Indie publishing wasn't a blip on my radar. Six Moon Summer was being edited (I'd written it for NaNoWriMo the year before!) and I was kicking back and enjoying my newborn. This guy right here:
|Why yes, I will take any opportunity to show off|
my adorable baby, thank you for asking.
Six Moon Summer was considered and summarily rejected by a couple of agents. I decided I didn't feel like doing that whole Submissions Thing again, started reading about how other authors were making a business out of independently publishing, and did some investigating. But very lazily.
I didn't think much of self-publishing until I read an article on Amanda Hocking. I realized that making millions (or even hundreds of thousands) of dollars would be unlikely. But if some people can get rich at it, then surely an intrepid, hard-working writer can at least make a modest living. So...
I decided to throw Six Moon Summer out there and see what happened. *major eye roll* If someone had told me that it would end up being a life-consuming pursuit... well, I probably would have done it anyway. I'm crazy like that.
|Early reviewers DEVOURED the book.|
Get it? Devoured it? Like, you know, ate it?
Oh, never mind.
I spent my time waiting for my release day by writing The 19 Dragons. This was the most fun I've ever had writing anything, ever. It was the first time I ever tried steampunk, too, and I really liked it. Although I kind of thing it turned out a bit high fantasyish, but what else would you expect from dragons?
At the veeeery end of the month, Six Moon Summer landed! April 29th feels like a lifetime ago, doesn't it? I worked pretty hard at gathering reviews that month. And I tweeted lots and lots. I made tons of awesome friends (if not tons of book sales).
I celebrated my book release by dropping everything and going to Europe. This was totally part of my marketing plan.
|Me, my mom hair, and the Helpful Baby on a train in Denmark.|
Selling tons of books.
I published The 19 Dragons... and immediately went on vacation to wine country in California. (Sensing a theme here?) My marketing plan of "go on a trip every time I release a book" turned out to work this time, because The 19 Dragons sold on its own for whatever reason and became my most successful book. This was the first time I sold over 100 copies in a month. I had no idea I could even do that.
I don't remember July very well, to be honest. When I look back on my sales figures for this month, I'm pretty sure I spent the whole time ignoring books. ;)
No, I'm kidding. I actually wrote All Hallows' Moon and started revising Death's Hand. Which involved no marketing whatsoever on my part. The fact that The 19 Dragons continued to sell 10+ copies a day at that time completely baffled me, because Six Moon Summer was busily not selling anything at all.
The 19 Dragons started slipping. Six Moon Summer didn't have anywhere to slip, because it's always kind of sold like snow cones at a ski resort.
Meanwhile, I edited All Hallows' Moon. And... um... went on several trips to California. And spent most of my evenings at baseball games, Farmer's Markets, and rib cookoffs. Are you surprised? I'm not. I've made "taking it easy" an art form. (One day this marketing plan will work. I SWEAR.)
While my books were not exactly selling like flødeboller (something I ate lots in Denmark), sales were steady. I was starting to consistently make royalties in the low hundreds of dollars. Because my husband and I are poor, this is a huge deal. To me, $100 = 1.5 runs to the grocery store, or the power bill, or a couple visits to the doctor for the Helpful Baby. Incredible.
I released All Hallows' Moon. Guess what I did next?
|PSYCH! I didn't go on vacation.|
I did, however, spend lots of time taking hikes, going to parks,
and barbecuing in the late summer sunshine.
Which is almost as good as marketing... right?
I also made a little publishing company called Red Iris Books, which is nothing to sneeze at, really.
Thanks in part to a miserably unpopular cover, Death's Hand released... and completely flopped.
|Conclusion: I am the only one who likes boobies.|
Failure's not really an option, though. I mean, yes, I can (and do) fail sometimes -- but I'll keep going anyway, because I've never wanted to be anything but a writer. I could sell nothing and I would keep writing.
Anyway, I'd just broken 1,000 copies sold in my first six months of publishing (slow and steady wins the race!), so I figured I must be doing something right. I just needed a new plan.
Vacations are still an important part of the New Plan.
|Did I mention the part where I love cruises?|
I love cruises.
My previous promotional efforts were obviously wrong. I was expending a lot of effort on things that yielded low return on investment. I needed to work smarter, not harder. (Oh dear Odin, I sound like my boss.) I did a lot of studying and talked to some writers who are having success in publishing. Death's Hand got a new cover, a new angle, and sold about 300 copies for Thanksgiving thanks to a ride on the Free Train.
|And less of this.|
I edited and released a charity anthology. I feel no shame in telling you to go buy this amazing book. All royalties go straight to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and the stories are INCREDIBLE.
|In case you were wondering, I celebrated this release in Las Vegas.|
I also wrote/edited/released a new novellette (which you can download for free). I did not, unfortunately, celebrate this one by going anywhere fun. Instead, I had my appendix removed. Whee. Merry Christmas.
I visited four countries with a Helpful Baby. I went to wine country and Las Vegas. I saw tons of baseball games, sat around in sweat pants, and made leisure a priority. Somehow, I still sold over 2500 books in eight months (mostly in the last two) and got my writing on 30,000 Kindles. It's a slow start, but this is a marathon, not a sprint. With your help and support, this has been a truly awesome year.
To illustrate, here are the projects I was involved in publishing:
My year was amazing. I hope yours was, too. Happy New Years.