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Sales Numbers: Part Three

Sales Numbers: Part Three

That’s the topic of the night below.


November Workshops Now Listed

Spent some time today working on getting the November workshops all set on the different sites. I think the November list is the best list of workshops we have ever offered.

Each regular workshop is six weeks long and takes about 3-4 hours per week to do at your own pace and your own time. The new workshop starting in November is titled:  ADVANCED DIALOG.

All workshops have openings.

Class #41… Nov 2nd … Pitches and Blurbs
Class #42… Nov 2nd … How to Write Thrillers
Class #43… Nov 2nd … Adding Suspense to Your Writing
Class #44… Nov 2nd … Advanced Dialog
Class #45… Nov 3rd … Character Development
Class #46… Nov 3rd … Depth in Writing
Class #47… Nov 3rd … Making a Career
Class #48… Nov 4th … Cliffhangers
Class #49… Nov 4th … Pacing Your Novel
Class #50… Nov 4th … Advanced Depth

Classic Workshops and Lectures are also available at any time.



Spent most of the day running around and also finally getting back to some exercise. Then I worked on online workshop stuff until about 7 p.m.

By the way, down eight pounds since the first of September. Going fine on that count.

Also worked on getting Smith’s Monthly web site updated and I also killed the free story feature. I couldn’t keep it up on time and few people were reading it. Away it went.

I cooked dinner, watched a little television, got in here around 9 p.m. to do e-mail. Also did some work on an issue of Fiction River.

Then I did one session of 900 words from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. Then off to watch some television.

Back up here and got back to writing at 1 a.m. and got another 1,200 words done.

A short break and managed another 1,250 words before getting completely stuck around 3:30 a.m.  I was so tired, decided I would figure it out tomorrow. But at least back and giving the writing more time, so a win!

3,350 words.



I am managing to get Mr. G, the shy and scared and feral white cat, to stay on the chair he now sleeps on while I bring him a treat. I don’t approach him yet, but he’s getting used to my voice and that I bring him yummy snacks. So progress.


TOPIC OF THE NIGHT: Sales Numbers: Part Three

Almost no comments or letters about last night’s totaling up the investments. I think that a lot of people didn’t keep in mind how low the sales were to make those numbers. See the first part of this little series.

But I said my income is considerably higher and one person asked me how.

How? I have my books for sale in every place I can find to sell them. And we are adding in more sales ways this fall and winter. Really that simple.

Small trickles of sales combine into large streams and then into rivers. It is a basic sales tactic.

Think of it this way. You walk into a bakery and they only have two types of doughnuts and only on one tray off to one side, you turn around and walk out.

You walk into my bakery, you can find hundreds of various kinds of stuff and all of it is displayed in various ways all over the store. The same doughnut can be found on dozens of trays all around and the store looks full. People browse, and with luck find something they like.

For example, in general for WMG Publishing, paper sales are the second highest sales and growing. I haven’t asked to break out my numbers on that, I just know the overall sales for paper.

But I hear so often from writers that they tried paper and it doesn’t work for them after a few months so they give up. Or they price their books very low like an electronic book and cut out all chance of a store buying the book even if they saw it and wanted to.

My goal is to have all of my books at reasonable prices offered everywhere. I am gaining on that, which helps sales.

And I treasure every sale. Each sale is a real person deciding to spend money on my work and I honor that.

Also, I have Smith’s Monthly, which has subscribers and also wonderful Patreon supporters. I do know the numbers there and since every issue of Smith’s Monthly is still for sale just like a collection, the ROI on that is very, very high. I figured the ROI (return on investment) on one issue last year and just laughed it was so high.

Smith’s Monthly #3 came out in 2013. The ROI on that is now far above 10% this year (2015) with three months left to go to keep increasing it.

And remember, everything that is in Smith’s Monthly gets used again in different forms.

So I am very, very creative in how I market my work and get it to readers. Proof of that, take a look at Stories from July. A short story collection with 32 stories in it.

Each story will eventually be in Smith’s Monthly over a year or so along with original stories written for an issue, and every story will also eventually be sold as a stand alone story in electronic and paper.

And in there I did sales copy for each story. I put the sales copy in a book coming out in a couple of weeks called How to Write Fiction Sales Copy.

This is a new world, folks. If you just toss your book up on Amazon and hope for the best, you will not even make the 10% ROI.

Also, WMG Publishing does some very regular promotions on my books as well.

And I also jump into any bundle with other authors I can get into. Last year one of those books made far more than any New York mid-list advance would have paid me. And guess what, it’s still selling this year.

And we do ads and all sorts of things.

