Transparency In Indie Publishing, July 2012

In this installment of my “Transparency” series, I have quite a bit to talk about, so let’s get down to business.

Into the Badlands

First off, let’s analyze sales of Into the Badlands, my debut novel and hands down my best seller. Sales were up over last month, marking the continuation of a three month trend. Badlands sold 491 copies in the US, compared to 449 copies last month. I’m still confident that $2.99 is the sweet spot for this book and plan to leave it there for the foreseeable future. Badlands continues to perform solidly, providing very steady sales income.

In other positive development, Badlands saw four new reviews this month; two 4-star reviews and two 5-star reviews. The book now has 37 reviews with an average of 4.5 stars. I’m very pleased with how well it’s been received, particularly for a debut novel. To date, Into the Badlands has sold 4,391 copies in the US (4,533 copies overall).

I’m also very excited about the UK market. Last month I mentioned my optimism surrounding a potential increase in UK sales and I wasn’t disappointed. Badlands sold 30 copies in the UK, compared to 17 copies last month, nearly doubling. Around the beginning of this year the book was selling 2-3 copies per month in the UK, so I’m ecstatic about the increase. I continue to remain very optimistic about this market.

Badlands sold 1 paperback this month which doesn’t really surprise me. The paperback is more of a convenience for readers who still choose paper.

Badlands saw 32 borrows this month, up from 26 last month. This is where things get a bit tricky. Badlands expires out of KDP Select on August 19th and I had been planning on opting out and getting the book on to other readers (namely the Nook and Kobo). I’m now starting to rethink that decision and I might leave the book opted in for another 90 day run.

Truth is, since the book is both selling and borrowing so well I’m afraid to touch it. I’m worried that if I allow the book to opt out I’ll see a drop in sales and readership. The latest reviewer mentioned how happy they were that they were able to borrow the book for free, further complicating my decision to opt out. If I could guarantee sales on the Nook and Kobo readers that’d be one thing. I can’t, so it’s risky. Honestly, I don’t know what I’m going to do. I have a few weeks to make up my mind still, so I’m going to let things ride for the time being until I figure out a strategy.

Combining US and UK sales along with the US borrows, Into the Badlands earned me about $1,100 this month, compared to around $980 last month. To date, the book has earned around $9,600 since September, 2011. Not too shabby at all.

Walking At Night

My collection of short horror stories did okay in July. It sold 23 copies, compared to 24 copies last month. I set the price to $1.49 earlier in the month, up from $1.29. Seems that anything under $1.99 makes no difference in sales for this book, so I’m leaving it at $1.49 for the foreseeable future. Walking has never been a solid performer, but it has sold nearly 300 copies since last fall, earning me around $250. I can live with that.

Walking only had one borrow this month and I’ve exhausted all its free days in KDP Select. Since it’s not a big mover as it is I’m going to allow it to lapse out of KDP Select. Seems like that will have little impact on anything.

The Desolate

July also saw the unexpected early release of my new horror novel, The Desolate. The book went live July 20th, but took a couple days to make it though Amazon’s systems. Still, it was available for sale on the 20th, within a few hours of uploading the file.

In short, it’s selling like crap. The Desolate sold 8 copies on the Kindle and 2 copies on the Nook (zero sales on Kobo). To be honest I’d hoped for slightly better sales, but I prepared myself for a very slow start. It’s earned around $20 so far, so it’s paid for the cover art at least.

I think this book contains my best writing to date, so I’d like to see it get into readers’ hands. I do understand though that it’s going to take a while for the book to gain traction and momentum, so I have little choice other than to just be patient and give it time. It took three months for Badlands to start selling near its current rate (though I’m fairly certain it’s riding the coattails of The Walking Dead).

The Desolate did receive a really nice 5-star review, so I think that’ll help out.

The release went off without a hitch this time around due to better planning on my part. I did, however, rewrite the blurb last night. I’m hoping that the rewritten product description will compel more readers to give the book a chance. We’ll see how August plays out. Time will tell.

Conclusion

Overall I had a killer month. I sold 587 books and had 33 borrows, earning me around $1,150. Into the Badlands continues to perform well. Walking At Night is doing sort of okay, but is seeing some gains in the UK. The Desolate is performing poorly, but being the new kid on the block I think it’ll take time to prove out. My fingers are crossed.

I’ll be releasing a novella and a short story soon, but probably not until September. Hopefully those releases will have at least a small impact on my sales. Work is progressing on Beyond the Badlands, the sequel to Into the Badlands, and I expect that book to do very well. Everyone tells me sequels are wonderful sellers, provided the first book sells. We’ll see about that too.

Next month we’ll see whether or not I decide to opt Into the Badlands out of KDP Select. We’ll also see if sales of The Desolate improve over time, on all platforms. Hopefully the novella and short story will be finished and off to the editor.

All in all I’m very happy with how July went. Self-publishing has been a very rewarding experience for me so far and the future continues to look very bright.

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