Ups and downs with your friendly neighborhood small potatoes writer (2021 in review: Part One)


Well, it’s that time again! Time to look back on the year and see what worked, what didn’t, and how this whole writing thing is going. The review is important to me to make sure I’m still enjoying the process and see where I can do better.

In most of these self-publishing posts, I often mention how important it is to define what success means to us, measure ourselves in growth, and shooting for obtainable goals. But I also want to be transparent about my experience as a small-time self-pubbed writer.

So in this post, I’ll give a quick snapshot of my numbers, and and then in part two, I’ll talk more about the specific highlights and lessons learned.

The cold hard Numbers

Not much to write home about here. I sold:
15 hardcovers
93 ebooks
73 paperbacks
3,988 pages in KU
20ish* audiobooks
Total: 214ish copies

I’ve given away:
4,545 ebooks
38 paperbacks
179 audiobook promo codes
Total: 4,762 copies (not counting eARCs)

And my Goodreads review counts are currently at:
Odriel’s Heirs: 4.36 stars, 134 ratings / 109 reviews
The Gatekeeper of Pericael: 4.07 stars, 82 ratings / 75 reviews
Burning Shadows: 5 stars, 11 ratings / 8 reviews
Idriel’s Children: 4.29 stars, 42 ratings / 36 reviews
Total: 4.29 stars / 273 ratings / 228 reviews
(Thanks so much to everyone who took time to read and review—this means SO much to me!)

Which brings me to a whopping:
$183.82(ish)
(Thank goodness for a solid day job! 😅)

So, yeah. Like I said—small potatoes writer over here just trying to grow and have a good time. 😂 So I try to keep my expectations low and look on the bright side. I put three more books out in the world this year, got more sales and reviews in 2021 than I did in 2020, I learned a lot, and I had a good time doing it. There’s still obviously a lot to learn, but I’d still call it a good year. 😊

But I also wanted to measure the year in another way…

*This is so hard to measure, because ACX lumps in your redeemed promo codes as ‘sales’ so this is purely a guess based on royalties…which are also counted in a variety of ways. Honestly it could be anywhere from 6-50 copies.

The warmer, fuzzier numbers

So, I’m constantly thinking about how to measure writing growth and goals, but it wasn’t until I was trying to estimate what I could accomplish in 2022, that a very simplistic idea dawned on me.

Successful authors often give some version of the advice that the best way to get better at writing, is to just keep writing. So, of course, the answer should have been obvious. I should measure my growth in words.

There are a lot of you who are probably looking at the screen like: 🙄 well duh, girl.

But I think this is trickier than it seems, because I’m not just talking about the words we write. I can usually write a book in 3 months, but it takes another 9 months (and countless rereads) to revise, edit, and polish…not to mention querying.

So, I think we need to not only count the words we write but also those that we revise, query, and publish (and if you have more steps in your process, then count those too!). Add them all together, and then we can get a feel for what we really accomplished in this writing year.

For comparison. I’m also adding 2020, since I didn’t do this last year. (Also… I’m not adding flash fiction – it’s too hard to keep track of.)

2020:
Words written: 10,000(ish) + 10,000(ish) + 78,242 = 98,242 (1 complete, 2 partials)
Words revised: 50,581 + 74,948 = 125,529 (2 books)
Words published: 74,083 (1 book)
Words queried: 50,581 (1 book)
Total: 348,435 words

2021:
Words Written: 20,828+94,328+21,013 = 136,016 (2 books, 1 WIP)
Words Revised: 20,828+78,242+94,328 = 193,398 (3 books)
Words Published: 20,828+50,581+78,242 = 149,651 (3 books)
Books Queried: 74,948 (1 book)
Total: 554,013 words

Now, that’s an interesting comparison! I really didn’t know 2021 was more productive than 2020. And while I’m sure there are a lot of reasons behind this, I know it’s in part because I made some important realizations as a writer this year that have really helped me grow and become more purposeful and efficient in my process. (Which I’ll take on in the next post.)

Of course, however the numbers are tallied, our writing year is not just a number. And, we can’t realistically increase that word count every year. Eventually we’re going to cap out. Even looking forward to my goals for next year, I don’t think I’ll get anywhere close to this year.

  • Finish Ninth Circle (50K words left)
  • Write Time’s Orphan (70K words)
  • Revise Time’s Orphan (70K)
  • Publish Codename: CNDRLA (75K)
  • Query The Belethea Race Royale (94K)

Total: 359K

But, that’s a goal I can really wrap my head around, one that’s completely in my control, and one that I’ll enjoy working toward.

My goal is words. My goal is writing. My goal is growth.

And it was a pretty awesome year. 😊

More to come!