Monday, November 10, 2014

Real world sales numbers, part 3

It's been six months again, so let's update how self-publishing sales numbers look for people who aren't hugely successful. (May's update here)

Click to enlarge
  • Definitions: "units sold" includes both ebooks and paperbacks, across all sales channels (except Storybundle), for a given month. The graph starts at October 2012, when I released Disciple, Part I. Since Oct. '12, I have sold about 245 books in total. (Damn, it's been two years already!)
  • The spike in sales of Part II and Part III was a result of briefly getting Amazon to give Part I away for free and buying an ad promotion. Part I has been free for several months now, which is why it isn't registering sales anymore.
  • The Half-Omnibus is not free but it hasn't been selling either, which is disappointing. The only overhead that went into it was its ISBN, but it hasn't even paid for that.
  • Yeah, this October I had no sales. Ouch, it's been a while since I got a flat zero. 
As you can see, my graph is getting more and more complicated as I add more volumes. It's turning into a tangle of lines bouncing around, and it's getting hard to see the general trend. So here is a simpler graph: 

This is all my sales, by month, with an added linear regression so that I can see there is, in fact, a mild upward trend. Which is nice.

Am I making a living? Not yet. I have paid for all of the production costs (about $1500 per book) through a combination of Kickstarter campaigns (for two books), sales through regular channels, and my graphic design freelance work. So far, my business income has covered my business expenses. I'm grateful for that because I live on a snug budget, but no, it isn't putting money in my pocket yet.

To ask the same question as last time: am I thrilled? Well... it's still encouraging. I'll admit that I'm starting to feel the wear after six volumes. The Disciple series is almost finished. Then I'll be facing the question of: what to publish next? I've got other books in the hopper -- are they ready? This also hasn't been a productive year for me, so will I run short at some point?

Look for my next sales update in May, when there will be a new factor in play: Dreamspinner Press is publishing a novella of mine in December. What will those sales look like? Will there be any carryover to Disciple? Stay tuned...

2 comments:

Wm. L. Hahn said...

It's really so important to see "real life" sales figures and analysis like this Louise, and I salute your candor.
So much to touch on, and I certainly have no magic answer for how to boost sales. I think you're on the brink of next-level, which I would define as getting steady, nice-to-have income from your work. Would you consider another KDPS promotion? Maybe from a bigger base there'll be a larger leap. Also, have you done anything with subscription services and are those non-sales income reflected here?
Basically, you've got a higher production budget than I do, so it's hard to comment. I'm also at the spend-no-extra-money level and working to turn any profit at all. Your ability to draw your own is big, very big for the fantasy genre.
Maybe if I get a drab of sales data from my new micro-publisher (and a big dollop of courage) I'll do the same as you someday!

L. Blankenship said...

I've thought about buying another ad for PART I, but I'm thinking the time for that is when the end of the series, PART VI, comes out. Which will be early next year, a few months after HAWKS & RAMS is published by Dreamspinner. I hear you on the bigger base -- that's definitely on my mind.

I have not done anything with subscription services and I'll admit I've always been rather leery of those. One needs to have established trust with your readership w/r/t the quality of your writing... and your reliability. Even after two years, I wouldn't say that I have that.

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