Any of you who stop by my blog on a regular basis know I’m an over-achiever. I always have been. I blame it on being the middle child of five and my mother. (Aren’t all problems the mama’s fault?) Just kidding mom. I have no idea what drives me. I just know that when I decide to do something I learn everything I can about it and plunge in with both feet fully expecting to succeed! Failure is not an option. It’s not just a motto … it’s how I’m wired.

And so it was with the writing career I began 7 years ago. In anticipation of leaving my teaching job I took a “Writing Fiction” class at the local university. No sense going into something new without having the tools to do it right. (It would take me a whole year of writing to figure out I’d spent $400 on a class that wasn’t worth the cost of paper the syllabus was written on. But that’s a rant for another blog …) My point is, I was ready to buckle down and write! I had dollar signs in my eye. After all I wanted to replace my teaching salary.

I won’t repeat the road I’ve travelled since most of you already know so let’s fast forward.

After years of publishing books with traditional digital publishers, I was discouraged by my lack of sales. Regardless of what sub-genre of erotic romance I wrote or what marketing I tried, I just couldn’t seem to hit the same numbers as other successful authors with the same publisher. After watching the success of so many writers who went before me, I decided to self-publish three previously published books whose contracts had expired. (It will be a year at the end of the summer that the books will have been available.) I mean, the money is in self-publishing, right? Well, okay, not for everyone. I’ve been very open about my numbers. What’s worked for me and what hasn’t. I do this because I’m hearing so many authors making HUGE money. Like, win the lottery kind of money. In light of that, it’s hard to stand up and say “I finally got a check this month from B&N”. (Minimum payment $10.) That would be THIS post.

My sales have continued to grow as can be seen HERE and HERE. I credit the growth of my sales to offering the first book in my series BLIND HER WITH BLISS, free across all retailers in February and March. I stopped the free promotion at the beginning of April and sales plunged.

Just as I was trying to offer that first book free once again, Amazon made a mistake and price matched the second book, DECEIVE HER WITH DESIRE at the beginning of June. For a week it was given away free. A huge advertising site picked up the promotion and before Amazon corrected the mistake 20,000 books were downloaded. (I would have been ecstatic if it were the first book as that was my plan, but if I didn’t have bad luck, I’d have no luck. LOL!) I also learned during all of this that Amazon has changed its terms of service. Even if it price matched in error you are NOT due royalties from lost sales. Bummed me out it took them 5 full days to find out they had made an error. Fortunately, when it came off free this time the book continued to sell (as you can see on Amazon). The sales at B&N on the other hand, haven’t been the same since BLIND was offered free. And I’ve figured out why my books aren’t selling through Sony … I discovered the first book in the series is completely missing in their listings and the book descriptions of the other two are missing on the book pages. (Lesson learned: periodically check book pages at all vendors to check price and book info.)

So here are the approximate sales for May & June:

Blind Her With Bliss: 140 books = $240.00
Deceive Her With Desire: (20,000 free) 160 books = $310
Cheat Her With Charm: 137 books = $265

Barnes & Noble:
Blind Her With Bliss: Distributed through Smashwords (so it can be offered free)
Deceive Her With Desire: 56 books = $109
Chear Her With Charm: 39 books = $77

Smashwords (approximations since reporting is inconsistent here):
Apple: 186 books
B&N: 1187 (free and $.99 Blind Her With Bliss books)
Diesel: 12 books
Kobo: 43 books
Sony: 2 books
$700 across all venues

Self-publishing these books was a great decision for me. I don’t regret it at all. With formatting and uploading becoming more user-friendly it’s getting easier to publish direct. I don’t see any reason why an author wouldn’t want to include self-publishing in their marketing plan. My sales are steadily growing. And yes, self-publishing is a marathon. But this impatient over-achiever always wanted to be a sprinter even if it meant jumping a few hurdles.

Check back next month to see how my sales are going. If all goes well (and luck is on my side) Amazon will stop being so stubborn and finally price match all the other sites and the first book in my series will be offered free at all retailers boosting sales for the other two books.

0 Responses to I’d Rather be a Sprinter

  • Great post, Nina. Wish it were different results, but I am feeling a little more hopeful after reading it. My sales on Stealing Darkness tanked after the last “free” days. Nothing. Nada. Nope. It’s disheartening. I certainly don’t have the inventory you have, but I would expect some sales. Getting nothing. This is a risk we take, and it would be the same if we had pubbed through a traditional publisher, but it’s hard all the same. Thanks for being so honest about your results and efforts.

    • Nina, it is hard to remember it’s a marthon, not a sprint, especially when we see all these these huge sales numbers. My sales were steadily growing until March, then started to decline in April. Now, I’m selling 1/3 of what I was then. Frustrating, but there’s nothing we can do about it except write more and work toward that same success that authors like Theresa, Bella and Denise are achieving. Good luck.

      • Margery – Well said. And isn’t that the story of most successful writers. Keep writing and publishing the best books possible?

