2012: A Year in Review
I’m waaaay overdue on a blog. Now that I’m out of school, it’s time to get it crackin’ again!
First off, let me again apologize for my website. I’d been talking about an overhaul since last summer, but I still haven’t gotten ‘er done, yet. Hopefully, the fonts and color aren’t hard on the cornea and irises of your eyeballs because I wrote a long-ass blog this time. I’m not the best website designer, either, ya know. I actually thought I would include having a new website in my year in review, but alas, I must wait until 2013.
Wow, 2013. Can you believe it? And to think we’re not supposed to even be here! Ya know … with the whole Mayan calendar thingy and all. Whatever.
If 2013 will be anything close to 2012 in terms of e-book sales, exposure, and just all around awesomeness, I predict 2013 will be the breakout year for not only me, but my partners, and publishing company The Pantheon Collective. Some cool ish went down this year, and the way I see it, it’s only going to get better. Here’s a quick recap of that “ish” :
1. After dropping my book A Hard Man is Good to Find to $0.99 at the end of 2011–a common practice of ours–the first quarter of 2012 started off with the most ridiculous sales bump I’d ever seen. We accomplished two things with one book never done before in our short time as a publishing company: eclipsed 1,000 copies in sales three months in a row and sold over 2,000 copies in one month alone (Feb). Total Amazon Hard Man e-book sales for the first quarter was 4,764. Crazy!
I attribute this phenomenon to dropping the price during the holiday season, great reviews, word of mouth, and the millions of new tablets and e-readers as Christmas presents. It appears people went nuts downloading gazillions of e-books the first few months—and that’s fine with me! Why the 2,045 e-book sales in Feb (not including print copies and Smashwords)? I have no idea to this day. In contrast, we kept Sellout at $2.99 and it sold about 175 copies in the same time span.
2. KDP Select, KDP Select, yada, yada. I’d heard a lot about Amazon’s revolutionary program, where authors reported record sales after offering their books for free. Only problem: You had to sell your e-book exclusively on Amazon for 90 days. That meant removing the book from other online retailers, including my own website. That kinda sucks. Still, since I had a few short stories, I wanted to experiment, so I gave KDP Select a shot.
I won’t rehash the details since I wrote three blogs on my experience (you can read it about it here). Let’s just say it started off with a bang, then crashed and burned. However, if you only have one book out and want to build a fan base, the program may be for you.
3. As I mentioned, I had a few short stories in my tool box, but this is the first year I offered them up for sale with professional covers and wider distribution. I originally just used Smashwords for my short stories, but I figured what the hell? Why not sell them on Amazon and expand to premium distribution through Smashwords online retailers?
Sales of my short stories have been slow, averaging about 5 per month for each story with very little promotion. However, I discovered a new tactic that I like: Whenever I make a short story free on another channel (like B&N), Amazon eventually matches the price and “sells” it for free, too. As a result, I have a couple of free stories on Amazon without using KDP Select (which is the only other way to make a book free). The Cut Up on Amazon has had around 1,000 downloads since I made it free on Smashwords a few months ago.
I launched four short stories this year, and they’ve helped lead to sales for my other works: Open House, When Happens In Vegas, Premature Eradication, and Black People Can’t Be Republican. I made The Cut Up free, and if you look on Amazon, Sellout is under the Customers Who Bought This Also Bought section. Having multiple works on rotation definitely helps with sales.
Note: I tried to include Open House on KDP Select, but Amazon rejected it. Why? Because I had an excerpt on an old website page of mine, a page I no longer used and completely forgot about. Amazon is crazy serious about that exclusivity rule, so watch out!
4. I was already active on social media, but I’d been neglecting the fan pages for A Hard Man is Good to Find and Sellout. I had over 1600 “likes” between them, but I finally realized I was wasting opportunities to engage my audience more with new content, so I now post relevant links and content daily (for example, I would post an article on interracial dating for the Sellout fan page). But I didn’t stop there. I not only created two more fan pages—one for Slow Your Prose: 25 Tips On How New Writers Can Improve their Craft and Black People Can’t Be Republican—I had Facebook ads for each one, setting a daily dollar limit. Facebook ads are very effective in attracting new “likes.” I started Slow Your Prose in late November and already have nearly 400 likes.
5. For some reason that I’ve yet to figure out, my UK sales for Sellout jumped in November. As of this writing, my Amazon UK sales are outpacing my US sales for December. I’m scratching my head on that one. Yes, I’ve had UK exposure, with interviews and even a feature in a UK magazine, but one feature was in the summer and the other was over a year ago. Why the jump now? Beats me, but hey, I’m not complaining! I’m definitely going to figure out how to capitalize on it, though! Matter of fact, I recently contacted a London freelance writer to see if she will review Sellout.
Other noble J-Dub achievements this year:
– Sellout and A Hard Man is Good to Find are on pace to reach 10,000 copies sold each, hopefully within the 1st quarter of 2013. Can’t wait to write the blog about that one!
– Met up with the Sistahs & Friends book club in San Diego and Bonded Through Books in Cleveland, OH. Had a fantastic time! Building Relationships Around Books (B.R.A.B) is definitely THE liveliest online bookclub on Facebook! I’ve had around 10 four and five-star reviews from B.R.A.B alone this year and they hyped Hard Man so much, I’ve probably sold at least 30 copies to their online members.
– Book trailer for Sellout went over 2,000 hits
– Went over 4,000 friends on Facebook. Approaching the magic 5,000!
Notable TPC achievements this year:
– When Love Isn’t Enough by Stephanie Casher eclipsed 5,000 copies sold
And onto 2013…
Yeah, it’s been a great year for TPC books. I would ramble on, but I think I’ve done enough, so stay tuned for part II of this series, 2013: The Year in Preview! I will list my predictions, upcoming works, and what The Pantheon Collective has planned! Hmm … maybe we’ll publish someone else????
On that note … MERRY CHRISTMAS!