One Year Indie Anniversary (and some sales figures)

It’s now been ONE FULL YEAR that I’ve been independently publishing.  When I started, I had 0 books and had made a grand total of $0.00.  One year on, and I now have 19 titles – made up of a mixture of short fiction stories and longer non fiction books (this doesn’t count my two traditionally published books).  And I’ve made $4,266.51 (again not counting my trad books).

So that’s like a bazillion percent increase (yes that’s a number).

So what’s in store for the next twelve months?

GOAL:  $42,000

It’s time to stop being just a ‘writer’ and start also being a ‘business person’.  Yes my friends, it’s time to take this writing gig seriously.

What?  Think it’s too high to aim for?  Meh.

Shoot for the stars, and if you only hit the moon
you are still way ahead. [Tweet this]

The Plan

Over the next twelve months I’ll be writing more books (the first six months I’ll be concentrating on the fiction, and the second six months on the non-fiction).

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ll also be increasing all my prices.  No more 0.99 cents for me.

Now I’ll have to do this price increase gradually and carefully, because Amazon doesn’t like it much if you have their price higher than other outlets.  And we all know how slooooow some of the other retailers are when you are using Smashwords to update prices.

So I’ll first have to increase the prices on Smashwords, and once they are updated on Apple and B&N (at least), I’ll increase them on Amazon.  Any new works will go immediately to the new pricing.

I’ve also got an editorial calendar in place.  No more procrastinating!  I’ve got a publishing schedule to adhere to.

Marketing

Up until now, the throwaway writer method that I’ve been testing, really hasn’t been paying off for me.  I’m not seeing any dramatic increases in income every time I publish a new story, and in fact my sales have been rather dismal.

So I’m abandoning it.  I’ll still be writing lots of shorts and bundling them.  But I’ll be doing it MY way.  The Tracey Writes way.  Yes – The Tracey Writes Method has now officially started.  Which still has the initials of TW Method.  So that’s kind of cool.

I’ll be doing what I know best online, which has worked well for me over the past five or so years. You see before I was a writer on this blog, I was an internet marketer, and before that an author (trad), and before that a journalist, and before that … oh never mind.

My point is – that it’s time to start implementing what I know works for me.

The only dilemma is that I know it works for non fiction/info products.  But will it also work for fiction.  This is the big question.

Branding

The first step obviously is branding.  You may have noticed I’ve removed most of the references about my fiction pen name off this site .  That’s deliberate.  I need to start branding ‘her’ differently than I brand myself.  And that means a totally separate identity.  I know many of you that have been reading this already know who ‘she’ is.  That’s fine.  It’ll be our little secret.  Shhhh.  But from now on – I won’t be mentioning ‘her’ on this blog.

She needs to be a cool sassy writer with a hint of sex appeal.  Not a stay at home mum with two kids who is currently writing this blog post in her pyjamas and purple dressing gown (no – there will NOT be photos).  ;)

Your Tribe

The cornerstone to any good marketing campaign is finding YOUR people.  Your fans.  Whatever you want to call them.  Seth Godin calls them your tribe.  To sell your product (in this case your book), you need a tribe that wants it.

That’s why PN (PN = Pen Name and what I’ll be calling ‘her’ from now on) had to change.  And why over the next few weeks and months she’ll be positioning herself as an ‘expert’ on writing short sexy stories.

The first step to that is writing some really good blog posts, and also articles that will be going on other sites.  I’ll be talking more about that at a later date.  But for now, you’ve got a good idea of where I’m going with PN.

The next major step will be getting people to subscribe to her blog.  I’ll be adding a lot more incentive to subscribe over there soon.  Once I’ve built that up a bit, I can start moving them into the sales funnel of wanting her latest releases when she writes them.  I want fans who will be the first to know when she adds a new book and want it asap.  That means I have to build momentum and ‘buzz’ before I even release it.

But first I need to build a good strong foundation for her.  Build up the trust so to speak.

All of this sounds like a lot of work.  But it’s not really – it’s all just common sense.  People buy from people they like.  So I need to help people to really like PN.

Obviously that starts with good books – that’s a given.

But just having a good book isn’t enough anymore.  So PN is going to be a lot more social than I am.  I’m actually pretty shy in real life, but PN is going to be more outgoing.  She won’t be pimping her books over on Twitter though – eck.  Just building relationships at this stage.  Remember – TRUST.  Strong foundation.

But again, I’ll be explaining more about this in a later post.

Just know that things, they are a changin’ over here.  And I likes it.

Comments

  1. I knew it. I just knew that a billion percent increase was a real number. It’s a Zen thing that I have with math.

    Okay, just joking. I’m not really sure if you can say the Throwaway Writer Method didn’t work for you, because, if I recall correctly, it took him around eight months to get to where he really started to rake it in. The point is that you’ve made your decision and I think you’re a lot more comfortable with it.

