Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 Sales Numbers and Other Thoughts

Happy New Year to all my blog readers!

What a difference a year makes! Last January 1, I'd hadn't even considered self-publishing. In fact, I had a negative view of self-published books. I was deep the process of writing my nonfiction (traditionally published) book, The Essential Guide to Grief and Grieving. At this point in the process, I'd had my two sample chapters accepted by my editor and was looking at writing 18 more in the next two and a half months. I had secret doubts that I'd be able to write a GOOD book by the deadline. I used every motivational trick I knew to keep myself positive and on track. It was the one of the most difficult things I'd ever done. But the book is out now, and I'm getting stellar reviews, so it was all worth it!

Around February, Delle Jacobs posted her monthly self-published sales numbers to our group of friends. I was blown away. I made a mental note to self-publish my novels (that two agents hadn't been able to sell) and wished I wasn't buried in the grief book so I could do it now. Once the grief book was turned in, I knew I had two weeks before my editor would get the revisions back to me. So I did a read through of each of my two fiction manuscripts, paid Delle to
do my covers, made a 10 minute attempt to format the first book, Wild Montana Sky, before giving up and paying someone to do it for me.

Wild Montana Sky went live on the evening of April 28, and the next day, Starry Montana Sky followed. Of course I had hopes for some sales, but I never dreamed that they'd catch on and I'd sell so well: 27,069 (Wild Montana Sky) and 10,207 (Starry Montana Sky) for the year. These numbers are a combination of Amazon and Barnes & Noble. There are probably another 100 or so sales through Smashwords, which reports quarterly. (Monthly numbers below.)

I've been flabbergasted, excited, and humbled at the success of these two sweet historical Westerns. After the grief revisions were done, I began working on Stormy Montana Sky (which I'd begun in 2004 and stopped writing after 50 pages.)

I became a self-publishing cheerleader, speaking to my chaptermates and writing this blog because I wanted other writers to know they had other options besides traditional publishing. I also began preparing the first two
books in my fantasy romance trilogy for publication.
Sower of Dreams went live on July 31 (799 sales) and Reaper of Dreams followed on August 7 (243 sales.) As you can see, they didn't take off like the Westerns did, but they are selling steadily at about 100 and 50 a month. The covers are by Lex Valentine. They've paid for themselves by this point.

I'm waiting for Stormy Montana Sky to return from my copyeditors, and then it will need to be formatted. Hopefully, the book will be available in a week.

In the meantime, I decided to self-publish my Romantic Space Opera, Lywin's Quest, (a 2005 Golden Heart Finalist.) I hesitated to self-publish it because it's EPIC at 140,000 words and the next two books in the trilogy are going to be a lot of work. Look for it
in a few days. I'm experimenting at the higher price of $5.99.

Here's the breakdown by month:


WMS 11 (.99)

SMS 5 ($2.99)


WMS 479

SMS 106


WMS 2454

SMS 638


WMS 5085

SMS 1842

SOD 3 (July 31)


WMS 5106

SMS 2180

SOD 97 (.99)

ROD 45 (Aug 7) ($2.99)


WMS 4348

SMS 1733

SOD 104

ROD 44


WMS 3975

SMS 1445

SOD 104

ROD 47


WMS 2386

SMS 1047

SOD 119

ROD 57


WMS 3232

SMS 1227

SOD 129

ROD 50


WMS 27,069

SMS 10,207

SERIES 37,272

SOD 556

ROD 243


During this time, I've done very little promotion. I've written some blogs and done some guest blogs. I've requested reviews from about 10 review sites and the books have been favorable reviewed by all those who said yes. I had a brief pop of sales in October from Pixel of Ink picking up the book. If you look back through my blogs over the last six months, you can read about other things I think work.

Barnes & Noble sells very few of my books in comparison to Amazon. I'm frustrated with that company because there's so much more they could do to improve sales for all their authors. (But that's another blog post.) However, in adding up the numbers for this blog, I was able to see how the consistent (although small) sales can add up over time.

I'm more grateful than I can express to all the readers who bought my book and to the authors who led the way on the path of self-publishing and to those who continue to support and educate me.

I hope you are all taking the time to reflect on the coming year and what you can do to make it the best year ever! Best of luck with keeping all your New Year's resolutions. Here's to a wonderful, healthy, and prosperous 2012!


  1. Congratulations on your fabulous sales numbers, Debra! And thank you for sharing the statistics on your success! You are certainly an indie publishing success story, which should inspire many prospective authors out there who are considering their self-publishing options. I wish you continued success in the future!

    Happy New Year!

  2. You're such a great writer it's no wonder your books are selling. Here's to an even more successful 2012!

  3. Wow, those are stellar numbers on the year, Debra! Congratulations!

    I'm also pumped to see you've got a new space opera coming out, as well as the next Montanna Skies book. Yay!

  4. Thanks, Jaz. That's the purpose of the self-publishing blogs--to help other authors.

    Thanks for the compliment, Lex. :)

    Norah, isn't it fun to write in so many different genres? :)

  5. Congrats on the amazing success, Debra. I'm excited by the possibilities and it's so inspiring and motivating when I see these kinds of sales numbers. Cheers, and here's to hoping the numbers continue to grow for you.

