State Of My Personal Indie Nation — July 2011 Edition

31 Jul

All right, another month! Time flies when you’re being horribly unproductive–to be honest I kind of gave myself the month off, I was sick for a lot of it and Daughters Demanded Attention and I wanted some proper family time and I got some new games! And I needed a break and some days I was just plain grouchy and I was sick–I already mentioned that. So yes. Not a lot done. Anyway, let’s look at some numbers:

July 2011 Sales

Miya Black, Pirate Princess I: Adventure Dawns – 2
Miya Black, Pirate Princess II: Freedom & Responsibility – 4
Miya Black, Pirate Princess III: Fractured Lives – 2
Charlotte Powers: Power Down – 48
Resonance Book One: Birds Of Passage – 1
The Undying Apathy Of Imogen Shroud – 5
The Boy & Little Witch – 0

Charlotte Powers, you’re embarrassing the other books.

Being serious for just a mo, the only reason my gradual upwards trend has continued is because of the Charlotte Powers/Superhero Comics Chart fluke thing. I feel like I’m using a cheat code on that book, I honestly do. I mean, sales for Charlotte Powers ALONE this month outmatch last month’s TOTAL sales. In fact, I sold more copies of that book this month than I have in the five previous months combined. That’s crazy, that’s nuts!

Anyway, July is apparently a slow month for everyone so I’m not particularly worried about the low numbers on my non-flukey books, but I still feel that next month may be The Month. No, no, I don’t mean that in a positive way, I mean that next month may be the first month in which I sell less than the month before. Again, I’m not worried, I’m playing a long game with this thing, I’m just saying. Y’know. I’m prepared.

In any case, I’m really pleased that at least one of my books is selling, my hope being that if people like Charlotte Powers they’ll give my other books a try. And the sequel will be out soon enough, hopefully some of the people who are reading the first one will give the second a go and enjoy that too, and so on, and so forth, and in this way empires are formed. Well not really but you get my point.

Shall we look at a fun chart? I think we should look at a fun chart:

Here we see how sales for individual books have grown (or shrunk) over my first six months as an indie author. Again, Power Down kind of embarrasses everything else in terms of sales, but it’s interesting to see that the June/July sales slump that everyone seems to have affects even small numbers. Anyway, to be honest I’m just happy I’m selling any, even one in a month is at least something. Here’s another chart, showing my overall sales in my first six months:

Or ‘slaes’ according to my thumb-fingered naming of the file. I’m going to be honest here: the only reason I’m an indie author is so that I can make charts like this. Getting serious for another brief moment, this looks so positive to me. Frankly, it’d make me nervous if I saw a jump like some other indie authors are reporting–going from a dozen to a couple of dozen to a couple of hundred to a couple of thousand within six months, I’m not sure why but I don’t even want that. Selling, like, a dozen more every month than I did the month before, that’d be just about perfect for me. This month I sold 61 compared to 41 last month–that’s good, that’s nice. An extra twenty sales every month, that’d suit me down to the ground. To be greedy for a second, I’d also like the sales to be spread a little more evenly across my books. To get REALLY greedy, I’d love to see a few more sales for Birds Of Passage, I really love that story and I want other people to love it too. (See? Greedy.)

But enough faffing. Time to get down to brass tacks. What have I accomplished this month? Honestly, not a heck of a lot. Some words on the Charlotte Powers 2 first draft near the beginning of the month, around 20k I think. I did a lot of proofing and quite a bit of ‘reading old writing’, which isn’t productive but it IS fun. Oh, and I finally published Miya Black III, that was a relief. By the final proofing I was actually pretty positive about it, turns out it just needed a little polishing and tightening to achieve ‘not horrible’ status. I still freely admit that it doesn’t represent me at my best, but perfection is a crutch and even as it stands, as something I wrote two years ago and let sit for far too long, I’m still proud of it and I’m happy to have my name on it. Besides, without III out I can’t release IV or V.

Moving on, last month I said that I’d be more disciplined and I set goals for myself. I haven’t really–

Oh, hang on, I also made a website. That’s kind of productive. I mean it’s not NOTHING. And I feel really good about it, too, I’m happy with how it looks and how it works and I’m glad that now goes somewhere other than a sparsely updated news journal. I highly doubt it’ll help with sales, but it’s not really about that. I also spent a day cobbling together a partially automated NCX file generator. That might not sound particularly impressive, but the hours I spent making that will save me literally minutes in the future. Seriously though, mucking around writing NCX files manually was my least favourite part of formatting, now that it’s automated (even partially) I can transform an OpenOffice .odt file into a fully compiled and formatted .mobi file in less than an hour, and once I’ve got the framework set up I can make new versions in less than twenty minutes. This is great for proofing, with Imogen Shroud I did this big inefficient thing where I made changes in the html and odt files simultaneously, it was just a mess. This way, I can make changes to the master .odt file then convert the whole thing very swiftly indeed, really, I’m just so happy with my formatting process right now. So streamlined.

