Kindle publishing, for the most part, has been a blessing. I have published dozens of books over the past 20 months or so, and I have seen the number of copies per book range from brilliant to downright pathetic.
Toward the end of 2011, some of my own books were reaching over 30 copies sold per month, priced at $2.99. While this number alone doesn’t seem like much, the fact that each of these were bringing over $60 per month was an inspiring accomplishment to me.
Over time, sales staggered and some of these once-great books now average about 5 to 10 copies each month between Amazon and B&N. Nevertheless, the amount of residual income is still nice, and certainly appreciated.
Ever since such decline took place, I have been trying to replicate that success with similar stories and brand new ones. For the most part, though, sales keep averaging anywhere from ‘Boring’ to ‘Meh.’
Over time, I have come to accept that perhaps I am destined to make money with ebooks the hard way. In other words, I would have to focus on a large quantity of books to see a nice chunk of change each month, since a large amount of the books I’ve published average about 5 sales per month.
But what happens when an unexpected surprise suddenly comes along and disturbs that mellow mentality I had about my success? It really gives you a wake up call and forces you to step up your game.
Then, Everything Changed…
As the title of this blog post suggests, I am referring to an erotic entry I published under my friend’s account at the beginning of December 2012. During that month, I immediately noticed how its Amazon daily sales kept increasing, reaching about 5 each day. As time went by, that 5 turned into 10, and eventually that number quickly doubled to 20 sales each day. By the end of the month, I had a few hundred sales while the rest of them stayed at their monthly average.
Then January 2013 came along, and I was already keeping a close eye on it. Why? Because its Kindle ranking was getting lower and lower, reaching about 9,000. I had never had a book with such a ranking before, so for the first time in a while I actually began to believe the book had real potential. Eventually the book kept selling copies around the clock, reaching about 30 per day. Every time I refreshed the KDP Reports page, there was a new number marked on the screen– representing yet another copy sold.
Soon enough, I noticed this book’s ranking go all the way down to 5,000, followed by 4,000 and even lower each day. The lowest ranking it’s reached so far is roughly 1,400 in the general Kindle marketplace.
Then, I had suddenly surpassed 1,000 copies sold after merely 2 weeks (well, technically, my friend did — though we consider her Amazon account “ours.”) It goes without saying that my jaw simply dropped at this point. Again, I was thrilled to be selling 30 copies per month back in 2011, and now I was personally witnessing over a thousand. By the end of January 2013, this book had reached a little over 1,800 copies sold with roughly a 5% refund rate. Not too bad, I’d say. Moreover, it eventually became an erotica bestseller, reaching position 72 or so in the Top 100.
But why? What exactly made this book pop and stand out from the rest? Over time, I have always said that sales can be unpredictable and definitely inconsistent, even if you conduct some good research before publishing– often due to the heavy competition found out there.
Let’s look at some quick facts about this book:
– This is a bundle/compilation consisting of over 2 dozen short stories packed into one package
– Most stories are based on step dad/step daughter sex
– It provides a clear, enticing description
– While the title is not keyword-optimized, the description is. These keywords were gathered from Amazon-suggested search phrases
– It has a clean book cover, and its title is straight to the point, therefore letting readers know exactly what they’re getting
– The book has many different tags, most of which were the same as the ones suggested by Amazon’s search engine
– It costs 99 cents
While I recommend abiding to many of the points made above, these don’t necessarily answer for the book’s success. I say this because we also have other large bundles available that are not quite as successful (as you can see from the screenshot above.) So clearly the success doesn’t come merely from the amount of stories offered and/or keyword optimization.
As part of a temporary experiment, I raised the price of one of the less successful bundles from 99 cents to $2.99, but now its sales have decreased drastically. I was hoping that a higher price point would exude more value and overall quality in the eyes of consumers, but that hasn’t been the case so far. Nevertheless, I’ll let it sit at this price for a while longer before jumping to definite conclusions.
The ebook market is a tricky and often unpredictable place. Hell, this book’s unexpected success could have derived from the Holiday season for all I know, as people tend to buy a lot more during that time of year. That being said, I will be taking a hard look into those other bundles and try to replicate the same success, for they could potentially bring in at least $1,500 per month.
The Takeaway here? KEEP TRYING. I worked very hard back in October 2012 with my Kindle publishing journey (as described in this blog post) and produced roughly 20 new short stories, most of which are found in this successful all-in-one bundle. Their individual counterparts are selling an average amount of copies per month, but this bundle alone made the hard work well worth it.