Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I have no idea what I'm doing

I'm clueless

To my readers and any writers that would be interested in my advice.  I would like you to know that I have no idea what I'm doing.

I really don't.

Not a clue.

I'm just making it all up as I go and hoping for the best.


I like writing very much, and I think I'm pretty good at it.  I just don't know if I'm correct, or if I'm deluding myself.  I don't really care too much because I'm having a blast.

Writing is fun.  It's like daydreaming out loud.  I love daydreaming and always have.  I don't remember a whole lot about my childhood because I was constantly daydreaming.  It was much more enjoyable than all those classes or any chores I might have had.

I'm sharing my daydreams with you.  I've altered them a little bit, because in my daydreams, I'm always the hero, or emo kid watching the hero.  Yes, in my daydreams I'm emo.  It's a bit odd and I don't understand it.  I'm not in my books though.  Those are about other characters that are more interesting.

I don't know what I'm writing

My stories take a lot of twists and turns that I don't expect.  There are certain things that are solid and I know what's going to happen.  Everything other than that is a complete mystery to me.  I think the characters are going to go to one destination, but they end up somewhere completely different.

The worst thing is when I make up new friends for my main characters.  I introduce them and say, "Hey!  Check these guys out.  They're fascinating!"  And then my main characters end up having a problem with the new guys, or the new guys are complete jerks.  That sort of thing really pisses me off.

I don't know if my stories are any good.  I really don't.  I enjoyed writing them.  I really like the characters.  I did my best to get all the letters and punctuation in their correct places too.  There are some great reviews and a few terrible reviews of them, more good than bad.

All of the stories end up in weird places.  There is no save the world or happily ever after.  Each book is about an adventure and it ends when the adventure is done.  The characters go on living their lives and I may or may not write about future adventures.

To other writers

I really don't know what I'm doing.  I've been at this for two years now and I've achieved mild success in sales and downloads.  I've written a decent number of stories too.

Most of what I'm doing has been from reading what other Indies are doing.  However, I'm pretty sure they're just guessing most of the time too.  The ones that are successful are probably shocked about that fact, maybe even a little embarrassed, hoping that people don't realize that they don't know what they're doing either.

It really is fun though.  Each sale, each good review, each contact from a fan telling me how much they like my stories, is a thrill!  I would recommend it to anyone who likes to write.

I'll continue to share my experiences with self-publishing.  I'll tell you if I figure out something that helps me write a better book, or get a few more sales.  Just understand that I don't know what will happen in the future or if I'm even doing it right.

For all I know, I may be about to metaphorically drive off of a self-publishing cliff.  That's okay though, I like to pretend I'm flying.

In conclusion

It's a great time to be a writer.  Instead of gatekeepers choosing what we are allowed to write and instead of publishers keeping the lion's share of the income, writers get to write whatever they want and earn a good amount of each sale.

It's a wonderful time to be a reader.  You get to read whatever you want rather than being told what you're allowed to read.  You also have a limitless supply of stories.  To make things better, books are becoming affordable, even free in many cases!

So that's pretty much all I had to say.  I have no idea what I'm doing and just wanted to let you know.

All my best,

John H. Carroll

Monday, June 4, 2012

My book sales data, Nov 2010 - April 2012

This is how many sales I’ve had by title per month.  Each author is has different strengths and weaknesses.  Genre also affects sales.  I write fantasy, which does not have as large of a fan base.  If I were writing romance, then these numbers might have been two or three times as high . . . although I suck at romance, so they might have been worse.

One of my biggest strengths is the fact that I’m fairly prolific.  I’ve published these books and short stories in addition to having a full time job and spending time with my family.

I don’t market or social network anywhere near as much I should.  There are so many sites to request reviews, and forums to talk about your book, that a person could spend the rest of their life marketing one book.  I prefer to work on the next, so I do minimal marketing.

My primary form of marketing is free short stories.  This gets people to know my name and brings a steady trickle of sales to my other titles.  You may notice that sales jump in January 2012.  That’s when I made Rojuun free and it drew sales to my other fantasy novels.

I’m going to add total downloads for each of my freebies at the bottom.  Tracking how many were downloaded each month is impossible due to insufficient reporting.  Apple does not report downloads of free books at all.  Kobo has not reported free downloads since August 31st.

