Friday, September 30, 2011

Recent Trends in Self-publishing Sales Based on my Own Sales Data

The third quarter ends today, and even though I might sell some more books today via the magic of Amazon and Barnes and Noble, I have been wanting to sit down and look at these totals for about six weeks.

A quick run down for the past 2.75 years:

2009 POD Sales: 100% of total sales
2010 POD Sales: 96% of total sales     Kindle/Nook: 4% of total sales
2011 POD Sales: 48% of total sales     Kindle/Nook: 52% of total sales (Through the 3rd quarter)

For the first two quarters of 2011 I sold more POD books than ebooks.

2011 3rd Quarter POD Sales: 36% of total sales    Kindle/Nook: 64% of total sales

Total ebook sales: Kindle sales: 98.4% of total sales      Nook Sales: 1.6% of total sales

Some more information concerning sales.

Total POD titles available: 23
Total Kindle titles available: 7
Total Nook titles available: 1

I will tackle the issue of the Nook right off the bat. The lone Nook title I have is also my single best selling POD title and Kindle title and it has sold a grand total of 24 copies. Needless to say I am not in a big hurry to convert all of my POD titles that sell well into ePubit for sale at Barnes and Noble.

If I had any doubts that ebooks were the wave of the future, those doubts are not only gone, but the future is now.  My next non-fiction book is small and very much a niche book but it has the advantage of being one of those timeless topics. It will be my first experiment as a Kindle only book.

In the last three months, despite the economy and summer vacation (my target audience does not read during the summer) I have had the best three months ever. Not in terms of total revenue but rather in total copies of books sold. Almost exactly two-thirds of my sales were Kindle books, and therein lies the problem of sorts.

As POD sales declined, Kindle sales rose sharply in the last three months and my lone Nook book even started to sell a few copies each month. POD sales declined by 10% total from the 3rd quarter of 2010 and the 3rd quarter of 2011.

Excluding the 4th quarter figures for POD sales for 2010 and future 4th quarter POD sales for 2011, I am happy to say POD sales are up by 33% when comparing the first three quarters of 2010 and 2011, despite the decline is POD sales the past quarter.

Total sales for 2011, without the last quarter of 2011 included, are up by 37% over  all of 2010. The last quarter of the year has historically by far been my best quarter for sales so I am encouraged.

In general, it has been a really good year for the fledgling self-publishing empire! But there are some issues that require thought and planning from a financial perspective given what look like irreversible trends, mainly the rise of the ebook.

Hands down I make more money per sale for each POD book I sell. Simply raising the price of the Kindle edition does not make up for the net loss in revenue. I have found Kindle readers to be much more price sensitive than readers who purchase paperback editions. Experimental price increases in Kindle editions resulted in a significant drop in sales for the month the experiment was conducted. Restoring the original price restored and improved sales numbers. 

The issue is I have to sell nearly 2.5 Kindle books for each POD version of the same book to make the same amount of net profit. I write non-fiction for a niche market with a finite number of possible readers.

It is my hope that over time the market will sort this out and allow authors of non-fiction books with valuable content to charge an appropriate price for the information and not simply look at price alone. There has to be a happy medium in the mix somewhere.

In the mean time, I will inch up the prices of some of my Kindle books and work harder at the marketing and promotion end of things to convince readers to pay the higher price.

I would be interested to have any authors who read this blog and who would be willing to share information with others to post what their experience is changes in sales by book type have been.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Review of Catherine Parker's 301 Ways To Use Social Media to Boost Your Marketing

After cranking out four books this summer and in the midst of a fifth, I plan to take a bit of a break when the current book is done. Even though all of these books are non-fiction and the content is information I am extremely familiar with, it has been tiring.

The new books contain what I believe is valuable information for the niche market I write for. The sales for all but one of the new books have been dismal. I have nobody to blame but myself. I simply did not give the books the launch they needed.

These books can be "salvaged" as the information is not dated and won't be for many years. I just need to roll up my sleeves and get busy marketing the books. Being a one-man publishing empire can be taxing, especially since I have a "day job" as well.

Reading Joel Friedlander's posts about marketing books helped confirm it is time to take a break from writing and start marketing! I also spent an hour re-reading Catherine Parker's book 301 Ways To Use Social Media To Boost Your Marketing. I had already read the book, in Kindle format, earlier in the past summer and like any good reference book, it is a source I will refer to constantly in the coming months as I work on marketing all of my books.

Unlike many of the Kindle books I purchased that discuss using social media, blogging and the internet to market a business, I have the distinct feeling Ms. Parker's book is not a rehash, with very little editing, of blog posts turned into a Kindle book. She may very well have published all of this information earlier in blog form, but this book has the feel and read of a book specifically written to convey the information contained in its electronic pages.

There is no doubt in my mind Ms. Parker knows her stuff. She not only covers the popular Twitter, Facebook and admonition to have a blog, she covers less popular forms of social media in detail. Each chapter of the book has specific ideas and instructions on how to implement these concepts using the form of social media the chapter relates to.

Unlike many similar books that feature only one form of social media and championing its virtues while providing only a few tips, Ms. Parker delivers the full 301 ideas the title promises and many of the tips and ideas require several pages on a Kindle to convey everything she has to say.

The book covers developing a big picture strategy to using social media for marketing. The specific types of social media discussed include: blogging, Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Orkut,
Plaxo, Ning, MySpace, Meetup, Delicious, Digg, StumbleUpon, Google Reader, Reddit, Flickr, SmugMug, YouTube, various video sharing sites, Slideshare, Podcasting, Yelp, Epinions, RateItAll, Yahoo!Answers, eHow, Wikis and Wikipedia.

Details of how to set-up accounts or pages on each is provided. Suggestions on how to build a following and maintain it are part of the content Ms. Parker provides.

This book was worth every penny I paid for it. It is much better than the other Kindle books of a similar nature I have read, and alas, I have read quite a few and learned little until I purchased this book.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Basic Book Marketing for Self-Publishers - Joel Frielander's New Program

Writing the book, overseeing the design and getting it into production, either via traditional off-set press, print-on-demand or ebook, is just the start of the hard work. The book has to be marketed and sold. With the changes in the publishing industry this can be a bewildering process for experienced and novice author alike.

Joel Friedlander has done the self-publishing author a great service with his new series on book marketing for self-publishers. To read the three parts Joel has made available thus far, visit his blog at:

Friday, September 9, 2011

Amazon and LSI - End of the Short Discount POD Business Model?

Joel Friedlander has written a great post about what could be an end of the business model many self-publishers have been using, the short discount model using LSI as the POD printer. There are quite a few good comments to go with the informative article which does a good job of summarizing this confusing and troubling situation.

In the case of my best selling title, the move by Amazon has destroyed sales and it has yet to really recover. Here is the link to the blog post - be sure to read it. Everyone who sells POD titles needs to be aware of this situation.