A Modest Ebook Update: November Sales

No major news this month on the ebook front. But I do have an amazingly interesting graph:

Okay, it's just a graph. I apologize for calling it amazingly interesting! As you can see after the big "sale-apalooza" in September (1467 copies) sales have levelled out to 493 in October and 586 in November (actually my second highest sales month now). So sales are beginning to trend upwards, though part of this is due to the fact that Tribes was "free" on Amazon last month and that brought the sales of other books up (and the sales of Tribes rose once it went from free to paid status). What's interesting to me is the colour of the November column. Psychedelic, eh? Well, actually I point it out because each colour represents a different book. A variety of my books are selling consistently now, which is a good thing (the blue colour represents DUST which is still by far my bestselling book). And my monthly income will be just over $800.00. Hey, that's a mortgage payment!
If only I had 1000 books on offer. I'd be a millionaire!*
*Actually I did the math. If my 9 books make me 800 dollars a month then 1000 books only make me 88, 888 dollars a month. Hmmph. What a rip off. I can't even buy a jumbo jet with that...

There's $$ in them thar hills: October Ebook Update

I'm always looking for a clever title for these updates. If anyone has any clever titles please send one my way. I can't keep using Stephen King in my title! He'll come to my house and challenge me to a write off! I can't keep up with that guy! I figure people like the $$$ sign so maybe I'll just keep using that.

Anyway, here's the report on my ebook experiment for October. What you say? You're late! Well, I decided to move these reports to the middle of the month because that's when Amazon sends me my monthly sales records (up until that point it's a bit of guesswork as to exactly how many copies I've sold). So here is your first chart!

Aha, you say. Your sales dropped in October! Ha, so much for that yacht you were dreaming about when you sold all those copies of DUST in September. But wait, I say, let's celebrate the good news first. There have now been over 3000 copies of my self-pubbed books sold. As we speak 3000 people could be reading my words. Or playing games on their iPad. Anyway, that's a nice milestone to pass. It's also important to note that October was the second highest sales month so far.

I did expect sales to slow down after that first bump that I received in September. Mostly that's because I raised my prices. Dust was no longer $1.49 but was bumped up to $2.99. At that price I get the 70% royalty from Amazon. So for each 1.49 book I am making .52 cents (because any book priced at .99-2.98 is a 35% royalty), but for each 2.99 book I'm making $2.09 (or 4x as much). That means I only have to sell 1/4 of the number of books to make the same amount of money. That's math even I can do!

Ah, so let's talk about the money. And about the beautiful American dollar and the lovely British pound. Doesn't the image above make you all teary eyed? Anyway, wipe away the tears. In September my income from U.S. sales on Kindle was $557.64 and from UK Kindle £216.49 which, once converted, adds up to about $897.98 US (I won't further complicate this by converting to Canadian since our dollar is nearly the same as the US). That's a nice tidy sum for very little work (err, if you don't count the weeks it took me to figure out all the various ways to convert files and upload all that ebook "stuff").  So I made $898 dollars by selling 1467 books in September. In October I made $251.96 from US Kindle store and £339.35 from the UK Kindle store for a total of $785.12 U.S. Except this time I only sold around 493 copies. And obviously it's easier to sell fewer copies than it is to sell more.

Two other short observations. One is that the October sales were partially propped up in the UK store because I was giving The Hunchback Assignments away for free for two weeks of that month. The second is that I'm starting to have more sales through the UK store because I have 10 books available there and only 7 in the US (I'm publishing my three Hunchback Assignments books in the UK Store but they are published through Random House in the US).

The only problem with higher prices is that you drop out of the bestseller charts faster and therefore fewer eyes are seeing your books. Already I see that my November sales are slowing. I have yet to have a book "stick" in the charts for a long period of time.

What you want another chart? Look I don't just have charts up my sleeve! Oh, wait there's one right there:

This is the Amazon ranking for The Hunchback Assignments on UK Kindle charts. As you can see it was selling a copy every once in awhile, thus the zig-zag pattern. Then it went "free" on Sept. 23rd (creating that straight line) and became "paid" around October 16th and jumped up to about 1000th spot on the charts (which made it one of the bestselling kids books for a few weeks). It's continuing to slowly decline but it pops back up every once in awhile.

Does anyone have any glue? I'd like to stick it in the top 500 at the very least.

Until Kindle sticky glue is invented, I'll keep on keeping on!


P.S. I do refer to Kindle a lot. My books are sold on other sites. In October I sold 1 book on Kobo, 1 Book on iBooks, and 5 books on Barnes and Noble, so obviously it's easiest to talk about Kindle.

The Brobdingnagian-sized Ebook update!

Yep, I'm going all literary with this update on my ebook sales. We all know from Gulliver's Travels that Brobdingnagian means giant-sized.* And this is a giant-sized report! Well, actually it's kind of small. It's more Lilliputian. But, really, who would click on a headline that says, "Author shouts out about lilliputian book sales!"? Anyway let's start with a chart!

Eeek! My sales have gone all Lilliputian! I was warned about the doldrums of August by other ebook publishers. Apparently sales do drop in August. Get off the beach and buy books everyone! Anyway, here are the numbers.

