Year in Review: 2015

It’s very hard to believe that by this time next week, 2015 will be over and it’ll be 2016. I guess it really is true that time goes faster the older you get.

I’ve been waiting for 2015 since I first decided to self-publish at the beginning of 2013 and now it’s come and gone. I wanted to post about the things I’ve accomplished in the year and share my goals for next year. I encourage you to share yours in the comments, publishing or otherwise.

Accomplishments:

Most of the first draft of The Full Moon was written in 2014, but I officially finished the first draft on January 2nd. I spent the rest of the spring and the early part of the summer editing it. I now have it up for preorder, with the release date a little over a month away!

A few things came up personally this year that prevented me from being as productive as I would’ve liked in some months, but besides that, I wrote the first draft of The Harvest Moon almost completely in August. I spent the fall working on the second draft and I’m now in the midst of the third draft. Hopefully this whole book will be wrapped by early spring 2016.

Short stories are new territory for me. Before I began publishing, I intended to release a short story between each novel release to up my titles and keep me relevant on the charts…that’s all different now that I’m in the game. I’ve written two in that format (and released one, with little promo and, therefore, little fanfare) before I considered rethinking my release schedule.

The last two books in my Under the Moon Series will take place ten years after the events of the first three books, so I wanted to write short stories to catch readers up on where the characters had been in that time. Four stories for each main character. I was planning on waiting six months to a year to release them slowly, but now I have them releasing monthly at the end of next year, which will hopefully keep me afloat on Amazon’s charts while giving me more time to write the fourth book.

This past year was the year I officially debuted as an indie author. On August 1, 2015, I released my first novel, The Blood Moon. Initially, the response was great: lots of sales, lots of Facebook likes, and even some mailing list sign-ups. I was lucky enough to be interviewed by my local newspaper which spurred even more sales. The downside was that most of these people were friends and family (which is great!) which meant the sales fell off a cliff and flatlined after that. Both a buzzkill and motivation to get the next book out!

Since my second book wasn’t quite ready to launch by the time my sales had completely died (and because I want a consistent release schedule), I released Snow After Christmas, a holiday short story, in November. Christmas material is something that I’ve been eyeing up since I first started researching self-publishing and I think it’s an evergreen way to keep sales up over the holidays. What I wanted to do with Snow After Christmas, though, was to see just how powerful simple marketing was. I didn’t announce it to my personal Facebook page and didn’t book any ads. I just released it. Sales were…basically nonexistent. I had about six preorders and maybe only a handful of sales after that. Nothing too major. Marketing is certainly required and I won’t make that mistake again.

Audio was something I was planning on exploring once I was more established and had a bigger catalog. But other indies on KBoards told me that I should do audio as soon as I can, so I started the process on the release day of The Blood Moon. A process it certainly was! The completed audiobook was released on November 30th, nearly four months after I first initiated the process. Within a week I already had three sales before I even did any kind of promotion. Audio is definitely worth it!

Goals:

  • Expand my catalog
  • Focus on getting more eyeballs
  • Increase my number of formatting jobs
  • Get my book in physical bookstores
  • Participate in local events

The first is obvious and something that is certainly going to happen in 2016. I will be releasing six titles next year! All but one will be within my series, so hopefully I can really hook readers and get them to buy all the titles within my series which, of course, will increase overall sales.

One of the biggest surprises I had in 2015 when I first started publishing was how bad obscurity is. Besides my friends and family, basically no one knows I have a book out. My sales graph is certainly reflecting that. So 2016 will be focused on getting eyeballs with more books, more promos, more posts on social media, and finally, ads.

In October I decided to offer my formatting services to authors looking to get their books in print. My rates are actually pretty cheap and I like to think I’m pretty quick with each job. But I’ve really only had one client (who has asked me to do his entire catalog) and I’d like to see that grow. I haven’t discovered a way to implement this, but it’s one of the things I’m going to focus on in the new year.

I know a lot of indies claim that physical books don’t make up a majority of their sales, but mine actually have (dollar-wise). I’ve also had a lot of people ask me where they can get my book. So one of the things I’m going to explore is getting my book into physical bookstores in my area. This might not happen until I have a couple more books out (maybe once The Harvest Moon is out in August), but eventually I’ll get there.

This year I’ve thought of so many places I could’ve been part of an event to promote my books to my community. What held me back was the size of my catalog and my lack of stock. By next year, my catalog will be bigger and I’ll hopefully have enough money to pay for stock in advance. In the end, I’ll actually be making more money selling face-to-face and that’s what really matters. By meeting people directly, I can pass along business cards and explain to them why signing up for my mailing list is a good idea and maybe even convincing them to leave me a review. Again, something to explore.

So those are my goals for the new year. What are some of yours? I’d love to hear them!


The Full Moon

The Full Moon is available for preorder and will be released February 6, 2016.

Kathy and her sister, Samantha, have always been a team. Throughout their time as witches, they’ve taken out more than their share of bad guys. But after Kathy meets Will, who she learns is a demonic Dark Knight, her loyalties begin to change.

Meanwhile, Samantha doesn’t trust Will or his intentions. Still, Kathy can’t help but feel tempted by the dark side as she falls deeper in love with Will. Crossing over would give Kathy the freedom to do whatever she wanted with her magic. No rules. No limitations. It would also mean breaking the bond she has always shared with her sister, who has made it clear that she wants nothing to do with the dark side.

When Will proposes they take over the underworld, Kathy loves the idea of having power. But it also leaves her with a choice that will change her life: abandon her family and the life she has always known, or give up the love of her life forever.


 

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