Friday, August 10, 2012

Adventures in Epublishing: My Sales Overview

I recently posted an old article that I wrote roughly two years ago regarding my decision to jump into epublishing. I had a request to share some numbers, so people could see how I was faring in the epub game. I'll break it down by year, as I have the numbers sorted out on various Excel documents.

I started epublishing in November, 2010. So the first year is really based on a small amount of data.

From November-December of 2010 I sold 158 copies of Into the Shadows. A lot of these were paperbacks from family and friends. 103 were ebooks.

In 2011, paperback sales dropped off but ebook sales picked up. I published a second book, Bloody Little Secrets in April, 2011. This was not a sequel to the first (my biggest regret!) but did fairly well out of the gate. I sold between 100-150 copies between both books a month and was making roughly $180-$200 a month. Not bad, considering at the time I was thinking that Joe Konrath was talking about making $1500 a month with his books (although, he had jumped up to to much more than that a month by mid-2011).  I also experimented with price on and off, trying 99 cents, and $2.99. I priced Bloody Little Secrets higher, at $3.99 to see if it would sell. It actually sold better at the higher price.

By September 2011, my sales were pretty stagnant and due to some issues at home/work, new material was slow in coming out. I added a collection of short stories in October of 2011. I didn't expect to make much off of that. However, in September, 2011, a few of my DarkSide friends and I decided to give 'free' a go. By having our books go free on Amazon, we all got a great boost. They did better than I because they had sequels available for their books. They did incredibly. I did respectably. I gave away over 50,000 copies.

In August of 2011, with 86 copies sold between two books, I made $184. October jumped up to 141 copies and I made just over $300. In November, I sold slightly more copies at 150 and made almost $400. By December I had sold 193 copies and made almost $600. Not too shabby.

So my total take for 2011 was 1,399 sales between 2 books (3 titles if you count the short story collection) and I made $2,957.90.

That brings us to 2012. In January, 2012, I published The Green. To date, it is my worst selling novel (other than the shorts) but for some reason is the most highly rated. People love it! So that's good! It didn't do much for sales, but I kept working. January 2012 started out as a great month because I saw some sell-through on Bloody Little Secrets even though it wasn't related to Into the Shadows. I set Into the Shadows at 99 cents, and the other 2 books were $3.99.

In January I jumped up to 251 copies sold and made about $650. I was very happy. But alas, it wasn't going to stick around. Sales dropped off in February and continued to slide downhill through April, where I took home less than $200. It seemed that my average was hanging around that $200 a month mark. In April I decided to set Bloody Little Secrets for free, because I was bored, looking for a boost, wanting to take a risk, whatever. When numbers don't move, I try to mix it up a little. I also knew my best bet at sales was my upcoming sequel. I gave away about 50,000 copies of BLS and sales jumped back up in May, with 448 copies sold and I made over $300.

Darkness Rising, the sequel to Into the Shadows, came out on June 4th, 2012. Into the Shadows went free on Amazon on June 8th, 2012. June has been my best month of sales to date, with most sales coming strictly from the sequel. I sold 2,298 copies in June and made just over $5600. What a difference a month makes! July was also pretty good, but it slowed down. In July, I sold 1,649 copies and made roughly over $4000.

August was my slowest month in 2011 and is proving to be slow for me again. There haven't been as many free downloads this month to keep feeding the machine, so I'll be happy to make over $1000. We'll see how it all ends up.

I'm looking forward to fall now, when the final book in the Into the Shadows Trilogy comes out before Christmas (I'm aiming for end of October). I'll go into the lucrative holiday season with a complete trilogy, which is awesome. In winter, I'll have a sequel for Bloody Little Secrets. So I'm hoping to make  steady money every month. But so far in 2012, I've made over $11,000. A big improvement on 2011. But also, I have more books out.

Here's what I'm currently pricing the books at:
Into the Shadows (book 1) - free
Darkness Rising (book 2) - $3.99 / I make $2.70 per copy
After Dawn (book 3) - will be priced at $3.99 (Fall 2012)
Trilogy Bundle (all three books) - $7.99 (not sure what the profit is there) I'll put this out after the final book is out. Maybe this winter.

