Friday, November 18, 2011

Self-publishing Number Breakdown


Two weeks ago I posted about hitting the milestone of selling 500,000 self-published ebooks, and promised that throughout the rest of 2011, I’d be talking about self-publishing.  So, today I wanted to touch on how and where I sold that many books, breaking them down by vendor.  


Amazon.com:
I first started putting my books up for sale myself through Amazon’s KDP program in May 2010.  At that time, Amazon was really the only big player around for self-publishing ebooks.  Which meant they had the market cornered, so all of my sales for the first 5 months I self-published came from Amazon.  To date I have sold 312, 958 books at Amazon.com. 

The key to selling books at Amazon for me has been having multiple titles available.  I first started with just a couple of short stories.  Those sold okay, but not enough for me to get excited about.  Then I added one novel.  Still not many sales.  It wasn’t until I added my entire backlist that I saw a huge boom in sales.  And it wasn’t just more books – each one of my titles sold more copies every time I added another book to the mix. 

The other thing that’s made a big difference for me has been pricing.  Most of the books I have on Amazon sell for $3.99 and I have NEVER discounted them.  The majority of my sales have come from my High Heels series and my Hollywood Headlines series.  Of these, I have only ever discounted the first book in each series.  I think this is really key to generating income from the books as well (though I’ll talk more about the money side of things next blog post).  I have offered the first books in my two series for $.99 or even free for a limited time, but the idea behind that is to generate sales of the other books in the series.  I see a lot of other authors doing this successfully, as well – discounting just one title, but keeping the prices for the rest of their titles at an even price, usually between $3.99-$5.99.   


Barnes & Noble:
I’ve had books up at Barnes & Noble since the October 2010, so just over a year.  BY that point I had my entire backlist to work with, so I saw sales take off there right out of the gate.  To date I have sold 185,255 books at BN. 

At Barnes & Noble my strategy has been a bit different.  I’ve found that discounting doesn’t do much to change my sales there.  In fact, I had a book for free on BN and didn’t sell any more copies than I had the previous week when it was priced at $3.99.  My experience is that Barnes & Noble shoppers are hard-core readers.  They are book people.  They mostly have no problem paying $3.99 or even $5.99 for a book, as that’s still a bargain form the paperback or hardcover versions.  I don’t sell as many books here as I do on Amazon, but I sell more of my higher priced titles, so that on the monetary end, it kind of evens out. 

Apple:
So far I’ve been selling at Apple’s iBookstore through Smashwords.  Which, as some of you probably know, has notoriously hard to read sales reports.  So my info isn’t quite as shiny and up-to-date for my sales here.  I’ve been selling through Apple since November 2010, so a solid year.  To date (or as far as I have sales reports for) I’ve sold 8,856 books at Apple. 

Sales started out VERY slow for me here – just 4 books sold in my first month, but picked up after a while.  I think the iBookstore is just now becoming more of a force in the “i” world, so I expect to see sales continue to climb here.


Other outlets:
I’m lumping these all together, as I haven’t sold a ton at other outlets yet.  I definitely think it’s worth having your book for sale in as many places as possible, but I’ve seen sales very slowly creep up in these markets.   

Sony: 2,861
Kobo: 1,275
Smashwords/Diesel/ARE: 453

(Just a note: I see romance books  - particularly hot ones - sell much better at ARE than my books have.  I think I've sold a total of 7 copies in four months at ARE.  It's not the best place for mystery, but I'd definitely check it out if you write more romance books.)  

Foreign Markets:
This is where I’ve seen the biggest jumps lately!  Amazon UK is a major sales outlet for me, and the other Amazon markets slowly becoming so, too.  I haven’t independently tabulated my foreign sales for the other vendors, as they don’t amount to large numbers each month yet, but I have sold well through Apple in the UK, Germany, Australia, and Canada, and through Kobo in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, China, and Trinidad & Tobago (I got a kick out of that one!).  There isn’t really anything special to do for the foreign markets (except perhaps translate you books – which I am planning to do starting in the new year!), but here are my numbers there:

Amazon UK: 127,386
Amazon DE: 325
Amazon FR: 106

And for anyone keeping track with their calculators, that does add up to 639, 475 books total.  After calculating in the last month’s sales numbers, it looks like I’ve hit a new milestone!  :)

Since I won't be blogging again until after Thanksgiving, I hope everyone has a great holiday!  I know I have plenty to be thankful for this year!


~Trigger Happy Halliday

34 comments:

Bev Pettersen said...

What fabulous numbers, Gemma. Love your high heel series. Thanks for sharing and enjoy your Thanksgiving. Much for all writers and readers to be grateful for.

Leslie Langtry said...

Gemma - that was a very good blog with lots of information! Love it!

Marie Force said...

Congratulations, Gemma! Those are some wonderful numbers! You are an inspiration to all of us in the self-pub world.

Amanda Brice said...

EXCELLENT info, Gemma! Thanks for sharing!

Michele said...

Great numbers, Gemma! Amazing!

Lynn LaFleur said...

Thank you so much for sharing your sales numbers. I'm still an infant in the self-pub world, but am learning everything I can from other authors who have been successful.

Wishing you even more sales and success!

Lynn

Maria G. Swan said...

Gemma, thank you so much for sharing. I'm preparing to put up my very first e-book. Love Thy Sister, previously published as trade paperback. I now own the rights and your blog gave me that extra bit of courage to do so. Thanks a bunch. Maria Grazia Swan

Gemma Halliday said...

