Tuesday, August 2, 2011

July 2011 sales report

July was my tenth month selling ebooks.

I sold 1200 copies of 4 different titles. That’s a decrease of 13% from June. That’s two months in a row of sales decline, but at least the rate of decline is slowing.

My average sales per day were 45.9 in June and 38.7 in July.

My royalties also declined from $1,312.41 to $1,059.91.

If sales continue like they have for July, I should gross about $14,500 in 2011. Still a tidy sum!

But what could be causing my declining sales?

My DeadDwarves Don’t Dance novel is still rated at an average of 4.5 stars on Amazon (86% positive ratings). So, it’s not losing sales because of bad reviews.

I’ve sold a total of 6,381 copies of Dead Dwarves Don’t Dance. There are millions of ereaders out there, so I don’t think I’ve reached the limit of the cyberpunk fans.

Could it be a Summer sales slump? That’s possible, but my sales rank is also slowly worsening. If there is a Summer sales slump, shouldn’t my relative sales rank remain the same?

I think the primary reason for the sales decline is the two ebook sales that Amazon ran recently. With all those new books at 99 cents to $3.99, lots of people probably didn’t go searching for other books.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I can figure out exactly what’s causing it. But is there anything I can do to turn around the decline?

I could try some advertising, but that didn’t work for me before.

I don't have thousands, or even hundreds, of dollars to spend on a huge marketing campaign. So, that leaves my fans. If you’d like to help you can do a couple things:

1.    If you've read and enjoyed any of my books, you can post a review on its Amazon page.

2.    If you’ve read and enjoyed any of my books, you can add tags to the book. Just visit the pages below and check the boxes that you agree with, or add new tags

Both of these things can help my books move up the best-reviewed list and some of the search and tags lists.

I’m not sure if this will help ranking or sales, but I’ll report back next month with results.



  1. here's my 2 cents. In March you lowered the price. A lot of authors (including me) saw a huge increase in sales of 99 cent books during the first four months of the year. My theory is you caught the wave. Sometime in maybe late April, Amazon changed their algorithms for determining "also boughts" and other sales presentations. They do not publicize it of course, but there were good discussions of it on kindleboards. The net result seemed to be that books would move up and down the rankings at a quicker rate, as if Amazon was figuring more turnover in what people saw would be a better approach (and from Amazon's perspective, maybe so).

    When they did this, a lot of books that had been ranked high started taking hits. This coincided almost exactly with when you raised your price back to $2.99. You had a good few weeks, but then numbers really started to worsen. So you lowered your price. Unfortunately, you ran into two problems. One was that these new algorithms seem to rely even more heavily on creating enough of a blip to get the ball rolling. That may never have really happened after your June price lowering. Second, as you have noted, Amazon had a lot of free and cheap books out there.

    So...what you're seeing is probably to be expected. I tend to think that your numbers will stabilize for August. But I also think that you could try to create one or more catalysts for one of your books. KND ads seem to be the best paid advertising option for indie authors if you're inclined to spend a little money.

    I'll throw one other thing out there - your numbers aren't bad, really. The single biggest thing you could do is what Konrath recommends and get as many books as you can out there. If you had two or three more novels, you might be seeing double the sales, and those would build on each other and help buffer sales drops if one started to tail off. Obviously if a book catches on, an author can do very well with just one or two books. But short of that, the long term approach involves writing and writing some more to increase your chances. I'm sure I"m not telling you anything you don't know.

  2. I agree. There was a lot of noise in the market in June/July, but you're still doing really well. I'd love to have your numbers, and hope I'm on a similar trajectory (I'll check back in in six or seven months).

    Adding more books has to be the key for you right now. Everything you have up is selling. Keep putting quality stuff up and you can probably bank on everything doing at least as well, and the synergies between the various books might take everything up a notch.

    I'd be curious what kind of numbers you would see if you put up an individual story at $.99. I bet it would do pretty well. That's a nice way to get something else up without having to get an entire book out. Or package two or three stories together if you feel like one is too skimpy.

  3. Dear Derek,

    Thank you so much for sharing this information. I am working on my first novel and this sort of information is very handy to give a realistic view of e-books sales.

    I think that your sales drop is not a single factor. The summer slump might be the major factor, several other authors have complained about the same sales drop. The only way to know for sure is to see what happens when the kids go back to school.

    I would agree that I do not think that you have reached all the cyberpunk audience. The trick is to get them to find you. I would say no to advertising unless you can find a way to really hit your target audience. What has recently done with marketing? Have you done any guest blogs, been on any podcasts?

