Friday, April 01, 2011

The Amazing Ebook Experiment (update)

Well, I've sold 200,000 copies of my ebooks in the last two months. That's a so-so start but I'll have to live with it. Oh, wait, what's that you're saying? It's April 1st? You're right! How about I tell you the real amount.

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

So, as many of you know, I've been dabbling in the ebook world. I started on Feb 5th (with the release of DUST) and so far I've converted 4 books to the various formats (if you want to read my previous post on this topic it's here):

Hey, they look kind of nice all lined up like that! I hired two artists to do the covers for the first three books (Derek Mah and Christopher Steininger, respectively)  and I put the cover of SHADES together myself using an image from iStock Photo. I then uploaded the books to Amazon, Smashwords, and iTunes. Each time I released a novel I, of course, tweeted and Facebooked about it (I describe some of my promotions here). 

And here are the results so far (cue the drum roll): 68 copies sold.

Okay, that's not amazing, but I'm pragmatic about these things. Somewhere in the back of my mind I, of course, was hoping to add a few more zeroes to that number, but apparently, like everything to do with writing, you actually have to work at this! My plan from the start was to see this not as a sprint, but as a marathon. After all, these books will be on the shelves forever.

Here's the breakdown:

Amazon US
Draugr 13
Dust 7 (2.99) + 12 (.99) = 17
Shades 8
The Haunting of Drang 3
Total: 41

Amazon UK
Dust 2 (2.99) + 2 (.99) = 4
Total = 4

Draugr 6
Shades 2
Total = 8

Draugr 6
Dust 6
Shades 3
Total = 15

Grand Total = 68 copies

What the numbers tell me is that, of course, Amazon sells the most. And I am not reaching beyond my base yet (in fact I could probably name at least half the people who purchased the ebooks). I think this "expansion" will come over time as reviews of the books trickle down into the public consciousness and as the books pop up more often as "recommends" on Amazon. I'm really curious what the sales will be like six months from now. I do feel that the children's ebook market is still about two years behind that "grown up" market--just not that many young readers have ereaders yet.

All of the books are priced at $2.99 except for Dust which is .99 cents right now (I've explained my logic behind the lower price here). As you can see (just using the Amazon numbers) Dust has sold 9 copies at $2.99 and 14 copies at .99 cents. So obviously I'd make more money if I flipped it back up to $2.99. But I want to experiment with that price level for another month or so to see if the price point allows the book to get more traction.

Overall, I'm happy with the results. No, I won't be buying a new car. But I do consider this an investment in my future. And these books weren't making me any money before this so it really is a win win win situation.

I'll do another update at the six month mark. If things go well enough, I'll buy each of you a car (no money back guarantee).


Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing! I love it when we get to see something a little more real...

billkirkwrites said...

Thanks for sharing the sales details, Arthur. I've been looking for a way to get the same kind of sales tracking info on my books but with no luck---I've been told by the sellers that they only provide the data to publishers. Have you found an alternate source for the sales data?

Catherine Stine said...

Thanks for your candor. I'm following this closely! Have you done any online promotion aside from announcing it on your website?

The Pen and Ink Blogspot said...

Pen and Ink will also be following an ebook experiment as soon as Lupe finishes putting his book up. I've seen you online at Nathan Bransford. where else to you go to post?
The best of luck with this.
and Bill, Arthur is his own publisher. That's why he can get the information. You and I can't get that.

Gayle Nastasi said...

Arthur, I've been enjoying your e-book updates. My own mid-grade novel is out in both paperback and e-book format on various sites, so your experiment is of great interest to me.

Thank you!

Unknown said...

@ Belinda you're welcome!
@ Bill Yes, Pen and Ink is right, I put the books out myself, so I know the exact amounts. But you can use to keep fairly accurate account of your ebook sales.
@Catherine. I did use Project Wonderful (which I blogged about earlier)
@Pen&Ink I don't really have a system. I just post at different blogs that I find interesting.
@Gayle Good luck with your book!

Lindsay Buroker said...

Well, 68 isn't as good as 200,000, but it's certainly a respectable start! Hope you sell many more! :)

MAGolla said...

Interesting blog, Arthur!

I have a MG story I recently published and have been anxiously looking for middle graders to review it. Here's my first review from an 11-year-old:

Here's something a little more interesting--a friend gave a shoutout on various FB sites and I had a teacher (6-8th grade) request my story for her students to review as many of them already HAD e-readers.

Your prediction of two years before MG takes off electronically might be excessively long.

I'm as excited as you are about the electronic generation . . . now back to editing book two in the series!

Steven R. McEvoy said...

The other thing that holds you back currently is that Dust is not available for digital delivery to Canada. I think you will see a spike once that happens. I also really like the sample chapters at the end of the eBooks. Dust highlighted in all of them and the first chapter of The Loki Wolf in the back of The Haunting of Drang Island. Looking forward to adding the rest to my Kobo as they become available!

Janet Gurtler said...

Interesting. (And I totally fell for the April Fool at the beginning)

Unknown said...

@ magolla Congrats on the shout outs. I'm no media expert, but I also see kids book sales (at least of my books) mostly going to libraries and schools (except the upper YA stuff, which adults buy by the tonnes). And schools and libraries are still trying to fit the ereaders into their world. So that's why I picked 2 years. It'll still take time to etrickle down.

Unknown said...

@SRMcEvoy I'm glad the sample chapters are helpful. I have toyed with deleting them, partly because if people don't scroll to the last page on their kindle, they don't get the "if you like this, you may like this" message. Which helps to sell books.
I agree if I had the Erights for Canada for Dust and a few others it would really help. But that's all in that nefarious world called "negotiations."

Unknown said...

@ Janet Sorry about the whole April Fool's Thing. I did have a friend who said he spilled his coffee after reading that first line. As long as he doesn't sue!