Tuesday, January 9, 2018

My 2017 Writing in Review

It is time once again to put forward my writing summary for the past year. As I always mention, the facts and figure I provide here aren't meant to be boastful - I provide the information so that others can have an understanding of what I've done, what works, what doesn't work, and everything in between. I sell more books than some, and fewer books than others, and that's about that.

In 2017, I sold 2,557 ebooks, and had 709,267 Kindle Unlimited page reads. This is significantly less than last year's totals of 5,921 and 849,081 (my numbers in this post might be a little different than last years' numbers, as KDP is providing better tracking tools that make adding all these numbers up easier, so the numbers in today's post are probably more accurate). Percentage-wise, book sales dropped 57%, while KU reads dropped 16.5%. Overall revenue dropped 43.5% this year, which is pretty damn significant - although thankfully, 2016 was by several thousand dollars my best year to date. For those of you who are wondering, paperback sales were too insignificant to even bother including in the above calculations. 

This was the first year since I started publishing in 2011 where technically, I didn't release a new title of any kind (Assault on Abbeville was published on New Year's Eve, 2016). This means as of right now, there hasn't been a new Commando title in two years, which, I am certain, is the reason for the poor sales this year. Historically, every new Commando title has given my sales a huge boost for several months, and kept things at relatively high sales points for the first six months of the book's release. While AoA did pretty well its first few months, it quickly tapered off, probably as a result of it being the only book in the series. Overall, however, its sales figures were reasonably strong, competing with any one individual Commando title. Numbers-wise, AoA made up 18% of my overall ebook sales, and 13% of all KU pages reads. This is highly encouraging, because it means there's definitely an audience for this series, and I am in the process of plotting out the second Revenants book.

Takeaways from all this? It was interesting to see the very large disparity between my sales and KU figures. While sales dropped over fifty percent, KU page reads dropped less than twenty percent. I don't know how that plays out in terms of money, since the value of each KU page read shifts from month to month based on the KU Fund and how many overall page reads there are in all of the KU titles (okay, I could probably figure it out...but I'm not going to bother), it's interesting to see that the the dip was relatively small. Also, as always, my non-WW2 titles sold like garbage. Killer Instincts sold a whopping 18 copies and had about 11,000 pages read in the ebook market this past year, earning me less than $150 for 2017. San Francisco slaughter was about a third of that total. All my other short fiction? A Sergeant's Duty did okay for a short story, pulling in about a hundred dollars. The Train to Calais earned about fifty. Renegade's Revenge? About twelve bucks. Nanok? Two dollars.

So, what happened? Life happened.

I don't want to get into the details, but in the past year, there have been a series of serious problems with multiple members of my family - health, finances, life in general - and the chronic nature of these problems has really thrown me for a loop. I've been anxious, depressed, angry, distracted, annoyed, scared, frustrated...basically every emotion that can grind away at the focus and dedication I need in order to write, I've had those emotions repeatedly over the last year. It is ugly, it is unfortunate, and it is really, really hard to dig out of and get back to the place where I need to be in order to...you guessed it...Always Be Closing.

For 2018, my primary goal is to finish and publish the sixth Commando novel, Operation Elysium. I'm about halfway through writing it, and I think it's going to be a great addition to the series. After that? As mentioned above, there is definitely a market for a second Revenants novel, so that's going to take priority, but I also want to start a new series, focusing on German Panzer warfare. I've got a bunch of research and some substantial plotting done for the first book in the series, so that's also good.

But ultimately, the hardest part will be overcoming the emotional obstacles I've thrown up in my way that prevent me from getting the work done. I find myself actively avoiding writing, which isn't good, and I need to get around that fear and embrace the process as something positive and encouraging, rather than something that I don't want to do, but feel I have to. As I have a full-time job with good pay and benefits, I am under no immediate financial threat if I don't publish, so for me, writing should be a fulfilling, emotionally positive act. I need to find that place again, and if I can, I know I can bounce back.

As always, many many thanks to those people who have sent me messages of encouragement over the past year. I greatly appreciate it, and it is genuinely heart-warming to know that both readers and fellow authors want to see me continue to write and publish. I honestly couldn't do it without that kind of support.