Monday, August 27, 2012

I found out why I'm only doing moderately well as a writer

A year ago I was as depressed as I had ever been in my life. I was writing book after book and barely anyone was buying them. I was very proud of them. They were funny or they talked about an aspect of life that no one else was talking about. But ultimately not enough people were moved by them.

I then posted on my Facebook page my idea about trying out erotica. I was hesitant because I thought that it would make me a pornographer. I figured that I was smart and I would be wasting my intelligence writing crap. Fast forward a year and I'm making more per month than my starting salary at my last corporate job. After I realized that there was money to be made, making more than my last corporate job's starting salary was my goal.

That, however, couldn't be enough. I started to realize what other people were making, and I realized that I wasn't doing that well at all. I was working extremely hard and it really wasn't paying off as it could be. And the outlet that was really under performing was the largest retailer in the world.

Last week when I started to lose my good vibes about how great my life is, I decided that I needed to do something drastic. I would take my last 8 stories and I would enter them into Amazon's Select Lending program. What that allowed me to do is offer them up for free all at once. Offering your books for free actually gets your name out there and it also puts your books into the 'Also Bought' section on other books. If your book has a good title, cover and blurb, the also bought section will sell a ton of your books.

What I thought was that either my books will pick up, or I will finally have proof that my writing is poor. The free period is now over and I learned something that I never expected. I know why my books haven't been selling and it has nothing to do with my writing.

Of the 8 books I released for free, 4 books are a combination of various sub-genres that I've been writing in since I began. The other 4 books fall into the sub-genre that the average American woman might enjoy. Readers picked up 3 times as many of the average American woman stories than the other books. They fell into 2 very grouped clusters that were separated by 40 places on the top 100 free books chart.

I then thought about the books of the latest author to reach $12K a month. I have done about 40 stories, 20 translations and 20 audiobooks. She has done 20 ebooks. That's it. But all of her books fall within the average American woman story parameters. I then thought about all of the other successful authors. They are all successful because of books that they wrote for the average American woman. I know why I haven't been successful! I think I knew this before, but I didn't KNOW it.

I learned a few other things. I got 2 reviews for my books this weekend. 1 person gave it 4 stars saying that there was a lot about it that she liked and then listed them. The other one thought that the story would have worked better if it were longer or a quickie. That person gave me 2 stars. What I took from these is that my quality of writing is just as good as those who are doing well.

The guy who gave the bad review also commented saying that the titles are "great". Believe it or not, that's half of the challenge with selling stories. I know the covers are good, so the blurb is the only thing still up for debate. But 2 out of 3 is pretty good. I don't think that I have to worry about that aspect of their presentation.

So, what I have learned from this experiment is that my writing quality is good, my titles are great and that the reason I haven't been selling more is because I was writing in the wrong sub-genre. I'm actually not sure if my experiment will result in increased sales of my books. That was the purpose of the experiment. But Amazon has dramatically changed their Select program since the person who originally used this technique used it to leapfrogged me in sales. It could fall flat for me.

But the most important thing for me is that I now have a direction. I know that if I can write 16 to 26 more stories in this new sub-genre, I will be moving a ton of books by the time I'm done. If for the rest of the year I could release 4 books a month, then I will hit that target by Christmas. That would mean one hell of a Christmas season for me. I could potentially reach my long term goal of $10K per month. I know it's a big number, but now I finally see it as possible.

On a separate note, I'm going surfing on Friday. I remember when I was kid, there were kids in my school that would go surfing. I went windsurfing, but it wasn't the same. I think windsurfing is cooler and more sporty, but I always thought of surfing as this otherworldly thing. Now, on Friday, I get to see what it's all about and I'm doing it with someone that I will have a great time with. That's pretty awesome.

After that, I am going kayaking. That is something else that a kid from my high school used to do. This time though, as soon as I found out that the kid was doing it, I wanted to try it. It only took me 18 years to get around to it. I'm very excited about that as well.

I have to admit, life is pretty great right now. It is exactly what I want. I remember a few months ago saying aloud what I wanted to make my life complete. I wanted 2 specific types of people to enter my life to fill in a few gaps that I felt I had in my life. Crazy enough, I got exactly that. And the way that it all came about was with such coincidence that it once again reaffirms for me that there is more to life than what we see. I again have no doubt about it.

Oh, speaking of there being more to life, I had an idea recently about how I could start working on my YA novel without committing to it. This is kind of weird, but I thinking about writing SciFi erotica. That's not the weird part, because many people write it. The weird part is that I'm think about using the stories to help me hammer out the worlds that I will use in the YA novels. They would be erotic prologues to books for 14 year old girls. See, I told you it was weird.

They would never be marketed together though. No one would probably ever know that they exist in the same universe. And these stories would be how the main character in the YA novels was conceived. I would use the same name for the planets and characters that would only be brief references in the YA books, and it would be from the same story telling universe. The experiment would also allow me test out the worlds and see if readers respond to them.

Well, that's it for me. It's amazing how far my life has come in a year. A year ago, I would have wished that I would be right where I am now, but I didn't suspect that I actually would be. Now the question is; Where will I be in another years time? Will I be making $10K a month or making even less than now? I might not even be here. Who knows. I guess that we'll find out in a year.