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Numbers Game (pt. 2)

It’s difficult to tell just how well giving my books away has done for me.  As I indicated in yesterday’s post, I’m selling the books in e-book and paperback format.  Obviously the sales have been pretty non-spectacular.  But in order to make some comparisons with how many eye balls are on the books, I’ve compiled the following stats from the three sites that I am giving away the books from.  I am also giving them away on my book web sites and unfortunately I have no way to keep stats there. But for the sites that do offer me stats the results are below.

Null_Pointer  1541 Views  10,700 Views    PDF Downloads = 885

Smashwords Partial Downloads = 50

Starstrikers  3,918 Views    PDF Downloads = 300 EST.

Smashwords Partial Downloads = 37

The most interesting stat is that of Null_Pointer on Scribd.  It’s had over ten thousand views and more importantly, almost nine hundred downloads.  Clearly, a lot of folks have seen the book on Scribd and quite a few have taken the opportunity to download it.  Presumably to read off line.  Yet this novel has only sold a handful of books.  It would appear, that giving away a novel does not automatically generate the kind of interest that leads to sales.  At least for the unknown authors.

The most effect way to sell books is to build an audience for them.  This is particularly difficult for unknown authors who are just starting out.  How do you get the word out without advertising and without being already known for something else?  This blog has been on the web since 1998 in various incarnations.  Yet it only gets less than 40 page views a day.  Clearly, having a blog is not a magic bullet either.

I’ve only done about three local book signings in the last two years.  But when I do have signings, I generate local interest.  Sometimes I never know how much value a signing has, other times, I get immediate feedback in the form of reviews or interviews.  I will be making an effort to get into more bookstores at least once a month in the coming year.

Book reviews are darn near impossible to get for Self-Published books.  It’s hard to suss out willing reviewers to take a chance on you, but when they do and the response is favorable, good things can happen.  Starstrikers was recently reviewed and I believe that one positive review netted me my most successful month of sales to date.  So getting reviews continues to be a top priority for me in the coming months.

Another important aspect of getting brand awareness, is having product to sell.  If all you have is one book, your chances of making a sale are limited.  The more different books you have to sell, the better off you are.  Back list inventory is important for growing your brand name.  Starstrikers has never sold better than when I put out my current book.  I expect that when I release my next SF book in September of 2010, I will get even more interest in Starstrikers and even Null_Pointer which is in a different genre.

There is only one area of publishing that I have not ventured into yet, and that is audio books.  I’m in the process of recording my first audio book right now.  In a few months I will be ready to venture into those waters.  Will giving away my book for free in audio format grow my platform and increase my sales?  Stay tuned in the coming year to find out.

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