rowyn: (Default)
In the last few days, I've had people ask "how do you attract an audience?" You can skip to the bottom for my advice, or read my rambling on the subject beforehand, as you prefer.

Prelude
Before I say anything more, I want to be very clear about my level of success, or lack thereof. My three books have, combined, sold around 2000 copies in the 21 months since I first published. I've made about $7000 from writing. Something like $5500 of that was from my first book, A Rational Arrangement, mostly in the first four months after publication. ARA's sales qualified me for membership in SFWA (which I joined) and the Author's Guild (which I did not). If I had to re-qualify on a different book (neither organization makes you do so), I could not do so.

Those sales are much, much higher than the $0.00 I made in the previous 20 or so years where I was earnestly writing stories that I hoped to sell and have readers for. It is "real money", in the sense of "I just paid off my mortgage a year early because of this."

It is not "real money" in the sense of "I could live on this". My current writing income is around $80 a month, which is enough to pay my Internet bill. It would not pay for groceries, much less all my other expenses. It does not amount to minimum wage for the many hours I've put into writing, editing, and publishing, or for the many hours my friends have donated to beta-reading, proofing, and typesetting my books. I am pleased with my level of success, but I am not making a living wage by any American standard.

There are a lot of people more qualified to give advice than me. Really, you should be reading them. But if you're still here:

On Failure
There is no path to a career in writing that has a high chance of success. There is no equivalent to the standard career path of "get good grades in school, get a degree in X, and you have a 80-95% chance of making a reasonable annual salary doing something in the general field of Y." Most people who want to make a living as a full-time writer do not.

Most people who want to be writers give up, at one stage or another. Before they finish writing their first book. Before they finish editing it. Before they finish a book they are happy enough with to try to publish. While trying to find an agent. While trying to find a publisher. After publishing their first book. After publishing their fifth book. That writer who wrote this one trilogy you loved and then you never heard from them again? Probably one of the ones who gave up.

Why do they give up? Because they're not inspired any more. Because they decided the odds of finding an audience were too slim. Because they're not making a living wage and they'd rather use their free time to play video games, or run RPGs for their friends, or garden, or whatever. Because publishing is too much work for too little reward, even if they're still writing. (Yes, I know of at least one author who kept writing after they quit publishing. The publishing side is a lot of work and mental energy.)

So those are some of the ways you can fail. There are many other ways to fail. Most people fail. My guess is, that of the people who have earnestly labored at writing for hundreds of hours, most will never produce a polished manuscript. Of those who do, most will never publish, not even self-publish. Most of those who publish will earn less than $1000 in writing. Most of those who make over $1000 will not earn enough to support themselves independent of a day job.

I don't know what those fractions are. No one really surveys for this stuff. Jim Hines did a "novelist income survey", and in theory the people who made $10 self-pubbed on Amazon last year could fill it out, but I strongly believe they self-select out of it. "I'm not a real author, this survey is for real authors." And that survey still puts the median income at under $20,000 a year.

I do not write this to discourage writers. This is actually my weird, roundabout way of encouraging you. Because if you feel like "no one will read my work!" then you need to know that this is a problem for 99.9% of writers. You are not doing something horribly wrong and everyone else can do this so why not you, what are you missing, why is this so hard? It is so hard for you because it is so hard for virtually every writer. Writers who fall into a career in writing are one in a million. (*waves to Ursula Vernon!* Who, it must be noted, worked incredibly hard to fall into her career in writing.)

Actual Advice

These are the things which are necessary, but not sufficient, to making a living as a writer:
  • Write in an engaging, compelling manner. If you're writing fiction: tell a good story. In many forms of nonfiction, telling a good story will also help. Humans like narratives.
  • Finish what you write.
  • Make your work available to readers in some fashion (submit to publishers, or self-publish in some fashion)

Everything else is neither necessary nor sufficient, although it might help. If you're self-published:
  • Cover: This is your main advertisement for your book. Make sure it is attractive, suitable for the genre of your book, and looks interesting at thumbnail size. If you are going to invest money in any part of the publishing process, investing it in the cover is probably the best place.
  • Social Media: If you don't like using social media for its own sake, it is a waste of time and resources. Don't. I use LJ and Twitter because I like using LJ and Twitter. My social media presence for the last 15 years or so did help in promoting my books, but, y'know, that's $7000 for 15 years of activity. If I'd been doing it for the money, so not worth it. But if you like social media, being active on it and engaging with new people in a friendly manner can help you expand your audience.  Using social media primarily to say "Buy my book", however, is worse than useless.  
  • Paid Advertising: If you have a body of published work (at least 3-4 books in one series), Bookbub is easily the best value in the business. You need to discount your book in order to submit to Bookbub, and Bookbub generally only takes books that are already at least modestly successful. There are a number of other advertising outlets, most of which do not offer a great return on investment (if any), but they might be enough to get your book into the "modest success" range needed to get on Bookbub. YMMV. I have not tried paid advertising anywhere, myself, entirely due to laziness on my part.

My Personal Favorite Advice


This comes from Kristine Kathryn Rusch: The best use of a writer's time is to write what you love, get it out there, and repeat, as fast as possible.

