Books By C. LItka

Books By C. LItka

Friday, November 4, 2022

7 & 1/2 Years in Self Publishing - A report


It’s once again time to report my six month sales figures for my eighth year in self publishing – from May 2022 through October 2022.

Long story short: it was a very good first half largely due to sales of audiobooks on Google.

I released one new book, a novella, at the end of September, the fourth entry in the Nine Star Nebula Mystery/Adventure series, The Aerie of a Pirate Prince. It had been more than a year since I released a new book, so it was the new auto-narrated audiobooks that carried the ball this half.

My Sales Numbers

As usual, almost all of the sales are free ebooks sold through Amazon, Smashwords, Apple, and Google. What is new is that my sales now include audiobooks offered through Google’s Play Store. My ebooks are also available on Kobo but they do not report free sales to Smashwords. Barnes & Noble do report sales, but they don’t show up on my daily sales charts, so I don’t record those sales by the books – they’re just a rounding error anyway. In addition some books are also listed on other sites that offer free books. I don’t know how many, if any are downloaded from those sites.

Below is the chart comparing sales this half to my sales last year for this period.

Book Title / Release Date

1H 2021 Sales

1 H 2022


Total Sales To date ebook & total sales

A Summer in Amber

23 April 2015



244 Audio


8,711  total

Some Day Days

9 July 2015



331 Audio


5,163 total

The Bright Black Sea

17 Sept 2015



520 Audio


16,240 total

Castaways of the Lost Star

4 Aug 2016




The Lost Star’s Sea

13 July 2017



433 Audio


8,772 total

Beneath the Lanterns

13 Sept 2018





4,222 total

Sailing to Redoubt

15 March 2019



299 Audio


3,833 total

Prisoner of Cimlye

2 April 2020



359 Audio


2,274 total 

Lines in the Lawn

8 June 2020





18 Sept 2020



349 Audio



The Secret of the Tzaritsa Moon

11 Nov 2020



255 Audio



The Secrets of Valsummer House

18 March 2021



382 Audio


1,795 total

Shadows of an Iron Kingdom

15 July 2021



989 Audio



A Night on Isvalar

15 July 2021

(Amazon only – all $ sales only)




The Aerie of a Pirate Prince*

29 Sept 2022



36 Audio


190 total

Total Six Month Sales

* New releases.

(#)B & N Sales 66

NOTE: For some unknown reason the Shadows of an Iron Kingdom audiobook sold very well in Japan. Weird. 


4,414 + 66#

4,480 ebooks

4,574 Audio-books

Sales Total this Half:


56,305 ebooks

4,574 Audio-books

Grand total to date:


Sales at this point 2021:


Breaking down sales via venue gives us:

Sales figures for the same period in 2021 (for comparison):

Amazon 32%

Smaswords (Apple, & B & N) 18%

Google 50%

Sales figures for 2022 including only ebooks:

Amazon 19.5%

Smashword (Apple & B & N) 24.7%

Google 55.8%

With audiobooks now included we have the complete picture:

Amazon 9%

Smashwords (Apple & B & N) 11.3%

Google 79.7%

Even just comparing ebooks, my sales percentage continues to grow on Google vs. Smashwords and Amazon. This is largely due to declining sales on those two sites. However, ebook sales in total is down from last year almost across the board. 

The Headlines for this Sales Period.

I wrote one stand alone novel, The Girl on the Kerb, in 2022, which I expect to release as a self published book in the first half of 2023. I currently have it on submission to British SF publisher Gollancz and I’m waiting to hear back from them – likely in the 1st quarter of 2023. In the meanwhile I have been querying agents with it, with no luck so far. (And none likely.) I hope to submit it to Orbit Publishing when they launch an ebook/audiobook line later this year. I am not holding my breath about selling this novel, hence its expected release in the first half of 2023.

I am currently writing third story set in the Tropic Sea called Passage to Jarpana, which I expect will come in as novella or a very short novel. If it works out, that could see a release in either late December 2022 or early in 2023. As usual, there is no guarantee that it will actually get finished, but I’m hopeful.

This summer I republished all my paperback books in a smaller size and a matte cover with the idea of making them more like the fiction trade paperbacks found on bookshop shelves. I continue to toy with the idea of spending some actual money to get them on the selves of some selected SFF orientated bookshops. However, that would mean that I would have to become a distributor of the books, as I am sure no bookstore is going to buy from Amazon – and well, I didn’t set them up for extended distribution anyway. I’m still just thinking about it, not for making money, but just have a few of my paper books around after I’m dead.

Sales wise, as you can see from above, Google not only continues to lead the pack by a long margin, but dominated my sales not even taking audiobooks into account. Sales on Smashwords crept up a bit on the strength of Apple sales and the release of the new novella, while Amazon continued to fall. Part of the decline in Amazon sales is that I no longer try to get Amazon to price match the free price elsewhere – letting sleeping dogs lie – so most recently released books are full price on Amazon and free everywhere else. I added two European sales channels via Draft2Digital, Tolino and Vivlio, but I don’t expect any sales to result from that. I did it because Draft2Digital has purchased Smashwords and they will eventually merge, so I was just getting my ducks in order early. One novella. A Night on Isvalar is on Amazon’s Vella platform for serial works earns me bonus money without any sales at all. I also have that story in Kindle Unlimited, so it gets the occasional page read and sales. I keep it there merely as a signpost to my other books for readers who would probably never find them otherwise. That, and pure laziness.

I earned $53.22 in royalties, plus a $10 bonus payment for my novella on Vella, for a grand total of $63.22 for the last 6 months. My only expenses was the books I sent to my beta readers that came in under $63.22, so I continue to operate in the black.

The big news is obviously audiobooks. As I noted last May in my 7 year report, Google offered to create audiobooks from my ebooks using their text to speech technology for free, as part of a beta program. I took them up on their offer. Since my stories all being first person narrations, I don’t think they suffer for having only one voice narrate the story – that’s really the way they are written. You see the numbers above, they accounted for half of my sales. The the audio versions have gotten 50 plus ratings to date, all in line with the ebook ratings, and I’ve received no criticisms of the auto-narration quality, so I’m very happy with the results of that experiment.

Looking Forward

I have three goals at present, first is to get Passage to Jarpara written and published in late 2022 or early 2023. Second is to either sell to a traditional publisher or publish The Girl on the Kerb in the first half of 2023. My third goal is to write a new standalone novel over the winter. It will be a fantasy story – I’m going all in on fantasy as it is far more popular with agents and publishers than science fiction, so it is more salable. And salable is what I’m looking for, going forward, since I plan to spend 6 months querying every new standalone novel I write before I self-publish it, assuming I fail to sell it. My attitude is “Why not?’ The gold rush in self-publishing is long over, so a six month delay means nothing and gives me a sliver of a chance to get traditionally published, just for bragging rights.

I have tweaked my tags on all my books on Smashwords and Amazon to see if I can increase sales. In the past I haven’t paid as much attention to them as I should, and I hope to remedy that. We’ll see if we can find an increase in sales as a result of better tags.

Summing It All Up

A very good half. Experiments paid off. We’ll see if better tags pay off. We’ll see if we can sell stories to traditional publishers. We’ll see if I have another novel in me. Always a question. Stay turned.

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