Bloody Little Secrets - $2.99 / I make $2.06 a copy It was at $3.99, but I dropped it to $2.99 since it will be the first book in a series
New Blood - will be priced at $3.99 (Winter 2012/2013)

The Green - $3.99 / I make $2.70 a copy

EIGHT (collection of short stories) - 99 cents / I make $0.35

It's not enough to quit the day job yet, but I'm hoping 2013 will really be my turning point, with 2 series going and by March 2013, I'll have 8 titles on my shelf (if you include all titles, including bundles). So be prepared, it can take time to see real results in sales. Some people hit it big quick, I was definitely not one of those people. But I couldn't be happier that I get to write and people actually pay me to read it. It blows my mind sometimes! Also, write a series, if you've got it in you. Having a series gives you a much better chance at making good money!

Happy writing, hope this info was useful to you!

XOXO

Karly

10 comments:

  1. Wow, Karly! 2012 is definitely shaping up great for you. So happy to hear your sales have been so good. Congrats! I definitely think 2013 is going to be your turning point. Actually, I think getting that trilogy finished just might be the big turning point for you. Thank you so much for sharing your numbers and showing that with persistence and true talent, you really can succeed!

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  2. That is pretty good in my opinion. Six books seems to be the rough turning point for a lot of indie authors. I hope each and every book you put out just gets better and better sales.

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  3. Thanks for sharing your numbers. Aside from experimenting with prices, what kind of marketing did you do? What worked for you and what didn't?

    Congratulations, and good luck the rest of this year and a strong 2013!

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  4. Sometimes I cry, in a good way when people work so hard and do so well and these are happy tears streaming.

    -Magan.

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  5. People are reading your writing. That's worthwhile as many writers have manuscripts collecting cobwebs in the desk drawer. Much success to you, Karly. A candid post that you did here on your blog.

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  6. Thanks all, I'm just happy to share. I haven't even had a fraction of the success of some of my friends, but I will admit, it's rewarding to actually have my family benefit from my writing.

    As for what has worked for me and what hasn't, I have to say I'm definitely not the best when it comes to marketing. My three highlights were going free in the fall, spring, and summer. I've had some friends spend money on ads, etc. But no one has really seen a ton of return on those, we've decided they're not a great investment.

    You're biggest problem as a self-pubbed author is getting your book into people's hands. If they don't know you exist, how can they find your book, right? It's a major dilemma. And I'd love to see new media come up with more effective ways for self-pubbed authors to market. Get the books to the readers. But without needing a million dollar budget (or $1000 budget).

    I equate giving away my books for free as sort of a free sample. I think between ITS being free twice and BLS free once, I've given away over 150,000 copies of my books. So my return is actually pretty small, if you think about it. I still haven't even sold 10,000 copies. 15,000 copies would be a 10% return, so yeah, not even close. BUT the idea is you plant the seed. I'm seeing repeat buyers, people that have bought ITS do by Darkness Rising. And they also tend to buy BLS. Unfortunately they aren't buying The Green, now anyway, but who knows, maybe 2 years from now that book will hit it. But at least they now know who I am.

    I think a good way to keep up the connection with the readers, aside from the blog and social media, is to create a mailing list and send out updates. Then those who want to will know when the next book is coming out or where to buy when available. I know some other friends have found that successful. For me, I run out of steam sometimes when it comes to marketing. Between writing, work, kid, husband in law school, something has to give. And this year it was kind of marketing. So going free was easy for the world's laziest marketer.

    I've also contemplated publicity stunts, but I don't want to lose my day job for streaking at a Bears game covered in nothing but my book covers! hehehehehehe Although, it would be pretty hilarious. :D I would happily accept other publicity ideas if you have any! :D

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  7. Thanks for sharing that information about how you are doing with ebook sales! I loved your book Bloody Little Secrets can't wait for the sequel. Good luck on your future sales. LOL@ the idea of the publicity stunt. Hubby is a Bears fan so I'm sure I'd see or hear about it!

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  8. Thank you so much for the info! It is so helpful to those of us that are about to make the plunge. You have really been an inspiration to me. I congratulate you on your success and I know you will have much more in the years to come!!

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  9. I'd say you've had a win! You're on track for, what, $15,000 in sales for the year earned? Median author income is a lot less than that, so worth a little celebration.

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  10. Hey There! I’m a fellow blogger/writer looking to meet new people and discover great blogs, and I gladly added myself to your followers and can’t wait to read more!! I’d also love to invite you to check out a great giveaway I’m having, that I think would be right up your alley!

    Hope to see you there, and thanks so much!
    Martin

    http://www.meyersauthor.com/2012/09/5000-giftcard-giveaway.html

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