Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Sales Voyeur: January Sales

My need for instant gratification is not being catered to right now. Nearly a third of the month of February is gone and many of the puzzle pieces around January royalties are still outstanding. I'll have to come back later in the month to backfill, so look for an updated voyeur peek in the week or so ahead.

Again dear readers who are not writers, this is a post about the ugly business side of writing, not the beautiful enchantment that comes from connecting words sweated out on the page with readers eager to be transported to new worlds and have their emotions toyed with. Your part in the equation is never, ever forgotten.

Amazon reporting has been unreliable since the crash of Feb 1. In no way do I mean to infer that Amazon has "lost" any sales. They have redundant billing systems and the data is there; it's just not finding its way into the reports in a reliable fashion right now, or with its usual near-real-time precision. There are rumors of a new reporting interface on the horizon, which if true, may account for some of the wonkiness. Last evening saw a huge influx of updates to the week ending on Feb 4 as well as changes to this week's figures. Whether what we're seeing now are the final totals, who knows? What I do know is that trying to reconcile last week, especially after the reporting meltdown late on Jan 31, with this week's captured data is a battle I won't win.

I'm not intimidated by numbers or spreadsheets, but because Amazon isn't telling us what's actually being filtered through, it's trying to make sense of a data dump without a key. And with 25 titles across 5 regions, and most of the "sales" divided between free downloads and paid sales, I finally have to concede I don't know what it all means. And won't until I'm convinced all the final figures are in.

Still, I have data to play with through Amazon, unlike Apple. There I have to wait until Smashwords receives the reports from Apple, crunches them to take their cut, then delivers them out to me in a monthly report 2 weeks after the month ends.

Waiting 6 months for a royalty statement from a traditional publisher? Hell on earth for a numbers junkie/control freak like me.

Those of us with books enrolled in KDP Select are also still waiting to see what the commission per borrow will be for January. More than the $1.70 it was in December? Less? I will say, I'm seeing a fairly drastic decrease in borrows in February, which makes sense. The Kindle Fire comes with a 1-month free membership in Prime, which means the free month for all the holiday Kindles would have been either December or January.

So, reserving the right to update these figures once the final tallies are all in later this month, here are the sales stats for January.

The Numbers Sold

Vet Tech Tales

This little book trundled right along without any further props since its mid-December release and without a review to its name until recently when it received its first and, so far, only one. It's exclusive to Amazon.

194 - US
..34 - UK
_____

228 Total Sales
..32 Borrows

Spoil of War

Still waiting on the numbers from Apple where Spoil continued to be in the Top 3 in historical fantasy in the US, UK, Canada and Australia stores much of the month. For the first time, I'll have historical data to compare (December to January), and doing that in a separate post might be beneficial, especially as we see so little in the way of iTunes data.

91 - Amazon US
36 - Amazon UK
..2 - Amazon France
..1 - Amazon Italy
..4 - B&N
18 - OmniLit
..2 - Smashwords
?? - Apple
______

153 Total Sales (+Apple)

SECTOR C

Catching a bit of a break on a lot of fronts (including the Kindle Storefront!), this near-future medical thriller pulled its weight and then some in January. With a lot of debut advances hovering around $3000 - $5000 in the traddie world, SECTOR C earned that out during January. Its post-free run in February hasn't been quite as successful, but it's still looking like another 4-figure month. It's exclusive to Amazon since Jan 5.

1902 - US
....11 - UK
.....2 - Germany
...10 - B&N
______

1925 - Total Sales
..274 - Borrows
17,000 - Freebies


How Much?

Let's break it down and add it up.

Vet Tech Tales

228 copies at 99c = $79.80
32 borrows at $1.70 = $54.40
_______

$134.20


Spoil of War

115 copies at $1.99 = $80
39 copies at 76p = $16.41
_______

$96.41


SECTOR C

50 copies at 99c = $17.50
$2.99 @ 35% royalty = $106.75
$2.99 @ 70% = $2533.11
$3.99 @ 35% = $58.65
$3.99 @ 70% =  $1307.85
274 borrows @ $1.70 = $465.80
___________

$4472.16


Aggregated royalties for all 3 books

$4702.77 = Estimated January Total (+Apple royalties; borrow amounts estimated from Dec payout)

5 comments:

Matt said...

Sector C is killing it.

These numbers are encouraging. Off the top of my head *peaks at calculator* you're making $30/hour in a forty hour work week.

Jo-Ann said...

Well deserved, Phoenix. Nice job.

Peter Dudley said...

Awesome.

Whirlochre said...

This is truly great news and it couldn't happen to a nicer menagerie-festooned flaming avian of a tiger-pettin' writer.

As we all know, the trad pub route is fraught with perils of all kinds, not least of which is that perfectly good novels can be rejected over and over — and even if they make it they may take an age and a half to get ready to sell (often for peanuts, as far as the writer is concerned).

Most writers will not do as well as you're doing, principally because the self-pubbing option will attract a whole load of crappy writers, but those who do will clearly ask big questions of the publishers and agents. For a long time I've wondered about the money, why it is that plenty of people can go out and earn a living in exchange for their skills and talents — except writers, who have to go out and do something else and then get on with the main event when everyone else is tucked up in bed. Unless you're somewhere on the JK Rowling scale, as things stand, you're not going to be helped too much in this regard by the current publishing model, which still advises "don't give up the day job". That's how well the trad route serves us most of the time.

I suspect the continued success of indie writers is going to force publishers to up their game.

Cheese Messiah said...

Thank you so much for posting these very informative figures! I have just started out on Amazon myself, with very little success (but its only been a few weeks) and it is encouraging to see others making a go of it.