July Sales and Observations

July was an interesting month. Many authors and publishers reported a drop of sales, from 1/3 to 1/2 of normal. As we’re now in the summer slump I figured it would happen to me and wasn’t really worried about it.

At the beginning of July Smashwords announced a month-long ebook Summer/Winter sale that authors and publishers could participate in if they wished. I marked down all my $.99 book to free and all others were marked 1/2 off. I figured it couldn’t hurt, especially during the summer slump.

July Sales and ObservationsAmazon: 18
Smashwords: 24
Barnes $ Noble: 12
Omnilit: 2

Grand Total: 56

To put the above numbers in perspective, here are the last three month sale totals:

April: 18 Sales – Added 1 novella and 1 novelette
May: 24 Sales – Added 1 short story
June: 25 Sales – Added 1 short story

The July total of 56 is double of June sales. Wow, do I hope that trend continues! The sales were boosted by several new July releases (yes, I was a busy little beaver):

The String Weavers (The String Weavers – Book 1) – Novel
The Singing Lakes (Salmon Run – Book 3) – Novella
Glint of a Ring (Children of Jad #2)– Novelette

July Sales and ObservationsWith the above titles I now have 11 titles up for sale. Was the boost in sales because of the increase in offerings or the Smashwords sales? Or perhaps because of a natural month-to-month rise?

The Smashwords sale obviously had an impact, as it was the best-selling site for me in July. However, Amazon isn’t that far behind, and in fact doubled the sales reported from last month. “The String Weavers” sold 9 copies right out of the box, contributing greatly to the overall total (along with 2 good reviews at Smashwords). “The Singing Lakes (Salmon Run – Book 3)” is a part of the Salmon Run series, and sold 7.

The new releases definitely helped. Even more interesting? “The String Weavers” sold that well despite having a retail price of $4.99. I raised the price of “Into the Forest Shadows” to the same and changed the cover as I was never quite happy with it, as it didn’t say ‘science fiction’ to me. Sales weren’t good for this stand-alone book, but I’m willing to wait a few months to see if the new cover makes a difference.
Preliminary thoughts? Novels sell very nicely, and series sell even better. The three novellas of the Salmon Run series together are doing better than anything else in my catalogue. “The String Weavers” is the first in a series and is already outselling “Into the Forest Shadows” which is a stand-alone novel.

The above sales I mentioned did not include any free ebooks as part of the Smashwords promotion. I keep those numbers separate. What did I see there?

July Sales and ObservationsFree Downloads: 364 ebooks in 31 days.

The downloads resulted in a few interesting statistics. I’ve put notes after each one on a few observations:

Night of the Aurora (Salmon Run – Book 1) – 132: The first book in the Salmon Run series. People downloaded this one the most and I believe led to the sales of the next two books in the series. This confirms to me how well series sell in ebooks in contrast to traditional publishing where series are typically a death knell to author careers thanks to the 3-book death spiral.

Spires – 66: My very first ebook ever. A silly little short story that I didn’t expect much of. However, it’s been my best-selling short across all sites. There’s something about this story and voice that captures attention.

The Art of Negotiation – 58: This is another story that seems to have caught attention rather fast. I’m thinking the idea of someone losing their jobs getting even with a corporation is a lovely theme. 😀

Mop Jockeys and Fighter Pilots – 56: A brand new short story published at the end of June. This is my first science fiction romance, and it took off the moment I published it. At the beginning of July it even outsold Spires. This was something good for me to know. I think I need to release more SF romance. There appears to be a market for it.

Glint of a Suncatcher (Children of Jad #1) – 52: This is one of my worst sellers, but it still sells a few every month. At the beginning of July after watching the download patterns, I tweaked the description. Downloads surged so that in the end it ended up with a total not that far behind the others. This is simply confirmation of what I knew before, but I’ll say it loudly again: EBOOK DESCRIPTION BLURBS MATTER! A second novelette in this series has been released with another one soon to come. I’ll be curious to see how they sell in the coming months.

Conclusions?

