top of page
  • Writer's picturej patricia anderson

2023 year end update

Okay so once again the only way I'm going to actually write this blog post is to lower my expectations of perfection and just DO it haha! So here is my poorly thought-out year in review...


In 2023 I published my first book! First book conceived of, first book written, book that made me a writer, book of my heart, book I wrote and then edited forever, book that taught me about myself and other people, first book I queried, book I was always going to publish no matter what...and hey, I did it. It's out there. For 8 months now. DAUGHTERS OF TITH (DoT) came out on May 1st, 2023, and I have learned a lot in that time.


Then, at the end of August, I published my little baby book--third book written, lightning-strike inspiration book, wrote it in a month book, sum up the disaster of my last few years of life book, inspired by a song book... My novella--YOUR BLOOD AND BONES (YBaB). YBaB was meant to come out hand-wavily "in November" (if at all) but the possible publication date got moved up because of the birth of the SFINCS (Speculative Fiction Indie Novella Championships), which required entrants to be published prior to September 2023. Good thing the artist I wanted was available immediately when I emailed her haha. I did manage to enter YBaB in SFINCS1 and I'll talk about that below.


All of the above means that in 2023 I went from aspiring published author to author of two published books! Not bad!


Little table of contents for this post:



Sales stats


Simple stats say I sold 352 books this year!!!


This was done through a combination of Amazon ebooks and paperbacks (289), Ingram paperbacks and hardcovers (40), various wide ebook distributors for YBaB (7 lol), and a small number of hand sales to people in the city or people at Can*Con (16).


Overall, that is made up of 170 copies of DoT and 182 copies of YBaB (which is just insane because YBaB has been out for half the time).


Amazon graph:


No zero months!


Real big bump in December there from the 2023 r/Fantasy megasale, organised by Wraithmarked Creative, and continued sale prices on both books until today. I sold 95 copies (a lot more YBaB than DoT but I don't remember the exact split) during the two days of the sale and donated 47.50USD (I halved the sale number) to the Mary Cariola Center, which was the charity of choice this year.


IngramSpark graph (they appear to have changed their reporting for the much worse because this was the best graph I could get...and it sucks):



This graph really sucks, and I had better visual reports from them in October when I did the last update, so I either completely forgot how to use their site or they ruined their reporting.


This graph shows a total of 40 sales through IngramSpark (there have been none in December), with a pretty obvious decline through the months. I think half of the November sales were library sales of the YBaB hardcover too, so not even real sales. This shows a pretty obvious correlation with my shift in focus from promoting online bookstore sales to prioritising Amazon sales.


Does that also suck? YES! I don't want to feed the monstrosity that is Amazon, but it IS the easiest and most lucrative distributor for indies...


If you're reading this as someone who is not an indie author, be aware that the difference can be literally a few cents royalties per sale from IngramSpark (bookstore sale) vs a couple dollars from an Amazon sale of a same-priced book. You can price really high and maybe survive on IngramSpark or you can significantly lower that price and maybe still thrive on Amazon. The worst thing about this is that it affects our ability to support indie bookstores.


Personally, I'm not as interested in the royalties as I am in pricing reasonably. DoT is BIG, and I don't want to charge an outrageous price for it, so I sell it cheaper on Amazon than I do on Ingram (because it's deeply in the red at that price on Ingram and they won't let me sell it like that) :(. Maybe one day this will change.


I have set the YBaB ebook up wide (wide = not exclusive to Amazon) to test that out so we'll see where it goes. YBaB had 7 wide sales since release--2 from Draft2Digital and 5 from Kobo.



Kindle Unlimited page reads


DoT is also in Kindle Unlimited (KU). This is a program where Amazon charges subscribers a monthly fee and gives them access to any ebook enrolled in the program. Those readers read pages and Amazon pays authors a small amount per page.


In my last update I had mentioned that one person finally read DoT to completion in KU! Woohoo! Well, in December I got another one :D:D:D.


Total KENP for the year:


A full read of DoT is 1,094 KENP (they're significantly smaller pages than print pages). I had one reader do ~400 over a few days and sadly drop it haha, but then someone made my dreams come true in Sept and did exactly 1,094 over about a week! AMAZING.


