indie books

Success By the Numbers

You know, fellow readers and writers, since my big Christmas break-out with RUNNING, I have been concentrating on money earned. And in the excitement of the sudden flurry of cash (which happened right around Christmas, but only landed in my bank account at the end of February) I got happy but anxious about HOW TO KEEP IT COMING IN at that lovely rate.

And the truth is — I can’t. I can’t control what folks like and buy and read and respond to. I can only control what I write. Trying to psych out the coolest marketing phrase or the optimal tweet will only make you crazy… or at least, it will make me crazy.

So I have vowed to concentrate more on the writing. Last week I dictated a story that I have been thinking about for a couple of years. Just a little short one, but powerful. THE TERMINAL. (That is, if I don’t change the title…)

The story came out nearly all of a piece, because it had “percolated” in my head for some time. It needs only a few small tweaks to finalize and put to bed. Or to press.

I think I’ll make this one free. I plan to post it on Wattpad, which I hear great things about. Possibly also Figment, and Redroom, and Smashwords… though the last time I tried that I had trouble jumping through their formatting hoops. In any case, I hope it will be an important story that gets out to readers and will — possibly — lead some of them to me.

And even if it never does, I will be happy to put that story out into the world, because that’s what we storytellers do. We share our words. Having a reader is what makes a story complete.

So, having said that… Drumroll, please! When I added up the sales of all of my books, I discovered these excellent numbers:

2,400 ebooks sold for real money

860 ebooks borrowed, which brings in money too

And a fabulous grand total of 40,000 ADDITIONAL ebooks downloaded!! [For free, I should add. But still!]

As to money, I am up in the baby five figures, which isn’t bad for a fledgeling business less than a year old.

I only started on the 4th of July, 2011… I became an Indie Writer on Independence Day, get it? (Someday I’ll tell you the story of that looooong weekend and how my husband and I managed to get through our first big formatting and uploading task without our marriage falling apart.)

And I am pretty jazzed about how much I have actually sold. Particularly when you consider the alternative… I could have been submitting query letters to agents for another 20 years instead!

Happy writing to you, friends.

Vlog #1 – So which advice should I listen to?

Here’s my first homemade vlog (video blog) which I made in my backyard. It looks rather humble, but at least the weather was beautiful!

Vlog #1 – Advice from Writers

Thanks for watching… I’m learning as I go!

Self-Publishing Success Stories!

Over on the Kindle boards, there is a thread where folks are putting together a list of self-published authors who have gotten past the 50,000 mark in total ebook sales.

Successful author Lexi Revellian (see her name on the list below!) went further in updating the list on her own blog. I’ve posted it here to demonstrate that it is possible to make serious money as a self-publisher.

Many of the authors on this list have sold well over 50,000 books. Quite a few of them have done it within a year. Though it’s not possible to calculate how much money an author with that many sales has made without knowing the price of each ebook, every writer who has sold this number of books has made between a low of $17,500 (if every book is priced at only 99¢, for a 35% royalty rate) to a high of $350,000 (at the highest rate that KDP allows – $9.99, with a 70% royalty rate). It’s likely most of these authors sell their ebooks for something in between those two extremes. The “going rate” for successful self-published authors seems to be around $2.99 to $4.99 per ebook.

Some of these writers, but only a small percentage, were traditionally published first, or have continued to keep one foot in the traditional “camp.” Most of them simply wrote books intending to publish all by themselves, and then got them out there and let the world know. And the world responded by reading them!

THESE SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHORS HAVE EACH SOLD MORE THAN 50,000 EBOOKS AS OF MARCH, 2012

Susan Alison
Dani Amore
Bella Andre
Melody Anne
Jake Barton
Robert Bidinotto
J Carson Black
Cheryl Bolen
Catherine Bybee
Ruth Cardello
Darcie Chan
Mel Comley
Blake Crouch
Chris Culver
David Dalglish
Carol Davis Luce
Saffina Desforges
Mainak Dhar
Mark Edwards & Louis Voss
Ellen Fischer
Penelope Fletcher
Tina Folsom
Marie Force
Barbara Freethy
Debora Geary
Lee Goldberg
Gemma Halliday
Ruth Harris
Liliana Hart
Michael Hicks
Amanda Hocking
Debra Holland
Hugh Howey
Nancy C. Johnson
Ty Johnston
Heather Killough-Walden
Selena Kitt
J.A. Konrath
Laura Landon
Eve Langlais
Stephen Leather
Victorine Lieske
John Locke
Terri Giuliano Long
CJ Lyons
H.P. Mallory
KC May
Bob Mayer
Stephanie McAfee
Courtney Milan
Rick Murcer
Scott Nicholson
Anne Marie Novark
Shayne Parkinson
Rose Pressey
Michael Prescott
T.R. Ragan
Terri Reid
Adam Rendon
Lexi Revellian
Imogen Rose
Nick Russell
Michele Scott
Tori Scott
L.J. Sellers
Michael J Sullivan
Laura Taylor
Michael Wallace
Kerry Wilkinson
Rachel Yu

I’d love it if you could let me know of anyone else who should be on this list. I’ll try to keep it up to date. And if I get really ambitious, I’ll link to each of the author’s pages so that you can go buy more of their wonderful books… but I probably should spend that time writing my next one.

