Wrapping up my first year of "turning this hobby into a career." And business. The year of taking it seriously. Of course, serious owners/entrepreneurs know the state of their business at all times. And they know what they need to do to get to where they want to go.
So as 2013 wraps up, I'll share here my numbers and my five year plan to become a full time career writer. Why? First, selfishly, public disclosure forces me to take this dream more seriously. Such accountability can be an incentive. Then second, indie writers typically want to help other writers succeed; sharing information, personal discoveries, one's own progress, etc. is a big part of that. Such disclosure can be an encouragement. If the following is of interest, let me know. I'd like to hear about your progress as well.
By far my most successful ebook this year is The Last Prayer (a silo short story inspired by Howey's world of Wool - thanks, Hugh!). I released it in March and sales were strong for a few months; though this last quarter it's dropped to just one sale a day. But that's okay. I'm still planning to write a sequel, so it'll be a fun discovery to see if the second short story will re-Kindle sales of the first.
At any rate, here's the breakdown for 2013. (These are Amazon sales only and include all countries. I've had a few more sales from Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, etc., but for now, let's look at ebooks for Kindle. Plus, I don't have the sales numbers for Abductions yet, my collab with Joe Konrath.)
The Last Prayer - 1,790
Ulemet and the Jaguar God - 36
Drinking Games - 15
Sword of Otrim series - 9
One More Book Before I Die - 9
All other titles combined - 17
Reflection: All of these are short stories (or short novellas). Not a novel among them. Which isn't good. That being said, I made enough this past year to make an extra house payment, which is way cool. But to replace my income, I'll need to increase sales. And to do that requires: 1) better storytelling/writing, and 2) more titles available. But not just any title. I need to write and publish novels.
Saw Konrath post this breakdown one time (not sure when/where): 100 sales a day of an ebook priced at $2.99 will yield about $200/day in profit after Amazon takes its commission. $200 x 365 days = $73,000/yr. That's an income replacer. But I can't do that on short stories alone, which typically won't move at the 2.99 price point. So how can I reach 100 novel sales a day?
Say I have 20 novels out, all selling 5 a day. There's my 100/day. Starting at ground zero, I can publish 20 novels in 5 years if I write 4 a year. That's 1 per quarter. Every 90 days put out a 60k word novel. That's 666 words per day. I like that number. Sounds ominous.
In other words, if I write 750 to 1000 words a day (and take the weekends off), I can produce 4 novels a year, and 20 in 5 years. So that's my goal: 20 novels in 5 years. My goal is not to make $73k - I have no control over that. But I can control if I write 750 words a day.
I'm a slow writer. This blog post is about 750 words and it took me about an hour. So if I can muster the discipline to write an hour a day, I can finish a novel every few months. An hour. I waste that much time on Good Morning America most days. (Hey, I like Ginger Zee.)
I have two novels almost completed. One is a Jack Daniels story for Konrath to consider. And one is rounding out my Sword of Otrim series of stories into an actual book. There's also more to my thriller, Drinking Games, so that could become a free standing novel. Plus I have a number of collaborations I'm working on now - a middle grade steampunk adventure with Todd Hunter, a werewolf novel with Jeff Chapman, a supernatural suspense series with Stoney Setzer, and a few others.
In other words, I have plenty to keep me going! Can't control the sales, but I can control the output. So my short term goal for 2014 - publish four novels. I'll keep you updated (accountability) as to my progress - as well as what I'm learning (disclosure) along the way.
Now to put down that remote and pick up my pen.