Then...THEN...the December reader. Now, I don't know if this is an internet thing--like they read the book over who knows how long offline, popped back on, and all the pages loaded, or what...but I'm going to pretend they actually did this in one day, because it's amazing:



December 26th, 1,027 KENP read. Almost the whole book. Wow. No matter how that happened, I will take it! I love my tiny KU family. If this anonymous one-day reader was you--you're my favourite ;).


The rest of the pages are all little bites. Hopefully some of those people downloaded the book and will come back to finish it one day :D.


Ideally I'll get a few more KU readers in the new year. If not I'll just chill until DoT's sequel is in there, at which point it would be financially responsible to attempt to get people to read both of them lol. Speaking of finances...



$$$


I will start this section by saying I have a full time job in tech that I don't intend to ever leave (and if I'm forced to leave I'll try really hard to get another one) and "breaking even"--much less profiting--isn't a concept I have considered...


Scratch that! That's a lie! Hehe.


Originally, that was the plan. When I started I figured that eventually I'd break even (at least on the scale of years?) and intended to keep costs low with that goal in mind. Let's just say I quickly abandoned that! Because publishing, like anything else in life, is much more fun with money.


Oop. Did I say that out loud?


Yes. Unfortunately, self publishing is pay-to-play (with advantages) like pretty much everything else. Can you self-publish cheaply or with a strict budget? Absolutely! I actually learned a lot about how to do that during this journey, and maybe one day I'll aim to publish a book on a budget with the intent of making everything back.


Is it also significantly less stressful when you don't have to consider the business side? Ohhh yeahhh.


Now, I actually do have a success-related goal which I'll talk about in the How I feel section below, but for this year I've definitely treated publishing as more of an expensive hobby than a business.


What that means in my case is shipping free signed hardcover books to reviewers when there's no way a realistic marketing budget for a self-published nobody author with so few published books supports that.


Sending signed books to people from my house is my favourite part of this whole process so far! But man, is it expensive. Whew. So, back when I was planning to be smart about all this, I wasn't planning to do that lol. Now, it is my guilty pleasure. The other thing I spend way too much on are proof copies (striving impossibly for perfection--see "things I learned" below) and physical stock. And websites. Okay, a few things.


With that in mind, I can't say exactly how much I've "made" since I haven't looked closely at gross vs net because: very much not an effective business over here. I mean obviously I am very, very in the red because this is expensive. But even the "income" is more complicated than the way I've treated it so far.


I've "made" ~750CAD this year on my 352 sales. Probably slightly over a third of that on hand sales, which is where the largest falseness creeps in...


The number is false because that includes (for example) 10$ in a hand sale where I may have taken "10$ for a YBaB paperback" when in reality the paperback itself cost me 4$ so I should be adding 6$ instead... Soooo, ~750CAD went into my business account (or will, by the time Nov and Dec royalties come in) but realistically, especially for the hand sales, a lot also came out.


You would think this a pretty good return considering I do my own editing, proofreading, interior formatting, and I did DoT's cover myself!, but I did pay for YBaB's gorgeous cover and once again proof copies for two books, physical stock, SHIPPING BOOKS <3 and--*takes a deep breath*--and website costs and formatting software and photoshop and other peoples' books (which I will absolutely expense) and physical copy giveaways and I bought a computer! and, and, and...


I hope to eventually write a blog post on the strategy I see to best publish conservatively but I've been too busy and overwhelmed to do that so far. Simplest tip is: focus on those ebook sales. Don't go in for a pricey cover until you can reasonably recover the cost. Sales gained through that first look mean nothing if you can't get enough of them consistently to not bankrupt your business. Publish multiple books. Don't pay for ads until you have 3+ books available (and/or be very, very careful about them). Okay that was a few tips. I have more. I should write the post. Should do this, should do that...it's a lot.


Speaking of ads, I haven't dipped into that yet, but I know that when I do, my running costs will probably skyrocket. I'm thinking I'll try ads once 3T (DoT's sequel) is out! They seem to be helping others with KU page reads--something I am not doing well on at all as shown above haha.



SPFBO9


I won't go into this too much again because I did it in my last update, but it WAS a few months of my 2023. So if you want to check out the review DoT got in SPFBO9, it's on The Weatherwax Report.


Definitely head over to check out the SPFBO9 finalists board when you need some new reads, or check out the entire SPFBO9 cohort on Zack Argyle's site because you can see the pretty covers more easily <3. I've read a bunch of these and will list them in my 2023 reads below.



SFINCS1


So I published YBaB when I did specifically to hit the SFINCS deadline...and it's a good thing I did because YBaB is now a SFINCS1 semifinalist! Check out that badge!



