Home > Writing > Sales, Sales, $ales!

Sales, Sales, $ales!

It’s been quite some time since I’ve discussed my sales, but I know that this blog’s two readers are simply chomping at the bit waiting for an answer to the burning question: Just how much cash does this doofus make?

Well, the answer probably won’t wow you. About 98% of my sales come from one source–Kindle. Barnes & Noble doesn’t have the same traffic, and Smashwords is still in the “boutique” stage of its existence (though I personally love it, since Smashwords mostly pays a higher royalty on titles bought there. Not that I’m 100% mercenary, of course). I don’t think that combined, my sales from B&N and Smashwords have passed $150 total revenue, which here in New York City will get you nine packs of Marlboros or 50 cups of coffee at Starbucks. So I won’t really get into the sales activity (or lack thereof) on those two sites–it’s just not really worth it.

But Kindle? A different story altogether. And I say that in a happy kind of way.

I should set the stage a bit first by sharing that my zombie titles literally blow the hell out of everything else I have, and that the horror stuff tends to move more than the “straight” stories and books I have on sale. So if nothing else, it does lead me to believe that a) horror ain’t as dead as people in the traditional publishing industry like to say it is, and b) genre-specific properties probably have a greater chance of catching on fire and rocketing up the charts than more literary works.

Another element to keep in mind: I was originally a big fan of the 99 cent entry point, and at that price, The Gathering Dead pretty much stormed up the Amazon horror list to touch the #5 slot before slowly rolling back. It was already arcing downward before I changed the price to $2.99, so I don’t blame the price for the sales slump that occurred afterwards; I think the book had played through the core audience. Even though more people come in daily looking for zombie tales, and many of them buy The Gathering Dead (and its novella follow-on, Left With The Dead), the hard-core zombie fans have already read it, loved it, hated it, forgot about it, whatever. They’re looking for new stuff, and I totally get that.

Anyway…let’s get to some numbers. The following come from the Excel spreadsheets Amazon sends to me each month, and I think you’ll see the progression and then decline in sales. Figures are shown in JPG format, taken from the XLS files sent to me by Amazon, from February 2011 through June 2011. I put the totals in bold so they might stand out from the rest of the figures. Click on the thumbnails below to see the images at their maximum size.

February (my first month):




June (oh YEAH baby!):

I don’t have the final numbers for July yet, but while my total overall sales actually increased by 42 units, on some titles total sales rolled back considerably. I hear it’s because of the summer, folks are on vacation with their families, no one has time to read, etc., etc. I’m not terribly worried just yet, but I notice the release of White Tiger did nothing to boost sales at the end of July, and so far, it’s a real knuckledragger in August. But time will tell…there’s not a lot I can do about breaking the cycle.

But I know of several writers who are kicking my butt vis a vis sales, and their names aren’t Konrath, Crouch, Locke, or Hocking; they’re just normal, everyday, non-luminary folks such as myself who happened to strike gold around the same time I did. (One fellow writer moves over 15,000 units a month on Kindle alone–okay, at 99 cents, but still! Great hoochie mamma!) So there’s still vitality out there on the marketplace, it’s just that consumers are being a bit more picky. And with today’s economic pressures, I can understand that.

So I don’t mean to bitch about things; that’s not my point with this post. I’m happy with the way things are progressing, and from a casual, non-scientific examination of the rest of the self-publishing universe, my sales put me in the top 25%. Can’t shake a stick at that, but I am happy I have a day job that pays me a whole lot better right now!

Yet like so many others, I long for the day when I can kick my employers to the curb–it does get wearisome, doing things you don’t want, for people you don’t like, for reasons you don’t understand. Regrettably, with the current sales environment, that day will have to be deferred a bit longer. But hey, it beats being sent to Southwest Asia and having a bunch of guys named Abdullah shooting at you…

And I’m posting these figures here for illumination, not out of a desire to bitch. Every sale is one I never had before, and it seems that most people like what they read. It just doesn’t get any better than that, folks. Thanks a million.

