A little over a year ago, I decided to self-publish. I set goals, made a plan, and took a leap. On November 1st, 2011, I released my first indie title. Almost a year later, I have two novels and three short stories/novellas out:
Here are the stats:
Open Minds 10,000
Closed Hearts 3,460
Total Sales of Novels 13,460
Total Sales of Short Fiction (across 3 titles) 1,190
Overall Sales 14,650
(For those paying attention at home, my novels are $2.99 – $3.99, except for occasional sales. My short fiction is $0.99.)
If you had told me I would sell over 10,000 copies of my first self-published novel in the first year, I would have said, “Sure, sure. I’ll be happy to break 1,000.”
I knew a thousand sales meant something: if I reached it, I would have broken out of my immediate social circle and word-of-mouth would be selling my novel. You, my awesome blog readers, were a huge part of making that happen. That word-of-mouth, plus Amazon’s marketing machine, worked together to propel sales to that 10k number. I’m not sure what 10,000 sales means*, but it feels like a milestone. So, as promised, I’m using it as an excuse to throw a PARTY to say “thank you!!!” to everyone who has helped make it happen.
*In the Traditional-Pub world, 10,000 sales is approximately equal to selling through the average first-novel print run at a major NY house. That route would have garnered me a $5,000 advance (more on royalties after the 10k mark). Those 10k sales would have been at a higher price point and possibly harder to attain, depending on how much marketing the pub house put behind the book. But I can tell you that I’ve made much more than $5k on my 10,000 self-published sales.
What does 10,000 sales mean in the indie world? Back in February, my thoughts on that were thus:
Reaching Tens of Thousands of Sales
If you’re reaching tens of thousands of sales (one title, in a year), you’ve substantially broken out…As an Indie title selling tens of thousands, you are likely on the bestseller charts somewhere on Amazon (unless your category is extremely competitive), which boosts your visibility substantially and ensures even more sales. If you have tens of thousands of sales spread across several titles, you may have let one book go free and climbed the free charts on Amazon, but have carry-over sales from books 2 & 3 in your series.
At 50,000 sales on a 99cent book, your royalties are $17,500. For a $2.99 novel, you’re looking at a cool $100,000. You’re now paying the mortgage and possibly supporting your family on your royalty checks.
I was talking about my friends at the time – authors like Megg Jensen, Sarra Cannon, and GP Ching – indie writers I admire and who had reached (and blown past) that 10k mark. Now that I’m here, most of my assumptions were true: Open Minds has substantially broken out. It’s been on the top 100 SF bestseller chart on Amazon since June, which has certainly boosted its visibility. The only free title was a short prequel, for a couple months (Dear Amazon: Thank you for price-matching that. You’re awesome. Love, Sue). I have a ways to go before reaching 50k sales, but already I’m making enough to replace a part-time engineering job (one of my goals).
In one short year, my ideas about how to succeed as an author have radically changed. This experiment has proven to me that I can earn a living writing the kinds of stories I want and publishing them on my own timetable, without the backing of a NY publisher. There are no guarantees in this business, but I know this: I’m just getting started. I fully intend to keep writing, keep publishing, and keep “living my dream by dreaming my living.”
The most gratifying part of having my works out in the world is connecting with readers. Second place goes to sharing the journey with my writer-friends, inspiring them to take their own leaps and being able to help them along the way. I stumbled across a recent tweet where one author said to another “you should check out @susankayequinn’s blog. She takes the fear out of indie publishing.”
That made me happy. I won’t try to convince you that indie publishing is the way to go, but if I can help take the fear out, then you are more likely to make a rational choice and find the path that will work best for you.
Oh. My. Heck.
Do I have stuff to give away?
Yes, yes I do.
There are several (!!) Rafflecopter forms below, with everything from a NEW KINDLE PAPERWHITE (!!!) to my favorite books to MY books.
Something for everyone.
ENTER one or all.
And THANK YOU for helping make this first year of my indie publishing experiment such a wonderful success!
Note: I’ve read and truly loved all the indie books I’m giving away. You’ll see my tastes run the gamut of genres. The signed trad-pub paper books I picked up at a local signing. Ebooks are open internationally, paperbooks and Kindle are US only.
(SIGNED hardcovers, US only)
Trad-Pub Books – Behemoth (Leviathan#2)
(hardcover, US only)