Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 in review

Well, it’s been nearly a year since I began self-publishing—I actually started in mid-January 2011, but we’ll call it a full year to make it easy.  Overall I’ve been very happy with how things have been going.  I’ve made some cash and learned a lot and I feel well-prepared to keep moving forward.  Here are some random thoughts:

My experience with KDP Select is mixed—I have one story and one story collection in the program right now.  My sales have been good, but I couldn’t say that they’re a direct result of any exposure I have in KDP Select, since it might just be holiday buying.  Also, I find it maddening that Amazon’s sales reporting is so mushy, lumping in free “sales” with paid sales.  I really prefer B/N’s system.  As I’d said in an earlier blog post, I think that for those with a wide variety of other books, Select may be a useful way to introduce a new title, so I may try it again in the future.

I’m planning to focus almost exclusively on novels in 2012.  I released my romance novel the second week in December and I’ve had 10 sales, which I am thrilled with—no marketing, no ads, nothing, and I still got 10 sales.  I fooled around with the price a bit; it’s currently at 3.29 but I’ve had it as high as 3.95 (and I actually had some sales at that price).  The followup book is well under way and I hope to release it in February or March.

I absolutely love the Kindle Fire I got for Christmas, but I have decided to buy all my new books from Barnes and Noble from now on.  Amazon doesn’t need my help, but I would like to do my part to make sure B/N sticks around for a good long while.

November was my best month all year, and just today I edged past that on Barnes and Noble (and I am guessing that I passed last month’s Amazon total earlier), so December now jumped into the number one spot.  It’s still not a huge amount of money coming in—enough to pay some bills, though, so I’m not complaining.  I’m earning about 3% of what I would need in order to write as a full time job.

My goals for 2012 (keeping in mind Dean Wesley Smith’s recent post about the difference between goals and dreams):  finish and release three more novels (thus a total of four on sale), as well as two stories and a novella I have on the back burner.  Considering that the 2nd novel is about halfway finished, I think I’m making good time.  And as for dreams?  Well, I have plenty of those too, believe me.

Happy new year!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Today's big, huge, enormous Amazon news

So I'm not going to pretend that I know enough about self-publishing yet to say that I can fully appreciate the announcement of KDP Select this morning.  But in a nutshell, holy shit! :)  So you can put up a title exclusively at Amazon to be lent to Amazon Prime members, yet still get paid a percentage of a monthly pot of a half-million dollars.  AND you can choose 5 days every 90-day period to make that title free--thus stimulating downloads by non-Prime members?  Amazing.  Of course, this will work best for those who have other titles that the above will generate interest in, so it might be a tad early for me.  And I'm sure that even this will not sit right with some authors, based on the never-ending debate about pricing, lending and so on.  But I'm certainly going to be watching this closely, that's for sure.  Once I have a larger backlist available--I'm thinking a year from now--this could be huge.  For others, this will be huge already.
About the only downside I see at the moment is that it requires that the titles are not available elsewhere in the same format, though if I remember paper books are okay.  Thus you can't sell from B/N, Smashwords and so on, or even your own website.  For many authors who have books out through other available channels, I suspect it would be more trouble than it's worth to take down titles, but for somebody who's just about to put out a new one, this Christmas gift came early.
Very, very interesting day.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


So I finished the first draft of my novel at 6:27 this morning, topping out at a bit over 82K words.  All told it took me about 4 months to write.  Now I'm going to get it to my beta reader (AKA my wife) and make some edits, hopefully finishing everything in time to get it up for sale by Christmas.

After that, I'm planning to begin work on another novel immediately.  I'm coming up on 11 months self-publishing and I've learned a lot from monkeying around with shorter works this year.  By Christmas 2012, however, I hope to have a total of four novels completed.  In other words, I'd like to write three more novels in 13 months, which should be doable given my performance on the first one.  I have one largely plotted out entirely, another roughly sketched out, and the third is still percolating a bit.

I saw a Kindle Fire at Target yesterday; although it looks kind of plain, I have to admit that it is pretty F'ing cool.  My son, of course, recognized it as yet another way to play Angry Birds, so I might skip buying it altogether since I'd never get to use it while he's around.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Getting close now...

I've made good progress on the novel; as of this morning I topped 78K words and I'm down to three chapters that remain unfinished.  I hope to have it entirely completed a week from today, which will give me not much time for editing, etc. before Christmas, but I'm hoping it can be done.
Happy Thanksgiving! 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Making money

The only reason I don't have Kristine Kathryn Rusch's blog in my sidebar is because her husband Dean Wesley Smith recaps almost every post of hers on his blog, as far as I can tell.  And my blog list is long enough as it is.  Okay, two reasons.

Anyhoo, one of her recent entries had one line in particular which really caught my eye:

Now, consider this: Traditional publishers never expect to  make a lot of money on one book.  They expect to make a little bit of money on every book.

