By the numbers

Peacekeeper 2 is currently at 22,911 words. It has become a weekend only project. Obligations at home and a tough work schedule (like getting called at 7:00 PM to come in at midnight and work until 6:30 AM) have made it difficult to get any writing done at all during the week. Progress, however is being made but this is only the first draft. During the editing I will be incorporating some feedback I've received in my writer's group. 

Back at the beginning of 2012, sales of Translight suddenly and inexplicably took off. I enjoyed an enormous surge in sales that lasted about 6 weeks and then began to taper off. Prior to that, sales were pitiful. Since then, sales have been relatively steady but significantly lower than the early part of 2012. So what happened? I wish I knew.

That burst of sales got me into Launch Pad 2012; an adventure I will never forget. I met a group of people I still stay in contact with and it allowed me to finally meet a group of writers. I can clearly remember feeling out of my league in their company. Most had won awards or been published by major publishing houses. I was an unknown indie author who had never met another writer.

With sales remaining more-or-less steady, I recently started wondering how I was doing in relation to other indie authors. But without knowing their sales figures I had nothing to compare my success or failure against. After a great deal of internal debating I decided to ask a writer friend of mine if she would be willing to share some general sales numbers with me. She agreed. I asked her because she has several awards and her name is fairly well known in the writing community. I am glad to report that even after my request we are still on good terms!

Before I get into the results, I want to point out something that many writers struggle with. Even though there are awards and contests for writers, writing should never be considered a competition. If I have a tip to help improve sales, I will share it with my writer friends. If someone does well, I will sincerely congratulate them. Their success does not mean I will be less successful. If a friend of mine wants to know how many books I've sold, then what harm does it cause to share the numbers? If another writer shares her numbers with me, what harm could I do to her with that information? Why are some writers so afraid to share this information?

So what were the results? I’m doing quite well—thank you. I won’t divulge the numbers or who I compared myself against so please don't ask. But having a reference point has allowed me to feel much better about my current rate of sales.

Why didn't I just look at my ranking on Amazon? Several reasons. Sales rankings include well-known authors who are published through a major publishing house. I am interested in how I am doing in relationship to other indie authors. Book sales typically spike when an author releases a new book causing the ranking of others to fall. Authors who have published a large number of books have an advantage over those who have fewer. Finally, it’s not a competition! I simply wanted to know if I was doing well—I am and that’s all I needed to know.

I loved my experience at Launch Pad so much that I went back last year and helped out by renting a van and being a driver. I am going again this year. Each time I go I will add a few more friends to my list of writer friends. And if I ever find out what drove my sales to such heights in early 2012 I will gladly share it on this blog so others can enjoy the same benefits—if only for a brief time.

One final note--it's tax time and if you receive 1099's from Amazon you need to be aware of a hidden fee they are not very open about. If you compare the total of the 1099's to the total of all the deposits you received during the year and you have foreign sales, you will notice a difference. That difference is the fee you are charged for converting the foreign currency into dollars. It's tax deductible so make sure you do the math.