Does this work reliably? No. But neither does anything else, and at least this way you're spending most of your time and energy writing, which is why you decided to do this thing in the first place. Right?
rowyn: (Me 2012)
Graph of Amazon sales for A Rational Arrangement, from June 24, 2015 through September 30, 2016:



(This graph is only Amazon Kindle sales because Draft2Digital, my distributor for the other book stores, does not break out sales by day. I generated it in Google, though, since Amazon will only generate a graph for the last three months or less.)

First Year Sales by Month of A Rational Arrangement:

Pre-launch: 36
1st Month: 507
2nd Month: 292
3rd Month: 146
4th Month: 68
5th Month: 75
6th Month: 37
7th Month: 38
8th Month: 90
9th Month: 36
10th Month: 45
11th Month: 39
12th Month: 35

Total Sales for A Rational Arrangement, from 6/24/2015 to 9/30/2016: 1,496.
Total Sales for Further Arrangements, from 2/1/2016 to 9/30/2016: 428.

At this point, sales of A Rational Arrangement have not quite flatlined: it sold 5 copies in September. Likewise, Further Arrangements has almost stopped selling: 10 copies in September.

I put both books on sale last week, at the same time I released The Moon Etherium. This move probably generated a few sales, but as the low totals show, they're still basically moribund.

The Moon Etherium's first week of sales have not been impressive either: 33 so far. That's about half of Further Arrangements's sales in its first week, and less than a third of A Rational Arrangement's.

*

My net income for my first year as an author was about $6,400: something like $5500 from ARA and $900 from FA. I'm happy with that total. It's by no means livable as a sole source of income, but it's nonethelesss much better than I'd expected to do by self-publishing. I didn't seriously expect ARA to make even a thousand dollars when I released it, much less over $5000.

I really wanted to write this post because many of my friends saw that first Monthiversary sales report from me back in July 2015, and I think it conjured an image of my sales as much higher overall than they've actually been. Moreover, it might have left the impression that things would only get better: my next books would be as successful or moreso. Not so much.

I don't anticipate that my second year will go as well as my first year. I intend to keep plugging away at this writing gig, regardless. What would I do if I didn't write, anyway? I will probably try some more new things.  Perhaps some of them will work better!  Or worse. Let's find out!

Purchase links for books:
A Rational Arrangement (standalone M/M/F fantasy romance): Amazon ~ Kobo ~ Nook ~ iBooks ~ Print
Furher Arrangements (three romance novellas in the same setting as A Rational Arrangement): Amazon ~ Kobo ~ Nook ~ iBooks
The Moon Etherium (standalone M/F fantasy romance with bisexual protagonist, new setting): Amazon ~ Kobo ~ Nook ~ iBooks
rowyn: (Me 2012)
These are the sale figures for my polyamorous fantasy romance novel, A Rational Arrangement. (Buy it here! Amazon ~ Kobo ~ Nook ~ iBooks ~ Print). With new, bonus sales figures for the second book, Further Arrangements!

Sales Graph from June 24, 2015 through February 29, 2015.



(This graph is only Amazon Kindle sales, because only Amazon breaks out sales by day. I generated it in Excel, though, since Amazon will only generate a graph for the last three months or less.)

Total Sales of A Rational Arrangement:

Pre-launch: 36
1st Month: 507
2nd Month: 292
3rd Month: 146
4th Month: 68
5th Month: 75
6th Month: 37
7th Month: 38
8th Month: 90
Total through 2/29/2016: 1289

Average unit sales:
1st Month: 16.9
2nd Month: 9.4
3rd Month: 4.9
4th Month: 2.3
5th Month: 2.4
6th Month: 1.2
7th Month: 1.2
7th Month: 3.6

Total Sales of Further Arrangements:
1st Month: 162

Average Unit Sales:
1st Month: 4.9

Miscellaneous sales: Draft2Digital sold 13 units of either FA or RA in February, and won't tell me which sales go with which book until next month.  You're a little behind the reporting curve here, D2D.

I am taking advantage of February being a short month to change these posts from "monthiversary"  numbers that run from the 29th to the 28th, to month-end numbers.

As expected, the release of Further Arrangements perked up sales for A Rational Arrangement. I put both books on sale for $2.99, which also contributed to the rise in sales. (RA got 3-4 sales at $2.99 before I announced the sale, after a week of zero sales).

This was a nice bump: more sales than RA'd had in four months.

As also expected, Further Arrangement outsold RA, though by less than I'd anticipated. Both books were priced at 2.99 for much of the month, because I goofed on sale pricing by forgetting to update the D2D prices, and Amazon price-matched RA at $2.99 for an extra 10 days or so after I meant to end the sale. Whoops. Anyway, total income is about what it was back in September (the third month).

I'd hoped FA would sell 50% of what RA sold in its launch month. Actual unit sales were 32%: not dismal, but not great.  The upside of this: I've been working on Birthright, an epic fantasy novel in a different setting from the Arranging Paradise books.  If RA and FA had combined to reach the sales hights of July/August, I would feel more like I ought to work on a new Arranging Paradise romance instead.  As it is, I feel free to try my hand at a different subgenre and see how what the market thinks of it.
rowyn: (studious)
Further Arrangements is now for sale! At URLs conveniently accessible to your browser!



