Saturday, September 3, 2011

August Sales Stats and an Elephant

Looking at other authors’ stats and hearing the grumbling in the various forums, it seems August was, for a lot of folk, not a very lucrative month.

Spoil of War’s sales could easily have lost the same ground that many of its siblings-in-arms' books lost if not for a certain review that broke early in the month.

The Elephant

I’m not one to avoid elephants in the room, and I won’t avoid acknowledging this one either. That doesn’t mean I have to talk to it, though. I’ve thought about any number of ways this post could go, but in the end I’ve settled for letting others do the talking for me. Because one thing is clear: Whatever I say will be questioned or refuted, which then begs further engagement. And if I don’t engage, that prompts people to assume I must agree with commenters. It’s a no-win game. One I refuse to play.

So to all the folk who quibble over seeming anachronisms of time and materials (because while it may be ridiculously easy to find pictures of Roman war saddles, it’s also ridiculously easy to discover that they were already losing favor by the third century CE), yet who not only forgive but demand anachronistic thinking from characters, I’ll point you to 3 links:
While there are other more favorable reviews I could point to, I won’t chance that those reviewers will be insulted and their integrity called into question the way other respectable, legitimate reviewers who have said good things about Spoil have been. Here then, a balanced review from a respected site where the reviewer reviewed Spoil precisely because of all the hubbub. (You can also look at the ratings bestowed there upon other [traditionally published] books for more insight into how Spoil compares:
A timely article by Alyssa Rosenberg, a correspondent for the and The Washington Monthly, takes to task Sady Doyle’s critique of George R.R. Martin’s popular and hugely successful Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) series. There is much in Rosenberg’s article – and in its 80+ comments – that resonates with the Dear Author review and its ensuing comments. I’ll leave it to you to sort out the similarities. 
     “It is now more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in modern wars.”
          - Major General Patrick Cammaert, former Deputy Force Commander, MONUC.
This hearing underscores the number of women and children in the last couple of decades (~1 million) who have been raped as spoils. What is the acceptable modern response for these women behavior-wise? Or are these million women simply not heroine material?

Other than pointing to the above discussions, I will not engage further on this. Thank you for understanding.

Back To Sales Numbers

I can probably credit that DA review for sales of Spoil not slipping like sales for so many other authors did. What effect the backlash of 1-star reviews and the rash of people popping over to Amazon and Goodreads to vote the good reviews down and the bad ones up will have on future sales we’ll find out together. Still keeping a running total in the sidebar.

The most fun I had was watching the sales on August 31. Up to that point, the sales numbers for July (when I upped the price from 99c to $2.99) exactly matched those for April (its first month at 99c) at 68, and August sales were running neck-and-neck with May at 77. Late in the evening, August pushed to the front by a nose with 78 sales.

The UK showed Spoil a little extra love, but Amazon UK is an easy site to seduce. Only 8 sales there, yet Spoil hit #12 in historical fantasy (represented by 1448 titles) not once but twice. And it dipped into the Top 100 in historical fantasy in the US (with 1710 titles there) several times throughout the month.

The breakdown:

56 - Amazon US
08 - Amazon UK
12 - Barnes and Noble
02 - Smashwords

The grand totals:

How Does This Compare?

96 respondents on Kindleboards had posted their August sales when I captured them. Disclaimer: This is anecdotal and non-scientific. Keeping that in mind, for respondents who broke their sales out by title:

34 titles sold less than 100 copies = 45%
30 titles sold between 101 and 1000 copies = 40%
7 titles sold between 1001 and 2000 copies = 9%
4 titles sold over 2001 copies = 6%

More granularly:

1-20 = 20
21-50 = 9
51 - 100 = 5
101 – 200 = 10
201 – 300 = 2
301 – 600 = 5
601 – 800 = 6
801 – 1000 = 7
1001 – 1500 = 4
1501 – 2000 = 3
2001 – 3200 = 4

And for respondents who reported aggregated sales across multiple titles:

1 – 20 = 4 (across 2-6 titles)
21 – 100 = 3 (across 4-15 titles)
101 – 300 = 3 (across 5-6 titles)
301 – 1000 = 5 (across 2-16 titles)
1001 – 2000 = 3 (across 3-5 titles)
2001 – 5000 = 1 (across 31 titles)
5001 – 16,000 = 1 (across 4 titles)
20,000 = 1 publisher (across 5 authors)

Next month bookkeeping gets more complicated (I hope!) with the addition of sales for SECTOR C.

(PS: Comment moderation is on today.)


Sarah Laurenson said...

I like Mrs. Giggles. Very even handed and realistic. And maybe a bit to ponder for you? I don't know as I haven't gotten that far in Spoil yet. Decent score, too. That's awesome.

It's interesting to me, and I'll just reiterate one point from my blog post on this subject, that these women who decry having realistic violence and rape in a book turn around and expect the victim to become a murderer. An eye for an eye and all that. Brings out more of my concern for our society as a whole and how we answer wrongs done to us.

I was just talking on another blog about how our children are killing children for little to no reason. And the adults aren't much better. Or maybe they're worse.

And yes, rape is one of the weapons of war as well as a "reward" today. The attempts at genocide through rape are well known in both the animal and human kingdom. Take a look at lions and how a new male will kill the cubs of his predecessor so he can sire his own empire - sow the seeds of his particular greatness.

Another aspect to that brouhaha was the idea that only one opinion was valid and that one, of course, was theirs. It's an interesting cultural aspect to study. What is at the bottom of such a point of view?

This business is very subjective. One short look into how many rejections a best seller previously received is enough to see that not every book fits every person. It takes that submission dating game to find the right match (if you're inclined to go the "traditional" publishing route).

Wilkins MacQueen said...

This was a diffcult post to read.

Rape is a violent act few can recover from.

It represents invasion of the worst sort, a physical violation of this magnitude can not ever be forgotten or forgiven.

I think you are wise not to "engage" as you said, it is a no win scenario.

So, write your stories, and don't worry or think about the societal implications. Just write. Readers will know.

Best Divine Miss Phoenix,

Landra said...

The articles are extremely thought-provoking. I found the review to be tastefully done and a different opinion. I realize that not everyone will like Spoil of War, but I did and regardless of differing opinions-- I stand by my thoughts. Oh, the article discussing Martin's book really peaked my interest, fascinating actually.

I fell into the boat of silence with the DA review, as I found no need to defend myself. I still don't. I do think that readers should make up their own minds in the long haul. I don't judge books by the cover or the opinions of others. I make my decision based on the words written within. Similarly I do the same thing with people.

Sales numbers are awesome! I've enjoyed watching and learning from the experience. Thus far it seems that publicity, negative or positive, has not affected sales in the long run. As always I look forward to the next set of statistics.