Saturday, December 31, 2011

Numbers from a Newbie Writer's First Year

I had a nice early Christmas present when my third quarter royalties came through. I was expecting this to be fairly light, but it also included some October sales, which was when my third collection of short stories, A Succubus for Halloween, came out. The amount this quarter was $600, a nice little sum right before Christmas.

That takes my total profits, after taking out initial setup costs, author copies and seller’s/publisher’s cuts, to $1,300 for my first (kind of) year as a writer. Obviously this is nowhere near the same ballpark as self-publishing titans Amanda Hocking and Joe Konrath, but this is all money in the black, with the only outlay being my free time spent in an activity I enjoy doing anyway.

I put out three collections of short stories, with A Succubus for Christmas coming out October 2010, A Succubus for Valentine’s Day coming out February 2011 and A Succubus for Halloween arriving October 2011. Christmas and Valentine’s Day were originally priced at $5.99 and this was dropped to $3.99 about halfway in the year after eXcessica head honcho Selena Kitt did some experimenting on pricing. Christmas and Valentine’s Day sold just under 200 copies and Halloween just over 100, making 500 books (print + ebook) in total for the whole year. It’s a modest amount, but not bad considering collections of short stories rarely sell well and my subject matter is about as far from the mainstream as you can get! :)

More promising is the growth. Christmas and Valentine’s Day sold nearly 200 each over the whole year. Halloween came out at the end of the third week in October and my royalties run up until the end of October, which meant it managed those hundred-and-so sales in the first week. Baby steps, I know, but they’re going in the right direction.

Unsurprisingly, the lion’s share of these sales was through Amazon, but they are not the only game in town. I can understand why some might think Amazon’s current dominance is a cause for concern, but I suspect if Amazon really started to abuse that dominance to the detriment of writers and readers, they’d quickly find themselves outstripped by one of their competitors in the way Nintendo was usurped by Sony in the console wars of the ‘90’s. For the moment they’re fantastic and a budding writer would be foolish not to take advantage of what they have to offer.

Writers shouldn’t restrict themselves to only Amazon. Having their own webpage for direct sales can be very useful once they’ve built up a following. By promoting eXcessica’s coming soon link for A Succubus for Halloween heavily on my personal blog in the month leading up to its release I was able to generate 40 sales, nearly half of the total for that book, directly through eXcessica’s own store (which also took Halloween to the top of their bestsellers list, yay! Now if only I can match Selena’s sales out in the rest of the big bad world. :)).

For people looking to self-publish as a route to fame and riches, these numbers aren’t very exciting. If I was trying to make a living as a full-time professional writer, 500 sales and a return of $1,300 for the year would be horrifying. Thankfully I’m not, so I can feel chuffed about the numbers instead of worrying about what I’m going to live on next year.

Next year I plan to put out my first novel and a fourth collection of short stories. I don’t know where the path is going to take me, but it’s going to be fun to find out!

All the best for 2012!

M.E. Hydra

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Words As Art, Amen

I guest blogged at Whipped Cream -

This is about the extent of the promotion I have done for Jude's Whore, my latest Excessica publication.   It's an erotic novel that contains a scene where the main character has sex with Jesus.  Oh, the taboo!  (I've been calling it Jesex.)  I know.  People have no trouble with all sorts of kink and creeper, but draw the line at their savior doing the deed.

I love Jesus.  He loves me.  IMO, he's fine with it.  I don't mean to be offensive.  The entire story came to me in a swoosh.  A dream or whatever.  It started with that scene but Jude's Whore became something else entirely - a love story between two people, a man and a woman and one of them is not Jesus.

I never thought of myself as a self-published author since I publish with Excessica but I realize now that my situation is so vastly different than that of a writer with a traditional publishing house.  I feel a hell of a lot more free to express myself  - like a true artist, the artist that I am. 

I didn't set out to cause controversy at all.  I came up with a plot that I considered to be original.  I didn't confine myself to a particular fetish.  This one has mild bondage, some mind control, erotic romance and time travel.  It has a rape scene too.  I almost forgot about that.

I also did not set out to write super-duper graphic depictions of sex.  It just happens.  Thank God I have no one to seriously reign me in.  This wouldn't be any fun if I had to conform to 10,000 suggestions by critics, rules and what have you.  I'm free to explore sexuality and learn things about myself that I would have never explored and learned had I remained in my stifled world of color and light, happiness and smiles.

I guess the thing I have learned is that I love living in an adults only world.  Of the billions of people out there, I'm sure there must be one or two kindred spirits that will get me.  And that's what's so great about self-publishing.  The novelists who are outside the regular system are the ones thinking outside the box...I mean outside the Kindle, Nook, or paperback box, that is.

Amen, mother-fukka.