2019 Year-End Update

This post is for fellow self-published authors and those interested in the business side of self-publishing. I will try to make an update on my writing progress in January. 

So it’s a little early to do a year-end update, but so far, December seems to be a dude for me. This has been a hectic year. I’ve published three books and generally dedicated a lot of time to writing and self-publishing. Sadly, all of that work hasn’t seen much results.

I’m going to post a couple screenshots of my Sales Spreadsheets so people can get an idea of the numbers I’ve had this year. Even though the numbers are far from impressive, I like to show them so that people can see the lower end of the self-publishing spectrum.


Book Sales

2019 Book Sales

Free Downloads

2019 Free Downloads


What these numbers tell me is that when Amazon moved Abducted into the Erotica Dungeon, everything started to drop. It’s less evident in the Book Sales picture, but here’s one without the new series included.


Book Sales Without New Series

2019 Book Sales without Course for Adventure

The absolute hardest part of self-publishing is discoverability. You can write an entertaining story, pay for a fantastic editor and cover artist, and still not have book sales and downloads. If people can’t find your book, they can’t download it. When Amazon moved Abducted into erotica, they made it harder to find, which had a significant impact on my discoverability.

Abducted was my most visible book. It stayed on Amazons top 100 Free in Sci-Fi Romance for years. It’s been downloaded over 23,000 times. The read-through rate to my second book is 6%, which doesn’t sound like much, but the read-through for free books is pretty low, and from what I’ve read, that’s not a bad number (correct me if I’m wrong please). Of that 6 % that read Abducted and then go on to read Stolen, 80% end up reading Hunted.

My reviews are almost all positive, even on Goodreads, which is a notoriously difficult site to get good reviews. None of my books have less than 4 Stars on Amazon, and my Goodreads average rating is 3.91. Part of those high numbers are my number of reviews, which is relatively small, but I like to think the quality of my work has a part to play as well.

My largest failing with self-publishing has been advertising. I apply for a Bookbub frequently (with the plan of putting it on a credit card if I ever get it lol), I’ve tried to understand and use Facebook and Amazon ads but haven’t put much money into them, and I’ve used a few smaller newsletter ads. My time is limited, and I put most of it into writing. Researching ads has been confusing and frustrating for me. A lot of the seemingly useful advice is behind paywalls that, after editing and covers, I don’t have the money to pay for. I’m going to try to do more research in 2020 and make some headway in this area. Hopefully, I’ll see results.

This year I’ve written over 140,000 words. I don’t know the exact number because I was pretty bad about keeping track. These last couple of months, I’ve done no writing. My family moved for the second time this year, and I haven’t had the time to write. I also haven’t felt a desire to write. I’m not suffering from writer’s block, because the words, ideas, and stories are there. What I’ve been doing is rethinking my writing and self-publishing goals.

I’m not going to lie and say that money doesn’t have an impact on what I write. Even though I’ve never made a significant amount, I still have the dream that I can make as much money writing as I would make working a regular job. As someone without a degree or experience in anything other than customer service, that’s not a lot of money, but so far it has remained far from my grasp.

Seeing Amazon so thoroughly cut my sales with a move I have no control over has caused me to re-think writing in the romance genre. In a perfect world, I would just move away from Amazon, but that’s not an option, so I have to find ways to work in their eco-system. The first thing I ever published was an episodic fantasy story. I really enjoyed writing it, but in the end, I decided that I would enjoy writing Sci-Fi Romance more, so I changed my pen name and started releasing the Twin Moons of Andove books. I think it’s time to move back to Fantasy. Romance will be present, I can’t see myself ever excluding it, but it won’t be my main focus. I’m debating on whether or not I’ll change pen names (thoughts are welcome).

Writing Fantasy will also force me to work on my world-building, a part of my writing that has been lacking recently. Before I ever published, I used to spend hours creating a world, and I never ended up finishing a story. When I started cutting down on that time, I started finally completing projects. Hopefully, with all the experience I’ve gained, I can merge those two together and finish stories with more world-building.

Those are my goals for 2020. World-building, researching ads, and finishing books in the Fantasy genre.

I hope all of this information has been helpful, at the very least, an insight into my experience self-publishing.

Have a Happy New Year!


Researching Authors in My Genre

Today I spent a fair amount of time doing some research on comparable authors as well as Best Selling Authors in my genre. I also looked into genres that I’m thinking about branching out into just to get an idea. If you’re writing to market, this is something you would do before you even starting writing. However, looking into it afterward isn’t a bad idea either.

One of the few bits of information Amazon gives you is an ability to look at a list of best sellers, by genre, updated hourly. This list will change as new books are released, so what you’re getting is a snapshot. I try to look at these lists periodically, and because of that, I’ve begun to notice names that are always on there. Since I read in the genre, I was already familiar with a few. Being familiar also allows me to remove books from my comparable list that don’t technically fit my genre but have somehow made their way on the list.

I’m looking at A.G. Riddles books which are not, in my opinion, Sci-Fi Romance.

Anyway, if you’re already published on Amazon, you can get comparable authors on Amazon by looking at the section called Also Boughts on your book page. Unless you’ve run a free promo or have had just friends and family buy your books, you can typically get a good idea of what other people are buying in your genre.

So what I did was look at my comparables, and make a list of the authors that showed up frequently. Then I went to Best Seller pages and made even more lists. This gave me a lot of names to look at, but not all names are worth doing a lot of research into, and since I didn’t want to get overwhelmed, I cut out a few.

The previously mentioned authors that were just showing up on the lists because of a fluke and had nothing to do with my genre were eliminated. Anyone that has only a couple of books published was culled, as well as someone who doesn’t have an author rank.

Author rank is at the bottom of an author’s Amazon profile page. If someone sells enough books, they will be given one. I do not have an author rank, because I haven’t sold enough so it makes sense that I would look at people with ranks.

Even with those qualifications, I still have a fair amount of authors, but that gives me a nice sample size of information. With just the list of names, I’ll be able to see any overlap in genres, which can tell me if readers cross over between the genres I’m researching.

What I’m looking at now is whether someone is an Indie publisher, if they’re in Kindle Unlimited, the price point of their books, and an approximation of the length of their books. Adding all of that information to my list of names took a lot of time. Pretty much all of my free time today, but I’m looking forward to seeing what I can glean from all of the data.

What I plan on doing next is looking into the online presence of these authors. Are they using Twitter, Facebook, or a blog? How often do they post? What is user engagement like?

Social media is not my strong suit, though, I spend too much time there. It doesn’t come naturally for me on how to post on each site. Facebook is more of a this is what I’m doing right now, while Twitter is more of an opinion or something funny. Blog posts seem to vary between personal or helpful.

In the end, all of this may not help me, and I may not end up using all of it, but it should give me information on trends in the genre. Trends that aren’t necessarily going to change quickly like themes. While last month people were really into domination, it appears this month has been reverse harems or just multiple partners.