“Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.”

Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money. -Jules Renard

I’ve stopped really keeping track of my earnings since March, except in passing…no more obsessive weekly tabulating of numbers and extrapolation of expected payouts, except a very thorough calculation at the end of the month for tax purposes. I think I passed the $3,000 mark (gross, pre-tax) in Q1. That’s around 2,000 sales on Amazon only.

One thing I might do in the future to boost revenue is eliminate my $0.99 books. They earn me hardly anything since at that price point Amazon takes most of the money, although I like having a range of prices across my catalog (free-$4.99). I think the current $0.99 books will stay where they are, but everything else going forward will be $2.99+.

Another point is diversification. Amazon is great for the first 3 months of a book’s life, but beyond that I think it’s less useful. So I published one story + a freebie on 6 non-Amazon platforms at the beginning of this month and am pleasantly surprised by how well it’s doing. It’s made $54.47 as of today, which is a lot more than I expected.  I thought it would earn, at most, $100/month total on all non-Amazon platforms, but at this rate, it might make at least double that. As much as the ‘Zon is the main marketplace for books, there are apparently readers that live and buy on other platforms, so it’s worth reaching out to them.

I need to get serious about my marketing game. Part of the issue is short stories vs. full length novellas and novels; 95% of my catalog are short stories, which turned out to be more profitable than I thought, but readers really want full novels for their buck. And where marketing/promo is concerned, it’s much easier to do novels than shorts. I do loathe marketing, though; I hate twitter, I hate Facebook, and I hate researching book blogs and asking for reviews. That said, it’s surprising how far I’ve gotten with no marketing: 3.66 average rating on Goodreads, and review averages of 4-5 stars on the ‘Zon (around 50 total).

Most days I dread doing too much biz-related stuff at the cost of wordcount, but when I do, it’s shockingly fun. I like thinking like a businesswoman–doing market research, and running little experiments. I’m open to traditionally publishing at some point, but really love the level of control I have over every aspect of this side venture so far.

The Writing
This is the steadier, more predictable part of things, but also the more existential-dread-inducing.

1) space opera! The more I work on this, the more I love it. I don’t even care if it sells. Writing it is enjoyable enough. That said, it’s sooo muchhh slowerrrr than almost anything else I’ve written before (excluding literary fiction). Worldbuilding is fun but it can be like a prison sometimes to remember what all the elements are, and how it might affect the story. I’m falling in love with some of my minor characters, also, to the point where I’m having a hard time keeping track of my protagonist, who is increasingly boring in comparison. That’s okay. Everyone thought Han Solo was cooler than Luke Skywalker, right? The goal for space opera is to be finished by July (I know, I know…moving the deadline out, but it’s so much harder to write!). I also realized that I can’t push this story as hard as I can push romance stories. If the next scene is not there, it’s just…not there. Writing this genre required me to slow down, to let it sit fallow and then come back to it after a few days or a week, even.

But I love it so much I always come back. For once, this is not going to be a story that I’m going to abandon. I even have sketchy outlines for parts 2 and 3…

2) Side Venture: I’m fast at this now. Fast fast fast. 2k-3k per day. It helps to have a strong outline to kick me in the ass whenever I slow down. I’ve also run some polls among my subscribers and now know what my readers want to read next (results were not surprising–about what I expected). Over the last 2 weeks I’ve written about 14k for my next SV story; it’s going to be a full length novel, maybe around 60k total. It flows so quickly and easily compared to space opera; going back to SV writing after getting stuck on my last space battle was reassuring, because it showed me that it really was the genre/story, and not that I was intrinsically blocked in my writing. I have no idea when this will be done–I’m prioritizing space opera, but space opera gets congested regularly, during which time I revert to working on SV. So…end of August, early September?

Total works to be written: 5, approx. 205,000 words
1. Space opera (80k)
2. SV novel (65k)
3. SV sequel #1 (15-20k)
4. SV sequel #2 (40-50k)
5. SV sequel #3 (undecided-maybe 25k?)

If there are 147 weekdays left in the year, that means I have to write about 1395 words per day to hit that number. I exclude weekends because, well, weekends. If I include weekends that drops the number down to a nice clean 1k. This is all doable.

Subscribers helped me organize the order of sequel stories to be completed this year, as well. This year I’ll have fewer published works, but better quality works and longer ones.

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