Thursday, April 4, 2013

Two Years in Review: Some Self-Publishing Numbers

I released my first novel, A Fistful of Fire, April 1, 2011. (I only remembered it was April Fool's Day after I'd already committed to releasing on that day.)

Sometimes, an author will post sales numbers, to encourage others to keep at it, to prove why they're successes or failures, etc. I enjoy reading those posts as much as the next writer, and I've always intended to follow suit. I've never understood the taboos against money talk—but then, I'm the type of person who, if told the company owner's making thrice what I am, will point out why the owner deserves that, rather than gripe about how I should be paid more.

But…my sales are low. Very low. So low that sharing my numbers in detail would end up looking like a "Please buy my stories!" plea, which isn't at all what I want. (Seriously. Not what I'm saying. If you want to buy something, great, but if not…please don't engage in pity buys on my account.)

Actually, the sales numbers themselves are such that I'm kinda reluctant to share them, but it seems as though the only people sharing are the ones who are raking in sufficient dough or who are throwing in the towel. Someone has to speak up, and it might as well be me.

Some of the low sales numbers are likely because life rolls have interfered with my product production. I had almost a year without releases. And most of my releases aren't in the same series, which are further strikes against sales improving. There could be other factors—for example, at some point, the file for A Fistful of Fire got mixed up with the pre-proofread version, and I'm still finding issues from that.

So how low is "very low"?

Total Sales of Aleyi and Darkworld stories

(I have some other things out, but I'd rather keep this simple. Besides, do you really want to know how memorization guides sell?)

2011: (9 months) 47

2012: (12 months) 38

So… 3 copies or 4 copies a month, over all my titles in those worlds. The majority of those sales are my epic fantasy novels. Thus why I'm more focused on finishing that series than the Darkworld series, at the moment. (Also why I'm seriously considering putting Destiny's Kiss and PRIMpriety up on Wattpad.)

Even with my low sales, I don't consider self-publishing a failure. I see it as getting a backlist in place. I also see it as practice in targeting my audience.

If you follow my blog, you might've encountered me mentioning that I have some stories that I plan to submit to some small publishers. I don't know about you, but more than once, I've read someone's novel from a publisher, then gone digging to try to find other things they've written. If I can find more, I might buy it—but I'll also be a lot more likely to remember the author's name and to buy their titles in the future.

Maybe you're like me. Maybe you aren't. That's okay. I'm keeping an eye on the big picture and the long haul, but that doesn't make you in any way obligated to do the same. Maybe you just want to know when I'm having my next release. (Probably June, if not sooner.)

I'm not worrying about the low sales until I have the Chronicles of Marsdenfel done, by which point I'll be doing some advertising, because I'll have enough product available to make it worthwhile. If sales don't start picking up at all, I'll give their branding, etc., a hard look. (And I'm already probably going to adjust the branding for the Darkworld stories—label them "new adult", for example.)

But let's say sales never take off or solidify, even after I have ten novels up. If that happens, I might stop self-publishing in general, but my self-publishing will not be a failure.

Because it's taught me more about branding, blurbs, cover design, genre, and e-book formatting. I can always try again.

And really, that's why I poke my nose into anything: to try it out and maybe learn something.

And that's what keeps me from running around like a chicken with my head cut off, assuming my career is a failure. Because it really isn't.

What do you think of my goals and analysis? If you self-publish or are considering doing so, what are will be your goals?


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