June sales numbers

If you’d like to follow along with this post on my sales pages you can find I Wish… on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

*****

June was a cruel bitch mistress. I was lulled into a false sense of happy security the first couple of days when I actually made pretty good sales (ie 5-6 a day rather than the more normal 2-4). Could it be that I was finally starting to take off? Yeah, not exactly.

As pretty much every indie knows, the first couple of weeks of June Amazon had a “sunshine deal” where they sold trad books for $.99-$2.99. Price is the key advantage that an indie has over traditionally published books. Unless you are competing with someone’s favorite authors, if you present an equivalent cover, blurb, and story you have a good chance of them taking a chance on you if you’re 1/3rd of the price of the other guy. So that whole thing with dropping the prices? Owie.

You might also recall that on the 16th or so I raised the price of I Wish… to $2.99. I had mixed feelings about that move. I mean on the one hand, I think it’s wise to try to get my books into as many hands as I possibly can which I did through mass giveaways the week of release. My thinking being that I need reviews and return customers more than I need the money. But after the first couple of weeks my sales dropped to 2-4 a day and frankly, if that’s all I’m selling at $.99 then I have nothing to lose by raising the price because even 1 sale a day will still be several times as much money.

I’m actually rethinking my entire pricing scheme. I assumed that I, like most indies, would just price on the $.99-$2.99 structure. But I’ve been doing some reading of opinion pieces lately and I think I’m beginning to think that people are starting to just assume that $.99 means a book is either total crap or spam.

Now I KNOW that Amanda Hocking and John Locke built their empires on that very price point and others do very well too. I’d be curious how many people are actually able to earn a living at $.99 and when they started publishing. My guess is that most of the people who sell like wildfire at $.99 have been priced that way since at least January. I’m open to the fact I don’t know anything though. If you’re someone who’s published more recently than that and you’re having mega success, let me know. I’ll publicly retract my statements. They are just guesses and speculation, after all. I’m not married to them. Winking smile

Here are a couple of articles that explain why they don’t agree with $.99 pricing:

Zoe Winters

Jeff Kirvin– He makes an interesting point about $.99 sales not being sustainable.

Jack Wallen

Karen Dionne" When people don’t know what a fundamentally new product should cost, they are strongly influenced by the first price they encounter…”

Alistair Barr– “Aspiring spammers can even buy a DVD box set called Autopilot Kindle Cash that claims to teach people how to publish 10 to 20 new Kindle books a day without writing a word.”

Dean Wesley Smith– This one is my personal favorite.

So yeah, that’s been on my mind a lot lately. I’ve never agreed with the $.99 price point and I’m thinking that I’m going to trust my initial instincts and price my books at $4.99, which is what I feel like an indie book should really be worth. It’s still only half the price of a traditional ebook and let’s be honest, I feel like my story is a good one. I think it’s worth $5.

sales numbers 7 02

Hopefully, that’ll expand to a readable size.

sales numbers 7 02 closer

This is the main gist of it though. I sold a total of 24 books at $2.99 since I marked it up on the 16th. I made just under $50. Which is fully half of my total earnings since I published in mid May.

Is it hurting my sales? It’s hard to tell. My only full week I sold 17 copies @ $2.99. But two weeks ago I only sold 20 copies @ $.99 so…

My main concern lately is that the awesome momentum I had the first couple of weeks seems to have slowed down. I can tell by looking at my blog stats that several people are going from my blog to my book every day. That’s great! That’s what I hope for. However, my sales are telling me that they aren’t buying. That part? Not as good.

Something is making people decide not to buy. I’m taking price off the table for now since this has been going on since before I changed my price. I have good reviews (15 5 stars, 4 4 stars, and 2 3 stars), I’m actually rated in the top 100 of two different categories.  So it’s not that people are hearing bad things about my story that’s scaring them off.

So that leaves either my blurb or my cover. I think my blurb is ok. It tells the information in short, punchy sentences. My cover though… I’m pretty sure it’s not conveying the message I want it to. I don’t think it screams “I’m a suspenseful paranormal book about witches and life or death struggles.” That is a decidedly unfortunate thing since it IS a book about those very things.

