Why 2012 Sucked… and Why It Didn’t

2012 was an interesting, confusing, frustrating, rewarding year for me. I can happily say I’m looking forward to 2013 with some relief.

1. Lost a job that was paying me pretty well. I struggled all year to establish a dependable income, and while I didn’t quite succeed, I did manage to pay the bills and keep the car. I basically reinvented myself and somehow made a little money at the same time. The freelance editing is going well now, and while I’ll never be rich, I’m doing okay and I get to work at home in my underwear.

2. Moved. We all know how awful this can be, but for the most part, it worked out. Except now I have to move again because my boss, DB, and the guy who owns the building I live in, couldn’t come to an agreement. Sort of like our congress can’t. So in February, I pack up and move again. It’s an almost sure thing I’ll be living in a building that was built in 1886, but which apartment I’ll get is still in question. DB will probably wait until the last minute to tell me, which is gonna drive me just a little crazy. What I pack depends very much on how much space I’ll have. I’m hoping for the 1000 square foot palace on the top floor but it’s possible I could end up with something smaller.

3. Published Five eBooks. I really feel like I have a handle on this writing thing now, but publishing was hit or miss. The first two titles of the year–Phoenix Rising and The Blue Paradise (get 20% off NOW!)–were issued by Dreamspinner Press. They did pretty well; my royalty checks were the largest I’ve gotten so far. And then I decided to self-publish the Precog in Peril series, because a) I thought my readers would come along for the ride, and b) I wanted to exert more control over my work.

I exerted plenty of control, and it was satisfying to take a manuscript from start to finish, on my own schedule. Some people loved my covers, a couple hated them, most didn’t care one way or the other. The editing was pretty darn good, thanks to my betas and my skill; one thing I learned right off the bat: do not skip the galley. Reading the final story in PDF format, no matter how many times I’ve already been through it, brings to light a surprising amount of crap.

However, the readers didn’t follow me, which was disappointing. So I feel like I’m starting from scratch.

Learning to work with the vendors who sell my books was an education in itself. While some authors bitched about Smashwords’ stringent formatting requirements, I sailed right through every time using my handy-dandy cheat sheet. What made me finally decide to drop SW was a) they said they were including my titles in their premium catalog, which meant they were being sent to lots and lots of vendors, but when I checked, my books never showed up, b) flat sales; there were so few, I decided they weren’t worth my time anymore, and finally 3) the free ISBN number SW gives you can’t be used at any other vendor, so what’s the frigging point?

About ISNB numbers: further research has revealed Bowker, who administers ISBN numbers, wants a different one put on every format of your book, which means, if you sell ePub, Kindle, and PDF, that’s three freaking numbers. Do you know how much this costs? $25 for a block of ten (the minimum you can buy), plus a $225 processing fee. If you sell a lot or have extra money, this probably isn’t a big deal, but if you are, like me, struggling to gain a foothold as a writer, that’s expensive as hell and there’s no guarantee of return on your money.

Amazon is easy to format for, makes publishing a breeze, and that’s where most of my sales are. Their up-to-the-minute reports are wonderful, and they pay on time, without fail, every month. Gotta love it! *blows sexy kisses to Amazon* Also, they don’t require an ISBN number, as they assign their own.

Barnes & Noble is another vendor I use. Because I only recently placed my titles there (hey, I thought Smashwords was doing it so I didn’t bother; live and learn!), I don’t have an opinion about them yet. However, publishing through them is easy and quick. Now if only I make some money there, I’ll be happy. B&N also does not require an ISBN number.

ARe does require an ISBN number, and so I will no longer be publishing there. (I was using the number Smashwords gives away for free, but I found out you can’t use it elsewhere and Bowker is getting pissed at them for various reasons, so yeah, gotta stop.) For those of you who like PDF format, you’ll have to get Kindle format and read it on your computer instead. Sorry. I simply can’t afford that kind of expenditure right now. Suki needs shots and her teeth cleaned. ;/

Do I want to continue self-publishing or return to Dreamspinner? Believe me, I’ve asked myself this time and time again, especially after releasing a new book and finding out sales are less than stellar. But I’m in this for the long haul, so yes, I’m going to continue putting out my own titles. I really do like that total control, being the ego maniac I am, and there’s something quite nice about handling the details myself.

LST Cover book 3 lgSpeaking of new booksThe Lightning Struck Tower is now available at Amazon and B&N for a very reasonable $2.99. It’s the third book in the Precog in Peril series, and all the questions get answered. No cliffhanger ending this time, I promise.

Because I actually published this on New Year’s Eve, I’m counting it in my 2012 books. 🙂

Here’s to a productive, creative, healthy new year! *toasts you with a glass of very expensive wine*


About Fenraven

Fenraven happily lives in south Florida, where it is really hot most of the year. Find him on Twitter, Google +, and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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28 Responses to Why 2012 Sucked… and Why It Didn’t

  1. kanundra says:

    Going to try the first in the series 🙂

  2. Sienna says:

    Hi Fen, regarding SW, it may just take some time for your books to get uploaded to the other vendors like B&N, etc. I know we waited months for Jenna’s book to appear, but it’s there now on the sites that SW mentioned. (We hadn’t really checked all, but when we googled her name, we can see her books on B&N, Sony, kobo, etc) I think you’ll see it on your Dashboard or something (I’d forgotten).

    But true, sales from that angle are way low, but it can be a resource for readers who read other formats, like pdf or lit or html. Just sayin’. 🙂

    Anyway, here’s looking forward to 2013!

    • Three of Wands had been listed five months and I saw nothing anywhere except SW. That’s too much time to wait. If they work that slowly, I’m surprised authors continue using them.

