I’ve been waiting to write this post for at least a month. 🙂 When I started out publishing on the Kindle, one of my goals was to sell well enough to publish a second book. That didn’t take me long. Sage: Tales from a Magical Kingdom is a set of novellas–and short stories don’t sell as well as novels, but from the get-go, I was pleased with sales.
From research, I used these two statistics to set my goals:
1. Self-published authors rarely sell more than 75 copies and most of those copies are to friends and relatives.
2. Small publishers sell 20 to 30 copies of each title per month.
Given those two points, I figured selling 10 to 20 copies of Sage per month was a good goal. I’ve only published a few pieces in online zines, so my name is completely unknown. Since I was selling into the Kindle market, I didn’t have to worry that relatives or friends would be buying significant copies–no one I knew had a Kindle!
Sage made the 10 copies per month pretty easily and hit twenty plus–in fact, it averages twenty copies per month. It took me less than six months to reach 75 copies. So from that standpoint, I think we could say I reached the bottom tier of self-publishing pretty easily.
Sage will never be a blockbuster, nor will it generate significant income–it’s priced at $1.00. What it does do is generate interest and serve as a cheap way for readers to sample my writing style. It did well enough that I decided to publish a novel, Catch an Honest Thief.
My goals for Thief were to sell 20 to 30 copies a month or get close enough to figure out if the market was receptive to my work.
Thief had a rocky start. It made the twenty and then sagged for a couple of months. The reviews and feedback on both Thief and Sage were good, however. By November 2009, I still didn’t know whether the model made sense. Sage was meeting expectations, reviews were meeting expectations but sales were under expectations with Thief.
I decided to go ahead with Executive Lunch. My goals were the same as for Thief: twenty to thirty sales per month. If sales for either of them didn’t get there, Lunch would probably have been my last Kindle edition. (Keep in mind that while all of this was going on, I did have a completely different series subbed to regular publishers.) I’m a big believer in attacking from different angles to reach my goals.
Executive Lunch was what I will term my Kindle “break-out” novel. It averages over 100 copies per month. It helps sales of the other two books as well, pushing them into the 20 per month since it went live. Some of its success is probably due to the good reviews on the other two, plus some good early reviews for Lunch. Some of the success is probably due to the fact that it came out in November, very near the big Christmas shopping season.
I used the success of Lunch to tweak the book description of Thief and also to improve the cover.
The bottom line: My goal was to sell 500 minimum within 18 months to declare any kind of success. With Executive Lunch, I reached that number today, after four months. My audience has been kind–maybe because I don’t charge much for my novels, maybe just because they are kind people. At any rate, the second in the Executive series will be out this year. My goals are a little higher now that I have some numbers. Realizing the whole thing could fall apart due to the economy or fate or alien zombies, I’m hoping to sell a thousand copies of Executive Lunch by the end of this year–and five hundred of Executive Retention, which I expect out in July, priced at $2.99.
It’s been a lot of fun, a lot of work, but I’m enjoying myself. Watch the blog–I’ll be having a cover contest to choose the covers for my next two books!
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