That Was The Month That Was – June Sales Figures

I took a day off yesterday! I did… nothing! It was beautiful, but now it’s back to work.

Today, I am going to reveal my slightly disappointing sales figures for June. I will pinpoint some of the factors in the decline.

But, I will also explain why I am not too worried, and why I think things will pick up this month. Finally, I have some other numbers which are very pleasing.

Full Breakdown for June

If You Go Into The Woods

Amazon US 33 (down from 88)

Amazon UK 3 (down from 15)

Amazon DE 0 (down from 1)

Smashwords 5 (up from 4)

Sub-total 41 (down from 108)

Transfection

Amazon US 23 (down from 40)

Amazon UK 4 (up from 2)

Amazon DE 0 (no change)

Smashwords 10 (up from 3)

Sub-total 37 (down from 45)

June Total 78 (down from 153)

CUMULATIVE TOTALS:

If You Go Into The Woods (on sale since May 4th)149

Transfection (on sale since May 21st)82

GRAND TOTAL – 231 e-books sold since May 4th.

Analysis

Sales almost halved this month. There are a number of factors I can pinpoint, but some things are a mystery.

Tags disappeared for a couple of weeks. And at the same time, Amazon ran a sale called Sunshine Deals. 600 popular books from large publishers were slashed to prices as low as 99c.

This made it very difficult for a lot of indies, especially those like me who were selling short stories for that price. The sale ran for the first two weeks of the month, and it killed me.

Sales were around 4 a day going in to the month, but by the second week of June they had dropped to one every other day. All of John Locke’s books were knocked out of the Top 100. Amanda Hocking had a big drop in rankings. Joe Konrath was down 15% for the month. If those guys were going to be affected, I had no chance.

As soon as the sale ended, my sales climbed back up to the old level. However, they just flatlined again for the last few days of the month. I have no explanation for that.

Additionally, I did very little promo this month as I raced to finish a new book. Writing comes first, so that doesn’t bother me. I had some promo benefits – stuff I had set up in May, such as reviews – and that kept my numbers out of the fire.

Perhaps a far bigger factor than reduced promo was the lack of a new release. I had two books out in May, and two corresponding sales spikes (and in fact the second release raised the sale of the first release hugely).

Now I have (almost) two months of data. It’s too early to make judgments on anything, but I can at least highlight some things I need to watch. Transfection is not selling as well as If You Go Into The Woods. That has surprised me. I thought it would be the other way around, for a number of reasons.

Having said that, my first title got all the promo love before I had to knuckle down and finish my book. It has received way more reviews (book blogs and Amazon), and was the focus of a more sustained push. The second one didn’t get the same help at all, but I can address that this month.

Something else I need to watch: my UK sales. While the numbers are in line with the US, I have sold maybe one book there in three weeks. Not sure why.

That’s all the negatives out of the way. And I’m not too disappointed with this numbers. I have sold 231 e-books in my first 2 months. I think that’s pretty impressive. I have covered 75% of the costs of my first release, and paid off a chunk of the second.

Plus, I am now in the Smashwords Premium Catalogue, and the books trickled through to Barnes & Noble, and iTunes in the last few days. I know I have some sales there, but they are not included above – I won’t get those numbers for a while.

Also, I didn’t spend a dime in June, my Smashwords sales have doubled, and the blog is exploding in popularity.

I had over 11,000 views in June, with 4,000 of those coming in the last 7 days. Blog subscribers have tripled. On days where I don’t post, I am hitting 400 views. When I do, it can be as high as 700. For a blog that is less than three months old, those are astounding numbers.

I’m starting to get a handle on Twitter. In June, my followers jumped from 180 or so to 1,800. This has been one of the biggest drivers of traffic to my blog. I have seen a few posts in the last couple of weeks go “viral” to some extent, and I am picking up 50 to 100 followers a day at the moment.

All of this is building nicely towards the release of Let’s Get Digital. That’s with the editor now, and my cover designer is beavering away; I’m looking towards a mid-July release. I have high hopes for it.

I think the combination of a guide to the nuts-and-bolts of digital self-publishing, with an overview of the publishing industry, plus all those success stories could be popular. When you add that to the PDF version being available for free, it has a chance of taking off.

It will be interesting to see if a new release in a completely different genre (and non-fiction rather than fiction) will lift the sales of my existing titles. I think it will, but even if it doesn’t, I have some promo stuff planned for those too (especially Transfection). I will also be working on new stories, and my novel.

That’s enough about me. I would like to highlight two new releases today from two friends.

***

Tony James Slater has released That Bear Ate My Pants! – a hilarious account of his wild adventures in Ecuador. I just bought my copy after reading the sample on his website. I think anyone that reads that excerpt will do the same.