    • Teagan – I’m not part of KDP Select, but I’m hearing similiar stories from authors who have offered their book free recently and aren’t seeing the resulting sales they’d experience previously. It’s a little disheartening to say the least. Hard to say whether it’s Amazon’s algorithms changing the playing field on how books coming off a promotion show up on lists or whether reader’s buying habits are changing or if the time of year is affecting sales. Too many factors to know exactly the hows and whys.

      In publishing it seems 2+2 = a bucket of oranges (or bananas depending on the day) And as a scientist it drives me insane not to have a formula that works every time. LOL!

  • Your openness about sales is to be commended and is much appreciated. For every big sales figure announcement there’s a cautionary tale, and more modest sales. The good part is that your books won’t go out of print. They will continue to sell because they’re well written, emotional, sexy, and compelling stories. Kudos to you.

    • Susan – I’m glad you find the information valuable. I share for just that reason. I don’t want authors whose sales are modest thinking they’re alone. I believe there are more of us out there than stand up and get recognized.

      And thank you for the compliment on my books, I really appreciate it.

  • Nina, once again thank you for your openness about your sales. I read “Blind Her With Bliss” and loved it. I think I left you a review. I’ll have to check.

    Your current results are excellent, and I congratulate you. I heard since Amazon changed their algothrims, we’re not getting the huge bumps we used to from offering books free. That’s sure been my experience.

    It is a marathon as you say. I admit that when I read other indie authors say they’re making over $100,000 a month, or are bemoaning that they’ve only sold 2000 books in the first week of the month rather than their usual 25,000, I feel defeated and wonder if I should quit. I won’t, of course, but it’s disheartening when I hear others talk about their “lottery” sized earnings.

    Thank you again for your openness and I hope your sales continue to rise steadliy.

    • Cara – As I’ve said, I think there are more authors like us out there and I’m hoping by sharing my sales they’re not discouraged by their less than stellar royalty checks.

      It’s hard to keep your chin up when we hear about the mega sales happening for many authors. And yeah, it’s hard to be patient for the whole marathon.

      (And thank you for the compliment on Blind. I appreciate the shout out.)

  • Hey, girl, your numbers are great! Mine are nowhere near that. I’m just happy if I sell one copy a day of each book. 🙂 Slow and steady wins the race (I hope!)

    • Diana – I am pleased by the growth. Slow and steady isn’t in my personality, but I guess I don’t have much choice. LOL!

  • Nina, thank you for posting this for all of us. This industry is hard and it takes a lot of work. It gives us hope that we can slowly get up there.I hope that next month the numbers are even higher.

    • Savannah – Hard work with a bit o’luck in the whole equation as well. I’m hoping a (quick 😉 ) climb month by month.

  • Loved seeing your numbers. Mine were doing great October, November, December. Going up some every month. January was great then February was even better. Downhill since then and that was with a new book out in February. LOL

    • Jill – You’re a prime example of sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason to any sales. Many authors swear by a new release for popping up sales, but seriously … nothing is guaranteed. It’s one of those 2+2= a rake. LOL!

  • Thanks for sharing. I appreciate it. I had a very good couple months, which took me completely by surprise. Yes, we are in it for the long haul.

  • Nina–

    As always, stopping by your blog is an interesting experience. I appreciate your candor.

    I’m one of those authors who is still undecided about indie publishing. I have two re-releases and one front list story sold separately from an anthology on the etailer sites, and am getting ready to list another anthology short story for which I retain the rights. The decision to self-publish a new work, however, is still something I grapple with. If I decide to jump in the pool, I’ll certainly let you know.

    I wish you all the best!


    • Adele – Thanks so much for stopping over. I’m glad you find my blog intriguing. Publishing is a crap shoot. Only the author knows what works for them and their career. Best of luck with your decisions. My crystal ball is out of commission or I’d offer it to you. 😉

  • Thank you for sharing your results, Nina!

  • Thanks for all the advice at lunch the other day. I’m going to use it and hope to see some increase in sales. 🙂

  • Nina,

    I keep telling myself the following: Small royalty checks are better than NO royalty checks.

    Of course, I’d prefer big ones. 😉

    • Casey – I have to agree with you. I’ve made more on these books in 2012 then I made the two years they were with a publisher … significantly more. I’m just … impatient.

  • I think it is awesome that you, along with some of my other favourite authors, are self-pub to enable us to have your fabulous books at a better price rather than being gouged by some of the publishing sites.

    Thanks so much!!


    • Gayle – Without having to split royalties between publisher and author it does mean the cost of the book is lower to the consumer. It’s working out all the way around! I’m looking forward to getting a couple more books out this year. *fingers crossed* I’m hoping my readers will be looking for some new reading material! 😉

  • Nina, great post & thanks for sharing. Question: both you & I were winners last March in the Silken Sands Self-Publishing Stars Contest in our respective categories. Do you use that 1st place status when selling your books? Has it helped?

    • Nancy – Glad you found the post helpful. And yes, the Silken Sands win is highlighted in the book’s product description on Amazon. It’s only beneficial if readers are looking at the product page. It’s one of those … if I can’t get them there they don’t see it. 🙁

      • I added the prize banner to my blog AND mention it on the buy page of my three self-pubbed books (as in this author won a prize…) My latest book is finally bringing in some hard-earned money, and the next book in the series is nearly complete!

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