2018 has been a great year, but to be honest I’m glad it’s over and 2019 is here! I have so many great books planned and 2018 has been such a great learning experience. Here are my 2018 best-selling books! (In order of profitability, not number of books sold)
It comes as no surprise that my Celestial Downfall boxed set is the bestseller, but you might be surprised what comes in second place for my 2018 bestsellers. If you don’t recognize that second book, that’s because it’s my non-fiction writing guide for new authors on How to Write Your First Novel.
The benefits of a non-fiction book are that, as an author and creative entrepreneur, I can provide lessons learned and factual information. This often has more value than a fiction novel, which is why it is priced the same as the 3-book boxed set and has been almost as profitable. Yes, read that again, IT IS PRICED THE SAME. This is not an extremely long non-fiction book, compared to a 150,000-word boxed set. It took considerably less time to write, but only “I” could have written this non-fiction book. This is advice from my personal experience and what I can offer to other writers.
This leads me into a discussion point about putting all your eggs in one basket. I do not make all of my royalties from Amazon or even just from fiction books. Some books I have exclusive to Kindle Unlimited and some books are available on all platforms. I also utilize other formats such as Paperback and Audiobooks. I didn’t stop there. In late 2018 I began offering Author Services, such as book cover animations and professional blurb copywriting.
Here are what my earning percentages looked like in 2018:
While Amazon is still a huge chunk of the pie, it’s getting smaller (it was 100% in 2017 for me).
What I also find interesting is all the top books listed in my bestseller chart are book 1’s. While the sequels sell, nothing makes royalties like book 1, even if books 2 and 3 are priced higher. I don’t know if this means I have poor read-through or if that’s normal. Regardless of the reasons why, this encourages me to keep my series short. Boxed Sets are the best to sell, and the easiest to achieve a Bookbub promotion, so if I can keep my series to 3-4 books, that should be the ideal zone.
Number 1 Bestseller Book 1 is Valkyrie Landing, which comes as no surprise, even if it was released in November!
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy Romance
Lessons Learned: This book was part of a rapid release trilogy and was only released in November, so the fact that it’s in my bestselling book 1 is significant. It was my first attempt to write to market, however I missed the mark on that one and it still didn’t make as much as I expected it to. The cover doesn’t say “young adult” and while it’s beautiful, I was unable to successfully market it. I have plans for 2019 to move this book wide (it is currently in KU) and work on marketing to non-Amazon outlets. However, I won’t put too much energy into trying to figure out how to market this series. I’ll apply for bookbubs, make a few new ads, but in the end I’ll put my energy towards writing new books and learning from this one. (It’s still one of my favorite series I’ve ever written, no matter what!)
Number 2 Bestseller Book 1 is Soul Bound, which also comes as no surprise to me! I love this book.
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Lessons Learned: This is the start of an epic saga, and while it’s made some decent sales, I’m well aware that this is my “heart” series, as authors call them. It won’t allow me to out-earn my day-job, but I will be dedicating most of my writing time to filling out this series with new books because that’s what I love writing. I fully expect this series to flounder until I have at least four books out because that’s just how epic fantasy series work. I currently only have two, so I have a ways to go. I have 6 more books planned for this series. I’m a patient gal, so I don’t mind!
Number 3 Bestseller Book 1 is Fallen to Grace
Genre: Young Adult Epic Fantasy
I was surprised to see this book in my bestseller chart because it’s been permanently free towards the end of the year. However, this is the first book I’d ever written and it’s been around long enough to make sales for my 2018 numbers. Since I made it free, I started making decent audiobook sales, so it’s become much more profitable.
My 2019 plans include relaunching this series with new content and new covers, giving it a complete series rebrand. I’m very excited about this and I believe it will be my main money-maker in 2019 because I already have a stable audience for it.
Final Bestseller Book 1 is Daughter of Dragons
Genre: Young Adult Urban Fantasy
This novel was supposed to be sitting on my hard drive for over a year, however I decided to give it an early publication. I self-edited, purchased a cheap cover, and basically just put it out there to see how it would do. I did zero marketing and it’s made steady sales, landing itself profitable enough to beat out any sequels to my other series, which were much more expensive to produce.
I wrote this book to have something on hand to submit to traditional publishers, but when offers started coming in, I wondered what this book could do on its own. It’s earned out more than I would have received from an advance, and now I can do whatever I want with it and not be tied into a contract.
