E-Book Sales (Other)

In the last post I showed you the numbers for my Kindle sales. This time I show you the less than spectacular sales for all other e-book outlets where I’m selling my fiction. These are sales totals for all of 2010.

Total Books Sold:

  • Smashwords: 28
  • Barnes & Noble: 2  <– One of these was me buying my own book!
  • Sony: 0
  • Kobo (formerly Shortcovers): 0
  • Apple: 0

As you can see, Smashwords and Barnes & Noble are the only other markets I have sold to. Somehow the Kobo market does not surprise me as I’m not sure they are even selling my books yet. Every time I check, nothing is there. I know for sure that Tales From Ocherva is in the Apple store, but I may be the only one who knows that. ;-)

I also know for sure that Starstrikers is in the Sony e-book store because I can see it there. If you notice to the left of the book, you can also spot Null_Pointer.  But still not seeing anything in the Kobo store. I don’t know how to get in the Borders e-book store, I assumed it was related to Kobo, which is why I’m not showing in the Borders catalog. For some reason I thought Kobo would be more self-publisher friendly, but they are not. Pity, their android reader is quite nice.

Smashwords has been very helpful in getting my books into other markets, but I will start doing it myself for Kindle, Apple and Barnes & Noble for the next book. I have better control and can upload my epub file directly through their author services.

E-book Catalogs are Disappointing

I’ve been slowly moving my paperback purchasing over to e-book purchasing. Using Kindle for Android, I have been enjoying many fine books from Mysteries, to SF and non-fiction. Reading on the Droid phone is very convenient but not as easy as reading on a single-use e-reader. So just as soon as the Kindle 3 ships, I will probably pick one up.

In the meantime, I purchased a Nook from Barnes and Noble. But it’s not really for me as much as my family, more specifically, the kids. Although I suspect the wife will use it on occasion too. I have been slowly acquiring YA fiction for my sons to read. Most new titles are readily available and are priced reasonably. But when I went to find the juvenile works of the three grand master of Science Fiction – Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein, I was appalled at what was unavailable in e-book form.

For Asimov, none of his juveniles are available and only the first three of his seminal Foundation books are digitized. Heinlein fares better with Space Cadet, Podkayne of Mars and Red Planet being available but no Have Spacesuit Will Travel! Clarke only has 2001 and Fountains of Paradise. These are very weak selections and it makes me sad that so many great books are not yet available as e-books.

Selling author back lists has been in the news lately with agents now acting as e-publishers. But that really doesn’t concern the reader in me. I just want to be able to read the classics of my genre in digital form. I mean SF invented e-books, it’s a little disgraceful that the masters of the genre are so hard to find in that medium. At least you can get The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on your e-reader. I did, it was my first sale on the device.

Another interesting point I noticed while reading through the catalog on the Nook, was the lack of attention to formatting for many titles. It’s obvious that their conversion to epub is both sloppy and pathetic. It may be in B&N’s interest to hire QA folks to approve titles that they sell. Maybe this could even be a new job specialty for editors or HTML and CSS people.

My own book that is available on the Nook, Null_Pointer is one of the sloppy ones. But in my defense, Smashwords converted it for me and submitted it to B&N. For the book’s second edition I will be doing the epub conversion myself. If you are self-publishing e-books you simply must get a physical device to see how your book looks on the intended target. The Nook works great for this process, because you can load your own documents on it with a simple USB connection to a PC. I’m hopeful the PubIt! program that allows self-publishers to add their own titles to the B&N e-book store, will debut soon. I’d like to get my other  titles on the Nook by the end of the summer.

E-book Readers

I’ve been trying as many different e-book reader platforms as I can since first getting my Droid phone. The one I like best so far is the Kindle app. It has the best features on both of my computing platforms, Mac and Droid. Unfortunately it does not have a Linux reader application. WTF, is Android not built on Linux? Does it not use Java to build the Android app? What seems to be the issue here is that I’m the only reader who uses Linux. Sigh.

