Saturday, August 14, 2010

I am not quite dead yet...

Yes, it's been forever since I blogged. And forever (okay, a little more than a year) since I released a book. And incidents of my misbehavior in other people's internet houses--heck, I'll admit I can make a pest of myself at times--have dwindled to almost nothing. Sad, I know.

Work, sleep, dishes, bills, kids, laundry, shopping, nagging my divorce lawyer, wrestling with bureaucracies...that's my life these days. Nothing much exciting happening, and no time for anything but the mundane.

Then I stumbled on this post today, over at EREC, which indicates that on a per-title basis, erotic romance ebook sales have pretty much "flattened out". This jives with the traditional wisdom that ebooks often sprint out of the gate, garnering the majority of sales in the first month--often the first day--they're available, then fizzle.

But you wouldn't know it to look at my royalty statements. I haven't released a book in over a year--haven't sent anything to my editor since March of 2009, in fact, when I shot off my finished manuscript of The Chancellor's Bride. And yet over the last several months, my royalty statements have seen a serious upswing. My statement for July '10 was topped only by that of July of last year, the month The Chancellor's Bride (my sole foray into m/m/f) released. And though almost half of my last cheque was from sales of that title, the other half consisted of sales of my first two--Crossing Swords and Healer's Touch (both m/f with f/f), which released wayyyy the heck back in March '08 and August '08 respectively.

In fact, Crossing Swords sold more copies last month (or my royalties for last month reflected more sales, because not all vendors do their accounting on a monthly basis) than it did in its month of release. And Healer's Touch did the same--more sales on this statement than in its first month on the market. And the vast majority of those sales are coming from Amazon.

Now granted, the numbers are still pretty small compared to those of other Samhain authors. That f/f tag in the content warning still repels a lot of readers. But Amazon has a larger customer base than MBaM, for sure, and I always had the feeling my brand of f/f books might turn out to be slow-starters. The Chancellor's Bride has a readership that is vast and avid, but already very well-served in the market, and it's followed the traditional pattern of most erotic romance ebooks--the first ten days of sales were great, then the next month...not so much. The readership had moved on to the latest batch of 100+ m/m and m/m/f books that were new and shiny and exciting and ready for action, and promptly forgot about my little book.

But f/f books (even in the context of a m/f romance) have to get in front of the eyes of a readership that is both small and elusive (and pretty damn picky, too, the way I am when I read f/f). That readership is not necessarily going to be well-represented among those early adopters of erotic romance ebooks--the women who turned to the internet for the content they craved (largely super-dirty het romance and m/m). Women who would NOT be repelled by that slash-tag in the warning weren't likely to be hanging out in their thousands at MBaM just waiting for the one title in 100 or 1000 that gives them what they want. But a growing number of them apparently own Kindles, or have a Kindle app on their iPhones.

It seems between decent reviews, solid word of mouth, availability on Amazon and the mainstreaming of the Kindle, my books are finding their readership. It may always be a small segment of a more mainstream one, and that's okay with me. F/f in whatever context is what I love to write, and I'm good at it. And I've said it before: I'd rather be a big fish in the small girl-on-girl pond than a small fish in the vast m/m ocean. I still feel the same way. I'd rather be one of a very few who write f/f with a bi/bi-curious slant--and do it well--than one of countless hundreds or thousands who write het and m/m. Because as the market for f/f makes the transition to ebooks, readers won't have to sift through thousands of titles to take a chance on one of mine, will they? And if they discover they like the way I write it, my name will be on a very short list of authors, and easily remembered.

And I'll take a moment to express here and now how grateful I am that my publisher has a decent contract with entities like Amazon, and offers some of the most author-friendly terms of any epublisher regarding second-party sales. Because sales are awesome, but only if they earn you some scratch, baby.