Surprising Results

A paper-based system is my go-to method for record-keeping. The transition to digital files and folders has been slow. My system works. If it ain’t broke….

The complicated, time consuming, and essentially useless paper-based system I created for tracking royalties is broken. Excel would be better, but I’m spreadsheet challenged. Minions handle such things for me at the day job. At home, I’m on my own.

Having used it since WordStar dominated the market, I know my way around word processing software. An online app converted a table I created in Word to an Excel file. My ex (he’s doing great!) helped me set up the formulas. Entering five years’ worth of royalty statements took about thirty minutes.

Wow! Why did I wait so long?

The spreadsheet is infinitely more useful than my paper files. For example, I can easily see that only 12.5% of the books sold are paperbacks. The rest are ebooks. Comparing track records produced surprising results.

No Good Deed is my worst seller. I have no idea why. Amazon rankings and reviews, reviews on Goodreads, and hits on my web site pointed to a higher ranking. More thriller than mystery, No Good Deed (formerly After Christmas Eve) is the first Philip Potter Story (chronologically) and a good place to start if you haven’t read my books.

Whippersnapper is second from the bottom. I love the story and cry happy tears every time I read it. The title, cover, and blurb are misleading. Peggy Gets a Family would be a better title, with a group shot of the full cast of characters for the cover. It’s my only novel that’s not a Philip Potter Story.

Happy Independence Day edged out Whippersnapper by less than one percent for my second-best seller. Based on the previously mentioned indicators, I expected this story about the Stonewall Uprising to be at the bottom of the list. The second Philip Potter Story chronologically finds Philip and his friends in New York during the 1969 uprising.

Number one is Until Thanksgiving. It’s billed as the first Philip Potter Story, but Philip is a minor character and it’s set thirty years after No Good Deed. I love all my novels, of course, but Until Thanksgiving is my least favorite because I’ve learned so much since it was written.

Marketing and promotion for each new release is more or less the same. In addition to the publisher’s efforts, I do numerous guest posts for various blogs and share the links via Facebook and Twitter. The results, however, are dramatically different.

In 2012, the marketing campaign worked. Sixty percent of sales for Until Thanksgiving took place within six months of its release. In terms of raw numbers, my other three novels don’t even come close.

For years, I thought it was me. Readers didn’t like Until Thanksgiving well enough to buy more of my books. No doubt, that’s true for some, but a more likely explanation is changes to Facebook.

In 2012, the links I shared showed up on the walls of all my FB friends the moment it was posted. The links I share today show up in the feeds of a small fraction of my friends over the next few days. Many won’t see it at all — unless, of course, I pay to boost the post.

Dirty rotten bastards. How dare they take away my free advertising? At least it’s not about me.

See you next month!