Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Three things

1. I've come to the conclusion that social media--or rather, using social media to promote your writing--is about the biggest waste of time ever.  Seriously, even playing a video game would be better than Twittering or whatever; at least then you'd be giving your mind a break from your work.  When I was growing up, authors didn't have all the tools available nowadays, but that didn't keep me from reading a ton.  What kept me reading?  Good stories.

2. Google Docs, which I've just started using recently, is awesome.

3. I've quit my secure, high-paying government job for one halfway across the country which pays much less.  I did it for many reasons, but it has to be said that one of them is to make sure that I have enough time to devote to growing my business.  After making some significant changes this month, July has turned out to be amazing, but that will have to wait for another blog post.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Latest update

So, it’s been over three months since I last posted, which makes this a quarterly update, I guess!  Sales have continued well, if unevenly; I can’t seem to make any significant impression at Amazon although Barnes and Noble has continued to make up for it.  May, in fact, was by far my best month at B/N, giving me 20% higher royalties than the previous record.

Not surprisingly, the porn—I mean, erotica—still makes the most money overall, but that’s just due to the fact that I have more titles that are straight erotica (so to speak!).  The romance novels are still bringing in the most money per title, however, with one exception—last month I released an “erotic romance” which has been by far my best seller in the last several weeks.  That might be because it’s new, or it might be just because people like a spicy romance now and again, or both, most likely.  Considering it’s only a novella (about 22K words), I wasn’t sure what to charge for it, but I decided to try out 3.99, and sales have been doing well at a bit under 2 a day.  Of course I’m not going to get rich selling two copies a day, but if I had several of those all selling two copies a day (or perhaps more by benefiting from increased visibility via more titles) then it could add up nicely.  At this point I see no reason to drop the price to 2.99, and I’m certainly not going lower than that.  One thing I’ve become sure of over the last year is that the .99 price point is useless, coincidentally, 99% of the time.  Anyhoo, my thrillers/suspense are at the bottom of the ladder (not surprising since I only have a pair of stories from a yet-to-be-concluded novella), only surpassed (subpassed?) in their low sales by a paranormal novella from another series I haven’t finished.
The more I study what sells and what doesn’t, the surer I am that the future (for me) lies in writing romance.  I make no bones about wanting to make money writing, preferably a lot of it!  Thus it seems only common sense to concentrate on the best-selling genre.  I honestly never—and I mean NEVER—expected to write a romance, let alone a pair of them, but once I began, it turned out to be a lot of fun.  Right now I have one more historical novel that I’m planning in sort of a half-assed way which I hope to begin later this fall.  I’m just about finished with a follow-up erotic romance and have a few more in the hopper, and then finally I have a series of contemporary romances that I’ve been working on as well.  The biggest frustration is finding a decent cover artist.  If you want to find somebody who can design a thriller, paranormal or suspense cover, they crawl out of the woodwork.  I’ve found it a hell of a lot harder to find somebody who has done anything for romance—especially historical romance—that can match those from the so-called Big 6, however.
I’ve mentioned before my admiration for Ruth Ann Nordin, and I just have to say how wowed I was to watch the success of her first Regency romance over at Barnes and Noble.  So here was a book that was her first try at the genre, she did the cover herself, and one day I checked its ranking to see it at #16.  That’s right, SIXTEEN.  On the first page of results for Nook bestsellers.  Effing amazing.  It’s since dropped down, but last I checked it was still well below 1000.  And that’s the sort of thing I’d like to see for myself someday.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Gmail, italicized text and romance

So around a year ago Google froze my account (along with several hundred thousand other people, if memory serves) for about a week.  Last Sunday my Gmail account froze up and it's still out of order a week later.  Fortunately, last year I got smart and backed everything up on Hotmail, so this has been less of a problem than it might have been, but I think I've pretty much had enough of Gmail.  Too bad; it worked beautifully for years.

March has been fairly blah; sales are down from February although I really can't complain as I'm still headed for several hundred dollars at the end of the month.  Nowhere near many of the indie authors out there, but it's still amazing for me considering what I was pulling in a year ago.  And it's simple economics that things like this only go up, never down, right? :)

My breakthrough for the month--hell, the year--was that yesterday I found out how to set up a macro in Word to go through and replace all my italicized text with html markers.  Previously I had to go through the Word doc page by page and insert the markers myself (truth be told, until very recently I was doing so in a text document until I realized that I could do it much easier working directly in Word), but invariably I would forget to insert an end tag and thus screw up my formattting--something I wouldn't see until I was using the Kindle previewer.  So for my second novel, just this process of formatting my italicized text took hours.  Now, however, I should be able to have it done automatically, error-free, in literally seconds.  Huge improvement.

I released my second novel last month and I can see what Konrath, et al. have said: there's more money in novels than in other lengths of work.  Of course, the majority of my sales have come from my other works simply because I have more of them (I only have two novels up, versus over twenty shorts, novellas and collections), but looking at the income per title, the novels are clearly way ahead.  So far in March I've been selling two per day (not two each yet, unfortunately, but a total of two novels daily) from all channels combined.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

2nd novel finished!

So at 5:59 AM, I finished the first draft of my second novel.  Things went differently for this one than the first one; for one, it took a lot less time.  The first one took around four months of actual writing, but this one I completed in under three months.  Also, I wrote this one entirely in order; on the first one I wrote whatever appealed to me at the time, which was nice in a way since if I felt blocked in a certain part I just went and wrote somewhere else.  However, it was much harder to remember where I was in the overall story, so things went more smoothly this time.

I was planning to do a formal update of how January went, but then I saw an email from Amazon this morning indicating that the "prior month" report may not be accurate.  I sure hope it was, because when I looked at it yesterday it showed that I had blown away December and that January was my best month yet by far.  Guess I'll have to wait to find out....

Friday, February 10, 2012

Partial update

So it’s frankly a real pain to try and figure out how well I did on Amazon in January; my monthly update will wait a few more days until they release the reports.  However, I can say with some confidence that January was very, very close to December, and that was my best month ever in terms of royalties.  February has started out more slowly, though still nothing to sneeze at.

Most significantly, however, I am thrilled to report that I sold 35 copies of the romance novel in January, and I’ve continued to see around one a day since then as well.  The followup should be finished in a week, so barring major misfortune I should have my second novel up for sale by March.  The two are standalone novels although they share the same location and some minor characters, so I’ll be selling them as part of a series (which eventually will have 4 books).  I’ll be extremely curious to see how the release of the second book—not to mention pushing them as books in a series—will affect sales.

More to come!