The Grim Reality

So, it’s year end. Financial statements have been run. And once again I look at the numbers and ask myself why I’m doing this. It’s not pretty, friend. Not pretty at all.

How the numbers stack up in 2020

I have seven books in publication. Below is exactly how many copies I sold in 2020, whether print, ebook, audiobook or elibrary loan.

You didn’t advertise enough

Really? I spent $1073.94 in advertising and promotion in 2020, through Facebook targeted ads, and Kobo promotions. Facebook garnered no follow-on sales. Zip. Nada. The big echoing void. Kobo? Yeah. That’s where it gets really ridiculous. You see the amount of advertising expense above? A large chunk of that was to Kobo. To give away my ebooks. I paid to give away my ebooks. Let that sink in. And here’s how that went:

  • And the Angels Sang: 49
  • Caliban: 57
  • The Rose Guardian: 78

Absolutely no follow-on sales for any of my other titles.

Promotion on Smashwords went pretty much the same. But at least those promotions didn’t cost anything. With Kobo I get to pay to give away my books. Yeah, I know, I already wrote that. It bears repeating.

The books aren’t any good

Sure. Yeah. Possibly. But just take a look at the reviews. Pretty good overall. Enough that you couldn’t say the work is garbage, certainly worthy of greater attention, more sales, a bigger buzz among readers.

But the reality is…

…no one wants to buy your work unless it’s porn or one of the well-known names. Well, certainly readers don’t want to purchase mine. Sure, they’ll download it for free. They’ll pirate it all over the internet and dark web. You can find any number of sites with my work available for free. Pisses me off.

And while it’s true I’ve never expected to make a living from my stories, it’s also true I don’t like being taken advantage of, being taken for granted. Do you have any idea at all how long it takes to craft a good story? Sometimes years. And as a thank you some entitled individual decides the work is okay for free, or even stolen for free. But not worth the pittance of $4.99 for an eBook. Yes, yes, I know I’ve blathered on about this before, about how people spend more on a cup of coffee than they do on an ebook. And that blather has done no good whatsoever. But I still get pissed. And wonder why I even bother to keep crafting stories I can be proud of, sending them out into the world when plainly the world isn’t interested. Compulsion? Some sort of need? Who the hell knows? But apparently I’m working on another novel, putting together another collection of short stories, and developing several more writing projects. I’m insane.

All I’m saying is…

…if you’re going to be in the arts, do it. But don’t expect fame and fortune. There is no holy grail. There’s only the act of creation. That’s it. And once in a while, if you’re very fortunate, someone will actually hand over cash for your work, or even better tell you to your face they’ve been moved in some way by what you’ve written.

And that’s just the hard truth of it. Or at least my truth. Yours may vary.