Thursday, May 24, 2012

By the Numbers

Every so often I get the urge to punish myself. The other day, out of morbid curiosity, I decided to haul my royalty statements out of the filing cabinet and check my status to date. Maybe the statistics gleaned can help me up my production and maybe put a couple more bucks in my bank account.

I’ll end the suspense right now: I’m not one of the writers earning the Big Bucks. I do not get five- or six-figure royalties. I’ve yet to hit four figures. My sales remain unnervingly comfortable in the three-figure-per-quarter range. In the quarters where I don’t have a new release, that’s low three figures. You might want to consider that before you quit your day job.

Beginning with my first release in 2009, and including numbers from Siren and all listed distributors, here’s how the sales stack up through March 2012:

Coyote Moon (2009, M/F, novella) – 310

Best of Breed (2010, M/F, novella) – 117

A London Werewolf in America (2010, M/F, novel) – 223 (includes print copies)

Bad Boys (2010, M/M, novella) – 374

Belonging (2011, M/M, novella) – 522 (includes print copies)

Legacy – (2012, M/M/F, novel) – 111

Love on the Wild Side (2011, compilation print volume, includes Coyote Moon and Best of Breed) – 8

What can we learn from these numbers? For starters, I don’t write very fast. Unless and until I pick up the pace, I won’t be making a living through writing any time soon. When I do, it had better be M/M. The numbers shout out the story rather loudly: my M/M sells far better than my M/F, both on the Siren site and through secondary markets. Coyote Moon has been out since 2009, and Belonging handily passed it in sales in less than a year. I’m not sure where the ménage stands yet. Legacy’s only been out since March, and I won’t have the numbers from Amazon and elsewhere until I get my next statement.

I’m not sure if having a backlist has increased my sales. I threw everybody off by switching genre horses in midstream. Is there any crossover between the M/F and M/M? Not that I can tell. Legacy might spark additional sales of Belonging, since Legacy’s the sequel. Will those readers then try Bad Boys? You got me. Will they try any of the M/Fs? Probably not.

I must admit, I was surprised Love on the Wild Side sold anything other than the single copy I bought. To the other seven people, thank you and bless you. And the M/Fs may not sell as well as the M/Ms, but they’re steady. Coyote Moon still sells a couple of copies every month. Gas and grocery money. I’ll take it. I’m not proud.

I’ve made several mistakes in my three-year career that I’ll have to fix. There’s the aforementioned genre switch, for starters. People got used to seeing M/F from me, and then I threw man love at them. With my next couple books I’m going to do what I should have in the beginning and write the genres under separate names. At this point I’ll probably have to stick to my real name for M/M and start over in M/F under another name. The ménage was an accident and probably won’t be repeated. Now you know what happens when pantsers try to have careers. Don’t let this happen to you!

I also lost any momentum I’d been building when I took a year between books. Like I said, I’m a slow writer, and Legacy ran far longer than I thought it was going to. Writing shorter stories should help with productivity, and might boost sales: shorter works have lower prices. It’s been recommended you should try to have a new release every quarter. Yeah, good luck with that.

I should probably do more promotion. At the moment I do next to zilch. I announce my new releases, post a few excerpts, then abandon them and move on to the next book. I have this blog, and I’m part of the group over at Shapeshifter Seductions ( I’ve done a couple interviews on others’ blogs. I don’t have a web page, a Facebook account, or Twitter. I have an author’s page on Amazon, which I never update. I’m signed up on a writers’ site but don’t comment in the forums too often. My signature is “professional lurker,” which pretty much explains that. I’m not very social, in media or elsewhere.

Possibly the best thing I could do for my budding career is to get back to the keyboard and turn out more and better books. Let quality speak for itself. Judging by the numbers, I should probably write more M/M novellas about gay vampires. Maybe even a series. Back to caffeine and cable TV …


India-Jean said...

I loved this post. It explained me in a nutshell. So, you're not alone. I see promo and go Grrrr.. But I can happily write away everyday. Here hoping for better things to come.

JoAnne Kenrick said...

Well...considering you're not doing much promotional stuff, you're selling pretty well. Maybe it's the M/M -- they seem to be selling like hot potato cakes right now.
And one day we'll hit those four figure royalty checks! meantime, let's keep writing :)

Savanna Kougar said...