Nov 2010  (Published “Rojuun” Nov 24 and “Blue Haired Alien Girlfriend” Dec 27)

Rojuun: 7 Smashwords

Dec 2010  (Published “Test Pilot” Dec 24)

Rojuun: 5 Smashwords, 2 Apple

Jan 2011 (Published “The Emo Bunny that Should” Jan 24)

Rojuun: 2 Smashwords, 3 Apple, 1 B&N

Feb 2011 (Published “Don’t Ever Change” Feb 24)

Rojuun: 2 Smashwords, 8 Apple, 3 B&N

Mar 2011 (Published Rojuun to Amazon March 26)

Rojuun: 8 Smashwords, 11 Apple, 8 B&N

Apr 2011 (Published “Anilyia” April 6 and “Zachary Zombie” April 19) (Published Anilyia to Amazon April 7)

Rojuun: 7 Smashwords, 3 Apple, 3 B&N, 3 Amazon
Anilyia: 7 Smashwords, 3 Amazon

May 2011 (Published “Blue Haired Alien Girlfriend”, “Test Pilot”, “The Emo Bunny that Should”, “Zachary Zombie”, and “Don’t Ever Change” to Amazon May 5)

Rojuun: 2 Smashwords, 1 Apple, 9 B&N, 31 Amazon
Anilyia: 2 Smashwords, 8 Apple, 2 B&N, 18 Amazon

June 2011

Rojuun:  2 Smashwords, 6 Apple, 7 B&N, 15 Amazon
Anilyia: 2 Smashwords, 5 Apple, 3 B&N, 16 Amazon

July 2011 (Published “Kethril” July 17)

Rojuun: 4 Smashwords, 4 Apple, 5 B&N, 58 Amazon
Anilyia: 4 Smashwords, 5 Apple, 3 B&N, 12 Amazon
Kethril: 5 Smashwords, 1 B&N, 7 Amazon

Aug 2011 (Published “Alien Coffee” August 31)

Rojuun: 2 Smashwords, 8 Apple, 22 Amazon
Anilyia: 1 Smashwords, 4 Apple, 1 B&N, 17 Amazon
Kethril: 1 Smashwords, 7 Apple, 1 B&N, 23 Amazon

Sep 2011 (Published “Drippy the Peg-Legged Rainbow” September 20)

Rojuun: 1 Smashwords, 4 Apple, 4 B&N 7 Amazon
Anilyia: 2 Smashwords, 2 Apple, 2 B&N, 6 Amazon
Kethril: 2 Smashwords, 3 Apple, 3 B&N, 29 Amazon
Alien Coffee: 2 Smashwords, 3 Apple, 3 B&N, 29 Amazon

Oct 2011 (Published “Unholy Cow” October 3, “The Complete Willden Trilogy” October 8, “Dralin” October 16, “A Collection of Stories for Demented Children” October 21, and “Attack of the Sugar Plum Fairies” October 21)

Rojuun: 1 B&N, 11 Apple, 9 Amazon
Anilyia:  6 Apple, 4 Amazon
Kethril: 1 Smashwords, 3 Apple, 8 Amazon
Alien Coffee:  2 Smashwords, 3 B&N, 13 Amazon
Willden Omnibus: 4 Smashwords, 11 Amazon
Collection of Stories for Demented Children: 13 Amazon

Nov 2011 (November suuuuuuucked for sales directly through Smashwords. I’m really not sure why.)

Rojuun: 2 Apple, 5 Amazon
Anilyia: 4 Apple, 3 Amazon
Kethril: 5 Apple, 2 B&N, 7 Amazon
Alien Coffee: 3 Apple, 4 B&N, 20 Amazon
Willden Omnibus: 3 Apple, 5 B&N, 10 Amazon
Collection of Stories for Demented Children: 1 Smashwords, 24 Amazon

Dec 2011 (Made Rojuun free on Smashwords. Once again, sales sucked through Smashwords.  I just don’t know why November and December were so bad there.)

