The Dying Times Runs for a Month

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The Dying Times: Nadene’s Story has been out for a month (as of yesterday).  My, my, does time fly!  This article is to look at the sales of the book with little to no advertising whatsoever.  With the Kickstarter project 7 days out from fulfillment, we will see some real advertising effort in January and beyond, but this article focuses on the data we do have based solely on publicity and social networking efforts.  To make it even better, I’ve added in some fancy charts to the mix.

Alright, let’s get started.  As of this writing, the current Amazon Kindle paid rank was #15,747 out of 600,000+ titles, and the Amazon Books paid rank was #313,310 out of 8,000,000+ books.  Amazon Kindle is the electronic format of the eBook, and is priced at $5.99, whereas Amazon Books tracks hard copy titles where The Dying Times is priced at $13.95.  This reflects only Amazon’s sales numbers, as there are more from different retailers not accounted for in this article.  It should be noted that these numbers go up and down throughout the day as they are real-time rankings generated each time any book is sold on the Amazon marketplace.

Amazon Kindle eBook Sales Rank #15,747

First, let’s look at the Kindle Sales.  There are a total of over 600,000 eBook titles on the Amazon Kindle marketplace, and The Dying Times ranks at #15,747 in sales.  As you can see from the following graph, the sales rank jumps up and down as people buy this and other titles at Amazon:

Even during the middle of a single day, the sales rank might jump up and down depending on sales.  This is probably due to the fact that, at first, the title didn’t have any sales, so it was struggling for position with other titles with little to no sales.  As we end November and enter December, the rank stabilizes above #50,000 at any given time.  I am no expert on the subject, but I can only assume that, by the one month mark, the title had made enough sales to get past all the one-time sales and lower end material and began fighting with other things that are selling rather well.

I am unclear at this point, and I will post if I find out the answer, but I believe the sales rankings take into account returns on Kindle books.  I have only had one return up to this point, and it appeared to be an accidental purchase on the buyer’s side.

Amazon Books Sales Rank #313,310

Now, let’s take a look at the print copy.  It is currently ranked #313,310 out of a total of 8,000,000+ print books on Amazon.  The sales graph for the hard copy is a little more stable.  I think the only thing measurable this shows is that instability/impulse buying in the Kindle market is much higher.  It also seems to me, judging by the ranking shift and my sales reports from Ingram, is that it takes a little longer to actually show up sales on the print copies, whereas the Kindle sales seem to be more instantaneous (or close to instant).

The graph above also seems to indicate that people are much faster to purchase Kindle books of a new title as opposed to the print edition.  This is for obvious reasons:

  1. Of course, it’s not as expensive and does not have shipping costs associated with it.  ($5.99 with free shipping vs. $13.95 + shipping and handling)
  2. They don’t have to wait as long on a Kindle version; it’s delivered instantly
  3. They may be afraid to spend more than the minimum on a new author.

All of these are good reasons why the Kindle sales trump the print sales (and not just for this title), but I genuinely believe that, if I had offered the print copy only first and the electronic copy later on down the road, my sales numbers would not have changed dramatically for the print copy.  In fact, I actually believe that the Kindle version of the book can actually help to increase the print copy sales: people who like the Kindle version may buy the print version, or they may refer the book to others who in turn buy either  a print copy or a Kindle version themselves.  All in all, I am selling plenty of electronic copies that pay for the couple of lost paperback sales.  In essence, I don’t want to force people into an option I choose for them, I am more interested in the person being happy and entertained by the book and picking up a couple of bucks they throw my way as a ‘Thank You’ for writing it.

Do I think Kindle sales (or any electronic sales from anywhere, for that matter) are hurting me?  No, not at all.  It’s only a little less of a royalty than the print version, and the Kindle version is selling a little better than the print edition on Amazon.  I am of the mindset that, if I hadn’t released the electronic version, I would have about the same print copy sales and no electronic sales.

Do I think that the same model would work for traditional publishers?  It would probably impact their sales somewhat.  Their model is to release to Hardcover, then Paperback, then electronic (if they ever release electronic), more or less.  For a very popular author, the sales of the hardcover may very well suffer with a simultaneous release of an eBook, but I think they are too afraid of the loss in sales to think clearly.  I’m just going to say this one last thing before getting back on topic (I’m notorious for tangents!):  the big publishers pushing big name authors should at least inform the public as to when the eBook will be released so that the public doesn’t feel tricked into buying a Hardcover just so they can read the story.  In this way, you’re still releasing things in the same order that you planned on in the first place, but people now know the time frame when they could get an eBook instead of a hard copy.  Some people will wait, but those people are generally the same ones who will only read it on an eReader anyway.

Anyhow, continuing on…

Sales Without Advertising

Now, I should get on with the part about advertising – or lack thereof.  The Dying Times has received virtually zero advertising so far.  I have done some publicity – in the form of press releases, word of mouth recommendations, posting to social networks, and so forth – but I have done very little advertising.  I will list the advertising that has been done below:

  1. Free $50 Google Adword credit used to post advertisements around Google and AdSense users’ website.  Very little traffic has come by way of the ads directly, but people are finding the site through search engines on a variety of topics that I write about (such as zombies, self-publishing, horror, and so forth).
  2. Free $50 Facebook Ad credit.  It’s been exhausted, and I ended up spending $20 of my own money on it.  It doesn’t look like it caused any real sales.  I don’t know if people on Facebook just like to click ads or what, but I had tons of clicks and very little sales activity on the two days I ran the campaign.  In my opinion, I’d advise other authors to stay away from the cash trap.

That’s all of the advertising that I’ve done.  Now for the publicity/non-advertising efforts:

  1. Press releases, mostly written and released for free.  I paid $30 for one release to be spread around, and that one is doing better than the free ones, but I’m glad I only paid $30 for it.
  2. Free short stories – I’ve started writing short stories that extend and add on to the book series, and the first – Harvey’s Diner – has gotten a good number of views on different free sites.  I actually think this has accounted for the big boost in at least the Kindle sales.  Notice:  Harvey’s Diner was released on November 23rd.  The graph above shows that Kindle sales shot up on the 24th and 25th, and they’ve remained high on the Kindle.  Sales on the hard copy didn’t have gains as big, but it did have some residuals.  Unless the trend and my assumptions are wrong (which is very possible), the free short stories have helped the book’s sales, just as I thought they would.  Another one should be due out soon…..
  3. Book Reviews – I’ve gone around trying to acquire numerous reviews from reviewers.  My favorites are from the Midwest Book Review – specifically from Sandra Heptinstall, whom I cannot thank enough for giving me my first serious review – but I treasure each and every one of them, even the average ones (and the bad ones if and when I get one).
  4. Talking to people about the book – of course, one of my favorite pastimes.  This has resulted in a few sales, and is one of my favorite ways of selling the book.  I don’t like to feel or act like a salesman, I just like to talk about the book and answer any questions people may have.  If they just want to talk zombies or anything else, I like that just fine, too!

The Future

In December, we’ll see the end of the Kickstarter project, which has (so far) raised some $519.00 towards the cause of advertising The Dying Times on the mass market.  This, hopefully, will culminate in the airing of a television commercial either on AMC or in different cities through Comcast.  If you would like to pledge or figure out what I’m talking about, you can visit the Kickstarter project.

It is great to see the fans and community come together like this, and I am both honored and humbled by the success of the project.  The commercial should begin airing in January.  I have my fears about it, but I am going to stay positive and keep my expectations low: if the number of sales pays for the commercial’s cost, I’ll be happy with that.  If it makes the book explode into the mainstream and paparazzi appear at my door, I may have to arm myself as I would in the event of the zombie apocalypse and defend the homestead!

I just wanted to share this information with you all, and I hope that it’s helpful or informative.  If you’re an author, feel free to post about your experiences.  If you’re a reader, tell me what you think, and feel absolutely free to make recommendations and comments.

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Comments

  1. Brian  December 3, 2010

    Just to give you an idea of what I’m talking about with the shifting, as of this posting, the Amazon Books rank went to #105,404 from #313,310 and the Kindle rank went from #15,747 to #24,788. By the way, thanks for buying the book, whomever you might be!

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  2. Brian  December 5, 2010

    For the first time since it’s been out, The Dying Times dipped below the #10,000 mark in Amazon Kindle sales rank. Woohoo! Just imagine what real advertising might do in January.

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