This taught me never to sit on a book. I have plenty of options in front of me what to do with this novel. I can either leave it, or I can use it as part of a relaunch. Until I’m ready, it’s slowly sitting in the background giving me much-needed passive income.
Final 2018 Comments and Lessons Learned
These are my opinions of what I’ve done right or wrong, and what I should do in the future to make writing a more profitable career.
- Read the bestsellers in your genre (at least a book a week) YES READ!
- Utilize multiple sources of income
- Focus on a single genre as much as possible (I’m still not following this advice, but I know it’s still true)
- Do not write multiple book 1’s, but focus on one series at a time
- Publish at least one book a month, and if that is not possible, take a break and stock-pile books. Let readers know when you’ll be back.
- Purchase a Book Cover which HITS THE MARKET (not just a professional cover, but also one that can compare to the bestsellers in your genre)
- Build an author team (editors, assistants, etc.)
- Advertise Book 1, but only at a positive ROI. If you cannot achieve a positive ROI, try different marketing plans. If that still fails, advertise the series in back-matter and as a final automated email in your newsletter. Don’t waste advertising dollars on a series that isn’t getting positive ROI.
- Get a planner. Schedule, budget, allocate time management, and treat your writing career as a business, then it will become one.
- Keep trying new things. Make sure you give new attempts enough time to prove out their worth. For example, you can tell if a Facebook ad is profitable within a few hours, but if you are trying to build a platform on Kobo, expect it to take 6 months to a year. Know when to give up things that don’t work and know when persevere.
- Don’t be afraid to write to market. It is not selling out. Also don’t be afraid to write what you love, but come to terms that likely it won’t make you as much money.
- Remember why you write! I love it and love it more each day!
That sums up my 2018 lessons learned, now how about some 2019 plans!
- Relaunch Celestial Downfall and publish two new books in the series. The relaunch will change the order of the series to be chronological, with the two new books being the first in the series starring Nethara (I love her tragic story) and one of the male angels (haven’t decided which one yet). As you can see above, Nethara is gorgeous!
Celestial Downfall and Azrael’s story was my first venture into novel writing two years ago. I had a lot to learn and made a lot of mistakes, but the beauty of publishing is that a relaunch is both a lucrative and fun exercise. By writing two new books, I’ll make sure old fans and new can enjoy the experience. I also have slated a designer which I booked out a year in advance for the new covers and oooh man is she talented, as you can clearly see. I can’t wait to share these!
- Rapid Release a multi-book series in the world of “Daughter of Dragons“
As I mentioned, in 2018 I published Daughter of Dragons, the first in a series, to see how the response would be. It has done very well on its own with no marketing and a low budget cover. I will be republishing book 1 with a new cover and rapid releasing the sequels. Very excited for this venture and it’s going to be a challenge to get all those books out, but with my time management and editorial and assistant team, I know I can do it.
- Continue the Dweller Saga (publish at least two more books this year)
Soul Bound and Soul Child are the first two books in a high fantasy series that takes a lot out of me to write. Above is a teaser of Book 3. It’s a huge world and many intertwining plotlines and character arcs. It’s so complicated that each new book I need a map commissioned to make sure I have my geography correct. Because of the expense and challenge of these books, they will not be rapid release style. These don’t make me money, but I love them, so I will continue to publish them. I have many books planned in this series and I view this project as a long-term goal. Even if they aren’t making me money now, they will when the series is finally complete.
Did you keep count? This means I will be publishing 16 books in 2019. The only reason I can do that is because 5 of them are relaunches, leaving me to write 11 books, or a book a month and I get to take next December off (basically I’m just continuing my schedule I’ve been doing already for half a year). We’ll see if I can keep it up!
Oh wait, I have one more goal…
- Become a USA Today Bestselling Author
This one is huge. I have teamed up with 21 other authors in this venture. It is not easy to hit the USA Today Bestseller list, as you can imagine! We all have written novels for this set and our books will be exclusively available in this set which is priced at an incredible 99 cents. My novel included in this set is an exclusive story in the world of Daughter of Dragons that won’t be available anywhere else and is a NEW novel never before published. The pre-order links just went live for the difficult stores, Nook and iBooks, so if you wish to help, please purchase on BOTH retailers! You have no idea how hard it is to get sales on these stores, but it’s required for hitting the list.
Thank you for reading this far. My writing wouldn’t mean anything without the support of fans and friends, and I hope I’ve encouraged my fellow authors along the way! Here’s to a great 2019!