A chain of circumstances led to the realization that I haven’t checked my “author” email in several months, maybe even a year or more. Oh hell, that’s bad. I’m very sorry to anyone who tried to contact me. I don’t expect anyone to contact me, so I don’t look, and sometimes people do. Oops.
So hey, why don’t we take stock at this artificial dividing line between 2020 and 2021? (The new year is on April 1 in my books, let me be salty)
Last time I did this I scored it with a Canadian song that I love, so how about…
(“Whiteout Conditions”, the New Pornographers)
(Last time it was this one; I still love it, and I learned how to play it on ukulele this year, which tickles me to no end)
(I’m from the US, not Canada; y’all just have some musicians that I like. Plus socialized medicine)
Writing-wise, here’s my transparency report for 2020. Since I last did this in… what was it, 2018?… I’ve gotten a lot more laissez-faire about being an extremely tiny fish in the publishing pond. Let’s be clear: This is a passion project. I occasionally try to read up on Marketing Strategies and Building an Audience and Plot Crafting, and I care about Plot Crafting, I really do, but the rest of it just makes my brain glaze over.
All you folks who are trying very hard to quit your day jobs and do this full-time, I hope you sell a million copies of every book. I hope your dreams come true. My goals are not your goals, though. And that’s okay. My lackadaisacality doesn’t hurt you; your motivation doesn’t hurt me.
So what does lackadaisacality get you in 2020? (Amazon insists on including Dec. 2019 here, ignore that). Yellow/orange are ebooks, gray are paperbacks.
- Two books out, the last one published in 2016
- Zero advertising. I think I ran a pair of <$35 ads maybe… six years ago? What even is time
- Available on other platforms, technically, kind of, but there were no sales over there
- Total sales: 358. So approx. one a day, though it actually ends up being less uniform/evenly spaced than that.
I call this “coffee money” with absolutely no rancor. I mean, somebody took a chance on something I wrote and decided to read it. I’m never going to talk smack about that. I genuinely hope it was worth what you spent and the time you spent on it.
I just like talking about this situation because, well, it’s true, and it doesn’t fit the usual narrative of “quit your day job, work 12 hours a day on marketing your books, write the other 12.” Sure, that’s great if that’s your dream! You don’t have to do that if you don’t want to. I don’t. I marketed absolutely nothing whatsoever and made enough money to pay for half a Nintendo Switch, or my monthly donations to 2 different charities for a year, or a month of groceries with some left over. I mean, how freaking miraculous is that. Sure, I did put in a LOT of hours on the first two books, and I’m putting in a truly appalling number of hours on Book 3 as it drags toward completion, but… I don’t know. If you don’t need to live on the proceeds, I think you don’t need to break your own neck marketing.
Is this the baseline just for existing? Heck if I know. I think it’s pretty cool all the same.
[Edit, a few months later – This didn’t really merit its own post, but I thought I’d put these numbers in some more context. Since October 2014 when the first book came out, I’ve sold 1,280 copies in ebook and let’s say 65 in paperback of both books combined. (63 paperbacks via the ‘zon plus a few in person) So 358 in one year is proportionally not bad at all. Carry on. — Future Me]
Goals for 2021.
- Finish book 3, for the love of all that’s holy. I am trying, y’all. (And heyyyyy, if anyone wants to beta read, the door is open as always! My budget is $0, unfortunately)
- Once book 3 is done, I mean to finish/polish some short stories and pack it all together in an omnibus. For fun, mostly. It’s a #marketingstrategy I guess, too? #Idon’tknow #Ican’tmarketforcrap #andthat’sokay
- Then start the next book, which is very likely to center on Agna’s herbalist-slash-mad scientist-slash-democracy-sympathizing sister
- CHECK MY “”””AUTHOR”””” EMAIL MORE OFTEN, as in, check it at all
- Either resolve the glitches with the other storefronts, or pull the books. I realized when I checked my other email that Kobo DID get back to me back in what the hell was it, 2019? Eesh. Fix that or call it a day.
I think that’s enough for one year that, even in the best-case scenario, will probably prove to be complicated.
So that’s my transparency report and goal-setting. May as many of us get through this year if possible, and may we hold onto empathy and honesty as we do.