As an author, it's easy to become downtrodden with sales numbers. This is especially true if you primarily write short stories. You sell so few in the beginning that every sale counts. Other authors may complain about only selling 10 copies a day for the past week. You may laugh and commiserate that your sales are also down, conveniently neglecting to mention that you've never in your life had a double-digit sales day. Selling 3 copies on Amazon is a fantastic day for you.
In situations such as these it's more important than ever to keep the big picture in mind. Right now I make about $15 a month from Amazon from ebook sales. Will this pay my rent? Not even close. But that's $15 I didn't have before.
I first published on Amazon November 2010. So I pulled up my December 2010 Excel sales report. In December 2010 I made $0.70 from Amazon US. Yes, that is a decimal in front of the 7. 70 cents. I sold two copies during that whole month.
In any area of self-employment it takes 3-5 years to establish yourself. As in, you are projected to lose money or just barely break even for the first two years. It's important to keep in mind that we are talking about years here, not weeks or days. Easily confused increments of time in the self-publishing world.
So then I pulled up my December 2011 Excel sales report. One year later I made $12.23 from Amazon US. No, I will not be buying groceries with this. But as a company, I am making over 1000% more. If you want to be specific, my income increased 1,647%.
That's an enormous increase. No, I don't expect this kind of increase every year. I have also not yet broken even in amount spent on various expenses such as covers. As I said before, losses are to be expected the first two years. But the fact that I saw any increase over the course of one year means that my "company" is heading in the right direction.
So don't sweat it if one month you sold 4 copies and the next you sold 3.5 (you had a return but the sales ranking boost still counts for a .5, right?). Look at your overall growth as a company.