... having spent a few days sorting out some business things back end, all of which is part of the Great Plan to make life a little smoother, I remembered that I'd worked out a bunch of percentages regarding sales towards the end of last year, and found them to be rather interesting.
For the period of October 2012 to October 2013, this is the approximate breakdown of sales/outlets/etc in terms of royalties & turnover, not profit:
- Wholesale PDFs 0.6%
- Teaching 1.5%
- Wholesale print, books (excluding Amazon/CreateSpace) 1.6%
- Wholesale print, single patterns 3.3%
- CreateSpace/Amazon 6.7%
- Direct PDF sales, eBooks + single patterns (this website, Ravelry, Craftsy, Etsy, Knitpicks) 86.3%
It always fascinates me when I discuss with industry friends the differences in our strengths and markets - mine is very clearly in one area! (and that's down to your support, dear readers :)
While it's not common for folks to share this kinda info, I have with good reason. I think it enforces or explains or even justifies some of the decisions I've reached. And if it helps folks to understand the market, even better.
As of last week, I switched off my CreateSpace/Amazon titles. The quality has being going steadily downhill and I really wasn't keen for books to be going out, with my name on, and be totally in the dark about the quality. Because that customer would associate that poor printing with me, and that's not good. Added to that the moral conflict that comes from working with Amazon, I decided it was time to quit.
The books will be available in print in due course, fear not! I don't want to give up my print options, but I hope folks will understand that at the moment it isn't the highest priority. This time of year sees virtually zero print sales so it is absolutely the best time to make the switch, and the print books will reappear ready for Hat knitting season, all with a better quality finish to boot. At the moment, the 4 Woolly Toppers collections will be the first back into print, a) because I have the layout sorted and it's an easy reformat and b) because they are currently the best sellers in print. Bambeanies and Going Straight will be offered at a later date.
(and with figures like these, I think it's clear why I stick to POD.)
Naturally, they're all still available as eBooks! The files have been updated to remove the ISBNs, which belonged to CS.
I've also decided to stop all wholesaling of PDFs to shops. For the time it takes me to battle with our internet and get files uploaded, it's not really ideal and there's little return for the frustration.
In addition to this, I'm starting to switch Ravelry In-Store pattern sales back on. That means bricks and mortar stores can now access certain patterns even if they're out of stock of the print versions. This is a much easier option for me, as the patterns are already listed on Ravelry and the PDFs uploaded, so it's pretty efficient. I think it's a smoother option for shops than wholesale of PDFs, too. Not all of my patterns are available yet - the huge job of reformatting all patterns into the new format, and adding in the bonus tutorials, has started. And as each pattern receives it's new version, the In-Store sales will be switched on.
As the new versions of the patterns are uploaded to Ravelry and my few other outlets, they'll also be uploaded to my print distributor. Just as with the print books, I want to keep my single patterns in print, even though the print side of things brings in a much smaller slice. Remaining accessible to the print/offline market is important to me, and although the digital side of things is far more convenient and provides a better return, there are many knitters who are not online or simply prefer the feel of a nice printed copy in their hands, and I get that. There have been times when I'm tempted to drop the print altogether, and I can't promise that it'll stay forever, but I'll do what I can to maintain it.
Teaching... well, that's going to remain small. I've been there and done that with teacher burnout and I want to keep my classes few and far between... I feel that makes them a bit more special for both my students and myself.
The next great reformat has started (was it only 4 or 5 years ago that I did this before??) and they are looking great. Kudos to Clare for developing such a great layout for me. I'm rephotographing loads of Hats, even reknitting a few samples, which I hope will bring life back to a few unnoticed and more deserving patterns. It's actually really rather relaxing to sit and knit from an old pattern of an evening; there's something quite soothing about revisiting a previous journey.
I'm making more of my educational side with the new layout. Illustrated tutorials will be included in most patterns (where relevant, space permitting) which in turn, I hope, helps teach new techniques and instill a bit of confidence. My patterns get used for this purpose a lot, so why not help that along? Now that wholesale is mostly covered (print, In-Store sales), yarn shops can offer workshops and teach directly from my patterns, run KALs, encourage technique-a-longs or gift making and much more, just as we do online. Adding the extra tutorials in some patterns will see a slight price increase, but only on some of the cheaper patterns, taking them from £2.50 to £3 - for print purposes, 4 pages (including the cover) is the set page count, and that in turn sets the price. 50p extra on a pattern to have all the extra info isn't a great stretch, methinks.
After a lengthy discussion in my Ravelry group, I've tweaked the front cover slightly to include extra info, and here's one example, Encircle which was updated last week (you can access it from your Rav library or download link) (click to make photo biggable)
As you can see, the tutorials that are included are listed, as are the skills. There are also more specific details about the yarn and about the sample, both of which should help in choosing the right yarn and the right size for your Hat.
The reformatting and changing over is a big big job. I'm not going to promise when it will all be done! But it will be, eventually. I'm kinda enjoying it at the moment... it's is the perfect task to help keep me busy and feel useful when my brain flatlines over the creative side of things. Each pattern can take a few hours though, especially rescaling the images, and finishing about 10 a week is probably an accurate estimate. I'm having words with myself not to rush, and I ask kindly for your patience, too.
There once was talk about converting my patterns and eBooks for the eReader market, but that's bottom of the priority list right now. I think there's a decent market there for simple patterns, but that simplification of the document seems to go against the grain a bit... how would I include charts? Could I add the tutorials? Maybe next year. Getting this website mobile device friendly is a higher priority, methinks.
I'm happy with the way things are moving. All this streamlining means less admin for me, long term. It means I can free up some headspace and provide a bit more time to hang out and talk Hats. It means the knitter gets a better pattern, and a better experience.
I'm one of those folk who needs to tie up their loose ends before they can get their head straight. This is me tying up loose ends, and making durable, efficient knots :)