The Indie Report And Scattered Writer

I am still trying to finish Noah’s Boy (Yes, that does mean WF might only come on Sunday.  Deal.  Hopefully it will also be all of the “Cursed fifty pages” left)  which means things are a little scattered.

I thought I’d give you a business report on the indie publishing venture, so here are some things I’ve found in no particular order.

Since I raised the prices to 2.99 not only am I making more money, but I’m making more sales per short story.

The space operas continue to outsell everything else, and the Nuns in Spaaaaace (With Unconfined Wings and Ganymede) continue to outsell everything else.  I regret to say I didn’t have time to finish “A Future Prayer” which is a Christmas story with the order of St. Lucia of The Spaceways AND space pirates…  So I can’t report on that.  My guess is if I do it before next holidays, it will outsell everything else and leave me scratching my head.

Do consider, as an aside, that I never managed to give these space operas away till DST was published.  Um…

Giving things away for free works.  I know, I know.  You’re shocked and amazed, right?  However from November through the end of December, I kept one short story free (more or less, the flu didn’t help) on Amazon at any given time and that REALLY helped sales of the other stories.  As soon as Noah’s Boy in, I shall resume this.  Frankly, it might be worth my time/effort to try to write a short story a week again.  We shall see.

At some point, in the not too distant future, I’ll be publishing my future history here, and then saying which stories go where.  Also, at some point there will be a collection of twenty or so future history stories.

So, how much money am I making from short stories?  Well – it’s not insane.  I have out maybe something short of forty stories on Amazon (fewer on other venues) and I’m making around $200 per month, from Amazon.  I have no idea how much I’m making from the other sites, since Smashwords pays quarterly and delayed.  They also don’t have as much in (because stories first go exclusive on Amazon for three months.)  But let’s say I’m making $50 there (Barnes and Noble is negligible for me, though friends tell me they make good money from B &N.)  That means that over the year I’d make around 3k from short stories, supposing I don’t add anything else.

Correction, I’d make around 3k from short stories that were already sold once, or which were never sold and were dying in the drawer.

Let me put this in perspective –  3k  is a respectable mid-publisher advance for a new writer.  And this is for backburnered/drawer/out of print work.  I’m tempted to say “oh, what a brave new world,” only the book tainted that expression.

Because I like money and because I just ruined myself on college books (and that’s without counting the tuition which will punch me in the face come next months’ bill.  Two boys in college.  What was I thinking?) but also because frankly it needs done, I’ll be rewriting/restructing the YA fantasy novel that’s in the drawer.  Look for Shadow Gods sometime in March, if it all goes well.  (Older son is drawing the cover for me, too.)

Witchfinder should be thereish, too, because I HOPE to finish it at a run as soon as NB is done.  Now, it’s going to be a stone-b*tch to edit, but a month or so should do it.

Because my contract with Baen for the Shakespeare series is ONLY for webscriptions, Naked Reader will be bringing out editions of the original trilogy… soonish.  (I haven’t talked to them about scheduling yet, but I am working on covers.)  They are, actually breathing down my neck for A Fatal Paws, the first orphan kittens mystery, which SHOULD be finished soonish.  I’m sorry if this sounds like I piled no end of work, but most of these are done/almost done – the flu just pushed everything back and then Son of Death Flu, this time it’s serious, kept me down another month.  Then I was looking after #1 son…  You have no idea how incredibly backed up things can get after that.  And that’s not counting house cleaning and such.

Right now I’m in that amusing phase (not) where I can’t let myself do too much, because I REMEMBER what happens when I do.  But I’m really much better and I HOPE to finish NB tomorrow, though I freely admit it might be Friday.  I just hope my editors restrain the need to strangle me.

On the good side, today was the first day I both left the house AND took a long walk in two and a half months.  This inactivity is so rare for me, that I can’t begin to tell you HOW rare.  I’ve learned through hard experience that I NEED to get out of the house at least once a day and that exercise is essential for me to feel human.  I feel remarkably cheered up by “taking a turn” in the fresh air.  I’m also incredibly out of shape and get out of breath in no time. Never mind.  That’s fixable.

So the scattered report on Indie venture a year plus on is “it shows great promise, but the author must on all accounts NOT get sick while she’s trying to run two careers (traditional and indie) at once.  Or you fall so far behind it’s rather disheartening.

Anyway – feeling better, working hard, starting to see some money that at least promises that a few more short stories and novels might mean we still have a roof over heads when kids leave college (ah!) At least it gives me HOPE which is more than my writing career has had in a long time.

