Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Glorious Year of Ebooking

Welcome Curious Readers,
I am posting here about a whole year of selling self-published ebooks. Many wonders will be revealed to you. Many non-wonders, too. There may even be inadvertent rhymes (at no extra charge). To recap. Exactly a year ago I began putting my out of print backlist up for sale on various ebook vendors (Smashwords, Kindle, iBooks, B&N, Kobo...). I've been religiously (or obnoxiously) blogging about it ever since. Here are the books I have available:

 

Yes, Dear Mindful Readers. You are correct. Those links are clickable (though depending on what country you're in, you may not be able to buy the books). Each one of my ebooks that you purchase saves the life of a butterfly in Guatemala. Oh, and the money helps me to buy porridge for Oliver Twist. He's looking skinny! Now that my clumsy and somewhat cheesy sales pitch is done let's continue examining the glorious year of ebooking.

 Last month, January, was my best ebook sales month yet with 1785 copies of my ebooks sold. Most of the sales were generated by DUST which was selling for the modest sum of $1.49 and twice was in the top 25 for horror on Kindle. The jump in the charts was the result of making the book free then switching it back to paid a few days later (I posted about that process here). I also added another book Northern Frights Omnibus. This book collects all three Northern Frights novels into one volume (which only took a few minutes to do, one of the nice things about ebooks).
That's a quick look at last month. Now here are the overall numbers month by month for this stupendous adventure:
 

 From this chart you can see that sales go up and down and up and down but seem to be trending upwards right now (more on that later). DUST sells by far the most copies because it crosses over from middle grade to YA to Adult (somehow) and has twenty 5 star reviews on Amazon, which helps prospective buyers decide to click that little button (I love that button). But every other book counts and is a sale I wouldn't have made before. You may also notice that The Hunchback Assignments series is only available in the UK (Random House sells it in the US and I'm only tracking my self-pubbed books here). It is selling as much as the Northern Frights series even though the Fright books are available worldwide. Again this book crosses over from YA into adult (a little). The majority of the books sold above have been at either .99 cents or $1.49. The remainder at 2.99 or up (so I can get that 70% royalty). The total books sold in twelve months is...drum roll... 6353.

What you want to see a graph? I am graphically at your service.

Aren't graphs amazingly exciting? The blue colour on the graph is DUST, the other colours belong to the remaining books. Ah if only they all could sell as much as greedy guts DUST. What's that? You want to know how much income I made? Well the questions you ask make me blush, I tell you. Blush! But here it is. For the 6353 copies sold I have earned $4907.02. That's right I'm a thousandaire! That breaks down to about .77 cents per book (considering my royalty on a paperback is about .70 cents, that's not too bad). And way back when I first blogged about this little experiment (see here) I said I'd be happy with $1000.00. Obviously, I'm nearly five times as happy. The artists, by the way, are Derek Mah and Christopher Steininger. Go check out their sites. It will do your eyes good.

This month will not see as many sales as last month. February is usually slow and there was a big bump in January because of all those new Kindles being sold. Also, I have been switching my books from free to paid and that only works so many times before you stop rising up the charts...so that "engine" won't be on my side. I've also raised my prices because I wanted to have lower prices for the first year as an introduction and price the books higher now that my "name" is out there. But the highest is $3.49, which really isn't much for a high quality book--or even one of my books. Plus, I only have to sell about 400 copies of DUST at 2.99 (2.05 royalty for me) to make the same amount of money for as I received for the 1638 I sold last month at $1.29 (50 cents royalty to me). There must be 400 readers out there who like to be scared!

I won't be posting monthly anymore. In fact I'm going to be doing my best not to even watch my sales until the end of each month. This is my best time to write and that's what I want to concentrate on. But if anything of interest pops up, I'll be sure to blog about it. Thanks for lending me your eyes (and your brains). I do appreciate it.

 Art

P.S. if this blog has been helpful to you, please tweet about it or mention it on any of the other various social media out there. And remember, if you buy a book you will save a butterfly (of course some clod will just travel back in time and step on it thus altering the universe and the timeline forever, but we can't control that).

23 comments:

Debbie said...

Well done! Fascinating to see other peoples' sales figures and try to work out where I fit in as I'm coming up to a year now too. I can see that the key is definitely getting more books out there.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

As always, thank you for sharing! I'm trying (unsuccessfully) to not watch sales and focus on writing too. But I greatly appreciate all the sharing you've done (gave you a shout out in my post on sales!). Congrats on your thousands of sales!!