I doubt I'll ever be up there with Locke, Hocking and Konrath.  But that doesn't mean that I can't keep working, adding to my digital shelf space, and in the end do well, bit by tiny bit.

The novel is being a stubborn son of a bitch, by the way.  It absolutely refuses to finish up; as of today I'm just under 73K words.  When I first started, I imagined that it would be about 50K.  Then I thought it would hit 60K.  Now I'm afraid that it will surpass 80K, even after I trim it a bit during revisions. 

I guess I don't mind too much, but it's a bit surprising since I wrote my 32K novella earlier this year and at the time struggled to write that much!

OK, back to work!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

October update

So after a lot of thought, I decided to release a series of short stories in October--things I had thought of doing quite a while ago, but had decided not to do.  Why not?  Because the idea was for an erotica series with a smuttily amusing title, taking some sex scenes that I'd included in my earlier works and remixing them.  Frankly, writing sex is about the most boring thing I've ever done, and I wasn't eager to spend more time doing that when my novel still isn't finished.  However, I came to the conclusion that if I'm really going to treat this as a business--which I am--then I can't afford to pass up an opportunity to publish something that will sell.  And if there's one thing I've seen this year, it's that sex sells.

So I took two weeks and whipped out seven new titles (well, "new" is not exactly correct, but I was at least rearranging what I'd previously written).  The results?  Behold the glory of my first-ever graph:

I now have 22 titles out across Amazon, B&N and Smashwords, ranging from single stories at .99 each to bundled collections of stories (2.99-3.99), novellas (2.99) and bundled novellas (5.98).  At the risk of jinxing it, I can report that November is on a pace to be my best month yet in terms of both sales and royalties.

The novel is still not completed (due in part, of course, to the two-week break I took to write smut) but as of this morning has hit over 65K.  It just won't stop!  I'm expecting it to top out at about 75K, and I still hope to have it finished by Thanksgiving, although that's a lot less sure than it was a month ago.

OK, back to work!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

September update: meh

So September's sales continued the downward slope that August started (and frankly, October is starting off to be even worse than that), so no great news there.  One day I'll figure out how to do graphs and put up a fancy jpg showing my sales trend, which will no doubt look like a mountain:  up, up, up and then down, down, down.

Oh well.  The novel is going great, so it's hard to get too worked up over sales of stuff I don't really care about.  I'm at about 56K words as of today, which is kind of amazing, since the longest thing I'd written previously was a 30K novella.  It's so long that I keep coming across stuff I'd even forgotten writing, which makes for an interesting experience.  I expect to have it largely completed in two or three weeks, which will put it at about 65K and three months of work.  Allowing time to edit, rewrite anything needed and so on, I'm still hoping that I can have it up for sale by Thanksgiving.

After that, I'm hoping to resuscitate something I started almost a year ago but haven't touched since.  It would be a shame to let this 5000-word seed just sit there without seeing if it could sprout into something more, however, so ideally I'd have another novel ready to go in late winter.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Thank you Irene!

So as I sit here in New England, watching the wind and rain wreak havoc on the trees outside, I have to say that it appears that the hurricane really helped my Barnes and Noble sales!  August has been pretty slow, with only 2 or 3 sales a day on B/N, but yesterday I had five sales.  Today I had six by 11 AM; I can only assume that people were loading up the Nooks so they'd have something to read when the power went out!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

June/July update

Wow, it's been a while.  I'm posting less than Aaron Niz, for God's sake!  The good news--at least I consider it good news--is that the time I used to spend blogging (occasionally) and reading the blogs of others (frequently) has dropped dramatically over the last few months because I'm trying to do as much writing as possible.

So things have been going pretty well, though August has turned out to be a very slow month so far.  Fortunately, from what I've seen it's pretty slow for everybody, so I'm not too concerned about it.  I am not to the point where I'd be able to go a full day--let alone longer--without checking my sales, but I'm also not to the point where I'm going to spend much time on that outside my morning routine.

I now have 14 titles up on Amazon, B/N and Smashwords, ranging from short stories to novella collections, and I'm now working on my first full-fledged novel.  It's a romance, and I'm totally not kidding.  Not just any type of romance, but a historical "sweet" romance.  You could look at this in a few different ways.  One, of course, would be to view this as an attempt to just cash in on the popularity of romance novels.  To that, I would say, duh.  However, after reading a few (okay, several) of them, I got an idea for one that is turning out to be a hell of a lot of fun to write.

After the horror of April's slow sales, May turned out to be pretty good, but June absolutely rocked with 498 sales.  July's number was quite a bit slower, but I sold more expensive titles and actually made more cash, so I certainly can't complain.  I'm still small potatoes, of course--even compared to authors that, frankly, nobody has ever heard of, but who claim to pull in thousands of dollars a month--but considering that I started all this in January, I'm happy with my progress.

