Last year I made over $18,000 US dollars selling my Sci-Fi novels on Amazon. At first glance that sounds AMAZE BALLS. But in reality, it’s just a blip on the radar for a ten year career writing and selling genre novels. Most years I’m lucky to make a couple of hundred dollars. In fact in 2016 I made $200 for the year. Not even enough to tell the IRS about. That’s pretty sad. I have 12 novels in my back list but when nobody knows who you are, they don’t sell.
Before last year my biggest success came with my first novel, Starstrikers. It earned about $3,000 US when it came out. Sales climbed and then fell in the classic three month bell curve and then I was back to nothing for the better part of a decade. Back then, I didn’t have a back list so folks read Starstrikers and then had nothing else to purchase. My next novel didn’t come out for another year and then I published at least one per year since. But nobody who purchased Starstrikers knew about the new books and so I had no sales to speak of. For a decade. That’s ten years of writing and publishing in a complete vacuum.
Then last year I put out a novella called Corvette that I hoped would attract people to my Sci-Fi series. I wrote it to market, using standard tropes and what do you know, it took off! Only this time I was ready with a twelve book back list. Readers who enjoyed the novella, did eventually try the series and my sales continued to jug along at a decent clip after the initial bell curve. By the end of the year I was making about $400 US per month.
So far in 2018, one month in, I’m making about half of that per month. If the trend continues, I’ll be making next to nothing in a few months. So much for the back list.
Cheered on by the success of the novella, I wrote a sequel and published it over the holidays. Nothing. No interest at all. Sales are flat. But I continue to write the third book to finish out the trilogy. It is doubtful that I will write any more books related to Corvette, even though I have plans for at least nine total. Book 3 will drop this Spring and then I’m back to my original series.
In all likelihood, I will continue to write at least two books a year until the series is complete. I don’t write to become rich and famous. I write because I have to. I’m sane when I write. But most of all I write because it’s fun. When the fun subsides, I’m likely to stop writing.
In 2018 I will write two books. One is Book 5 of my Star Saga and the other will be a sequel to my Mystery novel, Null Pointer. Next year I plan to write Book 6 of the Star Saga and probably a vampire novel. Just because.
Below are the numbers from 2017 per book.
These are my numbers from 2016.