I skipped a weekly update last Sunday since I was still at ConCarolinas. Next Sunday I'll be at HeroesCon. This week, Cheryl and I took a trip for her birthday to Damascus, Virginia to bike the Virginia Creeper trail. As I predicted in my last blog post, all of this has just killed my writing momentum for the time being.
In addition to all the travel, I also did something yesterday that was writing related, took hours, but didn't count toward my word count goals. I finally created an online inventory system for my books. I've almost certainly lost sales this year by not having enough stock when I head out to a con. I've now upped my inventory level for all my titles and, more importantly, have linked all my inventory into Square so I'll know when it's time to order more while I'm selling them instead of waiting until the day I'm packing for a con to discover what I still have. Unpacking every book I had in stock, sorting them, rearranging shelves so I can more easily store what I have, and keying the inventory into Square ate up my whole afternoon yesterday, but now that it's done it should pay off moving forward.
This week, I was listening to a radio story about a musician who wasn't releasing her new album digitally but was instead only going to release it as a CD. She talked about how CDs might not sell as well in stores, but they still sold well at concerts. It made me realize that my career has kind of become that of a gig musician. Last month I had more revenue from selling books at cons than I made in online sales. This pattern will likely hold true at least through August. Online sales in theory have less cost, but the landscape of digital sales has changed a lot in the last few years and now Amazon has sort of changed the rules to a system where you have to pay to play. If you aren't running ads, your books disappear.
There's a lot of cost involved in selling books at conventions, but the raw dollar profit on a physical book is much larger than the royalty on most ebooks. My ebooks sell best when I discount them. So, from time to time I've done 99 cent promos on my dragon collections, and these are always profitable compared to what I spend on the ads. But, at 99 cent, selling 45 books earns me a royalty equal to the profit I make selling one trade paperback dragon collection at a con. And, at cons, the competition is less intense. I'm not going to conventions where George R. R. Martin or Brandon Sanderson are sitting next to me selling their books. At a lot of the cons I do, there are only a handful of other authors, and most aren't targeting the same audience. So, for now, doing cons most weekends seems to be the most reliable way of turning my time into money... with the one long term cost, for now, seeming to be a loss of hours spent actually producing new fiction.
The only way forward is forward. I used to balance a day job with writing a couple of books a year, so I see no reason I shouldn't be able to balance all these conventions with producing at leas the same number of books. And, I feel like I'm spending a lot of time beating myself up for making it to June without having released a new book this year, and kind of ignoring the fact that I have actually produced the first draft of one novel and am creeping toward the final chapters of another. Little by little, the writing is getting done. I'm still on track to release two books this year. And, unless the bottom completely falls out, I should have a more profitable year this year than last. It's hard work, but anyone who thinks that making a living as a writer is easy is delusional. It's still so much more rewarding than anything else I've done in my life to earn an income.
Welcome to my worlds!
I'm James Maxey, author of fantasy and science fiction. My novels include the science fantasy Bitterwood Saga (4 books) the Dragon Apocalypse Saga (4 books), numerous superhero novels including Nobody Gets the Girl and the Lawless series, the steampunk Oz sequel Bad Wizard, and my short story collections, There is No Wheel and Jagged Gate. This website is focused exclusively on writing. At my second blog, Jawbone of an Ass, I ramble through any random topic that springs to mind, occasionally touching on religion and politics and other subjects polite people are sensible enough not to discuss in public. If you'd like to get monthly updates on new releases, as well as preview chapters and free short stories, join my newsletter!