I’m really looking forward to reading this one, and I think he will do very well. In fact, on his first day, he’s already the #2 selling South American travel book in the US, and is just outside the Top 1000 in the UK. A phenomenal first day.

You can pick up a copy of That Bear Ate My Pants! for the bargain price of $2.99 from Amazon US and Amazon UK.

***

Last, but definitely not least, Shéa MacLeod has released Kissed by Darkness – the first in a paranormal series starring sexy, street-smart bounty hunter Morgan Bailey, and you can read the first chapter here.

Shéa doesn’t let the grass grow under her feet – she has already picked up a five star review from werevampsromance.org, who had this to say:

“I found the book to be completely original and keep me guessing. I absolutely love the mix of the different type of magical influences. It was an awesome read, one I would recommend.”

Nice work, Shéa! You can pick up Kissed by Darkness for the low, low price of $2.99 from Amazon, Amazon UK, and Smashwords.

Good luck to Shéa and Tony! Happy reading everyone!

About David Gaughran

David Gaughran is Irish, living in Prague, and the author of Mercenary, A Storm Hits Valparaiso, Let's Get Digital, Let's Get Visible, and this here blog.
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42 Responses to That Was The Month That Was – June Sales Figures

  1. First off, thanks so much for posting about my book. You are AWESOME! And what a great surprise.🙂

    Tony’s book looks hilarious! I’ve gotta try it.

    As for your sales, I wouldn’t worry too much. Your tales are fantastic and once you have another book/story out or two, I’m sure they’ll shoot back up. I’ve been reading Bob Mayer’s blog and he encourages us newbies to focus on writing rather than promoting until we’ve published book 3. Which is kind of what I’m planning to do.🙂

    Like

    • Surprise!

      Bob’s a smart man. He knows what he is talking about. I think the focus should always be on writing (and researching doesn’t count). If you have time to squeeze in promo, great. If you don’t, never sacrifice writing time. I had time in May, and it certainly boosted sales. I didn’t have time in June, and sales dropped. But if we look at the bigger picture, you are talking about maybe a 50 book difference (that’s a guess, and perhaps I am being generous). That’s not worth sacrificing writing time. A new title will do all that and much much more.

      Like

    • Brondt says:

      Congrats, Shea, on your novel. That looks like a good review there.

      Like

    • Josephine Wade says:

      Shea,
      The book looks fabulous. I’ve been waiting for your book to come out. Congrats!

      Like

  2. Brondt says:

    David, my sales died in a big way too. Sunshine deals shot my books down, then stood over the bodies and fired six more shots into each until they stopped twitching!

    I do think Bob Mayer is right about the whole 3 book thing, and that’s why I’ve waited until I’ve had book three and four ready to go before really starting to promote. It makes sense to me, but then that could be the extreme introversion talking as well…

    Like

    • Brondt says:

      Oh, and my blog’s taken off in a big way this month as well. Odd. In fact, more than 1/6 of all visits in three months have come in this week alone–and it’s only Friday morning in my part of the world!

      Like

      • I think there is a lot of interest out there in self-publishing at the moment. And, we had several huge news stories in the last week. All of this increases the curiosity out there, and I’m not complaining one bit!

        Like

    • Heh.

      Yeah that sale was a killer. My second release didn’t even get it’s full bump before those 600 books squashed it. But, you can only worry about the things you can control. Our challenge is to build a business that will survive these external shocks. More titles will help. A bigger audience will help – and each sale adds to that.

      Like

  3. lkwatts says:

    Hi David, thanks for your post. Am I the only writer who has had sales increase in June? I’ve been published for around the same time as you. They haven’t increased by much but I seem to be selling the most on Amazon.co.uk. However, this is the site where I have the most reviews, both good and bad so maybe that is why.
    I wish you every success for July.

    Like

    • I have heard of a couple of people having an increase this month – but you are certainly in the minority! That’s excellent news for you, and means you are in great shape heading into this month.

      It’s early days, but reason to celebrate nonetheless.

      As for me, I’m happy enough. Reviews certainly help. I have WAY more reviews for my first title, and that is selling a lot better. I need to push on this month and get some reviews for the second.

      Do you have any tips or tricks on getting UK reviews?

      Like

  4. Jim Bronyaur says:

    David – Another great post. And thanks for tossing up your numbers. June was rough. I ended matching May’s sales (not saying May was a huge month for me either though!) which made me smile. I have my glass raised to July and August though… I have a Facebook book launch next Friday for a book and then I’m releasing my first stand alone novel the end of July.

    We just have to keep fighting, even while Amazon does crazy things!

    -jb

    Like

  5. Lisa Yarde says:

    David, my sales in May were similar to yours and then they rebounded by a third more in June. You never know what factors will cause them to fluctuate. Great numbers on your blog.

