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2016 Year in Review

Books Published              2 + 2 box sets

Book Sales                          1,534

Pages Read                         76,889

Free Downloads               10,389

Revenue                              $4,240.46

Expenses                             $556.64

Words Written                 145,348*

 

*I did a horrible job keeping track of this for half of the year so this number isn’t very accurate, but probably not as off as I would like

I had a lot of lofty goals for 2016, unfortunately due to situations within my control, getting pregnant, I was not able to meet them all. I have to say I’m totally fine with that. My self-publishing quest is not a short term thing, I’m planning on doing this for a while and slow years are inevitable and a part of life.

My hope is I’ll be able to pick up the slack next year, but I’m not going to kill myself trying. My priority is going to be my kids and the only writing goal I’m giving myself is to get back into the habit of writing.

I did amazing the first half of the year, writing over 2500 words a day five days a week and lately I’ve written nothing. Knowing that I’ve done it before, though, is encouraging because I know I can do it again.

To get a little insight into what I didn’t accomplish this year, I had planned to publish 8 books, plus box sets. I was also going to completely redo my mailing list because right now it’s pretty barebones and I feel like it could be a lot better. I didn’t publish anything after April this year and I know if I’d kept up publishing regularly I would have made more, though I’m not willing to speculate how much more.

The fact that I did as well as I did without publishing anything for the last eight months is pretty crazy. With Amazon there are cliffs and if you don’t publish regularly or get a huge number of sales you’ll fall off and people will have difficulty just finding you, which is why mailing lists come in handy.

I’ll try to get back into posting monthly updates on my blog, but I’ll more than likely wait until I’ve published something.

Self-Publishing/Writing Update

I haven’t updated since September but then I haven’t done much to update on. Still pregnant, back to no energy, but I have been writing more. I’ve written every week for a month and almost every day, almost. I’m up from writing 350 words to 500 and occasionally 1000, but I’m really not pushing it. I’d love to finish and publish a book before this kid is born but things aren’t looking like that’s going to happen.

Oh well.

My momentum is gone so if it takes a few more months to publish I honestly don’t see it hurting things any more than has already been done. Plus, when I’m back to my normal writing schedule (damnit I will get back to it, I’ve done it once I can do it again) I’ll be back to publishing regularly and build that momentum back up.

Unless I’m missing something, just because I’ve had a lull doesn’t mean I’ll never be able to bring my pen name back up to it’s old earning power.

I ended up taking the last book I published off of Amazon. The fact that it was up there with a massive cliffhanger was making me anxious. Then when I looked at the numbers and realized that in six months I’d only sold thirty copies I decided to just take it down and forget about a sequel. Yes there is at least one person out there waiting on a sequel, but I think they’ll forget about it given time and if not one day I’d like to go back to the series.

Actually, after reading Chris Fox’s Write to Market I realize why it didn’t do well. At least I think I’ve figured it out. I didn’t fulfill the Sci-Fi romance tropes that my readers expect and it was obvious from the blurb that I wouldn’t so they had no reason to buy. One day I might go back and completely re-work the book, either make it more Sci-Fi Romance or go full on Space Opera, but that day is way into the future. For now I’m focusing on my second series and writing book five in it. It’s my best selling and there’s definitely more I can do with the world.

Speaking of Sci-Fi Romance, right now things are going well so I’m liking writing in it, but I’d still like to write something new. After reading Write to Market I wrote down a few genres I thought I might be interested in, I followed the exercises in the book, and I’m still not sure what I want to explore. This is by no means a fault of Fox’s, it’s all on me and my indecisiveness. Some of that is pregnancy related, but about half of it isn’t.

I’m interested in writing a cozy mystery, a paranormal fantasy, and maybe a straight up Space Opera. Of the three Space Opera could have some crossover with my readers and if I made the paranormal fantasy a romance there would probably be a fair amount there too. Cozy mystery probably not though. Naturally, the idea I’ve got the most written for is a paranormal cozy mystery.

Whatever.

For now, it’s a side project. I keep hopping between writing the cozy and a space opera but make sure I get my words in for the Sci-Fi Romance.

Side note, I don’t believe I’d ever read a Space Opera until I got interested in writing them. I love Space Opera TV and Movies, but I’ve still yet to find a book I like. The whole Amazon best seller list seems to be dominated by military Sci-Fi and that’s not what I’m looking for. I’ve got a Lindsay Buroker sample download that seems promising, but everything else I’ve tried was either too hard Sci-Fi for my taste or had no likeable characters. After researching tropes for the genre I really feel like I haven’t misunderstood it, but if someone could recommend me something that would be great. I love Firefly, Star Trek, Dark Matter, Star Wars, stuff like that. I’m not a big fan of Battlestar Galactica because I like to read/watch characters that aren’t all assholes/unlikeable.

