Monday, August 08, 2011

Celebrating My One Year Anniversary of Indie Publishing: A Retrospective/Looking Back



Saturday marked my one year anniversary as an Indie Author. I jumped into this self-publishing adventure on August 6, 2010. I chose that date because it also happens to be my wedding anniversary. Easy to remember and it makes the day doubly special.

It's been a roller coaster of a ride; the emotional ups and downs literally taking my breath away. People say self-publishing is easy, but they're wrong. This is definitely not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of work and perseverance and courage. You must be brave to release your books and stories into the wild. Getting your babies out there makes you feel exhilarated, as well as vulnerable. No, it's not for the faint of heart.

That said, let's take a look back at the past year. (And since I don't want to reinvent the wheel, I'll be cutting and pasting a bit from a couple of previous posts to save time.)

First off, I need to say I had a "backlist" of nine books that I wanted to publish. I've been writing a long time. I had been submitting to agents and editors, entering RWA contests and placing in a few. I even received a phone call from a Harlequin editor in New York. Not THE CALL, but A CALL. Thrilling, I must say. Unfortunately, nothing came of it. I got close, but no cigar.

Then along came digital publishing and the small ePresses. I was lucky enough to sell to The Wild Rose Press and I liked being an eBook author. I didn't sell much and thought there had to be a better way. 

And then came Kindle and Direct Publishing. Bingo!!!

I started out with one book, my Traditional Regency MIDNIGHT MY LOVE on August 6, 2010. I priced it at $2.99 so I would get the 70% royalty from Amazon. It was extremely gratifying to get my first sale on Smashwords literally minutes after uploading it. I sold about 6 on Smashwords and 9 on Amazon during the month of August.

I uploaded my second book, THE DOCTOR WEARS A STETSON, the third week in September. The price was still at $2.99 and for the whole month I only sold 4 on Amazon (total for both books) and 3 on Smashwords. A little disheartening, but not totally disillusioning.

In October, I dropped the price of MIDNIGHT MY LOVE to 99 cents as an experiment and left the other book at $2.99. Sales picked up and I sold 17 copies of the Regency and 7 copies of the Western.  Smashwords sales were few and far between. I probably sold about 5 copies that month.

Not really wanting to sell my book so cheaply, I raised the price back up for November. As a result, I only sold 9 books (total for both books) on Amazon; maybe 3 or so on Smashwords.

Everyone in the Indie Author Community was excited about December 2010 with the explosion of holiday sales of Kindles and Nooks. I remember I was eagerly waiting to hit that 100 ebook sales mark.

On December 12, I released my third book, THE COWBOY'S SURRENDER. Biting the bullet, I dropped the prices on all three books to 99 cents to see what would happen. BOOM!!! Sales rose dramatically. At this time, I also uploaded all three books directly onto B&N's Pubit! instead of going through Smashwords. Immediately, I began selling more books for the Nook than Kindle.

I sold over 200 books in December. Could it get any better? Oh yeah.

In January, I released a fourth book, ADAM'S TEMPTATION. Price? Well, I started out at $2.99. After a week of no sales, I dropped it to $1.99 then to 99 cents. That book was slow finding its way in the ranks, but the other three books went through the roof!!!  I sold 643 books in the month of January, twice as many at B&N than on Amazon.
(Alas, this did not continue. Sales dropped off at B&N for some unaccountable reason.)

On February 6, 
I hit my first big milestone: One thousand ebooks sold!!! I was pretty much in shock. And SO happy!!! Sales at Amazon started to catch up to my sales at B&N.

The last week in February, I released my fifth book, A MATCH MADE IN TEXAS. This is the third book in my Diamondback Ranch series. I decided to charge $2.99 since the other two were selling so well. And it worked!!! Readers were buying all three books in the series. AND LOVING THEM!!! An author's dream come true.

On St. Patrick's Day, I released my first Regency novella, TO HIS LADY'S RESCUE. This is when things started taking off. I sold over 4000 books in March and gave 500 away for free on Smashwords. By the end of March, I had sold over 6000 ebooks total.

One month later on April 16th, I hit another milestone: TEN THOUSAND EBOOKS SOLD!!! Sales exploded on Amazon.  I had two books on the Top Ten Regency Bestseller List. My westerns were also making the lists. I sold 8200 ebooks in the month of April. My little novella was selling through the roof. 

It was a funny thing though. Readers either loved or hated it.  It was around this time that I received my first one-star review and it was for the little novella. I was devastated. I wanted to pull it. I posted on the Kindle Boards asking how other authors coped with bad reviews and received awesome support and hand-holding. I also received my first Random Act of Kindleness. Another Regency author had read my book and wrote a great five-star review. Life was good.

Earlier in the year, I had asked for and received my rights back to the two books I had published with TWRP.  On May 3, I published/rereleased HER RELUCTANT RANCHER. I decided to charge $2.99 since it had already been "vetted" and published. It sold more books in that one month than the 2 1/2 years at the small ePress.

May was my best month ever!!! I sold almost 10,000 eBooks that month. Awesome!!! I finally felt like a successful author.