  6. Thanks, PJ. I hope so too!!! Best of luck to you.

  7. Congratulations on those wonderful numbers, Debra. Loved WMS and have SMS on my kindle. Not surprised they sold so well.
    Very grateful to generous and savvy authors like you who've helped me on my own route. THANKS!

  8. Congratulations on your great success and thanks for sharing it with us. It's quite inspiring!

    Happy New Year!

  9. Great post Debra. I think having more books out helps and I'm hoping us Indie author sales will pick up in 2012.

  10. Bev,

    Thanks for the compliments. Your books are great too. Reading the 3rd now. :)

    Thanks, P O!

    Renee, having more than one book definitely helps. The first book in my series sell more because they're .99. Bf you have only one book, I don't recommend the .99 price.

  11. Fantastic, Deb! I jumped into indie publishing in part because of your brave posts about your experience indie publishing. I wish you so much more success. And I'm so excited about your space opera!! So very cool!

    Lisa Mondello

  12. Fantastic numbers, Debra. I wish you could teach me how to reach half your numbers. I have great reviews, and readers write me that they love my stories, but how to make more people buy?

  13. You've been an inspiration. You encouraged me to keep improving my covers and formatting, and one of my Regencies, A Lady's Point of View, has sold about 1,400 copies so far. I think the original edition from Harlequin sold maybe 10,000 copies, so that's quite impressive to me.
    Best of luck for continued strong sales in 2012!

  14. Lisa,

    Thanks so much for the support! Your books have been selling so well and I'm glad I was helpful. I'm nervous about the space opera because it's a different type of book from my others.


    I checked out your books and liked and tagged them. I think you have great reviews, and I almost bought one book but was reminded by my long to-read list that I'd better wait. Read my other self-publishing blogs about what I think worked. Maybe that will help.

  15. Jackie,

    I love your sweet, light Regencies, so I'm glad you had a chance to self-publish them. I'm working my way through the list of your books.

  16. Isn't it great to have an outlet at last for your work? I'm about to bring out a Historical Regency that just wouldn't sell--it fits right between a historical novel and Historical romance so doesn't fit anywhere, but now I can help it find some readers.

    Can't wait to see more books from you!

  17. Debra, that is fantastic news on your Sales! Congrats! I must be doing something wrong (grin) cause my one and only self pubbed Short isnt selling alot at all. A few here and there. Very discouraging. Do you think it needs more Promo?

    Anyhoo, congrats and keep selling!

    hugs, Kari Thomas,

  18. Random,

    It's SOOOOO wonderful to have an outlet for my books. I'm just surprised (and grateful) they've done so well.


    It may be because it's short. I wouldn't buy a short. If you can get a book up, then use the short as a freebie. In my opinion, it's not worth spending time and money promoting a short story.

  19. Sounds wonderful. I'm not trying to be nosy, but I need to know how you got the book to Amazon in the first place. What needs to be done? And why are the books through Amazon selling better than the ones through an e-book publisher, which end up going to Amazon, Fictionwise and BN who pays me pennies every quarter? I don't get it. Also, God I'm filled with questions. What about covers? About how much are we talking? Thanks so much for this info

  20. Thanks for sharing your book sales. Those are very impressive numbers, especially as you've done very little promotion work. I wonder what the secret is, why some indie books take off while others don't, despite good reviews?

  21. It's very generous of you to share those numbers, thank you very much. It's very interesting, seeing the rise of the numbers, and what has sold for you - and I must say, I like your covers, particularly the Montana Sky series.
    It's very heartening to learn you've done this, with seemingly little promotion. What exactly did you do, then, in ways of promotion?
    Good luck with your self-publishing venture.

  22. Patricia, Coleen, and Shannon,

    I have blogged about self-publishing since July. I have several blogs on what I think worked for me.


    You can load your book onto Amazon yourself. You just follow their steps. As for small pubs... they have to make a profit. When you self-publish, you cut out the middle man/woman. Although you are responsible for covers, editing, formatting...

  23. Congrats on your awesome success! I'm grateful to you for being so open about your sales figures and your publishing process.

    Also congrats on the publication of your grief book. What an undertaking.


  24. Thanks, Debra; thats a good idea.

    Hugs, Kari Thomas

  25. Thanks, Kara. That grief book is something I'm very proud of now that it's done and out!!! But that the time I was writing it.....


  26. Many congrats on your success, Debra. Here's to a great, 2012!

  27. I don't even remember how I found your book...I think it was a search for inexpensive Kindle books...I started with Wild Montana Sky, and it was great!! Then I saw that you had a book on grief. I just lost my sister and also lost a friendship at around the same time. It was affirming to see that yes, the loss of friendship is a grief, too, even though people don't often see it the same way. And then, of course, I had to get Starry Montana Sky. Your characterizations bring people to life. I just found your blog & was happy to see your encouragement, as I've thought about self-publishing for Kindle format. Thank you for all that you share!

  28. Margaret Mary,

    What lovely feedback. Thanks so much! Hopefully, you'll be able to read Stormy Montana Sky in a few days. I'm finishing copyedits today and sending it to the formatter. As soon as she finishes, it will be available.

    Good luck with self-publishing!