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2010 E-book Sales

Thought I’d post the numbers for my e-book sales on the Kindle for the year to date. I’ve done this before, but not for a few months. The numbers tell an interesting story and they force me to make some decisions as to how to proceed as an author/publisher.

These numbers reflect three e-books that I now sell on the Kindle. A SF novel – Starstrikers, a Mystery – Null_Pointer and a SF short story collection – Tales From Ocherva. Starstrikers makes up the bulk of the sales the other two books are statistically non-existent so I lumped the numbers together.

Books Sold /Month/Earnings /Notes

4      Jan $1.40

40   Feb $17.15 <– Found on Amazon

236 Mar $86.10

280 Apr $100.10

234 May $85.05 <– Peak Sales Amazon

203 Jun $91.70

182 Jul $65.43

120 Aug $120.20

42    Sep $81.51 <– Raised Prices

28    Oct $50.67 <– Back to Earth

TOTAL SALES   =  1,369

TOTAL PROFIT = $699.31

These numbers are interesting for anyone who is looking at writing in the SF genre and is not already an established writer or famous in any way. That would be me. Mr. Nobody. So you can compare these numbers to someone like JA Konrath and figure that your millage will vary greatly. Before this year, Starstrikers was on Kindle for over a year and had at most ten sales in any one month, but averaged less than 4 per month.

Two things happened this year that explain some of the success this book has had. The first was that e-books in general and Kindle e-books specifically, really took off. Because it was priced for .99, the book rode the crest of this wave as it started to rise. The second thing was that in riding that wave upward, the book was placed on three Amazon best seller lists. Once you get on these lists, you tend to stay on them as more and more people see your book.

When new paper books are released they typically enjoy two to three months of exposure and then fall back down into oblivion and become back list material. Apparently, this is what happened with Starstrikers. It got popular for about three months and then that popularity slid back down. As the popularity fell, I changed the price to $2.99 and I believe this took me out of the new and cheap area of the lists and thus dropped the sales even more. Lesson learned: If you are a nobody, the lower prices help you get noticed but don’t really sustain you or continue to capture mind share.

My next novel, Tyrmia, is set to debut on Kindle later this month or early in December. Because it is being launched during the holiday season, it will no doubt get a boost from new Kindle owners. But will it be able to ride a wave as good as Starstrikers did? That remains to be seen. What I expect to happen, and this is based on typical market behavior for regular books, is a slight bump in sales for a few months and then a second minor bump in Starstrikers sales as those who read Tyrmia come back for more. This continuous up and down ride is apparently how book sales normally go.

Starstrikers appeared in two web based reviews this year and perhaps those helped get the word out but there is little evidence for it. Nor is there any real evidence my daily mutterings on Twitter or my weekly blog posts are doing anything for sales. So why do the social web stuff if I can see no increase in sales from it? Because in maintaining a presence in the social network scenes, I keep my name out there and in the hearts and minds of readers and others in the industry. This is important.

It is important for new authors to get out and be seen and heard in as many avenues as you can. Get featured in local newspapers, get on local radio programs, do local signings, go to conferences and keep participating in the social media. Every little bit of exposure helps and it all builds as your career gathers steam.

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