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Dry January

Monthly Indie Author Wrap-up | January 2024 in Review

Welcome to the inaugural edition of my indie author monthly wrap-up, the place where I tell you what worked, what didn't, what I screwed up, and what I managed to not screw up, over the last month.

I'll be sharing various stats and analysis, including: total book sales for the month, any promotions and money spent, Kindle Unlimited page reads, royalties, and more, and detailing their effectiveness (or lack of). Hope you like numbers!

Indie authors, no matter if you write the same genre as me or not, we're on the same team. By being candid about my orders and sales figures, I hope to spread any sort of knowledge I can. My goal with this series is to share what I've learned so others may copy (flattering) or avoid (shit happens). I do hope my insights are, well, insightful, and if you glean any sort of meaningful analysis or ideas from them, please do let me know!

Without further ado, let's get to the numbers.

January in Review: Orders, Page Reads, & Royalties

First, let's get into the 'Zon. For context, I only have one book published: Fogbound. These Amazon stats are for paperback and ebook copies sold via Amazon, and Kindle Unlimited Page Reads. I do not utilize Amazon for hardcovers. More on that in a mo'.

For all of January, except one day that I'll get to later, I priced my ebook at $3.99 and paperback at $12.99. I am enrolled in the 70% royalty option for ebooks.

My KDP Dashboard for January 2024.

Amazon royalty sources and marketplaces for January 2024.

I didn't call this post Dry January for nothing. Let's break it down.

$39.33 in royalties is my second-lowest royalty earning month since I published, but it did nearly double my worst month (December 2023). That's good, but honestly it better have been good after the horrific December I had.

Kindle Unlimited Page Reads (KENP Read) were also my second-lowest of my budding indie author career, compared to a measly 1,000 in December 2023, accounting for $12 in royalties. I re-upped my KU enrollment, but we'll see if I keep it past the next period.

Ebook sales accounted for the rest of my Amazon royalties (68% - so close). Not uncommon for me, or for other indies.

Let's address the comically large number here: 548 orders. I know what you're thinking: "Holy Bajeebus, N.J.! 548 orders? ...but only $40 in royalties?" - We'll tackle that further down. But yes, that number is indeed correct - 548 digital copies of Fogbound graced people's Kindles in January.

Interesting note: I did not sell a single paperback through Amazon all month. A first for me.

Let's get into IngramSpark.

I offer paperbacks through IngramSpark for the sole purpose of bookstore stock, and hardcovers because I like dust jackets. Amazon's hardcovers look like shit, don't @ me.

ANYWAY, I managed to push a few units here, so I wasn't totally devoid of physical sales the last month. Why? Well, that brings us to my January 2024 highlight!

My First Book Signing!

I held my first book signing and presentation at Tatnuck Bookseller in Westborough, MA on January 6! In preparation for the event, the bookstore purchased about 15 copies of my book, so most of the aforementioned paperback sales came from here.

If we're being honest, I didn't do this event to push sales - I knew it wouldn't move the needle much. BUT it was honestly dope as hell and so much fun, and a big bucket list item for me. I plan on doing way more of these in 2024!


Okay, okay. Fine. I've kept you waiting long enough. I'll address the animal of your choice in the room.

If you follow me on any of my social media accounts, you likely know what happened here (because I wouldn't shut up about it). On my birthday, January 14, I ran a free ebook campaign through KDP for Fogbound, with the goal of hitting 33 downloads. And, I, uh, definitely got that.

At least 501 of my 548 orders in January came from the free campaign. Because of time zone differences, it's difficult to tell when the free orders ended and the paid began, so by my rough estimate, it's likely somewhere around 525/548 orders were free. This looks nice, but unfortunately, aside from my dreadful December, this was my lowest amount of paid units ordered in a month.

But, N.J.! Isn't the Point to Make Money? Why Give it Away?

Honestly, because I felt like it. And I thought it'd be fun to do a reverse-birthday thing where I was the one giving gifts.

Plus, with how slow my December was, I wanted to ensure January wasn't a repeat. I feel, outside of a viral post, my sales through Twitter and Threads have dried up, so I tried to get books in the hands of some new folks. Therefore, I unceremoniously offloaded a butt-ton of digital versions onto people's Kindles.

And who doesn't like big numbers?

Joking and my general gregarious nature aside, I know most of these downloads are just people sharking for free books. They'll likely never read Fogbound, let alone review it. However, on the off-chance a fraction of the downloaders do, I'd say one day of losing out on profits is worth a few extra reviews.

Okay, but has that happened yet?

...Not quite. But I'm hopeful, still. In the 48 hours following my free campaign, two new reviews popped up on the 'Zon and Goodreads. Fogbound is not a short book, and therefore I can't reasonably expect most people to finish it in two weeks. We'll see if the long game pays off. I also gained 100 or so Twitter followers that day. The campaign performed much better there than on Threads or Instagram, FWIW.

I also made some connections with fantastic indie writers I look up to, and hope to gain a fraction of their success one day.

All in all, I am quite pleased with the campaign, and would definitely consider running another one. Not anytime soon though, so if you're wanting a copy of Fogbound, you better buy it, dang it.

And yes, I absolutely planned this, and purposely milked my birthday for all its worth. All the people flocking to my profile to wish me a happy one, and then downloading a free book when they see it. The perfect crime.

I don't think I would have seen the same success had I done this on a random Tuesday.

Promotions, Price Drops, and Burnout

This'll be short and sweet. Aside from my free day, I did not change Fogbound's price, nor did I do any sort of paid promotions whatsoever in January. No Amazon ads, no sponsored posts, nothing. Unlike the rotting produce in my fridge, every royalty was organically sourced.

I didn't even create any special graphics, Reels, anything. I probably had two or three "marketing" social media posts all month, and they were either shitposts or me holding a copy of Fogbound.

To be totally candid, the burnout this month had some serious hands.

I work a demanding full-time day job, and my lovely fiancée and I are in the midst of planning our wedding. Plus, I am a third of the incredible Goddamn Gamecube podcast (top 10% podcast on Spotify, BTW. If you like video games, give us a listen).

It's strange to say, but even though all of those things are good, I can't help but feel a little ragged and worn down. Trying to juggle all three is hard enough as it is, and on top of it, I need to promote this dang book. So, where does that leave us?

Breaking Out of My Comfort Zone

I hate this shit. I'm dreading it. But it needs to happen.

As I alluded to earlier, my Twitter and Threads pool of buyers is shrinking, and I need to branch out. What I haven't done yet is Instagram Reels, and, dare I say it...TikTok. We've all heard how influential Bookstagram and TikTok are for both authors and readers, and I don't think I can ignore it any longer. In February, I'll be attempting to break into at least the Reels game. Hold me to it!

February Outlook: Goals and What's Next

Aside from Bookstagram, I'll be jumping back into Amazon Ads. My first foray went quite horribly (spent about $400 for, like, $10 in royalties in November). I've also tinkered with my Amazon blurb, and added more reviews to the editorial reviews section. More updates to come on if the new blurb does anything to push orders or page reads.

My goals for February are: 30 paid orders, and push 3k Page Reads.

Anyway, that's it for the inaugural edition of my month in review series. Questions, feedback? Drop me a line and I'll do my best to answer!

In parting, I'll say this.

The indie author game is hard.

Putting yourself and your book out there is hard.

Not comparing yourself to others is really hard.

We're all in this together, y'all. Let's have smashing Februaries!

-- N.J. Alexander

And remember, if you like what you see here, be sure to sign up for my newsletter.

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