Tuesday, January 28, 2014

New Book Release: Kid Sensation Series Boxed Set (Books 1 - 3)

I'm feeling a little giddy because I've finally reached the point where I can put out a boxed set. It's for the three full-length novels in my Kid Sensation Series:

It feels a little surreal to me. A year ago I hadn't even started writing the first book in the series, Sensation, and now I've got three of them. (Not to mention a stand-alone short story, Extraction, that's a companion to the series.)

Of course, Amazon is treating it as a "new" ebook and listing me as having an additional work on my Author Page. Needless to say, I'll accept the designation, even though its "newness" is actually artificial.

Like most authors with series, I already knew that at some point I'd do a boxed set. The only question was when: do I do it at three books? Four? Five? Whenever the series is complete (which may be never if readers continue to show enthusiasm for it)? It's the type question for which there is no easy answer. Still, three books seem like a good point at which to bundle the existing novels in the series.

The end result is something that I'm rather pleased with. Now its time to get out there and write the next three.

***FYI: On the subject of price, the boxed set is available for $7.99 (which is a substantial discount to the $12.97 that the three books would go for individually).

Monday, January 20, 2014

Making a Living Selling 3 Books Per Day

In a previous post, I described books as perpetual motion machines with respect to earnings, because once you publish them - especially ebooks - they have the potential to keep garnering sales forever. Furthermore, it's truly amazing how much (or rather, how little) your books have to accomplish in order to help you be successful financially.

Let's say, for instance, that you consider $50,000/year a comfortable income and would like to earn that from writing. That means you have to earn roughly $137/day from your books.  Using KDP as the standard, if you sell your books for $2.99 you'll earn a 70% royalty (that's $2.093) from each sale.  Thus, you need to sell 65.45 books per day to get to that $50K you want.

Now, if you only publish one book, 65 copies per day is probably a lot to ask of a single tome. Moreover, even if it does come out swinging and can hit that target initially, it may not be able to sustain that pace. However, if you publish two books, each only has to average 32.7 copies. Still a high hurdle, but a lot better than 65 for one novel.

Going a step further, imagine that you have 10 books published. At this juncture, your daily sales need only average a much more manageable 6.5 copies per book.  And if you have 20 books out? The average number of sales you'll need per day for each book drops down to 3.27 - just a little over 3 books per day!

Selling books, however, is not a particularly easy chore, and I don't mean to make it sound as though it is. The entire process - from writing a novel to finally hitting the publish button - is an extremely challenging endeavor, and it only gets tougher as you try to find an audience for your work. In addition, publishing 10 or 20 books is likely to take a bit of time. It's not something you can do overnight. 

Still, as the number of books in your backlog increases, the workload that each has to bear in terms of sales decreases. This, to me, is one of the essentials that indies must grasp: volume matters, and I think the odds favor someone who can get more of their product out into the marketplace. 

Of course, I'm not saying that you should churn out trash just to ramp up the number of books you have for sale.   Instead, my point was to show that you don't necessarily have to be at the top of the best seller list (or even on a best seller list) to earn a comfortable living from being an author. Once you get enough books out there, just averaging a couple of sales per day for each one will do wonders. 

So, depending on what your goals are, if your books are selling something like 3 copies per day each, you may be well on your way to earning a good living from your writing. (Moreover, while it may not be easy, obtaining that level of sales is something that is certainly achievable.) You may never be a household name with that sales volume, but your own household is likely to be well taken care of - and you really can't ask for more than that.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Bookonomics 101: The 7-Day Work Week

Last night I called my parents and gave them a gentle reminder that I had released a new book. My Mom was excited, as always (and promised to tell all her friends to look me up), but when she put my Dad on the phone, the old man got down to brass tacks almost immediately.

"How many are you selling these days?" he asked.
I told him.
"And at what price?"
I told him the price ranges of my books, what the average roughly was (based on current sales), and the royalty rate. He did some quick math, and said, "So you're making about $_____ per week."
"To be honest," I said, "it's a little more, since I actually sell seven days per week."