About the book

A Prequel, a Sequel, and a Parallel:
Three novellas set in the world of A Rational Arrangement

His Angel: Lord Justin Comfrey is not in the habit of molesting the help. But when his host assigns an angelic young man to attend to Comfrey's every need, that resolve is sorely tested.

Inconceivable: When Wisteria has trouble conceiving a child with her husband, Nikola Striker, it only makes sense to them to ask their secret husband for help. But to Justin, the question is not so simple.

A Regular Hero: Callie strikes sparks with the handsome warcat Anthser, but she's a competitive racer and he serves the Blessed Lord Nikola. She wants more from her life than to be the second most important person in his. Must one of them give up their life's dream to be the other's mate?

Special New Release Price!


In honor of the release, both A Rational Arrangement and Further Arrangements are on sale for $2.99! Buy them now! Sale ends February 15.

I do not presently plan to serialize Further Arrangements, so if you'd like to read more in this setting after the serial of A Rational Arrangement is complete, here's your chance!

Publishing Details


Special thanks to [livejournal.com profile] alinsa, who lovingly typeset the book for me, and did the typography for the cover.

Further Arrangements will also be available in print form in the next week or so. Cover price to be determined. It should be less than A Rational Arrangement, because Further Arrangements is much shorter than the first book.

Other Ways to Support the Author


If you do not wish to buy, or cannot afford it, that's fine. If you like A Rational Arrangement, please spread the word! Recommendations to friends, retweets and reblogs of the story installments, reviews on Amazon or on your own blog, etc., are all much appreciated.

For those who read the collection: reviews on Amazon are especially helpful! Not only do they increase the book's visibility on Amazon, but when the book accumulates enough of them, various book review sites will let me submit it for Yet More Reviews. (It's a virtuous cycle!)
rowyn: (Me 2012)
These are the sale figures for my polyamorous fantasy romance novel, A Rational Arrangement. (Buy it here! Amazon ~ Kobo ~ Nook ~ iBooks ~ Print).

Sales Graph from June 24, 2015 through January 28, 2015.



(This graph is only Amazon Kindle sales, because only Amazon breaks out sales by day. I generated it in Excel, though, since Amazon will only generate a graph for the last three months or less.)

Total Sales:

Pre-launch: 36
1st Month: 507
2nd Month: 292
3rd Month: 146
4th Month: 68
5th Month: 75
6th Month: 37
7th Month: 38
Total through 1/28/2016: 1199

Average unit sales:
1st Month: 16.9
2nd Month: 9.4
3rd Month: 4.9
4th Month: 2.3
5th Month: 2.4
6th Month: 1.2
7th Month: 1.2

So the good news: sales has held steady for two months! At a non-zero number!

The bad news: Sales has also held steady for the last week, at exactly 0. Whoops.

But there's more good news! I'm releasing Further Arrangements next week! Typically a new book in a series will increase sales of the previous books, so this may perk up A Rational Arrangement's sales.

RA was priced at $4.99 for about ten days of the latest period, and then at $5.99 for the remainder. I plan to put it on sale again for the launch of Further Arrangements, perhaps even as low as $2.99. That will probably also increase unit sales.

I also noticed that Amazon doesn't show RA categorized as fantasy any more. It's now in "Bisexual romance" (I don't think this category existed when I first launched -- I think it was all "LGBT") and "mulitcultural/interracial romance". "Interracial" is technically true and I remember checking that box, but I think "romance -> fantasy" is more to the point. The presence of greatcats and Blessings has much more impact on the narrative than the difference in races. I may fiddle with the keywords to see if I can get it lumped back into romance -> fantasy.

In milestones: A Rational Arrangement got its first one star review! Which was basically "I thought this would be a fantasy novel, not gay romance". Okay then. I don't mind that it picked up a one-star review, but I am a bit sad that it's likely to be the most recent review when Further Arrangements goes live. If anyone out there has read A Rational Arrangement and liked it but not reviewed it on Amazon yet, now would be a lovely time to drop in a review. c_c

In better milestones: A Rational Arrangement has now earned enough in royalties to qualify me for membership in the Author's Guild! I don't plan to join the Author's Guild currently; I find membership in SFWA useful and informative, but a lot of that is because it's got genre-specific resources and advice. I may someday join Romance Writers of America for similar reasons, but the Author's Guild doesn't hold that attraction for me.
rowyn: (Me 2012)
These are the sale figures for my polyamorous fantasy romance novel, A Rational Arrangement. (Buy it here! Amazon ~ Kobo ~ Nook ~ iBooks ~ Print).

Sales Graph from June 24, 2015 through December 30, 2015.

(This graph is only Amazon sales, because only Amazon breaks out sales by day. I generated it in Google Sheets, though, since Amazon will only generate a graph for the last three months or less.)

Total Sales:

Pre-launch: 36
1st Month: 507
2nd Month: 292
3rd Month: 146
4th Month: 68
5th Month: 75
6th Month: 37
Total through 12/28: 1161

Average unit sales:
1st Month: 16.9
2nd Month: 9.4
3rd Month: 4.9
4th Month: 2.3
5th Month: 2.4
6th Month: 1.2

After holding steady for a month, unit sales are falling again. It will be really interesting to see how the trend for this book compares to the trend for the next book I release!