I also like the Kobo reader app, but it has a very limited selection and that, in the end will doom its use for me. The other app that I really like, but that has no cloud storage, is Aldiko. I have many free books on that app, but unless I manually transfer them to my computer, I have no access to them except on the Droid. The idea of having my book marks stored in the cloud, so that I can continue reading from any device is what has won me over on the Kindle app. As soon as their e-reader device drops sub $100 dollars, I’ll buy one. Despite how horrible it looks with that chick-lit keyboard. I’m holding out for the Kindle 3 due out in another month or so.

The Borders app might be good, but its just a Kobo app underneath. I could not recall my password and so it’s useless. Besides, there is no e-book reader device for it. Still absent from the market is an Android version of the B&N e-reader app. The Nook is one sweet e-reader device. I really like it. But without a way to read on my Droid, no sale.

The recent patent award to Amazon for any device with two screens one of which is for reading and the other for navigation, puts the future of the Nook in danger. Hopefully Kindle designers will not sue them and just copy the design. It makes more sense than the silly keyboard on the Kindle.

Since nearly all of my income as a writer is coming from Kindle sales, it makes sense for me to go with a Kindle. Despite the e-reader’s lack of design savvy. It does have a cute ad jingle though.

So what about the iPad, you may be asking. So what is my answer. E-readers and tablets are two entirely different things. I’m not looking for a tablet computer here, I’m looking for an e-book reader. If I won’t even buy a Kindle for $189, why would you think I’d pay $500 for an iPad? I’m not ruling out getting a tablet computer some day, but at my current income level, with two kids to feed and cloth, it’s not even on the horizon. Several years from now, when the market is flooded with cheap, good quality Android based tablets I might be tempted. But probably not. Unless I start selling way more e-books or suddenly get promoted several pay grades, I won’t be in the market for a tablet.

Sales and True Fans

Writer Joe Konrath has a very good blog post about book sales and true fans. If you have not read it head on over and do so. Basically, he’s saying you can’t make a living just selling your e-books cheap. You have to have repeat sales. Readers have to like your work enough to come back for more. Even if the next book is slightly more expensive.Those who come back, are your true fans.

I have an experiment going on right now that will help quantify his observations for authors who are significantly less well-known, like myself. My gateway drug for readers is Starstrikers. It’s selling over 200 e-books a month on Kindle for the low price of $.99 cents. My latest book, Tales From Ocherva Volume One, was just introduced last month for the new low price of $2.99. So far it has sold less than ten books. All future books I release will be at the $2.99 price point or higher.

Over the next month or two, I would hope that readers who connected with Starstrikers, would come back and get the new e-book. Those readers are my true fans. They liked the first book and they will come back for more. Those precious true fans are in for a treat this year, because this fall I will release my third novel – Tyrmia. So that will be three e-books set in the same SF universe. Fan nirvana. It’s rare to get two books in one year from someone not writing full time.

If sales for TFO increase this month and sales of Tyrmia also rise, then it will be obvious that I have a small fan base. But if sales only stay steady for Starstrikers, then that will indicate that I’m not much of a writer and had better throw in the towel. Or perhaps go back to mysteries. Interesting times ahead, for sure.

UPDATE: You can see the parity between my two books by looking at the front page of this website. When the Kindle numbers are closer together, fans are buying. When Starstrikers is lower by far than Ocherva, not so much fan buying going on.

Kindle Me Confused

I’ll never understand how Kindle readers find my books.  It’s a complete mystery to me.  Mind you, I don’t stay up late at night thinking about it.  My first book has been on the Kindle for over a year now, pretty close to two, actually.  The best month of sales was last August when I sold twelve copies.  An average month brings in about four or five sales.  For some strange reason, this month has been particularly good for that first novel.  It’s only mid-month and I’ve sold twenty copies.  Meanwhile, my second book in a different genre has sold three copies.

What’s so hard to fathom is that the second book is a mystery and it has much broader appeal than the first novel, a nerdy SF book. I was actually concerned that the second book might take off and then I’d have to rush to get another mystery written this summer for release next year.  But as it happens, the SF book is gaining momentum and the mystery is just there, collecting dust.  So while the second book is beyond a doubt the best thing I’ve written, it languishes at the bottom of the Kindle barrel.

Like I said, I’ll never understand it. But I will respect the numbers and start writing the prequel to the first book, this summer.