Although I've seen that you can make (a little) money selling stories and novellas, everybody says that the money is in novels, which is why I've decided to focus on that from now on.  Aside from the romance, I have a series of middle grade novels I'm planning; ideally I'll have the romance and one of the middle grade books up and running before the holiday season.

Let's see...a couple of final thoughts.  Dean Wesley Smith's blog has turned into my favorite source of guidance, by far.  Konrath's has really sunk in my opinion not only because he so rarely posts, but because he has shown himself to be kind of an ass sometimes.  Ruth Ann Nordin is also a really interesting example of someone I think should be emulated--from what I've read, she pretty much just keeps her head down and keeps plugging away, writing what she wants to.  That has allowed her to make a pretty good salary--in a recent blog post she said that she'd take in 84K through September--which means that she's on track to make six figures this year.  Pretty cool.

Totally unrelated, but I continue to be astounded by how many indie authors pile everything into promotion for their debut novels, which almost invariably is priced at 99 cents.  I keep forgetting where I saw this first (Kathryn Rusch's site, perhaps?), but promotion is almost always one of the least effective ways to get somebody to buy your book, according to various studies.  It seems to me that the time and effort put into extensive blog tours, swag creation (am I the only one who doesn't get the idea of making promotional bookmarks for the release of an e-book?) and so on would be better served by, you know, writing the next one.

But then, even the basics seem to escape some people.  Just yesterday I read on the Pubit help board from a guy who shared his technique to make an appropriately-sized cover image for Pubit.  It involved finding the cover on Amazon, printing that on paper, then scanning the paper at the appropriate size.  I'm no Amanda Hocking--nor even Ruth Ann Nordin--but even I knew better than that.

Okay, back to work.  I don't expect to post again until the romance is finished.  That one has remarkably little content that could cause trouble on the job, so I may even be able to share the name!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Let It Be

So I'm not a Beatles fan; it probably has to do with the rabid love of all things Beatles-related that a particularly unpleasant former coworker had.  But I digress; the title works for me today.

I am finishing this novella that I've been working on for months now, and by last week I'd had it nearly completed except for one unbalanced chapter.  I'm not a very detailed planner, but by luck all the chapters had come out at essentially the same length (two, by coincidence, turned out to be exactly the same length after the first draft).  Except for the first chapter, which stubbornly refused to grow.  I can't tell you how much I tried to add some stuff to the end of that chapter, trying to fill up the space between the end and the beginning of the second chapter.  I even considered breaking up all my other chapters and redistributing things to make it more even, but nothing was working and I was left with several perfectly balanced chapters and one stunted beginning.

Well, then my mom came to visit, my son had a birthday, and we were on vacation for about a week and a half during which I did nothing at all for this story.  By the time I got back to it, I had a sudden inspiration and was able to add material to the beginning of the first chapter, instead of at the end.  Now I know it must sound silly, that my great breakthrough was to add material to the beginning instead of the end, but for some reason it hadn't struck me before.  Now, however, that material is some of my favorite stuff in the entire novella.  I'm trying to concentrate on writing something--anything--every day, but I'm convinced that I wouldn't have come up with that if I hadn't left it alone for a while.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Where in the world is Bakari Akil?

So Bakari's blog went dead quite some time ago, but I see that he has continued to publish.  Come on back, Bakari!!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


So I've been keeping my nose to the grindstone for the past several weeks, and I'm pleased with my efforts.  My recently set goal has been to write 1000 words a day, which is not always easy to do since I have a day job too, but more often than not I've been able to hit the goal.  Sales were very slow in April but have improved slightly in May.  Strangely enough, Amazon has now surpassed my Barnes/Noble sales for the month, which is very unusual for me.

I've read a few very interesting books on writing lately:  Stephen King's On Writing, which I had several years ago, then gave to a friend who stopped answering my emails two years ago.  Very weird, and makes me wish I'd kept my copy of the book!  In any case, I found it to be fascinating although not as much about writing as I'd expected.  Very inspirational, however!

Another great book was The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell.  If you haven't read it, you should.  I've read many, many books on writing over the years, and this has been the best one I've found.

Finally, a slim but entertaining and useful book was Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing.  If you read the reviews on Amazon, you'll see that many, many people are (rightfully, I'd say) incensed at having paid ten bucks for this tiny book.  If you do like I did, however, you can read it for two bucks:  Go to a Barnes and Noble, buy yourself a coffee and get the book off the bookshelf.  Easy.  Even easier (though less fun) is to go here, where you'll find a summary of all ten rules.

