Last month was a good month. After the slow decline of book sales to a plateau of around £30 of royalties in July and August, sales shot up in September resulting in royalties of just under £75. I was starting to think it might be the beginning of a new trend.
I tried to work out what had caused this – I hadn’t suddenly done a spur of marketing; I hadn’t increased my advertising spend, nor had I run any promotions. I was, to be honest, a little stumped.
I sold a total of 31 books across my trilogy in September and 3,659 pages were read on Kindle Unlimited (I get paid the princely sum of around 0.3p per page read), so that means I earned a little over £10 from Kindle unlimited, and the rest was from book sale royalties (I make around £2 on the sale of an ebook and 60p on the sale of a paperback, if you’re interested).
I sold twice as many books in September than August – yay! But as I write this and I start to dig into the figures, I can see that I sold just as many books in September as I did in June. I just made more in royalties in September because I’d dropped my selling price for June, and I had more Kindle Unlimited pages read in September. If you dig into the data, there’s actually no obvious sign of a change in trends. Rubbish. ☹
I’ve been pumping money into marketing for months now. I employed an agency to manage my Amazon ads. They had little success. I signed them up in June – if anything, since I gave them a chunk of my cash, I’ve seen a decline in sales! I’ve certainly spent way more on marketing than I’ve made back in royalties.
So now what? The agency was convinced that part of the reason I wasn’t making sales was because my cover wasn’t quite right. I think most people agree that the original is nice, but I suppose the real question is, does it match the blurb? The cover draws people to read the blurb, if the blurb says the book is about something slightly different to what the cover suggests it’s about, then it will reduce the probability of that initial interest turning into a sale.
My marketing company offered to do a cover re-design for free. I don’t like to look gift horses in the mouth, so I accepted. I now have three shiny new covers – see below:
I uploaded them a few days back and since then – two sales.
These things take time! I keep being told this, I keep reading it, I keep telling it to myself. This doesn’t help left my spirits when I know I’m making a loss on my books almost every month.
I’ve been dabbling seriously in writing for two years now. It all began with The Queen of Vorn, book one in my series. That was back in October 2021, just after I’d come back from holiday having spent a week on a sun lounger reading and reigniting a long-lost passion for books and storytelling. I was bored at work, I had gaps in my life, so I filled them with writing. The first draft of my first book was finished that Christmas.
I’ve now written six novels, I’ve self-published three of them (these form The Homecoming Trilogy – the second trilogy I wrote). I’m now starting to query agents with a re-written version of my first book.
On top of my novels, I’ve written five short stories, I’ve been blogging once or twice a month for a year. I’ve been writing a separate blog about my childhood on Substack (which hardly anyone reads). I’ve made countless promo videos, I’ve built a website, I’ve been posting almost daily on Twitter and have collected over 24,000 followers. I’ve joined loads of Facebook groups and post regularly on those. I’ve built a newsletter subscriber list of over 150 subscribers and write monthly newsletters. I feel like I’ve been doing almost everything I can but I’m now starting to realise, writing and trying to sell books is little more than a money-draining hobby.
I’m not sure how much longer I can keep this up, I’m concerned my self-belief might start to fade, that I’ll lose interest, that my efforts will slowly drift to naught like has been the case for so many of my failed endeavours in the past. Perhaps.
But then I think about people that ride horses (bear with me here), having a horse is an expensive hobby, and people stick at that for life. Maybe I should accept that writing will never make me money, that it will just suck away my cash indefinitely. I suppose some people eventually make money riding horses, but most never will. They ride horses for the enjoyment. Perhaps helping people find my books so they can read and enjoy them is the best I’m ever going to get. And if I want to take the positives, I suppose at least a books will never get sick and generate a hefty vet bill!
Charlotte Goodwin is the author of the Gallantrian Legacy series. A set of six books (and counting) set in a universe where magic is real, there's just not much of it on Earth.