I’ve hired a cover artist, the sweet Tammy Luke, who designed 2 of Courtney Cole’s book covers. She’s been really easy to work with and the sample images she’s sent me to approve have been awesome; pretty and creepy. I have great faith that she’ll come up with something eye catching and hopefully I’ll be able to report that that’s the thing that was holding me back.

Oh! And I almost forgot! I finally put I Wish… up for purchase on Barnes & Noble. I made 9 sales in the two weeks it was up there. I’m going to call that a success since nobody seems to sell all that great there. Only three of those sales were at $.99. I made just under $13 in June from B&N. So my total earnings for June were about $80 (not counting foreign sales since I’m not exactly sure how the payout will work on those). I officially earned enough to fill my van with gas. Yay!

I forgot to mention the total I sold. Including all sales from all avenues (US/UK/DE/B&N) I sold 110 books. To put it in perspective I sold 105 books in May and I was only published between the 15th and the end of the month. So as  you can see, I am not living up to the standard I set coming out of the gate. That’s a bummer.

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20 Comments

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20 responses to “June sales numbers

  1. I put my book up last August at $4.99, quickly dropped it to $2.99. I decided to have a Christmas sale and dropped it to $.99.
    I had reasonable sales (500-750 a mo.), then in late June, numbers went up. And, to my astonishment, my book, The Rose Killer, became a best seller.
    Honestly, I’m stunned. I have to check every day.
    It’s a thriller (as good as a lot of thrillers out there); it has a good cover: I’ve done the usual in promoting it. I cannot tell you why it hit. There are a lot of $.99 books out there.

    • To me that’s the most frustrating part. Why do some books take off when all things are seemingly equal?

      Congrats on your awesome sales! I hope they continue for years to come. 🙂

      • I’ve heard many times that there is yet another factor–possibly the most important one. Luck. Despite all of the trackable things you can manage about your book, you can never control your luck. Some people may promote like crazy and never sell. Some people may luck out and sell a bajillion copies with little or no promotion at all.
        It’s not a nice thought, though. Nobody wants to be that out of control.

  2. I wouldn’t over analyze your sales slowing down. They are really good. Don’t be surprised to see them pick up. I wouldn’t touch anything at this point, but would only worry about writing the next book and getting it released. That will maintain your momentum more than anything. Word of mouth is the key to an author’s success, and you’ve started out better than most doing it. Keep up the good work!

    • I think that the aspect I really truly love the most about indie publishing is the marketing. What works? What doesn’t? What would happen if…?

      I agree 100%. Writing the next book is the absolute best way of marketing. God help me when I have 4 or 5 books to play with though…

  3. @Scott
    You’re right. Luck is a huge factor. Sometimes all it takes to get a break is for a coupe of influential people to stumble on your book and then spread the word.

    I still have a couple of more things to try before I just start riding the tide and see where I end up. There’s the new cover which should be ready soon-ish, I hope. Then there’s making my book available for POD which I still haven’t done. When I’ve done that I can do a giveaway on GoodReads, which I hear does amazing things to your visibility.

    Then there’s always writing more books, LOL. It’s hard to tell how my sales will really be when it’s just the one book. The only way to tell if my marketing efforts (IE giving away books the first week) have paid off is to see how fast the second book sells. And I’ve got a story coming out in August in an anthology by several talented YA paranormal authors. That should give me the opportunity to gain exposure to several author’s worth of new readers. If they like what they read that could be HUGE for me.

  4. I like this blog- I really feel a new cover will help. I don’t think the cover really reflects what I’ve read of the book so far (about a third). I think a more appropriate cover or a cover which hints at the plot or characters would rock. I mean the cover is pretty- but really its just a fancy lookin’ girl in a field. Between that and something with blood on it I’d take the blood if I didn’t know about the book to begin with 😉

    • Agreed. I’m just not a very scary girl. My sensibilities are bright and cheery and full of color. I’d probably make great rom com covers. But as for paranormal? I’ve accepted my limitations. I’m interested to see what it does for sales. At the very least, maybe it won’t alienate guys so much (I can’t image a hot pink cover is a selling point to a dude).

  5. Don’t get too down hearted. I really think the cover design will help! For a lot of people looks are everything when it comes to books. haha

    Good luck 😀

  6. To ditto the above – don’t get too down about it. It’s a long game, there were perhaps a few fold waiting to purchase when it first came out which would explain the big initial sales. Keep plugging away and if it’s a good read I’m sure it will gain momentum.

    Good luck!
    Andy

  7. I would probably keep at it $2.99 now while it’s the only one out, and maybe drop the price on the first one when the second one comes out, so the first book can help you can visibility through Amazon’s algorithms while you cash in on the second book.

    • I’ve been giving it some thought. With what’s her toes releasing the Harry Potter books for ereaders the demand for them is going to go through the roof as hard core fans rush to buy them for the added content. My prediction is that during Christmas a lot of kids and other HP fans will be first time buyers of ereaders and there is going to be a bigger explosion than last year for indies. I’m going to bust my ass to finish my trilogy and get it out there by November and drop the price of I Wish… to $.99 and the other two to $2.99. If I have more time I might try to introduce at least one new YA paranormal during that time. I’m going to do as much of a media push as I possibly can during November and December and step up my marketing efforts locally as well as online. Those HP fans are going to want content for their shiny new ereaders and I plan to be there to provide it for them.

      • I think that’s a good strategy. I don’t necessarily think that the 99 cent price point is the way to go anymore, but I like what you said above. Once you get the other two out, hopefully this year, Lower the first to 99 cents and make the others 2.99. I know a lot of times (especially from my fav. writers) I won’t buy a trilogy until all of the books are out b/c I hate waiting. I’m sure you’ll get a huge boost once all of them are out. Weall have to keep in mind too that Amanda Hocking, although Ienjoyed her books, released hers when epublishing and ereaders were just taking off. There was a lot less competition and probably WAY less 99 cent reads.

  8. It is pretty awesome of you to share you’re sales, a lot of people wouldn’t.

    I think a cover change will do you wonders, after all, it is the cover and title that the potential buyer sees first.

    I’m really only gonna talk about sales of Whispers in the Shadows for england because it is the highest downloaded of all my books.
    Now, you’ll probably notice that I said downloaded, the reason for this is because it is free, rather than priced.

    In the first week I had about a hundred sales (unbeknownst to me, i had no sales and didn’t check it at all for awhile, then came back and bam, loads of downloads, could barely believe it!) I have noticed a big difference between covers.

    I really liked the idea behind the original cover, but, I could not make it look good enough and did not (and do not) have the money to get it professionally done. Then, I changed the cover to what it is now. (It’s a paper cutting I did a year or two ago that I took a photo of) which conveys a creepyness that is in the book.

    The sales tripled in a week, i went from 100 or so, to 300, the next week? i went to 700. i was battling it out with Rudyard Kipling for number 1 in free short story section, a long intense battle which eventually ended in my book running away, tail between its legs, like the wuss it is. Sales have started to decline. heavily. I went from 110 one day, to 63 the next and that number has been dropping slowly. while i was in the top 110 last week, i am now hanging out around the top 150 number.
    Sales have dropped and I don’t know why.

    I did not do any direct advertising, but got it inadvertantly through forums that post free kindle ebooks which helped it sell.

    The ebook costs money in America (because Amazon for some reason will not put the price at 0, when it is that price at Amazon.co.uk and Smashwords) and on average have sold about ten a week.

    Though I have had about 1800 downloads (more than the entirety of my blog views), it has not translated into sales of my novel, Asylum. I don’t know if it is a case that people are turned off by the cover, blurb, the short stories they read didn’t do it for them (only have 1 review, but it is 4* (also, yay! I got a review!)) so some people liked them.

    It seems that the people that do really well (e.g. hocking and her ilk, in the higher echelons of Amazon, somewhere I too hope to reach) have multiple books for sale and that helps. If you have 15 books published on the Kindle and if only one takes off the others will do well simply because people enjoyed your other one. If one does well, chances are that you will end up with a following of fans (even if the number is low, lets say 100) who will continually buy your book and tell others about them, regardless of the quality, a lot of people will forgive one or two poorer quality books, as long as they are spaced out.
    So by having a larger number of books out there the chances of someone stumbling across one that they LOVE LOVE LOVE and must tell all their freinds about increases. the higher the number of books, the more cross sales you will get. As you publish new books, people (who enjoy them) will go and buy the previous ones.

