I started my indie journey in February 2011. That was when I published my first completed novel, "Shackled". When I started, I was honestly relieved that I had finally "written that novel" that I intended. So many people say they think they'll write a book, or they have this great story without a single word scrawled anywhere.
Good intentions don't actually amount to anything without action.
I feel like I'm sounding preachy, so sorry about that.
I now have sales data from a year's worth of sales. That's to say, of my own work (obviously). Yes, I have learned a lot about the "bidness". A few unshakable things I have determined:
1. Being previously traditionally published DOES help your ebook sales.
2. Marketing CAN help your ebook sales. (It CAN also hurt your image.)
3. Customers' desires for reading material do not always make sense.
4. Patience is the long game.
There have been a number of people who strike it big with that first novel, or first whatever on Amazon, etc. I am not one of them. I am solidly the backbone of the writing industry - the mid-list author. Do I think I could still "make it big"? Absolutely. Just not in my first year - and I'm learning to be okay with that. Do I think being mid-list makes my writing poor quality? Absolutely NOT. I think I have a fair number of reviews to back me up on that.
And one last point I will touch on, but briefly and as delicately concise as possible: Do I think everyone that writes a book should publish it? NO. The fact is, we are not all created equally and some people are just not writers. I am not a lacrosse player. I am not much of a skier. I can't identify birds by their call, nor am I particularly good at folding laundry (or keeping my socks matched). Some people are writers, some are not. I believe I am a writer.
I believe interest in my work is growing. With the massive amount of marketing I've done (read: none), I am not surprised that my sales are still small while others around me are reaching peaks of 5, 10, 100k sold. Yet, I constantly see while they spend a lot of time pushing their first book, I've gotten three or four new works up for sale. This is the key of the mid-list author - write something good. Then write something else good, so that after your first good thing has been read, the reader can move onto your next good thing. This frees up a lot of marketing time for me to do what I do best - the writing craft. And while I'm not paying the mortgage or buying fancy chocolates, my royalty checks are increasing in both amount and frequency. I still feel confident that one day they will pay my bills and still leave me at the leisure to write as I please. It just may be another year, or a few 'nother years down the road ;)
So anyway. I know what you're really here for - the pretty graph. Here are my year-on-year sales (in units) through February 2012. Please also remember, my first work was published February 2011 - so there was nothing for sale January 2011.