It was almost exactly one year ago that I started thinking about writing again.  We were posted overseas, and in the evenings I would take my son to the park across the street, where he'd play various games that usually involved throwing things at other things.  Good times.  While he was busy assaulting signs and lampposts with twigs, I would roll things around in my mind, trying to figure out the plot for the one story that I had in mind at the time.  I distinctly remember thinking "Jeez, what would I write after that?" since I only had the one idea to work with.  Now, I have a list of things that would literally take me years to finish; actually sitting down and doing the work helped me generate new ideas.  I'm still at only one percent, but I'm feeling good!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A new focus

Wow, March was some month.  Some interesting things have happened that I would have loved to comment on before:

Amanda Hocking's 2 million dollar deal:  Good for her.  Far be it for me to disagree with all the naysayers out there, but after considering it, I think it was a genius stroke.  At the rate she writes, four books will soon represent a very small portion of her writing, and she'll benefit immensely from the attention that professional backing will get her.

The Greek Seaman:  What an idiot.  I am a cynical person who can't help wondering whether the whole thing was a stunt to draw attention to the book review blog; interesting, nevertheless.

I had a good month for sales--more than last month, and just this morning I got an email from Amazon notifying me about the impending deposit from January's sales.  Best twelve bucks EVER!  :)

I remember reading an old post of Aaron Niz's in which he referred to getting out of bed early every day, his head just buzzing with ideas, and that's how I feel now.  I've spent the last month trying to focus less on the day-to-day numbers (which is why I removed the counter from the blog) and more on production, with a really long view.  I have a great job right now, but the frequent travel is a ginormous pain in the ass, my family and I would love to stop moving around every two years.  Thus my goal is to keep working on my writing with an eye toward making a career switch down the road.  Obviously that could be a while--if I can do it in five years, that would be ideal, so that's what I'm aiming for. 

In March I made one percent of what I would need to make the switch.  Gotta start somewhere.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Well, maybe hubris is a bit too strong a word, but still.  So my novella has not been selling well, and by that I'm being kind.  It's easily my weakest seller, and I finally caved last week to the truth:  the title was just not working for me.  I had saddled it with what I thought was a clever play on words, even though it really revealed nothing about the book at all, since I was convinced that my genius would shine through and pull readers in.  Well, last week I renamed it, giving it a plainer but more descriptive title, and while I wouldn't say I've had a flood of sales, it's definitely improved, pulling up alongside my others.  I heard a phrase once--"murder your darlings"--and I should have done that in the first place with my too-cute title.

I also took heed of JA Konrath's posting recently about monetizing your intellectual property.  I stripped out three stories from my collections that shared a similar theme and repackaged them, slapped on a new cover and set them free as a brand new collection (so to speak; I was very careful to label them as previously published).  I wasn't expecting a lot from it, but it did increase my space on the virtual bookshelf, and strangely enough that has been my best seller on Amazon this month.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Trouble for Barnes and Noble?

So this blog entry from Time magazine is very annoying.  The entire thing tries to connect Borders' bankruptcy to Barnes and Noble, implying that because one large chain went belly-up, B/N is next.  Funniest lines, in my opinion:

For now, Barnes & Noble seems to be far from its final chapter. The company still has about $900 million more in assets than debt.

Nevertheless, the writer tries to find shadows lurking everywhere, mentioning that B/N has had to close "a handful of stores in the past few years".  Yikes!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Gmail scare and February update

So, I was one of those 150,000 people affected by the Google glitch that you may have heard about; my Gmail account first appeared entirely empty and then my Google account itself became disabled on Sunday, meaning that I had not only lost access to my e-mail, but my blogs, photos, etc.  Fortunately things are already better and Google appears to have put back almost everything so far, so in the end it looks like no harm was done.

February, my first full month publishing, turned out to be a much better month than I'd anticipated, with 131 sales.  I am still unsure why things are so sluggish on Amazon compared to Barnes and Noble--for the entire month I only had 11 sales on Amazon, a handful on Smashwords, and the vast majority on B/N.

For March, I plan to release another novella in a different genre; more about that later, but in a nutshell I'm curious to see what effect--if any--there is on my sales when releasing work that is not strongly identifiable as "mine".  I know that many writers do quite well working in a variety of genres, but I have to imagine that the bar is set quite a bit higher for self-publishers.  We'll see...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Yo Gabba Gabba

Nothing about writing or publishing today; just wanted to say that my son is of an age to appreciate "Yo Gabba Gabba" and Biz Markie's appearances there.  I am (unfortunately) of an age to remember Biz from the "Just A Friend" days and appreciate that my son is learning to beatbox from him.

Biz has aged pretty well, incidentally.  Devo, which has also appeared on Yo Gabba Gabba, has not.

As a real devotee of 80s music, it pains me to say that, but it's true.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Well, I am happy to report that I hit one hundred monthly sales today!  I had a goal of fifty, but when I set that goal I’d had no idea of what to aim for, so it really was a number plucked out of thin air and pretty much meaningless.  Yesterday was unusual in that it was the first day I sold copies of each of my three titles, incidentally.  I’m thrilled with the number, but I’m well aware that the only reason I sold so many was because they are all priced dirt-cheap (.99).  It’s also hard to get a handle on what a “normal” month would be since I added the third title a week or so ago, so there hasn’t been much time to see what happens when things just sit for a while.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My four-star review

Actually, it's not even a review; it's a four-star rating.  This means that after well over a hundred sales (cumulatively), only one person has clicked on the Barnes and Noble rating device for any of my books.  I'm not complaining (much); I'm just surprised that it's so difficult to get people to leave ratings—let alone write an actual review!


