Sabtu, 05 Oktober 2013

Guest Post by Tom Keller (and Konrath talks numbers)

First, a big thanks to Joe. Not only for the opportunity to guest post on his blog, but also for the wonderful way he chose to help others with Alzheimer's. My grandmother, rest her soul, lived till just shy of her 90th birthday and many of the ideas for my first book grew out of the stories she told me as a child. Which is why my book, Return of the High Fae, is dedicated to her. She spent the last 6 to 7 years of her life suffering from this disease and it was heart breaking to see its effect on her. Thanks again Joe, not only for this, but for your consistent advice and information to others in their journey to publish and sell books.

As a quick introduction, I've spent most of the last 33 years of my life as a cop and investigator. I never planned on publishing a novel and I certainly never planned on one that involved faeries and other mythological creatures. I was just one of those folks that always thought about it and then one day sat down and the words started coming. Due to certain aspects of my work, I stayed away from police procedurals and similar genres, and instead starting writing fantasy. Before I knew it, I was having fun.

Like David Haywood Young, I don't have a lot of readers, but the ones I do have are incredibly supportive. I chose to self-publish for a lot of the reasons you can read right here, but also because I didn’t want to wait around for the sometimes years it takes to sell your idea, if ever. Then, if you're one of the 'fortunate' (and I use that term loosely) ones that gets a contract, it can be more years before your book ever sees the light of day. Not to mention that now you have to rewrite your novel in their image if you ever really want to see it published. I also like the idea of owning all the rights.

Somewhere in my journey I came across Joe's blog and an article he wrote entitled "Bedtime Story," back in 2010, and the idea of self-publishing my book was born. Although I never submitted my novel to any publishing houses or agents, the truth is I’ve been rejected plenty of times. My short stories never saw the light of a page, (and I submitted quite a few) so I took that into consideration when I decided to self-publish Return of the High Fae. I've done ok with Amazon's Kindle Select for the last year and I also used ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) to publish the book in audio format. Since I wrote this post I have removed Return of the High Fae from KDP Select but still have at least one of my other stories enrolled. We'll see what effect that has on sales now that it will be back on the other venues as it gets redistributed through Smashwords.

Like others I was pretty content with selling 30 – 50 books a month, I mean, at least someone was reading them. And I like the idea of a potential long term revenue stream and thanks to the type of information found here, I'm hoping to try some different things in order to write and sell more books. I really like the idea of letting fans help choose covers and that might be an idea when choosing a narrator for the audio version as well. I've recently had fans solicit ideas in a story line with what they'd like to see, the feedback has been interesting, to say the least. The big thing I've seen is that it's important to get those books out there. From a strictly business perspective, more books = more money.

Although I started with the idea of maybe a sequel or two as I had time, recent changes in my life have forced me to focus more on not just my next novel but some new stories as well. Thanks to what I've learned here, I've also started a few short story tie-ins to try and increase overall sales. I'm also rewriting some of those old stories that might work as Kindle singles. I decided to do that with my short stories, but now Joe has me thinking again, as novels sell better than shorts, so maybe I'll try a different approach there as well. I've still got to decide why I'm writing the books and stories I do, and there are some good points here on changing genre's and using pen names as well as others to sell more books. Since they were a change of genre, and initially spurred on by Joe's 8 hour challenge, I published some short stories under a pen name, although a minute's actual investigation will lead you to me anyway. I think I did that originally to make sure that people liked them before linking them back to me. Seems silly now, but, hey, what can I say? Besides, using a pen name allows you to write in darn near in any genre, especially those that might be a little risqué for the home front.

I can't say enough about what you can learn about writing and publishing on Joe's blog. And it's not just Joe, Carlos Cooper's and David Haywood Young's posts are just a few example of the excellent assortment of ideas and experiences presented here. Carlos' and Joe's post that mentions to use all 5 of your freebie days to increase your rank on the top 100 free list is just one idea worth remembering. If I've learned anything it's that you can't buy the lifetime of experience and writing tips that Joe and his guest's present here. Not to mention that their ideas can spawn creations of your own. The 8 hour publish a book on Kindle was an amazing idea and prompted a lot of folks to do just that. I guess all I'm trying to say is that you should never be afraid to try. Just do a little research and make this blog your first jumping point to your next novel or short story.