    Like

  6. Congrats all round!

    The blog stats are phenomenal and well deserved. Just don’t know how you find the time to keep up with everything *and* be able to meaningfully blog on it before it’s old news.

    As I said over at MWi, you’re now unquestionably the most significant industry commentator this side of the pond.

    And that in itself brings a refreshing perspective to what you see and what you say about it.

    Like

  7. Congrats on your blog traffic! You get in a few days what I get in a few weeks. I must school myself at your knee.

    Like

  8. maryfrikkenpoppins says:

    Good stuff David. Thanks for updating us on your self-pub journey. And your blog traffic makes me jelly! 😀

    Like

  9. Sharon says:

    IMO, the true success story is your blog after 3 months. 11k hits in June? That has to be at least 1k in unique visitors. Even if it’s just half that — that’s amazing in my book in so short a time. You’re writing for an extremely specialized audience, and one blog of many. I ran a website for 10 years averaging about 1k+ hits per week and figuring to about 100-150 people/readers per week (it was a support site for an online game). About 10% in unique visitors, but you post far more quality must-read content for your audience, David. Totally different dynamic and I tremble to even apply my numbers to your site.

    That’s the real success story here.

    Like

    • Unfortunately, WordPress only give us page views – you get nothing like the detailed breakdown you get from Google Analytics (which doesn’t work with WordPress). However, just looking at the pattern of hits on each page, I would say the unique visitors might be quite a bit higher than 10%. No real way to know for sure. There’s probably some better tracking stuff I can get, I just haven’t gotte nround to researching it.

      Like

  10. jkswift says:

    Congratulations on the blog traffic you are generating David. I know I enjoy your posts a lot. There’s always something insightful to read here! Thanks for all the hard work.

    Like

  11. Martin Lake says:

    As always, David, this post is full of great information. It is interesting to ponder on why one’s books do well or less well and you have given us a lot of food for thought.

    As you say, however, publishing new books is the best marketing so I will see if this works when I publish the next instalment of my series, The Lost King about the resistance to William the Coonqueror.

    I love your honesty and generosity, David. However, I wish you’d finish your historical novel – I’m looking forward to it.

    Martin

    Like

    • Bloody hell! I get one book written in 6 weeks and off to the editor, and 2 days later I get asked where my next one is!

      All joking aside, I’m keen to get that one out too. Hoping for end of summer.

      Like

  12. Stefan says:

    David – Thanks for sharing your figures. I also think that they’ll increase again once you publish the other books. And: it is a bit of a surprise to see that for you Smashwords is going against the Amazon trend.

    As for the discrepancy between your blog visitors and your sales figures the reason probably is that you are catering for two different audiences: writers here, readers there (although rumour has it that some writers also read). Maybe you should put up a questionnaire trying to find out more about your blog readers – I think you could gather some really interesting information there. And – I guess I won’t have to tell you – to make participation more attractive you could give away copies of your new books, thus promoting them as well.

    Like

    • Hi Stefan,

      I’m not particularly worried about discrepancies between blog traffic and sales numbers. I expected that for a number of reasons. First, those views count repeated visits by regulars, and you can only buy a book once! Second, this blog is targeted at a very different audience than my books (so far) are. With my next title, I think the blog traffic will help boost sales a lot more. Finally, short stories just don’t sell in anything approaching the numbers that longer work does. That’s a fact. It doesn’t concern me as I will soon have a wide variety of stuff out in different genres and with different lengths, the short stories were just the ones that happened to come out first.

      Dave

      Like

  13. Mark Boss says:

    Dave, I think your blog numbers are astounding. Stephan has a good point about a possible difference between readers of your blog and readers of your stories. I worry about the same thing with my blog, but ultimately, I think blogs are still a good way to establish a friendship with potential readers. And I believe a fair percentage of them will support your efforts in fiction.

    Like

    • Hi Mark,

      At the start, I made a decision on the subject of this blog, and I have stuck pretty closely to the plan. I was fully aware that it would reach more writers than readers, and that it would be “networking” rather than reaching potential readers, but I was fine with that. It means I have to compensate in other ways if I want to reach those readers. I’m also fine with that, as this was the subject I was passionate about, and if I had tried to write on another topic this would have barged its way in anyway. I am considering starting another blog, separate to this, which will give me an outlet for all things fiction (particularly historical fiction and science fiction). I could keep it to once a week, and take a day off here. That might work. Maybe I’ll call it “Adventures In Time”.