  • Keep writing series. They do well.
  • Ebooks I loved writing or even thought were a little silly, strike chords in other people. So, let the readers decide what they like. I’ll never be able to second-guess what will be successful and what will not.
  • Write more in the science fiction romance subgenre.
  • Don’t be afraid to tweak descriptions and covers. If they don’t work, they can always be changed back. However, it may be just the thing to help a title pick up speed.
  • Having more titles on the ‘virtual bookshelf’ is the best advertising and promotion a writer can do.

I have a post about Smashwords and paying attention to distribution channels upcoming. Stay tuned.

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July Sales and ObservationsJ.A. Marlow

A planet-wide conspiracy is waiting at Grandmother’s house…

“Always wear the red hood and cape while you are in the forest,” Grandma admonished.

For a teen with purple and red hair, and an attitude to match, the small claustrophobic city of Oburos grows ever smaller with Uncle Travis’s attempts to take over her and her mother’s life.

An invitation to visit Grandmother’s house, nestled among the giant trees filling the planet, gives Kate a welcome respite. But, there is no time for rest. A conspiracy among the forest inhabitants, moving trees, and other mysteries await her at Grandmother’s house.

Kate learns just how little she knew of the forests, much less its animals. To survive she must learn fast, and that includes trust and teamwork.

And just where was Grandma, anyway?

A Science Fiction 83600 word stand-alone novel retelling of the fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood” by J.A. Marlow.

AmazonJuly Sales and Observations | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

May Ebook Sales Update

In putting this post together I realize that I didn’t put up an update post in May for April sales. Oops.

Easy to fix, though. This post lists numbers for all the months my ebooks have been released.

For those just starting out I encourage you to look through Victorine E. Lieske’s blog post about sales growth over time. It helps to see the progression and build many Indies go through.

We hear about the big numbers, making a big splash right form the start. Personally, I find the other type of stories more inspiring. Starting low, slowly building, and then POP.

Maybe I find those stories more inspiring because that appears to be my personal trend. 😉

So, on to actual numbers! These are per month, across all sales channels for all sorts of science fiction:

February: 5 (First partial month) – Published 1 short story, 1 novelette
March: 21 – Added 1 novel and 1 novella
April: 18 – Added 1 novella and 1 novelette
May: 24 – Added 1 short story

7 Total ebooks released.
68 total ebooks sold across 3 1/2 months, not including any freebies.

I feel like I’m building. I’m also garnering more good reviews. Hopefully as we go through summer and start reaching the fall/early winter holiday seasons I’ll have a good backlist built up to take advantage of the new ereaders on the market.

That’s the goal I’m working towards. Currently have 2 novels, 1 novella, and a slew of novelettes and short stories in the pipeline. It’s such a rush to have a market for what I write, which is more old-fashioned character-driven science fiction. I wasn’t able to sell them before, but now I can!

Start-Out Sales Numbers

The publishing adventure has started!

Did I come shooting out of the gate with big sales? Nope, and I didn’t expect to.

Started out with “Spires” (a short story) February 13, and “Glint of a Suncatcher” (a novelette) on the 26th. They were available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords right from the start.

February sales: 5 (all on Amazon)

In the first two weeks of March I added “Night of the Aurora” (a novella) and “Into the Forest Shadows” (a novel). I’m starting the pricing lower for now until I can get a little traction, and then I’ll raise them to the regular prices. At the very end of the month all 4 titles finally got accepted into Smashword’s Premium Distribution (they were that far backlogged in their approvals), so I think I’ll have to wait another quarter to see any sales from that.

Sales were:

March:  21 (Amazon – 8, Smashwords – 9, B&N – 4)

That’s a 320% increase from one month to the next. A slow start, but still an increase.

I found out about Smashword’s Read an Ebook Week the last day it was going on. I put the short story and novelette up for free and in 9 hours 20 ebooks were downloaded. Not bad for such a small time-frame.

The giveaway had a good result on Smashwords in that it inspired several reviews. No reviews on Amazon and certainly not on B&N. I’m hoping those sites will catch up later.

I haven’t really done any promotion. March has been a very tiring month and I got sick. So, I’ve been concentrating on getting new material up. In fact, this past weekend I published another novelette (Where the Purple Grass Grows). I figure getting a backlist up is as important as anything else.