2022b: Now, the Words

Goodreads was a little later out of the gate, but that’s okay. I’m also going to break down my writing output/sales this year.

Goodreads’ My Year in Books graphic: 21,854 pages read; 69 books read.
Goodreads’ shortest & longest books read graphic: Family by MCA Hogarth at 82 pages; The Tyrant Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson at 752 pages.

I wanted to a) reflect on the nice monochromatic color palette happening here by chance; and b) note that these two books basically outline the edges of my tolerances as a reader. Family is a sweet, sometimes melodramatic story about a pair of lifelong best friends; The Tyrant Baru Cormorant is a tense clusterfuck (and I say this with love) of piracy, war, intrigue, and body-horror magic, where it felt like each page was more dread-laden than the last. I read the Baru Cormorant series the way some people play Dark Souls, I think. It sounds like I hate it, but I truly don’t. I wouldn’t have read thousands of pages of the series if I hated it. I just can’t accurately describe why I like it.

Goodreads recap continued: average book length 316 pages; most shelved, Circe by Madeline Miller, shelved by 1.9 million people; least shelved, The Village Maid by Jane Buehler, shelved by 19 people.

People, get on the latter book. It’s adorable. I heard about it on Smart Podcast, Trashy Books. Good interview, good book to try if you are into light fantasy romance.

And here we go – I can’t caption this one, sorry. I give up at that point. I composited it a little bit so it wasn’t such a huge scroll, so time goes left to right and then top to bottom.

A very big mosaic of 69 book covers. You can tell precisely when I decided to finish out the Vorkosigan series. About half of it is science fiction or fantasy, then nonfiction (especially psychology), and a few romance books.

And now, the output.

I’m not sure why, but at this point, I have completely lost any shame, ambition, or basically any emotions related to the success or failure of my writing. I love the process. I do my best. I throw it out into the world, and it succeeds or fails on its own merits. And I don’t really feel very much of anything either way. I don’t feel like it defines me as a person. I don’t feel like its failure is some kind of ironic badge of honor, like “the world is too xyz to understand my Genius,” that kind of thing. My work is already done, and what happens from there isn’t really up to me. I already made the book as good as I could make it.

So don’t feel bad for me, is what I’m saying. I’m not embarrassed, or I wouldn’t post this. I don’t have to survive off the proceeds of my writing, so it’s not harming me. It just is. I think it’s interesting to see the whole spectrum of the field, both the usual successes and life down here on the long tail.

Amazon KDP sales chart: 459 books sold this year. There’s a peak in August, when the 3rd Healers book came out. Breakdown: Healers 1, 252 copies; Healers 3, 112 copies; Healers 2, 94 copies; Isekai Therapist, 1 copy. (like I said, no shame) There’s also a breakdown of ebooks and print, 407 ebooks to 52 print.
Amazon royalties report/chart/estimate: $629.85 this year, again with a peak in August. The titles range from $0.70 for Isekai Therapist to $237.44 for Healers 1, with the other two Healers books around the $200 mark.

None of my books have been in KENP / Kindle Unlimited for … I think … years at this point, but someone must have had a copy checked out when it was. (Nothing against KU; I just decided to try out other storefronts instead of going exclusive.)

Graph from Gumroad: 20 sales, 115 views, $50.81 royalties.

The shadow graphs there are views, incidentally. Since Gumroad’s graphs don’t lend themselves to screencapping easily, the breakdown is:

Healers 1, 11 copies
Healers 3, 5 copies
Healers 2, 3 copies
IseTher, 1 copy

Proportionally, quite similar to the Amazon sales.

The other storefronts (Nook and B&N) are negligible even by these standards, so I’ll skip them. So between the two with sales, we’re at about 480 copies sold. Last year I was at 349 copies on Amazon and 5 on Gumroad, so hey, that’s nice.

I will mark this as the year I stopped caring one way or the other, I think. I’ve become clearer with myself about how and why I do what I do, and I’ve become more resistant to being yelled at about it. I’m amused at the yelling, but it doesn’t live in my head rent-free like the old yelling used to.

So in that zen-like state of tapped-out fucks to give, I finished two writing projects in the same year. Which I have never done before. Coincidence? Probably. All I know is that I had a great time. Healers 3 was an extremely long slog at times, but the home stretch was very satisfying — not only because it was the home stretch of a long slog, but because I felt like I’d finally found my own way through the story. I’d stopped worrying about what readers would think and how to please them, and made a decision. Not the ideal decision, probably, but a decision. So that the story could get done.

Then I wrote in a fugue for six weeks in a genre I’d never tried, with no concern about whether it was any good or even what “good” meant. The genre is popular, but the story I decided to tell doesn’t appeal to its usual fanbase, and I knew that going in. I put together a plot where one thing leads to another and, in general, nothing extraneous clutters up the story. Basically nothing like my usual style. It was a blast. I spent a reasonable sum of money on a cover basically as a gift to myself. It sold two copies. And I still don’t regret the experience. It was a lot of fun.

Here we are. I have no idea what 2023 will be, in a lot of ways. There are some great plans in place for life stuff. There are hopes and dreams for the writing docket but nothing carved in stone. I’m open to rolling with the punches. Here are my takeaways:

  • As a reader, I actually kind of like barrelling through an entire series one book after another. You can’t always do that, but I’ll try to do it when I can.
  • I spent most of 2022 in TBR Zero — buy or borrow book, read it, repeat, without stockpiling. I put things on wish lists, but I didn’t have a stash of books I’d already spent money on, except for a few in print that have been languishing for years.
    It doesn’t work for everyone, but I find it really relaxing.
  • As always, I try to write the best stories I can, but when it comes to matters of taste or opinion — you can’t please everyone, and the one person I choose to please is myself. I have control over that, to an extent. I know when I’m happy about something.

That’s it. We’re still here, so far. I’m glad about that.