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***WARNING*** Long post ahead

This post stems from the frustration of tanking book sales. I would like to at least continue to enjoy the little “extras” in life by working full time AND writing, at least for now. Eventually, I would like this to be my job, but things aren’t looking so good right now.

I started thinking I might be able to eventually do this full time when my January & February 2011 sales were so good that I made more money those two months than I did at my full time job. And most of that was from one 99 cent novella…Guardian Vampire. I’ve pondered the mystery of this book’s success for a long time, and I still don’t understand it. It’s actually still my best seller at Amazon UK, although the sales aren’t that great. Think about it though…I made a full time salary on one 99 cent book for two months straight.

I got some emails from readers wishing for a sequel. I know I’ve told this part before. There was no sequel to this novella. So I wrote a the Vampires’ Curse trilogy, thinking that readers wanted series. I’ve never had good sales on those novellas even though they are much better, in my opinion, than Guardian Vampire. After writing GV, I wrote a novel, Haunted Lake. It went months with few sales, but suddenly took off. It never reached the volume of GV, but it wasn’t shabby at all. I currently have 12 works published (one is a compilation of three of the others), and Haunted Lake is still the best seller in the US. Better than anything newer. In fact, the oldest novel is doing better than Vampires’ Curse. I absolutely do not understand.

Here’s the thing. Except for when GV was going crazy, I’ve been used to making a steady $500-$700 a month in sales across a few channels. (We know which channel has the best sales.) This has been less than enough for full time work, but it was really good for part time work. We had been buying essentials and paying bills with our full time money, and had been buying fun stuff and paying for vacation with book money. But in the last couple of months, I haven’t made much over $300. And it looks like July might be even worse. I can’t make a living this way. We’re told the only way to do this is to keep writing so you have a lot of books out there. But the last few things I’ve written are the ones I haven’t sold well. And I’m beginning to suspect that it’s because most of them aren’t 99 cents anymore. My old stuff is all 99 cents, but I refuse to price my later work that low. We, as authors, deserve to get paid for our work. So mine ranges from the 99 cent books, up to the 2.99 ones. I’m afraid, though, that as long as other authors keep pricing at 99 cents, it’s going to be hard to compete. Even if you have a good story, you have to get someone to read it first. Readers will download a bunch of 99 cent books at once. I know this because I’ve done it myself. It’s fun to get lots of stuff for your money. But if I really like an author, I’ll pay more. The key is getting someone to read your work to start with. Some of those 99 cent books don’t even get read, I’ll bet. I have honestly considered dropping all my prices to 99 cents to see what happens. But then I think about the hard work I put into the books and say no.

So we come to the present WIP I’m working on. I think Guardian Vampire did well partly because of the title when people were doing searches. I really feel like my WIP has an even better title. I’m not ready to reveal that title for reasons I’ll explain later. But I feel like this might be the book that brings my sales back up. I have a glimmer of hope. I just need to make sure I’m realistic enough to realize that there’s tons more competition in ebooks than there used to be, and that things may not work out like I hope. I’m a resilient person, though, and also persistent. So there’s always the next book, and the next one, and the next one….

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I’m sitting here scratching my head and wondering why some books sell and some don’t. I don’t mean all books, I just mean mine. LOL Why do the same two books sell the best all the time?

Guardian Vampire took off in January and February of 2011 and made me a lot of money in those two months. I never figured out why that particular one sold like that. And now, over a year later, it’s still running neck and neck with Haunted Lake in sales. Haunted Lake is selling a little better right now, but GV is still doing well. If it weren’t for those two books, I wouldn’t be making much money. Haunted Lake actually took about 7 months from the publishing date to really start selling well. I don’t know why. It’s averaging 4 1/2 stars on Amazon, so that’s encouraging.

The reason I did the Libby Fox series in the first place is because my readers asked for a series. They really wanted a sequel to Guardian Vampire, but there just WASN’T a sequel in my heart and mind. So I did this other vampire series. There’s even a werewolf in the second and third book. And honestly…I think the Libby Fox books are better than Guardian Vampire. Much better, in my opinion. The covers are definitely better. Was it the title that sparked interest? (Thank you Susan.) Are the Libby Fox titles all wrong? The readers wanted a series. I gave them one. But they aren’t selling like I want them to. Is it going to be a delayed reaction like Haunted Lake was? I released the three novellas in June, August, and December of 2011. Should I be patient? I know the key to continue selling is to keep writing and publishing. But I’m still getting better sales on my older stuff.

So now I’m wondering about my garden gnome supernatural horror story. I haven’t a clue in the world how it will do. It’s out of my genre, but not too far out. There’s a romance in it, that’s just not the main focus of the story. Will readers think it really sucks? Or will they like this book that’s different from my others? My first beta reader likes it, even though she’s only seen the first draft. I’m anxious to see what my other betas think after I get the edits done. The thing is, even though I wonder about these things, I’m not AFRAID to publish this story. Because what will be will be. I’ll never know until I publish it.