My Dad laughed at that. He had actually calculated his estimate of what I was earning based on a 5-day work week - as if my books were only available Monday-Friday. I had to remind him that my books are actually out there hustling seven days a week (not to mention 24 hours per day). Which is really kind of amazing when you think about it.

Basically, as an author, you write a book and then put it out there for sale. At that juncture, your book is available all day, every day. For all time. It's a literary perpetual motion machine, requiring no more input of energy or effort on your part.

Moreover, it's passive income. You did all the heavy lifting on the front end in terms of writing; now, everything you're earning comes from that initial creative endeavor. 

Frankly speaking, I've tried other ways of earning passive income from writing (like posting articles at sites like Squidoo and Hubpages) but outside factors - e.g., Google's constant algorithm changes - essentially cut me off at the knees every time I would start gaining traction. It occurred to me then that, rather than post hundreds or thousands of articles (many of which required in-depth research), I could follow an earlier dream and put that same energy into writing novels. 

Needless to say, I'm glad I did. Not only does it appear that my work has found an enthusiastic and supportive audience, but I'm doing the type of writing I always wanted to do. And, while I still have to deal with algorithm changes from platforms like Amazon, I'm finding far more success with novels than I ever did with articles.

In short, my books are out there working tirelessly for me around the clock. Of course, it helps if I give them an occasional boost through marketing, but the truth of the matter is they are going to continue charging relentlessly and non-stop out into the world, working every hour of the day, seven days a week, for my benefit. In truth, that's more than most of us do for the day job - in fact, we'd probably quit if our boss demanded it of us - so I feel quite blessed to be the benficiary of any progress on their part.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Pacing Yourself As A Writer

When I published the first Warden and Sensation novels around May of 2013, I was more than a little nervous. I really didn't know what to expect and was completely unsure of the reception my books would receive. Fortunately, audiences seemed to like my work (which was very encouraging, to say the least), and I was blessed to have a moderate amount of success early on. Moreover, that success continued through the release of additional books - six in all - through the end of 2013.

In retrospect, releasing 6 books (3 novels, 2 novellas and one short story) over an 8-month span sounds fairly productive on the surface. However, I can't help but notice that it's taking me longer and longer to write books. Prior to releasing Infiltration in late December, my previous release was the second book in the Warden series in early October. That's almost three months between releases. For me, that's just way too long.

Of course, I'm not saying that every author has to crank out a new book every four weeks or anything like that. In fact, there are people who will only put out one or two per year and that will be plenty for them. For me personally, however, a new book every three months will probably mean that I'll never get to tell all the stories that I want to, and I guess that's what it's really about. I feel like a-book-a-quarter won't let me get out all of the novels that are runing around in my head.

Bearing all that in mind, I think it's important to establish a pace as an author. Whether you define that as writing 1000 words per day, typing 60 words per minute, or something else, I think it's vital to your success to find a consistent approach to writing. In fact, it's probably less about pace and more about routine. Writing needs to be an ingrained pattern, like waking up at the same time every day, always having your morning cup of joe, etc. It needs to become a habit, whereby you are unfulfilled if you don't do it on a daily basis.

Needless to say, there will be barriers to establishing a routine. A day job can often play havoc with your schedule, as will other personal and professional issues (illness, work-related travel, etc.). However, if you are trying to establish writing as your career, you will have to treat it like a business and prioritze it in such a way that - despite almost anything else going on in your life - it still gets done.

In essence, if being an author is your dream, you have to find a way to make it come true - which may require extra effort on your part. Maybe you need to get up an hour earlier and go to bed an hour later. Maybe you need to invest in a laptop. Maybe you need to type on your lunch break. Whatever it is, you need to figure out what's going to work for you and allow you to operate at a pace and within a routine that will encourages you to be as efficient as possible.

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