had. I make no excuses for them though – my earlier works still sell better than my later works, so I have no intention of taking them down just because I believe I could do better now. Maybe I could, maybe I couldn’t. Instead, my time will be better spent writing newer books & stories.
Adding more product, if you will.
If I’ve learned anything, it’s that more product equals more profit.
What else have I learned in this past year?
Marketing is important – but shouldn’t be your focus.
I prefer subtle, hands off marketing. I don’t tweet links to my books, I closed down the only Facebook page I had (I never updated it anyway). And while I do like chatting over at the Google Self Publishing Community I’m a member of, I don’t talk about my books there.
My version of marketing is simple – I have a mailing list and a blog. I write new posts about my latest book to create interest. Things like revealing snippets of text or showing cover design. I point people to join my mailing list so I can let them know when a new release is available, but don’t push it hard.
That’s pretty much the extent of my ‘marketing’. Blog & mailing list. And even those are pretty sporadic (I only start blogging about the upcoming release in the few weeks prior to it coming out). Classic buzz marketing.
Write books with your heart and soul, but analyse sales reports & reviews with detachment.
According to my sales reports, my short stories still outsell my novels by a large margin.
Of course that could be because of a number of factors (perhaps I haven’t acquired the necessary chops as a good novel writer yet, the cover design isn’t connecting with my intended audience, or my blurb sucks). But for ‘Business Tracey’ it means that this year I’m going to focus more on shorter lengths than novel lengths.
Probably novella length is what I’m aiming for. I’ ll eventually go back to novels, but right now I want to focus on where the best time/money return is, and the fact is – novels take me longer to write. Shorter works make me more money.
Besides I’ve got a million ideas of what I want to write so ‘Writer Tracey’ will still be happy.
And speaking of detachment, don’t take reviews personally. I know it’s hard, I still cringe with a bad one and I’m elated with a good one, but I’m getting better. I don’t want my happiness and self-worth determined by someone else’s opinion.
Amazon isn’t the only store in town
In my second year of publishing, Amazon represented 49% of my overall sales. The rest was made up from Apple, B&N, Kobo and Smashwords (and its various distribution network).
Amazon is my biggest market, (Apple is second, B&N third, Kobo fourth, and the rest are coffee money). I don’t agree (nor have I ever) with putting all my eggs in the one basket.
I prefer wide distribution.
Amazon can (and has) changed its algorithms for Select exclusivity many times over the past year. From all reports it isn’t as effective any more. While many of my author friends used it successfully, I wonder how much that strategy will work for them going forward.
It does take time to start earning on Apple, B&N etc. Give it a good few months – I’ve found that books take much longer to ‘seed’ there, but once they do – it’s worth it (in my experience). The same rules apply for those stores than they do with Amazon – the more books you have up, the easier it is for customers to find you.
Goals (and Hopes) for Year 3
- Publish Seven Books
If I start write novella lengths (15,000 – 20,000) which is my plan, then I could probably write one book every 4 to 6 weeks. That means I’m aiming for about 10 books in the next year. I predict, however, that it’ll be a little less than that – so I predict I’ll write seven. (I will aim for more though – promise).
- Earn $16,000 (1300+ per month)
Sales wise, last year I grossly overestimated. So this year I’m going to be more conservative and realistic. $16,000. If I can double my income from year one to year two, there is no reason why I can’t do it from year two to year three. Right?
- Amazon Ranking (Author & Book)
My goal is to get my main pen-name author ranking into the top 500 (currently she is hovering over 2,000 in romance). The more books I write under her name, the more sales I can make. It should be doable. I also make a prediction that one of the stories I write in the next twelve months will get as low as 500 rank – fingers crossed.
That’s it, really. Overall it’s been a successful year full of learning and fun. Something which I plan on continuing over the next year.
So, happy anniversary to me, and here’s to a positive & successful year three!