So here’s an interesting question. Should I write a sequel to Haunted Lake or Guardian Vampire? Should I force myself to revisit those characters just to try to boost sales? Or should I follow my heart and mind and write what I feel? Actually, I’m not so sure I would mind revisiting Haunted Lake. Because the guy that DIDN’T get the girl might just have his own story to tell. The possibilities are endless, aren’t they?

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No, my frustration isn’t actually with my ROW80 goals. I’m 7864 words ahead of my goal on my current WIP. And I have Haunted Lake ready for print. All is good on that front.

This is my frustration. I never wanted to write a series. I was doing perfectly fine writing stand alone books. But then some readers emailed me and asked me for a series. So I thought I would try one. I released Dark Relic: Vampires’ Curse in June. I’m currently working on the second novella of the Libby Fox series. Here’s the problem…Dark Relic isn’t selling worth a crap. (See, I’m frustrated, because I never use that word in my blog.) Every one of my previous books is outselling it. I thought the whole purpose of making sure you’re constantly putting new material out there is to keep your sales up, and get people to also buy your backlist. But my backlist is what’s selling. No matter what I do, Guardian Vampire continues to be my best seller. What is it about that book that sells? Although, maybe I need to think about something else. Hmmm. Haunted Lake is now keeping up with Guardian Vampire. And that book took seven months to really start selling. So maybe it’s going to take time. I just don’t know. I think Dark Relic has a better cover than Guardian Vampire. Is it the title? Am I just being impatient? Grrrrr.

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Sales?

Just a quickie post today. I’m pondering on why the first novel I published, A Rocky Path, and normally the one with low sales, is suddenly picking up in sales. Not hugely, but enough to notice. I’ve googled it and can’t find any unusual activity. So what would suddenly cause the sales of a certain book to go up? This one is about a ghost and my ghost stories never sell as well as my vampire stories. Who knows? I just wish I could figure it out.

My sales are picking up in the UK on Amazon. Is anyone else experiencing that?

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January was the best month I’ve ever had in book sales. EVER. I sold more books in January than I have all other months put together. And the reason for this huge jump in sales is one particular book. Guardian Vampire. I have six titles out right now. In fact, Haunted Lake is actually the latest one. But I feel like the biggest factor in the success of GV is one thing. The word “vampire” is in the title. I’ve probably mentioned that before, but that has really gotten me to thinking…people still want vampire stories. They aren’t tired of them yet. So it would probably be profitable to me to write another vampire story. Or maybe a three novella series. And make sure the word “vampire” appears somewhere on the titles. Am I shamelessly looking at the monetary side of things at the expensive of my “art”. Is it bad for me to look on the commercial side of things and write vampire stories for that reason when my true love is ghosts? Well, when your husband is out of work and your salary doesn’t pay all the bills, let alone groceries, you have to do what’s best for you. So, after this garden gnome novel I’m currently writing, I’ll probably be writing more vampire stories. LOL

So for the stats. And this is assuming B & N has the correct figures now.

Across all channels, including the UK for one channel:

Total books sold in January: 7,373
Total sales in January: $2,774.05
Highest rank at B & N: 135
Highest rank at Amazon: 227

Everybody loves vampires….

I wish I knew every reader out there that bought a copy. I’m so grateful, but it’s impossible to tell everyone that had a part in it. But I do know that some of you that read this blog have also bought my books. So to you that I CAN thank…I really, really appreciate your support.

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Okay, I’m feeling generous today. Why? Because Guardian Vampire is now at #323 at Amazon. Squeeeeee! It topped at #135 at Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago and usually stays in the top 200 there. I have made as much money in January though all channels as I did at my regular full time job in the month of January. So I just want to celebrate. So I’m giving away Guardian Vampire, Haunted Lake, or BOTH through midnight EST Sunday, Jan. 30. All you have to do is ask for it in the comments on this post. You can ask for either book or both. (Hint-I would ask for both.) On Monday, I will send out coupon codes for Smashwords to everyone that asked for books. The codes will be good for two weeks, so redeem them fast.

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Today is the first day of ROW80 and I’m really excited. I’m happy to be participating and also happy to help by being a sponsor. I hope I can encourage authors along the way. I have a lot to do tonight, including getting back on the workout schedule (boy, will I be sore tomorrow), but I plan on writing at least my 500 words, and hopefully more.

I was amazed at how my Barnes & Noble sales of Guardian Vampire were so much better than Amazon. Well, now that’s changed, and Amazon sales are better than B & N now. Amazon sales are definitely better for my other titles, but part of that is due to the fact that I can’t get B & N to take down the Smashwords versions, and though I’ve opted out of B & N on Smashwords now, they haven’t done anything about it either. Which divides my sales up on those titles depending on which one the customer happens to click on. And I don’t know how many I’ve sold of the Smashwords version until B & N sends those reports. Grrrrr. The real time reporting was one of the reasons I chose to go with PubIt! instead of staying with Smashwords. Plus, the titles are much more searchable now. Of course AFTER I decided to make the change, THEN Smashwords announces that B & N is paying 60% on the titles through Smashwords. Grrrrr again.

I hope everyone had a Happy New Year!

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