Joe sez: Thanks for the kind words, Tom. I meant to post this yesterday, but was having some computer issues. I just bought your book, and encourage others to give it a try. There's something extremely cool about a police officer writing faeries stories, and you've piqued my curiosity.

One thing I'd like expound upon is that inspiration comes in many forms, and while I'm grateful to have inspired many writers, and humbled when they thank me, I encourage people to use this blog and my words as resource, but not as gospel.


I'm just a writer trying to figure things out. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I'm a bit ahead of the curve, but my success still comes down to luck. I believe, if you work hard, you can also improve your chances at luck.

No one reading this post will ever be me, because I'm one of a kind. And I'll never be you, because you're one of a kind. We all have out own journeys to follow, our own choices to make. I'd like to think my blog helps people make informed choices, and from the email I get I know my blog as also helped many people find some measure of success. But I'm just one guy, and sometimes I'm wrong, and I should be only one resource out of many.

In other words, I share what works for me, but it might not work for you. If you do everything I do on my blog, there is no guarantee you'll succeed. Success is something you need to find on your own, and you may take a much different route than I did.

That said, here are the things I've done that have helped me get to where I'm at.

1. Love what you're doing. This is a brutally tough business, and if you aren't in love with writing save yourself a lot of heartache and go do something else.

2. Write when you can, finish what you write, edit what you finish, self-publish what you edit, and repeat. And make sure everything you release is as good as you can make it,

3. Experiment. You need to constantly try new things in order to find something that works. Don't be afraid to change covers, titles, prices, names, platforms, and even genres.

4. You should seek out as much information as you can, but don't believe everything you hear or read. Some people lie. Some exaggerate. Everyone has an agenda, and you should take it all with a healthy dose of skepticism.

5. Ebooks are forever. That means you have a very long time to find your audience. If you aren't seeing success now, that doesn't mean it will never come.

6. Work your ass off. It will always come down to luck. But the harder you work, the luckier you'll get.

7. Seek criticism, not praise. Get this from the key people in you life that you trust.

8. Ignore haters. They aren't worth your time.

9. With only a few exceptions, I haven't found that advertising, publicity, or promotion helps much. The problem is that sometimes they do help, and it is very hard to predict when that will happen. I tweet, email, and blog new releases, I use BookBub, Bookblast, and EbookBooster every so often, and I do a rare interview or appearance once in a blue moon. But most of all, I focus on my writing.

10. My motto is: Learn all you can, pass along what you've learned, leave the world a better place because you lived, and have as much fun as possible.

Several people have emailed me, asking when I'll do another numbers update. Way back in the year 2009 I began posting my Kindle numbers, and that seemed to inspire lots of writers.

I'll quote myself from that post: "So far on Kindle I've earned $2781.35 in 64 days. If the $90 per day trend keeps up, that's $32,850 a year. Not a huge amount, but not chump change either."

I've come a long way since 2009. Here are my latest, cumulative self-pub numbers, both units and dollars, as of July 2013.

These include free downloads and KOLL borrows, and are numbers for all the platforms I've been on (KDP, iTunes, Smashwords, Kobo, B&N, Createspace). They do not include any of my legacy pubbed books, or my secret pen name. They also don't include my seven Amazon published books, my audio books, or my legacy foreign sales.

Don't let these numbers discourage you, and at the same time don't assume you'll be able to replicate them.

Also look at some of my individual titles and see how few they're selling. I've had some big hits, but the majority of my books have modest, and even lackluster, sales. But when you have a lot of titles, even modest sales can add up.

I'm sharing these numbers with you to show you what is possible. In fact, a lot more is possible, because there are many authors outselling me.

This isn't a contest. This isn't a competition. Don't envy me, and don't hope to get where I'm at. Envy and hope don't empower you--they're excuses for not being in control. Focus on where you're at, and what you can be doing to improve. If you have goals that are based on your efforts (as opposed to dreams, which require someone else to say yes or no) you won't need hope or envy. 