    In the end, I guess we each have to follow our own way…so I’m taking this opportunity to wish you the absolute best.

    Oh, and I know nothing, absolutely nothing, about PN. Nope, never heard of it. Especially if anyone asks.

    Best to you.

    • That’s true that I didn’t probably give it enough time, but I feel I can do better doing some promotion – we’ll see.

      How are your book sales going?

  2. I was browsing the top 100 free ebooks looking for something to read (yep, I should have been working but didn’t feel like it!) and one of the books I found I decided to visit the author’s website. She actually has a giveaway for people who leave a review on Amazon for one of her books. She is giving away a Kindle Fire and all you have to do is leave the review and send her an email letting her know your username on Amazon. Anyways, I thought that a pretty neat way to get some reviews if you didn’t mind spending the $200. But, I’m not familiar with the TOS of Amazon for authors and wondered if this was went against the TOS?

    Anyways, good luck with your plan and looking forward to your updates :)

    • She is giving a Kindle Fire in return for a review? That seems a bit extreme. $200 per review – yikes. I think there are much cheaper ways to do it. Amazon TOS say you can’t pay for reviews, not sure how ‘gifting’ a Kindle would qualify for that.

      I recently gave away free copies of my book for a review. The offer lasted 2 weeks, and during that time 20 people emailed me for a copy, and I got 3 reviews in return. Much better ROI! Posted the offer on a squidoo page that targets the audience. Easy.

      • It was a giveaway contest. If you left a review your name got entered in the contest to win a Kindle Fire. She was only giving 1 away! She had the contest open for a month after the book came out.

        Last I saw she had over 250 reviews on one of her books.

        $200 for a review would definetly get pretty expensive :)

  3. Hi Tracey,

    Oops, I meant I knew that a bazillion was a real number. Ugh.
    I’ve only got a couple of stories up, so it’s hard to tell about the sales, but there are a few. I’m trying to speed things up, but life keeps getting in the way.

    Wishing you the best always.

  4. Skyward says:

    A few questions…

    How many words do you type per day/per week?

    How many erotic stories have you written, and do you think you’ll post the sales figures?

    • Word count varies from day to day (and how annoying the kids are being), but I try and aim for 1,000 a day (not counting blog posts and other writing which would be more).

      I’ll definitely post sales figures from all my books. I’ve written seven erotic romance stories (eight if you count the collection), although only five are published at the moment. The others are waiting on editing and/or covers. Plus I’m in the process of adding a bonus story to each and increasing the price.

  5. Skyward says:

    Oh and forgot to say…you mentioned that some writers thought that “throwaway writer” was “full of shit”. This is not uncommon at all when someone has success. I saw this all the time on warrior forum. They don’t like competition so they spout lies and half-truths in order to dissuade would-be writers. Don’t fall for it.

    And in my not-so-humble opinion, making money from writing is far easier than IM.

  6. Breakaway says:

    Hey Tracey… happy anniversary!

    I think the throwaway writer method worked better pre-May 2012… the freebie algorithm was way way way overpowered prior to April 26th, 2012. Freebies on Amazon counted as 1:1 as sales for boosting in the rankings. This caused tons of fluidity on the bestseller/popularity lists… so Amazon toned it down to 10:1 (10 freebies equals around 1 sale for determining rankings).

    Getting a single book (usually book 1 in a series) to shoot up the rankings easily would have profound effects on the rest of the series.

    Now that it is tougher (not impossible), it takes more promoting to have the same type fo freebie effect as was seen prior to April 26th, 2012.

    I don’t know your income situation, but I really think you’d benefit from 90 days in Select with your series. If you could forego the income from those other sources to give a solid, marketed effort for 90 days in Select, you may well change your mind. And, after such an effort, your books may not even need select anymore after that, if you get a good enough boost in rankings with those 90 days. Just my own thoughts… feel free to e-mail me or PM me if you want to chat about it more.

    • I actually have used Select, for both non-fiction and fiction in the past (back in the good days when downloads counted as 1:1 to sales). But I’m still not excited about it. Here are my main reasons:

      For the nonfiction: I’m known in Australia as a finance writer. I actually have people search me out for finance quotes/interviews etc here, due to the traditionally published books. Kindle is NOT big in Australia. Most Aussies buy their books through iBooks. That’s consistent with my sales, as one of my books is regularly in the Top 20 bestsellers on the iBookstore [screenshot]. I’d be crazy to forgo where my main audience is.

      For fiction: Obviously my fiction pen name has no existing fan base. It’s unknown. When I had just one fiction book up, it was enrolled in Select (two rounds, so 180 days), and yes there was a really great bump in sales after it came off free. For a brief moment I was thrilled and excited by this and thought Select was the best thing ever.