On May 31, I published TEXAN UNDERCOVER. I started it out at $2.99, but quickly dropped the price to 99 cents. (More about my pricing strategy later.)

I published/rereleased the last book in my backlist, TALL DARK AND TEXAN, on June 2. I put it up for $2.99. In the month of June, I sold over 9000 eBooks.

What goes up, must come down. This is where the not for the faint of heart comes into play.

The third week of June, I gave a workshop at my local RWA Chapter on SELF-PUBLISHING: THE NEW PARADIGM/Living My Dream. (You can read excerpts Part One and Part Two here.) I'm glad I gave it when I did, because it wasn't long after that the summer slump settled in and my sales started decreasing.

Not fun. You know, it's great when your books are selling like hotcakes and all's right with the world. It's a whole nuther thing when sales start to tank. Interestingly, as my sales declined on Amazon, they started picking up on B&N. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to any of it. Not for the faint of heart.

I shouldn't complain too much. In July, I sold over 5000 eBooks. I gave 1000 away for free on Smashwords. I've sold close to 40,000 eBooks total. But watching my sales decrease by 50% and more is not a good feeling, let me tell you.

I try to put it all in perspective. I started out this venture with the goal of making around 300-400 dollars a month. I'm doing that and more. Readers are reading my books. I'm writing what I enjoy writing and finding like-minded people who enjoy reading what I write.

It is truly an awesome time to be a writer. To celebrate my one year anniversary, I published my tenth eBook and first short story--TEXAS TWO STEPS: DARCY AND GABE.

I'm looking forward to the next year. My goal is to release ten more stories of various lengths. I plan to charge $2.99 for my novels and 99 cents for my shorter works. I'm positioning myself for this next holiday season and beyond.

The eBook sensation is revolutionary. More and more people are going to switch over to digital reading devices, and that will hopefully be more readers for all of us. Writers need to write and publish and be ready for them. That's exactly what I plan to do.


Happy Writing and Reading and Publishing!!!


AM   :)



19 comments:

Cherri Galbiati said...

Anne Marie, Congratulations on your milestones as well as your anniversary! I agree, the ups and downs are definitely NOT for the faint of heart.

Great blog!
Cherri

Brenda said...

So interesting to read about your journey. Thanks for being so transparent, and good luck on the sales for August!

Cynthia Wicklund said...

Anne Marie, again a great blog! Thank you for sharing with those of us following in your very brave footsteps. Congrats on your first year!

Bev Pettersen said...

Congratulations on your first year, Anne Marie! What a ride. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

Dr. Debra Holland said...

Congratulations on your one year anniversary. Thanks for sharing what's been going on.

I've only been doing this for four months, and it's been all up for me so far (except the days I received three star reviews.) Hugs on the one star. That's just mean spirited. I think it's good to remember that in indie publishing, as in life, it's going to be up and down and to plan for that as normal.

Best of luck in year two.

Judy said...

Congratulations doesn't even begin to describe it! I'm SO excited for you and can't wait to get started with my cozy mystery series. Have two contracts to honor (edits pending) and three books to finish, and then I can set up shop with 8 books!

Thanks for sharing your insights with us and keeping us posted on your adventure. Wishing you continued book sales and much success!

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Congratulations on your milestone! You're my idol!

AnneMarie Novark said...

Cherri,

Thanks for stopping by. No, not for the faint of heart.

Writers not only need a thick skin, but we also need to gird our loins and be brave. *grin*

AnneMarie Novark said...

Thanks, Brenda.

Here's hoping for a great August!!!

AnneMarie Novark said...

Cynthia,

Thank you. I hope I've been of help to writers and shown them what's possible.

Good luck with your sales!!!

AnneMarie Novark said...

Bev,

Glad you stopped by. Thanks.

AnneMarie Novark said...

Debra,

I'm glad you've had good luck so far. I certainly hope it continues. But you're right, we need to realize there are ups and downs and be ready to weather both.

Thanks.

AnneMarie Novark said...

Judy,

You'll set up a fine shop with eight books. Just you wait and see!!!

AnneMarie Novark said...

Awww, thanks Anna!!!

Theresa Ragan said...

AnneMarie, great post. Thanks for sharing and Congratulations on all of your success!

SlingWords aka Joan Reeves said...

Happy Anniversary, AnneMarie, on your Indie First Year (and your wedding anni too).

Great post. I'm going to link to it next week when I do the pricing segment on my ebook success blog series.

Btw, I listed a link to your format instructions on my Indie Resources page on my blog. Some of the clearest, most concise instructions I've read.

Best wishes,
Joan Reeves

AnneMarie Novark said...

Thanks, Theresa.

Glad you stopped by.

AnneMarie Novark said...

Thanks, Joan.

And thanks for the link up.

Hey, I made a Listamania over at Amazon and included you in TEN TEXAS AUTHORS ON KINDLE.

Every little bit helps, right?

Cheryl Bolen said...

What an inspiring story, Anne Marie. Huge congratulations on your roller-coaster year. You've been so helpful to other indie authors.