2013: Year of the Roller Coaster

Posted: January 7, 2014 in Blogging, Business, Publishing, Thrillers, Writing

As the title indicates 2013 was full of ups and downs for me on both a professional and personal level. There were a lot of great things that happened in 2013, but the year wasn’t void of disappointments and tragedy either.

First Horror Novel Published

Devil's Nightmare Original eBook CoverA year ago today, I published my second book and first horror novel Devil’s Nightmare through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform. I also published it through Smashwords, Kobo and Barnes & Noble’s Nook publishing platforms, but publishing on the Kindle is what shined for me. More on that later. I started writing Devil’s Nightmare in January 2012 after quitting my job at the local newspaper a few months prior, and nine months later the first draft was complete. It was a lot of fun writing and publishing this novel and I take great pride in the fact that I was able to get it written and published within a year. This is compared to writing and publishing my first book Pursuit of a Dream, which took over two years to write and I didn’t even handle the publishing part myself for the print edition, but that’s a whole other story.

A year ago today I hit the publish button with a homemade cover that I created for Devil’s Nightmare with a free eBook cover program I found online (I can’t remember which one I used). It was pretty plain with a photo of lightning that I used with permission from the photographer. With plans of having my cover redesigned for the print edition I figured this cover would work for a couple of months until I could scrape up the money for a professional designed one. Sales were pretty much non-existent at first, and to be honest I could not help but be discouraged. It’s normal, though, and I got over it. I just needed to work on getting the word out. It wasn’t going to sell on its own and marketing has never been one of my strong suits and I knew it was going to take a lot of time and patience. At this point writing isn’t my primary source of income, so patience was definitely the key.

Financial Highs and Lows

Jireh Administrative ServicesMy main income comes from my home-based administrative support business called Jireh Administrative Services. I provide various services from transcribing, PowerPoint presentations, general office support, and also write resumes from time to time all from the comfort of my home office. I also added “funeral support services” and work part-time at a funeral home (perfect for a horror writer, right?). This basically materialized from working as the obituaries coordinator at the newspaper. One of the funeral home owners offered me a part-time job when I left the newspaper, so I help occasionally in the evenings, but I have also worked funerals driving the limo and hearse. I usually just help out during visitations and rosaries, though. Anyway, by the summer of last year I was keeping very busy and feeling confident that leaving the newspaper was the best decision of my life. Life was good and I no longer had to deal with ridiculous office politics.

Keeping very busy with my home business and working with the funeral home to help pay the bills also resulted in unintended consequences. Due to not being very structured I didn’t reach my goal of publishing Devil’s Nightmare: Premonitions this month. As a matter of fact, I barely did any writing during the last half of the year, so I’m pretty disappointed about that.

However, something happened, which I think was both a blessing and a curse. In the last quarter of 2013 I only received about a third of the business I was receiving during the spring and summer. The curse . . . a lot less income. The blessing . . . more time to write and time to focus on getting more structured in 2014. On a positive note, while I did lose a big chunk of income for Jireh Administrative Services, sales for Devil’s Nightmare have finally become steady and I’m now receiving monthly royalty checks from Amazon.

Devil’s Nightmare enrolled in Amazon’s KDP Select Program

Devils NightmareIn July after having virtually no sales on any eBook platform, except for a few here and there on Amazon, I decided to try Amazon’s KDP Select program, which basically meant I would be selling my eBook version of Devil’s Nightmare exclusively on Amazon in exchange for free promotional tools and enrollment in the Kindle Lending Program. I figured I had nothing to lose. So, I set up my first free promotion, which I shared and advertised on Goodreads. After the free promotion I went from selling just a few copies of Devil’s Nightmare per month to hitting a couple of bestseller lists on Amazon UK . . . actual sales, not free downloads. Sales were also better in the US, but they were still pretty slow. Once I started getting more reviews on Amazon US, however, Devil’s Nightmare began outselling the book in the U.K. I also started getting sales for my first book Pursuit of a Dream, which is also now exclusive on Amazon.

