I have to keep reminding myself that I got into this whole crazy experiment in order to do two things:
- overcome resistance by applying butt to chair and consistently finishing stories, and
- overcome fear by putting those stories out into the world to be read.
I didn’t really do this with any expectation of actually selling books. And yet, the marketing, analytics and business person in me won’t let me not check my stats. Since I started this crazy adventure, a lot of people have told me secretly “I’m so jealous! I’ve been thinking about writing something for years. Maybe I’ll start now.”
So for that, I’m really grateful, because if other people discover (or rediscover) the joy of writing because of what I’m doing, that’s the best reward I could get.
Except maybe a million dollars. I’d probably take a million dollars if someone offered it. But I digress.
Anyway, since apparently more people than I realized are watching this whole nutty experiment, I figured I would share what sales and download figures I have so far. I obviously have no shame, so I might as well put these numbers out there in case someone else finds them helpful.
At this point, between the three books I’ve published, I have 455 free downloads on Smashwords, and 23 paid sales on Amazon for $0.99. Big Teeth has had 200 free downloads, and 22 sales. Blowhard has 130 free downloads and no sales. Belle Starr has 125 downloads after only a week, and one sale. At this point, I’m about 7 sales away from receiving my first payment from Amazon (there’s a $10 minimum).
I posted the first book, Big Teeth, on January 26, so even though I’m three months into the experiment, I’ve only actually had books available for purchase or download for a little over 2 months. Considering I’m working my way up to ten buck in $0.35 increments, and I’ve done no promotion outside my own blogs and social profiles, (and even those I’ve tried not to go overboard on) I think that’s pretty decent. I consistently sell 1-3 copies of Big Teeth each week, and I’ve sold a copy of Belle Starr on the very first week so I’m hoping it will have similar sales.
Experimenting with KDP Select
After nearly a month of having Big Teeth on both Smashwords and Amazon at $0.99, I unpublished it from Smashwords, and enrolled it in Amazon’s KDP Select program, which requires exclusivity. This removed it from the Kobo, Nook, Apple iBook and other Smashwords “premium catalog” channels. After nearly a month with no sales after raising the price above “free,” I figured I had more to gain by learning about KDP Select. The program makes the books available to “borrow” for a week free to Amazon Prime members, giving authors in the program a smaller commission that comes out of the pool of Amazon Prime money when their book is “borrowed.” It also allows you to make the book available for free for a few days, which can be good for promotion.
Blowhard: Kind of a Dud in Sales
With Blowhard, I didn’t put it on Amazon at all until I raised the price to $0.99, and removed it from Smashwords. Weirdly, Blowhard still hasn’t had any sales on Amazon, but Belle Starr already has one it’s very first week, even while still being available for free on Smashwords.
There are a couple of reasons this might be. It could be length. Big Teeth and Belle Starr are both around 6,000 words, and Blowhard is longer at 8,000. Big Teeth has two or three solid 4-5 star reviews on Smashwords and Amazon. Belle Starr has one 4 star review on Smashwords. So it might be the story itself, either isn’t as well written, or the idea didn’t grab people as well (there are probably a lot more fans of Little Red Riding Hood remixes than Three Little Pigs, thanks to Hollywood). Lunatic space pilots probably never go out of style. 😉
Blowhard has a male protagonist, unlike the other two, so that might be part of it as well. Maybe the audience for fairy tale retellings and/or steampunk skews female. While I like the cover of Blowhard, it doesn’t feature a human, which I’ve read is a key factor for attracting readers. It’s also designed at a narrower/taller proportion, based on some recommendations that I read on the Smashwords blog. I returned to my previous dimensions for Belle Starr, which seems to fit better on cheaper Kindles (although supposedly is too wide on a Kindle Fire). Frankly, I think the $0.99 eBook buyer is probably less likely to be on the most expensive device available.
The Final Word
Regardless of why eBook #2 didn’t do well at $0.99, I’m pleased with how the experiment is going so far. I’m learning a lot about how to write, how to self-edit to the best of my ability, how to design a professional-looking cover, and what the appetite is for the types of stories I enjoy writing. This is all good information, and I’ll keep providing updates if I think someone might find it useful.
Overall, nearly 500 copies of my books have been downloaded to be read by people. I’ve had sales in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. That seems sort of insane to me, after years of avoiding writing or being terrified to let anyone read it. But it’s insane in a good way. Thanks again for tagging along.