I’m Still Alive

I was supposed to publish a book today and I didn’t even realize it. Earlier in the year when I made my schedule I truly didn’t think I would ever be this far behind, but I am. I’ve got a good excuse, one that I totally accept as my own boss, but I still felt a little sad when I saw the reminder on my calendar.

Sorry I haven’t posted any updates in the last few months. I probably won’t go back and post those missing numbers and more than likely I won’t be posting the next few months either. Basically I haven’t given myself a word goal which is good because I’ve written maybe a couple thousand words since my last update. Sales wise since I haven’t published since April, and since April’s book completely bombed, my sales have plummeted. Surprisingly they didn’t fall as fast as I thought they would. Last month was the first month that I didn’t hit $200, though this month I’ll be lucky to get $100 so whatever lists I was on are very old news now.

I just wanted to drop by, let you know I was still alive, and that I don’t plan on quitting this whole writing/self-publishing game. However, I probably won’t be back to my 2500 words a day, publishing almost every month schedule until mid-next year. Babies do tend to slow down a person’s productivity.

April 2016 Numbers

Words

Words Written:                                                       13,116

Days I Didn’t Write but Should Have:                11

Days I Didn’t Reach my 2500 Writing Goal:     1

 

So April was really freaking busy and none of it, as you can see, involved writing. My parents and brother came to visit, my husband’s aunt came to visit, and we went on our first vacation since our daughter was born. I also painted our master bathroom when my husband took our daughter to see his parents. I wasted primo writing time on painting. Oh well.

I did get SFR8 edited and published, so that’s good. I also finished writing PR1 since I wasn’t able to finish it on deadline. Right now I should be writing PR2, but I’ve decided to set that aside for a little bit and focus on the sequel and prequel to SFR8.

 

Sales

Book Sales:                                                               180

Pages Read:                                                               8,550

Free Downloads:                                                     1,669

 

Well everything is up from last month, so that’s nice. I was able to be a part of the Patty Jenson SciFi promotion and that accounts for a lot of the free downloads, love it when I’m able to be a part of her promotions.

Honestly, this was another poor launch for a new book. SciFi romance is apparently a very popular genre and it takes a lot to get noticed in it. Before, I could release a new book and I’d see a nice bump but that hasn’t happened for my last three releases. There’s just so much competition and I haven’t yet figured out how to get my books in front of people.

I keep submitting for a Bookbub and ENT, and keep getting turned down. I did a fivr ad for my newest book and I ended up getting no downloads and received a refund because of it. I spent $250 on a cover for my new book, I’d created a cover in Canva.com that I really liked, but was afraid that it wasn’t helping. This was the first time I’ve commissioned a cover and that was an interesting/confusing process. Still, awesome professional cover hadn’t been helping the book either.

I’ve reached a point where I feel like I’m just throwing money and time at things that aren’t helping me reach readers so I just want to say fuck it I’m just going to write and publish and who cares if anyone reads it. Thankfully my husband has said that he’ll look into things and take over marketing for me. He has ideas, but he doesn’t know much about self-publishing or marketing so we’ll see what happens. I’m grateful that he’s helping because it means I can hopefully not feel too bad about ignoring that side of things for a while and just focus on writing.

I have paperback editions up for all but three of my books, so I’m halfway done there. The new book got a paperback edition faster than any of the others.

Anyway, that concludes my update for April. Not sure how helpful, if at all, people find these, but I like to make my numbers available so people can feel better about themselves. Either because they are doing so much better than I am or because they now know that not everything has taken the publishing world by storm. I love the really positive I just sold 2 million books threads on kboards, but sometimes it gets depressing.

 

May Goals

  • Write Prequel & Sequel to SFR8
  • Keep submitting Bookbub and ENT
  • Work on Createspace editions for remaining books
  • Work on Mailing list

March 2016 Numbers

Words

Words Written:                                                       41,622

Days I Didn’t Write but Should Have:                3

Days I Didn’t Reach my 2500 Word Goal:         5

 

So I didn’t do as good as I should have on some of those numbers. In my defense, I did have family visit for almost a week and my daughter is down to taking naps only fifty percent of the time. Honestly, even though I didn’t always hit my goals, I’m still where I need to be and I’m fine with it. Sometimes you just have to give yourself some slack, just make sure you don’t make a habit of it.

April is going to be a challenge. My husband and I are going on our first vacation since our daughter was born. Not sure how much, if any, writing I’ll be doing that week. I finished the Sci-Fi Romance book I needed to write, so this month is going to be spent finishing up my first Paranormal Romance and working on the sequel to it. I’m still playing the long game.

 

Sales

Book Sales:                                                               153

Pages Read:                                                               7487

Free Downloads:                                                     898

 

I had a 66% drop in pages read and a 54% drop in sales since last month. March was another brutal month for me. Good news, I made enough money to pay off a laptop I purchased when my old one died. Bad news, well, my sales continue to drop. I did not do a promo last month, but I did make the first book in my second series free, which accounts for the increase in free downloads. Sadly, my read through rate isn’t as high as I would like with that series, even though it’s my best reviewed and the one my readers have actually asked for more of. It’s weird.