    Now I know the free thing is controversial, and some people might think “you are what’s wrong with ebook publishing/you are the reason why people don’t buy eboos” to that I say people who buy ebook and people who download free ones do not really cross over that much, they are two different markets in my opinion, BUT, not only that, but the reason the ebook is free is because all the short stories are free on my blog and I do not feel right charging people for something that is free.

    This is actually a really long reply and I do apologise for that. In my defence, I blame the cookies I just made.

    Also, in leaving, I would also like to say that paid sales and free downloads of course will vary wildly, but I just wanted to share my experiences so far with publishing on the kindle.

    • Well, let me share with you how I found you initially… I was reading a page at TVTropes about high octane nightmare fuel I believe it was. Someone linked to your story about the person with sores on the back of their legs. I read it and liked it and saw you had others, lots of others, on your blog so I read those too. I liked what I read and bought the book based on that. I know I’m only one person, but as one person I can write my review and leave it on Amazon, B&N, Smashwords (though I probably won’t there since I rarely ever visit that site), and Goodreads, not to mention my blog which gets a fair amount of traffic. I can tweet it (I think I have 1800 followers right now?). I can tell my friends about it (I suspect I have about 3 of them :P). I could generate at least a small amount of buzz and I’m just one person.

      With a link from TVTropes, which is a pretty popular site, in such an awesome category for a horror writer, you are sure to get other people such as myself visiting your page sooner or later. I can only imagine it’s a matter of time before you are discovered. Your stories are solid horror. I really enjoyed them. I think having them up for free can only help you sell your novels, although I’d probably also put them in a collection and sell that. It’ll give you a bigger backlist on Amazon and that can only help.

  9. @TM
    That’s what I think probably happened. I mean there are lots of good stories out there. A lot of them priced at $.99, but I think that Amanda was just in the right place at the right time to ride the Twilight wave at a time when there wasn’t nearly as much available. I’m not saying she doesn’t have merit on her own, people seem to rave about her books and her fans are loyal.

    The thing is, I’m willing to bet there’s dozens of similar authors who’d inspire the same loyalty if they were in the same position. And this isn’t a knock against Amanda, she seems like an awesome girl, but she’s also incredibly lucky. Like 100 million dollar lottery winning lucky.

  10. Pingback: The Great Indie Pricing Debate « Courtney Cole

  11. Wren,
    From a philosophical point of view, I absolutely hate the 99-cent price point. It’s a smack in the face; we bust our asses to produce a good story, whether it’s a short, a novella or a full novel, and ask 99 cents for it? I mean, is a friggin Whopper more valuable than an even a never-should-see-the-light-of-day-slushpile-pile-piece-of-turd novel?

    I think not!

    As it stands, I have one little entry into the self-publishing world, a 3,500 word short. It won’t remind anyone of F. Scott Fitzgerald, but it’s okay. I had it at 99 cents for awhile and then said screw that.

    My pricing structure is going to be $1.99 for shorts; $2.99 for novellas and $3.99 – $4.99 for a novel, depending on what kind of gosh damn mood I’m in.

    • You and I seem to be on the same wave length about pricing for the most part. Although I don’t have any qualms with posting shorts for $.99 since I will bundle them all into higher priced collections anyway. That way a person has a couple of options… buy it as a stand alone for $.99 if it’s the only story they are interested in or buy it as a bundle for more, but also get other stories with it.

  12. Wren, long time no chat! I’m so excited for your super sexy secret stories, and will comment on those later but just wanted to say, yes, I think you should change your cover. I think people who see that cover might consider it to have more of a contemporary or romance look to it, when your book is decidedly paranormal. Plus, Thistle seems way too tough to lay in a field blowing on dandelions, even if she is daydreaming about one of her love-interests, I feel that she’d be daydreaming in a more ass-kicking kind of pose. My two cents.

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