Monday, May 21, 2012

April sales report

April was my 19th month selling ebooks. I haven't posted a sales report in a few months. Work has been very busy, and I've been trying to concentrate on writing more. Plus, my sales declining quite a bit, which doesn't make reporting on them any fun. ;)

As you can see from the graphs below, my sales are dropping down to about the same level as February of last year. What's causing this decline? It might be my infrequent publishing schedule, a different Amazon ranking algorithm, increased competition, or some other cause. Whatever the case, I'm hoping that it turns around when I publish the sequel to Dead Dwarves Don't Dance later this year. Until then, I expect to have a pretty lean year, as sales will probably decline even more during the summer months.

How about you? How are your sales doing compared to last year? Am I the only one seeing these declines? Let me know in the comments.



  1. Do you attribute any of this to the price increase? Or do you not think that's a factor? Also I'm really surprised by Elemental Odyssey not benefiting from DDDD sales. I guess it's true that most people tend to stay within a particular genre, I always figured most people read like I do which is to say all over the place.

    Also, how has twelve worlds fared? With so many authors I'd think it was doing really good.

  2. My sales have really tanked this year, so far, as well. I started in January by releasing a serialized novel at $.99 per episode, have had only a few takers and none of my older titles have benefited. I'm going to repackage the stories into one novel, remove the serial versions, and try again later this year when I do the sequel to the story. I think asking folks to pay, basically, four bucks for a complete ebook was asking too much. I have no explanation for my other titles, though, which did really well over last year.

  3. Burrito, raising the price of DDDD did decrease unit sales, but all my books have declined. My different genre titles do absolutely no cross-selling. I believe it was a mistake to diversify. My advice to all writers it to get 3-5 books in one series out first, then experiment with other genres.

    Twelve Worlds has sold 270 copies and made about $540 over the last 13 months. It never really took off, but is making some respectable money for the Reading is Fundamental charity.

    Brain, thanks for your report. I wonder if some Amazon algorithm is contributing to our slumped sales?

  4. It would be nice to blame an Amazon algorithm but I'm wondering if "indie saturation" isn't taking hold. Too many indies, too many $.99 to $2.99 titles, and not enough return on investment on the reader's part. I've connected with a marvelous editor who is helping me with my new work and once I smoosh my serial together we are going to go through my previous titles and punch them up and I may even do some rewriting, depending on what she recommends.

    I could be wrong and I probably am considering how well I did last year and the sudden stop in sales, as if somebody slammed on the brakes of a car, but readers of my older titles do not appear to be coming back for the new ones and I have to consider that, too.

    The bright side to this saturation is that, in another couple of years, a lot of indies are going to drop out and that playing field will significantly decrease. Those of us who hang in there will reap the benefits of less clutter.

    1. Brian - I believe you make a good point. Plus, it seems that most of we indie authors tend to market alot to each other and haven't quite found our target audiences.

      Good insight, thanks for sharing!

  5. Actually I've been thinking about that lately. Even with "established" authors there isn't really any notifications of a new book in a series being released. Especially for indies!

    For example, if I didn't check this blog regularly there would have been no notification of Where Magic Reigns being out. Or when the DDDD sequel releases, amazon SHOULD know that I bought the first one and gave it 5 stars, and therefore am very likely to buy the follow up. Hopefully they are working on this.

    The Dead man series, which is published by amazon, is another example of this. It's published by Amazon so I assume that's why it recommends each new release, but even that is hit and miss and sometimes an entire month will pass before I notice the next book has come out. I've bought every book in the series, there has to be a way to link that.

    I read so many books it makes me sad to think that there are many good series I've started that have gotten lost in the shuffle simply because I don't remember to check on a new release.

  6. Yeah my sales have been down as well in terms of numbers. I think partially it is because my episodic YA series has its first omnibus - instead of selling 5 1-shots, I'm selling 1 packing those five together. All over the board, shorts, etc, sales are down, yeah.

  7. Thanks again for the information, it is always helpful.

    The sales being down I think for several reasons. Yes, there are a lot more books available which makes it harder for people to find a book.

    I also think that because Elemental Odyssey came out all of your attention and energy were turned to working on marketing those books and DDDD just got less attention. (There are only so many hours in a day)

    To push up sales of DDDD and its squeal I would suggest that trying to hook into the game (RPG) crowd with the re-release of Shadowrun. That seems like the crowd that would love DDDD.

    My $0.02

  8. I found some of my sales starting to go down as well. There were a few reasons for it, I think. One is algorithms changing--they did, it's been fairly well established that Amazon tweaked something and made the books a little more slippery in the rankings. Thus, books that had been stable began to slide down and others began moving up...

    Two, is that some of my books have been out a long while now. Even in traditional publishing, a book really only sells well for a few months or a year typically. It doesn't just keep earning at that peak level forever. Now with ebooks there can be a longer time period where a book could keep earning, but I don't think we should expect it to do that forever and ever. What goes up must come down.

    Three, competition. Yes, there's more competition. A lot more ebooks, a lot more books being put on sale, people are getting smarter and figuring out the whole ebook thing so that's crowding the market.

    My solution has been to write more, write faster, write smarter, do different genres. Novels are great but there is a real danger in writing a novel, because you can spend months or longer only to find that nobody wants to read the thing. Which just happened to me recently.

    I've been writing shorter works and then packaging them in different ways. But its genre specific. I've found that even writing a 25-30,000 word novella can sell just as well as a book. If not better.

    Times are changing. We do need to write faster to keep up, as sad as that sounds. If a big author like Grisham might need to write an extra short story per year, that probably translates to an indie like me needing to write 200 of them.

    Good luck Derek, I hope things start climbing back up--I'm sure they will as we head into fall, etc.

  9. I'm a bit late to the party, but here are my results: I went from selling just under 1,500 books in February (and thinking my career was finally taking off) to less than three hundred in May. My experiments with Amazon select did boost sales at the beginning of the year and they also have resulted in much broader sales across my entire collection. Unfortunately, the volume just vanished.

    I've seen some good analysis on the Amazon algorithms that makes sense, but I also have to think we're killing ourselves with these freebies. It seems that almost all Indies have noticed dramatic declines. No wonder, considering buyers can now choose from dozens of free new books every day. Some people have literally downloaded thousands of books. Why should they bother paying for a book when they know it'll probably be free if they wait a while?