Lookback and Financial Transparency
2022 — Year in Review
January 13, 2023
Wow! What a year!
From completing my first series to being horribly sick for weeks on end, it was quite the rollercoaster. Honestly, it's difficult to balance a demanding full-time career with the demanding needs of indie authorship. Not to mention having two young children! Writing, editing, marketing, distribution, social media, etc. There is always more to do than time in the day, but you all make it worth the effort.
Thank you for supporting me in this journey!
As you know, I love transparency, and so I thought I'd share a few related thoughts. I'm in a bit of an in-between state as far as success goes. Many authors will look at me and think I'm wonderfully successful. Others—who know better—will look at me and understand that I've sold no where near enough to consider this a career (see Financial Transparency below).
The truth is that success as an indie author is different than a traditionally published author. There is no force driving your books into the hands of readers. No entity with established trust (like Tor or Orbit). Your book's success is directly tied to its mainstream marketability, and that is directly tied to your chosen tropes and sub-genre. In other words, does Amazon know who to show your books too? Of course you need to be a good writer but, if your books have dragons and romance, or if you write LitRPG or Progression fantasy, you are far more likely to make money as an indie author. There is a reason many popular names have shifted in that direction (Will Wight, Rob J Hayes, Zamil Akhtar, etc.)
And what does that mean for me? Well, to be clear, I'm certainly doing well enough to continue writing! But not so well that I shouldn't consider changes. Rather than write in one of those niches, I'm planning to query out my next series to agents and editors. I want to write the story I want to write, and I don't want to have to fit it into the mold of what makes an indie best seller. So, if you know any agents that might be interested in representing me, let me know :)
Okay, let's talk about 2022!
- Bonds of Chaos (ebook, audiobook). This was the hardest book yet for me to write for a few reasons. First, because I was scared! Ending a series is difficult. What is the right balance of happy and sad? Surprise vs expected? The second reason was because it was the first book where everyone was together the whole time. It sounds awesome, until you have to figure out what everyone is doing during every conversation and event! But it worked out, and I'm thrilled that people enjoyed the conclusion.
- Threadlight Box Set (ebook, audiobook). This was something I was particularly excited for, especially in audio form. Many audio listeners don't like to spend their Audible credits on short books, so wrapping up a series for a single credit has become very popular. I know indie authors making six-figures just with an audiobook box set. No, I don't expect that from mine, but I do think it's a great deal to introduce more readers to the series. There's also related news here for 2023...
2022 Awards and Lists
- SFFOasis Indie Book of the Year - Bonds of Chaos
- 2022 Favorite Series - FanFiAddict
- Top 10 Favourite Books of 2022 (#1) - Dominish Books
- Top 10 Reads of 2022 - Wolfmantula
- Top 10 for 2022 in Fantasy & Sci-fi - Shelf Centered
- Top 10 Favorite Adult Fantasy Series - Portable Magic
- My 10 Favourite Books of 2022 - Beneath a Thousand Skies
- Top 5 Reads of 2022 - Scotts Foray Into Fiction
- Favourite Books of 2022 - Library of a Viking
- Top Ten! Best Audiobooks - Andrew's Wizardly Reads
- r/Fantasy Top Self-Published Novels - 7th place
- TBRCon 2023. Last year, I participated in the virtual fantasy conference put on by FanFiAddict, and I had a blast. This year, I'm excited to do the same! Can't share all the details yet, but I will say that my panel will be Friday Jan. 27 at 6pm EST. It's going to be great!
- Indie Fantasy Fund. For those who aren't aware, last year my wife and I started a nonprofit with the goal of helping indie authors improve the quality of their products. Last year we had 140+ authors apply and awarded $1,000 to six winners. We'll be kicking it off again in a few weeks and hope to have the same (if not more) impact! We're hoping to have the non-profit paperwork completed soon to allow external donations as well.
- Special Edition Omnibus Kickstarter. You read that right. This summer, I will be running a Kickstarter to create a special edition of Threadlight, with Sanderson's leatherbounds as the inspiration. I'm working through the details over the coming months, but let me just say that it's going to be spectacular! Special cover. New illustrations. And other exciting additions.
- The Fall of Cloud Seven, Book 1 of Symphony in the Skies. Any of you who have been following along to previous updates will be familiar with this one, and I'm excited to say that the book is progressing nicely! It is about 10% completed, but the beginning is the hardest part for me (finding voice for the characters, settling on worldbuilding, etc.), so I expect it to go more quickly from here. This new series is going to be so good. Gah, I wish I could show you the map—I mean, I could...I do have the power...but I shouldn't, yet. Let me just tell you that it is GLORIOUS.
- Hymn of Ascendance. This project is a standalone prequel novella for the Symphony in the Skies series, centuries before the series takes place. I've plucked away at this a little and have the structure and outline set. Will hopefully release alongside The Fall of Cloud Seven, or maybe a week before to be spicy.
- Child of White Noise. How about we throw in a standalone short story set in the world of Symphony in the Skies? This takes place in the same time period as the series, and will likely not be the only short story I write in this world. If I get stuck on the other books, I like to have something else I can work on, and short stories are perfect for that.
- Total Revenue: ~$16,000 USD (+100% y/y)
- Expenses: ~$7,500 USD (+1% y/y)
- eBooks: 2,800 (+86% y/y)
- Physical books: 690 (+280% y/y)
- Signed books: 470 (+210% y/y)
- Audiobooks: 1,250 (+99% y/y)
- Kindle Unlimited: 826,000 pages read (+149% y/y)
The most obvious question is: what's the deal with those expenses!? Well, when you pay for everything yourself, it adds up fast! The narrator alone for Bonds of Chaos was ~$3,500. The map for Symphony in the Skies was $1,000. There were copy edits for Bonds of Chaos, ARCs, a banner for live events, and my newest expense...ads. Now that the series is complete, I've begun running both Amazon (for ebooks) and Facebook ads (for audio). That really kicked off in November/December, so some of the ROI is still in flight, but it has been looking promising!
You made it all the way here! Again, I cannot thank you enough for your support. To many more years of great stories and adventure!