Though I’m still waiting on 5 Smashwords partners’ reports to be updated through the end of the year, I’ve gone with what’s available to update The Numbers page.
As far as where most of my sales have been for the last 5 years:
Amazon has been the clear leader every single year. The only other distributor I’ve seen over 100 sales from is Smashwords. My participation in Select resulted in 43 “extra” sales over 2 months, and 3 borrows.
That’s 1 sale per 71.6 copies given away BEFORE the rankings algorithm was changed so that promo copies have less weight. That’s better than the 1 sale per 105 free copies I’ve seen at B&N.
“Free” and I haven’t gotten along very well over the years. I’ve released ebook freebies, given away 100% off coupons, participated in Select promo days, as well as done web fiction, posted stories on various writing sites, and posted work in progress excerpts to my blog, with roughly 100k readers downloading, using the coupons, or reading the online things (and returning to read more on a regular basis).
None of that has resulted in many readers sticking around to become fans and purchase my non-free titles. A few have (may His Awesome Noodliness bless you), and those few want “MOAR, please” which is always fantastic to hear.
There’s no real reason for readers to bother purchasing reading entertainment when there’s so much available for free, so many won’t (and the economy sucking likely plays a large part in that). They’ll read free stories online, or download free ebooks from Smashwords, B&N, and Amazon instead.
In short, I don’t personally feel that “free” is of much use as a marketing tool any longer. I have Unexpected in the Select program now, but I haven’t, and won’t be, using any free promo days on it. I submitted it solely to see if anything would happen because it hasn’t sold a single copy since I released that collection back on August 6, 2012.
As of today, Unexpected has sold 2 copies and been borrowed once. Definitely a positive change.
Deadlands Hunt has had a very lackluster sales history since being released on August 7, 2010. It sold 41 copies total from release to the end of 2012. It’s funny to me that it has sold so few copies, yet is my most well-reviewed title (22% of readers have left good reviews). I dropped the price on it to $2.99 to see if that would affect sales, and its sold 2 copies on Amazon so far this new year. I’m leaving it at that price for a bit longer, and if sales improve or at least stay “regular”, I’ll probably leave it at that price.
I have 14 titles available for purchase, and as of the end of 2012, 7 of them are still earning back production expenses, while the other 7 have begun earning paychecks. None earning an actual profit yet, but hey, progress!
My biggest 2012 mistake should be obvious: I failed to release very many new titles. If you checked out The Numbers page, you’ll see that my sales/earnings trended downward for the first time since I began. My lowest number of new releases prior to 2012 was 6.
Huge fail on my part, as I know new releases have been my biggest marketing tool. I could come up with a list of reasons for my failure, but honestly, there were only 3 real reasons: A) I lost steam, partially because B) I had trouble guarding my writing time from various interruptions, both online and off, and C) my sales dived and stayed low all year.
When your sales history steadily trends upward each year, you sort of count on that trend to continue. If it doesn’t, it tends to knock the wind out of your sails. Even more so when you know it’s your own damn fault.
Yes, I am regretting not releasing at least 4 more new titles last year. While none may have sold a lot, I’m relatively certain my sales/earnings would’ve been more than 2011’s results, instead of a drop from those.
Even so, I’m muddling through this first month of a new year like nobody’s business. Haven’t written much, haven’t been able to cut down on the offline interruptions—to be fair, the premie pups we’re fostering can’t help being hungry so often, LOL—and so, I’m not getting far or going fast on my few goals set for 2013.
I’m working on changing things in order to have at least 3 uninterrupted hours daily to write in, but that might not happen until the pups are off bottle feeding.
To end this, I give you gratuitous puppy cuteness: