Posts Tagged ‘self-publishing’

Author copies!

 

Look what the courier brought me!

 

 

 

Aren’t they gorgeous?

 

I had taken delivery of five boxes of self-published titles last week, which was extremely satisfying. But in that case, I’d already seen proofs of all but one of the books. With the Montlake title, I got my first look at these puppies when I tore the box open. There’s nothing cooler! Well, apart from being presented with your actual baby. :)

 

Speaking of those self-published titles, here are the pics I took last week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am feeling very rich of books, if lighter of purse.

 

 

Meet Theresa Ragan!

Back in December, I had the pleasure of being interviewed at Theresa Ragan’s blog. I thought it would be fun to turn Theresa’s own questions back on her, and she agreed.

By way of introduction, Theresa is an amazingly talented and incredibly hot-selling author in multiple genres (her tag line: 3 genres, 2 names, 1 author). She was a Legal Secretary for fifteen years before she penned her first novel and discovered her passion for writing. She is a member of The Golden Network and the Sacramento Chapter of RWA. Theresa has garnered six Golden Heart nominations in Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart Competition for her work. She lives with her husband, Joe, and the youngest of her four children in Sacramento, California.

Welcome, Theresa! Please tell us about yourself and your books in 100 words or less.

It took me five years to write my first book. What a learning experience! I wrote for 19 years with the goal of selling a book to a big 6 publisher. I wrote every day and I signed with two agents. No sale. Not until 2011 after I went indie. Everything has changed since then. Now when I write, I know my story will be read. More than ever, I want to write the best book I can. I want to bring smiles to readers’ faces. I want to make readers cringe, squirm, laugh, and cry. I am having the time of my life!

 

Did you ever want to quit writing? Why or why not?

Yes! I knew from the start that my writing journey might be a difficult one. I had read every how-to book on the planet and they all mentioned that rejection was part of the deal. Despite the warnings, never in a million years, did I think getting published would be THIS difficult. I was doing everything right: writing, learning, growing, putting my work out there. I tried to quit and I lasted six months. During that time, I felt agitated and moody. I was not happy when I wasn’t writing. I also went through a bitter stage. Inside, I felt as if I knew I would publish someday and when I did I was going to shout “It’s about time!” Following the bitter stage, I finally became enlightened. I believe that was in 2007. I knew that I needed to let the bitterness go and find joy in the writing and that’s exactly what I did. It’s all about attitude. You can train yourself to be a positive person. I let go of the negative thoughts and became grateful for everything good in my life. I’ve never looked back and I’ve never again entertained the idea of quitting.

 

What are your writing career goals? (i.e. to write 2 books a year? To hit the NY Bestsellers List? To sell 100 books a month?)

My goal is to write an amazing story…the kind of story that will make people laugh and cry and think. I have no idea what story that will be or what genre, but that’s my goal. I want to inspire others to never give up on their dreams. I want to hit the NY Times Bestseller List. I could go on and on, but I’ll stop there.

Have you truly mastered grammar and sentence structure? Do you feel 100% confident about every comma in your book?

I feel 50% confident in my abilities. I’ve taken so many classes, but there are too many exceptions to the rules. If I ask 20 people whether or not I need a comma, 10 say no and the other 10 say yes.

 

How many pages do you think you could write in one day if you had zero interruptions from 8 AM to 8 PM?

30 pages. I love getting a day with no interruptions. It happens about once a month now that my kids are grown up!

 

How do you think (take a guess) writers like Nora Roberts write so many books in a year?

I am guessing she wakes up, grabs her coffee and goes STRAIGHT to her laptop. She pulls up her WIP and starts writing. She doesn’t look at email or Facebook. She doesn’t tweet or spend time searching the internet for fun tidbits. She writes. Maybe she does some of the other stuff later once she finishes her 50 pages for the day, but I doubt it. :-)

 

What would be easier for you to write, a sex scene or a murder scene?

A murder scene by far. I think it’s because when I read I tend to skip sex scenes in books unless the scene is funny or really ads to the story somehow. Sex is great, but murder is just plain fun to write! Ha. Okay, now I sound sick and twisted. What a horrible question to ask!

 

LOL, Theresa! May I remind you that was YOUR question. Okay, if you were allowed to have only ONE book (of yours) for sale on Amazon and B&N, which book would you select? Why do you think readers might enjoy it?

I would pick Abducted because when I was writing that book, I had thrown caution to the wind. I started writing that book during the bitter stage I talked about earlier. I was angry and my characters were going to pay with their lives. And they did. That book allowed me to let go of my anger and bitterness with where my career was going at the time (or NOT going). Writing Abducted was definitely therapeutic and I am grateful for that book and for that time in my life. Readers might enjoy Abducted because it’s fast-paced and entertaining.

What made you decide to become a writer? 

I was pregnant and on a leave of absence from work. I was tired of watching Young and the Restless, so I read my very first romance. The escapism was exactly what I needed. I laughed and cried and I knew the minute I finished the book that I wanted to provide that same sort of escapism for women just like me.

 

Do you remember the first time you sat down and started writing your first novel? Did you start with notes or did you start with Chapter One and go from there?

I thought I was writing a book, but I ended up with a 50 page outline. That’s why the first book I wrote took me so long. Now I write Chapter One in the heading and go from there. No outline needed.

 

Any advice for new writers just getting started?

Write the book that YOU want to write. Don’t write the book your mother or sister wants you to write. Don’t write the book that you think will sell to a publisher. Don’t write a vampire book just because they’re all the rage. Write the book that speaks to YOU. The sort of book you would want to read. If that means your hero is a one-legged pirate with a stutter, then go for it! Believe in yourself. Write your FIRST draft with abandon. No critiquing. Just let the story out. Have fun. Let it flow. When you get to the end, start revising. The great writing is in the revising.

Thanks for inspiring me to self-publish, Norah, and for having me on your blog!

 

Thank you for joining me, Theresa. It’s always a pleasure. And thank you for inspiring us all with your amazing success story. You are a shining example of what can happen when talent and perseverance meet opportunity!

 

Theresa loves to hear from readers. Connect with her online at:

Theresa Ragan Website

Theresa on Twitter

Theresa on Facebook

 


 

 

Indie sales for 2011

On this lazy New Years Day Sunday morning, I’ve done a little number crunching while the household sleeps. Below are my approximate sales numbers for the 11 titles I had available. I say approximate, because it will be a while yet before the full tale can be told vis-a-vis my sales through Smashwords distributors for the last reporting period. I should also mention that one title – Lauren’s Eyes – has been pulled and is no longer available in my self-published catalogue. Happily, it will soon be available again (Spring 2012) from Montlake, the romance imprint of Amazon.

Okay, on to the numbers, which take into account sales through Amazon, Smashwords and its distributors (including Apple, B&N, Kobo, Sony & Diesel), and AllRomanceEbooks.

 

Title Price Units

Sold

# of Months

available / year

THE ROMANTIC SUSPENSE    

Guarding Suzannah $3.99

(briefly $2.99)

4,325

12

Saving Grace $3.99

3,058

12

Protecting Paige $3.99

2,442

12

Needing Nita (15K Novella) FREE

120,736

12 (3 on Amazon)

Lauren’s Eyes $2.99

2,068

11

   

THE PARANORMAL ROMANCE  

The Merzetti Effect $3.99 ($0.99 briefly for holiday promo)

1,004

7

Nightfall $3.99

208

3

   

THE DIX DODD COZY MYSTERIES  

The Case of the Flashing Fashion Queen $0.99 (was $2.99 for 3 months, then free for 3 wks)

44,667

9

Family Jewels $2.99

2,740

6

   

THE YA PARANORMALS  

The Summoning (Book 1 Gatekeepers) $3.99

36

9

Ashlyn’s Radio $3.99

26

7

   

TOTAL UNITS SOLD  

181,310

While 181K books sold sounds very impressive, bear in mind that more than 133K of them were free. Which means I sold approximately 47,500 paid units. Also, the biggest earner (the Dix Dodd Mysteries) are jointly written with a partner, so the income is split.

Any way you cut it, though, it was a very nice year. On the solo side, my romantic suspenses continue to find an audience, and the paranormal romance is starting to come along. With respect to the joint work, my writing partner and I plan to publish two more Dix Dodd mysteries in the coming year, as well as launching a website specific to the series, so I believe the cozies will continue to be the best-sellers. Our YA clearly needs some help. It has suffered from lack of promotion, as we focused our attention on the better performers. However, we do plan to put those books into print and budget a little more promo time for them to see what happens.

The indie publishing landscape seems to be changing beneath our feet yet again, so it’s difficult to predict what the year will look like in retrospect when I sit down to do this on New Years Day 2013. However, I think it’s safe to say it won’t be boring!

