Saturday, July 2, 2011

June Sales Stats And An Update On Sector C

But First...

Don't forget all proceeds for sales of the Extinct anthology now through July 15 go to the Save the Tasmanian Devil Appeal!


Funny how we're never satisfied, isn't it? At the beginning of June, my goal was to sell 100 copies of Spoil of War in June (triple digits!). When I passed that mark, I thought, "If I can only sell 150!" And when I passed that mark, the goal became 200. Now I'm disappointed that I came up short of the 200 mark when I should be happy I nearly doubled my original hoped-for goal and more than doubled my May sales. Keep reading. I'm about to get my come-uppance.

Spoil also made some good headway the latter half of the month when I changed one of its categories to Historical Fantasy, where many of the books set during the Arthurian era co-reside. (I would have chosen Arthurian Fantasy if that choice had been offered when I uploaded; you can browse it as a section, so not sure why it's not a selectable category -- such are the mysteries of Amazon.) It hit the Top 100 Bestseller lists for Historical Fantasy not just in the Kindle store but in the overall book store, where it's competing with multiple versions of popular titles, including hardcover, paperback, audio and, of course, Kindle. Some books are on the list multiple times in different formats. For almost 3 weeks my baby went up against traditionally published books and held its own. In fact, it hit the Hot New Releases list in Historical Fantasy where they list the Top 80 books recently published in the genre, and my little Spoil hung out in the Top 10 for days, making it as high as #5.

Ah, it had a good run for a completely unknown author with minimal promotion.

Sadly, those days are done. It's no longer a new release. And I just upped the price from 99 cents to $2.99. It has to start over finding an audience.

My best marketing idea -- advertising it as the cure for Camelot and Game of Thrones withdrawal and tweeting using the series' hashtags during strategic viewing times in both the US and UK -- fell flat. Click-through was pretty decent: about 120 people clicked over to the US Amazon site. Usually you expect a 2-3% conversion rate if you've targeted your audience appropriately, but my rate was 0%. Ah well, maybe next year during season 2 of Game of Thrones. Of course, they went and cancelled Camelot, so no help there.

I will confess I caved and tweaked the cover a bit, putting a semi-transparent banner over the woman's chest and upping the size of my name. It was a "hot" read at 99 cents, but maybe a bit more sophisticated read at $2.99. Different audience. And since Amazon hasn't recategorized it back to erotica, nor have I heard much outcry over the rougher bits in the book, I've tweaked the description to both shorten it and to de-emphasize the rape and pedophilia, calling it simply violence toward women and children. I still want to be honest with potential readers who wish to avoid those topics in any form.

That, of course, isn't the smart way to make changes. If a product isn't selling, you make changes one at a time to isolate the cause. But honestly, as I looked at the "Customers Who Bought Also Bought" associations, 68% of the associated books are (or recently were) 99 centers. I think Spoil was selling because of its price point. I didn't make changes in order to increase sales to the bargain hunters but to entice readers who aren't looking for 99 cent books.

If Spoil isn't selling well later on, I still have the option of dropping the price back down. I think the strategy to start it out at 99 cents was a good one. It climbed the ranks a bit, had a decent run in its first three months and, out of the 95 associated books on its page, Spoil turns up in 24 of their "Also Bought" lists. I'm not sure it would have established itself so quickly at a higher price.

So my stats for Spoil of War for June:

158: Amazon US
015: Amazon UK
010: Barnes & Noble
001: Smashwords

184: June Total

I'm keeping a running total in my sidebar, but for those of you reading through readers, here are all the numbers so far.

184: June
077: May
068: April

329: Grand Total

And on July 1, I sold my first 3 copies at $2.99:

2: Amazon US
1: B&N

Sector C Update

Several of you have asked where I am with my near-future thriller, Sector C (thank you for asking!). The requested full is with a publisher right now under consideration. If they reject it, I think it's another great candidate for self-pubbing. It's had tons of positive feedback from agents, including a couple of revision letters and some of the most heartwrenching rejections I've ever had to deal with. If you think you'd kill for a personal rejection on a full, you'd think again if you got letters complimenting the overall writing and pacing (lots of compliments on the pacing!), telling you that there's really nothing they would change about it and they're sure it will sell but they're looking to take on more character-driven science fiction or they're in the UK and they think it will undoubtedly sell in the US and I'd be better positioned with a US agent (and yes, the irony is that it's at a UK publisher now), or, or, or...

These are not form letters talking about the subjectivity of the industry or popping in the "another agent may feel differently" boilerplate verbiage -- I've gotten plenty of those, too, in my day. These are honest-to-goodness personal letters where the agent is apologizing for not offering to rep a book they know will sell. Getting one of those is like a knife to the belly. Getting a handful? Let's just say I'd trade them for simple, direct "No" form letters any day.

Whichever way things go, I should have news on Sector C's forward movement within the next 6 weeks.

Queries Update

As for queries and synopses, there are some revisions coming up next week and the queue is still open for a couple of new versions. Business as usual for at least another week or so :o)

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