And now I’m going to bed, because  I have a hard day’s writing ahead of me tomorrow!

62 responses to “The Indie Report And Scattered Writer

  1. ((hugs)) hope you feel better soon. Take care of yourself.

  2. Just had one of the foulest weeks in my memory at work, but I shall stop mumbling to myself and remember to be grateful for my good health–and to pray for yours.

    And thanks for the book report–real data is enlightening and encouraging.

  3. Delurking to say:

    I don’t think it’s a head-scratcher that your “Nuns in Spaaaaace!” stories are good sellers. The second I heard that pitch, I immediately thought, “SOLD!” ;)

  4. Good luck wishes your way–

  5. Nuns in Spaaaaace! I love it!
    I’m just coming around from a round of bronchitus that sounds as if I am about to hack up a portion of lung, so I can sympathize.

    Having been doing the free-lancing bit from home for … umm, almost four years now – the wierd thing is that something always comes up, and usually most unexpectedly. Last year, it was a researcher who needed about 1000 pages of 19th century letters transcribed at so much per page. The year or so before that – writing the first three chapters for a study guide. And I fell into a job producing weekly blog content for a local real estate agent who wanted to get lots of search engine links.

    In no way can I predict my income in advance, which will probably mean I will never qualify for a new car loan … but there’s always just enough to pay the bills, the mortgage, insurance and groceries.

    • New cars are a bad investment, so don’t fret the lack. Find yourself a good mechanic and look for low mileage used.

      • What RES said– I get my old cars from my brother who has an auto-body shop and is a mechanic.

        • Oh, I do – I plan to take very good care of the current car; I’m the second owner, even though it’s more than fifteen years old. Accura Legend, with leather seats and with all the high-end bells and whistles.
          (The care before that was a ’75 Volvo sedan, which I bought in 1982 and finally sold to a Volvo gear-head in 2009. There were too many little things that I couldn’t afford to fix, and spare parts were getting impossible to find.)

          • Wayne Blackburn

            Geez, there isn’t a car made that would last me that long. It would have had 500,000 miles on it by then.

            As for Volvo parts – when I worked at an aluminum foundry, on of the sales guys told me once that he had gotten a call asking for a price on a part that went in an old Volvo. We were kind of busy at the time, and they only wanted one part, so he figured we didn’t really want the job. He figured full price for setup, then for running three parts to be sure we had one good one, added a good profit margin, and doubled it. When he told the customer, they just said, “How soon can you have it ready?” So I guess they were having the same problem with them being hard to find.

            • For me, the limit came when I had to replace a burnt-out bulb on the side running light … and the local auto parts place didn’t have anything in stock of the rightkind. Nada, zip, zilch – not even a suitable sub. I had driven the car in Spain for six years, though – and one of those things was that if you were stopped by the Guadia Civil for a burnt-out light on your car, you wouldn’t get cited if you could replace the bulb on the spot. So, we all carried packets of replacement bulbs in the glove box. I just happened to have an old package of bulbs buried in the trunk which fit…

              For a while, I could get replacement parts through my dad, who had bought and parted out a few old Volvos. There was also a Volvo motorhead in West Virginia who had a vast collection that he had parted out. But my father died, and the West Virginia guy went into some other business … so it was time to let go.

              I loved that car – I had it fixed in four European countries and four western States. Had the champion engine of all times in it.

            • I have two Toyotas that are both closing in on 350,000 (a ’95 and a ’00). I am the second-owner of both, one of them is in good shape and I have only had for around 100,000 it may hit the 500K mark (I have never turned a wrench on it except to change the oil, brakes, and the spark plugs once). The other one, well I like it better, but lets just say its had a rough life with it being a hunting truck since it was new, and spending virtually all of the last 200K with a trailer behind it. I expect I’ll have to do a lot of wrench work if I expect it to reach even 400K.

  6. FWIW, I found your site when you were guest blogging at ip. You posted links and commentary much different than the expected. You posted a link to this site here on an essay about lord knows what, but it struck a nerve. I signed up for the email list.

    You let a number of kindle files free in December and I bit. I really don’t quite understand the whole fantasy genre and have not read sf in years. I have purchased a few items since and am in the middle of dst now.

    I guess writing for a living is a bit like fishing or selling crack. You have to lure them in with freebies and get them to come back for more.