The $4.99 sale ended on 12/14, which I suspect is partly responsible for the resumed decline. I put the book back on sale on 12/26, in the hopes of catching some of the "I got a gift card for Amazon!" crowd. I hadn't planned to make $4.99 the permanent price until the serial wrapped up in March, but it's tempting to take that route now. I think I'll put it to $5.99 at the end of next week, just to see how that price point works out.

Also curious if I'll get a sales bump on A Rational Arrangement when I release Further Arrangements (planned for February, at this point). I plan to time a sale on RA at the same time FA comes out.
rowyn: (Me 2012)
These are the sale figures for my polyamorous fantasy romance novel, A Rational Arrangement. (Buy it here! Amazon ~ Kobo ~ Nook ~ iBooks ~ Print).

Sales Graph from June 24, 2015 through November 28, 2015.

Sales Graph 2015-06-24 to 2015-11-28.jpg

(This graph is only Amazon sales, because only Amazon breaks out sales by day. I generated it in Excel, though, since Amazon will only generate a graph for the last three months or less.)

Total Sales:

Pre-launch: 36
1st Month: 507
2nd Month: 292
3rd Month: 146
4th Month: 68
5th Month: 75
Total through 11/28: 1124

Average unit sales:
1st Month: 16.9
2nd Month: 9.4
3rd Month: 4.9
4th Month: 2.3
5th Month: 2.4

Woohoo! UNIT SALES DID NOT FALL! For the first month ever! I credit this to the sales price of $4.99 (down from $6.99) which began on 11/6: you can see the sales bump it created, and sales have been steady since. The halcyon days of summer have not returned, but I'll take it.

Draft2Digital sold a book, as did Createspace. Amazon didn't have any zero-sales days this month, so that was cool.

Net income is down from October, due to the lower price. But I will happily accept that! For one, I think more readers is better in the long term than more money is right now, and at $4.99 I figure these are buyers who plan to read the book, not people getting it because it's really cheap and they might read it one of these years. For another, it was not that large an income drop; less than 20%. Given that net income has been falling by 40-55% each month, having it drop by only a little is quite comforting.

Also, apparently the people who bought it on sale liked it!  RA picked up five new five-star reviews in November. ♥

The sale ends on December 11, so it'll be interesting to see if the monthly sales decline resumes when the price goes back up to $6.99.
rowyn: (studious)
I thought I'd do this on time this month, just for contrast with the third-month anniversary. These are the sale figures for my polyamorous fantasy romance novel, A Rational Arrangement. (Buy it here! Amazon ~ Kobo ~ Nook ~ iBooks ~ Print).

Sales Graph for the last three months.  I may stop including a graph on these posts, given that I can't give the Big Picture in one image any more. Also, I could just say "It's a line dropping by 40-55% per month" and that'd give the right general idea.



Total Sales:

Pre-launch: 36
1st Month: 507
2nd Month: 292
3rd Month: 146
4th Month: 68
Total through 9/28: 1049

Average unit sales:
1st Month: 16.9
2nd Month: 9.4
3rd Month: 4.9
4th Month: 2.33

The sales drop-off picked up a little speed, declining 54% over the last month. Non-Amazon sales dropped to zero this month (you're letting down the team, Kobo/B&N/iTunes). Amazon finally had a zero-sales day, on October 17th. Surprisingly, that remains the only zero-sales day, despite a string of days with one sale.

Still psyched that RA broke one thousand sales this month. \o/ I can't believe that many people have found and bought my book. Go, little book! Be read!

As mentioned earlier this month, RA will go on sale on November 6. I am curious to see if that will affect overall unit sales! [livejournal.com profile] haikujaguar's experience is that November/December/January is generally a good time of year for sales, but I don't know if that will impact me, given that I only have one book out. (Still plugging away at my next book!)

Tune in next month to see if the approximately 50% downward trend continues!  
rowyn: (studious)
It's been over three full months since the official launch of my polyamorous fantasy romance novel, A Rational Arrangement. (Buy it here! Amazon ~ Kobo ~ Nook ~ iBooks ~ Print).

So: sales data time!

I can no longer get Amazon to give me the full history in one handy chart! Here's most of it, from 7/1 to 9/28:


Total Sales:

Pre-launch: 36
1st Month: 507
2nd Month: 292
3rd Month: 146
Total through 9/28: 981

Average unit sales:
1st Month: 16.9
2nd Month: 9.4
3rd Month: 4.9

Sales continue to fall off by 40-50% a month. It's most of the way through the fourth month now, and that trend looks likely to continue in October. It's close enough to October 29 that I was tempted to wait and post months three & four at the same time. Then I realized I will probably be slow about posting month four too, so let's just get this one up. As always, the vast majority of RA's sales are from Amazon, though sales through Draft2Digital stayed flat at 6 copies so they've gone from 2% of sales to 4%. (Go non-Amazon bookstores! Provide some competition!) Despite the continuing drop, I remain pleased by overall sales and rather boggled that it hasn't fallen to zero yet. Not even for one day. O_o (Though that day is presumably coming, perhaps even this month.)

I've gone from checking on sales a few times a day (when it first came out) to checking a few times a week. Maybe my desire to check is tied to "whenever 5-10 copies have probably sold"?