And feel free to post your numbers, even if they aren't very good. Especially if they aren't very good. One of the reasons legacy publishers controlled the market for so long was because writers were afraid to talk numbers, and everything was hush-hush. 

The more everyone shares, the more everyone learns. The more everyone helps, the more everyone benefits.

Row Labels Sum of Net Units Sold Sum of Earnings USD
65 Proof 27,222 $14,511.59
2009 847 $611.24
2010 844 $1,705.04
2011 4,616 $4,817.85
2012 4,659 $4,245.99
2013 16,256 $3,131.47
Afraid 114,657 $23,546.12
2012 58,940 $7,375.38
2013 55,717 $16,170.74
Babe on Board 20,012 $5,214.39
2011 4,888 $1,329.20
2012 4,331 $1,083.65
2013 10,793 $2,801.54
Banana Hammock 11,920 $11,150.20
2010 560 $1,107.09
2011 6,571 $4,693.58
2012 2,420 $2,918.40
2013 2,369 $2,431.13
Beginnings 36 $161.65
2013 36 $161.65
Birds of Prey 22,219 $12,186.84
2011 7,431 $6,677.88
2012 6,994 $4,231.40
2013 7,794 $1,277.56
Bloody Mary 186,848 $83,598.86
2013 186,848 $83,598.86
Burners 4,043 $7,910.63
2012 2,406 $4,692.66
2013 1,637 $3,217.97
Cherry Bomb 70,999 $31,983.77
2013 70,999 $31,983.77
Crime Stories 14,355 $4,625.54
2010 789 $1,091.54
2011 7,773 $2,037.57
2012 5,156 $1,249.70
2013 637 $246.72
Dirty Martini 147,067 $32,000.49
2013 147,067 $32,000.49
Disturb 56,670 $47,364.94
2009 1,785 $1,292.87
2010 5,517 $6,940.73
2011 18,556 $21,142.74
2012 7,569 $10,882.90
2013 23,243 $7,105.70
Draculas 35,629 $40,207.73
2010 3,878 $7,640.40
2011 13,557 $18,461.23
2012 6,615 $10,162.07
2013 11,579 $3,944.03
Dumb Jokes 5,640 $922.33
2009 408 $148.70
2010 597 $225.37
2011 2,096 $254.00
2012 1,656 $257.31
2013 883 $36.94
Endurance 118,728 $124,954.46
2010 11,984 $23,586.89
2011 41,251 $59,265.56
2012 15,800 $28,289.20
2013 49,693 $13,812.80
Exposed 25,232 $15,893.67
2011 4,614 $2,264.62
2012 18,182 $8,818.28
2013 2,436 $4,810.77
Flee 36,635 $25,932.17
2011 28,358 $15,911.42
2012 8,276 $10,018.75
2013 1 $2.00
Floaters 17,495 $8,036.23
2009 609 $427.49
2010 2,990 $2,206.17
2011 4,634 $2,094.81
2012 6,116 $1,805.54
2013 3,146 $1,502.22
Fuzzy Navel 68,578 $38,680.14
2013 68,578 $38,680.14
Haunted House 53,794 $23,475.90
2013 53,794 $23,475.90
Hit 2,064 $3,913.76
2013 2,064 $3,913.76
Horror Stories 34,970 $37,903.13
2010 4,363 $6,882.19
2011 13,793 $17,887.50
2012 12,360 $10,417.10
2013 4,454 $2,716.34
How To Attract the Opposite Sex 839 $5.68
2013 839 $5.68
How To Get Rich 747 $12.40
2013 747 $12.40
How To Give Good Sex 1,983 $267.58
2013 1,983 $267.58
How To Stop Farting 3,308 $119.98
2012 5 $4.82
2013 3,303 $115.16
Jack Daniels Series - Dirty Martini  Fuzzy Navel, Cherry Bomb 6,717 $42,749.23
2013 6,717 $42,749.23
Jack Daniels Series - Whiskey Sour, Bloody Mary, Rusty Nail 3,020 $19,406.02