AHAviews said...

Great post, Art. I have been resisting e-readers furiously but your pitch is wobbling my stand on that. First I have to figure out how many butterflies are sacrificed to make each Kindle, and then I'm with you!

Nikki said...

It's not a liveable wage, though, is it? You'd need to write 4-6 a year to make it financially viable.

A. C. Ellis said...

Thanks for this. Fantastic, and congratulations.

And I loved your reference to "A Sound of Thunder," one of my favorite Bradbury tales.

A. C. Ellis
http://amzn.to/t4yI6H

Vicki Grant said...

Really interesting, Art. Aren't the numbers depressing, though - especially when you think what you could have made working at the Tim Horton's drive-thru?

I'll post this to FaceBook. Mind, too, if I put a link to it on my web site?

Shoo Rayner said...

That's fascinating reading. I've just uploaded my first book to iBooks - The Ginger Ninja - its heavily illustrated and only really works on iPad at the moment. I suppose Kindle fire will change that soon, but not going to catch iPad for children's books any time soon

all the best will tweet and comment :) Shoo Rayner

Arthur Slade said...

Thanks everyone! Yes, getting more books out there helps the bottom line. I appreciate all the shout outs and yes, Vicki, link away on your website.

Arthur Slade said...

And yes, Nikki, it's not a liveable wage. But it's money I wasn't making before.

Arthur Slade said...

Gald you enjoyed the Bradbury reference A.C. One should have a Bradbury reference every day!

And good luck with your book Shoo, I think the kindle fire will make a difference in that direction eventually. Can't hurt!

R. Doug Wicker said...

That is very, very impressive, Arthur. I'd kill just for a tenth of those sales.

Well, maybe not kill. How about maim? Nah. But I'd definitely give someone a stern look for those numbers.

Shevi said...

Arthur, this is great! I'm so happy your books are selling well and that your experiment has been a success. I hope other writers with out-of-print books will follow your example.

Joel Mark Harris said...

gI love it Arthur! Simply love it!

Arthur Slade said...

Thanks Shevi and Joel...

And R. Doug...you don't have to kill or maim. Just go to the crossroads, take your blues guitar and give up your soul... : )

Margot Finke said...

Arthur, you managed to throw us the nitty-gritty of your eBook year with humor and flair. Thank you.

Very interesting stuff, mate. My hat is off to you. Kindle, Nook, and all the other e-readers have been the turning point. I was at my eye doctor yesterday, and sitting next to me was a duffer older than me, reading a book on his Kindle. Our "E" future, I suspect, is improving daily. . .

BOOKS for Kids - Manuscript Critiques
http://www.margotfinke.com

Christine Tripp said...

Art, big accomplishment!
With far more iPad's sold then Kindle readers, what would it take to make your books available on the itunes store? Is the conversion process different?

Chris
(who's iPad library shelves are empty still, save the one free copy of "Winnie the Pooh":)

Elizabeth O. Dulemba said...

Thanks so much for sharing this information Art! It's a fascinating frontier right now. :) e

Arthur Slade said...

Thanks Margot and Christine, it is a new frontier, you're right.
And Christine I do have my books on iBooks (and Kobo and B&N). With ibooks I had to make an epub of the books and upload it to the iBook store.

There is some info here: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5071#5

I mostly talk about Kindle because all the other esellers combined are about 5% of my sales. Kindle is the gorilla in the room...

Many people with iPads still use the kindle app.

LM Preston said...

You rock! Sales says you are doing something right. With each year, you'll learn more, get better, have a larger backlist and who knows - learn to sell those subsidiary rights yourself ... the skies the limit.

Christine Tripp said...

>I mostly talk about Kindle because all the other esellers combined are about 5% of my sales. Kindle is the gorilla in the room...

Many people with iPads still use the kindle app.<

Ahhh, had no idea!

Jerry Haigh said...

I tried to get one of my publishers to give me the stats on eBook sales. I got the run-around. I suspect this was because of embarrassment, but I don't know for sure.

scottbiddle said...

How do you think your eBook sales were impacted by being a previously published author as opposed to a brand new author trying to publish eBooks?

Arthur Slade said...

Scott: I actually think that the majority of the sales had little to do with my name being known. I say that because most of the sales were in the US and I'm not as well known there. It was more the cheap price and the good reviews on Amazon. Things have slowed down recently. Don't think I'll reach the same # of sales in the following year. But I'm charging more for the books, too.