I did nothing to affect sales in September, and have no plans for October, either. On November 6, I'll be putting the book on sale for $4.99; this timing is connected to events in the serial. I may buy some advertising at the same time, depending on whether or not Marketer Rowyn comes out from under the kitchen table.

In one last piece of sales news: RA didn't break 1000 units in September, but it did hit that milestone in the first week of October. \o/ SO EXCITED.

I'll close with a link for those interested in publishing numbers in general: Kameron Hurley's fascinating post on the average sales of published books.
rowyn: (studious)
In 2015, the Authors Guild surveyed their members about their writing income, for the first time since 2009.

Much has been made of this survey, particularly that the average writing income reported by members in 2015 was 30% lower than that on the 2009 survey.

I have worded that very carefully, because none of the articles I've read about this survey did.  This survey is touted as proof that writing income is down, that writers are living below the poverty level, and that authors just can't make a career out of writing any more, not like the Good Old Days.

But as far as I can tell, this survey has virtually none of the information one needs to demonstrate any of those things.

The survey data is divided between "full-time" and "part-time" writers. But the summary doesn't say how it defined those things. How many hours per week does a part time writer average on writing-related work? How about full time? Do these labels even have a basis in time worked, or is it self-reported by whatever standard the member considered?

That's the data I'd most like to know: how much are writers making per hour worked (and "work" here includes marketing, contract negotiation, book formatting, and all the other business tasks that go along with making money by writing.) The summary says that marketing time is "up 59%" but doesn't say how much time that is. (I wish I could find the actual survey data, but it doesn't look like AG has made that publicly available.)

Another thing I'd like to know: what are AG's membership trends? This is a membership survey, not a writer survey. Is AG's membership up since 2009? Have its services become more attractive to low-income members than high-income? I note that its membership criteria require new active members to either have a published book through a publisher on their list, or to prove income of at least $5000 in the last eighteen months. (Incidentally, I don't qualify yet, but it's likely that I will, probably by the end of this year.)

Which brings me to my next point: membership qualifications set an income floor. To participate in this survey, one has to not merely being trying to make money at writing, but to have actually succeeded to some degree.

I started writing with a goal of publication when I was, oh, 15 or so. I finished writing my first book when I was in college. I quit writing with the goal of publication for about a decade after college, but took it up again in 2003. I have finished three novels and a few dozen short stories since then, and started three unfinished novels.

From 1985 to 2014, my total writing income was $0.00.

Surveys like this one will tell you that my income this year -- the first year I ever made money from writing -- counts. But they don't count the $0.00 I made last year, when I edited A Rational Arrangement, or the $0.00 I made in 2013, when I wrote it. I'm not working any harder now than I have been for the last 12 years, on average. The only difference is that in 2015, I actually got paid for it.

In 2015, I took a weird polyarmorous fantasy romance, featuring a neuroatypical female protagonist and a word count that put it at almost twice the maximum length a traditional press would look at for a new author, and put it up for readers to buy. This is not a book I could sell to a large press. In 2009, before ebooks had taken off, it wouldn't've counted. Now it does.

So I look at this summary that claims author incomes are down, and I want to know: Are they really? Or is it just that now you have to count a whole bunch of people who used to make nothing at all?

Even now, I can't readily count the number of people I know personally who've written books -- plural -- and never been paid for their writing. Are writers making less now than ever? Or is it that instead of 1% of them averaging $25,000, now 2% are averaging $17,000?

That the income decline was largest for authors with the most experience (15+ years) does mean the decline isn't due just to new people entering the field. But then again, there've always been a lot of authors who vanish after an unsuccessful book. How many have been able to make a comeback now? If your career started  in 1996, died in 1998, and you revived it in 2014, how many years of experience does the Authors Guild count you as having?

I don't know the answers to any of these questions, and even full details of the Authors Guild's survey would only have the answers to a few. And this isn't even all the questions I have. Suffice to say that I am not sold on the narrative they are trying to push from their results.
rowyn: (studious)
It's the second full month since official launch of my polyamorous fantasy romance novel, A Rational Arrangement. (Buy it here! Amazon ~ Kobo ~ Nook ~ iBooks ~ Print).

That means it's time for DATA!

Amazon KDP Sales Graph:
RA Sales Graph 2015-08-29

Total Sales:

Pre-launch: 36
1st Month: 507*
2nd Month: 291
Total to date: 834

Average unit sales:
1st Month: 16.9
2nd Month: 9.4

Since I did a monthiversary post at the end of July, I figured I'd do another at the end of the second month, because I am still all excited about this whole "people are buying my book WHAT" thing. I will probably stop doing these at some point.

August sales were uniformly down from July: I went from having frequent days of 20+ sales and most days having over 10, to no days that were over 20, and most days being 10 or less. For the first few weeks it was an up-and-down seesaw from day to day: 17! 6! 19! 7! The last ten days flattened out to around 6-7 a day.

I have no good explanation for the flattening of sales at the end of August. My bad explanation is "the WorldCon effect": sf&f readers were attending WorldCon and have been buying/reading books they bought in person, and/or reading the Hugo winners, rather than buying new books online. This lines up with anecdotal reports from a few other authors who saw their sales drop in the same period, but I'm not sure WorldCon is the right explanation for the downturn. Sasquan's webpage shows 4,151 attending members, which is a pretty small slice of overall fandom. A huge media con like DragonCon (next weekend!) is more where I'd expect that kind of impact.