And, oh yeah, did you notice the rebranding that was done on two of my series? New covers. And the rebranding on Poker Boy is almost done. Just got to get the new covers uploaded.

And notice, I hope, that I am constantly writing more and enjoying the process. And much of what I write is in series.

Sales take time to build. The best thing WMG Publishing and I have done is not chase fads in sales. I HATE exclusivity and because of that, I have slowly developed so many cash streams I would have a difficult time counting them all.

But the point of all this is to add up those streams over a year, look at your costs on a book, figure your ROI and then keep it in perspective.

And be innovative in sales.



Day 1…. 2,550 words.  Total words so far… 2,550 words.
Day 2…. 2,350 words.  Total words so far… 4,900 words.
Day 3…. 2,500 words.  Total words so far… 7,400 words.
Day 4…. 1,200 words.  Total words so far… 8,600 words.
Day 5…. 1,500 words.  Total words so far… 10,100 words.
Day 6…. 2,000 words.  Total words so far… 12,100 words.
Day 7…. 1,700 words.  Total words so far… 13,800 words.
Day 8…. 3,350 words.  Total words so far… 17,150 words.


Totals For Year 3, Month 3, Day 7

Writing in Public blog streak… Day 787

— Daily Fiction: 3,350 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 17,200 words  

— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 600 words 

— Blog Posts: 1,200 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 7,100 words

— E-mail: 12 e-mails. Approx. 500 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 155 e-mails. Approx. 6,000 words

— Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 0 Covers



You can support this ongoing blog at Patreon on a monthly basis. Not per post. Just click on the Patreon image. Extra stuff for different levels of support and I will be adding in more as time goes on. Thanks for your support.

Or you can just toss a tip into the tip jar with a single donation at PayPal. Either way, your support keeps me going at these crazy posts.

And thanks.

If you would like to leave a tip just hit (Goes to WMG Publishing account, but I’ll get it just fine.)



  • Vera Soroka

    Nice to hear one of the new cats are making progress. I like this Return on Investment blogs. I’m getting ready to publish under my own name a collection of three short stories. Together they add up to just over 5,000 words but I’m going to do paper. I’m doing it for practice and also I’m going to do audio myself. If I can have a non wheezy day.
    I’m always looking for new places to put stuff. Last night I signed up with Xin Xii. I see they have quite few European places. We will try them. I’m not for exclusivity either. I prefer to be everywhere.

  • Dane Tyler

    The part I’m struggling with most is costs for production. I can do some stuff myself, but I also know part of discoverability is having a professional product, starting with writing and going right on through the sales blurb. You’ve offered a lot of tools to help with some of those things, and I’m excited about the new book coming out. I need that help, a lot.

    I also have a tough time with marketing, and trying to figure out how and where to invest the very limited dollars I have after living life and providing for a family. More than any one thing, limited funding is what’s stalling me on a few fronts. Should I invest in learning the craft through things like the WMG Workshops? Do I spend that same money on books of craft instead? Or do I spend it on promotion, knowing I have only one novel, two short story collections, and a couple handfuls of short stories? Or, do I just not worry about it yet, build up my “catalog” by writing more stuff, and then tackle it when I’m better positioned (I’m the baker with only a couple donuts. But they have sprinkles!)? That sort of decision making is hard for me at this point.

    There are so many avenues to look at, a lot to think about, and some of those are sort of becoming new “gatekeepers” for indie authors. I think it’s BookBub that vets books in part based on the number of reviews it’s seen. Others require either a .99 cent book or a free one to include them in promotions. And all of them, naturally, carry a charge.

    And, maybe all of my struggles simply relate to not being a good business person at this point. I’m just now learning about this stuff, and why just tossing something up on Amazon didn’t work. I still don’t have my diamond-topped walking stick and stretch limo, doggone it. 😉

    But I’m slowly coming around to this stuff, Dean. Thanks for continuing to offer us “noobs” insights and ideas and guidance.

    All our best to Kris; hope she’s doing well. 🙂

    • dwsmith


      The key with promotion is having product that has a halo affect. Promotion seldom does anyone any good (other than letting fans and family know a new book is out) on the book being promoted. Almost always a losing bet. But the key is having more product that the book being promoted leads readers to. So the halo affect is the key. And without a pretty good catalog of product, the promotion is worthless. And readers may love your book, but they don’t have anything else of yours to read, so they move on and forget you.

      That’s why the cliche about the next book being your best promotion is 100% true. And then, at a certain point you have enough to make small promotions have value. And grow from there.

