Stats and sales and success and crap


I don’t post a whole lot here about the business end of writing, nor about the ins and outs of self-publishing. This is partly because I think the business end of writing is boring as hell. I mean, I have to worry about it because the IRS might wonder where the extra income is coming from, but it’s not something I particularly enjoy dwelling on here. Also, I said pretty much all I’ll ever have to say about the pros and cons of self-publishing when I wrote for Publishing Renaissance, and I hate repeating myself. Repeating myself.

But the biggest reason I avoid those subjects is that there are a slew and a half of other, much more knowledgeable, writers talking about it already; for example Zoe Zoemeister Winters and Mr. J.A. Konrath (whom I don’t know well enough to -meister). I’m usually hanging out, doing my writing thing, and by the time I’ve thought about the possible ramifications of literary agent Andrew Wylie publishing his clients’ ebooks on his own or heard about Who said What about self-published books over at So-and-So’s blog, it’s pretty much been talked to death.

Recently, though, a fellow indie author told me that it was my responsibility, as a successful self-publishing author, to add my voice to the indie chorus once more. To help to dispel the notion that self-published books suck, that self-published authors do well to sell a total of 25 copies to their friends and family members, or that they might – if they’re very lucky – reach 150 sold if they truly bust their ass. My first thought was, “Dude! You think I’m successful? Rad!” Because I truly don’t know what, exactly, being successful entails. That is to say, I know that it means different things to different people, but it wasn’t an adjective I’d ever applied to myself. My second thought was, “Oy! People are still spouting that crap, aren’t they?” Then it was, “Do I have enough coffee to write about stats and sales and crap?” The answer was, I guess so (I love my Keurig) because here it goes.

Sales-wise Waiting For Spring is doing pretty well, particularly on Kindle. I haven’t been able to quit my day job yet, but when my hours at said job were recently cut, the ebook sales made up the difference (and then some), which eased the hit to the checkbook somewhat.  For the boring stats part, this year I’ve sold nearly 7000 copies of Waiting For Spring on Kindle alone. I’ve sold about a quarter of that number in other places (print, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, etc). See? Sales figures are boring.

Other good stuff: Reviews keep coming in, the mostly positive kind, and I continue to get emails from people who say kind things about my book (although there are enough readers at Goodreads who think I suck to keep my hat size from increasing), and that’s cool, too. Inside The Writers’ Studio – the video show created by fellow Backword author, Kristen Tsetsi and myself – is doing very well (Episode V will be coming up shortly!), which thrills me to no end. Also, some of my holy-shit-I-can’t-believe-this-happened-at-work! blog stories are being incorporated into a screenplay that’s being written, as we speak, by Robin Altman and Carole Carlson. That is pretty damned exciting. There are other things going on as well – positive public mentions of my book by other writers, interviews, co-hosting Book Chatter – that make me think I must be doing something right.

But when it comes to considering myself successful…well, I guess it boils down to this: I’m having more fun than should be legally allowed. I love writing. I mean, I love it. Creating people and worlds, then tearing those lives and those worlds apart, and then putting them back together again…damn, what’s not to love? I’d do it if nobody else ever read my stuff. I’d do it for free. Hell, I have done it for free. But the fact that there are so many people who do read it, and who are happy to pay for the privilege of reading it – so that I can spend even more of my time doing the thing I love – is a neverending cause of amazement for me. And I hope that success continues for many more years to come.

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About R.J. Keller

R. J. Keller is the author of Waiting For Spring. An avid independent movie enthusiast, she was Managing Editor of The Movie Fanatic website and created episodes of the writer-centric YouTube series, Inside The Writers' Studio, with author Kristen Tsetsi. She co-hosted Book Chatter with Stacey Cochran from 2011-2014. She lives in Central Maine with her family, where she enjoys gardening, collecting geeky memorabilia, and watching other people cook. View all posts by R.J. Keller

12 responses to “Stats and sales and success and crap

  • Artistikem

    Thanks for this post. Even when you think it’s boring there are many of us that want to take the plunge and are looking up to authors like you for knowledge.

    I admire your determination. I loved every part of Waiting For Spring and can’t wait for your next book.

    Wishing you the best and that you can quit the day job for the writing one day!

  • Joe Glasgow

    I remember when I first heard of indie book publishing, I was told “It’s a fancy form of vanity publishing. It’s not real writing.” Fact is it is real writing and just as legitiment and as good as works put out there by big publishers. Seeing the success of indie writers (like you) gave me the inspiration that I can do it myself, too! Now, watch out for the IRS – keep them away from the coffee money!

  • zoewinters

    hehe thanks for the shout out. LOL @ not knowing Joe well enough t Meister him.

    I know what you mean. Several people have referenced me as “bestselling indie author Zoe Winters” and I’m like WTF? I SO do not consider myself a “bestselling author”. I mean I know I sell pretty good for an indie, but I think that’s the kind of moniker you use either as a marketing ploy to sell more books, or because you’ve truly earned the title.

    I don’t feel I’ve earned that title yet.

    Also, I’ve noticed that the readers at Good Reads are a very tough crowd. Much moreso than your average Amazon reviewer.

  • R.J. Keller

    I’m with you. I don’t like marketing ploys. Marketing is good. Ploys are not. They feel creepy and people tend to see right through them anyway.

  • zoewinters

    Oh, I fully intend to use bestseller status as a marketing ploy, LOL. Just not until I feel like I’ve truly earned that label in a meaningful way. If I could ever get into the top 50 in the overall Kindle store and stay there for a semi-decent length of time, I would feel justified in saying it. But not yet.

  • R.J. Keller

    But then it wouldn’t be a ploy. It would just be The Thing You Really Are. 🙂

  • zoewinters

    LOL, yeah that’s true. 😛 I’d just really be that awesome 😛

  • Jim Thomsen

    I think success is something you define for yourself.

    For some, it’s merely publishing a book and getting to turn it over in your hands 147 times and marveling at this beautiful thing that you made all by yourself that doesn’t cry or poop.

    For some, it’s getting positive reviews and reinforcement by people you like and respect.

    For some, it’s getting an agent and landing a traditional-publishing contract.

    For some, it’s making enough money to quit your job.

    For some, it’s just writing.

    By the way, as someone planning to self-publish and, in many ways, follow in your footsteps, I would never tell you that you have a RESPONSIBILITY to the greater cause of the self-publishing self-esteem movement. I hope for posts like this, but to expect them is like telling a gay person that he or she has a responsibility to march in a Pride parade wearing a dog collar, a feathered headdress and a rainbow thong. Your accomplishments are your own; your respect capital in the community is yours to spend however you please. You’ve not only earned that right; you HAVE that right. Inalienably and indubitably.

    That said, thanks for this. And I hereby propose Zoe for elevation to “Zoetastic” status.

  • zoewinters

    @Jim does “Zoetastic” come with a tiara?

  • Lori

    It doesn’t sound bad at all. I am glad you posted about it.

  • Maria

    Congrats–that is a huge number and is inspirational to hear!!!

    You done good!!! You done GREAT!

  • robinaltman

    Woo hoo! Love your writing, love your blog, and I just plain love you! And Girl – that’s a damn lot of books!!!

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