When I first realized I wanted to be an author, I found that I was easily overwhelmed by the extreme learning curve I had before me. And it wasn’t just stuff you had to learn, but also execute every day after that. To keep from getting ulcers (jury is still out on that) I told myself that if I could just learn one new thing a day, I would be okay and I wouldn’t get so stressed out that I wanted to quit.
Well, that kind of worked. Ha! But I thought I would share some of the things I learned along the way on this blog.
Sh!t I Learned Today: Analyzing 9 Months of Books Sold
Let me start this post by saying one thing: I majored in Economics, but I’m AWFUL at analyzing numbers when it comes to my own business. So if I fumble through this…I’m sorry. The struggle is real.
Okay! So let’s start with a table of numbers all over the place, shall we?
|Total Books Sold||116||180||146||240||114||280||363||128||105||1672|
|End of Days Box Set (70%)||10||2||12|
|The Only One (35%)||51||36||1||1||89|
|The Lost One (35%)||59||13||0||61||22||1||1||157|
|The Hunted One (35%)||51||146||84||192||90||152||204||1||11||931|
|The Hunted One (FREE)||0||0||0||0||0||0||5042||2396||3231||10669|
So before we all have a stroke…
The vertical column is all my books and the percentages of royalties I received from them. So for each book, I have 35% (for $0.99 sales) and 70% (for $2.99 sales). I also have a free column for The Hunted One. I also abbreviated.
The Hunted One = THO
The Lost One = TLO
The Only One = TOO
End of Days Box Set = EOD
And then the KU/KOLL is the Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Online Lending programs, which the End of Days box set is enrolled in.
Hopefully that column makes sense now.
The horizontal column is obviously the months since I started publishing. I started in January with my first book in my paranormal series (End of Days). September is the latest month that I have data for.
This post is also about books sold, not book sales. I’ll only be looking at the quantity, not the dollar amounts.
Here we go…
I released The Hunted One on January 19th for $2.99. Then almost immediately did a flash sale for $0.99. I’m actually pretty happy with these release numbers (although I should have just released at $0.99). I know they aren’t amazing or anything, but my goal was to sale 50 books. I believe I had 116 books sold, because I gave away a lot of ARCs and pre-release copies to literally anyone who wanted to read the book. Some might think this hurt my sales numbers. Maybe it did? But I had a good amount of reviews on Goodreads before the release and on release day. In my opinion, by giving away copies, I generated a decent amount of awareness for a debut book by a completely unknown author.
I did another sale of The Hunted One, which I promoted pretty heavily. Hence the increase in the 35% numbers.
So in this month, I had another release on March 27th. It was the second book in the End of Days series, The Lost One. I release TLO at $0.99 and lowered the price of THO to $0.99 to supplement the release. I had more sales of THO than I did of the new release. I think this is pretty typical for a series. A new release always promotes the previous book too. This is pretty cool because it means that by having a new release in the series, I found 84 new readers, who will hopefully want to get the second and third books too.
I did a Book Gorilla ad for THO this month, which sold about 31 books (didn’t pay for the ad). I also had a Pixel Scroll and Bargain eBook Hunter ad that ran for two days. I was trying to find a good place to advertise. Moral of the story: Don’t use Pixel Scroll or Bargain eBook Hunter. Or at least, I didn’t have much success. I also did a Book Sends ad at the end of the month, which sold about 35 books. This ad spiked me higher in sales and ranking than my release of TLO. At the very end of the month, I had an Ereader News Today ad, which sold around 68 books. I really, really like Ereader News Today, because your ad always pays for itself. They only charge you based on the number of books you actually sale.
I played around with more advertising sites. Not much to note here. By this month, THO was set permanently at $0.99.
The Only One released on June 30th for $0.99. Once again, sales of the first book in the series spiked. TLO even sold more than the TOO new release. I did a Kindle Book Review and Digital Book Today ads to promote the series, but the sales were minimal. And the ads were expensive. But I did do a big Facebook event/party for the release. I got donations from other authors and my street team helped me host the event. It was pretty big, and helped promote the book’s release and the entire series.
So now things get interesting. THO became perma-free on July 28th. On that day, there were 1797 downloads, 1799 the next day, and then down to 1082 downloads the day after that. As you can see from the totals, July was my best month in terms of books sold, but this is due to the fact that the entire first part of the month, THO was still $0.99. I did see a noticeable spike in sales of TLO and TOO (both at 70% royalty) in accordance with the free price setting on the 28th.
THO hit the #71 spot overall in Amazon’s free store.
So now the big question is: Will I sale more books (TLO and TOO at a higher price point – $2.99) because THO is perma-free?