Rojuun: 1 B&N, 2 Apple, 8 Amazon
Anilyia: 9 Apple, 1 B&N, 7 Amazon
Kethril: 11 Apple, 1 B&N, 5 Amazon
Alien Coffee: 1 Apple, 6 B&N, 20 Amazon
Willden Omnibus: 1 Smashwords, 6 Apple, 4 B&N, 10 Amazon
Collection of Stories for Demented Children: 2 Apple, 4 B&N, 39 Amazon

Jan 2012 (Amazon price matched Rojuun for free, Rojuun sales after this through Amazon are Amazon UK, which hasn’t pricematched.  You may noticed the jump in sales for the rest of the Willden Trilogy through Apple, B&N and especially Amazon.)

Rojuun: 4 Amazon
Anilyia: 3 Smashwords, 29 Apple, 7 B&N, 126 Amazon, 1 Sony
Kethril: 2 Smashwords, 22 Apple, 7 B&N, 91 Amazon, 1 Sony
Alien Coffee: 6 B&N, 24 Amazon
Willden Omnibus: 9 Smashwords, 39 Apple, 10 B&N, 84 Amazon, 2 Sony
Collection of Stories for Demented Children: 1 Smashwords, 9 B&N, 22 Amazon

Feb 2012

Rojuun: 3 Amazon
Anilyia: 1 Smashwords, 16 Apple, 19 B&N, 98 Amazon
Kethril: 1 Smashwords, 14 Apple, 16 B&N, 85 Amazon
Alien Coffee: 2 Apple, 2 B&N, 6 Amazon
Willden Omnibus: 7 Smashwords, 23 Apple, 17 B&N, 109 Amazon
Collection of Stories for Demented Children: 1 Smashwords, 5 Apple, 3 B&N, 20 Amazon, 1 Kobo

Mar 2012

Anilyia: 8 Smashwords, 27 Apple, 9 B&N, 72 Amazon, 1 Sony
Kethril: 5 Smashwords, 22 Apple, 7 B&N, 53 Amazon, 1 Sony
Alien Coffee: 1 Apple, 4 B&N, 14 Amazon, 1 Kobo
Willden Omnibus: 11 Smashwords, 27 Apple, 24 B&N, 77 Amazon, 1 Sony
Collection of Stories for Demented Children: 1 Apple, 2 B&N, 23 Amazon

Apr 2012 (Published “The Emo Bunny that Should - Illustrated Edition” April 6)

Anilyia: 27 Apple, 21 B&N, 53 Amazon, 1 Sony
Kethril: 7 Smashwords, 25 Apple, 19 B&N, 51 Amazon, 1 Sony
Alien Coffee: 1 Smashwords, 1 B&N, 15 Amazon
Willden Omnibus: 7 Smashwords, 34 Apple, 11 B&N, 90 Amazon, 1 Sony
Collection of Stories for Demented Children: 1 Smashwords, 2 Apple, 4 B&N, 16 Amazon
Illustrated Emo:  1 Smashwords, 4 Amazon

May 2012 (Published “Ebudae” May 13)

This data is incomplete, so I’m not going to add it.

These are my current totals of sales as of the date of the post.  There are a few Smashwords and B&N sales from May included.

Rojuun (sales)



Willden Trilogy



Emo Illustrated

Demented Collection

Alien Coffee

Total Sales

Unexpected sales:

These are sales for books published to Amazon that I wanted to be free.  It takes a while for Amazon to pricematch.  These are legitimate sales for which I earned money, even though I wanted to give them away for free.

Titles that shouldn't be free

Emo Bunny





Blue Haired

Test Pilot

Don't Ever Change

Total unexpected sales

Grand Sales Total

In addition, I sold 250 books through Amazon in May that isn’t included in these numbers.  I don’t know how many I sold through Apple, but it’s been running 30-80 per month this year.

Free downloads

These are all the downloads of stories I give away for free.  Free books help readers to become accustomed to my name.  They also link readers to all of my other works.


Emo Bunny





Blue Haired

Test Pilot

Don't Ever Change

Total Free

I hope all of this information will help other Indie Writers to understand what to expect.  Sales for most people start out slow and gradually increase. A big key is that the more you write, the more likely you are to sell books.

All my best,

John H. Carroll