In any case, I'm extremely happy with how February has gone.  I now have two short story collections and a novella live on Amazon, B/N and Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble continues to beat up on Amazon.  As an example, in the last twenty-four hours I've had nine sales on B/N.  I've had one sale on Amazon in the last three days.  Must be the power of that one rating I got on Barnes! J


The novella, which I'd originally priced at 2.99, was selling a copy here and there, but I decided to experiment with the price and dropped it to 1.99, which resulted in absolutely no change at all.  This morning I dropped it to 99 cents.


As JA Konrath has said, the value of a book isn't the price you charge, but rather the profit you derive from it.  Gotta keep that in mind—for me, a few sales at 99 cents will rapidly outpace the earnings from the very few sales I'd had at 2.99, so here's to aiming low!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Be undeniably good

OK, so apparently this quote from Steve Martin has been going around for a few years already, but I just heard it yesterday for the first time.  No surprise that I'm late to the party.  In any case, here's his advice on how to succeed:
Be undeniably good. When people ask me how do you make it in show business or whatever, what I always tell them and nobody ever takes note of it ‘cuz it’s not the answer they wanted to hear — what they want to hear is here’s how you get an agent, here’s how you write a script, here’s how you do this — but I always say, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” If somebody’s thinking, “How can I be really good?”, people are going to come to you. It’s much easier doing it that way than going to cocktail parties.
I'm relieved to hear that this approach is easier than the cocktail party route, since I, for one, am so tired of attending cocktail parties!

I think that what he said is excellent advice for anybody venturing into self-publishing:  simple, easy to remember, and perfectly clear.  Whatever you're doing, keep that in the forefront of your mind and good things will come.

Incidentally, I can't be the only person who suspects that writer Steve Martini gets a small, but measurable portion of his sales from people who erroneously thought his book was Steve Martin's.  Or am I?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Amanda Hocking in USA Today

Here is a short article about Amanda Hocking; nothing really new but it does contain the astounding number 450,000, which is the number of books Hocking sold in January alone


Even if you're not into her genre, you've got to be inspired by that.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Another interesting day--I finally had another couple of sales on Amazon, plus another good day on B/N, which resulted in another 8 sales, pushing me over last month's number.  Woo hoo! I am surely now going to get a swelled head and be disappointed when I "only" get 2 or 3 sales a day, let alone--God forbid--zero.

OK, back to work!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Amazon vs. B/N

OK, so I totally get that nobody has heard of me--let alone my pen name--and thus I shouldn't expect many sales, much less every day.  But Amazon, did you have to tease me last month?  Did you have to give me sales here and there--sometimes more than one a day--and then cut me off dry for February?  Very frustrating. 

And then there's Barnes and Noble, which has turned out to be much more consistent and which is just killing Amazon right now.  Crushing it. Literally 20 to 1, after eight sales yesterday.  Kind of amazing and a great way to start the day!  My goal for February was to hit fifty sales, so unless B/N also goes off the tracks I should be able to do so.  Knock on wood!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Quiet times on KDP

So apparently that has been no glitch; they are just not that into me at Amazon this month.  Oh well, Barnes and Noble has been picking up the slack, and I've already sold more than half the number I did all last month, including 9 sales in just the last two days.  I can't complain!

Bakari Akil had posted a while back about self-publishing being a source of passive income, which had also been on my mind recently.  Several years ago I used to read a lot of personal finance blogs and "passive income"--income coming in without requiring any real work on your part--was a popular topic.  If I recall correctly, one blogger was a big proponent of owning gumball machines, like you see in malls and supermarkets.  While it could be a while before my sales are enough to make me consider quitting my job--and by "a while" I mean a good long while--self-publishing could eventually be my source of passive income.  Given that my job requires us to move every couple of years, it's hard to think of another way to do it.  Sure beats refilling gumball machines, that's for sure.

Of course, the "without requiring any real work" part doesn't address the part where, you know, you write a book.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sales report (and a new strategy)

Wow, either my sales have really been zero at Amazon for the last three days, or there is a hiccup in the sales reporting system there.  The Amazon forums seem to indicate that it could be the latter, so I'll just hang tight.  Fortunately, I had four sales at B/N yesterday, so I'm still pretty happy.

I decided to put together another story collection and include as "bonus material" the first chapter of the novella which I've already released.  You know, to cross-fertilize the synergy by thinking outside the box.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Fun with pronunciation

I'm not a Packers fan, but I do love watching people from outside Wisconsin trying to pronounce our place names....

