I'd like to reflect on My First Year.
The end of this month marks my first year as an indie publisher. It's the year I finally "went pro" and decided to publish and make my stories available to a wider audience. It's a good time to reflect and assess what has happened.So this is an account of my first year newbie experience.
Before Sept 2012 I was an amateur spanking story writer, posting mainly on LSF and a few other places, and that was fun. I'm pretty well known at LSF and it's a good community for aspiring writers. But one day I stumbled into Amazon's KDP site and everything changed. As I scrolled through the submission form, the user interface for KDP, I thought to myself, "You know-- you could do this." It amounts to submitting a manuscript (formatted a certain way, of course), uploading a cover(probably the most daunting aspect of this), deciding on pricing, pushing a button and Voila! Instant eBook (well, about a day later). But there it was, right on the Amazon site, just like a James Patterson or Lee Child novel.
I had realized that the thing about a Kindle or tablet was this essential truth: no one knows what you are reading. No tell-tale lurid cover or title page announces your perverted tastes to casual passers-by. I know people want to read steamy stuff and that spanking erotica is a subset of steamy that has many fans. This has been a tremendous boon to writers of erotica of all kinds. People can download and read anywhere--in the park, on the bus going to work, in the office lunchroom. And no one knows what they are reading. They can tell Larry from accounting when he asks, that it's War and Peace when it's really The Menace from Mongo. Hell, Larry is probably reading gay porn on his own Kindle, but who knows?
I started with one book, an oldie, I think it was either Island Justice or The Spanking Games, which was "Fox and Hounds" renamed. (I mean, who would know "Fox and Hounds" was a spanking novella?) I priced it at $.99. And waited to see what would happen.
To my astonishment people bought it. I put out a few more books, again, old classics of mine. People bought those too. I increased the price to $1.99. In November Amazon sent me a check for the September sales for the princely sum of $138. I was floored. I made a deal with Paula Russell who allowed me to use her drawings as covers. As it turned out, this was both bad and good. Good, because everyone loves Paula Russell drawings. Bad, because the Amazon censors do not. Below are the ones that gave me problems with The Mighty Zon and, alas, I had to do a redesign of many titles.
By December I had 10 books in the mix. As 2013 dawned I added more books and made my standard price $2.99. Since I saw people selling 5000 word short stories for $2.99, I figured I could sell 15,000 word stories or collections for that much. And so my pricing model became based upon length, and that is what I follow today. I never sell any book under 15,000 words and my longest, at over 40,000 words go for $3.99
By spring my original KDP Select exclusives had all run out and I published under the Blushing Books' banner and added Barnes and Noble and Kobo. My wholesaler, Draft2Digital, is working on Apple.
So here it is one year later. I have 26 books in publication. They are the ones in the sidebar. If you click on any title it takes you right to the Amazon Kindle store. Some are short story collections like "The Romance of Spanking" series. Some are stand alone novellas like Atonement and LaForge. One recent development that seems to be popular is the twin novelette form, like Tumalo Bend 1895 and Lady Jayne.
So a whole year has flown by. I think by the accounts I've read I've been moderately successful. Not setting the world on fire a la EL James, but doing ok. Not enough to quit my day job, but it is a nice supplement. Call it my moonlighting gig.
Things I've learned:
1. Sales of books are non-linear. By that I mean they vary all over the place for no apparent rhyme or reason. Some days it's good, some days it's awful. Weekends are better than mid week on average.
2. The rate of sales over a short period of time means nothing. You can never extrapolate based upon the first ten days or the month's first half or last month.
3. To stay ahead you have to release new stuff. Yesterday's best sellers fade over time.
4. You never know when something will suddenly get popular for no apparent reason.
5. Book sales appear to be seasonal. Winter good, Summer slow.
6. Romance sells.
So what's on tap for the future? Well, for openers a new dual novelette in October that could have been called "50 Shades of Downton Abbey" (but that's not the title), a fifth collection in the Romance of Spanking series in November, and by Christmas a sci-fi themed novel of spanking erotica that is sort of 'Star Trek meets Game of Thrones.' In 2014 I may go to real print with "big" books that are comprehensive collections of like-themed stories such as historical themes, school themes, and femdom themes.
And somehow, in all of this, I plan to keep on writing.