I have not systemically tracked RA's sales rank on Amazon. However my rough sense is that it correlates to sales as follows:

18-22 books-per-day: Sales rank around 10,000
10-12: Sales rank around 20,000
5-7: Sales rank around 30,000

This is highly unscientific. Also, while Amazon sales rank is heavily weighted by the most recent sales, it does take into account past sales in some fashion or other.

A Rational Arrangement picked up 8 more reviews this month (yay!) including the best 2-star review ever. Seriously, it starts out with "The author is talented and inventive". The complaint amounts to 'book was not clearly labeled as CONTAINS GAY SEX'. I am totally down with people who look at the reviews seeing one that warns them BOOK CONTAINS GAY SEX.**

In conclusion: I'm still delighted with RA's overall sales. In the next month or two, it's quite likely to hit four-digit sales, which is like WHOA. I would love to see it return to last month's highs, but it's vastly exceeding my expectations as it is. \o/ In September, I plan to buy a modest amount of Amazon advertising. I am curious to see if that will have a perceptible impact! (EDIT: Whoops, looks like a book needs to be Kindle Select in order to run an Amazon ad campaign. Never mind!)

* For anyone wondering why my previous post showed total sales of 550 while pre-launch and first-month sales on this one total 543: my last post included 7 sales from the second month, because I was giving totals to-date on July 30.

** In perfect seriousness, I do feel that the RA blurb should do a better job of establishing that the book is a polyamorous romance and two of the characters are bisexual. But I haven't thought of a way to do so that I like and find consistent with the rest of the book's style. The cover tagline, "It's not easy for individuals of a Certain Disposition to wed in Newlant. But surely three reasonable adults can come to a Rational Arrangement" was intended to suggest this in a way consistent with the book's themes. But it's still pretty subtle. Anyway, I don't actually want to trick people into buying a book they won't like, so I am totally good with a review that warns about it, especially one that does so in such a kindly fashion.

Want to be the 835th buyer of A Rational Arrangement? Find it here! Amazon ~ Kobo ~ Nook ~ iBooks ~ Print
rowyn: (studious)
RA Sales Graph 2015-07-29


This is the Amazon sales graph for my polyamorous fantasy romance novel, A Rational Arrangement. (Available at a URL near your mouse cursor! Amazon ~ Kobo ~ Nook ~ iBooks ~ Print).

Graph by request of [livejournal.com profile] alinsa, who thought the sales graph in particular would be cool.  I left the scale on because I do not care if the whole world knows how many copies it's sold. HERE, HAVE SOME DATA, WORLD.

Incidentally, this is the graph that Kindle Direct Publishing gives authors when checking their reports. There are add-ons available for KDP, but I haven't gotten any because the basic page suits my purposes fine.

The "days" are weird.  I don't know when Amazon rolls its day clock over, because the downloadable spreadsheet they'll give doesn't have the same sales-per-day as the graph.  Like the graph shows I sold 3 copies on 6/23 and 1 copy on 6/24, but the spreadsheet shows no sales on 6/23 and 4 copies on 6/24.  Even stranger: it's not consistently "graph shows some sales with a datestamp a day earlier than the spreadsheet". Yesterday morning, the graph had 8 copies for 7/28 and 3 for 7/29, while the spreadsheet gave 11 sales on 7/28 and 1 on 7/29. Uh. Okay! Whatever, the overall numbers match up and this is still data a billion times better than what authors get from major publishers.

Some landmarks for reference:

6/23: Uploaded book to Amazon at night.  Alinsa bought a copy to make sure it was working. It was not.  Alinsa ironed out an erratic problem with the .mobi's display of italics on some devices. Alinsa got it sorted (Amazon screws with the .mobi after upload and she has to make sure they can't mess it up with what they do). I re-uploaded on 6/24.
6/25: "Soft launch": Amazon copy looks good now! I let my Twitter followers know it's up on Amazon and propagating to other book-selling sites. (Kobo and Barnes & Noble already had it -- and were not affected by Amazon's glitchy handling of italics anyway -- but iBooks was dragging its feet). Several people retweeted the announcement. 16 copies sold! I was a little excited, and also a little "this is probably half of what I am ever going to sell, oh well."
6/29: Official launch! I pimped my book everywhere I have a web presence. I mentioned it was on sale ($2 off! Buy now!) I got a fair number of retweets and tweet-quotes on the lines of "buy it! It is good!" plus a tremendous boost from [livejournal.com profile] haikujaguar, who included a recommendation and link to it from her blog.
7/7: The last day of the $4.99 sale.  I originally intended to have the sale run for 7 days, but that would've ended it on a Sunday, which is a bad social-media day. So then I planned to end it on Monday 7/6, but forgot my phone and so couldn't make a "last day of the sale!" announcement. So I ended it on Tuesday instead.

My best guess is that most of the books during this period sold to people who follow [livejournal.com profile] haikujaguar.  Not that people following me weren't buying it (I love you all!) but she has a much bigger audience than I do, and frankly, a third-party endorsement of a book is much more appealing than the author's own endorsement.

