“The Desolate” After One Month

My latest novel, The Desolate, has now been available for about a month, so it seemed a good time to talk about how it’s doing. The book sold a few copies right out of the gate and then went dead very quickly. By the end of July, after being on sale for ten days, The Desolate had sold 10 copies, averaging 0.9 copies per day, broken down as follows:

  • 8 copies via Amazon US (Kindle reader)
  • 2 copies via Barnes and Noble (Nook reader)

It wasn’t exactly tearing up the charts, but it was moving a few copies. It stayed this way for a solid couple weeks, selling barely anything. I have noticed a gradual increase over the past couple weeks, particularly over the past seven days or so. If I didn’t know better, it seems to be building momentum with a bit of a snowball effect.

We’re now 20 days into August and here are the sales thus far:

  • 20 copies Amazon US (Kindle reader)
  • 6 copies Amazon UK (Kindle reader)
  • 3 copies Barnes and Noble (Nook reader)
  • 2 copies Smashwords (various readers)

So the total sold so far this month equals 31 copies. Averaged out, that’s 1.6 copies per day.

It’s interesting to note that my debut novel, Into the Badlands, averaged 1.7 copies per day during its first month. While I doubt that’s indicative of The Desolate‘s future (I still believe Badlands is riding the coattails of The Walking Dead) it’s still a good sign.

I decided not to opt The Desolate into KDP Select. The reasons for this? Mostly I wanted readers of any device to have access to the book, without having to convert the Kindle version to ePub format. I also wanted to try out the new Kobo Writing Life platform in the process.

I’m not surprised at the low number of Nook sales. I’ve never had much luck with B&N. I still struggle to understand why they went to the trouble of developing Pubit!, only to allow indie books to languish there. Of course I’m speaking from personal experience; I’ve read about some great success stories on the Nook. It just seems pretty rare. Still, out of all the other platforms, B&N has been the best outside of Amazon.

Kobo has been completely dead. They’ve got a nice little setup with their Writing Life platform, but unfortunately for me I’ve seen zero action there. I’m holding out hope though.

What really surprises me are the two sales on Smashwords. I’ve never had a sale on Smashwords, even when Badlands was selling at its best back in January, so it’s nice to see that change.

The book has not made it out to the Apple iBookstore, nor has it made it to the Sony bookstore (both via Smashwords). To be frank, I don’t expect much from there. I hope I’m pleasantly surprised.

For the first time ever I’m also selling the book myself, via my website. I’m using a service called Gumroad. It’s stupid easy to set up and will provide a little bigger royalty. That channel hasn’t generated any sales yet (it’s only been set up for a week or so), but it’s nice to have it available. We’ll see how that goes.

So a month in, The Desolate has earned back its proofreading costs. Even if sales don’t increase it’ll earn out it’s editing and cover art costs within a couple more months. I can live with that. I’m happy to see things are picking up a bit. And based on the other books listed in The Desolate‘s “also bought” lists, it appears that folks who bought my first book are also buying this one.

And that feels pretty incredible.


4 thoughts on ““The Desolate” After One Month

  1. Jennifer M Eaton August 20, 2012 / 10:21 pm

    I’m curious what kind of marketing you’ve done to promote it?

    • Brian J. Jarrett August 21, 2012 / 12:10 am

      Hi Jennifer,

      I’ve done very little to promote the new book. I made a post on Facebook (on both my personal page and my fan page), posted once on Twitter, and a little verbal word of mouth to friends and family. A couple weeks ago I make a guest post on a fellow horror writer’s website. Oh, and I make my weekly posts on Kindleboards and Nookboards. All free stuff anybody can do with minimal effort.

      I never really promoted my first book either. I think I’m just lucky to have coincided with this Walking Dead craze. It was a happy accident that has allowed me the opportunity to reach more readers than I ever would have without it. I’m sure some of the folks who liked my first book have picked up The Desolate since most of the books in its “also bought” list are zombie novels. And since zombie novels are effectively a type of horror (in my opinion) it’s not a tremendous leap for them to pick up my new book. At least I hope so. 🙂

      I’m convinced Amazon’s “customers who bought this also bought” list is the real driver behind sales. It mimics the most effective type of advertising: word of mouth. Working as a proxy, it’s allowing other readers to see what their “peers” are buying. Combine that with the review system to give readers some degree of confidence the book is decent and you have yourself a pretty effective marketing machine. Well worth the 30% cut Amazon takes, in my opinion.

      Take it easy,

  2. 1 Story A Week August 20, 2012 / 10:24 pm

    That’s awesome! I am planning on self-publishing a novel in the next year or so and am still very curious about what to expect and what the best markets are. I hope all goes well for you and thanks for sharing.

    • Brian J. Jarrett August 20, 2012 / 11:53 pm

      Without a doubt, Amazon is the biggest market for me. From what I read this seems to be the case with most self-publishers. It’s always tough to know what to expect when you jump into this game, but I’ve written pretty extensively here about my experiences with self-publishing. Hopefully you’ll find some of it valuable.

      Good luck!

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