I promised I'd blog about my post-KDP-promo sales for you, so here it is. For those of you who are new to this blog, I put my novel The House of Closed Doors into free book promotion mode for the last five days of the 90-day KDP Select exclusivity period and it got over 41,300 downloads, an excellent result for a completely unknown book and author.
Before the promo I had not been marketing the book. I decided to use the time to get some reviews and in general get used to having a book "out there". It's quite different from being a wannabe author and I've had some very interesting conversations on Goodreads about the weirdness of it all.
As I had not been marketing very few people knew about the book so naturally, apart from an initial burst of buys by friends and family, sales were running about 1 unit a week plus a couple of downloads under the Kindle Owners' Lending Library (KOLL) system.
The successful promo got me over the initial "discoverability" problem; reviews (mostly very positive) continue to flood in, especially on Amazon, and I now have a baseline sales pattern that looks like this:
[UPDATE: The effect does not last - see later posts. Also, Amazon has since tweaked its algorithms, I understand, so that the effect of the freebie promos will not be nearly as, well, bouncy. I lucked out; you may not.]
From a publishing standpoint these are tiny, tiny numbers. I still have a lot to do to bring sales up to a level that would impress anyone who knows the book business. And yet for me, this number is very significant. You see, if I add in the 46 KOLL downloads (for which I am likely to earn slightly more than for bought units), I get 607 sales.
The "magic number" (at the new $2.99 price point) at which I recoup my costs on the ebook and can go ahead with a print version is 600.
Cue the fireworks.
So in 15 days I have achieved an important milestone in my self-publishing career! Over the next few days, as well as putting The House of Closed Doors on the Nook, Kobo and iBook sites, I'll be taking the first steps toward print. And I'll be marketing, starting small and increasing coverage as I earn more money. AND, of course, finishing up that sequel that nearly every reviewer has asked for.
In the middle of all this excitement, Google Alerts pointed me to a pirate site listing The House of Closed Doors (helpfully converted as well to epub for those who just couldn't wait for me to finish the Amazon-exclusive period). I have mixed feelings about this; as the seller of a book that took a large chunk out of 2011 and 2012, plus a bite out of 2010, I do think it'd be much nicer if people would fork over $2.99 for it. After all, I'm not asking much.
On the other hand, at least they're reading it (and certain indications on Amazon make me think they may also be reviewing it) and maybe some of them will buy a legal copy at a later date. On Felsted's advice I filed a DMCA complaint with Google in the hope that the link to that page will be removed from their search engine, and then I moved on.* After all, if I had the book in libraries it would be read for free and I'd be perfectly happy about that.
Question: do you find this interesting? I don't want to blather on about the business side of my books too much, but I thought it would help other self-pubbers to track how my business grows. I think I have very realistic expectations and goals; my long-term aim is to make a decent living with my fiction writing, but I'd rather grow my audience slowly than start out expecting to have a bestseller and promoting myself "till my eyeballs bleed," as one self-pubber put it. I believe that in the self-publishing world, being a midlist author can mean a happy life. I hear about people making mega-sales and then transferring over to traditional publishing, but I'm not at all sure I'd be comfortable with that scenario so I don't feel the pressure to speed up the pace. What do you think?
* Bing has the same procedure, although it took a couple of emails to Microsoft to find it.