January 3, 2016:
So, now that we’re in yet another new year, it’s time to reflect on the ideas that worked in 2015, and the ones that didn’t.
Obviously, my big move in 2015 was to attempt pushing my writing hobby out into the public eye, with some possible compensation to boot. After ten releases (eleven if you count Zippywings 2015, which is just a collection of the smaller works in paperback form), over a thousand free downloads, about five dollars in royalties, and only one literally last-minute review, which was about as bad as a review can get, I feel that this experiment has been a mixed bag at best.
What I know for sure is that across ten books, I’ve gotten roughly between 1100 and 1200 downloads. Four of these downloads were for paid books. So, that breaks down to about 1:300 downloads resulting in compensation (primarily from supportive friends). My suspicion is that most of those downloads are hoard downloads, meaning they won’t get read, just stored on a computer or phone for the option of getting read. Not all, of course. But I suspect many. I don’t think this explains why no one is paying money for the $.99 – $2.99 books (though I think that has a large part of it). But I do think it explains why no one is leaving reviews anywhere. The only review I got in seven months was for the one copy of the one book that a complete stranger spent his money on. I know I tend to read books I bought sooner than I do those that I just find for free. I think this is how most readers work.
So, I think moving forward, I want to worry less about finishing all projects on my mental list, as many of them are short works that I wouldn’t want to charge anything for, and focus more on the longer works that I already have scheduled for pre-order. At least that way I can finish them. I also want to make sure I have enough time to evaluate the quality of each book in case they end up with some major problems. I still don’t think The Computer Nerd was bad at all (I do think it’s the kind of book that goes against expectations, which could be a problem on its own when it comes to proper marketing–a skill I admit is lacking). I think anyone who understands what the story actually is will appreciate it more than one who goes into thinking it’s something else. But without comprehensive feedback from a number of different types of readers, I’ll never know for sure. I just know that I like the story and think it’s pretty well-done, and I read a lot of books.
That said, I’m considering making changes to my 2016 plans. I want to do my best to get loyal readers, not just random freebie-hunters who may or may not read a word of what I’ve written, so I think I’ll be cutting down on the monthly releases this year, and even though I still plan to release short works, I may do that later. Depends on how well things go with the longer form books and how badly I need a change of pace. As of now, I don’t intend to give myself unnecessary stress over something that might not get any appreciation. I actually do take writing and storytelling seriously, even if my stories themselves like to dip into the humorous or even ridiculous from time to time.
I’d actually intended to write more on this topic, but I need a mental rest.