      My plan was always to write seven stories (each genre) and then bundle them. According to Select TOS, if one of the stories is in the bundle, I have to have both the story AND the bundle in Select to comply. That meant ALL in, or break the TOS. I didn’t want to do that. I only wanted a few of the books in, and not the collection at all.

      Up until now my sales of the fiction hasn’t been great, because I haven’t been in Select. BUT up until now I was just playing the *write it and they will buy* game, since that was what I was reading worked – both in the throwaway writer method, and other writer forums. As a marketer, I was actually skeptical that this would work. And I was right. But I had to test it to be sure.

      So now I’ve started doing things MY way. Already I’m noticing a difference and I’ve only just started. Traffic is up on Pen Name’s blog. I’m getting some more interest at other reader forums. I’ve made one of the books free for one of the series through price matching and I’m noticing reviews and sales on the other sites building (Amazon has been slower).

      The second series, will be up by next week. Books are written, they are just with editors/cover designers. I get most of the buzz on Pen Name’s blog from this series. I’ll be making the first in the series free for this too (it’s not free yet).

      All in all, while my sales will build slower this way, I feel it will have more longevity and better sales in the long term (who knows how long Select will continue to be as effective for? – it’s already lost some of its magic with the last algo change).

      I know Select can work magic for some books – just look at your success! I’m still just not happy enough with the exclusivity that I’m willing to pull the books from other outlets (which can be a pain in itself!) just for that quick burst when I’m confident I can get there by good old fashioned marketing (which I already know I’m good at).
      :)

      • Breakaway says:

        Yah, when you initially posted about the throwaway method, it was right when I started writing these ebooks, and I was shocked that you were going more for a “build enough and they will come”…

        I am a marketer first, and a writer second… I am still trying to write good stuff… but it won’t be amazing (nor does it need to be). I knew my success in this would be in the marketing portion. Creating all of this product and letting it sit seems silly to me, yet that’s what the MMOKindle crowd is preaching. Blows me away.

        It definitely looks like you’ve thoroughly thought things through (alliteration much?). I agree 100% about the ibooks/aussie thing. Be where they go! And yah, lean on your marketing skillz. =)

        I will be e-mailing you about you writing a guest post for my upcoming book marketing blog. =)

  7. Skyward says:

    “My plan was always to write seven stories (each genre) and then bundle them.”

    -Were these 7 stories all related to the same main character, like harry potter, or were they simply in the same niche? I have thought about doing a 5 book series in erotica but not sure how easy that would be. If it sold poorly I suppose I could strip out the sex scenes and stick it in sci-fi (no pun intended) :P

  8. Skyward says:

    Oh yeah…i see that musical note at the bottom of your w7 tray. Do you listen to music while writing? I tried listening to some ambient/space music like steve roach to get “in the mood”. I find it to be more of a distraction actually.

  9. Tracey you totally inspire me!! I have a lot of ideas for stories but have yet to get them into writing! I’m pretty sure that you can reach your 42K goal!!! I would like to make 36K from my writing by the end of 2013!! All the best!!

    • Thanks Alaina! Who knows if I can reach it. I’m not even close yet, but there is not harm in shooting for it. Good luck with your sales. Tracey :)

  10. The key is writing about something people are already searching for.

  11. I think it’s fantastic that you have set a goal and I want to offer some advice since I have had success with writing ebooks for several different platforms. Instead of writing fiction for six months and non-fiction for six months, I would just write fiction for 12 months. Fiction is the biggest moneymaker on Kindle. Make sure that you write well. If people like your books, they will leave a review. There is no need to bribe people for reviews. Also, don’t take the reviews to heart. There are tons of bestsellers that have several one star reviews and those didn’t deter buyers. If the book is intriguing, people will buy. One last thing, stay away from Select, it doesn’t work like it used to. You have to diversify.

    How can I say these things? I have made $60,000 in the last four months writing fiction, and it is not erotica. The money is there if you know how to write well.

    • Thanks Lisa!

      You’re results are really inspiring. I know my fiction is getting better the more I write, so as I improve sales should too (fingers crossed). I still need to get up one more non fiction book for early 2013, but after that it’s just going to be fiction from now on. Thanks for your comment as it’s made me even more determined to make this work.

      All the best,
      Tracey :)

      • You’re welcome Tracey. Something about the honesty in your post really struck me so I responded to your blog which is something I never do. Good luck and I hope you meet your goal! If you ever have questions, feel free to email me and I will help if I can.

Trackbacks

  1. TWL #18 Kindle Publishing, Contentless Marketing, and Batman, We Have a Problem | drunkonlife.net says:

    [...] Of course, it isn’t all glitz and glamour and before you go banking on what you are going to make, here are some more realistic figures from a writer who also happens to be a traditional published writer as well. [...]

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