2023 — Year in Review
Everything that happened in 2023

2023 — Year in Review


January 5, 2024



This was a weird year for me. There was no clear goal. No natural next step. No sequel to write. The trilogy was done and I could do whatever I wanted. FREEDOM! Ew. Hate that. I am a very structured person. I like to outline and plan and strategize. But I also wanted to keep writing. So basically, I ended up not finishing any novels and starting three. I had thought about and dabbled on Threadlight for a good five years before I started writing it, but I didn't want to do that with my next epic series. My day job was very busy this year, which meant it was difficult to have the energy to write and dream. If nothing else, I've settled on goals for 2024 and it should be an exciting year.

Since I always like to be transparent in my posts, I'll share a recent letdown. If you have been following along, you'll know that I am interested in traditionally publishing 1 or more of my new projects. That means I would need to 1) find an agent to represent me and 2) sell it to a publisher. I was very excited to meet a popular literary agent this year who introduced my work to his agency. One of the other agents expressed interest in a standalone novel I'm working on (Paramortals) and so I sent the first few chapters and a rough outline. My hopes were high! Unfortunately, they passed. I don't know if I'll actively pursue representation, but if an agent comes calling, I'm definitely open to chat.

I also read some great books this year!

2023 Highlights

  • Conventions: As nerdy as I am, I have never really had the chance to attend many conventions. This year, I went to three! It started with DragonCon in Atlanta, where I met so many authors and readers in real life that I’ve been chatting with for years. It was insanely fun. Then I went and sold 150 books at FanX in Salt Lake City with a group of indie authors. That was…tiring. Next time I’m definitely saving at least one convention day for fun. Lastly, my wife and I attended Brandon Sanderson’s Dragonsteel (again in Salt Lake City). This was the most fun because not only was my wife there with me but she was on multiple panels. So I got to be the cheerleader. Definitely looking forward to more conventions in the future! Currently planning on attending Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle in 2024.
  • Kickstarter: The most obvious highlight was the Kickstarter. Ironically, I looked back at my 2022 — Year In Review post and noticed that it was my first public announcement about the Kickstarter! I’d been planning it for quite some time before that, including telling Petrik Leo about my plan in March of 2022, but had not committed publicly. Needless to say, it was far more successful than I could have hoped, and the book turned out exactly as I imagined. You can find the full financial breakdown of the campaign below.
  • Short stories: This was the first year I really started writing short stories, and I kind of love the format. As someone who wrote a lot of poetry growing up, a more terse storytelling medium really works well with my brain. The first story I released was Five Silver Rings, and then later I published The Snowmaker’s Child in the Advent of Winter anthology (fun fact: this story was originally called Child of White Noise and was mentioned in the 2022 — Year in Review). I have a few more coming out next year :)
  • Epic Fantasy Audiobooks YouTube: In January, I launched an experimental YouTube channel with 5 other authors to share our audiobooks for "free". The goal was to see if we could earn additional income via ad revenue without affecting sales elsewhere. Crazy enough, it worked—though admittedly, better for some than others. And it wasn't all smooth sailing. I had to reach out to friends who work for YouTube multiple times to rescue our channel from sudden death, but it has been really cool to see the growth. Even cooler that I helped generate $15k for other authors! While we have been careful not to continue growing the number of authors in the group, I expect we will add a few in 2024. Reach out if you are interested and have more than 3 audiobooks available! Metrics and more details shared below.
  • Indie Fantasy Fund: This year we had over 100 submissions, shared $10,000 in cash grants, and had service grants for the first time totaling more than $4,000 in services. This is always a lot of work for my wife and I, but we love being able to help people that we believe in. The current plan is to announce a unique goal for the 2024 fund focused around one particularly difficult area for indie authors. Keep an eye out for more details in a month or two.
  • Newsletter: In a world where social media comes and goes, email is the cockroach that lingers on. For authors, it's the one certain way to reach your readers, and this year my newsletter grew from 1,300 subscribers to 3,700! I only post once a month (at most), so I highly recommend jumping on board the train if you haven't already. You can even get a free download when you sign up.
Especially awesome to see that 6,000 people have marked the Threadlight series as "to-read"! I barely sold 500 copies of Voice of War the year it came out (after becoming an SPFBO finalist), so it's incredible to me to see the traction this story has gained over the years. Thank you!