Also, Micah released her Blood Ladders trilogy, which begins with An Heir to Thorns and Steel, just a few days after RA came out. So my book showed up on the "customers also bought" section of her Amazon page (and vice versa), meaning people who go off to buy her book were reminded that mine existed and might check it out.

7/8: Predictably, RA's sales dropped after the price increased to $6.99.
7/11: Unpredictably, RA's sales went back up.

My best guess at why my book started selling again:

Lois McMaster Bujold released a new novella, Penric's Demon, on 7/6. Micah's new series is in the top results of Bujold's "also bought", and RA is in Micah's. RA started out buried at around #12 of Bujold's "also bought" list, but it eventually climbed to #5 (and is currently #6).  So it looks like people are finding it either via Bujold's novella, and/or because Amazon is putting it on customer's home pages under "Recommended because you liked [X]" page. In any case, I started getting reviews from people who've never reviewed Micah's work but have reviewed Bujold's. One reviewer mentions that it was recommended to her because she liked Diana Wynne Jones's The Lives of Christopher Chant, which, wow, Amazon, that is SO SWEET OF YOU TO SAY.  And also whacked because that is a YA/middle-grade novel and um RA really is not.  But I still appreciate the thought!  And she did like RA, so I guess it works?

7/19: I have no idea what happened that Sunday.  Literally, I got nothin'. I hope it happens again someday.  That was nice.

7/27: My average up through this day has been about 15-16 copies per day.  Overall, it's been selling a little better per-day at $6.99 than it did at $4.99 (even discounting the slower sales prior to official launch).  I think the early boost from Micah was critical to getting RA up in the Amazon rankings and into Amazon's recommendations algorithm. Without that, I am pretty sure the book would've stopped selling once the sale period ended. Sales through iBooks/Barnes & Noble/Kobo dried up at that point. So it looks like people who hear about me directly (via my social media or someone else recommending me) might go to those stores to buy it. But only Amazon is selling A Rational Arrangement without anyone else directly pointing to it.

7/28: In honor of my monthiversary, sales have decided to halve. Ah well.

I don't know if the last couple of days are a fluke or a new trend towards lower sales.  I'd be quite happy to have sales hanging around 10 per day, in truth. Time will tell.

Total books sold at the $4.99 price point: 170*
Total books sold at the $6.99 price point: 380

Days at $4.99: "Available" period was 15 days. "Official launch" period was 9.
Days at $6.99: 21

Total sales to date: 550.

For a big publisher, 550 sales in the first month is "fire this author" territory.  For me: I am floored.  I am absolutely amazed that 550 people bought my book.  People I don't know bought my book.  People who don't even know anyone in common with me bought my book. WHAT HOW IS THIS I DON'T EVEN.

I keep trying to picture it: a random stranger browsing Amazon saw the cover image that I created and Alinsa laid out and thought "that looks interesting". And then read the blurb I wrote and went "sure, I'll try it."  This does not seem like it could happen even once, much less happen dozens of times.

Wow.

Seriously, my expectations were set at "eh, maybe 50-100 copies for the year". This does not exceed my wildest dreams (I am a fantasy author: my dreams get a whole lot wilder than this, believe me) but it still feels unreal.

Great! But unreal.My expectations are that 7/28 heralds the beginning of the end, and that sales will peter off to 0-1 a day from here. But hey, (a) my expectations were wrong last time, so whatever, and (b) 550! Woo! That's not gonna change.**

In conclusion:

\o/

* Total sales is accurate, but the split between price points is +/- 5 copies, because the breakdown from D2D is less accessible than Amazon's, and I don't feel like untangling it.
** Okay, yes, it can change. Amazon lets you return ebooks. But it's not a huge factor the way "shipped" vs "sold" is wildly different with big publishers.

Edited to add purchase links at top & bottom, because I fail marketing 101. *^_^*

If you'd like to be sale #551, A Rational Arrangement is available at any of these fine websites: Amazon ~ Kobo ~ Nook ~ iBooks ~ Print
rowyn: (studious)
As of today, it's been a full month since the public release of A Rational Arrangement.

Sales have far surpassed my (very modest) expectations. Checking the sales graphs and the Amazon rank is weirdly addictive; I am trying to cut back on the former to "once per day", and the latter to "only if sales levels are unusual." I do not presently DO anything with this information, and the sales data accumulates and I am not going to miss anything if I only check, oh, once a month I definitely don't need to be staring at it multiple times a day.

I plan to buy some advertising on Amazon at some point; I am curious what effect that'll have. Since the $4.99 sale ended, Amazon has been doing all the work of selling RA. iBooks, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble combined account for less than 5% of my sales.

My modest success thus far has been very motivational: after months of writing little-to-no fiction, I've spent the last three weeks working diligently on a novelette in the same setting as A Rational Arrangement. As I've noted in comments, I'll be putting out a collection of shorts in the setting. The collection will be much shorter than RA -- perhaps 50-80,000 words all together, instead of RA's 210,000+. I have this delightful fantasy in which I am able to release it this year. I am not convinced this will happen. But I do have about 30,000 words on it already (13,000 from this month and 17,000 that were written in 2013.) Of course, publishing a book has a whole lot more moving parts than just writing the first draft. But I am pretending this is the hard part (hint: it isn't) for the sake of keeping my motivation high.