    I have not read all of your blog posts, but I don’t remember reading anything about you trying to reach the cyberpunk gaming players.

    (Eric - who's Google account will not let him post on blogger for some odd reason).

  4. Interesting post. Your numbers still seem pretty good, but as you noted there were a lot of variables going on this summer. Amazon and B&N both seem to periodically change their algorithms, and it really shakes things up. The sales they did changed everything, too.

    My sales are not as good as yours, but strangely have been steady and even slowly climbing all summer. It almost seems like I do the opposite of the rest of market. It'll be interesting to see how things pan out for the second half of the year.

  5. Derek - I can't really add anything to what's already been said in the other posts, but I did want to add my thanks for being so transparent with your numbers. As Eric said above, it's a great help to those of us behind you on the journey.

    Secondly, I'd offer words of encouragement. It's tough not to let your spirits follow the trend line of your sales graph, but remember nothing goes straight up. In reading blogs by other indies that experienced breakout success, those breakouts often seemed to come out of nowhere and follow periods of lackluster sales.

    Wishing you a breakout.

    R.E. (Bob) McDermott

    P.S. to Eric above - For some reason, Google also stopped letting me post on Blogger and nagged me to sign up for a blog every time I tried. I resisted because I have a blog under my own domain name at remcdermott.com. I finally gave up and said yes, just for the convenience. As soon as I did that, voila! I could post to Blogger via my Google profile.

  6. Hi Derek,

    I think between your analysis and the comments of the posters, almost all the reasons for your sales dip have been covered. The only other factor I might add is that cheap ebooks have been flooding the market even since March, and the volume's growing exponentially.

    Still, seems you're doing pretty well--keep writing!


  7. Hi Derek,

    I'd like to build upon Fingers Murphy's idea here -- I think he's on to something. As Edward Talbot said, increasing the number of books you have available could help.

    But is it the number of "books" or the number of "titles"? Could you, as Fingers suggests, write two or three short stories, put them out for $0.99, and use this to increase your listings? Would it have the same effect as adding whole books?

    My two cents about your "lagging" sales -- I think it's as simple as you lowered your prices to $0.99, got some action on them, and that action ultimately slowed when you raised the price again. Maybe do a two-week summer sale to boost sales (units, maybe not revenue) again?


  8. Derek,

    Sales may be slowing - but you're still doing quite well I think. One question:

    Are you active on any fan sites for things like cyberpunk, shadowrun, YA fiction, etc? If you're not, it can't hurt to eyeball the different opportunities for exposure your titles could get from these places.

  9. Thanks (Bob) McDermott, I will give that a try.


  10. I'm not sure how valid my experince is since I ONLY have one short story for sale at 99 cents. My short has been up since March and averages a might two whopping sales per month.

    I will be publishing a novella by Labor Day. I'm interested to see how, if at all, it will help the sales of the single short.

    For more established indies like yourself, Derek, I would also be interested to see if this strategy of posting shorts would work and boost sales across all of your works.

  11. Derek,

    Thanks for sharing your numbers again. As others have said, it looks like you're still doing well even if it took a slight downward turn.

    While I'm still on the road to getting my first novel in the store, everything I've been reading from folks who started last year (or even prior) suggests that July and August are the slowest months.

    It seems to be that everyone thinks once summer hits that people will gobble up ebooks for summer reading, but that doesn't happen. However, once September rolls around, things should pick up (assuming you don't bounce right back in August).

    Keep plugging away. Remember, marathon, not sprint. (I have to keep telling myself that.)

  12. Derek, I can add nothing to what's been said, so I'll add my thanks for your sharing this data for us to contemplate as we follow on your path.

    Will you share the 12Worlds sales figures?

  13. Sent some tags your way. Good luck.

  14. Derek - thanks again for sharing your numbers. I've noticed two things about my sales over the past several months.

    First, sales volume has increased to the point where Lie Merchants is selling about 70 copies per month. That is up from about 15 average per month for the first several months of the year. I've kept my price at $0.99 since April.

    Second, I've noticed that for the first time, I've had a few returns. Averaging about one refund per month. It has me a little worried, because I can't reach out and talk to those people to ask why.

    Have you experienced any refunds? Just curious if other authors have run into this issue.

    Any color would be helpful.

    Best regards - James

  15. All, thanks for your comments and insight. It's very helpful. Congrats to all who are doing well!

    Anon, thanks for the tags!

    James, don't worry about the returns. Everyone gets them. I also get a few month. Search on Kindle board author forums and you should find some discussions about them.