Royalties and Reality: My First Year

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since I first started publishing. In some ways, I feel like I’m still new to this business and have so much to learn. In other ways, I know I’ve come a long way in just one year.

In my first month, I sold 33 copies of The Blood Moon. Obviously, that was higher than normal with a new release and my debut. I’ve had worse months than that and even better months than that. (I sold 50 copies in April and I’m pushing 75-100 for August.)

As far as sales numbers go, I’m still in the small potatoes range of indie authors. I’ll get to the actual numbers in a bit, but first I’d like to discuss the things that negatively influenced my sales:

  • Ads. I didn’t use them until The Harvest Moon was published, so my marketing efforts were limited to social media, word-of-mouth, and group promos. Now that I’ve experimented with paid advertising and seen some of the results, I’ve factored in an advertising budget for Year 2.
  • KDP Select. I launched The Blood Moon wide, didn’t see any sales outside of Amazon, so launched my subsequent books in KDP Select, which requires Amazon exclusivity. That meant that my visibility was limited to basically only Amazon Kindle readers. Sure, I had the benefits of Select, but I don’t know how much they actually helped me. Other authors see results from Select and KU, so clearly it works for some people.
  • Inconsistent series order. I published The Blood Moon and then decided to publish two prequels. By the time I published The Full Moon, I figured it’d be best to reorder the series so the prequels actually served as Books 1 & 2, but I still needed to wait for The Harvest Moon to be published. In the meantime, I didn’t designate whether The Blood Moon or The Full Moon served as Book 1 in the series, so whatever sell-through I would’ve had was lost.
  • Slow releases. If I would’ve stuck to my series and published in rapid order, I probably would’ve sold more and made more money. But my circumstances didn’t allow that kind of production schedule.

Despite my many mistakes, I managed to sell 356 copies across four titles in one year. Again, that’s an average month for some authors, but for an author who sold 33 copies in his first month (and has sold an average of 30 books a month since), this is pretty big!

Below is a breakdown of how each book did:

For the most part, novels sell better than short stories (and make more money). And naturally, the longer a title is available, the longer it has to sell.

Snow After Christmas is funny, though. I expected to see sales similar to Limelight for it, but for some reason it sells well. I must’ve hit the right tropes and genre expectations without even trying!

What I think really helped me was that I made my books available on a variety of platforms. With KDP Select, I was limited to other ebook retailers, but that didn’t stop me from producing paperbacks and audiobooks.

In my first year, I put out just 4 titles. That’s what I planned to do when I started. Going into Year 2, I’ve already published The Harvest Moon (in Standard and Deluxe editions) and have plans to publish 7 more titles across all retailers. Just the increase in my catalog will help me sell more because I’m sticking to my series.

As of right now, I’m still not selling in huge numbers. If I can sell 356 copies in my first year with only 4 titles, I know that number will only grow.

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