How many eBooks am I selling? Part 1 - Getting Started
Go on admit it. That’s what you really want to know isn’t it?
If, like me, you are a self-published author, selling on Kindle, Kobo, or a variety of other eBook formats, you’re probably interested in how other authors are getting on. This is a series of articles about my experiences in the selling game on Kindle. It starts in October 2011, when I released my first Class Heroes superhero novel A Class Apart. Hope you find it useful.
I’ve read several really interesting blogs from other authors. It’s fascinating to know how they are getting on, what they found hard, what their highs and lows are, and how it compares to my own experiences.
Probably what I’m most interested in, when I read another author’s blog is:
- How many copies are selling?
- How did you price your book?
- What worked/didn’t work?
- Over what period of time?
Well, if you’re interested, here are my experiences.
October - November 2011 - The beginning
I published A Class Apart in mid-October 2011 priced $4.99 on Amazon. At this point, it was only available on Amazon as a Kindle book. $4.99 didn’t seem like an unreasonable price for a book, to me, but maybe I hadn’t given enough thought to price points for non-established authors.
My friends who own an e-Reader (not many actually do) very kindly went and bought it. So by the end of November I’d clocked up a not particularly amazing 10 sales on Amazon.co.uk. So I was selling just over 1 a week.
The book is set in the UK, I live in the UK, and as such I had expected to sell copies in the UK. I had hoped to also sell a few in the US, but didn’t think it would be a strong market for me. The surprising thing was for every UK book I sold, I also sold on Amazon.com. And over time (which I’ll talk about it future articles) US sales have exceeded UK.
But by the end of November, in total I’d sold 10 books in the UK and 10 in the US. So 20 (not that you needed me to do the maths).
Perhaps the fact that it did sell in the US was down to:
- eReaders being more established and commonplace in the US.
- The book is about superheroes - for which there seems more interest in the US than in the UK.
Undoubtedly, the majority if not the entirety of those UK sales came from people I knew, whereas the US ones were obviously not. So it was encouraging from a US perspective, but a tad depressing from a UK point of view. Either I'd need to do something to boost sales, or only make friends with people who owned eReaders.
The biggest problem for a self-published author is getting your book noticed. I think you can do this with:
- A good website (which I hope I have - and some additional websites and videos too).
- Tweeting about your book
- Getting your book reviewed.
In November, I started the long process of identifying, and writing to, book review bloggers.
There are a lot of people who simply adore books, and next to reading them they love writing about them. However, a lot of bloggers won’t review self-published works (which is fair enough, given the number of books these good people get sent on a weekly basis), so it’s not an easy sell.
I wrote out my basic pitch, but I didn’t want to use a scatter gun technique of blasting out mails to just anyone. I looked at their websites, read their review policies, took the time to see what kind of stuff they liked and then adapted my pitch for each blogger. Takes a while, to be honest, so I wouldn’t be writing more than 2 or 3 a night. And then I waited for the responses with my fingers crossed.
I also tweeted. But not a massive amount. I didn't just want to harp on about my book all the time. I still don't know whether to treat my tweets (that sounds weird) as adverts (which might just annoy people, or ... well, what? I tweet things I find funny, I retweet stuff, and I sometimes post stuff about my book being available. I could bang on more about tweeting here, but do you know what, I think it deserves its own article.)
Next time … on Stephen Henning’s blog (you can just hear that voiceover can’t you), I’ll be sitting by the fireside recounting my experiences with Google Adwords, nursing a 50 year old cognac and a cigar so large that if you sat on it you'd be in hospital for a week.