      I did consider the problem of format, but if readers want PDF, that means they’re reading it on their computer so why not get Kindle format and read that on the computer? And in the future, they might buy a kindle and they’ll already have books to put on it. 🙂

      I am definitely looking at 2013 being a Good Year!

  3. Isa says:

    I was just looking for your book on Smashwords to buy and couldn’t find it. Now I know why. 🙂 Sorry you have to move and I hope you get the bigger place.

    I still think about Phoenix Rising and I want to know more. Not so much the relationship but more about the story of the Phoenix and how they came to be and how they do things. I am also waiting for Tristan and Malcolm’s story to continue. I think Tristan has more of a story to tell.

    Hope 2013 goes great for you.

    Happy New Year!

    • I wish I could write all day, every day, because all my characters are buzzing around in my head, demanding their story be told, and new ones join them all the time.

      It’s a wonder I can sleep at night with all that racket going on. ;/

  4. therealtbaggins says:

    Hey, man, 2012 was great for me because I met you and AJ!

    A word about ARe …unless something has changed, they don’t require ISBNs UNLESS you want them to distribute to the iTunes store. And iTunes is a poor market for everything but YA, so I currently don’t bother. If you aren’t distributing to iTunes, just email ARe’s customer service and ask for a “placeholder” ISBN. Problem solved.

    Happy New Year and congrats on the new release! Off to buy…

  5. therealtbaggins says:

    Reblogged this on shadesofgay and commented:
    An announcement from my buddy Fen…

  6. A.M.B. says:

    Happy New Year! Congrats on your successes in 2012 (publishing five ebooks!), and hopefully 2013 will be even better. Good luck with the new book!

  7. AJ Rose says:

    Reblogged this on AJ Rose and commented:
    Fen’s third and final installment of the Precog in Peril series is available. Go get it!

  8. suze294 says:

    Happy New Year!
    Got The Lightning Struck Tower earlier and will start the series probably tomorrow – looking forward to reading them all!

    • All of them, one after the other. 🙂 Enjoy!

      • suze294 says:

        Read Three of Swords yesterday, really enjoyed it! There we all were, floating down the river (saddo that I am I was even following the trip on google maps!) then wham, all the mystical parts came flying in. Glad I waited til I had all three books – only got to get through doing the shopping before I can start Knight of Wands.

  9. diannegray says:

    I use SW and my sales are very low there compared to other sites. I might take a look at B&N because I haven’t actually checked to see if SW has put my books on there yet.

    Thanks for all this great advice – you’re a treasure 😀

    • Well, take all my advice with a grain of salt, because I make mistakes and I sure don’t know everything. I mean, silly me! I really did think it was okay to use that ISBN from SW elsewhere… until I found out I couldn’t. Publishing books is like raising kids: neither comes with a manual.

      Fortunately, there are people who will leap in and correct me when I’m wrong, and to them, I say, “Thanks!”

  10. Tabatha Heart says:

    I”m glad to hear that 2012 wasn’t a total disaster and that you took it as also being a great learning experience. I’m like you, although 2012 wasn’t terrible I really hope that 2013 goes more my way. Keep us updated! I love to read your books and blog 🙂

  11. Elin Gregory says:

    Happy new year! : Am looking forward to the tower coming out. I plan to binge read all three books.

  12. Marla says:

    I’ve got a Nook and snatched up Three of Swords as soon as I could…really liked it too! Just bought Knight and see that Tower is now out too..yay! Now I understand why both were available sooner. Happy writing and Happy New Year!

  13. Enny says:

    B&N only sells ebooks to US and UK residents (i.e. not to for example Canadians) and Amazon adds a hefty $2 surcharge to their books if the buyer lives in a country that doesn’t have its own Amazon store plus the author gets only 35% royalties instead of the usual 70%.


    In order to make international buyers more likely to buy your book, it’s a good idea to sell the book at least at one place where it’s convenient for them to buy the book, for example All Romance ebooks, Kobo, Smashwords or Rainbow ebooks.

    Regarding the ISBN problem, I can understand why an indie author doesn’t want to pay those outrageous fees Bowker charges. For ebooks it doesn’t matter all that much since they’re not sold in bookstores and are rarely available in libraries. BUT if you don’t want to shell out the money, be aware of the fact that in that case for example either Amazon or Smashwords will become the publisher of the ebook, not the author or the indie publisher. There is an option when assigning an ISBN to choose “multiple format” but that only is correct when you sell all the different formats in one bundle. If the formats are available individually, you need separate IBSNs for each format, so selling only for example epubs is an option.

    For curiosity’s sake, I just took a look at the download numbers for Kaje Harper’s free story Compensations which I formatted (and design the cover for). The highest number of downloads were for the pdf (173), followed by mobi (168) and then epub (128). I then checked a number of other downloadable books and the pdfs were always the ones that were downloaded the most, sometimes twice as often as other formats. So it’s safe to assume that a lot of people prefer to read a pdf. I can’t get the Kindle app for my Android tablet (long and frustrating story) and I personally don’t like to read on my computer so I prefer epub or pdf since there are less limitations to those formats.

    • ARe was very helpful with providing me with a provisional ISBN number in order to publish at their store. Tower is now available there in PDF format, as well as mobi and ePub.

      Until this happened, I was upset I couldn’t get PDFs in the hands of those readers that wanted them. I’m aware PDF is still a popular format. Thanks to ARe’s willingness to work with self-published authors, now I can.

      As far as formatting goes, PDF rules. It’s beautiful, clean, simple. I like Kindle best next; it also seems to work very well on the reader and computer. ePub is my least favorite. It’s a bitch to format and even when you think it looks right, readers will complain of problems on their device. I like putting a good product in my reader’s hands. I take time to format carefully, but ePub often circumvents that care.

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