Updated: Nov 22
I thought I'd write a blog post in part to... write a blog at all since I haven't been :S, and in part to organise my writing thoughts and plans for the next year or so. No reason to do it at the end of October, but it's as good a time as any!
Actually, November 1st will mark 1 year since I announced I would be self-publishing DoT! I guess that means there IS a good reason to do it now :D. That also means that it will be 6 months since DoT actually came out (May 1)... so I guess I should talk about how things have been going too.
The big surprise since I published DoT is that I also published my first novella--YBaB. The original plan with YBaB was to publish it in November if it had no luck querying (which it did not). That all changed when my friend Adam made the iconic tweet that led to the founding of the Speculative Fiction Indie Novella Championships (SFINCS), which meant I had to get YBaB out by the end of August! It released on August 27th, just in time to be entered in the competition at the beginning of September. Unlike DoT and SPFBO9, YBaB is still in SFINCS1 as of posting this because no one has been cut yet LOL.
Sales/marketing so far
Let's look at sales in this six month period! I think in order to accurately understand the numbers we'll also need to consider what I have done to achieve them lol. That is--not a lot hahaha.
I thought it would be funny to enter SPFBO with no reviews, so I hadn't planned on doing much before the entry date to promote the book. I did a cover reveal on my own blog, posted six sample chapters ahead of release, and did a few posts on my inspiration for the book and series and the maps etc. I gave out 3 ARCs to internet strangers lol. So I wasn't expecting anything at all, but things turned out slightly differently when a few of my cherished early readers and beta readers decided to rate and/or review! I even had one ARC review!
I released DoT on May 1st and entered SPFBO9 on May 17th. DoT was cut from the slush pile in September and the review is here if you'd like to see it.
The bulk of my marketing for DoT is to obnoxiously post pictures of it on twitter. I also put it on sale often for 99c, and advertise those sales in various discords :D. The best successes I had were probably the initial SPFBO excitement in May and the Narratess Indie August sale. It has been extremely unsuccessful in Kindle Unlimited (KU) so I think once I release 3T I'll try ads!
YBaB is sooooo much more marketable than DoT it's almost a joke lol. It is easy to post about so I do that a lot (also on twitter haha).
I organised a cover reveal with a few blogs for YBaB because the cover is amazing and I felt my wonderful artist deserved that (Jenna Vincent did the illustration, if you haven't seen me talk about her yet!).
I also gave out a bunch of ARCs--maybe 15?--which resulted in a solid number of early reviews.
It was such a different experience than with DoT because the schedule was so accelerated to make SFINCS that only 3 people read it before I started handing out ARCs! Yikes. Well, 3 other than the small presses that politely declined to publish it. So I didn't really know what would happen when it went live!
It definitely seems to be easier to get readers to test out a novella than a giant epic when they don't know you :).
YBaB's ebook is wide* so I don't have KU page stats for that.
*this just made me realise I didn't even include the wide sales here...I think there is only ONE though.
The majority of my sales have come from Amazon, which are ebooks and paperbacks! DoT in blue and YBaB in gold:
You can see my DoT preorders in May and the SPFBO bump. August is the Indie August sale for DoT (where I broke 100 lifetime sold) and YBaB preorders.
After that it's Ingram for more paperbacks and my dust jacket hardcovers:
These paperbacks were mostly sold in the first two months after DoT was published, with hardcovers scattered throughout if I posted a nice enough picture of them (they are beautiful). I can only imagine the YBaB physical sales are low because it's a small book and the printing costs keep the price a little higher than I'd like. But honestly they are so beautiful too...
After those I have hand sales. I have sold 16 books to real, live people. 9 DoT (5 hardcovers, 4 paperbacks) and 7 YBaB (1 hardcover and 6 paperbacks).
So the totals are, after 6 months of DoT and 2 months of YBaB:
53 YBaB (probably 54 because of the one wide sale I didn't count)
That's not bad! I had joked before starting that I would make 5$ and honestly I would have been happy with that haha.
And lastly, page reads...
