One of the joys of being an indie author is that every morning – or at any time of day – I can log into KDP Amazon to see how many – or how few – books I’ve sold. And now, with the new payment by pages system for Kindle Unlimited, I can even see how many pages have been read in each book that day. This is a vast improvement on the old traditional publishing system, where my agent negotiated a modest advance, and then, once a year, deducted his 15% before telling me whether I had actually sold out the advance and earned – wait for it – maybe £105! This was good news, he said, very promising – well, maybe. But for the whole of that year I was in total ignorance about how many books had – or had not – sold. Occasionally I would pluck up courage to phone the publisher only to be told, by some secretary or student on job experience, that they didn’t know, the figures weren’t available just then, it was very difficult, maybe if I rang back later …. and so on.
A different world, in which the author loses control of his work the moment the publisher has accepted it. (To be fair, I’m talking about trade publishing here – my experience of educational publishing, with Oxford University Press, is much much better. But even they only issue sales and royalty figures twice a year)
But it’s not all sunshine. The drawback of being and indie author is that you don’t earn a lot of money – at least I don’t. Modest amounts, yes, but not enough to earn a living, not in my case anyway. Luckily, in my case I have a pension, and the benefit of those OUP royalties to fall back on. But every penny is really hard earned.
So, looking back over the year, what have I achieved, in this paying hobby of mine? Well, in the first pace, I have retired from the university, which is a joy, and gives me time to concentrate what failing energies I still have. It also gives the students someone really young and enthusiastic, which I hope they appreciate. I was that young handsome lecturer once!
The big achievement of the year is that I now have three audiobooks for sale – A Game of Proof, A Fatal Verdict, and Nobody’s Slave. The first two are narrated by my beautiful wife, Susan Edmonds, and the third by yours truly. All three were recorded in our professional recording studio – the walk-in airing cupboard! It’s the best soundproof environment we could manage, and I think we did pretty well, quite honestly. But it took a LOT of time and effort, as I’ve described in an earlier post. Since each audiobook took several months, and a professional recording studio costs about £100 an hour, this was the only way we could do it.
These three books have, for most of the year, been my best sellers (if that’s not too grandiose a title) All three legal thrillers in the series The Trials of Sarah Newby continue to pop in and out of the Amazon top 100 lists somewhere, for categories like ‘mysteries>legal thriller’, ‘mysteries>noir’ and so on, though US readers, once so keen, seem to have lost interest recently – why? Come on guys – take a look! Meanwhile the award-winning Nobody’s Slave has the honour of being adopted as a class set book by a go-ahead high school in Michigan. Terrific! Only one school so far, but thank you @jentealteach!
Earlier this year I also published Women of Courage, a boxed set of three historical novels, available on kindle. This means that Cat & Mouse and The Blood Upon the Rose (both previously published by Simon & Shuster UK – see above) are now linked in one set with The Monmouth Summer – all about brave women in tough historical situations.
And that’s it, apart from Broken Alibi – the long-awaited (by me, anyway) fourth book in the legal thriller series The Trials of Sarah Newby. What’s happening to that? Well, I’ve written about a third of it, and got myself into a tangle with the plot. This always happens – I just make things difficult for myself (and for Sarah too, but that’s deliberate) Anyway, as of today, I’ve sorted it out (again) and by Easter, maybe, it will be ready. Once again Sarah falls in love, battles through a gruelling court case, is emotionally shattered, and fights on until, in the end … well, we’ll have to see, I haven’t quite got there yet. (There’s always the mysteries>noir category if she doesn’t quite make it. And there are always casualties along the way)
So there we are. As I say every morning, when I log in to KDP Amazon to check on my pitifully low sales from the day before, ‘Well, it’s not a lot, but it’s a lot better than nothing.’ And, as another tough fictional heroine not unlike Sarah Newby once said: ‘Tomorrow is another day.’
Happy New Year!