The Impact of Free

During the months of September and October, I made Book 1 in the Dix Dodd Mystery series free across all platforms which I control, for promotional purposes. Amazon eventually price-matched. During those several weeks, sales of The Case of the Flashing Fashion Queen skyrocketed and it soared to #1 on the Top 100 Free in Kindle Store list. When the price was reinstated ($0.99), the book continued to top the genre lists (Humor, Women Sleuths) and managed to hang around on the Top 100 Paid list for a bit. While the book enjoyed that visibility, sales were phenomenal. But was there any lasting impact?

Yes and no.

As you will see from the table below, by far the biggest impact was on sales of Book 2 in the Dix Dodd Mystery series. Family Jewels continues to sell very briskly at its full price of $2.99 (500 units per month, compared to pre-sale volumes of 50 units per month).

However, there was virtually no transfer of velocity to my other books. This is by no means a surprise, since the Dix Dodd books (humorous mysteries co-written with Heather Doherty under the pseudonym N.L. Wilson) are so radically different from the romantic suspense and paranormal romance I write, and the YA that Heather and I write together.

As it a success? Absolutely! Fashion Queen now has 35 reviews with an average of 4.2 stars. And it created a much wider audience for subsequent books.

Looking back on a year of self-publishing

August marks the anniversary of my decision to start self-publishing. I entered the fray with LAUREN’S EYES, a book which had been previously published in mass market and to which I had reacquired the rights. I added three romantic suspense novels in August and began promoting all four books. More titles followed through the course of the year, and I now have nine books available (two of which are YA paranormals co-written with literary author Heather Doherty).

This month, as I celebrate a year of self-publishing, I thought I’d take my cue from some of my fellow indie authors and share some sales information. My hope is that those of you who are new to self-publishing with perhaps one or two books up and who aren’t yet seeing strong sales, will take heart. It does take patience and experimentation. It also helps to have a series. And naturally, the more books you have out, the better. As you’ll see below, many books making modest sales can generate a nice income.

Okay, let’s get to it.

I know many indie authors have taken off like rockets on Amazon. I have to say that my trajectory was less dramatic. Nevertheless, I am very pleased with the upward trend. Here are the raw numbers:

My sales through Smashwords and its distributors (Apple, B&N, Kobo, Sony and Diesel) were significantly more for the period, but those dollars are harder to neatly separate into monthly earnings. Payment is made quarterly, and the reporting from distributors lags several months behind, making it hard to draw accurate comparisons with Amazon’s real time reporting. Also, I had Smashwords hang onto my money until I could get an ITIN number from the IRS to establish my tax treaty rights, the result being that most of my earnings for this past year were paid to me recently in one lump sum. Since I don’t have the data to make a nice chart showing the gradual growth in sales, I’ll just speak generally about my Smashwords experience.

Bearing in mind the lag in sales reporting I mentioned, I am showing sales of 7,920 paid units through Smashwords and its distributors. (Total downloads were actually 45,626 units, but 37,706 of those ‘sales’ were unpaid units. The vast majority of those freebies were downloads of a free novella designed to stimulate interest in my Serve and Protect romantic suspense series.)

Contrast those 7,920 units with the 2,083 units sold at Amazon, and you can extrapolate from there, throwing in a little extra for the sales not yet reported. Not a bad year. And – woot! – I just surpassed the 10K mark!

Obviously, in retrospect, my decision to jump into self-publishing could not have been better timed. The Amazon monthly sales chart really tells the tale. The Christmas 2010 rush on electronic reading devices translated into a sharp increase in sales in early 2011. No doubt the addition of more titles to my catalogue contributed to ongoing growth. It also doesn’t hurt that many of my books are romance, which sells well. Nor does it hurt that I’ve spent more than a dozen years honing my craft and have worked hard to try to get my self-published titles noticed.

That said, I’ll be the first person to admit that luck has a lot to do with it. I’ll also be the first person to say that I know countless indie authors whose book sales totally dwarf mine. But if I’ve learned anything, it’s that no two authors’ journeys are the same, and I am very grateful and happy with my own lot.

I hope the sales data I’ve shared today will help motivate other authors in the indie trenches who are still struggling. Hang in there and keep plugging away. Be patient. Don’t despair. This is not like traditional publishing; you’re in it for the long haul now. Keep writing and adding to your catalogue. Put forth the best product you possibly can, with a high quality, professional cover. Then do it again. And if after a sufficient length of time has passed, sales still aren’t growing, try changing something up. Tweak your product description or how your book is categorized. Experiment with prices. Try a new cover. For once, all the controls are in your hands. Use them! And good luck.