Sharing numbers . . . books, sales, and Joe Konrath - Sarah Woodbury

Sharing numbers . . . books, sales, and Joe Konrath

I’ve been an indie author for eight months now, and a post by the Passive Guy and another by Joe Konrath got me thinking that my original post for today can wait and it’s time to share something of my journey as an independent author.  Some of this appeared in David Gaughran’s book Let’s Get Digital, but not my most recent numbers, and not the money.

When I started writing fiction, academic writing had been a way of life for me for a long time.  Writing fiction was another story. I wrote my first novel in the spring of ’06 on a whim, just to see if I could. My daughter (then fourteen) had always been ‘the writer’ in the family and I even asked her if it was okay if I gave it a shot too.

That first book was straight high fantasy (with elves, no less) and will never see the light of day. I knew at the time that it wasn’t very good, but I didn’t know how to fix the problems. Instead of trying, I launched into a second book which eventually became Footsteps in Time, the first book in my time travel fantasy series.

This one seemed to be much better written and more cohesive from the start. When I thought I’d finished it, I started querying agents, completely unaware that a community of writers all doing the same thing existed online. A year and upwards of seventy-two rejections later, the very last agent I queried took me on. She did send my book to several publishers, but after eight months, when I hadn’t heard from her for most of the summer, I found out she’d closed her business without telling any of her clients.

In the interim, I had written the rest of the After Cilmeri series:  Prince of Time and Daughter of Time. But now, without an agent and faced with the prospect of more query letters, I abandoned the series and wrote what became The Last Pendragon in the fall of 2008.

With this book, I queried one agent, who loved the book and took me on (and still represents me). 2009/2010 were the worst years on record for trying to break in as an new author, however, and he was unable to sell either The Last Pendragon or the sixth book I’d written, Cold My Heart.

And I’d heard by now about this indie publishing thing. In September of ’10, with my agent’s blessing, I started giving The Last Pendragon away for free. 8,000 copies later, a fan sent an email, urging me not to give away my books anymore—that she ‘would have gladly paid for it.’

Thus, starting in January 2011, I became an indie author. Along with The Last Pendragon, I published a heavily edited and revised Footsteps in Time and Prince of Time, neither of which were doing me any good mouldering on my laptop. I added Daughter of Time in March, and Cold My Heart in April.

The following are my sales and income for Amazon US over the last 7 months:

January: 22 books sold; income:  $35.64

February:  50 books sold; income:  $53.68

March:  272 books sold; income:  $163.84

April:  2038 books sold; income:  $1254.84

May:  2937 books sold; income:  $4198.09

June:  2225 books sold; income:  $3054.45

July:  2908 books sold; income:  $3413.22

To add to the joy, the instant I uploaded The Last Pendragon, writing became fun again.  Here’s to many more years of sharing my stories with people who want to read them!




15 Replies to “Sharing numbers . . . books, sales, and Joe Konrath”

  1. Hi Sarah,
    I’m reading the last Pendagon and very much enjoying it.
    But what i really want is to pick your brains, I’ve written 4 novels myself (all unpublished), but want to publish myself. Two are similar to yours, Celtic legends, and St George (same time period). Where do I start with the publishing?
    Congratulation, you are a what i want to be, no not a womwan, but a succesfull indie author.

    1. I’m glad you’re enjoying my book!

      Jeremy–I strongly suggest you get David Gaughran’s book, Let’s Get Digital.
      You can get it for free in PDF on his web page or buy it for your Kindle at Amazon. Then I would join Kindle boards
      Introduce yourself at the Introductions thread, and then go to the Writer’s cafe. The information among all these people is stupendous. There is also a Facebook page for indie authors:

      Everyone is very welcoming. I would l read up on all this and then look to publishing on Amazon and Smashwords (which distributes all my books for me to all the sellers but Amazon). Good luck!

  2. What an extraordinary story! Thanks for the link to David Gaughran. It’s clear that publishing is undergoing a sea change of historical proportions. Your own experience is a strikingly vivid illustration of the seismic shift that’s occurring. I’m a published writer, and you’ve given me a fresh new perspective on the possibilities the digital age has opened up for those of us caught up in the craft of words.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment. David’s book really is a great start towards indie publishing. Good luck in your endeavors!

    1. Having more books published? Participating in Kindle boards and guest posts? I did a lot of community building in that time. Other than that, I really can’t say. . .

  3. Ah Sarah! I have read your name several times and have noticed your books out and about on the internet. But, I assumed that you had been around for a while. I am thrilled to find out that we started our journey at about the same time. I published my first novel, Life is But a Dream, during the last week of January 2011 – probably just a few weeks behind you. I would not have even published it then if it was not for an unwanted 2010 Christmas present from my husband – a Kindle. I was planning on going the traditional route. But that “unwanted” Kindle has changed my life! Thanks so much for sharing your journey with us. I will have to stop by often to see how things are going. Best of luck to you! This Indie thing is a whirlwind, isn’t it? And so much fun! I love meeting other writers and hearing from so many readers. 🙂

    1. Thanks so much! One of the absolutely best things about being an indie author is all the other great people I’ve met because of it. Good luck to you too!

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