Transparency In Indie Publishing, May 2012

May brought with it exactly what I hoped it would: an increase in sales. Sales had been on a steady decline since January and I was a little unsure if the trend would change. My main seller is my one and only novel, Into the Badlands, with some minor supporting sales from my short story collection to round things out. Here’s a little graph depicting combined sales from September 2011 (when the novel was released) through May 2012:

Overall in April I sold 355 books. That number finally made an upswing; in May I sold 429 books.

It think one of the most important things I did to achieve this was lowering the price of the novel back to $2.99. For most of April the book was priced at $3.99 and although sales were decent the overall sales numbers did drop.

My per-day sales dollar average from April to May was almost identical. Of course I reached nearly 75 more readers in May than I did in April. Personally I’d rather make less money on the sale and reach more readers since that only increases the likelihood that I’ll sell more of my future titles. For do-it-yourselfers like me exposure is worth more than quick cash. As a result I’ll be pricing my books at $2.99 for the foreseeable future. It really does seem to be the sweet spot.

Another interesting thing to note is that borrows increased in May. In April I had 29 borrows; in May I had 43. My guess is that with authors opting their books out of KDP Select there are fewer titles to borrow, removing some of my competition. Amazon paid more than ever before per borrow in April ($2.48 each) which also leads me to believe there’s more money left to go around. I’m not sure what they’ll pay out for May borrows, but I’m hoping it’ll be about the same (or more).

Speaking of KDP Select; I left both of my books opted in. Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo and Sony have all been terrible markets for me, so I really didn’t give up much in sales to leave. I did have one person ask about a Sony version, so I sent him a copy of the ePub for his trouble. If scores of readers suddenly start asking for my books on other e-readers then I’ll reconsider my inclusion in KDP Select. Until then readers can still download the Kindle versions (they’re DRM-free) and convert them to ePub via Calibre. It’s a minor pain, but totally doable.

I don’t want to speculate too much, but sales for June are already sporting a per-day average higher than May (17 per day vs. 15 per day). This is wonderful news as it appears the downward trend is not only leveling out, but reversing. With the release of my horror novel The Desolate in August I hope to see another overall sales increase. That still remains to be seen, of course.

Another interesting tidbit; I’m not exactly sure how many hours I put in on Into the Badlands, but I estimated it to be an average of maybe 15 hours per week for 9 months (roughly 540 hours). Based on gross sales so far that means I’ve earned over $14 per hour writing that book. (9 months x 4 weeks = 36 weeks x 15 hours per week = 540 hours… $7813 earned / 540 hours = $14.47 per hour) What’s nice about royalties is they keep coming as the book continues to sell, so that per-hour rate is only going to get higher. Not bad at all.

Overall I’m very happy with how the book is selling. Sales are increasing and I’m almost ready to release my next novel. With Beyond the Badlands (the sequel to Into the Badlands) planned for release this time next year, I have high hopes for the future.

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