Updated: Apr 5, 2022
If you're new to the blog, welcome to my quarterly stats post. When I first published (July 2021) I committed to being transparent about my own authorship journey for a couple reasons: 1) as a newer author I find the different journeys and approaches really interesting, but most folks don't like sharing their stats. Which is totally fine, by the way. But I always wished I had had more real data from actual authors so I could set expectations for myself, and 2) I'm still new at being an author. I've been at this less than a year. But I've definitely tried things that didn't pan out, and learned some things the hard way. My goal is to share what I've learned with you.
You can check out the last quarter's blog post here, but let's start off with some celebrating:
I published books four and five in the Alpha Compound series, so the series is complete!
Book Five's release was my biggest yet by a long shot, which felt really good
Book One (The Alpha Awakens) has over 1000 reviews on Amazon with an overall 4.5 star rating. I'm honestly a little shocked and amazed, but hella proud
I decided to move to exclusive photos for my next series covers, and I'm working with a couple different photographers to get the right models for each cover. That's a pretty exciting move!
I began emailing the 3500 newsletter subscribers I got with the Christmas anthology last quarter, and I only lost a few hundred. My open rate remains around 45-55%
I updated all the books' back matter and it has resulted in a higher percentage of people subscribing than previously
I got to test out some marketing theories on book five since it was the last book in the series, and that resulted in a lot of interesting data which I dissected here.
March was my first month at 2 million total page views for one month. It's been my biggest month of page reads yet!
I'm continuing to use a google sheet to track general stats for things like my ARC team and newsletter subscribers etc. Here's where we are lifetime-to-date....
I've shared my wins above, but there's some stuff I tried that just didn't really pan out for me, so that's here:
Turns out Amazon hates the words alpha, omega, omegaverse and acronyms like MMF and MM. When I started diving into Amazon ads, I couldn't get a single one approved because of the word alpha in the title. DON'T GET ME STARTED ON HOW STUPID THIS IS. But it is what it is and I can't change it, and I'm being smarter naming the spin-off season. This really took the legs out from under me from a marketing perspective, which was really unfortunate
I started diving into Facebook ads, but it is a ridiculous mess of clusterfuckery in my opinion. The biggest issue is you can't track conversions of those ads, so you never really know how they're actually affecting your sales unless your average sales are pretty steady so you can see a jump. I've been messing around with it for a couple months and don't think I'm any closer to feeling good about it (after spending hundreds of dollars a month....) I'm not giving up on it, but I need to get creative...
Another weird thing that happened to me with FB ads is that they kept showing if someone had commented on them. So even after the ad was turned off, people could see it and were leaving crappy comments about the book not being free. I didn't want those people to feel frustrated until FB could sort it out, so I did end up giving away an additional ten books manually, which meant I just had to pay $2.99 to gift them. It was weird, and costly, but there it is.
I decided to co-release audio with the next series of books, so there's a pretty solid chunk of time when I won't have a release. That's going to be...iffy. And scary. But it's setting me up for better success long time, so I'm biting the bullet now.
Let's dive right into some numbers, shall we?
It's hard to tell the overall trend of sales here because of the one big bump, but that bump is when I gave away book one for free as part of the marketing push. Ultimately I gave away a ton of book one, and I should see decent read-through as a result of that. There's more on this topic in the linked post above about the Series Complete marketing push.
In an ideal world I'd want to see each release be a little bit bigger, but I don't think that's realistic. It did happen to me in this case, but eventually I'm expecting to write a book that flops. I think it happens to all authors.
The green spike below was the release of book four, and the blue spike is the release of book five. You can also see a pretty big jump in page reads in books 1-4 right around the time I gave away book one for free. So those free days definitely worked in my favor!
My preorder strategy did not change this quarter. Both books were set at a $3.99 preorder and ultimately I sold more of book five than I did book four. I will call it a win!
What about the money? Here's my royalty graph for the first quarter (and change haha. I forgot to dial back to March 31st, but I'm only off by a couple of days). The big spikes are release days where all the preorders hit, but you can see that generally speaking the trend has been steady over time. It's hard to tell from this particular graph, but February was actually a pretty rough month for me.
In January my royalties were just over 10K, and in February they dropped to about 5.5K, then went back up over 11K for March. February took a hacksaw to my authorly confidence, and I had days where I really wondered if I just got lucky and my career was over. But I slapped myself and kept trucking, because this authorship game is a long haul, no matter what kind of success you see up front.
If I want to keep seeing numbers like this and growing them, I've got to keep moving forward and writing quality books with a solid marketing plan. It doesn't have to get a lot more complicated than that.
So what's next? There are a few things I said I wanted to do this year:
Limit social media time - I failed completely at this
Offering merchandise on my website - I'm doing okay at this, but with my limited free time it was less of a focus
Get into audiobooks translations and ads - I actually made good progress here! The Alpha Compound series is getting audio as we speak, and translations to French are in progress as well!
My authorship newsletter continues to grow, so I can see there's a real demand for hard data and insight
My PA Rosie is absolutely a godsend. I'm able to delegate to-dos to her that I don't have time for. I need to get better at it, but it's something I'm working on being comfortable with. Letting go is hard for some personality types (cough cough, that's me. I am that type)
All in all, I'm super proud of my first quarter 2022. Some of the long-term strategy changed but I'm keeping my goals the same and we'll just reassess at the end of the year. This is what I set out as a goal for this year (and I really had just five months of data to base this on, so it was something of a wild ass guess):
EXPECTED 2022 Royalties
JAN 9K (actual 10.5K)
FEB 9K (actual 5.5K)
MARCH 11K (actual 11.5K)
TOTAL ESTIMATED ROYALTIES 160K gross
I didn't *quite* hit my goal for Q1 of this year, but I got a lot of things set up to really drive success toward the end of this year. Authorship is really more of a long-term play for most successful authors, so I am continuing to re-evaluate as needed. But for now, I am crazy proud of the progress I've been able to make!
As always, let me know if you have any questions!