I’ve been meaning to do this sort of write-up for a while, but I’m always hesitant because I don’t want it to seem like I’m bragging or whining. Here’s the thing, though: writing is my full-time job. Just like any other business, it’s important to track what is and isn’t working. I also strongly believe in sharing information; I don’t see other authors as competition. Being that I’ve been sort of coaching a couple of authors new to indie publishing, I think it’s even more important for me to share what I’m learning.
I’m going to share my actual sales numbers and income. I’m a little nervous about this, because I am far from making a full-time living off of my books. But I would like to track what I’ve been doing and swap some ideas with you.
Let’s get started.
- Becoming Natalie (Book #3, Becoming Natalie Series)
- Becoming Natalie: The Complete Collection (Books #1-3 in the Becoming Natalie Series)
- Uploaded Becoming Natalie to Kindle, iBooks, and Kobo for pre-order and added links to series sales page on my website.
- Serialized Raising Dad on my blog, posting a new chapter every day.
- Gave away the first five ESX books via my email newsletter.
- Offered a signed limited edition ESX postcard to email subscribers.
- Posted a gallery of photos from the real life setting of the Becoming Natalie series.
- Posted a cover reveal for Becoming Natalie.
- Made an effort to update my blog at least once a week with relevant pop culture or social topics.
- Earlier in the summer, I signed On the Edge: The Complete Collection up for a sale on Kobo. The sale went live during August.
- Updated ESX sales page on my website with description for Coda.
- Uploaded Coda for pre-order on Kindle, iBooks, and Kobo. Added links to series sales page on my website.
- Updated my social media strategy: post at least once a day with WIP updates, tidbits from my life, and share relevant social and pop culture issues.
- Created a thank you page for the Becoming Natalie trilogy, for those who read the entire series.
- Created Twitter accounts for ESX characters (Koty, Jett, Johnny Z, Dev, and Benny).
- Set up a mock website for ESX.
- Created Monday-Friday content schedule for ESXmusic.com.
- Updated Goodreads.
- Updated serialized books on Wattpad: Amplified (ESX, Book #1); Raising Dad (Becoming Natalie, Book #1); Positive (On the Edge, Book #1).
- Updated navigation on website, home page, and banner.
I made $87.75 in sales across the board in August—a new record for me! June and July were really rough, but August evened things out. Most of it was due to the sale on Kobo; On the Edge: The Complete Collection sold like crazy! It was definitely my bestseller across the board, followed by the books in the ESX series.
The last book in the Becoming Natalie trilogy and the bundle of all three books did okay, but definitely not as well as I expected it to. Even now, more than halfway through September, those books still aren’t moving much.
This just solidifies my decision to focus on the ESX spinoff in 2015.
Crazy Comes in Threes sold 3 copies across the board—the best it’s done in months. I’m still planning on writing a sequel, but because the ESX series has been doing so well, the Comes in Threes series is not a priority for me right now. My goal for this year was to write and release as many different things as possible in order to grow my catalog and experiment to see what worked. After all, this is a business and I have to make a living. I am very happy with how things turned out, and have a very clear picture of what 2015 will look like for me.
As usual, I didn’t sell anything on Drive Thru Fiction, Smashwords, or YouHeartBooks. Those markets have been dead for me for a while now, and I’m considering cutting my losses there and focusing on Kindle, iBooks, and Kobo. I’m going to give it the rest of this year, though, and see if anything improves. I’m leaning more toward deleting my YHB account, because it looks like even the owners have given up there. DTF simply seems to have a different audience than the one I’m looking for, and that’s okay.
I’m not sure what’s going on with SW. I used to have good sales there.
Nook sales continue to be weird for me. Some months, nothing will happen. Then, like last month, I’ll sell a few copies of a few things.
What Worked in August
Participating in that site-wide Kobo sale was a huge winner for me. They’re doing another one in October, so I just signed up for that, too. I love the way they merchandize their books by hand and promote sales. I always see great results. I also often see a spike in my sales on their site and have no idea how it happened.
I’m not sure what else worked, because unfortunately, I got a couple of bright ideas too late into the month to see immediate results. I’ll know better by the end of September.
I do think that becoming more active on my blog and social media helped grow my platform a bit, which is always a good thing. I saw a lot more interaction from readers, across the board. That alone makes August a success.
What Didn’t Work
It turns out that serializing Raising Dad on my website was probably a waste of time. I’ll know better as the Becoming Natalie trilogy ages a bit.
What’s hard is, I’ve been releasing several books in different series at a time, which means I’ve been marketing all over the place. I think that has definitely affected my sales negatively. Since my goal was to grow my catalog, though, I’m okay with that. Next year I will be focusing solely on the South of Forever (the ESX spinoff) series, which will grow my platform and give me better sales as the series grows.
There is still no magic bullet when it comes to selling books. (Gasp!) You have to keep trying different things and stay agile; be ready to stop doing what doesn’t work and try something else. It’s also nearly impossible to make any money when you only have one or two books out, or when you’re juggling multiple series. From what I’ve read and seen, the authors who have been steadily working on one main series and are at least five books into it see the best sales. We’re not talking millionaire status, here, but they make a decent living.
I’ve been trying some new things throughout September, and can’t wait to tell you about them!
How did you do in August? Which marketing techniques worked for you? Which ones bombed? Leave a comment below or shoot me an email at email@example.com.