Thanks to Lexi Revellian for putting this list on her blog and updating it. And here’s to the day when my name will be on the list…!

Literary Agents Advocating Self-Publishing?

Well, the world of books has somehow turned upside down! Even established literary agents now acknowledge that self-publishing is a viable, and possibly more lucrative, option for writers.

There is a surprisingly open-minded and encouraging post at Alan Rinzler’s “The Book Deal” blog. Here’s an excerpt:

What do you say to writers who are considering self-publishing?

Candice Fuhrman: In many cases I say GO FOR IT! It’s never been a better time for self- publishing; there are so many options for sell your own e-book. With most major publishers still only paying 25 percent of net for e-book sales, most writers can do better on their own. Of course they have to be marketing demons — but that’s the case no matter who publishes you. Although many agents are becoming “jacks of all trades” with self-publishing authors, we could be called something else — such as a publisher or a production person or a marketer.

Andrea Brown: Some authors we’ve worked with have also done indie self-published e-books but don’t seem to make any money with them. The market is overwhelmed with titles — many badly written or edited — and writers find it’s tough to market. We do tell writers that if their book will be difficult to sell the traditional way (or we do not think we can place it), to go ahead and self-publish — but they must do it well and plan to spend lots of time to market.

Andrea Hurst: For many authors, this is a very viable option today. Indie publishing, especially with e-books, offers a way to get your book directly in the reader’s hands. It is still important to have a high quality product and market your work. Many agents I know are diversifying what services they offer and how they will work with authors seeking nontraditional publishing options. Our agency consults with self-publishing authors through the whole process, offering professional editorial, design and evaluation services.

Bonnie Solow: Self-publishing is a viable option for many writers. There is no barrier to entry and authors can enjoy the satisfaction of maintaining full creative control with an accelerated release schedule. For authors who are entrepreneurial and who can access their readers through online marketing, speaking engagements, and so on, self-publishing can be the right route to take. In the long-term I do think agents will be more and more involved in helping clients self-publish… At this stage, however, authors who come to me are not interested in self-publishing. Instead, they want to enjoy the myriad benefits that come with being published by a major house.

Thanks to Alan for all the great information he shares with writers, and to these bold agents for giving us their perspective. Of course I had to add a comment advocating the vast superiority (and fun!) of self-publishing….

Go read the entire post on “The Book Deal” blog.

And thanks to The Passive Voice for leading me to Alan’s latest post.

The Wisdom of the Self-Published Author

M. Louisa Locke wrote a post last August that describes, in great and careful detail, the advantages that those of us who are self-published have attained in this rapidly changing industry. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from her piece, which is well worth your time:

“Once an author has been exposed to the liberating belief that all of their work can get in print, and all the work that is good, will get to be read, they will not go back to telling themselves that the gatekeepers were saving them from the awful mistake of publishing a bad book, and that the favorite quirky cross genre manuscript they wrote really is better off never being read by anyone.”

And one of the things that I would add to Ms. Locke’s admirable list is the inspiration that comes with knowing that your writing is finding an outlet — giving impetus to the very stream of creativity that begets more stories — unfettered productivity being great for writers and readers alike!

Calling All Self-Published Authors!

A very interesting survey designed to get some data on self-publishing straight from the source is described in today’s post on David Gaughran’s “Let’s Get Digital” blog. Answering the questions takes somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes, and it is, of course, anonymous.

The folks that put it together are trying to get 1,000 responses in order to make it statistically significant. So even if you’re new to this fascinating self-publishing journey, please consider participating. One of the best parts of this community of like-minded (brave, honest, thrifty, etc. — sort of like the Boy Scouts) writers is that so many are willing to reach out a helping hand.

So help us learn more about each other and how to sell books by sharing your own experiences.

Thanks!

The Sky Is Falling!

Jonathan Franzen thinks that the dawn of ebooks means the end of civilization as we know it. He spoke at the Hay Festival in Cartagena, Colombia about his fears concerning the current revolution in publishing:

“I think, for serious readers, a sense of permanence has always been part of the experience. Everything else in your life is fluid, but here is this text that doesn’t change.

