New Blog Design

So I’ve been sick of what my blog looks like for a long time. I’ve browsed through the design templates many times, and never found one I was quite happy with. Then yesterday I was looking and found this “2014” design that just came out. I’m not sure how well it’s working out, but I like the layout better than the old design. Having widget columns on both sides seems cleaner, and allowed me to better organize the layout. The only real thing I don’t like is that it’s black and wide, when I’d prefer a slightly different color scheme. However, WordPress charges an extra $30 per year for the ability to customize your colors, and that’s not worth it for a blog that I don’t make advertising money or anything like that off of.

Speaking of making money, I just posted Radiance to Smashwords, so now you can find it both there and on Amazon. The main advantage of Smashwords seems to be that it allows customers to download the ebook in multiple formats. To the best of my knowledge, it’ll be exactly the same on each site, except that Amazon only allows downloads to the Amazon Kindle, whereas Smashwords can allow you to download it to a Nook or other device. Smashwords also offers it in PDF and Text formats for PC viewing.

It’s also been awhile since I’ve talked about ebook sales, so I’d like to mention a few things about that as well. I’ve discussed online advertising before, but I’ve been unable to keep up with the advertising campaign due to being too busy with school and NaNoWriMo. I like to share what I’ve learned, however, so that anyone else considering self-publishing a short story can maybe learn from the experience. When I publish Manifestation, I’m sure I’ll have a whole lot more to discuss about self-published novel sales, but for now the short story sales is what I can discuss. Here’s a basic rundown of the ebook sales I’ve had so far:

September: 15 total sales (mostly through my Kickstarter campaign).
October: 6 total sales.
November: 7 total sales.
December: 3 sales so far (2 on Amazon 1 on the new Smashwords account).
Grand total: 31.

Is that good? Is it bad? I honestly have no idea. The vast majority of those sales come from people who see me talking about Radiance on Twitter or here on the blog. A small number might have come from the advertisements I was doing. However, Amazon doesn’t tell me where customers were directed to their site from. On my blog, I can see whether someone reached my blog from Google or from a link on Twitter or someplace else. Amazon doesn’t share such traffic information with me (as far as I’ve been able to find). So it’s hard to say.

But the important question is, what do numbers like these say to a self-published writer working on building a brand? “Don’t quit your day job” seems like the immediate answer, but there’s more to it than that. See, I never expected (and still don’t in the near future) for Radiance to become a bestseller by itself that I would make a major profit on. The reason the short story was released was as a preview of my world and the Arcana Revived series, and as a supplement to the upcoming novels. Early next year, I’ll be releasing Manifestation and doing a LOT more promotion. When I do so, I’ll be able to advertise by saying things like “Did you like Manifestation? Well, here’s another story in the series for just 99 cents!” Or, I can get people to read the short story to get a taste of my writing and my world so they can decide if they want to buy the novel. Basically, Radiance is not, and was never meant to be, a stand-alone work. It has a complete story in itself, but it’s part of a larger whole.

I’ll also be releasing many more short stories soon as well, after Manifestation. So while 31 sales of one short story might not seem like much, it’ll add up when there are 10 short stories and 3 novels up there. And that’s the crux of my business plan: Putting out as much work as I can so that my readers have a lot of stuff to read. That’s also why I maintain the blog. It gives me a place to post other free stories to build interest in my writing.

So to me, those 31 sales mean 31 people who (based on the feedback I’ve received) seem to really love the story and are interested in getting more. And more will come! Which means everything is going according to plan. I may never be able to quit working a day job and live off my writing, but I’m building an audience and developing a full line of works for sale. Hopefully it won’t be too much longer before the other books and stories are out there. I don’t want poor Maria to get lonely, after all.

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