Kids and e-readers

This was a very interesting article in the NYT this morning.  I'd been wondering about what kind of market there was for young adult fiction on Kindle, etc., since a couple of things I'm working on are aimed at that age group.  I thought that this paragraph summed things up nicely--and by that I mean it's astounding:

In 2010 young-adult e-books made up about 6 percent of the total digital sales for titles published by St. Martin’s Press, but so far in 2011, the number is up to 20 percent, a spokeswoman for the publisher said.

"So far in 2011"?  You mean in these last not-quite-five weeks?  And this is while (as JA Konrath recently posted) e-readers still only make up about 11 percent of overall sales?  Amazing.

Aaron Niz, if I remember right, had posted a while back about how this time is like the Gold Rush.  I agree with the sentiment but in my mind I'd compare it to a land rush, and I'm just a homesteader trying to get out there and claim as big a space as I can right now so that I stand out when things really get going.

Yesterday, incidentally, was a Very Sad Day.  No sales of any kind.  This shows me two things:  my expectations have already grown so ridiculous that I think I need to sell something every day even though I've been at this for less than a month (fortunately, B/N shows one sale already this morning, so I'm set for today).  It also shows me that I need to get going on my next project.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


So I've got a snow day today due to the enormous blizzard crossing the country.  Fortunately, I woke up at my normal time (lately) and did a bit of writing before my son got up; since then we've pretty much been playing Plants vs. Zombies.  Not a bad way to spend the day, actually, though I notice it's been very slow, with no sales yet today.  I did, however, tweak the product description for the novella to add a bit more detail.

I also made some notes for later development--there was an idea for a middle grade book that I had a while ago and last night it became much clearer how I might be able to do it, so that was nice, and I also had a revelation regarding the novel that I started several years ago after returning from a stint overseas.  So it's been a worthwhile morning.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

First sale of the month

Barnes and Noble just listed the first sale of February.  Good times!

January review

My first book, SC1, went live on Amazon on January 10th.  It went live on Barnes and Noble only several days later, and on Smashwords only a few days ago.  Thus it was far from a full month, yet I still managed to do 29 sales:

Amazon/Amazon UK: 8 SC1, 5 novellas
Barnes: 12 SC1, 1 novella
Smashwords: 3 SC1, 1 novella

I have to say, I'm surprised a bit by the numbers (especially Smashwords--the novella has been live there only since 1/29 and SC1 since 1/30).  Going from zero to 29 in only 3 weeks seems like a pretty good start to me!  

Monday, January 31, 2011


Well, my sales are now up to 24 for the month--including two on Smashwords yesterday.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Busy weekend

My continuing formatting problems are largely going away; after learning about a technique to use Smashword's process in order to better  upload to Barnes and Noble.  I've uploaded both the novella and SC1 to Smashwords, and used the resulting epub file to improve the novella's file on Barnes and Noble.  Tomorrow morning SC1 will get the same treatment.  I've picked up a few sales over the last few days, so now I'm at 20 for the month so far.  Twenty days and twenty sales.  I'm happy with that for now!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Novella update

Two more sales of the novella--one on B/N and one on Amazon UK--put me in a very good mood this evening.  :)

Better and better every day...

So now I have covers!  At least on Kindle—I followed the instructions from the formatting book and things turned out nicely; I was able to get both SC1 and the novella finally, correctly formatted.  If nothing else, I think that I’ve now learned that it’s not worth it to rush.

Hopefully that will improve my Kindle numbers (although I have had another two sales(one from each site) today, so now I’m at 13 for January).  Pubit still has some problems (regarding the cover—the other formatting seems fine) but I’m moving ahead anyway and today registered for Smashwords—I had seen a “cheat sheet” for Pubit formatting that relies upon work done by Smashwords, and since that will expand my reach anyway, it seemed like a good step to take.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ups and downs

OK, so for some reason it turns out that the formatting for Kindle didn’t turn out exactly like I wanted, so there are some definite errors that I need to address.  On the bright side, the novella is live on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble as of this morning, and I already had my first sale on Amazon.  Kind of shocking!  Couple that with an SC1 sale on B/N also today, and it’s a pretty good way to start the day!  I’ve now sold 11 books in January.

I ended up buying an book about formatting, so perhaps that will help me out.  Clearly, I should have taken greater care in the first place, but considering that these are under a pen name in a genre I’m not planning to normally write in, I doubt that there’s any harm done.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Novella progress

Okay, I’m a-rockin’ and a-rollin’.  I was able to finally straighten things out and get the novella uploaded to Amazon and—after a nearly painless bit of reformatting—for Pubit.  I will say again, the work I’m putting up for sale so far is trashy stuff, but it has been extremely valuable helping me learn how to do this.  If I had been trying this on my “real” books, I would have been very discouraged with how I’d started off.  However, I have already learned a lot and one thing that I do really like about self-publishing is your ability to make changes quickly and fairly easily.  As an example, in my product descriptions I had started off with kind of a smart-alecky voice, trying to bring something unusual and fun, but after looking at it many, many times, I realized that it just sounded unusual, without necessarily being fun or even adding anything of value.  So this morning I revised and already republished more direct, informative text. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

God bless Barnes and Noble

Okay, so now I’m able to log into Pubit again, and it turns out that I had a sale yesterday and one today.  Thus my January sales total nine.  Not bad considering I’ve only had it live for 15 days (and quite a bit less than that on B/N).