“Will there still be readers 50 years from now who feel that way? Who have that hunger for something permanent and unalterable? I don’t have a crystal ball.

“But I do fear that it’s going to be very hard to make the world work if there’s no permanence like that. That kind of radical contingency is not compatible with a system of justice or responsible self-government.”

We’ve been hearing this kind of talk for some time…

“Now that anyone is free to print whatever they wish, they often disregard that which is best and instead write, merely for the sake of entertainment, what would best be forgotten, or, better still be erased from all books.”

The above statement flowed from the quill pen of Niccolò Perotti, a learned Italian classicist, while writing to his friend Francesco Guarnerio in 1471, less than twenty years after the invention of the printing press.

Viva la revolucion!

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Works in Progress

“I Dream of PIA” (for The Robot Chronicles anthology, available July 25, 2014)

3149/ 3000 words. 100% done!

"Sand Song” (a novella set in Hugh Howey’s SANDbox)

8,627 / 10000 words. 87% done!

"The Terminal” (a dark futuristic short)

2383 / 2000 words. 100% done!

“ROCKS 1” (the first episode in a dystopian series)

5675 / 10000 words. 57% done!

“Salt & Pepper Mystery #1” (Book one of a cozy mystery series)

22379 / 40000 words. 56% done!

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My Books

Karma of the Silo: the Collection (Karma Omnibus)
Karma lives in the Silo, deep underground. She lives with a man whom she barely knows and with a name she doesn’t remember choosing. When visions come to her about another husband, another way of life, and another world, Karma struggles to discover what came before.

Cleaning Up: a Silo story (Karma)
Five years have passed since the airlock slammed shut on the 4,000 souls condemned to live in the Silo. Karma can remember now that there was a time before--before she was locked into this cylindrical tomb under the earth. But all she can see of the outside are dead hills and the dark clouds swirling through what remains of a toxic world.

The Sky Used to be Blue: a Silo story (Karma)
Karma lives in a Silo deep beneath the earth. She isn't sure of much else… only that the wallscreen shows an outside view that is barren and swirling with toxic clouds. Most of the other residents seem content. Except for the ones who jump to their deaths from the hundred-level spiral staircase. And the ones who are pushed.

Last Walk: a Silo story
The kids are fighting in the Silo—gangs engage in battles between the Up Top and the Down Deep, with the Mids caught in between. There are too many young people without work. They ink themselves with primitive face tats and guard their territory against incursions from below or above.

Deep Justice: a Silo story (Karma)
Karma has endured twenty-five years underneath the earth. Her path in life—a path she never bargained for—has included marriage to a man she never chose, whose powerful position forces her to hide her memories of the time before.


Rising Up: a Silo story (Karma)
After a hellish three months locked in the private inner sanctum of IT, Karma and her family emerge, bloodied and forever changed. Rick is a man who is no longer in control. Mars has become the power in the Silo.



Silo Saga: SILO SECRETS: Daniel
Daniel is sixteen now, and he can count up to one hundred. He can go all by himself up and down the two levels of the Silo between his home and his job. Daniel knows he's not as smart as some people. But his mother told him he was smart enough to help her, so it must be true. He always believes his mother. His mother is a doctor.

Running
THE NEXT PRESIDENT IS GOING TO BE A WOMAN... Catherine Young, Vice President and newly-anointed Democratic nominee, is surging in the polls. The race is on against GOP candidate Jerusha Hutchins, folksy charmer and blonde beauty, who is the darling of the far-right Liberty Party.

Till Death Do Us Part: a short story
Join Harold and Rosemary as they bring together their family and friends for a night of celebration before a long-planned trip... and see just how this journey ends. Mix a little Dorothy Parker and a little Shirley Jackson, add a twist of David Sedaris and a pinch of O.Henry, and out comes a satirical romp. "Till Death Do Us Part" is a 3,000 word short story. This is a sophisticated take on the way people fool themselves. More New Yorker magazine than Asimov.

The Terminal
To be published next week!





Looking for Lance
A pinch of Dorothy Parker and a twist of O.Henry go into the mix to make this Fitzgerald short a bracing sip of satire. There is a free sample of RUNNING, her best-selling Kindle political thriller, at the end of this story.

Jungle Moon
Another quirky short story from Patrice Fitzgerald about love and the ways people connect. When Felicia gets a special birthday request from her husband Herman, she can't believe what he's asking her to do. Will she say yes? This 3,000 word short story explores the nature of a happy marriage, compromise, and passion. A four-chapter sample of Fitzgerald's best-selling political thriller, RUNNING, is also included.

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