Q4 Stats and 2021 Wrap Up
Buckle up, y'all, this is going to be my longest post until this time next year, HA!
If you've followed along the blog for a while, you'll know that I share my stats every quarter, and I talk about what I tried, what's working, and what's not working. I've been so motivated reading about how it's going for other authors, and I can't wait to try some new approaches in 2022. More on that below.
Let's start with a celebration of 2021 in general. I hoped to publish my first book last year, instead I:
Wrote the prequel to my first book
Published The Alpha Awakens, Wake Up, Alpha and Wide Awake
Finished writing two more (Sleepwalk and Awake at Last)
Published 40K of a scifi romance on Kindle Vella with Eris Storm under the pen Estelle Ray
Wrote steamy epilogues for each book
Wrote a viking omegaverse short story for a Christmas anthology
It's funny because I just wrote and wrote and wrote, and I didn't mean for this year to turn into such a busy one. The Alpha Awakens published July 13th, so that's what I did in the last 6 months of the year. I need to give myself a break next time I feel like I'm not doing "enough" (spoiler alert, that's one of my goals for 2022)
Let's get right into the numbers! I use a gsheet to track the stats of things like newsletter subscribers and milestones. Here's what that looked like for the entire year.
A couple of really big things that happened were that I was part of a Christmas omegaverse anthology designed to bring in newsletter subscribers. That effort actually netted me over 3500 new subscribers, so I ended the year with over 4500 people on my newsletter list. THAT IS HUGE! Well worth the effort to write and edit 12K. I'm sure some of those folks will drop off the list, but if even a percentage stay, I'll consider it a win.
There are other things about Q4 and the year in general that felt like wins to me:
I've been able to identify a trend of page reads when I release a book, so that helps me to have a little more predictability and ability to set future goals
Page reads have stayed surprisingly steady over time
Read through from book one through to book two is pretty high, 70-85% depending on the month. Read through from book two to book three is even higher.
While I don't have a ton of TikTok subscribers, I've generated a lot of relationships there and it's an active community, so I always see a boost when I put effort in there.
I put focus on amping up my newsletter. I created a welcome series that introduces subscribers to my world and also has fun freebies. I get very few drop offs, inactives or spam complaints, and I scrub the list regularly. I average a 50-55% open rate with 10-30% click rate depending on what I include.
I tried a few things where it was really hard for me to measure success. Not sure I'll do them again in the same way. Or maybe I'll do them sparingly...we'll see.
I gave away book one for free during a four day blog tour, and while I saw an initial small read in page spikes, page reads of the subsequent books didn't really jump up like I expected them to. I suspect this is because people grab the free book and because it's free, they place very little value on it. Most may never even read it. In the future, I'll likely do 99c days versus just a free giveaway
I did a couple newsletter swaps with really big authors in close genres, but I never saw any jump in page readers or preorders after these. Nothing to indicate it was really worth doing (for either of us).
Of course, with page reads remaining steady, it's hard to say if those efforts did in fact have long term effects, but I haven't been able to identify anything concrete so far.
Let's get right into the Q4 stats, and then I'll share a little bit about how I ended the year.
First we'll take a look at overall ebook sales.
The big blue spike is the five "free days" you're allowed per quarter on Amazon. I did this with book one in my series, hoping it would really push consistent sales and page reads of the other books. The big yellow spike is the release of my third book, Wide Awake. You can see that ebook sales did start to tick up a little bit after that release, thought it's hard to tell from this chart.
EBook sales make up 11% of my total royalties, up from 5 or 6% the first quarter I published.
Here are my KU page reads for Q4. The blue line is my first book, yellow is the second and red is the third. It was a relief to me to see that each release has followed the same pattern. Up for about a week and then sharply down, then a relatively steady line from there. What's really nice about that is it helps to create goals for this year that I can assume are likely to be realistic. Nothing's ever a given, but I have a solid idea, at least.
Let's talk preorders next. For book one I started out at 99c. I was new, it was my debut, I'd read a lot of new authors do that. I had no idea how to even set a preorder goal, and frankly I figured if 10 people took a chance on me, I'd be thrilled. I've read many articles about how you really train your readers what to expect from you price-wise, so if you intend to charge more, you really want to do that quickly.
For book two and three I upped the preorder to 1.99. For book four and five it's set at 3.99. I have noticed a dip in the number of preorders of book four. There could be a lot of reasons for that, but I suspect price is at least one main one. The thing is I've still got two weeks until it comes out, and I'll have made twice as much on this as my prior preorder because of what I'm charging. Book four isn't even out yet, so I'm thrilled to see preorders coming in for book five already, which is the last book in my first series.
FINALLY! Let's get to the good stuff. I'm a super money-driven person. For me it equates to stability and a means to support my family. We have some pretty fun travel goals in 2022 and financial freedom will give us the flexibility to finally do some of those things.
When I started this author journey, I had no idea what to expect, or how to create any expectations for success. What I've since seen will allow me to set specific financial goals for 2022, and I'm really excited about that.
In Q4 of this year, I brought in just over 17.5K in royalties, with another couple hundred dollars coming from paperback sales on my website. I had huge up-front expenses when I started, but in Q4 my expenses were only about $2500. I spent no money at all on advertising, simply because I had no time to learn ads with my day job.
So what does that mean for the whole year? Here are my royalties since the release of my first book. Not too shabby for just getting started! Of course this is my journey. I know there are others who will see this and be surprised by how low or high it is. We're all walking a different path depending on so many factors. But this year, I was really proud of everything I accomplished with the support of my family and my author friends and readers!
So, what's next?
I spent a lot of time this year in the Millionaire Author Mastermind group on Facebook, and I freaking love it there. It's an amazing community resource for authors who want to make seven figures writing. That is absolutely, 1000% me. I would love to do that in a few years, and I know it's possible with the right focus.
How will I get there? Here's where my focus is in the next twelve months, knowing I still have a demanding day job I'll be working in the mean time.
I want to have less focus on being ever-present on social media. I'm going to limit my time on there so I can be targeted and efficient, while still engaging with the amazing bookstagrammers, authors and readers I've met there
I'm putting a renewed focus on my website by offering merchandise, and as soon as the first series is done, I'll begin offering book bundles too. If you don't follow K Webster on TikTok GO THERE NOW. She gives a ton of great author advice, and a huge thing I learned from her is how important it is to have your website make a bunch of money for you.
I'd love to get into audiobooks, translations and ads this year. Realistically, I don't have time to do it all. My hubby has kindly agreed to look into ads on my behalf, and I'm going to tackle translations. If that doesn't prove to be a total time-suck, I may look into audiobooks too...
I split my newsletter in December, and started a segment just for folks who want author updates. I was avoiding sending authorly updates to my main newsletter, knowing it was primarily readers, but I'd like to grow that outreach. So now, if you want to sign up to get author updates specifically, you can do that here.
I hired an awesome PA, Rosie of Bearly Contained Romance to help me dive into new ventures and keep my shit together. So far, she's been a complete godsend!
From a strictly numbers perspective, here's how I'm estimating things will go in 2022, if past trends are an indicator. I'm putting this out there simply because I'm a firm believer in manifesting your future, and having a shitload of confidence in setting your goals. So this is me, shouting into the universe what I plan to get done this year.
EXPECTED 2022 Royalties
TOTAL ESTIMATED ROYALTIES 160K gross
Well folks, I think that's all for me today. I'll be back after Q1 is over to share how the new year is going. Let me know if you have any questions based off what I shared today.
What are your goals this year? How do you plan to achieve them? Let me know in the comments, or come visit me on social!