If you’re one of the very few who read this blog then you’ll know its purpose it to provide other authors and reading enthusiasts some “behind the scenes” information about one writer’s experiences with independent publishing. Myself, I’m always curious about what other indies are doing, how well they’re doing, what’s working, what’s not working, as well as their thoughts, opinions, and ideas on indie publishing. I figured others might feel the same. So with that sentiment in mind I thought I’d do my part and keep the window blinds up so the world can see inside.
That said, I thought I’d start a little series I’ll call “Transparency in Indie Publishing”. In it I’ll talk about sales numbers and my thoughts and ideas around what may or may not be driving them. I’m not sure if my results are typical, but they’re real and can hopefully provide some insight and maybe even some inspiration for other indie writers.
I thought I’d focus on November, 2011. I’ll also do a quick recap of September and October. That’s as long as I’ve been in the game.
I released my novel, Into the Badlands, on September 3, 2011. I figured sales would surge the first week as friends and family bought the book in a show of both pity and support. The first week I sold 18 copies, which I believe confirms those suspicions.
Overall I sold 46 copies of the book in September. It was available for 27 days that month, so that’s 1.7 copies per day. Virtually all those sales were on Amazon. I sold 1 copy via Barnes and Noble (B&N), and that one was to a friend.
The “friends and family” factor does affect September numbers overall, but technically it’s all a sale in the end. It’s also more than double what I thought I might sell. I was ecstatic, to say the least.
In October things picked up. I sold 60 copies of Into the Badlands. 57 of those were on Amazon, 3 of those were on B&N. It was available for 31 days in October, so that’s just shy of 2 books per day, on average.
By the end of October I had exceeded my goal for the entire year. Ecstatic doesn’t begin to describe it.
October also saw the release of Walking At Night: A Collection of Horror. This was a collection of short horror stories. I’ve been reading that short stories don’t sell well; my actual numbers back this up. It went on sale October 12, giving it 19 days on the market. It sold 10 copies, 7 of those on Amazon and 3 on B&N. That’s about 1 book every two days.
Then November rolled around and blew all those numbers out of the water, at least for the novel.
Into the Badlands started picking up almost immediately. By the end of the month it had sold 165 copies, 161 on Amazon and 4 on B&N. Amazon is clearly the leader here, at least based on my books’ sales. The book was available for 30 days, which averages sales of 5.5 copies per day.
I also broke the top 10,000 in the Amazon sales rank multiple times in November. I made it as high as 8,000 on a couple occasions. That’s out of 750,000 paid titles. That’s seems positive, at least on the surface.
As kind as November was to the novel, The Signal (now renamed to Walking At Night, complete with a new cover) didn’t do any better than the prior month. In fact, it was worse. 7 copies sold, all on Amazon. Out of 30 days available that averages about 1 book every four days. I even dropped the price from $2.99 to $.99 which seemed to have no effect. Ultimately I settled on $1.49, which has actually sold a few copies.
Why the jump in sales for Into the Badlands? It’s hard to say. Amazon did drop Kindle reader prices drastically. Maybe with all those new readers out there it’s meant more books sold for me.
I also noticed that my book was being purchased by more than just zombie book fans (as was almost exclusively the case in September and October). The general post-apocalyptic reader seems to have caught wind of my little book this past month. I think this may have broadened my audience and driven some sales.
AMC’s The Walking Dead is doing very well too, so that could be affecting my sales in a positive fashion. Zombies (of any fashion) are pretty hot right now it seems, despite being around forever.
The book has also received several 4 and 5 star reviews, which might be persuading more readers to take a chance on me.
Christmas is coming, so holiday buying might also be driving sales.
I have not monkeyed around with pricing on this book. It’s been $2.99 since the beginning. I think I can safely remove that factor.
So as of November 30th, 2011, sales across all channels look like this:
- Into the Badlands: 271 copies sold
- The Signal: A Collection of Tales: 17 copies sold
(As a side note Smashwords, Sony, and Apple have produced not a single sale. Thus far those channels have been completely useless for me.)
Obviously December isn’t in yet, but the trend appears to be continuing. Sales are off to a good start; as of December 4th Into the Badlands has sold 38 copies. That’s an average of 9.5 copies per day. Astounding. That’s almost double November’s numbers. If that trend continues I’ll be looking around around 300 copies sold by the end of the month. That’s a generous estimate I think, but not entirely unrealistic.
I’ll be back again in January with the next installment of Transparency in Indie Publishing, Dec. 2011 edition. We’ll then see how my predictions played out.