Once again, it has taken me far too long to publish my annual Stakeholder Report. But here are my musings about how the last year went for this little project of mine!
The Patreon Campaign
I’ve managed to maintain a steady pace with my translations, publishing at least 1,000 words of text every Monday. The latest Master Volume – which collects all my translations so far, and is available to Scholar-tier Patrons and above – now contains 466 tales and has a length of 387,868 words.
Furthermore, my Patreon experienced strong growth this past year. I started with 25 Patrons, and ended with 36 (currently, I have 42). Furthermore, I now have Patreon supporters at the highest Explorer-tier who can make suggestions for future research topics I will tackle in my translations. This has encouraged me to research some interesting topics which I would otherwise have left alone for the time being.
I’ve reached my first Patreon goal (“$50 per Creation”), which allows me to fully fund the costs of publishing such as editing, cover illustration, purchasing ISBNs, website hosting, complimentary copies to alpha and beta readers, and so forth. My next goal, at the “$100 per Creation” level, will allow me to fund black & white interior illustrations for future books. I plan to commission these illustrations under a Creative Commons Zero license, which means that – just as with my translations – anyone will be able to use them for any purpose for their own projects, commercial and noncommercial alike. As of this writing, I am at “$72” per Creation, so there’s still a chance that I will hit this goal later this year.
I was able to publish one book, Lurkers at the Threshold, in February. While sales were initially slow (it presumably did not help that I published it two days before the Ukraine invasion started), they increased later in the year, and by the end I had sold the book 77 times (37 ebooks, 30 paperbacks, and 10 hardcovers).
My first book, Sunken Castles, Evil Poodles, continued to sell, adding up to 56 sales by the end of the year (25 ebooks, 31 paperbacks).
Overall, 2022 was a strong year in book sales – I was able to sell 133 books as opposed to the mere 69 I sold in 2021. As the saying goes, “the best advertisement for your books is a new book” – the new book I published brought renewed attention to by previous work (and, presumably, my Patreon campaign).
A lot of self-published authors report that the majority of their sales are for ebooks. I did not find this to be the case – a slight majority of my sales are paperback and hardcover sales. While I do my best to make the ebooks functional and readable, I suspect that the sheer number of footnotes makes the printed versions more accessible.
The single largest market was unsurprisingly the USA, followed by the UK and Germany. I would love to break into other large markets for English-language books (such as India), but as of yet have found no viable way of doing so.
While I started my social media efforts last year with a focus on Twitter, I no longer felt comfortable with doing so after the change of management in the fall. Instead, I switched over to Mastodon, where I eventually found a haven at thefolklore.cafe. I am pleased to report that engagement there is vastly better than at Twitter. While I do miss some of the people I’ve encountered on Twitter, I do not miss its algorithm. I now post random folk tales from my backlog three times a day over there, as well as other personal musings.
I also maintain a Facebook Page, but while there are some lovely people over there who frequently comment on the tales I share there, growth has been almost completely absent after an initial spurt. Still, I will keep maintaining that page in the hopes that it takes off one day. Instagram remains a wretched hive of spam and villainy, however. If it wasn’t possible to use the Meta Business Suite to schedule the same posts that I schedule for my Facebook page, I would not bother with it.
As mentioned above, I share my translations under a Creative Commons Zero license. I do this for these reasons:
- The original sources are use are already in the public domain, and thus it only seems fair if this also applies to their translations.
- These tales represent a cultural heritage that should not just be written down in books and forgotten, but told and retold in new forms for new generations.
Thus, it is particularly gratifying that several people have taken me up on this offer and shared these tales anew. You can see the list of such media adaptions (which is now getting rather lengthy) here. A special mention goes to Rory of Varietal, whose “Fireside Fairytales” have covered a lot of these tales. And if you know of any other adaptions, tell me about it – I am always happy to add them to the list!
As far as the rest of this website is concerned, I am continuing to add to the German Folklore Map as I finish translations, and I have started to apply the number scheme from my books. The List of Tales remains sadly unfinished, however. Beyond last year’s Stakeholder Report, I only managed to finish a single blog post. While this post was important, I’d like to do more blogging in the future – but unfortunately, it has to remain a lower priority than my actual translation work.
In 2022, I earned the following:
- €1,477.18 from my Patreon campaign (up from €834.17)
- €539.01 from book sales at Amazon (up from €299.36)
Expenses were also lower in 2022, since I had already commissioned the cover illustration for Lurkers at the Threshold back in 2021 and did not commission any new artwork last year. The remaining expenses were €245.56 for editing and website hosting.
This left me with €1,231.62 in pre-tax income – a very nice change from the -€81.92 loss I had for last year!
My basic approach remains unchanged from last year:
- Publish more translations of German folk tales on my Patreon campaign
- Bundle 100 of these translations into books centered on specific themes
- Talk about it on social media with the goal of attracting more customers and Patreon supporters
As the increase in revenue last year shows, this approach works, and while I might refine this process, I am unlike to change these fundamentals.
Something I also hope to do later this year is “going wide”. So far, I have only sold my books via Amazon – not because of any exclusive deals, but simply because I have not gotten around to setting up my books on other platforms.
I will also seek to interact with other folklore enthusiasts more. Beyond the media adaptions discussed above, I also recently participated on a Twitch Discussion on the interactions between folklore and role-playing games. I quite enjoyed playing the role of the “German folklore expert” on this panel, and would love to do more of this in the future.
At my current pace, I feel that a release once every 1.5 years or so is realistic. The manuscript for the next book, Old Goatfoot, is currently being reviewed by me before I start a call for alpha readers. I hope to publish it sometime in the fall.
While a lot of self-publishing authors focus on a “rapid release” strategy for their books, I am currently not able to accelerate my release schedule further. I have a fairly demanding day job with decent wages that pay the bill, as well as a long-running mortgage. While reducing the hours I work at this job might be negotiable, I will not do so until the revenues from my translation work have greatly increased beyond the current levels.
But who knows? If I keep at this, continue to release new translations and new books, and revenues keep on increasing, it might become feasible in a few years.