Devil's Nightmare (6 in Horror Suspense Amazon UK)Right now my focus is on getting Devil’s Nightmare into as many Kindles as possible, so I decided to keep the book at 99 cents, which is what seems to be the sweet spot for my novels right now. Granted I would get a lot more royalties by selling them at $2.99, but I get a lot more readers at the 99 cent price point. Volume is more important to me right now than royalty income. It’s pretty cool to see my novel listed next to Stephen King’s and Dean Koontz’s books too! I’m nowhere near retirement numbers, but to me I consider the results after signing up for KDP Select a huge success.

Rest in Peace, Grandpa

GrandpaAnd now my life’s roller coaster climbs another peak and plummets at high speed once again. Actually, throughout the year the subject of my grandfather has been a very touchy one. Without going into a lot of detail, my grandmother died in 2008, and then shortly afterwards my grandfather met someone at one of the local Bingo halls and basically had himself a new companion. That was uncomfortable at first, but he needed companionship. So, everyone in the family was pretty much okay with it . . . at first. To make a long story short, she turned out being a gold digger and just as my grandfather’s health declined this woman convinced him to elope, change the will, moved him 300 miles away from his family and refused to tell anyone where he was living. There’s obviously a lot more to this story. This woman has been married three times, and she will again soon I’m sure because my grandfather died just a few months after this woman married and brainwashed him into thinking his family didn’t love him and was just after his money (It’s not like he was a millionaire and, ahem, she’s the one that was after his money). She pretty much took most of what my grandmother and grandfather had worked for and was going to leave for my mom, aunt, and uncle. My grandmother and grandfather were married for 60 years. This woman knew him for about four or five years and was married to him for only a few months before he died and she took almost everything. All of this could have been prevented, but the legal system makes it extremely difficult to prevent these kinds of things from happening. Law enforcement wouldn’t do anything and adult protection services wouldn’t or couldn’t do anything because they were consenting adults and my grandfather had to be the one to get rid of this woman. I literally could write a book about this whole ordeal. It’s just so unbelievable. You see movies about stuff like this and never think it could actually happen to your family, but it did.

The Rollercoaster Ride Ends and a New Year Begins

So, as you can see, it was quite the roller coaster ride for me and I just gave you the Cliff Notes version even at 1,400 words. However, while the year ended with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth, I do have great expectations for 2014. I have a plan that includes getting back on track with my writing and getting Devil’s Nightmare: Premonitions completed and published by this summer. I may even have another story published by the end of the year if everything works out as planned. Furthermore, for those who have enjoyed Chumming with Sharky™ you’ll be glad to know that it’ll also be making a comeback this year. So, stay tuned and be sure to subscribe to this blog for future updates.

Chumming with Sharky

Oh, and one more thing to add about 2013 that leaves me pouting . . .

I still haven’t won the lottery!

Cheers! Have an awesome and prosperous 2014, everyone!

Sharky Teeth

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Beta Readers: Do I Need Them?
Huge Mistake or Best Decision I Ever Made?
Self-Publishing Seminar in San Antonio

Devil’s Nightmare by Robert Pruneda available in print and eBook formats. Click the image below for more details.
Devil's Nightmare

  1. danniehill says:

    Rob. You’ve always been someone I admire. Really sorry to hear about the ordeal with your grandpa. I think this past year has been tough of lots of us, but you do brighten my life. I too am looking forward to a new year and I intend it to include writing. I’m wishing you great success!

    BTW. I’m back in Thailand for a few months and it’s like coming home. Trying to remember all the reasons I left.


    • Always a pleasure seeing you visit my site, my friend. I appreciate the kind words. The whole thing with my grandpa was a real mess. At least it’s all over with now. It doesn’t make things any better, but the major stress from it is gone. Enjoy your time back in Thailand. Cheers!


  2. justinbog says:

    I like the beginning of this new year as you write about it, and the past year of ups and downs . . . relatable, to say the least. Hoping for better moments ahead.


    • It’s amazing how a year can start off so great and then just end with disappointment. However, it wasn’t all bad. Like I said, Devil’s Nightmare is finally getting some steady sales. I’m not quitting the day job anytime soon, but it is encouraging. We have to start somewhere. Wishing the much success this year, Justin! Cheers!


  3. eden baylee says:

    Sharky, my dear friend,

    I’m aware of the hardships of 2013 for you, and yet despite it, you’ve plowed through and continue to write. I admire your determination and your spirit.

    May 2014 be even more creative and remember my offer of the Chinese mafia 😉