People have been asking me for a while to share my numbers, and I did, in the past, in this post on how donations make me more money than sales, but just last week a fellow writer finally helped me install the Google Analytics code on my site (I'm a techie idiot, unfortunately) and so now I'm actually able to see for the first time how many of my free ebooks people download, and which ones, and all that great stuff. That prompted me to go check out my Amazon downloads, and I nearly peed my pants, because in the last 6 weeks 1,600 my books (SIREN SUICIDES plus BLUE SPARROW) have been downloaded! That is by no means a large number, but it's huge to me, because I'm an unknown entity, and this validated for me the fact that people do really read my books, and that is amazing. So, let me refresh my numbers here for you, and we will go from here, as I'm running out of money in 3 months exactly and plan to do a Kickstarter to raise money. Or else.
I MADE $4K TOTAL SINCE I PUBLISHED MY BOOKS IN AUGUST 2013
That is obviously not enough money to live on. For me to live on, right now I need $2K a month (for kids, primarily; if I lived alone, it would be much less), and I have still enough money to burn through till the end of June.
OF THOSE $4K above $2.3K ARE BOOK SALES, $1.7 ARE DONATIONS
I also made $2K from a consulting gig in 2013 + raised $3K to go see my sick mom in Moscow but it doesn't belong to the book category, so...
My numbers have recently shifted. Since I published my first trilogy last year in August of 2013, I have been making more money via donations, but this year more and more people buy autographed books from my site, so I'm starting to make money this way. It's not very much. So far I've had about 90 orders, of which roughly 50% are orders of my trilogy, so I have sold only about 200 physical paperbacks from my site, but! But. Here is the interesting part. I have only sold 84 paperbacks from Amazon, during this whole time (starting with August of 2013), and yet people have downloaded 1,600 copies of my ebooks off Amazon in the last 6 weeks. Here, don't scream at me, since I'm not very good at math and tech, I have to devote good time to go back to Amazon to calculate the total TOTAL of everything I sold there (someone smart here, please tell me how to do it without pain?). I see other authors publish their numbers and I feel like an idiot because I can't seem to figure out how to do it. So, if I do, I will post an update here for you.
Think about this though... I have only sold 84 actual paperbacks via Amazon compared to 200 off my site. That tells you something interesting, no? In a sense, I'm becoming my own small business, where, if I could print my books myself and sell them directly, I would, but I can't, so I do it through CreateSpace/Amazon.
I have noticed another interesting thing. Sales and donations go in waves. When something exciting happens and I spur up interest by chatting about it online, a handful of people want to check out my stuff and my sales jump. But, for example, for the last several months I have sold only a few paperback copies of SIREN SUICIDES, because a lot of readers are now waiting for ROSEHEAD to come out, and some already for IRKADURA, so to make it, I have to produce at least 4 new books a year, to keep the interest going.
AFTER I OFFERED MY BOOKS FOR FREE, DOWNLOADS JUMPED
I have looked at the Kindle reports of sales, and since I have published my trilogy in August of 2013, I sold about 130 ebooks prior to December of 2013 , which is nothing, nothing, until in December Amazon rolled out this new thing where you could offer your books for free, I did, and in that month alone 500 copies have been downloaded! Now, if you look at the numbers above, the FREE 1,600 downloads in the last 6 weeks... would I have the same numbers if my books weren't free? Probably not. Why are they free? Now, I have written about it here. But I also believe that the publishing industry is changing. It will be up to communities to support artists directly, for artists to thrive. My idea is this, if you liked my book, donate as much or as little as you think it was worth to you. Maybe you donate nothing, because you thought it was shit, and that's great too! Maybe you have no money right now, and that's cool too! I'm making art to share. If it's no good for people to give me money for, oh well, I need to try harder.
(Also, I'm thinking about offering people subscriptions, like, for $9 a month if you subscribe, you get all of my books as I produce them (or something like this, still thinking about it...))
But, it gets better. So, if in December 500 books have been downloaded (unfortunately, this is the total from KDP report where it says UNITS SOLD but I don't know what percentage of those are FREE and what isn't, but assume most of them are free because I made all my books free in December), in January that number slid down to 300 books, but, imagine this, in February it jumped to 3,000!!!
YES, IN FEBRUARY OF 2014 I HAVE "SOLD" 3,000 EBOOKS ON AMAZON! (But, "sold" in that report doesn't mean I made money on it, because I offer them for free).
If I look at the number of 1,600 FREE downloads in the last 6 weeks (what KDP tells me in the Prior Six Weeks' Royalties Report) and assume that's 266 downloads per week, which makes it about 1,000 downloads in a month, where did the rest of the 2,000 downloads come from? The ones I see in the Excel spreadsheet in the Month-to-Month unit sales??? Seriously, this doesn't make sense, so again, someone smart help me out here... HOW DOES THIS WORK SOMEONE TELL ME PLEASE MY BRAIN IS ON FIRE.
40 ROSEHEAD DRAFT COPIES HAVE BEEN DOWNLOADED FROM MY SITE THIS WEEK
This is something interesting. I can now see the downloads, but only for this week, since I just installed the analytics thingy, but only 4 copies of SIREN SUICIDES have been downloaded compared to 40 of the book that is not even published yet. Also, about 10 people have pre-ordered IRKADURA which is not even done yet, I mean, I'm only writing 2nd draft right now. So, it tells me there are readers out there who want to read books that I have written, period. They trust me that those books will be good. And I have to keep up their faith. So...
To close this. Sorry for this post being all over the place. I hate doing numbers, but I have to, it's part of the small business. I have some data, but not enough yet, to show you that what I'm doing is a way to getting your name out there, but I can tell you that if I didn't give away my books for free, not much of what you see above would've happened. And that's a lesson, really, to all of us, artists. Make art, share it, let the community support you. The glorious internets have erased the barriers between writers and readers. Let your readers help you, and they will. For example, all my books are not copyrighted, and they are all published under Creative Commons license. Do what you want with them! My goal is to give you stories that pull you in and make you forget your worries, your troubles, and be carried away. If I can do that, great. If I become homeless in the process and you offer me your couch so I can keep writing, great!
I'm staging a sort of experiment here, of course, so, I will keep you posted on what happens. So far I'm in talks with PubSlush, this awesome company that is like Kickstarter, only specifically for writers. They want to help me, promote me, all that good stuff. Who knows what will happen. I only know one thing. While I still can, I will write like crazy and read like crazy and pump out books for you as fast as I can.
IF YOU WANT TO KEEP ME WRITING, SUPPORT ME HERE!!!
Much love, and kisses, and, well, more numbers to come in the future.
XOXO. Now, I'm off to writing.