Pretty cool. The competition I thought about for like eight years and stressed about all summer ended up yielding mostly stress (and a lot of great friends!) but this...this new thing that came out of nowhere just like YBaB itself did, well, that's going a bit better!


The other SFINCS1 semifinalists can be found on the round two page. I've read...I think 10? of them so far. All great! Check them out!


The semifinalist round of SFINCS ends on January 30th, so if YBaB is lucky enough to move on to the finals that's when we'll know.



(Some of the) things I learned


The main thing I learned is that you can't worry about perfection. We don't have a lot of power as indies and there's a lot out of our control. Things will go wrong lol.


I stressed a lot about DoT's release. Not about getting reviews or interest, but about making a quality product and having working pre-order links and having the book on online stores and actually printed on time for customers etc.


Man. You cannot control it.


Do everything right and IngramSpark will still take two months to approve a perfectly good hardcover edition. Do everything right and Amazon will still mark your book as "out of stock" for the first full month it's out. Or take two months to ship it to customers...or not ship it at all. Perfect files, beautiful interior formatting, sleek final product?--shipped in a giant box with no padding by the distributor. Cover printing colour consistency? What is that! *despairs*


Do the best you can. Don't spend all your money and stress as little as humanly possible about the things you can't control. Be prepared, be smart, but still--so much is up to luck.


Let's just say my YBaB release was quite different than DoT's. I probably still stressed too much and tried too hard but at least I knew it wasn't really going to matter :D.


I learned to just do video interviews and panels even though they're scary, and I kind of (sort of) learned to talk about DoT this year! After being unable to talk about it for...ever. It's not perfect still but I'm getting there haha.


I learned that trying to write and publish and work full time and take care of three small children (with my wonderful husband's help of course!) is probably going to kill me unless I'm very careful. Which leads into our next section.



How I feel about it all


Happy? Surprised? Overwhelmed? Discouraged? Fulfilled? Adrift?


Everything! I feel everything!


I think what I feel most of all is that in a different world I could have really done this. In this world, I need to slow down.


I went back to work from my last maternity leave in February and I haven't achieved much since (other than the whole publishing thing). It's been very different from 2022, when I wrote 4 whole books :O. First drafts, but still! I have written a few thousand words this year, and that is partly publishing hangover and partly a lot of things and partly just that it's hard to do everything. It's really hard.


So how I feel most of all is conflicted. So impressed with how well this is going, with how much fun it is, with the (so far) limited but very positive reaction to my books, with how writing and publishing and making cover art uses every skill I have and nothing else has felt like that in my life. But so, so tired. And this year--so unproductive.


Now the good part! Because of that I have a goal. The goal is not to break even or sell a certain amount of copies or get a certain number of reviews or win anything. The goal is to arrange my life so I can take a month off work every year for writing. Writing and...napping. Lol. I mean, let's be realistic. There will be napping.


Ideally publishing will fund that one day, but I know it probably won't for a while and that's okay too.


That is a goal I can work towards. So now I feel good.



2023 indie reads


There's no way I don't forget someone here so I'm going to literally scroll through the SPFBO9 and SFINCS1 lists and take out the ones I've read.


I own way more of the books from both these competitions than the ones I've read so far, so hopefully those I don't mention (because I can only read so fast!) will be mentioned in a future list.


Consider these to be recommendations from me!


I won't be writing anything about them here because this post is already out of control but I post pictures and little comments on twitter often if you follow me :).


I'm linking authors (linktree/website when possible) instead of books because hopefully they have universal links somewhere on their socials. I'm from Canada, down with Amazon-dot-com-only links!


SPFBO9 books:


Hmm that's fewer than I expected. Anyway if your SPFBO9 book was on sale for 99c at any point this year I probably own it now :D. So maybe you'll be on my list next year...


SFINCS1 novellas:


I also own a lot more SFINCS1 novellas and will be reading and tweeting about them soon.


Other indies I managed to remember I read recently:


I'm certain I read more...I'm sorry if I forgot you!


Current reads:


Andrea Stewart probably doesn't need a link from me but oh well haha.


And so many reading plans for 2024! But maybe I'll do a separate post about that.



2024 plans


Oof, okay I'm losing steam! Haha...ha. That kind of mirrors reality a bit?