I must be getting use to the dropping, though, because it’s not killing me as much as it was. I’ve got a new book I’ll be publishing soon, I love the cover and the title, though I’m not sure about the series title. We’ll just have to see what happens. Hopefully it breathes some life into my sales, if not, well, at least I’m not currently relying on my income alone.

It’s pretty crazy that last month was a bad month when a year ago I would have flipped my shit to have even that much. I’m trying to think positive and right now that’s working.

 

April Goals

  • Edit SFR8
  • Continue to work on Createspace editions
  • Write 30k
  • Keep submitting to Bookbub and ENT

February 2016 Numbers

Words

Words Written:                                                       37102

Days I Didn’t Write but Should Have:                0

Days I Didn’t Reach my 2500 word Goal:          3

 

I worked on a new project in February, one that won’t be published until much later in the year. It’s a Paranormal Romance, which I’ve read many of, but I’ve never actually tried to write or even study how other’s write. I realized that within the first two days so I went online, found some of the top rated Paranormal Romance books and started reading.

It’s been interesting and I’ve learned a lot, but I’m also concerned. I started writing my book in third person, on the third day I had a crisis of confidence and rewrote everything in first person. Then the thought entered my mind that no one was writing in first person and most of my experience is in third so I would return to that format. I’ve now read three of the Paranormal Romance books I bought and I started another and they are all in first person.

So now I find myself with over 30k words written in third person, wondering if I should try and convert it all to first. It’s a daunting task, if that’s the route I decide to go, but I do have the time, kind of. I don’t know. Decisions are hard.

 

 

Sales

Books Sold:                                                   330

Pages Read:                                                   21,623

Free Downloads:                                         690

 

So my sales are technically up from last month, which is good considering I published two box sets and a new book, however my income is down for the month because I ran two sales on the box sets and they were priced at $.99 for a week. Had a good number of downloads, but overall lost a lot of money and didn’t gain any reviews or mailing list signups.

My free downloads are down, even though I ran a Genre Pulse promo for one of my free books. I’ve run a Genre Pulse promo before and I saw an acceptable return, but not this time.

My pages read are also down. I know people like to blame Amazon for shaking things up and then getting screwed in the algorithms, but I try very hard not to do that. I try to be adaptable and just roll with stuff, but looking back on my numbers I can see each time Amazon made a change because my numbers drop. It’s part of why I don’t have all my books Amazon only. I actually make a significant amount more money on the books out of KDP, even though it’s not at other retailers, it’s because I take a loss on books in KDP. I keep one series in, for visibility, though my read-through rate also dropped on both series since last month. The drop from the series in KDP was half which just shows how much I lost in visibility.

Not going to lie, February was pretty depressing and I found it incredibly difficult to keep writing most days. I’ve severely cut down the number of times I check my sales figures and I keep telling myself I’m in this for the long haul, but this has been the worst launch I’ve had for a new book. I feel like they keep getting worse, which the numbers are backing up, so it’s not just me being pessimistic.

Now the question is, do I continue with the series or do I start a new one. I set up a new series in my last release, but I can also continue with my other series. I actually posted a poll on all my social media as a way to engage readers, but I only had one respondent and they wanted me to do everything so that didn’t help.

My current plan is to read the epilogue in my last couple of books and go from there. If I feel like I’ve left a really big cliffhanger that needs to be resolved then I’ll start writing a sequel, if not I’m going to start a new Sci-Fi Romance series. Probably.

 

March Goals

-Write 10k words in Paranormal Romance Book 1

-Write 40k words in Sci-Fi Romance Book 8

-Publish the rest of my first series in paperback on Createspace

-Work on mailing list and signup incentives

-Keep Submitting to Bookbub & ENT

February Thoughts

February has been a pretty busy month self-publishing wise and it’s only the ninth. I released two box sets, a new book, and took part in a large multi-author promotion. All that, and I’m still down from the same time last month. It’s really hard not to feel dejected.

I’ve been releasing books about every forty days, or so, and the pace is—not grueling but very consistent. Anytime I find myself sitting at the computer I begin working on paperback editions, covers, updating back matter, updating Excel spreadsheets, reorganizing my filing system, all that and getting an increasing number of words written and yet I’m not seeing as much growth as I was last year.

Maybe I need to move onto a new series? I’ve got 2 and they both have more stories to tell, and I’ve had at least two readers ask for more, but maybe a new series will grab people again? I don’t know.

I’m not set to publish anything until April 4th, because I’m working on a new project, but it won’t be published until August. I’m playing the long game, but it’s hard to stick with my plans when I see my income dropping.

I was really hoping to break $10k this year since that’s a bit more than what I would make if I had to go back to work at a minimum wage job working part time, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. I know a lot can change and it’s only the second month of the year, but sometimes it’s hard to stay positive.

Sorry for the depressing post, just needed to get my feelings out there.