**If you subtract the $0.99 books sold from this month, I only sold 101 books at the $2.99 price point.**
For me, it was pretty obvious that the large amount of free downloads coming in from THO helped the sales of TLO and TOO in August. I had the box set release this month, but I didn’t do a lot of advertising or promotion of it. From the beginning, I knew the box set wouldn’t be a huge seller, because I’m not going to sell three full-length books for $0.99 or something crazy like that. So I priced it at $4.99 from the beginning.
Also, by having a top ranking free book (THO), some advertising sites picked me up for free. Which was awesome. I think this helped keep sales of TLO and TOO up there.
So now we get to the meaty part. I had a release, but it was a contemporary romance and nothing related to my previous paranormal books. I released it at $2.99, which I think hurt my sales a lot. The release of Fakers was pretty dismal, but I’m going to do another post about that.
Back to the End of Days series. By looking at the sales of TLO and TOO, you see they dropped a bit. But I didn’t do any advertising or much promotion this month for this series (focusing on the release of Fakers and took some time off). So those sales were purely reflections of the free price of THO.
September looks like my lowest month of books sold, but it wasn’t my lowest in terms of sales. Because the books I did sale were in the 70% royalty cut.
This is nine months of books sold. It’s crazy to look at a chart of this information after living through it each month. I know these numbers are probably pretty low compared to some authors. But I’m proud of them. I think for a new author releasing books in a paranormal niche genre, I did pretty decent.
I think it’s still too early to answer to question about THO being perma-free and helping sales of the rest of the series. I’m sure I also left out some promotions and stuff I did in certain months. So my analysis might not be completely spot-on.
But I wanted to do this post so other new authors can compare their numbers to mine. When you’re just starting out and releasing new books, it feels like your all alone on this deserted island. It’s hard to find posts that talk about books sold in the beginning (at least from normal authors, whose sales didn’t explode right away). I hope this post will help someone to feel a little less alone. Hopefully someone will be able to compare their sales to mine and gain something from the information.
11 thoughts on “Sh!t I Learned Today: New Author’s Books Sold”
Thanks so much for this, Meg! This deserted island doesn’t feel so deserted anymore 😉 I’m crap at numbers, so it helped immensely to see a similar experience laid out in numbers! Thanks again!
That’s great!!!! haha. And I’m glad it helped. Good luck!
Love this! I can appreciate the fact that you just laid out what your numbers are for others to see, and as an indie myself, I think your numbers are spot on for just about 99% of authors. Not to mention the testament that the more books you write, the more books you sell.
I think I’ll just get comfortable here. I like it. 😉
Exactly! My goal is always to write my next book, and not worry too much about the numbers and how much I’m making. It’s hard though!
It’s so hard! Especially when people unwittingly ask, “Oh, how’s the book selling?” That turns this lady into one angry hobbit! Sorry, I just jumped right into your convo 😉 *bows out*
Oh, me too!! I have some friends and family members who like to judge my career path and assume I’m loafing around on the couch all day. So when they ask me if my books are selling, I just want to punch them in the throat! Like, I don’t ask them how much they make at their jobs.
“When I first realized I wanted to be an author, I found that I was easily overwhelmed by the extreme learning curve I had before me. And it wasn’t just stuff you had to learn, but also execute every day after that.”
—Ain’t that the truth. I’m currently editing my first novel. Fourteen months ago, I didn’t even have a blog, nor even a facebook or twitter account! The learning curve just on those things was ENORMOUS, not to mention finding an editor, where/how to publish, how to advertise, LLC’s, ISBN’s, cover design….I mean, seriously, it’s a shit-ton to absorb.
I really like your site here. I LOVE that you’re reporting from the “rookie trenches” because you’re right, there are only a handful of new authors talking about their methods and successes. Katie Cross is one of them. Lurve that girl. You remind me of her.
Anyway, carry on with your bad-self. I’ll be reading your lovely insight during the months to come when I’ll need it most. 🙂
Congrats on your first novel! That’s awesome! The learning curve never straightens out but it’s worth it. 🙂 Another good author that posts a lot of good information is Lindsay Buroker! She posts some really great stuff 🙂
Oh awesome, thanks! I’ll check her out fer sher!
You sold more copies of your first book in your first two months than I’ve sold of all my books in over four years. You have every right to be proud of your numbers! You’re clearly doing things right. From what I’ve read, there are traditionally-published authors who can go a whole year without a sale (which makes me feel less bad about my sales, ha ha), and you’ve sold over 1500 just in the first three quarters of your first year. It looks to me like you have a great foundation to keep building on. Keep up the great work!
Thanks, Stuart! I appreciate the encouragement 🙂
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