I am tempted to write about specific numbers: how many books sold, royalties earned, what the patterns are like, etc. I am not sure if this is wise. I will do a poll! Vote in the comments if you like, and don't have an LJ. :)

[Poll #2018262]
rowyn: (artistic)
The "three figures dancing" was more popular than any of my other choices from the previous poll on the cover for A Rational Arrangement, so I've been working on that one. I fixed the ratio* first, and added a bit of the heretofore unseen dancers on the right and left, and made a few adjustments to the figures. I also fiddled a lot with the background in an effort to make the text would stand out better and to make the whole thing look better when it's shrunk down to thumbnail size. This meant ditching my beloved parchment background, which I've used for all the headers so far**. Oh, and [livejournal.com profile] tuftears and [livejournal.com profile] archangelbeth both suggested putting the frame at the very edge of the image, so I did that.

Then I tried text layout again, and branched out from Amazone to experiment with some less-script-like and possibly-more-readable fonts. Also a few different layout choices. [livejournal.com profile] archangelbeth suggested both making the word "Arrangement" more prominent and putting the author name at the top, so I did samples with those. I think I personally prefer the author name at the bottom. I am not sure about making "Arrangement" the dominant word: I think the significant word in the title is "Rational", myself.

Anyway, I've got four different variants now, I figure I can do a new poll!

You should be able to click on the images to see the full size versions on Flickr. I've thumbnailed them at the size Amazon displays thumbnails on its main page.

[Poll #2012821]

@fullaquirkes on Twitter pointed out that I didn't order the images by typeface, or clearly label them. Ack. The images in the poll are:

1. Amazone
2. Harrington
3. Amazone (again)
4. Chisel D

* Amazon's Kindle site has one ratio in the guidelines for uploading to the site, and a different ratio that they actually display at and that everybody else uses. I dunno what's up with that.

** I am resisting the urge to replace the backdrop for all the existing headers to match the cover. This way lies madness.
rowyn: (cute)
I checked the suggestions from my name poll (all of which are IMO better than anything I offered) and [livejournal.com profile] terrycloth offered the BEST NAME EVER.

Seriously, I love this name. It is a name so good that I actually want to publish books*! I need to write more books JUST SO I CAN PRINT THEM UNDER THIS COMPANY NAME.

It is:

Delight in Books

Is it not nifty?




Okay, so it may be just me who thinks this is the awesome name of awesome. For those of you who don't know, I used to write a World Tree fanfic under [livejournal.com profile] delight_in_wt. The title character changed her name frequently (a common trait for members of her species in the World Tree setting), but her names had the general format of "Delight in [Whatever]". The name thus has personal meaning for me. Beyond that, it leads easily to imprint names: I can call the business "Delight in Books" and the imprint for A Rational Arrangement can be "Delight in Romances". ("Delight in Fantasies" might sound too erotica for a fantasy imprint, though. Still!)

But since I had some other new ideas too, and there's some small chance that someone could talk me out of "Delight in Books", I'm doing another poll.

After [livejournal.com profile] haikujaguar pointed out that it was not a great idea for the publisher name to be easily mistaken for the first book I'm publishing, it struck me that what I liked about "Rational Romances" was not just the alliteration, but the seeming (not actual) dissonance between the two ideas. So I'm listing some riffs off of that, which have the virtue of not sounding like my book title. But no alliteration. Not sure I like them.

And I'm including the other three suggestions I got from the last poll (thanks also to [livejournal.com profile] tuftears for "Vasilver Enterprises", [livejournal.com profile] siege for "Comfrey House" and [livejournal.com profile] whitefangedwolf for "Greatcat Press"). Because I was serious when I said all the suggestions were better than my original choices.

[Poll #2012575][Poll #2012575]


* The more time I spend on this whole "publishing A Rational Arrangement" thing, the more I am ahhhhh what am I doing why did I think this was a good idea ahhhhhhhhhhh
rowyn: (studious)
[Edit: I've closed this poll because I've made a new poll here with MUCH BETTER options.)

I plan to self-publish A Rational Arrangement in June, and want to have a name for my publishing business. Since I plan to publish under a pseudonym (it's easier to use my existing hand than it is to establish a web presence under my real name), I need to register some name with the state anyway, so I might as well register a publishing company and make it all official-like. I Are a Real Business!

Step one of this (very complicated) process:

Pick a name.

... right.

Since I am not attached to any of the names I've come up with thus far, I figured I would use the time-honored Make It A Poll approach*!

[Poll #2012549][Poll #2012549]

I do kinda like "Rational Romance" (which was [livejournal.com profile] alinsa's idea), but I am concerned it sounds like "romance for rationalists", which is not what I am writing. (Nothing against rationalists!) Also, only particularly applicable to this one book. On the other hand, I can always make another publisher name, and probably will want to regardless because publishing lines are associated with genre, and I don't only write romances.

* I do not promise to use whichever name gets the most votes.

August 2017

S M T W T F S
  12345
67 891011 12
13 14 1516 171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Aug. 19th, 2017 01:49 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios