Never mind the sales figures, read my books!

Reading Irish author Catherine Ryan Howard’s recent blogpost about her e-book sales, I saw that she has sold in all, over one year 3,969 copies of her book Mousetrapped ( an amusing tale of her year working at Disney World in Orlando). Catherine has, since the start of her e-book venture, shared her experiences on her blog, which was the whole idea from the start; self publishing and then blogging every step of the way of her journey, good or bad. I have heard a lot about Catherine, often billed as Ireland’s answer to Joe Konrath and have been observing her self-publishing success. My own sales are maybe three times that of Catherine’s but there is a reason for that.

  Before I go on, I should perhaps explain that Catherine Ryan Howard is selling only one book in the non-fiction genre. I have e-published seven books to date, all fiction in four different genres: Chick-lit, Contemporary women’s fiction, historical/literary and crime, which explains the big difference in our sales.

I think Konrath is safe –  for the moment – from both of us. Catherine’s book is very good and she deserves to sell ten times what she has sold already. Her fame shows, though, that clever use of social networking and word of mouth rumours are very powerful tools.

I have not been as diligent.  While I have been happily chatting online, announcing good sales figures and generally thinking I was being quite shamelss in my promotions, I realise this has been a mere whisper compared to Catherine’s marketing campaign.

I began e-publishing a year or so ago, starting with my self-published novel Swedish for Beginners. When that novel took off straight away, with 198 copies sold the first month, I decided to also e-publish three of my previously published novels, and then, later on in the year, a historical novel and a romantic comedy that had never been published but was sitting in my computer, ready to go. I published my co-written detective story, Virtual Strangers in the beginning of March and it is already selling well with some excellent reveiws.  To date, I have published seven e-books (all my e-books can be found here).

It’s difficult to assess any book’s sales, as its place in the charts change hourly. A sale or three will immediatly get the book up the charts, only to sink again if there are no sales for a couple of days or even hours. But if a book is constantly in the top 200-300 or so you can take it that it’s selling really well. This is the case with my romantic comedy, Fresh Powder’, which has been selling at a steady rate on Amazon.co.uk for over four months now. The figures show that this book alone has sold 574 copies in March. Incidentally, I have no idea why this particular book is doing so well, as I have done next to no promotions for it.

All authors have to do some marketing and the amount you do will impact on sales. Where and how you do it is something you have to figure out and also how much time you want to spend using social networks, blogs and forums. The writer becomes his or her own publicist and can find that the marketing eats up time that should be spent writing.  I am a writer first and a publicist second. Ideally, I would just like to sit in my little room and write, which is what I used to do before the Internet explosion happened. It’s easy to get hooked on checking sales figures and looking up forums for possible promotions, which will lure you away from the daily slog of writing and editing. It’s also hard not to look at other author’s sales and feel envious of some who have managed to get ahead in the charts.

The publishing world has gone through a metamorphosis in the past few years and the self-published, or ‘indie’, author is now gaining ground. The e-book market is growing rapidly and right now, there is a window of opportunity for the enterprising indie author. E-books have no shelf life and if you manage to make that all important platform, you have a chance to elbow yourself into an increasingly crowded market.

Hard work? Yes. I only wish I could sit in my little room and write.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ey Wade
    Apr 02, 2011 @ 20:42:32

    Omg, you must have been reading my mind. I wouldn’t dare mention the sales I haven’t gotten, but I’m believing they will come.

    Reply

  2. Ebook Authors
    Apr 27, 2011 @ 12:03:37

    Here at virtualbooks.com.au we would be delighted if you could share you ebook author story and inspirations ………..regards, rod

    Reply

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