This is my very first blog post. I hope to make this entertaining for both authors and readers. Mostly, I will focus on my self-published writing journey, but I will likely dabble in other topics, like history, recent books I have read (from mostly self-published authors), and who knows what else (but no politics, guaranteed). In all, I hope you find it worth your time to read.
As you may know, we have four rescue dogs. This week, we will introduce Ace. He is half yellow lab, half chihuahua. Please do not ask me for any details, as I do not have them, nor do I wish to know. Needless to say, Ace has the ball-chasing skills of a lab and the personality of a chihuahua. Quite the combination. He is affectionately known as Ace-hole.
I published my first book in May of 2021. Since then, I have published two sequels (completing my trilogy) and four short stories (related to the trilogy). I have been relatively successful in this endeavor, and I am often asked to share some of the things that helped me along the way. Just as importantly, I want to share what has not worked. Lastly, I think sharing the experiences (and challenges) of self-published authors can help readers understand how difficult it is to write, publish, and market a book or multiple books.
That is a great question. Some people want to see their stories in print. They love writing, and selling the book to a friend or stranger is secondary. Some people solely focus on traditional publishing and the validation that comes with that accomplishment (among other advantages). I think, deep down, everyone wants to be the next James Patterson or J.K. Rowling. When I talk about things like success, it is purely my opinion and experience from which I speak. I do not judge others who have taken a different path, nor do I believe there is a one size fits all solution. Writing, publishing, and marketing is an extremely personal journey, and no two journeys are alike.
I have different phases of success. First, break even on a day-to-day basis. This means generating more revenue in sales than I spend in marketing (measured day to day because I am a numbers geek). Second, generate enough profit to pay for what it costs to publish my existing novels. Those costs include professional editing, formatting, and cover design. The last phase is generating a residual income that I can use during retirement. Again, my goals are highly personalized. Currently, I am solidly in phase two, probably approaching phase three.
Generally, a traditional publishing house considers a book a commercial success if it sells 10,000 copies (all formats) over its lifetime. In those cases, they recover their investment and make a profit. Most books do NOT make this objective. For a self-published author, that is a very lofty goal.
From an industry perspective, here is a great link to get pure data:
Some really interesting points:
As you can see, it is a really difficult endeavor. Why is that? There are multiple reasons, but here are what I think are the most critical (in order):
Here is a snapshot of where I am as of 11/25/2022. I included reviews, as I feel they are a critical part of the sales process (I will talk about that in another blog post).
Book one is almost halfway to that elusive 10,000 mark. I am not sure it will reach that (usually, 80% of sales are in the first year), but we will see. I should also mention that book one had 20,000+ free downloads during a Bookbub Feature deal (another blog topic). That certainly boosted sales for books two and three.
The reason I wanted to show this chart is not to brag or boast about my success. I am hoping that sharing my success gives me a measure of credibility around these topics. I am not an expert, but I am effective enough to navigate the incredibly complicated and intimidating world of self-publishing.
Next week, I plan to share what I think are the critical aspects of effectively publishing and marketing a self-published book. See you then! And please, feel free to comment below!