The 12 Month Review
Sales, rankings, ratings, and progress roundup
Sleight of Hand has been on sale for a year!
What are the end-of-year numbers?
How many readers go on to read Hidden Trump?
How wrong was I about the free prequel?
Did the Charles de Lint review bring sales pouring in?
Am I really a pseudonym for JK Rowling?
What will the next year bring?
Sleight of Hand
It is exactly a year since I hit that button and Amazon started churning through its processes that resulted in an unknown author looking dumbfounded at a screen that claimed he’d written a book and people could just go buy it.
I sold 77 books last August.
I was kinda happy and very busy with Hidden Trump. By the end of that first quarter, I’d sold 2,000. That was just enough to trip up my former work colleagues when they jokingly asked how many friends I’d managed to persuade to buy it. 🙂
November doubled that, and the holiday season doubled it again, by which time Hidden Trump was published and also racing along. Those were heady days, and we’re in a much quieter period now, selling about 20 SoH and 20 HT every day.
SoH has almost exactly 17,000 sales in the year. That’s 3,000 less than I was confidently predicting, but still enough to make me very happy. And the thought that, every day, 20 complete strangers start reading something I wrote, well, that still gives me good shivers.
Ratings and reviews have slowed down as well. There are 132 reviews on Amazon.com for SoH, 22 on the UK site, 5 on the German site, even 1 on the French site. Goodreads has 64. They are almost all positive.
Rankings have declined obviously, from a high point of 1,000 to currently about 11,000 (Amazon.com). That sounds bad, but that’s the 11,000 which has had about 300,000 new books added in the last year to join the millions already on its shelves.
I am delighted. Thank you all.
The cast iron measure of how good a book in a series is comes from how many sales you make for the next book. HT is at 69% overall sales of SoH, and the percentage keeps creeping up.
I’m very pleased with that figure.
I’ve read a lot about promoting indie books, and I went as far as getting a Twitter account (alas, never quite got twittering). But the major marketing strategy for the series has been the release of the free prequel, Raw Deal.
How successful has this been?
The terrible answer is: I don’t know! Only Amazon have the information that would allow a link to be drawn giving the number of people who started with RD and then went on to read SoH.
I can draw a guesstimate from the sales data, and that would be that around 500 new readers have been attracted in by RD. I have had a couple of direct emails and a few posts that support that figure, but this is really fumbling around in the dark.
What did that cost? Well, in BRN (Big Round Numbers), $3,000. That’s free downloads (9500) at the advertised cost ($0.90), at the Amazon percentage for that price (35%).
What did that gain? If my estimate of 500 is correct, and those 500 buy SoH, and 80% of them buy HT, then that’s about $2,500 income. So, not breaking even yet, but I’m still betting it’s a good long term marketing strategy. I’ll be leaving it there for free at least this calendar year. I may return it to 90c in the holiday season. But anyone emailing me to request it (via the website contact form) will still get it free by return email if they ask.
Well the Fantasy and Science Fiction review by Charles de Lint went out and people saw it. You may have seen the post on the page that confirmed someone read it and bought the books on that basis (thank you!), but I have no way of knowing how many people did this. Certainly, there has been no obvious upturn in daily sales.
Doesn’t matter, I’m still tickled that Charles de Lint even found my books!
I would have been so much more impressed if she’d published anonymously and completely independently. Using her agent and publisher… it was always going to come out. However….Loads of points to her for her subsequent actions (donating the settlement with the lawyers who broke the news, and her suddenly huge royalties, to a charity for wounded soldiers).
I am not JK Rowling. I am happy being me.
You can tell I’m not Rowling (or any female apparently) by analyzing my descriptive styles according to one feminist reader. I employ ‘Male Gaze’ (reference “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”, Laura Mulvey. Derivative work from Jacques Lacan, French forensic psychiatrist). This had me giggling. The original work by Mulvey in visual media had significance. In reading, much less. Actually, I don’t use any of the prescribed formats for description of female characters. Neither do notable misogynists such as Sara Petansky, Sue Grafton and Faith Hunter. Or JK Rowling.
The next twelve months…
I’m obviously not too good at the predictions game. I’ll come up with some sales predictions that you can all laugh at next month.
I will say there will be at least 3 books. One of them will be Wild Card (Bite Back 3) and one of them will be Saigon (Bian’s Tale 1).
Wild Card, Bite Back Book 3: I am in the depths of despair. Which is exactly where I expected to be at this point. I’m at the bit of writing that has to take that great opening and that heart-stopping finale and creates the weave of hypnotic threads that join them. (You can tell, I’m beaming positive thoughts at myself here).
Lauren Sweet (my editor) has seen about 80% of the first section of Wild Card, from the opening scene to the first turning point. She said it’s my best start of the series.
Saigon: Completely on hold until I have Wild Card out.
I have to visit Denver and New Mexico for more research, but I won’t make plans until I feel Wild Card is under control. But I would really like to meet with readers on the trip!