OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
I'm not (yet) a Kindle millionaire but sales of Pentecost have now gone over the 10,000 mark which for me is significant, so I am sharing the figures and also what they mean for the next in the series, Prophecy. Hopefully you will find this interesting as it changes my personal publishing strategy considerably.
- I did the figures on 19 August 2011 and total ebook and print sales through Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk = 10,025
- I sold so few through other ebook platforms that I am not even counting the sales. Because I am not a US citizen I cannot use PubIt for the Nook so everything is through Smashwords. I have just realized that the price was set to $2.99 though, so I have now changed this to 99 cents. Perhaps it will make a difference to the next batch of sales but I have sold very few through other channels.
- Some people will ask about the money – you can work it out from the 99c price point, but as I have written before, this book is about getting readers involved with my series, not about income. Read about my 99c price point decision here.
- Over 98% of these sales were ebook sales on the Kindle. This is huge for me because there is more cost and hassle to a print book than an ebook. I also priced the print books as low as possible to maximize those sales so I made more money on the ebooks. These sales figures make print books a vanity option for me i.e. I would only do a print book again if I wanted to have something to give my Mum or as a keepsake. I love print books but buy 99% on my Kindle now so I am also happy to target those kind of readers. I found the print book option difficult because it's harder to fix typos and problems which I fixed on the Kindle immediately. In conclusion, I will move to Kindle only for the next book, and potentially look at print books much later on.
- This experience also makes me more interested in a print book deal. I enjoy every part of the process except the print side which I would gladly give to someone else. But I would like to keep the digital rights – and I'm not sure that would happen in this current publishing market! I have also been told that 10,000 sales is a good point to approach publishers as it demonstrates there is a market, but I'm not ready for that yet. I need one or two more books in the series and then I might consider other options.
- 87% of sales were from Amazon.com which is predominantly a US market (with some from other countries) but the sales on .co.uk are growing. I think this is based on the fact that the UK is still a print market, where there is no VAT on print books but there is on ebooks, and ebooks are about 18 months behind the US. I discuss the differences for ebooks between countries here. But the sales in the UK have been growing every month so I see that as a source of more sales in the future.
- Sales were low during launch month. This is fascinating to me as so much focus is put on the launch itself but actually those sales are pretty small. The sales grew over time which must be related to the number of reviews and the Amazon algorithms kicking in. I am currently putting together a mini-course on How to Launch Your Book Online which will include everything to do with the launch but also the longer term things that have an effect like reviews and your Amazon sales page. I'll let you know when it's available.
- Sales are bigger than my ‘platform'. I have spent years growing my online platform and brand but I absolutely realize that many of the readers of this blog are not interested in my fiction. That is the nature of having a writer's blog. We don't like to read the same books, which is absolutely fine. We can still talk about the aspects of writing, publishing and book marketing that are common to us all, but we just don't like the same books. In light of this, and also what I have learned from John Locke, I am starting a new blog for me as a fiction author that will hopefully appeal to my readers. Again, I'll let you know when that launches.
- It is possible to make a full-time living as an indie author. I drank the Kool-Aid a while back but this is the first time I can actually see a future reality for my own writing life. Locke, Konrath, Hocking et al inspire us with stories of success, but I can now see that having multiple books selling thousands per month does add up. So I will be stepping up the book writing and production process. I'm still aiming to have Prophecy out by Christmas and there are currently 7 books planned in the ARKANE series. I also have an idea for a stand-alone novel that will not leave me alone so I will have to start writing that too. As we know, it's not about the ideas which are two a penny, it's about the execution… and that starts now!
I know 10,000 sales are nothing to more developed authors, but what have you learned from your own book sales? Have your publishing goals changed?
Trudy Williams says
Fantastic success. I hope the numbers are exploding now in Sept. I am interested in your comments about not being a US citizen and therefore using smashwords. I take it you don’t need to jump the hoops of the US tax system and don’t need a US bank account to get paid via smashwords (btw I’ve just downloaded Smashword’s cool free marketing book to my new gorgeous kindle). Is there any difference between the UK and Australia when it comes to dealing with kindle publishing via amazon or smashwords that you’re aware of? I am in Brisbane, your old home town.
Joanna Penn says
You do need to get a US tax number and then do a W8-BEN to get the with-holding tax back, or they take 30%. Info here from Amazon, but it’s relevant to all methods of selling including Smashwords
You don’t need a US bank account, they will send US cheques which any bank will pay in – but there is a fee of course and exchange rates.
There’s no difference between Uk and Australia – you still need that tax info as above.
It is a pain but it is definitely worth it. I just got $1000 tax back – yeah!
marion croslydon says
Hi Joanna! Just got to that post through your mewsletter. Just a quick question: are you going to do the workshop about book launch?
As always, THANK YOU for the great content!
Wow! Great job!! Good luck on your second book. You can do it!!!