2013 3,020 $19,406.02
Jack Daniels Stories 25,644 $29,234.82
2010 3,117 $4,543.70
2011 10,057 $10,189.51
2012 9,482 $5,730.46
2013 2,988 $8,771.15
Jack Kilborn Trilogy 616 $3,755.45
2012 144 $758.20
2013 472 $2,997.25
Killers 24,906 $24,201.44
2011 12,072 $16,754.09
2012 5,887 $5,686.79
2013 6,947 $1,760.55
Killers Uncut 2,687 $3,092.13
2011 1,895 $1,510.18
2012 488 $983.65
2013 304 $598.29
Newbies Guide to Publishing 11,015 $6,985.29
2010 1,072 $1,708.00
2011 4,282 $3,495.98
2012 3,897 $1,456.75
2013 1,764 $324.56
Origin 121,596 $117,055.29
2009 3,884 $2,792.69
2010 12,433 $16,342.03
2011 54,107 $60,368.57
2012 22,109 $24,606.85
2013 29,063 $12,945.15
Planters Punch 18,863 $4,232.54
2009 590 $413.00
2010 1,467 $1,863.09
2011 4,325 $837.37
2012 3,275 $687.12
2013 9,206 $431.96
Rusty Nail 97,405 $58,198.85
2013 97,405 $58,198.85
Serial 95,361 $2,312.91
2010 9,460 $341.19
2011 56,946 $542.74
2012 27,859 $999.76
2013 1,096 $429.22
Serial Killers Uncut 27,233 $26,417.70
2011 7,780 $9,739.69
2012 17,468 $12,082.31
2013 1,985 $4,595.69
Serial Uncut 33,110 $48,630.51
2010 5,400 $8,365.09
2011 18,371 $27,406.29
2012 7,326 $8,988.12
2013 2,013 $3,871.01
Shapeshifters 8,555 $1,550.79
2011 5,113 $790.70
2012 3,042 $531.27
2013 400 $228.82
Shot of Tequila 113,331 $70,058.98
2009 1,322 $949.20
2010 7,209 $11,085.29
2011 37,739 $24,094.89
2012 17,949 $17,930.37
2013 49,112 $15,999.23
Street Music 7,359 $768.94
2011 2,386 $181.39
2012 2,360 $330.85
2013 2,613 $256.70
Suckers 25,857 $18,193.78
2009 1,347 $944.95
2010 2,996 $3,854.64
2011 7,665 $8,093.55
2012 5,370 $3,776.24
2013 8,479 $1,524.40
Symbios 11,034 $1,253.43
2011 4,318 $735.62
2012 2,436 $389.95
2013 4,280 $127.86
The List 332,786 $226,535.57
2009 7,129 $5,293.42
2010 16,212 $17,896.26
2011 134,538 $114,268.84
2012 57,960 $71,195.72
2013 116,947 $17,881.34
The Screaming 12,237 $2,254.48
2011 5,822 $1,368.34
2012 3,544 $691.76
2013 2,871 $194.38
Timecaster 27,604 $2,603.61
2012 105 $65.22
2013 27,499 $2,538.39
Trapped 177,366 $159,242.24
2010 12,035 $23,116.53
2011 92,468 $91,309.95
2012 14,462 $30,167.73
2013 58,401 $14,648.03
Trapped-German 7,715 $3,037.31
2012 4,632 $1,763.82
2013 3,083 $1,273.48
Truck Stop 42,633 $13,511.13
2009 2,093 $1,184.88
2010 7,760 $4,126.50
2011 19,018 $5,126.99
2012 7,479 $2,042.37
2013 6,283 $1,030.39
Truck Stop-German 10,701 $1,809.78
2011 1,887 $342.53
2012 5,167 $709.22
2013 3,647 $758.02
Whiskey Sour 191,427 $101,060.02
2013 191,427 $101,060.02
Wild Night is Calling 26,758 $6,031.83
2011 14,269 $3,928.39
2012 7,009 $1,507.46
2013 5,480 $595.97
With a Twist 29,936 $2,598.45
2011 4,545 $479.66
2012 4,853 $1,031.13
2013 20,538 $1,087.66
Grand Total 2,575,162 $1,591,362.71

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