      Dave

      Like

  14. Tony Slater says:

    Hey Dave! Thanks so much for putting my book up on your blog! I’m ashamed to say I’ve only just gotten around to reading this post and I had no idea I was in it!
    I really appreciate you efforts on behalf of us self-publishers – not only to awesome promo boost you’re giving me (and Shea!), but all the time and effort you put into researching your blog posts so can provide the best info. It must be a full time job! I haven’t started reading Shea’s book yet (my missis will beat me to it anyway, as she hogs our Kindle) but I’ll post a review when I do – I’m hearing quite a lot that reviews drive sales, so this is a factor I’m looking into right now. In hindsight I should have sent out promo copies, so as to have reviews ready on launch day! But little lessons like this are going to stand me in good stead later. My first day, as you know, was amazing – I couldn’t help taking screen shots of me sitting in front of Bill Bryson on the Kindle Travel Bestsellers list! When I get time I’ll post about my sales figures too – I could give that one to you if you want, as it might be of interest? At the moment I’m still too scared to check!
    All good things must come to an end, and it does look like I’m slowly slipping back down. There’s no way I could sustain sales at a level to match Bryson, or I’d have ended up with a print deal years ago! I’m happy though. Ecstatic, even! Quite emotional at any rate. And very, very, tired…
    Thanks again mate!
    Tony

    Like

    • It does take it out of you, doesn’t it? Exciting though. A new release is a serious buzz. But you have lots more to look forward to: Amazon reviews, blog reviews, more sales, emails from people who have read your book and enjoyed it etc. etc. But the best feeling of all is starting something new without all the doubt about whether an agent or publisher will like it, and knowing that you can have it up for sale a week or two after you are done. That’s liberating.

      Don’t worry that you didn’t send out promo copies in advance – getting reviews is hit and miss, you never know if they will review or when it will appear – it’s not usually possible to pick a date and have it reviewed then. In any event, there is no harm in spreading some of the promo out.

      I’ll send you a message about a guest post.

      Like

  15. ebook Magic says:

    David,

    Just before the end of June, Amazon ran a “Best of 2011” promo underneath Kindle books. That may explain the sudden drop in sales just before the month ended.

    That little box that they use to place offers right below our book listings is similar to someone picking a candy bar to buy in a supermarket only to have the cashier toss another one on top of it and saying, “This is the greatest chocolate bar ever!”

    Like

  16. Wren Emerson says:

    I posted my June numbers yesterday. I don’t really have quite enough evidence yet to form any conclusions because I only released May 15th. But like you, my numbers took a pretty hard hit in June. I sold 105 in only two weeks in May and 110 in June.

    Still, I haven’t done much in the way of promotion. I will do guest posts or interviews when asked, but I don’t seek out opportunities and I can’t even be counted on to tweet about my book most days or even mention it in my blog. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure where my readers are coming from since the only “marketing” I do are things I enjoy doing anyway like Twitter or posting on Kindleboards (but mostly only the writer’s cafe section).

    Like

    • Tony Slater says:

      That’s some good sales figures right there! Especially if you aren’t working 24/7 on promo. You must have the magic touch! If only you could bottle that, you’d have a definite bestseller on your hands!

      Like

      • Wren Emerson says:

        I’ve got long term plans for my books as the whole trilogy is available. I think that’s when I’m going to see if my promotion efforts now have paid off at all.

        Like

  17. Heather says:

    Congrats to all three of you – Tony, Shea, and David! David, thanks for sharing your numbers. Every time you post a blog, I’m all the more inspired. You make me believe I’ve chosen the right path🙂 I, too, am looking forward to reading Shea and Tony’s books – they’re hanging out on my computer waiting for me!

    Like

    • Tony Slater says:

      Thanks Heather! I’m thrilled every time I hear from someone that has got my book. I can just imagine the look on their face when they start to read… For me that’s the most exciting thing about this whole deal – the idea of other people, REAL live people out there in the world – many of whom I’ve never met – reading something that I’ve written. It blows my mind! Thanks so much for taking a risk on me. I really hope you enjoy it!
      David is very brave indeed in sharing these numbers. I’m supposed to be doing the same with mine right now, but it’s a process only slightly less terrifying than putting the book up for sale in the first place!

      Like

  18. “Unfortunately, WordPress only give us page views – you get nothing like the detailed breakdown you get from Google Analytics (which doesn’t work with WordPress). ”

    David, congratulations on your great success. FYI Google Analytics works great with WordPress and is very easy to install for your blog. It’s the industry standard and many people will only use the data from Google Analytics instead of the software that’s provided free by most web hosts.

    Here’s the link to the plugin (almost 2,000,000 downloads) at WordPress.org:
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/google-analytics-for-wordpress/

    Hope that helps.

    Like

  19. Hey David, just realized you are on WordPress.com, not self-hosted. I guess you’ll have to stick to the WordPress analytics. Anyway, I enjoy reading your blog no matter where it’s hosted!

    Like

    • Ah, I see we cross-posted!

      I love your website Joel, always great articles and a great discussion in the comments. I must add you to my blogroll and start pointing some more people there.

      Like

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