Feb 12 March 43 April 377 May 204 June 139 July 154 August 72

Abandon ship! That's it mateys, all hands off deck and swim for shore. Oh, wait there were some grand developments. I crossed the 1000 sales barrier. That's good.  And my little experiment last month of giving away this Norse horror book for free worked:

I gave away 7545 copies. But when I switched the book back to "paid" status Amazon's magical algorithms made it shoot up the charts and it sold 33 copies in two weeks (the highest it had averaged was 18 copies in a month). So there was some small immediate benefit to giving it away (plus it now has several new positive reviews). And I hope over time those 7500 readers will look kindly on the other books in the series.

Hey and there's other good news. I released The Hunchback Assignments  and The Dark Deeps in the UK.

The Dark Deeps

That's one of the clever things about ebook publishing. My agent sold the rights to these books to several countries, but the UK hasn't picked it up yet. So, with the click of a button, I can invade the UK. My hope is to make a little noise over there. So far...3 copies sold! C'mon Britain, remember when we Canucks helped out with that Boer war thing? You can finally pay us back!

I am doing a few experiments at the UK amazon with free books...which I'll update at a later date (see, I'm trying to make this all sooo mysterious).

Overall, I had hoped to be further ahead in the ebook world after 7 months. I think the real test of this experiment will come over the next few months which are traditionally the busiest in book sales. And, as I've said before, every copy sold is a copy I wasn't selling before. All of these books were either out of print or not for sale in selected countries, so I'm making money on them now.

And someday that Brobdingnagian load of royalties will come my way, right Gulliver! Right?


*next time you go to Starbucks refuse the Grande Latte and demand a Brobdingnagian latte. That'll shock their organic socks!

The Amazing Million Dollar Ebook Experiment: July Sales

Amazing new stupendous ebook developments this month!Okay, maybe that's a bit of an overstatement, but I have discovered that "free" sells. Or at least it leads to numerous downloads. About the middle of June I made this book free on iBooks and Smashwords: And now it's free on Kindle (just click the above image but click right now because this offer is only good for 12 10 9 minutes--kidding, I was going all slap chop on ya). There is a trick to this because you can't actually just choose "free" on Kindle. Instead Amazon will set your price to the same as the competition. So once Amazon "noticed" that Draugr was free on other websites it automatically made it free on Amazon kindle. Even though I'd read about other people having "free" success, it isn't until you see it for yourself that you believe it. The book became free on Kindle somewhere around July 6th. Within a day it had shot up the "free" charts to as high as #52. By that time there had been 2000 downloads. In the next two days there were another 3000 downloads. Then it began to drop out of the top 100 and the downloads have slowed to about 100 a day so that the total for July is 7402 copies. To put this in perspective the book first came out in 1997 and sold 5000 copies in the space of a year. It took 4 days to "sell" that same amount for free. So Amazon's distribution model really does work (no surprise, eh). In that same time only about 80 copies were downloaded free on iBooks and 0 on Smashwords. What? You want to see a chart? Okay!

This chart shows the # of total sales I've made in the last six months (it's the tiny column second from the right) and the green column is the total free books I've given away. Now how to get those "free" people to buy books? Ah, there's the rub and the dub (and why I did the little experiment). I hope that over time there will be an increase in the sales of the other two books in the series: Aren't they cute? Don't you just want to take them home and cuddle them (on your eReader that is)? Anyway, my theory is that this massive # of downloads will lead to more sales of these two books in the next few months as people read Draugr. Or those thousands of copies of Draugr might sit unloved on people's kindles. Poor electronic words...just waiting to be read. I was pleasantly surprised that there was an immediate increase: Drang sold 4 copies in June and jumped to 18 copies in July on Kindle. Loki sold 7 copies in June and leapfrogged to 16 copies in July on Kindle. So that's a nice increase for both the books. Obviously, I'm not going to get rich from that (it is an extra $69.36 in my pocket, tho, since I make 2.04 per book--they sell for $2.99).

But what about my total sales you ask? Ah, I knew you wanted to see another chart. Consider yourself charted:

As you can see by that chart sales stayed steady for July. Here are the totally exciting numbers:

Feb: 12 March: 43 April: 377 May: 274 June: 139

July: 148

So there hasn't been a huge jump. In fact DUST sold 77 copies on Kindle in June and 79 in July. Gee, that is consistent! I still plan on keeping DUST at .99 cents until I've sold 1000 copies (it's at 727 right now). As a point of interest 126 copies of my books were sold on Kindle this month and 21 on B&N (0 on Smashwords and 0 on iBooks--hmmm guess buying every Apple product in existence doesn't help e-book sales). I don't know what that means other than, well, Kindle is king obviously. The good news is I've nearly sold 1000 copies in total. That should happen next month. Oh, and I haven't included Kobo numbers in this because they don't send me my report until mid way through the month...but I only expect 4 or 5 more sales through them.
By this point I had hoped I'd be making enough money to be on a beach somewhere with my feet up while I hired retired ewoks or sasquatches to bash out my novels. I mean isn't that what the internet promised? Easy riches? But I'm satisfied with chugging along. I've done all the experiments that I can think of so far (other than releasing a brand new book--which is in the works) but I may make other books free (there is a theory that if you make a book free and then switch it to "paid" status it will jump up the charts--there are many theories in the e-book biz, I'm finding. Amazon.com is like a bunch of pig entrails that we're all staring at to find the future).
Anyway, it's still fun. And yo! Look over there--it's a  another rainbow to chase!