Formatting problems

So when I had uploaded my short story collection, I hadn’t noticed many problems with my formatting although it was already complete when I began to read about the apparently-forbidden use of the Tab key at the beginning of my paragraphs.  However, since I hadn’t seen anything wrong in the previews, I paid that no heed.  Bad writer! Bad, bad! 

When uploading the much-longer novella, I now see that indentation problems are rife, and it has taken me much longer than I’d like to admit to 1) figure out how to fix things, and 2) fix things.  I now hope that I’ll be able to upload it tomorrow and get things rolling.

The Pubit website has not been letting me log in (well, it’s also causing trouble for others; it’s not personal) since yesterday.  Very frustrating.

Other than that, I’m overall still very satisfied with how things are going—the whole indentation problem is one I’d rather have now than later, that’s for sure.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Okay, so this is kind of crazy, but it turns out that I even had another B/N sale yesterday.  Three sales in a day, bringing my January total to seven!  Whoo hoo!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Hot damn!

Make that six, with my first Barnes and Noble sale this afternoon!  Quite a weekend--sales three days in a row and then two just today. 

And then there were five...

Sales, that is, after picking up another UK sale this morning.  I have nearly finished the novella and hope to have that uploaded tomorrow morning.  It's been a good weekend!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

And another one!

Yet another sale on Amazon, bringing my total for January to 4.  Little steps, but I'll take them!

Friday, January 21, 2011


That's my rank on the Amazon UK site after my first sale there this morning.  Whoo hoo!  I wouldn't say that I'm exactly on the brink of success, but I am very happy with the progress that I've been making, especially since SC1 only went live on Amazon on January 10th (and yesterday on B/N, finally).

Only one more chapter to go in the novella, then editing over the weekend, and hopefully uploaded by Monday.  That's the plan, anyway!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sale #2

After sinking down to about 150,000 on the ranks, another sale today shot me back up to the mid-40s.  Not bad!

Progress on “Novella 1” is going well and I hope to have it completed by next week, at which point I’m going to get right to work on my second story collection, and then another novella.

I’ve continued to get reads and comments from posting on the UK site; the current numbers are over 1700 for the first story and an incredible 2658 for the 2nd one.  In addition, a couple of FB friend requests have come from there, so I’m now thinking that I need to set up a more professional blog that I can direct people to and add an Amazon widget.  Little steps, little steps.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Week 2

So it’s been about a week since I first put SC1 up for sale, and today is the first day that the price has been updated to 99 cents.  The views from the UK site are now:

Story 1: 1558
Story 2:  1384 views

And I picked up the following review:
FEEDBACK: Sweet! A great adventure.

So in spite of my low sales (putting it kindly), I’m going to keep my head down and plug away at the novella, which is coming along fine, thanks!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Big changes

One of the nice things about self-publishing is that you have total control over the entire thing.  It’s also one of the bad things–you are responsible for the entire thing!

I will say, however, that one of the benefits that I’d envisioned has paid off big time–I had thought that publishing stuff under a pen name would allow me to get my feet wet with different aspects of the process so that I have an idea of what I’m doing when it comes time to publish my “serious” stuff, and that has definitely been the case.  I’ve made a few mistakes along the way that I would have sorely regretted with my “real” work, so even if only for that reason, this has been a useful project.

My sale (which I mentally refer to as “Proof of Concept”) still sits alone on the DTP reports screen, but I’ve taken some steps to hopefully remedy that.  Work is going well on the novella and I hope to publish that in February.  I’ve updated my Amazon Author Central listing to indicate that as well as point out that I’m dropping the price of SC1 to 99 cents.  With a decent cover and a lower price, hopefully I can sell a few of these and garner a review or two, giving me something to build on for the novella.  I actually already have an idea for another one after that (in fact, I even have a cover ready to go), so perhaps I can build some momentum here.
I am encouraged by the continuing good responses I’ve received from the UK site, where Story 1 has garnered 1450 views and Story 2 has 554.  Of course, those are from people reading for free, but I’ve also received the following praise for Story 2:

FEEDBACK: Wow.. fantastic piece of writing, well formed…I look forward to reading more of your work… MUCH more.
FEEDBACK: Hi, just a quick note to say how much I enjoyed this story…I look forward to reading some more.
FEEDBACK: I was amazed; fantastic. Natural. I enjoyed much.