DoT is the only one in KU so I'm not sure why it shows YBaB, but the reason YBaB has 0 is because it is not in the program!
So far DoT has had a bunch of 10-20 page taste-testers (who I hope may come back and read in the future?) and two people who actually tried to read it haha. One of them finished it! <3.
A full read-through of DoT is 1,094 KENP and someone finally did it in September and made me a very happy author. Hopefully a few more people will check it out eventually. I'll keep it in until a few of the books in the series are in there and see how things are doing at that point (so like 3 years from now LOL).
Things I did
I had a written interview with Raina Nightingale on her Enthralled By Love blog about DoT being in SPFBO. I also did a podcast about YBaB and SFINCS! Check them out if you have some time. They were fun!
All my current projects are as follows:
3T (DoT's sequel)
SDotSBI (my 2nd novella! Fantasy standalone. Unwritten/swirling around in my head)
TTN (short fantasy standalone. Completed 1st draft. Probably going to be under 100K words when finished)
I should probably get it to more reviewers. There are a few copies out there now, waiting to be read, so perhaps that will make a difference for it :). I may also try to sell a few at the various conventions I attend!
I will likely not increase my marketing efforts until 3T is in the pipeline to be published. They should read SO well together if I can do 3T justice, so if I decide to offer ARCs of 3T that will be the time to entice new readers to start with DoT :D.
3T is soooooo behind schedule. I think it would have been behind no matter what because I feel like I was much more burnt out after publishing DoT than I wanted to admit, so a fallow period should have been expected... but SPFBO definitely did not help.
I should have had the 2nd draft back from first readers by now, and I should have probably been done the edits on that lol. Instead, I still have only a 1st draft! Yikes.
Luckily, this probably isn't as bad as it sounds because I am obsessed with the 1st draft, and the story in general, so I can't imagine much will change as it goes through readers. DoT changed a ton at the sentence level, because I didn't know how to write when I first wrote it haha, but the story didn't change much and I'm hoping (and expecting) the same for 3T. The greatest hurdle will still be finishing that 2nd draft and getting it in front of the first two sets of eyes (my brother and my husband!).
I feel ready to attempt it now. If the book is with them by the end of this calendar year, I think it's still on track for late 2024 publication... assuming I don't drag my feet on finishing the cover hahaha. If it's not with them by year-end, well... that won't be good!
Luckily, I recently set up a few rewards for finishing the 2nd draft that should help me focus...
I want to do the YBaB audiobook! I had tossed around the idea of doing it myself and now I'm pretty sure that's what I'll do. I have no idea how to do that but I love to learn so I'm going to try!
This is my first reward for finishing the 2nd draft of 3T. Once that is done, this will go on the priority pile!
The second reward for finishing 3T's second draft is that I get to write another novella.
I LOVE novellas! I know it won't take more than a month to write when I start and they are easy to edit as well. SO SATISFYING.
As soon as my brother has the last chapter of 3T I will take a week off and then sit down to bang this out and ideally... publish it in 2024 as well? Ooooo
I really love TTN, but I'm not sure when I can fit it in the schedule, given how badly I messed up with 3T. I think I'll leave it in limbo for now but if 3T's second draft is a hit then I might have time to edit this next year.
If I manage to edit TTN into something reasonable in 2024... I may also query it. My thoughts on querying are ever-evolving so I can't be sure until I get there lol, but hey, maybe this one is finally marketable? :D
And then there's my sad news about NaNoWriMo 2023...
I can't do it this year! I was supposed to write 50K words of the third book in CotT (F&G--3T's sequel!), but given how far I am behind with 3T I don't have time. I am SO SAD to miss it after winning two years in a row. I know I could have done it again and it would have been nice to have 50K words of F&G down, ready for after I published 3T...
Ugh. Next year I guess. This November will be spent editing!
That's enough for now. NOW, I must work on 3T!!! Ugh, 3T is going to be so good. I love it so much. I hope DoT's few readers will love it too! I can't wait to see the reactions hahaha!!!
I will leave you with these pretty trees: