Monday, June 13, 2011

Goals, Sales Figures, and the Future

With only half a week left in this second round of ROW80, I find myself reflecting on the last three months. I'm not the type to mention hard sales numbers. People ask me sometimes and I'll guestimate or sidestep the question. Initially, I chalked this up to growing up in the South, where religion, politics, and money are not polite topics of conversation. But I realized that's just a mental dodge to keep me from facing facts and making decisions. It was a shock to realize as June rolled around that my book had been out for a little over six months, and I didn't know the exact number sold. I knew rankings, the daily average, the monthly average, and the financial picture, but not how many books I'd sold total.

So I sat down to tally everything up. It was terrifying, mostly because as an Indie writer and first time author, I have few metrics for comparison. What the heck is success supposed to look like? Feel like? Would someone please tell me, 'cause I've been a big bundle of "I don't know" for a while now. Gifts of the Blood is the first book I've ever written. Ever. Unlike most writers I know, whether traditional or Indie, I have never received a rejection letter. I've never sent a query letter, entered a contest, or sent a manuscript to a publishing house. The closest I've come is a writer's workshop where the Gifts series started as an exercise.

6, 617 books 
I'm officially out-earning my last two jobs 

As I'm finishing up the third Gifts book, I'm facing a lot of decisions. I'm finally making enough money at this Indie gig that I could conceivably do this for a living. I'm blessed that I work in education, which gives me a great degree of flexibility should I decide to go back to the classroom and write at the same time.

But more importantly than that, I circle back to the question of what to write next, and how? Should I write for an Indie release? Or try for a traditional agent/ publisher? It matters because I don't want to start plugging a series on my own and then try to pitch it to an agent/publisher.

It would be easier if I had strong Indie ideals. I do strongly believe in the value of an Indie movement, but I've said from day one that I think of "Indie" as an aesthetic ideal rather than strictly a financial one. To me, Indie simply means enhanced artistic and creative freedom, which ultimately leads to better art. It gives me the power to choose. I have no axe to grind. Maybe it's time I rack up some rejection letters of my own, or maybe I'll succeed in going traditional. Who knows? Maybe I'll stay right where I am and keep releasing books. That's a winning scenario: happy fans with reasonably priced books; a happy writer who keeps learning with each release.

Looking forward to Round 3, I'm thinking about tweaking the writing goal slightly: 5 days with fewer word counts instead of four days of massive 1500 word chunks. More blogging but shorter, more informal posts and as always, more accountability about "the business of books." I had hoped to have at least one more release by now. Some things were beyond my control, like the month of killer tornadoes or the single one that destroyed my house and injured my husband. Some other things were on me, like the fact that I just refused to release Darkness in the Blood before I felt it was ready. Readers wanted that book ASAP. It shocked me. Having fans was a pleasant surprise, but fans who want Darkness now now now? Downright shocking. But by waiting I have both a product I'm happy with and a much better sense of my writing pace.


  1. I am so happy for you! You've been working your tail off for years and deserve success. I'm looking forward to reading Darkness. --HUGS FROM LIZ

  2. Congrats on everything! Very happy for you.

  3. I love reading posts like these :) I grew up the same way. I was always told, "don't ever gab about how many acres you have", which is akin to, "no one needs to know the size of your bank account."

    Your sucess gives me hope and I hope it continues to grow :)

  4. Thanks, everyone! It's still hard to post numbers, especially because there are some who sell 10,000 in their first six months. But mine are enough, and I understand the argument that people need to know it can be done. Can't wait for Round 3- would love to be able to do a release each round!!! Thanks so much for the support!

  5. I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed the first 2 books in your gifts series and I'm looking forward to the final book. I also wanted to recommend an author to you. If you havent' read Heather Killough-Walden, I highly recommend her. The list of books on the left are several novels that I adore so it seems we might have similar tastes and for that I must share this author with you, you won't be disappointed :) Keep on writing, and I'll keep on reading ;O)