Last March I posted the sales numbers from the second year of my self-publishing adventure. Now I’m continuing the tradition, if a few months early.
Please keep in mind the following about my numbers:
- My titles are categorized as follows: Short Stories (24); Novellas (7); Novels (1); and Collections (1).
- No promotion this year at all.
- This covers from January 2013 – December 2013.
- Still searching for a link between blog traffic and sales.
- I began 2013 with 19 titles published on Amazon, Pubit, and distributed through Smashwords. My goal was to increase my titles published (units for sale) to 32.
It is tedious to list the paltry numbers for twelve months in a row, so here is the summary (I needed 12 titles):
- In October and December I did not publish any titles. Period. So (-2) to my goal.
- In September I went nuts and published seven titles. However, this was partially due to a cheatcoughcough EXPERIMENT where I split an odd length story into six episodes. Still (+7).
- All other months I met my goal and published one title. So (+8).
- If you follow my screwy numbering system (hey, I’m a writer not a mathematician!) you will realize by the end of 2012 I had published 13 titles, 1 more than planned for. That means I had 32 titles published and for sale in December 2013.
I totaled 44 sales across all titles for 2013. Not at all the number I was hoping and actually a decrease from 2012. But thanks to playing around with my pricing a bit, I made more this year ($42 vs $33. I know. Big bucks here!). The chart below tracks my sales across the year.
As you can see, sales peaked in February and September. I changed the chart a little from last year, breaking things down by distributor and its fairly apparent that KDP dominated. Smashwords did about half and B&N barely played at all. What isn’t shown on this chart is that my best seller (a short story) accounted for 12, or ~25%, of my sales. This title has consistently outsold all my others ever since I published it. The only review I’m aware of is a 1-star. Puzzling, I know.
Changes from 2011 to 2012
Covers: Again, my covers have become better. I still sub-contract some of them to my darling wife (she’s gotten really busy with work, so less and less time for cover art). I spent a lot of time in bookstores staring at traditionally published covers. It felt kind of weird but seems to have helped.
Exception to No-promotion: I participated in Smashwords July sale again. Basically, I made all my titles free on Smashwords for the whole month of July. Last year I had a tremendous (paid) sales spike in July. Not the same performance this time around.
Note: February sales peaked again. But this year the second spike was September and not June. Again, I have nothing really to indicate why. But apparently February is a good month for my readers.
Unlike last year, this year I feel that as I publish more titles, my sales did not increase. I did not notice any great correlation between the amount of titles published and spikes in sales. The exception is September, but as the February spike was larger and I only published one title (vs. seven in September) I don’t find that to be coincidental.
I’m continuing to improve cover quality and blurb quality. I still stay away from putting money into advertising. I think with a series of novels up, ads might pay off, but not for all these stand alone shorts. The novel that I published in May 2013 sold three copies, which surprised me. Statistics-wise, only two other titles outsold that, and one was my bestseller. So with more novels up, I am hopeful that I will prove more attractive to my readers.
I was able to finish a full length novel in 2013. This year I plan to try to do two. I also plan on doing 10 short stories in a pulp-ish style that will hopefully take hold. I’m putting them on Wattpad for free as initial releases and then publishing them through the normal channels (once published, I will pull either the entire story, or at least half, from Wattpad.) I continue practicing on writing more active blurbs to pitch a better sell, and I’m further developing my cover art. I’m continuing writing and practicing my story craft as well.
My goals this year are going to be tricky to meet, because I’m going to take a two-three month break from writing to focus on studying for a test at the day job. Not thrilled, but it needs to be done.
Lastly, I’m trying to avoid obsessing over writing perfect stories, to focus on Heinlen’s rules. So far (3.75 short stories this month) it seems to be working. And guess what, it’s a lot of fun!