2014 in Review
There’s nothing like coming back from vacation to make a person all think-y and reflective and introspective. Or, um, maybe it’s the calendar change-over doing all that…
I started off 2014 with major plans for my career. I planned on publishing nine books (the Diamond Brides Series) during the year — I had 3.5 of them written on January 1, so I still had 5.5 to go. I also thought I’d throw together a few omnibus editions, just to keep things fun. Of course, in the world of indie-publishing it’s not enough to write the books — I also needed to take care of covers, formatting, uploading the books at various vendors, and promoting the work.
And, Reader, I’m thrilled to say: “I did it.”
What’s more, I enjoyed it. I found out that I loved writing my short, hot contemporary romance novels. I truly enjoyed creating the heroes’ points of view, and I reveled in the challenge of making each story unique (not just the bedroom scenes, but the characters’ motivations, the plot conflicts, etc.) I contracted out the work on cover design, but I did all the rest of the production work, designing and implementing systems along the way that will help with all my future writing.
I underestimated the amount of work, especially with preparing the omnibus editions for publication. They present some special challenges in production (page numbering, for example, and larger file manipulation), and they require the same level of publicity and promotion that individual books take. I correctly estimated the physical toll of writing more than half a million published words — my back is fussing with me, and my hips, too, and I accumulated about ten pounds I didn’t have when I started the year.
I also wasn’t prepared for the effect that Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program would have on my success. I refused to participate in KU because it requires exclusivity; I want to sell my books in stores other than Amazon. As a result, I saw a huge cut to my sales, beginning in July when the “all you can read” program was launched. From speaking with other authors, I’ve concluded that KU has most deeply affected romance writers, and its impact seems even greater upon relatively short works with relatively low price points. By tracking the trajectory of my sales prior to the launch of KU, I estimate that I lost between 50 and 75% of the sales I would otherwise have seen.
Nevertheless, 2014 was a successful year artistically, emotionally, and financially. I increased my income approximately 60% over the preceding year (when my target was to increase my income by approximately 40%.) I made the USA Today Bestseller list, a title that I’ll be able to claim for the rest of my publishing career. I worked with some incredible authors on joint projects (most notably the Playing for Passion boxed set.) I met new readers who continue to brighten my day with comments and posts about my work.
On a personal note, it’s been a good year, with lots of joy at home, good times with friends, fantastic plays and museum exhibits and books and films to keep me entertained, and many excellent conversations along the way. There’ve been some sad notes — cancer stalked too many of my friends, greedily taking its last toll just this morning. Each of those deaths has left me more resolved to do more, to see more, to accomplish more in the time I have.
So 2015 should be an exciting ride. I have five books scheduled for release — a free sampler containing the first chapters of many of my other works (The Mindy Klasky Sampler, in stores January 27), a non-fiction book on writing (The Rational Writer, in stores May 26), a new Jane Madison novel (Joy of Witchcraft, in stores August 4), and two more works waiting for titles and specific release dates. I look forward to more time with friends, both in person and online. And I can’t wait to see what stories evolve, the ones I’m not even expecting. Yet.