      So the key is to keep learning, keep writing, keep getting the books and stories out and take a longer-term approach while doing small promotions along the way as you grow. But working to be a better storyteller is what holds readers in your work when they find it.

      Spot on about all the various choices. Ain’t it fun? (grin) Trust me, a ton better than when I broke in and there were no choices. Not a one.

  • Kate Pavelle

    Dean, thank you for your gentle reminder regarding the 10% ROI and what constitutes good vs bad sales numbers. I now feel rather good about myself 🙂 I still have trouble getting my work out on a regular schedule, it tends to languish in either editing or it gets hung up on cover design. I’m making progress, though. I wish I had an Allyson!

  • Devin Harnois

    Since I paid for a year of InDesign, I’m now working on getting my books laid out for print. The free program I used before produced a nice end product but it was cumbersome and I kept putting off layout (because I’d rather be writing new stuff).

    But I have shiny new covers I made myself and I want to see them in print!

    I understand putting print off and prioritizing other things but I don’t understand giving up on it. I release books in Kindle Select because the money from borrows far, FAR outweighs what I get from all other retailers combined, but that’s not the long term plan. After a while, I put the books out wide. The end goal is to be available everywhere.

    • Noble Lee

      “I release books in Kindle Select because the money from borrows far, FAR outweighs what I get from all other retailers combined, but that’s not the long term plan. After a while, I put the books out wide. The end goal is to be available everywhere.”

      I’ve wondered if this option makes business sense. It delays getting the book out everywhere, but maybe gives people a chance to check it out while still getting paid something. Or does being able to borrow the book destroy the sales one might have gotten otherwise? And would this make sense for an author at the beginning of their career as opposed to someone like you or Kris, Dean?

      I love the analogy of trickles of income combining to form streams and rivers. That makes a lot of sense to me and I find it very encouraging. It removes all the pressure that any one book HAS to make the big bucks and reinforces your advice to keep writing and put the work out there.

      • dwsmith

        Noble, well, in my opinion, I think it is a horrible idea no matter when or for how long.

        Why? It shows no confidence in a work.

        Yeah, yeah, I know that makes no sense on the surface, but let me toss out a scenario. Say you write a book that hits the culture hard and fast, such as a DaVinci Code. You put it in Kindle Select, you have limited your upside. Amazon is only going to pay out a certain amount. Period.

        And you have limited your possible readers down to only a fraction of all readers.

        When a book explodes word-of-mouth, all readers need to be able to get it in the way they want it. That’s how books sell millions of copies and writers get very, very rich.

        So by putting a book in Kindle Select, you are saying, “Well, my writing and my book are poor, so I’ll just toss them in the ghetto and see if they can get their act together.”

        I tend to think that any of my books might be a major bestseller and thus I go after sales right from moment one with that attitude. I let all readers be able to get the book in any fashion they want at any time they want.

        So, in my opinion, Kindle Select is for writers with no confidence in their own work. I see nothing of value beyond that in doing such a limitation on your own work. And giving possible readers who might buy it a way to get it for free (to them) and a ton less to you.

        Also, when a reader hears about my book and wants to read it, last thing I want to say to that reader is “Sorry, you are not worth my time.”

        But all that is my opinion. A whole bunch of writers with a couple books out think otherwise. So with my 150 novels and thirty years of making a living, what do I know. (grin)

        • Noble Lee

          Ah Dean, you and Kris are the 2 writers whose opinions I value most, so thank you for your frank comments. I shall choose to have faith in my writing and give anyone who wants the chance to buy my work the means to do so.

        • Devin Harnois

          This is one of the few things we disagree on. I like making money, and I experiment to see what will make me more money. I’m not making a lot (last year was a good year. This year… less so) but I know that my 3 novels in Select make me about 40x as much money in borrows as the 4 novels do in sales at multiple retailers.

          I’m also considering this to be “growing my backlist” time while I plan out strategies for promotion with a new series. I’m thinking more of considering the 90 Select period as a special early sale, then releasing at all retailers — including print! — after that. Movies do that with limited engagements in specific cities before the wide release. And publishers send out ARCs to generate reviews and buzz. Does a reader get upset when they see a good review for a book but they can’t buy it for a month or three? Do they get upset when they see a book is up for preorder? I don’t see how this is much different, except that people who prefer Kindle books can get it right away.

          • dwsmith

            Yup, all old system, Devin. New world of readers, they want it when they see it and if they can’t get it, they move on. You have no idea over the long run how many readers you are losing. But limiting your upper level income is your choice. Very short-term thinking in my opinion. Just pray that none of your books explode into major demand.

            But you are right, we will disagree on this one, which is fine and part of the fun of this new world.