Saturday, January 28, 2012

Self-Publishing: Earning Back Expenses

Stormy Montana Sky went live on Amazon and Barnes & Noble on January 14th. As of yesterday, January 27th, the book paid for itself. From here on out, it's all profit, except for any money I'll spend on promotion. (So far in self-publishing I've spent almost nothing on promo.)

Here's a breakdown of my expenses:

Editor: $1500.00

Many will look at this and consider this a high amount, and it is. However, my editor, Louella Nelson, has been my writing teacher and was present while the Montana Sky Series was created. Therefore, she knows my books and my writing style (and flaws) inside and out. She does both a content edit AND a copy edit.

Formatter: $50.00

I had a new formatter this time around because my former one isn't doing it anymore. We did go back and forth a few times to get the formatting right. Although there is this one little place where we can't get the extra indents out...

Cover Artist: $75.00

My cover artist for the Montana Sky Series is Delle Jacobs. She's able to take what I tell her I want and create covers that I love. I also receive great feedback about them.

Copyright: $35.00

Although a copyright isn't necessary for self-publishing, I think it's a wise thing to do.

Total: $1660.00

As of last night, I'd sold 649 copies at $3.99, and I'm very grateful for everyone's who's bought my books.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Checking In

I've had a crazy busy week with several corporate crisis/grief cases, preparing Stormy Montana Sky for self-publishing, and involvement with my local writers organization. So I'm too tired to write a blog. However, I did want to say that Stormy is live as of last night. I went to bed and it wasn't live and woke up to five sales. How cool is that!

I have some great news about the Montana Sky Series, but I'm going to wait to reveal it until all the details are finalized.

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!