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By The Numbers: 1 Year In

No Heart for a Thief released one year ago today, January 24, 2023. When I decided to self-publish, I had no idea what I was getting into. When I released my first book, I only had an inkling of what it was going to take to find an audience. Now that it is a year later, I am only guessing at what I don’t know. That being said, I believe in sharing my journey so that others in the community can learn from my successes and my failures.


If you are here for the numbers, you can scroll on down to the costs and sales at the end of this blog. If you are interested in walking with me through the year stick around.

 

My strategy has largely stayed the same. These first couple of years are about finding a base of readers, even if that comes with losing money. The hope being that readers who enjoy my writing will continue along this journey with me and help spread the word as I continue to put out more and more books.

 

 

How does that show up in practice? No Heart for a Thief has had a baseline price of $0.99 since it released. I have put it on sale for free twice this past year, and I have given out as many ARCs and review copies as possible (review copies have been more restricted due to my enrollment in Kindle unlimited and the cost of mailing physical books).

 

Additionally, I have spent more money than I have made in order to produce high quality covers and books. I have spent money on a large variety of ads, to varying success.

 

It will be a long time before $0.30 in royalties (ebooks) will cover the cost of producing No Heart for a Thief. However, I hope that low price point has brought readers to my books who might not have given me a shot otherwise. This is a gamble that my stories are good enough to hook readers for the next book and the one after that.

 

Overall, this year has been very successful in my mind. I never thought I would have as many readers checking out my books. After one year, 201 people have rated No Heart for a Thief on Goodreads, 55 rated No Safe Haven, 16 have rated the upcoming Don’t Bloody the Black Flag. So, I want to pause here to thank you all.

 


 

Beyond money, investing in my books means investing my time in the community. Please don’t read that and equate that to “I am only interacting with people so they will buy and promote my books.” I LOVE this community. I am here to cheer you on, celebrate your wins, listen when you are going through it, and hopefully have some fun along the way.

 

When I am speaking about investing time, I mean I am making a conscious effort to be an active member in this community. It doesn’t necessarily come naturally to me. I am on TikTok, and I’m pretty sure it shows how much it doesn’t come naturally to me. I also am a father to two boys (4 y.o. and 2 y.o.) and a husband to an amazing wife. Between working my day job, being an attentive father and husband, and writing, I have very little time left. So I know I have to put in the work to be a part of the community however I can be. I apologize if there are times I have fallen short.

 

The opportunity came up last spring to be a co-host of a podcast, which is something I never thought I would do. But because I know how important it is to take advantage of opportunities when they come along, I said yes. It has been one of the highlights of this experience. I got to hangout with and speak with some amazing authors. It also brought my co-host, Nathan Klembara, into my life. If you don’t know Nathan, he is a genuinely kind and wonderful person. I appreciate him immensely.



This is getting a little ranty, so I will cap this with saying that making an effort to be a part of the indie fantasy community online as brought me great relationships as well as helped me find readers. It is the reason I have had what successes I have had.

 

This October, I released my second book No Safe Haven. Two books a year is nothing for some people, but for those of you who are wondering how I did it, No Safe Haven was drafted and had gone through beta reading before I released No Heart for a Thief. I still had a lot to do over the year, but it was well underway. Which gave me the time to work on my novella, which comes out today.

 

In many ways, my second book has boosted my sales. It may not be as much as I had hoped for, but it is recognizable. I hope that the release of this novella as a free book people can get when they subscribe to my newsletter will provide a similar boost. However, I am trying to accept this will be a long road to stable success.

 

Time for real honesty. I didn’t except to sell as many books or get as many reviews as I did. I hoped for it. I hoped for a lot more. It would be a lie if I didn’t tell you I wanted to be as successful as Ryan Cahill was a year in. Accepting that won’t be my path is a hard pill to swallow. However, it doesn’t mean I can’t find the readership and success I was after. It will just take time, and I’m not going anywhere.

 

Celebrations

 

I may not have reached the heights I hoped to, but I have had some amazing successes this year. To celebrate them, I am going to list them below. No one needs me taking up paragraph after paragraph of this stuff, and you are more than welcome to skip. You have been warned.

 

 

 

Sorry, I had to hype myself up with some celebrations before I got to the dreaded costs.

 

Costs

 

Welcome back all of those who scrolled down to the numbers.

 


Before I dig in, I have to acknowledge that I dedicated a lot of money to my books this year. I consider it an investment, but it is something that many people are not able to do. My day job allows me some wiggle room, but this is not something I can do every year.

 

Book Purchases

Books for direct sales and sold through indie bookstores, some of which have sold. The remaining copies are for sale on jamesldulin.com.

$3,755

 

Ads

Advertisements, book tours, email lists, etc.

$662

 

Shipping

Shipping for all books sold from my website or sent to indie bookstores, as well as review copy shipping costs.

$937.76

 

Office Expenditures and Author expenses

Everything from industry association dues, writing software, to a desk, to costs for a writer’s retreat, and more.

$4,107.60

 

Cover Art

$2,550.00

 

Competition Entry Fees

$292.96

 

Book Promo Items

Bookmarks and bookplates

$308

 

Editing

Editing services for No Safe Haven and Don’t Bloody the Black Flag

$1,757.15

 

Total Costs

$14,370.47

 

Holy shit, did I really spend all that money this year?!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Sales

 

KU Pages

No Heart for a Thief – 237,843 pages = About 553 books

No Safe Haven – 46,232 pages = about 97 books

 

Free eBooks

No Heart for a Thief – 3,391 books

 

eBooks

No Heart for a Thief – 1,196 books

No Safe Haven – 329 books

 

Amazon Physical Copies

No Heart for a Thief – 64 books

No Safe Haven – 15 books

 

Ingramspark Physical Copies

No Heart for a Thief – 72 books

No Safe Haven – 5 book

 

Home Sales and Indie Book Stores Physical Sales

Website – 42 books

Book stores – 130 books

 

Totals

No Heart for a Thief books sold – 1,493 books

No Heart for a Thief books sold with KU – 2,046 books

No Heart for a Thief books sold w/Free – 4,884 books

No Heart for a Thief books sold with KU and Free – 5,437 books

 

No Safe Haven books sold – 360 books

No Safe Haven books sold with KU – 456 books

 

Total books sold – 1,853 books

Total books sold with KU – 2,502 books

Total books sold w/Free – 5,244 books

Total books sold with KU and Free – 5,893 books

 

Net

What do all of those numbers equate to?

 

Gross Profit No Heart for a Thief - $5408.18

Gross Profit No Safe Haven - $829.56

Indie Fantasy Fund Grant - $1,000

 

Total Gross Profit - $7,237.74

Total Costs - $14,370.47

 

Net Costs - $7,132.73


 

So, 2023 was a negative profit year. It really hurts and feels slightly embarrassing to type that number out and share it. I reassure myself because No Safe Haven has only been out a couple of months, Don’t Bloody the Black Flag will help boost sales, and I only have one book to fund this year.

 

I surpassed 200 ratings on Goodreads for No Heart for a Thief in a year and passed 270 total Goodreads reviews. Thousands of people have downloaded or purchased my books. This is a start of a long journey as an author. I hope future years will be much more financially successful, but I don’t think celebrating the wins will be as meaningful in the future if I don’t acknowledge the struggles along the way.

 

I look back on this year, and I am proud, grateful, nervous, embarrassed, excited, and so many other conflicting emotions. I succeeded beyond my plans but far short of my dreams. All I can do is continue to put in the work and tell the stories that I want to tell the way I want to tell them. Time will tell if that is enough.

 

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