Apologies if that was just a mass of technobabble gobbledegook to you.

Anyway, before I interrupted myself I was talking about how I lacked discipline this month. Frankly, I was massively overoptimistic. I needed a break, but I didn’t realise this until after I’d set those goals. Some people would have soldiered on regardless, but not I. I had the COURAGE to spend days doing little more than slaughtering thousands of zombies while wearing a dress and riding a tricycle. Really though, I was heading for burn-out, I saw the signs and I acted to prevent this. If I’d pushed myself then maybe I’d have the CP2 first draft, maybe even the Against Darker Days first draft too. But at what cost? No, no, far better to take it easy for a while then ease back into things. And I wasn’t completely slack, I did two proofing runs of Miya Black III. Released it, too! Now I can move on to MBIV, finally. It’s always a relief to just say “That’s it, of course this could be better but it’s time to cut the cord and send this book out into the great wilderness” and hit ‘publish’. If any errors remain in the book, I trust that they are few and minor. To paraphrase a great man, “I’ve proofed all I can; I can proof no more”.

Let’s see, what else did I do this month–promotion? Ahahahahaha. No but seriously though, I guess that’s everything!

So! Enough about the past, what of the FUTURE? Well, I’m still taking it easy, but August is definitely going to be a month in which I ramp things up. I was (necessarily) slack this month, but the next will be different. For a start? Charlotte Powers 2. First Draft. Will be. Finished. Hopefully. With less. Sentence fragments. Than this. In fact, let’s make a list, lists are cool:

August 2011 Goals
1 – Take a deep, well-deserved breath at having finally hurled Miya Black III out of the nest.
2 – Finish first draft of Charlotte Powers: Power Play.
3 – Whatever, man, just do SOMETHING.

Against Darker Days first draft? Right now I have a very strong feeling that I should leave it alone for a while, that I need distance. I think I should listen to this feeling. That kind of frees me up! I might sit back and take stock of where I am and what I really want to accomplish in the remainder of this year. Publish Charlotte Powers 2, absolutely, but what else? Near the beginning of the year I listed the six books I wanted to release … Imogen Shroud and Miya Black III are out, and Miya Black IV won’t present too many problems (and I’m excited to finally work on it again), but aside from those two … I think Charlotte Powers 3, I’d love to have that out this year. Three books really feels like a proper series, don’t you think? And I have a good feeling about number three, number two is kind of ‘big’ but three will be a more personal, tighter story, I never have trouble with those (touch wood). Maybe that would be a good goal, Charlotte Powers 2 & 3, Miya Black IV and V … hmm. Anyway, I’m just rambling now. Maybe I’ll write Charlotte Powers III for this year’s NaNovel, continuing the trend. (Power Down was my NaNovel for last year–I wrote it in four days, fact fans!)

I also have kind of an itch to write a standalone novella, I have the barest scrapings of a concept in mind–something different to everything else I have out there, just a relatively simple story about regular (but interesting and funny and charming) people doing regular (but interesting and funny and charming) stuff. Kind of like a sitcom/comedy drama TV show, but in book form. Maybe around 40,000 words, I could easily get a first draft done in a week. Still thinking about it, though. Considering tone and content.

Anyway! I’m rambling again. Fresh paragraph!

It was a slow month, but a good one. Necessary breaks were taken, and I feel good going into August. It’d be nice if sales picked up, but I’m not really bothered about that side of things–love the sales, appreciate the sales, don’t get me wrong, but I’m focused on writing the best books I can, not on getting loads of sales. If that makes sense. Er. Well. You know. I mentioned it earlier in the month, sales are just a means to an end, success for me isn’t ‘selling loads of books’, it’s ‘finding people who are as excited and as enthusiastic about my stories as I am’. So you see? Long game. Looooooong game. In any case, it was another fun month as an indie author and I’m looking forward to the next.



Posted by on July 31, 2011 in My Personal Indie Nation


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2 responses to “State Of My Personal Indie Nation — July 2011 Edition

  1. M.G. Harmon

    August 1, 2011 at 02:53

    It’s good to see Charlotte Powers leading the pack! Single-handedly pulling up your sales numbers is the kind of thing superheroes do.

    • Ben White

      August 1, 2011 at 11:28

      Good point, it’s certainly in character 🙂


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