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One Writer’s Lessons From 2012

I’m a drop in the bucket of writers out there. Once published by a small press, now I’m effectively independent. I suffered plenty of rejections along the way until I figured out how to do it on my own. And yes, I figured that out without any help or by buying any books on how to write and sell a book. 2009, 2010, and most of 2011 were a struggle for me. Why bother, I often asked myself – the numbers were never promising. Fortunately for me, I’ve always been a long term thinking kind of guy. In late 2011 and then in 2012 those numbers changed.

For example, in 2012 I gave away 107,537 books!

What the hell was I thinking, right? I’ve talked about it ad nauseum before, but my thoughts were to let people see if they liked what I was writing since I wasn’t a big name in the industry. It worked. And no, very few of those numbers came from KDP Select.

Now here’s a less impressive but more substantial number: 33,993. That’s how many books I sold in 2012 on Amazon US and Amazon UK. I sold more in other Amazon markets, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Sony, iTunes, and Smashwords (and probably a few other distribution channels), but those numbers are nothing compared to Amazon so I’m not bothering to list them.

You’re thinking 34k books at the average price of a book being around $10 must be impressive! Yeah, it would be, but I don’t charge that much. As a matter of fact, All of my books save one are priced under $5. I won’t go into financial details but suffice to say that selling 34k books at my prices is not enough for a family of four to live off of. Thus I have a day job too (in fact, I’m starting a new one tomorrow!).

I write primarily fantasy and science fiction – and yes, sometimes the two get intertwined. I can’t tell you which genre is more successful though, but I can toss out a couple of examples in case you’re curious.

Ice Princess, a near future science fiction book, was my best selling book at 3,887 copies. My next best selling book was Voidhawk – The Elder Race, a fantasy novel (albeit space fantasy) at 3,716 copies. Given that my Voidhawk series has 5 books in it at present, the series sold 9,964 books throughout the year (with many of the books not being released until sometime in 2012). Wanted, the trilogy that Ice Princess is a part of, sold 4,253 books (although book 3, Bounty, was just released in December).

So what does that mean? Beats me! Write what you like and keep at it. I released a more traditional fantasy book called Child of Fate in November and it really started ramping up in December (181 copies). I’m hard at work on book 2 in that series and expect to release it in February – which seems like another success story in the making. People enjoy reading books in a series. As a reader, I can’t say I fault them. I always want to know about loose ends and if I’ve spent the time to read a book and become attached to the characters, I want to continue that relationship. As a writer I often feel the same way – it’s hard to just abandon a character and move on to someone else.

I spent a lot of money on a promotional campaign late this year and it doesn’t appear to have done anything for me. Writing more books and making sure they get edited properly and have great cover art, on the other hand, seems to be the key to success. That and a healthy dose of patience and perseverance. I believe that in order to make it in this industry the key is having a will stronger than the grindstone that rubs against it constantly. It’s an opportunity to turn the weakness of being stubborn into a strength!

And so, for 2013, I plan on being a downright irascibly stubborn son of a bitch! Happy new years to everyone, now let’s get to work!

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

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  1. January 1, 2013 at 09:18

    “Writing more books and making sure they get edited properly and have great cover art, on the other hand, seems to be the key to success.”

    That’s a lesson I learned the hard way after I got dinged on a couple of reviews because of it. But, I’ve learned from my mistakes, cleaned up my act (with the assistance of a professional editor, of course), and I’m pressing forward.

    Good luck with the new job and Happy New Year.

  2. January 6, 2013 at 16:39

    Reblogged this on chuckashmore and commented:
    Truly inspirational and down to earth advice.

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