Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Farewell 2012, Howdy 2013!

Overall, I am very happy with how things are going now that I’ve finished my second full year of self-publishing.  I’m beginning to feel like I have things coming together more and more professionally; I have to laugh at how I started things out back in January 2011, when I uploaded my first title to KDP (I can’t remember what it was called back then, but whatever).  The errors I overlooked and didn’t even realize I was making have largely disappeared, and I’ve got the formatting/uploading process down to a near-science.  I’ve added Kobo to the retailers I’m working with directly (I’d had it on my to-do list, but it wasn’t until JE Medrick wrote about her experiences that I decided to give it a shot) and I've been fairly pleased overall; if nothing else, I’ve replaced Smashwords’ messy files with nicer-looking ones, which may explain why it seems I’m doing better with Kobo working directly.  Fall, frankly, was very slow—no different from lots of grumbling around the web, although it was still better than the first half of the year for me.

Since I never wrote my entry explaining why July was such an amazing month, allow me to fill in some details.  After a lot of research and soul-searching, I decided to make some major changes with my erotica titles.  I tried to make the covers and titles more tasteful—not that I was all that explicit in that way to begin with; I’m not one of those writers whose titles must exactly summarize the stories; e.g., “Sally F----s the Neighbor and Her Stepfather On the Porch”.  Most importantly, I raised my prices.  I’ve nearly eradicated the 99-cent price from my titles now; there are a handful left but everything else is 2.99 and higher.  That one change blew the roof off my Barnes and Noble sales, which have consistently and soundly beaten my Amazon sales.  Although I don’t discuss money often, I will say that in July I made over a thousand dollars just on B/N.  I was as surprised as anybody else, believe me.  The rest of the year was a slow decline, although as if by clockwork, December 26 started excellent sales on B/N again.  In any case, even a drop from that summer high point still had me earning significantly more than I’d been doing only a few months ago, so I can’t complain.  Strangely, my sales at Amazon have remained remarkably consistent.  In a way I guess that’s good, since I’m making the same money I had been before, but it is frustrating.  I can’t seem to crack that nut at all.  One unusual thing I’ve noticed is that my romance novels sell far, far better on Amazon than on Barnes and Noble, whereas erotica sells better on B/N.  Not that I’m burning up the charts, but I sell a novel nearly every day on Amazon, while weeks can pass between sales on B/N.

Overall, I’m still at about seven percent of what I’d need to do this full time, which has held fairly steady for several months now due to improving sales through Smashwords (Apple in particular has been warming up).  My royalties increased by over 600% this year, though I recognize that that's an artificially high number since I was starting from so little last year.  I'll have a better idea of growth after 2013, of course.  I didn’t meet every goal I set last year, but after two years of self-publishing I remain as committed to this as I was at the beginning.

So what’s in store for 2013?  I have several things planned.  First of all, I want to try and grow my Amazon business, and it appears that novels remain the way to do that.  Although I’m hoping to release three novels next year (all romance), I am going to restrain myself and only plan for two.  I also have a novella nearing completion which I’m planning to publish in January, as well as another one planned for the spring and a smattering of stories along the way as well.  In addition, I’m slowly working on a couple of nonfiction titles, though I have no specific date in mind for those.  In 2012 I released 12 titles and I doubt I’ll be able to match that this next year, but you never know.  I’m also going to take a stab at a translation and see how it sells; I’m fluent in Spanish so I feel pretty capable as far as that goes.  The hard part is deciding what would sell best to a Spanish-speaking market.  I’d also like to get off my lazy ass and publish through Omnilit/All Romance.  I’ve heard good things about the site, so it can’t hurt to try it out.  I can’t say the same about Google Play, which still looks like it would be far more trouble than it’s worth.  Finally, I’m also going to be instituting a new process for my novels which begins with getting the print version formatted before the e-book.  Of the two novels I’ve released so far, only one is in print, but I found that it was easier to catch errors in the paper copy than onscreen, so since I wanted to expand my print offerings anyway, this will kill two birds.  Overall, I expect 2013 to be very, very busy but quite satisfying as well.

Here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2013 for us all!