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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.)
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