The newest edition of The Sales Voyeur Series!
(I guess I should make that an official title of some sort...)
Wow. It's been 4 months since I published Spoil of War out and I don't think I've ever worked as hard for this kind of return on investment. Not working on promoting the book so much, but in learning more about self-pubbing, reading countless blogs and scouring what little public anecdotal experience about actual sales I can find. As well as watching and comparing the release of indie books vs traddie books (I am soooo trademarking "traddie").
All useful knowledge, I'm sure. The trick is analyzing it all and turning it into actionable data. Despite all my work and all the information I've been storing away, I really haven't made much headway in how to apply my learnings in any meaningful way.
Is there a pattern, a key, some common denominator that ensures any book released into the wild will not only make a go of it and survive but thrive and multiply its success?
Short answer: no.
Long answer: yes, luck.
Longer answer: luck and time.
Best answer: luck, time and money.
Today, I'm recapping the struggle of a single novel sent out series-less, penniless and alone into a harsh and competitive land as we wait to see if it will soar free -- or get sucked up into a jet engine when it tries.
The big change for July was upping the price from 99c where it had been for 3 full months to $2.99. Evidence seems to indicate there are 3 types of readership out there:
- Those who snatch-and-grab at anything that looks even remotely interesting if it's free and/or 99c - stocking up now for later reading.
- Those who bargain hunt and are more discerning in what they choose. This type is generally open to reading indie work at low but not necessarily rock-bottom prices as they've learned to be wary.
- Those who follow more traditional buying patterns and purchase the e-versions of authors they already know and like and/or are recommended via traditional publishing houses and marketing venues. Books priced above $5 are usually attractive to them based on this buying behavior.
Darned if I know.
Spoil wasn't doing badly at 99c and, left there, would probably have continued moving up the ranks a bit. Had I had other books in the hunt (discounting the Extinct anthology because multi-author anthos are whole other beasties), I would probably have left it as a 99c loss leader just to attract readers. But I wanted to experiment with the price, even knowing it would take a beating numbers-wise.
It did. Copy-wise, that is. But how about profit-wise?
Simple math tells us that a 35% royalty on 99c equals about 35c. A 70% royalty on $2.99 minus delivery fees equals about $2.03. (That's assuming buyers in participating territories; some copies sold from Amazon, such as those to Australia, I believe, can only make 35% royalties. Yeah, it gets complicated.)
Keeping things simple, in general, means that to make the same money I did in June when I sold 184 copies at 99c, I would have to sell 32 copies at $2.99.
So I set a reasonable goal of selling 32 copies, or at least 1 per day across all venues. I sold 68 copies total. Coincidentally, I sold 68 copies the first month out at 99c too. And no, I have no idea what to make of it. Yet. Trending takes time.
Marketing-wise, the only things different in July were:
- I became active on the Kindleboards forum
- I made a couple of promo announcements on the nook boards.
- I put up Spoil in Smashwords' Summer Sale at 1/2 off (made 5 sales from that campaign).
- Otherwise, no ads and minimal promo on my part.
The ego-loving bit in me is disappointed the book hasn't taken off virally and isn't selling hundreds or thousands of copies in a month.
The addict in me is disappointed that my pleasure center isn't appropriately rewarded every time I click on the report buttons to see current sales numbers.
The realist in me knows that I've been quite fortunate getting the sales I have. Many others are not faring as well as Spoil is. So thank you to everyone who has bought it!
Show Me The Money
Here's a breakdown by venue and month.
Total copies sold in 4 months: 397
Total amount made: $249.44 (£153.14)
More Real-World Stats
How do these stats compare? I spent an inordinate amount of time compiling some interesting but overall not very helpful anecdotal statistics left in a Kindleboards thread about July sales. At the time I compiled them, I captured 93 responses.
46 respondents provided sales totals for individual titles. 47 respondents did not break sales figures down individually but provided aggregated totals across all the titles they have for sale. Where overall number of titles was not provided, I assumed the number was equal to the count of titles in the author's sig line. This is not scientific, folks, and it's not meant to be anything other than a curiosity to hmmmm over.
You'll see a range for number sold first, then the number of people reporting sales within that range. For example, in the first group, 10 people reported they sold between 1 and 10 copies of a single title in July. Another 10 people reported they sold between 11 and 50 copies. Etc.
Sales Numbers For Individual Titles:
1-10 - 10
11-50 - 10
51-100 - 6
100-200 - 7
200-300 - 4
300-1000 - 1
1000-2000 - 1
2000-3000 - 2
3000-4000 - 4
30,000+ - 1
Sales Numbers Across Multiple Titles
1-100 across 2-6 books - 14
101-200 across 2-8 books - 8
201-1000 across 2-5 books - 6
~900 across 17 books - 1
1000-1500 across 5+ books - 4
2500-4000 across 2-7 books - 6
4000-10,000 across 4+ books - 6
12,000 across 8 books - 1
~20,000 across 5 books - 1
So that's it for the July recap. On Thursday, I'll reveal my super-secret publishing/marketing project. Keep your expectations low.