Let's Talk About Stats, Baby (Part Two)
A couple of months ago I said I’d return shortly with the second part of the recap of my ten years of publishing. I also wished everyone a happy 2022 and glibly stated everything had to get better soon.
Nostradamus I ain’t.
I can’t do much about the dreadful state of the world, but I can at least keep my blog promises. Eventually, anyway.
To recap, I published The King of the Winter in 2012, selling a whooping 17 copies that year and I wanted to have a little look back at what my trusty sales spreadsheet has recorded over the last ten years.
I’ve published 16 novels and one novella in that time (plus the two freebie novellas for people who sign up to my readers group). As I was working full time until the summer of 2018, I was roughly publishing one novel a year up until then. In the Absence of Light was largely written before I published The King of the Winter (I’d been writing it on and off for 12 years before then) and I’d intended it to be one complete novel, but it would have been a huge book so, when I decided to publish on Amazon, I split it into four novels. Once The Love of Monsters came out in 2013 my reservoir of work was used up and I had roll my sleeves up and write some new material.
The Hawkers Drift books took five years to write, published between 2014 and 2018. In retrospect, a five book sci-fi, horror, western saga might not have been the wisest road to spend five years travelling. Although I’m really proud of them, they’ve never sold particularly well The Burden of Souls has only sold about 20% of the sales for The King of the Winter. Still, I enjoyed writing them and, as they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
After I finished working full time in 2018 I’ve managed to publish a further six novels, including four last year, returning to the historical vampire setting of In the Absence of Light. After a slow start the first of them, Red Company, begun selling strongly and was my best seller last year, the first year in fact The King of the Winter wasn’t my best selling book.
I’m not quite sure why this happened as I wasn’t advertising the book particularly strongly, but it took off in July 2021 and has kept on growing ever since. Amazon works in mysterious ways…
The Rumville books have been selling solidly, if unspectacularly. Just being able to get the books out quickly has helped and my sales for last year nearly doubled (47.25% to be precise) on 2020, which was up only 8% on 2019 with only one novel published that year.
I’ve also seen a big rise in page reads through Kindle Unlimited (think Netflix for books if you don’t know what Kindle Unlimited is). Authors get paid for each page read via Kindle Unlimited and I was 120,000 pages up on 2019 in 2020, while in 2021 I’ve hit half of the 2020 total in three months. I’m now over 1.25m page reads since KU started in 2015, with 400,000 coming in the last 15 months.
I’m not sure if this is anything to do with the pandemic, but my KU page reads and book sales actually went down in the first half of 2020 when we were under lockdown (when conventional wisdom stated people were at home reading more) and then rose sharply from last summer. Odd.
I’m currently projecting pages reads of 500,000 for this year and books sales up around the 40% mark again. Of course, we’re only in March, so plenty of time for someone to put a hose pipe over my parade on that one.
I’m still a long way from being “successful”, but as I’m writing for myself rather than market what qualifies as success doesn’t entirely come down to units, pages and dollars. I enjoy what I do and am lucky to be able to spend as much time doing it as I want. I’ll take that as a win and keep on keeping on. Every year since I started, I’ve sold more books than the previous one and am now selling books in the thousands over a year rather than the 17 I started with. Who knows, maybe I’ll hit the tens of thousands one day. Everyone needs a dream.
If I can take one lesson from looking back it’s quite a simple one. Write more books. The more you write, the better you write, the more you write, the more you’ll sell. Easier said than done with all the competing demands on our time, but that’s the plan.
And, funnily enough, I will be back in the coming weeks with news of some more books.