Categories: Writing Tags: , , , ,
  1. August 5, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Awesome man! Congrats on your success. Found your site through your Konrath blog comment. I’m releasing a short story, a novella and a novel in the next month or so. My cover art is in process and I’m wrapping up my editing before shipping it off to the editing squad. Yup, I too long for the days where I can sit back, write, read and not have a set time where I have to be for a job.

    Congrats again.

    • August 5, 2011 at 10:33 am

      Hey thanks, Dustin! Success is what we make it, and so far, so good. I see you’re in Texas…I’m originally from the Coastal Bend country myself. Hope your story and other works make it big, and thanks for driving by! (I gotta get me a shirt like your pal Randy has–would go over real well here in the NYC metro area.)

  2. paulsalvette
    August 5, 2011 at 11:19 am

    So the big question is what did you do between March and April that made your sales shoot up 1,000%? Sell your soul to Satan? Nevertheless, congrats on your success!

    The editor is almost done with my novella, and I’m going to throw it up to the marketplace pretty soon here.

    • August 5, 2011 at 2:46 pm

      Nothing–The Gathering Dead just caught on fire and rolled in hot. I tweeted about it and obviously blogged about it, but that was all! Obviously, a happy event for me, but difficult to replicate–and maintain!

  3. August 5, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Thank you so much for posting your stats. I’ve got one book out and it’s been out just over one month. Its stats look only slightly better than your first month’s…now if my stats could look anything (I mean a n y t h i n g !) like your latest stats, I’d be over the moon. Been writing, to get another title out to help add to the sales, but I’m a slow writer. (After Konrath’s recent post, I should start referring to myself as “deliberate” instead of slow…OK, I’m that too.) Also gotta figure out the twitter thing and get serious about my blog. Much to do.

    Congrats to you, seems like you’re doing well to me! (And thanks, again, for willingness to post your actual numbers.)

  4. August 5, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Hey Stellaaaaaa!

    Sorry, I don’t get the opportunity to channel Brando that often…

    Definitely release another book as soon as you can. And then another, and another, and another. If your life and schedule permit, bang out at least 2,500-3,000 words a day–at that rate, you can have a rough first draft of a book completed in a month! Output is essential, and I’ve already got readers looking for more stuff, but I’m about two months away from having anything new to release. (I guess that’s tough.)

    Ultmately, at the end of the day, output is essential. And start tweeting and blogging and sneding your book around to review sites, anything that will drive traffic toward it.

    And I’m always happy to share my numbers…especially when they’re good!

  5. Chance
    August 5, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    –it does get wearisome, doing things you don’t want, for people you don’t like, for reasons you don’t understand.

    I would amend to “for reasons you disagree with” and then add an “amen” – congrats on your success!

    • August 5, 2011 at 7:07 pm

      That’s true…in this environment, being without a well-paying gig is bad juju. So I’ll say “Amen!” while following up with “Damn it!” under my breath.

  6. Oscar Hokeah
    August 7, 2011 at 2:21 am

    Congrats, man. I’m still working on the link thing but I might have it figured out after checking out your blog. Keep em coming.

  7. August 24, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    I came here through Joe K’s blog as well. I wanted to thank you for posting your Kindle reports. It’s easy to say “I sold 20,000 units!”, but what we need to know is at what price, in what genre, with how many titles, etc.

    I’m just starting to put up my backlist and have had some success with my book of medical humor, but I find myself worrying about each book like it’s a baby chick that needs to be fed, when I really just need to put up my many novels.

    I’m encouraged to hear that summer is slow and that your Smashwords sales are relatively insignificant too. I really think JK Rowling is going to bump the middle grade audience in October and that this Christmas will be the tipping point, so keep writing, everyone!

    • August 24, 2011 at 1:11 pm

      Yeah, I hear from other writers that the summer months are sucking big time in comparison to the winter and spring. But hey, school’s just around the corner! More time for mommy and daddy to read! All I can say is: BRING IT!

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