Saturday, April 30, 2011

How to Sell a Gazillion e-books (exaggeration free).

Well, I'm reaching the last day of the 3rd month of my eBook experiment. Since mid-February I've released several of my out-of-print books and one selection of short stories as eBooks. Here they are below.

The books are available on Amazon, iBooks and Smashwords.
My total sales were as follows:
February: 21 copies
March: 51 copies
April: 368 copies

Because I like graphs, I'll put this one in to the left. It does make it rather clear that there has been a large growth in the number of sales. Part of that is due to the fact that there are now more books available for purchase. I'll break down the individual sales:
Dust:  397 copies
Draugr: 18 copies
Haunting of Drang: 9
Shades: 16
Tribes: 1

Of the sales 440 total sales, 419 come from Amazon, the rest are spread between iBooks and Smashwords.  Obviously DUST is the biggest seller and (sniff) poor TRIBES is the least (and always the last one picked for the eBook "baseball" team). The books that have sold more are the ones that have been out longer. The reason for DUST's sales though are twofold. One is that I dropped the price to 99 cents about mid-March (from $2.99). The second is that DUST was listed on Pixel of Ink, which is a website that lists low-priced and free books for Kindle owners. Dust had sold 16 or so copies in the space of a month and a half. And started to pick up a bit once I lowered the price, but really grew after the listing.

In fact I kept track of the daily sales starting April 1st when the book was listed:
April sales:
1st-80 copies (Pixel Ink listing)
6-42 (have no idea why it suddenly jumped up here or the next day)
7 -40
14-15 (Daily Cheap Reads listing)
25-22 (holiday monday sales)
30-2 (so far)

So you can see that DUST, which used to average two or three sales a week has jumped to 6-10 copies a day. Obviously at 99 cents a copy (that's 35 cents for me), I'm not making a bundle (in fact only averaging about $3 a day or so). But my hope is that the book will continue to climb (even if it continues as this pace it will sell 4200 copies in a year's time). The more people who buy it the more it ends up in the "people who bought this also bought this" list. 
What the DUST buyers are Buying

Obviously the more times DUST is recommended the more times it has a chance to sell. At first I was going to leave the book at .99 cents for two months, but now I might wait until it has sold at least 1000 copies, just to see what kind of momentum it will gain from having so many recommendations. 

As far as my other books go I'll let them grow slowly. Draugr, The Haunting of Drang Island and (soon to be released) The Loki Wolf are more middle-grade novels, and I don't believe the market is that big for them yet. They're a long term investment. Shades is a collection of short stories and they tend not to sell as well (but I always have hope). For Tribes I bought an ad in Pixel of Ink to give the book a leg up because I believe the novel is attractive to both young adults and adults, and therefore has a wider audience for me to aim at. If only I'd put a vampire in the book! 

Which reminds me, I am considering writing a "direct-to-ebook" novel. Something short, snappy, and full of action and aimed at adults. I'd really like to test out everything I'm learning on a brand new project. Oh, but first I better finish writing the next book in The Hunchback Assignments.



Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Definitely finish Hunchback Assignments because my boys want to read that (they've read the first two)! But thank you for sharing this information! It's invaluable (which is a lot more than 99cents). :)

Unknown said...

I'll get to work Susan! Nearly done the 4th book now!

Lee said...

Hi Art, I'm interested in your results - for obvious reasons. I haven't quite reached that gazillion mark yet either. And thanks for the link to Pixel of Ink, which I'm about to inestigate.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the useful info!

Catherine Stine said...

As always, your saga is sooo inspiring! The scuttlebut I've heard is that once your sales start cooking at 99 cents, you can try raising that up to $2.99.
Yes, your idea to try a fast-paced direct eBook to the YA and adult market sounds like a smart experiment. Why not, you're in control now!

Unknown said...

@lee Pixel of Ink was obviously very helpful to me.
@Lilian You're welcome!
@Catherine Yes, my plan is to raise the price. Just waiting for the right moment...and waiting...and waiting...

Anonymous said...

Sounds most exciting, Art. I am going to share this info with my Mazatlan, Mexico Writers Group. Several of our members will be interested in your figures. Congrats,and more succes to you.

Unknown said...

Mazatlan! If I make enough ebook money I'll be down to visit you. : )