    • Welcome to the sanity, Gurn! It’s a strange and crazy ride here, and the more you read, the more fun it gets…

      And thank you! The plural of anecdote may not be data, (at least not until enough area amassed), but it’s always good to hear what works and what doesn’t.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      I guess writing for a living is a bit like fishing or selling crack.

      Or selling Girl Scout Cookies. One of the women I work with, I call “Our crack dealer”, because she always brings in sample boxes of girl scout cookies before bringing in the order forms for her daughter.

      • No kidding. Some local G.S. entrepreneurs have gotten space near a busy street corner and are making money hand over fist on weekends. They’ve set out a big whiteboard where they count down the number of boxes of each flavor left. “Oh, they only have four Thin-Mint?!? Quick, turn in at the next parking lot.”

        • Wayne Blackburn

          Oh, that’s evil.

          I love it. I’ll have to mention it to our local crack Girl Scout Cookie dealer parent.

          • Wayne Blackburn

            Darn it, apparently WP doesn’t like strikethroughs. ‘crack’ and ‘dealer’ were supposed to be crossed out.

            • Dorothy Grant

              Did you know Dollar General sells girl scout cookie knockoffs that are indistinguishable from the real thing? Year round? For half the price?

              That discovery did nothing [good, at least] for my weight-loss efforts.

  7. Having just imitated a crab flipped on its back with all the stretchiness of fried gristle while a yoga instructor called instructions on youtube (thank G-d for the privacy of my own home), I fully sympathize with being brought up short on being out of shape. Glad to hear you got out, even for a short bit!

    Also, thanks for the indie update. Calmer Half’s gotten the first book out to betas, and the second one is in the cursed fifty pages. This means I’m frantically trying to learn cover design, writing ad copy, and formatting / uploading while he gives me the thousand yard stare and says “Oh, you don’t need to learn it all yet. It’ll be a while before the book’s there.” (I suspect he overestimates my ability to quickly learn and replicate these skills at a polished market level.) Hearing where you’re at gives me a warm fuzzy feeling, like a sleeping cat in my lap, that things will get better.

  8. Just a comment, but when I went to the doctor’s office this morning for my quarterly blood tests, there were three people in the waiting room reading ebooks — out of seven people in the lobby. I hope that trend continues…

  9. I’m thinking of starting up on my exercise bike and/or Wii yoga routines tomorrow. I’m not sure if it’s a good idea or a terrible idea, but I have the thought that getting my blood pumping will get my brain working again. Being medicated for two+ months with only a few days in-between where I wasn’t taking something has taken its toll.

    Good luck taming dragons!

    • Trust me, it will help. My mind is coming back on line. FINALLY.

      • I wonder . . . I realized how I needed to start Novel 2: The Sequel while I was out walking the other afternoon. It was like a mental key in the story’s lock. Managed to get 1500 words done on it yesterday and now I can see how everything is going to flow, even if I don’t know exactly who will be involved.

  10. Quick question — what’s the word-count on your 2.99 shorts? …short stories, I mean. One should never let this crowd have a straightline.

    • PS: Hope you continue to get well exponentially! (…I’m operating on 4 hours of sleep right now, and fergit tu typ fings. >_> )

    • ROFL. Or a gay line. This crowd is DANGEROUS. 3500 to 6000. 7.5k & above I start considering 3.99. 10k it’s always 3.99 or sometimes longer at 4.99.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        (Gives totally innocent look like the cat in Shrek)

        What do you mean, dangerous?

        Shut up. I can TOO look innocent!

        • Children, they put me with three guys, none of them vaguely — REMOTELY — androgynous (or pretty) on a panel called Cross Dressing, Cross Genre and Charing Cross. I kept demanding they wear mini-skirts. The audience kept thanking them for not.

          … it was very, very, very, very, very odd — none of us knew what the HECK the “crossdressing” was all about.

          • I could be wrong (don’t laugh – it has happened once or twice!) but I believe “crossdressing” is openly wearing the symbol of the Christian faith, although some would argue that wearing symbolic representations of Thor’s Hammer and the Egyptian Ankh are also forms of “crossdressing”.

            Although it might have something to do with re-use of the Thanksgiving staple for cross-purposes to stuffing the bird.

            There are regional variations on the idiom which are probably the source of this confusion.

          • Dorothy Grant

            I would have encouraged you to wear a kilt, except for that whole january in Colorado thing…

          • I’d also bet a dollar I don’t have that NONE of them had ever been to Charing Cross (why, yes, yes I have, several times in fact. Insanity is rampant there, especially late in the evening, just before the last train). If they had, I’m sure the discussion would have been a bit more lively.