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 (www.shapeshifterseductions.blogspot.com). 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 …