Right now, from what I'm seeing, and I have NO numbers to back it up... but, if you want the big royalties at Siren its manlove and/or the menage cowboy series that come out quarterly. In general.

My menages, especially my para-western, do generally outsell my other erotic romances.

I so wish I could put out the kind of quality erotic romances I want to write, every quarter. And, I was going great guns for awhile with Her Midnight Stardust Cowboys until LIFE nastily intervened.

Those who can pen western menage series at about 30,000 every quarter, seem to do well.

Like I've said before I'd like to write a manlove just to earn the money. However, the Muse refuses. There's just no story there inside me to write.

Savanna Kougar said...

As far as Indie ebooks, there's more variety as far as what sells well.

Pat C. said...

Savanna - would you like to relate your experiences as an indie-published author in a follow-up post next Thursday? You don't have to reveal any numbers if you don't want to. (Yes, I am trying to get out of writing a blog.)

Savanna Kougar said...

Thanks for asking. But there's already too much on my blogging plate. Suffice it to say my holiday short shapeshifter story [m/f] has sold, but not in the spectacular realm. Of course, I'm grateful to everyone who purchases my books!!!

I had hoped to get more ebooks out there, much faster. ~sighs~

Willa Edwards said...

I'm crazy (I like to get that out there in the open) so I keep track of my sales figures like a census taker. I know at any given minute (barring sales not yet received like Amazon) how many books I've sold of every release I've written, where they've sold and how much I made. So I'm glad to see someone else does the same.

I've noticed the same thing about MF works, at least at Siren. Mine didn't sell great, but it did better then any of my other works, besides my menage, so I'm still okay with that. Its good to know that they keep up the pace.

My menage did outstanding with Siren (selling more than 5 times what my MF did). I've been so thrilled with it, and now I see that I have to write more of those, which I have no problem with.

But you're completely right, writing quality is the most important thing over all. Don't write crap just to get to a certain number of releases a year. Write what you love and the money will follow...eventually. At least I hope so :D

Willa Edwards said...

Savanna I'm the same way. I'd love to write Manlove for the money, but just can't get into. But I'm trying an MMF menage and doing okay, so maybe I'll be able to work up to it eventually.

Also, I've been impressed with how well my FF has done. I'm hoping its the breakout genre of the future, because it was pretty fun to write. I'll definitely be writing more.

Angela Claire said...

This was so cool of you to post your numbers. Thank you. It's so confusing to know how to feel about sales. When I started out ( a whole year and a half ago), I was thrilled when I sold 8 on my first day. I was thinking "Wow, 8 people paid to read my work." But the sad fact is we lose that initial thrill and become harder and harder on ourselves. So anytime anyone shares information, it helps us get some perspective. (I too, needless to say, am not one of those 5 figure royalty statement authors!) So thank you for being so brave and congratulations on your success!

Savanna Kougar said...

Willa, from what I can tell FF is rising. Some small print/epublishers are calling for that subgenre so that generally means the sales are on the upswing.

Pat C. said...

Oh crud. Like Savanna with M/M, I don't think I could write F/F. I have no ideas in that direction at all, unlike with the M/M. If the market changes, looks like I'll be going back to SF and fantasy. Anything goes in that genre.

Savanna Kougar said...

Pat, I don't think m/f will ever really go out of style... well, unless they add so many hormones/pesticides to the food, etc. that we're all chemically altered. Like the fish and frogs.

Pat C. said...

"The Little Mermaid Meets the Frog Prince." Thanks! I've got my next book!

Savanna Kougar said...

You're welcome!

Amanda Hugandkiss said...

Any news on where the menage stands yet? :-)

Lisa Whitefern said...

Any news on where the menage stands yet?

Lisa Whitefern said...

Any news on where the menage stands yet? :-)

Pat C. said...

I don't have exact numbers at hand -- the library's content filter won't let me on the Siren site any more -- but it only did a third of what Belonging did. I guess inserting a woman into a M/M relationship really did cost me readers. It's still selling pretty well on Amazon, though.

Still, none of these books has earned enough for me to live on. Looks like I'll have to keep writing. That's the trouble with being a writer: you never know which book will hit, so you have to write all of them. Which I should be doing instead of hanging out at the library. Back to work!