This year was a lot of burn out recovery and doing basically nothing productive (other than...the two books I published...I guess). But I'm trying to enjoy life more. I used to stress about productivity because I was worried about how much time I have left (BLEAK I KNOW) but now I just worry about being kind and enjoying existing as much as possible. Good? Yeah. Hopefully I can live and also publish books :S.


In early 2024 I'm going to write my second novella. I was supposed to wait until 3T was with readers but it's obvious readers want a novella more than a big book, and I'd like to publish my 2nd planned novella (of three including YBaB :D) by the end of 2024 (also fantasy, also standalone, completely unrelated to DoT or YBaB). That means, in my process, that it needs many months to sit.


So I'll do the 1st draft in Jan or Feb and let it breathe for a while. Then I'll probably look for an artist for the cover and think about edits. Do them. Readers. Publish. I'm not going to query it.


After or during that I will get 3T to readers. Ideally with the intention to publish it by the end of the year as well. 3T has sat. It has breathed. Now I just need to make it as beautiful as DoT...which is scary. Extremely intimidating to be honest. It is gorgeous though, under the remaining marble, waiting to be further carved and polished.


I have other goals but at this point, maybe I want to pretend that's all I have to do!


Oh, a final new thing. Now I post pictures of books on my instagram which I still don't really understand how to use. Follow me to see more of my stunning red table: https://www.instagram.com/jpatriciaanderson/



Review highlights


Goodreads stats since May:


I got 59 ratings and 41 reviews on Goodreads this year between the two books. There are a few more unique reviews on Amazon but for some reason, many, many fewer overall.


Most of them are great. I'm actually afraid of them lol. I love them, but the external pressure is on now, when I originally wrote all of this stuff for myself. The balance of loving the reviews and remembering that I just have to do what I want to do in the future is something I'm going to have to work on this year because I think I can ONLY write for myself. I don't feel capable of anything else...


But anyway!


Best "I see you" review goes to this Before We Go Blog review of DoT, written by Steve Hugh Westenra:


You write this kind of crazy huge thing, a whole novel, 220K words worth of story that says a lot of things but means a lot more, and someone absorbs it and takes away exactly what it's all supposed to add up to. How?


I don't know. Honestly I don't know. But wow, that is special.


Other DoT review highlights:


Kirkus saying: "The story takes full advantage of its length, ..."


I don't run on spite, or at least barely at all haha, but if I have one drop of spite it's about the trad debut word count restriction. Hey, I get it, I actually do. I've done enough research and spent enough time understanding what trad is and how it works. There are a lot of good reasons for it. But some stories are just long!


Timothy Wolff, author of Platinum Tinted Darkness said:

"I think Daughters of Tith will end up being one of those books where people will either think its a masterpiece or DNF two chapters in."

Love that excerpt haha.


This reviewer in a 5 star Goodreads review describes DoT better than I ever could:

"Daughters of Tith features a people known as the Kandar (think reinvented angels minus the wings). For generations, they have been held back from their purpose: to secretly guide humans. The story follows the efforts of five sisters who, for different reasons, decide to change the status quo. I bought this book on a whim, and I'm glad I did!"

And various others who called it unique and who loved it. Thank you all!


YBaB review highlights:


There are almost too many good reviews for YBaB.


I'll list some excerpts.


"Your Blood and Bones by J. Patricia Anderson may be short, but it is incredibly powerful , beautifully poetic and deeply memorable and I think it is highly likely that it will still be one of the best books I read in 2023 when I look back at the end of the year."

"If you ever wanted to feel all there is to being human, wonder about all questions that it carries at its core, read this book. The girl and the boy bear no names, but their fate and their character are more refined than a lot of books attempting to tell a story as profound as this one. I wish I could read this for the first time again. And again. And again."

"Absolutely phenomenal work--if you're on the fence, absolutely check this work out. Anderson is one to watch. A true star with something new to say and a fresh way to say it."

"The boy and the girl are turning into monsters, and the reader can be as literal or as allegorical as they like about their transformation and search for a cure. You can make whatever you want out of the fact that the monstrous parts of themselves that make them a target are also their most powerful tools of survival. The body horror aspects are grisly but poignant and full of purpose."

There are a lot from beloved reviewers in the community who I haven't quoted here but will eventually work into some sort of marketing strategy. Thank you to all YBaB's reviewers so far. I'm truly overwhelmed by the response.


End--as always--with trees, because trees are the best.




58 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page