A Year of Selling Indie Sci-Fi

I’ve shown my numbers before, but thought I’d add some new numbers for my latest novel and my anthology, so that folks can compare and contrast my numbers to the numbers of a traditionally published author – Tobias Buckell. I’ve never landed a print deal for my novels and so I’m a pretty good representative of the unknown, self-published SF genre author.

My only novel for most of last year was Starstrikers. Here’s how it did by itself. As you can see, in February it got picked up and enjoyed a wave of success for about four months. Then it came back down to a level tide. I didn’t experience a bump in sales when I raised the price in August. If anything, it dropped.

Book – Month/Year – Sales – Earnings – Asking Price

In June, I decided to put up a bunch of my short stories in an anthology to try and capitalize on my new-found Kindle fame.

By the end of the year, I launched my second SF novel, Tyrmia. The uneven pricing for it in January of this year was due to Google undercutting my price and knocking me back down to below the 70% royalty I was getting at the $2.99 price point. Last month I dropped it to $.99 again for a rush day. After a week, I raised it back to $2.99. I have since dropped selling through Google Books. At least until they can demonstrate that they don’t undercut me anymore.

I don’t have a big following, obviously and people find me mostly by accident so these numbers are about as average as you can get for a new self-pub author. Tyrmia is out to a few reviewers and may get a bump when those are posted, but I expect it to eventually earn about 10 or 12 sales per month. Combined with Starstrikers, the two of them will probably sell 24-30 per month with the anthology only getting a couple sales per month.

I have another ebook experiment running as of January of this year. I’m selling about 12 short stories for $.99 cents each. On a good month they can total 12 sales, usually its closer to 8. The key to making a go of it on Kindle is having multiple products for sale and keep introducing new products every year. I generally release a novel every year. Sometimes between novels I will crank out a short story or two, but unless they get good responses from my beta readers, I won’t release them.

So there you go. Sales numbers for the little indie writers to think about.



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  • Reply
    September 5, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    Jay, the boost in sales came from out of the blue, almost a year after the ebook first came out. I have no idea what caused it. I was not promoting it at all. I had a few reviews, but the influence of the reviewers was negligible.

    I’m not promoting my books at all. Sometimes I get a review on Amazon, sometimes someone mentions me on a blog post, but I’m not actively promoting myself. I’m writing the next book. And the next book and then after that, I’m writing another book. Considering the more I write, the better I get as a writer, that only makes sense. Eventually, an audience will find me, because my books are really good. At that point, it will make sense to promote myself more.

  • Reply
    September 5, 2011 at 3:41 am

    Thanks for sharing! It’s interesting to see how the numbers pan out over time like that. Why do you think your boost came after the first couple of months instead of right out of the gate? Were you not promoting at all at first? (which raises another question about your thoughts on promoting your books)

  • Reply
    Links: Best Of The Web : Bryan Thomas Schmidt
    August 31, 2011 at 1:02 am

    […] Up and coming author Ken McConnell tracks his ebook sales–with interesting implications for average, unknown SF writers: http://ken-mcconnell.com/2011/04/02/a-year-of-selling-indie-sci-fi […]

  • Reply
    August 22, 2011 at 9:18 am

    Thanks for sharing your numbers too, Annie! Maybe we can start a trend for the lesser known genre writers.

  • Reply
    Annie Bellet
    August 22, 2011 at 12:09 am

    Hey, thanks for sharing your numbers.

    Here’s another data point for you: (I also write SF/F)

  • Reply
    Rational Numbers « The Undiscovered Author
    August 19, 2011 at 7:04 am

    […] So, all that said I’ve been keenly interested when those good souls share their data so the rest of us can see, and judge for ourselves.  In that vein, I thought I’d share some data recently made available by a digitally self-pubbed speculative fiction (sci fi, specifically) author by name of Ken McConnell on a year’s worth of his digital sales.  Link here. […]

  • Reply
    Shaun Duke
    August 17, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Sweet beans. Thanks for providing all that info. I hope your sales pick up and you start making $10,000 a day. Because that would be pretty awesome for science fiction, no? I mean, come on, you build your own spaceship models! That’s dedication, man!

  • Reply
    eBook numbers from a new writer at Tobias Buckell Online
    August 17, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    […] McConnell posts figures about how much money he’s made selling eBooks directly. He’s writing SF, and as he notes: I’m a pretty good representative of the unknown, […]

  • Reply
    April 2, 2011 at 12:21 am

    Good info. Thx. Definitely something to consider as I reconsider the process of idling my life away clickity clacking on this laptop.

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