A Self-Publisher’s Fourth Year in Numbers

So, here we are again. Another year has passed and it’s time for my annual report on how my books have sold and gained reputation during the past year. As always, things didn’t go quite as planned, but that’s half the fun, right? …right?!

I published two books in 2017, Whiskey & Whiskers – an omnibus collecting the first three books in The 9 Lives of the Outlaw Known as Crazy Cat series and Polafornia – an art/travel book in collaboration with Ingvild Eiring about our trip to California in 2015. I sold a total of 368 books in 2017, which is awesome compared to the epic low of 170 in 2016.

I thought 2016 would be the year I was going to put some serious money into promoting my books, next I thought 2017 would be the year I’d finally get around to do it, but alas, 2017 ended up as the year I spent all my money and then some on wetplate photography. I did, however, get some of my photography featured in a few magazines: Norwegian online photography magazine foto.no wrote an article about Zerelda Glanton, Square Magazine featured a few images from Polafornia and Impossible Project Magazine wrote a great article about Polafornia. I also got invited to the #blihus photo festival in Oslo, where I had a stand with my photo books for two days, which was nice.

I have serious plans for my wetplate photography, so I don’t feel bad about blowing all my money on it, I even have a dedicated website in the making for my wetplate work that I’ll reveal shortly.

My plans for 2018 are as follows:

  • Publish Black Lily, the fourth book in The 9 Lives of The Outlaw Known as Crazy Cat series
  • Maybe publish a short story collection (the same one that was on my list of plans last year)

Last year I had in mind to publish a book collecting ten years of self portraits, but I realised I’ve been shooting self portraits since 1999, so if I wait a few years I can publish a mammoth volume collecting 20 years of self portraits instead. In December this year Ingvild Eiring and I will have been taking pictures together for ten years, and by the time we hit December we will no doubt have done more than 50 shoots together. We’re planning to put together a book, and maybe even pitch it to a few publishers. And while I’m revealing my long-term plans, I might as well tell you that I’m about halfway through writing the first draft of the sixth book in The 9 Lives of The Outlaw Known as Crazy Cat series. It might not look like it here on my blog, but things are constantly moving/building/in the making in the house of Loen.

My #2017bestnine on my @julieloen profile on Instagram

The Numbers

As you’ve probably deduced from the title, I’ve made three similar blog posts to this one in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Scroll down or hit the “Annual Report” category to find them. I started doing these annual reports and sharing the actual numbers of my success and failures as a self-publisher because I missed this kind of information myself when I published my first novel in late 2013.

I’ve done things a bit differently this year. In 2016 I threatened to “throw in a pie chart or a line graph,” I actually ended up with columns.

Copies Sold 

As always, when I say “sold,” I mean all copies in distribution, including free books, giveaways and gifts. This blog post is about being honest, so I must honestly admit that I’m not making any money off this yet and I’m still very much in a place where it’s all about building an audience. I guess the PDFs will pretty much speak for themselves, here’s the first one: Books Sold 2013-2017

Promotions

So little is moving over at Amazon and Smashwords, that I’m going to leave them out of this report. Like I admitted earlier, I haven’t done much to promote my books in 2017, but I have hosted a few Goodreads Giveaways and a couple of Free Book Promotions at KDP. I didn’t go out of my way to promote that I was running Free Book Promotions, I left it at mentioning it in Social Media, but most of the copies I’ve sold of Whiskey & Whiskers is, however, a result of KDP’s Free Book Promotions.

Ingvild Eiring and I hosted a belated release party for Polafornia in August (it was released in May), and to be perfectly honest it was an utter flop. It was a one day event at Cyan Salong in Oslo – a Saturday! We were there all day with books, prints, postcards and originals galore to sell. We even had a talk lined up about our trip to California, that gained zero interest. A friend of Ingvild showed up and saved the day, when she bought the book and a couple of prints, but all in all the so-called party was a major letdown.

As you can see, I waited until now to publish this post because I wanted to include the numbers from my latest Goodreads Giveaway.

Goodreads Giveaways

  • The 7th Bullet: Jan 17 – Feb 17. 1220 people requesting – 9 winners
  • Whiskey & Whiskers: Mar 11 – Apr 09. 1799 people requesting – 9 winners
  • Polafornia. May 08 – Jun 08. 1369 people requesting – 1 winner
  • Whiskey & Whiskers: Oct 09 – Nov 09. 2212 people requesting – 9 winners
  • Polafornia. Dec 08 – Jan 08, 2018. 1558 people requesting – 1 winner

Goodreads Numbers

Here are three charts, featuring the numbers of “To Read”s, “Ratings” and “Reviews” of my books on Goodreads. The numbers are the accumulated total, including all years, for each year. For example: My total reviews received for Embers at Dawn was 8 in 2015, 2016 and 2017. I didn’t get any new reviews those years, 8 are the most reviews of that book for all years combined. Goodreads Numbers 2013-2017. For some reason I’ve left out the number of followers at Goodreads earlier, so I guess I’ll start registering that now. I currently have 116 followers and 13 friends at Goodreads.

Social Media

As usual, I haven’t been particularly active neither here (on WordPress – sorry!), on Twitter (I still don’t quite get Twitter) or Facebook. My Instagram, however, is almost booming. I’ve even made two accounts in addition to my main account @julieloen. In October 2016 I created @aetherandinstant, that later became @studiostandstill – an account dedicated to my wetplate work. The idea behind that account was to have a place to record my progress and fails in wetplate photography from the very beginning. It has become my favorite Instagram account and people seem to enjoy it. The other new account, @polaloen, was created in February 2017 and is dedicated to my Polaroid pictures. I made @polaloen because I noticed on my regular account (@julieloen) that Polaroid pictures would often attract new followers, but I would lose them as soon as I posted something other than a Polaroid picture. Unlike @studistandstill, @polaloen is more of a project to shamelessly attract followers, and I only post Polaroid pictures there – no behind the scenes, cameras, equipment or other things that would make sense to post beside the Polaroids – it is purely a gallery. I also delete posts that get less than 50 likes, but I have yet to decide if the project @polaloen is a success or not.

Here’s my Social Media Numbers 2014-2017

Merchandise

Just like in 2016, I haven’t done much to push merchandise in 2017 either, and consequently haven’t sold much. The biggest effort I made was to promote prints for sale in my Tictail store on @polaloen.

I have sold exactly one book from my Tictail store and one print from my Society 6 store, that’s it. I am, however, bringing back my Etsy store very soon – a revamped edition dedicated to my wetplate art.

That’s it for now! As a small token of gratitude to the mad folks who got to the bottom of this, here’s a free copy of Whiskey & Whiskers (Kindle edition) – but be quick! It’s only free for three days.

 

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