2023 Awards & Lists

2024 Upcoming

  • TBRCon. Once again I will be a panelist for FanFiAddict's convention in January. It is the week of my birthday so I was quite busy, but they were nice enough to make it work with my schedule. Look forward to that!
  • Italian Translation. The contract has been signed to bring Voice of War to Italy! While I won't share any more details until the official announcement, I'll just say that I'm very excited :)
  • Secret Anthology. Another contract has been signed to bring a short story of mine into an epic new anthology to be launched in 2024. My story is currently titled The Silence of Decimation, but I may end up submitting a different story (see Project Updates)

Project Updates

  • Symphony in the Skies: a greek-inspired Epic Fantasy. This is the main new series I'm working on. You can read an early version of the first two chapters here. This project keeps getting bigger and bigger as I write, which is making it difficult to balance making a compelling first book while setting up the greater world and arc. But we're getting there. I will have this book done in 2024.
  • Paramortals: a gothic high fantasy murder mystery; Knives Out w/ Immortals. I have a great start on this book but have placed it on pause while I try to make more headwind on Symphony. But I really love it. Writing a murder mystery is a lot of fun, and mixing it with a high fantasy setting has been a blast. This is the first book I've written where I really want it to be made into a movie...
  • Tom Blade: John Wick meets Pokemon. Ridiculous? Absolutely. Awesome? You know it! This one I work on whenever I just want to write something fun and less serious. Not sure what I'll do with it, but loving the direction.
  • Short stories: I will just cryptically mention the titles of the 3 short stories I'm currently working on, two of which will likely be committed to anthologies in 2024. 1 - The Silence of Decimation (from the world of Symphony in the Skies). 2 - Tears of an Equestrian (standalone). 3 - The Boy with No Boon (standalone). Two of them have a complete first draft that I'm not completely happy with, and the other I think could be my best short story yet if I can get it right. I think you'll love them all.

Financial Transparency

Total Revenue: $162,000

  • eBooks: $3,600
  • Physical books: $142,000
  • Audiobooks: $12,800
  • Kindle Unlimited: $3,600 (~900,000 KU page reads)

Expenses: -$95,000

Total profit: $65,000

Okay, okay...elephant in the room. On the expenses side, this includes everything. We're talking Kickstarter expenses (broken down below), ads ($6,000), conference attendance (~$4,000), domain hosting, books, business cards, bookmarks, and more. I also frontloaded some expenses like ISBNs and concept art. Fortunately, Kickstarter pays you shortly after the campaign ends, so I've had plenty of cash on hand to work with.

Let's break down two interesting areas: the Kickstarter and YouTube.

Kickstarter expense breakdown: $81,000

  • $10,500 for Kickstarter deductions on campaign completion
  • $7,000 for Art (cover, illustrations, map, headings)
  • $1,000 for Editing (proofreading)
  • $17,000 for Production (deluxe omnibus, paperback omnibus, bookmarks)
  • ~$45,500 for Distribution (includes estimated Jan shipping)

YouTube Metrics: Epic Fantasy Audiobooks

  • Subscribers: 17,500
  • Watch hours: 1.5M
  • Views: 1.4M
  • Estimated revenue: $19,200
  • My revenue: $3,600
  • Author payouts: $15,600

Earnings distribution NOT including Kickstarter or one-time payments (e.g. advance)

As always, a huge thank you for bringing so much passion and hunger to the bookish corner of the world. The enthusiasm of readers creates a firm foundation for authors to invest their time and money. We (and I) couldn't do it without you. I am forever indebted to you for allowing me to justify spending countless hours dreaming and writing in the hopes of bringing you even a small amount of joy and entertainment.

To many more years,

—Zack Argyle