In my weekly chat with my author friends Zoe Burton and Leenie Brown, we discussed our top ten best sellers for 2018. I’m inordinately proud of myself. 2018 was probably the hardest year of my life emotionally. We moved twice. The first time was to my childhood town and for reasons I won’t get into here, I lost any residual social net I had. It’s a special form of torment to know you are friendless in the world and to fear seeing reminders of happier days everywhere you go. By the time we had to move again, it was a welcome relief.
In the first part of the year, I also suffered through bouts of extreme intestinal issues. I ended up doing a colonoscopy and an endoscopy but both turned up inconclusive. There was no medical reason for my constant bathroom trips.
I also started the year by homeschooling my autistic son but his ABA therapists recommended he try public school, even though the school was only willing to put him in an Autism program at a different school. It involved driving an extra 20 minutes each way and for a time, he was secluded in a secure room with nothing but a chair and a table. All supplies were kept in the hallway. He was also released after only 2 hours. Eventually, he adjusted to school rules and finished the year entirely integrated in the first grade classroom, going a full day, and without an aide. His improvement was amazing!
I put Secrets of Pemberley on a pre-order so I would force myself to write and finish it. I had learned from so many other moves that I would get busy with life adjustments and allow myself to be too depressed to work. It was close, but I got it done in time!
I experimented by putting The Secrets of Pemberley in Kindle Unlimited. It pays the author by the number of pages read. Therefore a novel will likely earn more than a novella unless the novella attracts far more readers. Since The Secrets of Pemberley was a long novel, I thought it would do well in Kindle Unlimited. I thought it would attract new readers as well. Unfortunately, that did not end up being true. I compared the numbers between SOP and my other novel releases and I had the exact number of my people who usually buy, who didn’t this time, had read the book and I got paid less for it. It didn’t attract extra readers at all. I took it out of KU after the first 90 days and since then, it’s slowly earned nearly $9,000. I would usually have earned that in the first 90 days.
After its release at the end of March, my intestinal issues increased. It was impossible to work much on anything. Inexplicably, they stopped in June, just when we were moving.
Again, I knew I needed to set a goal to meet. I put the first book of the Loving Elizabeth series on pre-order for early July. I set a personal goal for myself to do all three books back to back. I planned on releasing the second one in August and the third one in September or maybe October, depending on how school went for my kids. I pushed hard and released Reunited at the end of July!
Since their release, Pledged and Reunited have earned $2800 each and nearly everyone who has bought Pledged has bought Reunited. The sales are a little lower than my novellas usually get. However, I believe that is due to the fact that they were a series.
I didn’t get as much done in August as I had planned. I went out of town for the Younique convention (I also sell makeup), my husband was out of town, and my son had issues with his day camp. We had planned to travel some in the month and that didn’t work out. Teddy was also sick with strep once. I had a UTI before the convention and just felt awful and run down after it.
The kids started school in September and I was a basket case of nerves. I could tell right away there were going to be issues with the school and following Teddy’s IEP. I didn’t expect them to not communicate with me at all, to ban me from his classroom, or to have a new rule every single day.
We evacuated for a hurricane in the second week of September and then it was like starting all over again with school and routines. On September 20, I got told that I’m officially a diabetic. I had already lost 10 pounds since August by cutting out eating out so much. I began a low carb regimen and have lost another 20 pounds–although it did not always stay off as I ate off plan many times.
My daughter also had many outbursts and escalated defiant and violent behavior. Deciding enough was enough, I got her an emergency evaluation through the local community services board since it was going to take weeks before a pediatrician could get her in and then weeks after that before they could refer her to a pediatric psychologist. They erroneously diagnosed her with Oppositional Defiance Disorder after watching her for 20 minutes. Thankfully, I had a few friends who were suggesting I research what Autism was like for girls. I am glad I did because I noticed she had trouble at transitions, she had huge expectations that she couldn’t let go, that she mostly mimicked other kids but didn’t seem to really engage with them, and loads of more signs. I decided to write down her entire life history and things became so much more clear after that. Unfortunately, the services at the Community Services Board were unhelpful. They completely ignored my daughter and talked solely to me and about things like saying no. Well, goodness. I just had never thought of that before! *eyeroll*
Finally, she had an appointment with a pediatrician who mentioned a pediatric psychologist who didn’t have long wait times. Unfortunately, she didn’t accept our insurance and we had to pay for it entirely out of pocket. We were blessed that we had the money for that, though. After several sessions which lasted several hours, she has been diagnosed with mild Autism, borderline severe ADHD, anxiety, and depression. She begins ABA and play therapy later this month.
At the same time, things were coming to a head for my son at his school. They had an IEP meeting in which they threw out everything his past instructor made and didn’t even remotely follow the federal laws. I am still deciding if I want to bring a case against them. My husband and I decided to give them another try for a few more weeks and during that time, I knuckled down.
I finished Treasured and it went live on November 20, just a few days before I withdrew my kids to homeschool. I managed to finish my Christmas story for the year, How Darcy Saved Christmas in the first week of homeschooling and it was published on December 4. Together, those books have earned about $2,000 in a little over a month.
I also released a backlist anthology toward the end of October. My big anthologies are great income producers. I find a common theme or something that can bind the stories together. They’re typically several hundred pages long. Desperately Mr. Darcy is over a thousand pages. Even though they’re older stories, it’s my top earner of the year, coming in at just over $10,000.
All in all, my new releases earned $16,450 this year. My backlist anthologies earned $17,500. That means my stand alone back list made $11,613. I rang in the New Year at $45,000 for the year which was $12,000 more than I made in 2017. I published 5 unique works in 2018, compared to only 3 in 2017. I don’t know how The Maid of Inverness is fairing, as I only get quarterly reports. However, I count that as simply extra unexpected money. It’s worth noting that several books from my backlist have earned more this year than new releases did. Mr. Darcy’s Bluestocking Bride earned $3500 for the year and Mr. Darcy’s Miracle at Longbourn earned $1100.
I said in my opening I’m proud of how I did for the year and I would be at any rate. $45,000 is nothing to sneeze at, even if it’s not all profits. A growth of $12,000 in a year is great for a small business. But what really makes me proud is when I look at the difference between that and when I began publishing. I’m not in competition with anyone but myself! At the end of 2014, I had earned (not even received) $6,700. I looked at that number and thought that I should keep publishing to help my family. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be earning $45,000 a few years later. I can also tell you, no one else thought I would be either. It took a few pay checks for my husband to see publishing my stories as anything other than a hobby. It took years before I told anyone else–even my mother. Once I did, the reactions were usually skeptical. They also all thought that I would quit before too long.
Well, I have proved something to myself and all of them! I have kept this up during 7 moves, 2 autism diagnosis, 5 new schools for my kids, 2 stints at homeschooling, 3 severe medical issues for myself, and more bouts with anxiety and depression than I can count. There is no guaranteed income in publishing. There’s no steady paycheck I’m getting even if I write 40 hours a week. I have to write what people want to read. I have to FIND those readers. I’ve written every word of 27 books. I’ve found readers for each and every one of them. And they’re books that are still finding their way to readers even 4 years after their publication.
Let me leave this post with this word to you. You can accomplish anything! Don’t look at where you are! Look at where you want to be! Set the goal, then do the work. Believe in yourself, I do!