Thursday, December 15, 2011

Playing the Blame Game on Sales

"I'm not getting sales. There must be something wrong."

After you publish, it's very EASY to become obsessed with your sales. Did you sell anything last night? What about this morning? Wait, it's been 5 minutes, maybe you sold a book now? GRRRR. And your browser even REMEMBERS the site. I type "pub" and it auto-fills Hey, Chrome, maybe I was going to search public library, or public transportation... did you think about that?

::hangs head in shame:: Okay, I wasn't. And when I type kdp there isn't any excuse, I am stalking my sales on Amazon. It's been officially 3 months since I published CANCELLED. pph82wqaaa1vdt6 (that's my two year old's contribution to the post, I'm going to leave it. It's probably some ancient code or something that if we could only decipher, we'd know the answer to everything. Besides 42.)

So 3 months. 25% of a year. 9 books sold on Smashwords. 26 sales on Nook. 82 sales on Amazon. 2 sales on Createspace. 90 days, 119 books sold (I've sold a few more on Amazon UK, but I don't have those numbers yet as I work through Mark Williams international Digital Publishing for those rights, but it's only about 3-5 more sales). I ran a month at $.99 and a month at $2.99. Sold about the same number of books running a promotion in each time period. I'm trying out a $4.99 price point.

I auto tweet my book and friends' books, and blog posts etc. I've taken a break for the last few days (mostly because I want to overhaul the spreadsheets I'm using and I haven't had time to do that yet). In the first week of December, I had over 900 clicks on my link directly to my Amazon purchase page. 1 sale.

When you're stalking your sales, it follows that you begin making assumptions about your efforts. This is a bad plan, because there are ALWAYS variables you can't account for. Did one of your readers tell two of her friends at a play date about your book so they bought it that morning, giving you two sales, but you think it's an ad you ran on a blog that morning? See? (this is also a tenet of Total Quality Management).

I shouldn't worry about CANCELLED. The reviews are positive. I love the book, and that's what I aimed for when I chose to write a romance novel for non-romance readers. I've made major professional inroads with other authors, including a number of best sellers, and top of the line book bloggers. I'm making a name for myself as that girl who likes technology and will try to answer your question. I write a weekly column on another blog about technology, every Sunday. And I'm finally working on my next book. Not talking about my next book, WRITING my next book. I'm still in that quasi-pants it-plot it mode, where I write a handful of scenes organically, then craft a semi-permeable outline, then buckle down and jam it out. SERVED currently has about 2,000 words to its name, but it's better than 0. I also am giving co-writing a novel a try early next year, and I'm very excited about that (can't say too much more, as I might be absolute rubbish at it and the book never sees the light of day with my name on it).

I'm focusing more on making my own marketing magic. I'm organizing a major blog hop in March, and I'm partnered up with a large Nook reader community to help them on a semi-monthly basis to make fun events for their thousands of readers. I have a virtual book signing in January. I owe a blog post to the wonderful Saffina Desforges for December 24th.

But I can't waste time playing the blame game with my sales figures. Yes, I had 900 clicks on my link, but it might have been 800 authors checking my ranking (I'm guilty of that myself). Or, it might have been 400 people clicking, liking what they saw, and downloaded a sample. Only they haven't had a chance to read it yet. Or they read it and it wasn't for them (probably sparing me a 1 or 2 star review had they just purchased it).

I'm just going to keep my head down and really focus on attaining that next level of authorhood: 2 books available for purchase!!!

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: SERVED Two never married parents fight over their toddler's upbringing and moving on with their lives, without each other;(status: outlining)


  1. I'm so jealous and happy for you. Between my depression and my passive nature in general, I will never be as successful in the sales department as you are. Keep up the good work and hopefully you'll remember the woeful little YA author you used to chat with. (If I had your sales numbers, I wouldn't worry about my sales, just so you know ;)

  2. I wouldn't get too caught up on sales, especially if it's your first book. First self-published book, especially. Like you said, it has good reviews. Good stuff catches on. That means your next effort might do even better. :)

  3. honey your book was good! It takes time, just let the word of mouth get around and don't stop working. You will get there! I believe in you :)

  4. Kimberly Gould... YOU are one of the reasons I am where I am right now. For those who don't know, and you wouldn't, Kimberly was one of the beta readers on my never-finished Twilight fan fiction that got me started writing fiction. SHE is the one who helped me recognize common mistakes, and helped make my writing better. And then, just as I was starting to write Cancelled? She got a book deal. With a publisher. Yeah. But she's always been a great friend and someone I aspired to be more like. She is hands down one of the reasons I kept on trucking and writing, because if she could do it, I could do it (you just have to keep on trying). I didn't choose traditional publishing, but she's the first published author who ever listened to my woes and encouraged me to keep writing, even after she shredded my first chapter ;) (which is no longer the first chapter, it was cut).

  5. David P. King, I agree! :) I got another email from an author not willing to admit their sales stalking (smiling at you!). I write this blog to share the traps I fall into as a newbie author. I just had a long talk with my husband this morning and he's encouraging me to really sit down and translate the quick writing I can do non-fiction wise to fiction. :)

    I can't quit all marketing... that's one of my favorite parts. But I need to be writing as many words in fiction as I am for blog posts etc. :) That's probably about 25K by the end of January. LOL.

  6. J.A. you are ANOTHER one of my early supporters, and for that I am eternally grateful. Writing the current opening scene for SERVED yesterday, I'm already seeing my writing far improved from when I started around this time last year. I'm more conscious of my crutch words, phrasing, and this time around I'm going to really work on transitions. Thank you for saying my book was good :) It took me some time to feel comfortable with the idea that "I wrote a good book." That's sounds funny, but what I mean is I'm not nervous anymore about who might read it. It's been through enough hands that if it was pure junk, I'd know by now. I still might get a 1 or 2 star review (by law of averages/statistics, I SHOULD get a couple eventually). That means I can go ahead and write more, no one ran me out of town ;)

    I'm beginning to fully appreciate it's a 65% write new material and 35% getting your name out there. You have to have the new material so when people hear your name, and they've already bought your first book, there's something else for them to get their hands on.

  7. Ah yes, watching the sales. I only allow myself to look at it twice. Once in the morning and once later during the night. It's only been less than a week but I've gotten ten sales so far (not enough for a cup of coffee and not a bragging right at all. But it's a big deal for me). Of course, I'm prepared to maybe get one sale at the most for next week. Since this week is more than likely just friends and family buying it.

    And congrats with your very healthy review rating and your upcoming blog hop. Can't wait 'till you finish your next novel :D

  8. I only check my sales once per day. That's what I allow myself. The only exception is when I've just had a new release. Then I check a couple of times just to see if it's moving.

    When I released Haunted Lake in January of this year, I thought it was the best thing I had written. I waited and waited for it to start selling well. But my most popular book was the only one that was selling really well, even though HL was newer. But then, in June or July, Haunted Lake took off, outselling Guardian Vampire. I have no idea what prompted the sudden sales. It was nothing I did. It just happened. Marketing is a very strange thing when it comes to fiction. You just never know what will trigger the sales. I suspect when everyone gets their Kindles and Nooks and iPads (oh my), you'll see sales jump. This writer thing takes so much patience!

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  10. Elizabeth- what a terrific post. I know that your sales will continue to climb You are a natural gifted writer:)