Today’s post will be my 2017 year-end review, and maybe my struggles and bittersweet triumphs publishing my Nefarious series will be of some encouragement to you.
A year ago today, I was dusting off an old flash fiction piece I’d written several years prior. That piece would then become the cataclysmic scene in Nefarious One: A Dark and Erotic Tale.
At the time, I’d been writing off and on for about fifteen years. I’d never considered publishing. I was a hobbyist. In hindsight though, my biggest regret is not starting sooner.
I graduated right when Kindle first came on the market, and at the time, I floundered around trying to figure out what the hell to do with my life. No inspiration was ever forthcoming, and I set aside my writing to take on a dreaded dead-end j-o-b. It paid the bills, for sure. But, there was no where to go with it. And to be honest, healthcare really isn’t something I’m good at.
I’m quiet. I don’t really like talking to people for long periods of time. I get annoyed easily with others demands. In short, I’m a selfish, irritated, and somewhat misanthropic hermit. So, writing dark macabre tales in the confines of my house just suits my less-than stellar personality. Also, being on my own demands tends to work out better for me. It gives me a sense of accomplishment to have my own goals and reach them, not the goals of others.
Anyway, so a year ago I had no titles under my belt, no blog posts, and absolutely no social media following. I knew a little bit about writing and had a story I could work with, but I knew nothing, I mean NOTHING about publishing. I started completely from scratch while working full time and having parenting demands and the demands of elderly family members to contend with. It was a balancing act.
The first thing I did was took up two classes on CourseRA. The first – English Grammar and Punctuation. This helped improve my writing, and having a certification related to the field I was hoping to break into certainly isn’t a bad idea. I got the certificate and passed the course with a final score of 94%. I also took a course in SEO. This wasn’t for a certification, but more for me to understand the basics and fundamental principles behind Google rankings.
At the same time, I put up a couple of flash fiction pieces on Literotica. This helped me get used to the idea of putting my work out there for everyone and their drunk uncle to read and critique. I got some good feedback, and I made a few lasting friendships with people on the forum that have turned out to be excellent beta readers for my published works. My writing wouldn’t be where it is today without their help. So I can definitely say without a doubt find yourself a good beta reader, preferably several.
I also started this blog. Most of my posts were on grammar, punctuation, and writing styles and techniques. Writing out these ideas and posting instructions for others to learn from actually helped solidify my own understanding of them. Plus, it added to my portfolio.
I kept working on the Nefarious series.
Now that I had a bit of a portfolio with my blog and few flash fiction pieces written and posted, I put up several profiles on indie writer boards. With this, I manged to get discovered by a start-up publisher. Hence, the idea for The Keystone Curse was born.
Along the way, I also managed to pick up a few ghostwriting and editing clients. All this time, I was slowly building up a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (I still can’t figure out Twitter, lol).
By May, I had Nefarious One finished, edited by Brian Paone, and illustrated by Carlo Clemente. Since I was writing in a steampunk world, which is a lesser known sub genre, I wanted to give the reader a bit of help visualizing what it would look like. Plus, I just like art and love supporting independent artists.
By the way, Steampunk is basically the Victorian era with more gears, better technology, tighter corsets and shorter skirts.
I enrolled in Nick Stephenson’s Course, YourFirst10KReaders, and started setting up the scaffolding for an author platform. Nefarious One went up on Instafreebie as a way to collect emails and keep in touch with my readership. At the same time, I launched Nefarious Two onto Amazon, and put it in Kindle Select. I continued with the series by writing the draft of Nefarious Three while working on ways to advertise the two books I already had out.
I ended up befriending a fellow author and we started the Prurient’s Bluff series.
In-person meetings are definitely out of my comfort zone, but I attended the Pittsburgh Freaky Fair as a vendor, and I would do something like this again. I am on a waiting list for another event in a different town slated to happen this coming April.
I ran a free promotion on Nefarious Two, and managed to hit number one in the category of Historical Fiction. This isn’t really a sustainable way to maintain rank, but it sure was fun seeing my title hit that coveted number one slot.
When I launched Nefarious Three, it hit in the top one hundred for Gothic Romance. At the time it released, I’d been doing a blog tour with Silver Dagger Tours for the series. This shot up my website ranking and I got a lot of new social media likes and follows.
All this time, I was still running cross promos and newsletter swaps with Nefarious One as bait to build up my subscriber list.
Unfortunately, life kind of got in the way starting in October. I was unable to finish Nefarious Four as quickly as the previous books in the series, and lost some of that Amazon algo love. But, with everything I’ve learned, I have a pretty good idea of how to make the Amazon search engine work in my favor.
All this time, I haven’t run any AMS or Facebook ads for the series. Last month was the first month I broke over $100 dollars in book sales. That isn’t the total amount I’ve made in sales, but it was the most I made in one month. The proceeds were spread out over the three titles in the Nefarious series and the eight titles in the Prurient’s Bluff series, which I did have to split with my co-author. That $100 was all mine, though. While it doesn’t sound like a lot, an extra 100 dollars in a month from something I made is a nice chunk of change. It’s encouraging, and makes me wonder what else I can do since this was only my first year venturing into the publishing jungle.
So, by years end, I have:
Almost 250 followers on my Facebook page
190 followers on Twitter
An email list of over 2500 names (I’ve gleaned the list twice now. Those are all active and engaged subs).
A Facebook group for erotica readers and authors at almost 170 members
A Facebook group just for my Nefarious series at just under 50 members
I estimate that I’ve moved almost 6000 copies of all my titles
A site that ranks
Several new grey hairs and deeper wrinkles
A business that is all mine
And best of all, several supportive friends who are also hacking their way through the publishing jungle.
Maybe this doesn’t seem like any great accomplishment to some of you, but for me, it is. I did all of this in under a year while parenting, helping a sick parent and a grandparent with Alzheimer’s, all while I battled adrenal fatigue and bouts of depression. What kind of writer would I be without that black dog nipping at my heels?
I’m a college drop out. I don’t have a background in writing or publishing and I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed. I hate to sound cliched, but if I can do this, so can you. If you need any advice or encouragement, feel free to reach out in the comments.
My goals for the next year are to keep building upon the foundation I’ve laid. Add a chatbot to my marketing arsenal, get chatbot clients, improve my email marketing strategy, and finish the Nefarious series and start the next one. I’m also going to revamp my KU strategy, put Nefarious One in Kindle Select and write a whole new short story as a magnet.
See you in 2018!