Tuesday, May 20, 2014

3 years and 300,000 books sold: My Reflections

In July of 2011 I took one of the biggest leaps of faith in my life. With the determination to share my stories with the world, I released Beckoning Light and began my indie author journey. Nearly 3 years and 300,000 books sold later, I thought it was about time that I did a reflection post. I considered making this post long winded. I thought about sharing my answers to the most frequently asked indie author questions I get, but that’s not me. Instead I’m going to share some small snippets of advice and a few numbers/charts.

There’s nothing easy about self-publishing. Other than parenting, I've never experienced anything that’s required so much energy. It’s a path with the same ups and downs as anything else, except sometimes it seems even harder than other careers because every part of it becomes personal. The single biggest piece of advice I can give to an indie author is to write, write, and write some more. Write what you love, take chances, challenge yourself to try new things, and never publish a book you’re not proud of.

The second piece of advice is to avoid negativity at all costs. Yes, you’re going to feel upset and down sometimes, but don’t let it derail you. A disappointing release can sting, but it’s not going to get better until you release another book. Study your failures and learn from them, but then look forward. Stay positive and avoid any unnecessary drama.

My other advice? You don’t have to do it alone. I hire editors, cover designers, and formatters for my books. I also work with a publicist and a literary agent, and I have a fantastic team of beta readers. I’m not afraid to ask for help when I need it. Develop meaningful friendships for the sake of developing the relationship, not because you think it’s going to sell you books. Jennifer Snyder and T.A. Foster are two authors I can’t imagine not having in my inner circle.

Finally, diversify. Diversify in terms of types of books and platforms. Although I sell the bulk of my books through Amazon, I've benefited greatly from having my books available on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, and Smashwords. I write in several sub-genres of romance, and I've found success by building multiple series at once.

It’s been a wild three years. I've published 15 books and have many more on the way. I've experienced ups and downs, rejection and success, but more than anything, I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity I've had to share my stories with readers from all over the world. I've met some amazing people, and I've made a wonderful income at the same time. I can’t wait to see what the next three years have in store for me.

Here’s a snapshot of what my first three years look like by the numbers.

Total Books Sold: 300,152 (majority sold at 2.99 or above)
                2011: 392
                2012: 9,901
                2013: 174,506
                2014 so far: 115,353

                               Figure 1: Book sales per quarter

15 books published: 3 YA Fantasy, 6 NA Contemporary Romance, 6 NA Paranormal Romance

                                       Figure 2: Percentages of overall books sales by genre

Most books sold in a single calendar month: 42,571; March 2014
Most books sold of a single title: 60,264; Flight (The Crescent Chronicles #1)
Best Selling Series: 142,645; The Crescent Chronicles

Am I glad I published my first book and decided to take the indie path? The answer is definitely yes. Over the last two years I've made more money than I could have ever imagined making as an author. I couldn't have earned as much if I was actively using my law degree. I've also been able to do this while working part time from home and taking care of my two young children. Is my success an anomaly? You can decide for yourself. Over the past few months there have been several reports discussing this topic that are definitely worth a look.

Self-publishing isn't for everyone, but it’s for me. Thank you to each and every reader who has picked up one of my books over the past three years. I promise I’ll have plenty more stories to share in the years to come.

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