So, some people do like what I’ve been doing, which keeps me optimistic.  Now if only Barnes and Noble would hurry up and publish this thing (ironically, I’m anxious for it to go live so I can edit it with the new cover and updated text) I’d be all set!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Quick improvements

Although I just said the other day that I was planning to use a professional cover for the upcoming novel, I have already changed my mind.  Why?  Because after looking around just a bit I was able to find royalty-free images on the web and used Piknik to add some text, coming up with a decent cover for the novel and a MUCH improved cover for SC1.  I uploaded the new cover and it’s already on Amazon (I was very pleasantly surprised by how quickly that happened–it was literally done in a couple of minutes, if that).  I also replaced the file with a new version adding the credit for the cover image as well as correcting a couple of typos that had still slipped through (which would have been more of a big deal if anybody had bought this before).

One more thing...

The story that I’d posted on the British site has had over 1300 views–a lot of exposure for very little work.

Whoo hoo!

First sale!  Thus marking the first time in my life that I will be paid for my writing.  And the empire begins to grow…..

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Rethinking things

So I’ve been trying a variety of things to get my name out there and stoke some interest.  No sales yet, but that’s not surprising given that nobody knows who I am yet!

I’ve created a FB group in which I’ve posted some stories, and I also posted a short story on a UK site.  So far I’ve had 967 views in two days!  If only those translated into some sales!  I did also just get my first feedback from a reader on that site:

This is simply excellent. I mean the crafting; the style of telling the story…

So that was encouraging.  I’ve also begun work on a novella that I think I’m going to get a professional cover for and see if that works out better.  When I finish and upload that at 2.99, I’m going to drop “Story Collection 1” to 99 cents and see what happens.

So far still SC1 is still “processing” on Barnes and Noble.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Well, I’ve been learning quickly and making a few errors here and there, but nothing too bad.  I hadn’t been on Facebook so I set up an account and started adding friends and joining groups–little did I know that unsolicited friend requests can get you in trouble!  I was banned from adding new friends for two days but now I’m back in the saddle.  I’ve got over 50 friends and belong to a couple of Kindle groups, so my network is slowly growing.

I was going to add a free story on Amazon as a sample, but found out this morning that you have to set a minimum price of 99 cents.  Curses, foiled again!

Instead, I created a Facebook group for short-short stories and listed the story there, so perhaps that will work just as well, if not better.

No sales yet, apparently, but it’s a bit early to worry about that, I’d say.  Instead, I have already planned out a few new stories.  Gotta get my (pen) name out there!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Day 1

Hello world!  Welcome to my blog detailing my leap into self-published fiction.

Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be a writer.  Big surprise.  I wonder how many blogs of this type have some variation of that line in them?  A precious few, however, include this:  as proof of my youthful interest in writing, I can report that as a teenager I bought, read and enjoyed Isaac Asimov’s autobiography.  Yes, you may assume that I pretty much had my pick of the ladies when I was in high school.

I’ve written on-and-off for years, and like many hopeful authors I have a collection of half-finished things collecting dust; the only thing I’ve ever had published, however, was an essay in Foreign Service Journal a few years ago, for which I received three contributor’s copies.  Incidentally, as a teenager I sent a few things out and got a few rejection letters back; at the time, the idea of getting paid in copies seemed insulting.  When I actually got mine, it seemed kind of sweet.

With a family and a full-time job, I had essentially resigned myself to not pursuing writing until retirement.  It worked for Frank McCourt, didn’t it?  Nevertheless, in 2010 I decided to start writing again and I began plotting out several stories.  Sometime late in 2010—I don’t remember when—I happened to read JA Konrath’s blog, which I had first read a few years ago but had ignored for some time.  By this time, Konrath was on the self-publishing bandwagon (hell, he pretty much WAS the bandwagon, it seemed) and the more I read, the more I began to think about doing the same.  In December 2010, I first heard about Amanda Hocking, who hails from right next door to my native Wisconsin (and Konrath is from IL.  The Midwest really is underrated).  Hocking sold 100,000 books in December, and her story is really incredible.  The more I read Konrath’s blog, the more convinced I was that this was something that I could do (er, self-publish, not match his or Hocking’s numbers). 

I decided to really make an effort, but with a roundabout route.  While I have a plan for a series of YA novels, I have not yet begun to assemble my stuff into anything publishable.  I also didn’t want to miss out on the chance to learn as I went, but I did not want to put my “real” stuff through before I knew what I was doing.  Thus I decided to begin publishing under a pen name so I could see how to do things.  If it sells, great!  If not, no big deal.  I wrote a three-story collection in a genre I’d never even tried before, and as of today, my first book (which I’ll refer to as “Story Collection 1”, or SC1) is now live on Amazon.  The process for uploading was actually amazingly easy; while I confess that this wasn’t how I imagined entering the publishing world, there is something absolutely thrilling about seeing my work out there on Amazon.  If things go well with this first collection then I may do others, all the while working on my “real” fiction.