Thanks everyone! I had so many authors share info with me when I was first starting out, that it's only right to pay it forward. :) The more info we all have, the better for authors everywhere, right?

~Gemma

Sibel Hodge said...

Absolutely fab figures, Gemma! Congrats :)

Cecelia said...

Fabulous sales figures! Thanks for sharing!

Joyce Henderson said...

Gemma! Thanks so much for this super blog, and congratulations on fabulous sales.

I'm slowly, and I mean at a snail's pace, getting settled here in Northern California. Once I finally get my PC hooked up... waiting for a wireless card right now...I hope to get my Dorch books up too. Before Christmas would be nice.

It's so nice to have contact with all you great writers that have all been through the "trenches" and come out in the end doing 1000 % better!

Cheers

PJ Sharon said...

I want to be you in a year! That's amazing, Gemma. Congratulations. Extremely helpful information here, and much appreciated. Keep up the good work!

TerriOsburn said...

Can't thank you enough for sharing these kinds of details. As an un-pubbed, this is info I'd never find elsewhere. Thanks!

And Happy Thanksgiving!

Kristine Cayne said...

Congratulations, Gemma! Thank you for sharing your awesome success with the writing community. Numbers like those are an inspiration :-)

~Kristine

Sophia Knightly said...

Wow, Gemma! Your numbers are amazing. I appreciate the information you provided. Last week, I indie pubbed two of my back list titles and am seeing sales steadily increase daily. They're nowhere near your big numbers, but enough to make me smile.

Mrs. C said...

I knew when I read Spying in High Heels that you were a hit then. Just look at the numbers. They speak for themselves. You rock Gemma! I love your books. They make me laugh and my favorite is the High Heel's series. Gotta love Felix so the Hollywood series come in 2nd.

Theresa Ragan said...

Gemma, those numbers are major impressive. Your books are doing well everywhere. I love that more and more authors are sharing their numbers for all to see. Thank you so much and keep up the good work!

Ruth Harris said...

Gemma, Thanks for an inspirational & informative post. What is your thinking behind the $3.99 pricing? Right now, I have most of my books at $2.99 but I wonder if that's too cheap for full-length fiction.

Amanda Brice said...

Ruth, I'm not Gemma, but I'm going to guess that when people see her books priced at $3.99, it doesn't scream "self-published" to them, like 99 cents or $2.99 would. Just my two cents.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Gemma, I'm just tremendously wowed every single time I read one of your posts on your success. Huge congrats. It's so wonderful to see writers such as yourself make really good money for all the hard work you put in.

Tina Folsom said...

Wow, those are stunning numbers. I'm also particularly impressed by your UK numbers, considering that volume in the UK still seems to be low overall. Congratulations!

Bella Andre said...

Gemma - YAY! These are incredible sales numbers. I'm so glad you've shared them with the world!
:) Bella

Dr. Debra Holland said...

Gemma, these are AMAZING numbers. I'm SO happy for you. I think I'm selling a lot--about 30,000 of two books in six months, then I see this. It makes me excited (and envious :) ) because it helps me see what's possible.

My third book in the series will (hopefully) go up in a few weeks, so I'll be able to see what happens in terms of multiple books.

Best of luck with fantastic sale throughout the holiday season!

Gemma Halliday said...

Ruth – What Amanda said. Publishers are still pricing ebooks pretty high... in fact my publisher released YA book has a price tag of $9.99 for ebook! So I don’t see $3.99 as pricing myself out of the market. In fact, it may be low. From what I’ve heard, $5 is about what most readers expect to pay for an ebook.

Gemma Halliday said...

Debra – for 2 books, I think 30,000 copies is a lot! Like I said, it wasn’t until I had my entire backlist available that I really saw sales take off. With just a few titles, my sales were very small. I think my first month at Amazon I made just enough to take my family out to dinner... at McDonalds. :)

Gemma Halliday said...

Tina – Yeah, I was really surprised when my books started taking off in the UK. I noticed that the Amazon UK site discounts separately from the US site (for example, when they’re price matching other sites), so the sales seem to really be independent of what’s going on with the US site. Which might be why some people see more success on the US site and not necessarily the UK one. But, like all my sales, these started out slow, too, and grew over time.

Vijaya Schartz said...

Congratulations, Gemma. You are an inspiration. The large publishers in this industry need a serious dose of reality. You are doing it, girl and we are cheering you.

Trish Albright said...

Gemma! That is so inspiring and awesome! Thanks for sharing that information. It's liberating for other authors!

Diane Kelly said...

Rock on, Gemma!

ashok said...

Thanks for all the great information Gemma. Yesterday I started my own blog at
http://fiction-authors.blogspot.com/

with the hope os assisting fiction authors (which includes myself) with online sales.

Best wishes and look forward to more posts from you.

kathi h said...

GG, thank you so much for posting this. I don't feel so bad now and there is very useful information for us newbies. off to format another book for smashwords. I woud like to have four up and going by the end of the year.

btw, I now have all of your books! they are terrific and I just need to read them all and post reviews.

hugs kathi h

Riley James said...

Joyce Lamb at USA Today picked up the review of my book "Einstein's Daughter."

http://books.usatoday.com/happyeverafter/post/2012-03-08/review-einsteins-daughter-riley-james/643966/1

Riley James said...

Joyce Lamb at USA Today picked up the review of "Einstein's Daughter."

http://books.usatoday.com/happyeverafter/post/2012-03-08/review-einsteins-daughter-riley-james/643966/1

Riley James said...

Sorry folks - technically impaired. Didn't mean to post twice :(

Riley James