Record-Breaking / by Josh Guess

As of February of this year, my best month on record for sales was March of 2011. In that month I released book 2 of Living With the Dead (The Bitter Seasons) as well as the Year One compilation, which contained the first two books as well as five short stories, a novella, and some behind-the-scenes notes from me on the origin of the story.

That month I made just over $1,100 dollars in royalties. My mom hates the idea that I'm sharing income like this, but we live in a different world than the one she started out in professionally. Google can give us the income numbers for a lot of professions, but writing is very much one of the last closed doors for income reports. I'm going to tell you not because I want to brag, though I am proud of what I've accomplished, but to give some perspective and maybe some hope to other writers out there.

I'm not special. I don't have a lot of name recognition. Like a many of you, I write because I love it, I put in my hours on social networks trying to expand my fan base. I work a full-time job. I've put in hard work and love, and I've made a habit of watching sales trends and working out ways to utilize them to my advantage.

Also, I got lucky. Plain and simple.

In March of this year, I broke my personal record for royalties. If the exchange rate with the British Pound remains around where it is right now, I'll have made right around $2,150. That's not overall sales, that's the royalty amount I'll get in my checking account at the end of May.

Let me say: WOOHOO!

This is great! I'm not saying that only because it's proof of concept that a person with no fan base (most of us Indie writers when we start out) can build a small and loyal one and make some real money. I'm excited because while I'm aware that this level of sales isn't yet sustainable for me, that's a nice big chunk of change I can use for things like fixing my roof and putting money away for retirement.

I'm not going to go into detail as to how I leveraged the Select Program to manage this (that's my next post) because I know many of you other writers out there have done the same. Some of you have had vastly superior results, and I'm happy for you. Some of you haven't had as much luck, which is why I'm writing this post to begin with.

Do. Not. Give. Up.

I've written before that I've come across some rough times with sales, bad reviews, and all the pitfalls that come with putting your work out there for anyone to critique. I fully expect to see a drop off in sales over the next several months, because I'm using 2011 as a model for my expectations. You and I both know how rough and disappointing this job can be, but because so many of you as fellow writers, fans, friends, and family stuck by me when I whined and supported me, I had a record-breaking month.

If you're an author that hasn't had as much success as you'd like (and I think all of us are secretly hoping for Stephen King money in the parts of our brains we don't talk about in public) then take this post as a reason to keep on trying. Not to keep writing--I doubt most of you would stop doing that, as we're all addicts and slaves to the words--but trying new things. I was skeptical of the Select program at first, but it's turned out to be a godsend. Maybe you've tried it and haven't had any luck. That's okay. There are other options, a ton of them for us.

This is a hugely exciting time for authors. I imagine when sales start to slump and I'm between book releases I'll probably start to get cranky again. I hope that when or if that happens, I look back and read this post and decide to try some new promotion or idea.

It's hard to stay dedicated sometimes, but here's your proof of concept. Regular guy like me did it, at least for that one month. Lots of other authors have done a lot more. Konrath and others are telling the truth: writing is a marathon, not a sprint. Let this post be the glass of water that refreshes you a bit as you trot along.