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One Writer’s Lessons From 2012

January 1, 2013 2 comments

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.

Accountability in 2012

January 3, 2012 1 comment

The holidays have come and gone. With it, for me, came an amazing lack of productivity. Oh sure, it was great to decompress from the day job and spend time with my family. Hated coming back to work, in fact. I also learned an important lesson: if I want to get anything productive done at home on a daily basis I need a home office, preferably with sound proofing.

So that brings me to new year and what it has in store for me. Or what I have planned for it. Either way, I’m counting on it being exciting! To start with I’m days away from releasing my first book of 2012, Traitor. It’s the sequel to The Lost Girls and takes place in my Dark Earth series. This particular book takes the heroine from The Lost Girls and tosses her back into Dark Earth where she gets to be bombarded with Native American folk lore and spirits, shamanistic practices and magic, and a confusing betrayal while she tries to establish her own love life.

Shortly after that (I hope), Vitalis book 3: Parasites, will be released. I’m still hoping for a January release date, but nothing’s carved in stone. In Parasites the Terran Coalition makes first contact with Vitalis in a two-fold mission: search for survivors / natives and establish a research colony. What they can’t possibly know is how xenophobic the planet is and what lengths it will go to in order to claim and trespassers as its own. The survival of the fittest them continues as new people are introduced (and devoured), while those that survive learn quickly to adapt and evolve.

There are more books in pipeline as well, but they’re far enough out (Feb – March at the earliest) I don’t want to get anyone unduly excited. I will say that I’m working on the fourth book in my Voidhawk series right now and once that’s finished (this month or bust) I’m going to start in on an immediately sequel to Dark Earth. I’m really excited about the ideas I have for that book and can’t stop new ones from popping into my mind all the time.

The title of this blog is Accountability. I used the term intentionally, it’s meant to help me hold myself accountable for my boasts. Thus far I’ve done a fairly decent job at that, and maybe that’s because I put them out there for anyone to see. That way I know I’m not the only one who expects results from me. So this is sort of a new year’s resolution thing as well. On top of the 4 books I have pending in (hopefully) Q1 of this year I hope to squeeze in a total of at least 8 books this year. 10 – 12 would be ideal, but hey, there’s only one of me! 🙂

And outside of the writing world I’ve got other goals. Paying off bills and getting ready for pending student loans (MBAs aren’t cheap), bench pressing 405+ again if my injured body will let me, and deadlifting 600+. Silly goals to some, perhaps, but they help me develop the discipline I need to continue to push hard for success in all venues of life.

A new year means a new chance to start out fresh and make things happen for you. Big or small, make some changes in your life that make things better for you. Improve what needs improve or get rid of what needs to be dropped! We could also stand to fix something, what’s yours?

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