15,000 ebooks: a breakdown of the numbers and a couple of thoughts

I promised I’d share some numbers when I delivered my 15,000th ebook, so here goes. It’s a long post so I’ll split it to keep all the figures off the front page.

I’ve got three ebooks on the go: Coffin Dodgers, a novel; Bring Me The Head of Mark Zuckerberg, a collection of columns; and Malky’s Bottle of Christmas, a short story. That 15,000 breaks down like this:

Coffin Dodgers: 13,179
Malky: 1,750
Zuck: 72

The overwhelming majority of those downloads were via Amazon’s UK Kindle Store, although Malky’s Bottle of Christmas did do 700-ish downloads from the Barnes & Noble store. The Coffin Dodgers sales break down like this:

Amazon US: 1,047
Amazon UK: 12,017
Amazon DE: 20
Amazon ES: 4
Amazon FR: 1
Apple: 67
Kobo: 1
Diesel: 2
Smashwords: 15
Sony: 2

If you take freebies out of the equation, sales from Amazon US are around 100 and the numbers for Amazon’s international stores drop to zero.

Sales for non-Amazon outlets dropped to zero in February because Amazon demands exclusivity if you want to give your book away for free. However, even before that the numbers were hopeless. After an initial spike when the book first went on sale, Apple numbers dropped to one or two per month.

What free downloads did

Most of the Malky downloads were freebies, and I also gave away some copies of Coffin Dodgers: 3,516 in 24 hours back in February. That giveaway boosted sales dramatically: where normally I’d do a few hundred copies in a month, I sold around 4,500 copies of Coffin Dodgers over and above the freebies.

The monthly sales of Coffin Dodgers, including February’s 3,500ish freebies, went like this:

June 11: 92
July 11: 117
Aug 11: 134
Sep 11: 115
Oct 11: 279
Nov 11: 454
Dec 11: 625
Jan 12: 877
Feb 12: 8,978
Mar 12: 1,179

Sales this month so far are sitting at 327.

It’s clear, then, that the giveaway worked: I sold roughly four times more books by giving copies away for a day. It’s also clear that the effect doesn’t last very long, and I noticed big changes in the book’s chart positions (and therefore its sales) around notable dates, such as Valentine’s Day and (UK) Mother’s Day. In both cases the humour chart changed dramatically, with the top 20 becoming dominated by chick-lit, and as a result my sales nose-dived. There’s a similar effect whenever Amazon runs a big Kindle sale or similar promotion.

The trick to selling ebooks, I think, is visibility, and that’s what the giveaway delivered: there’s a virtuous circle where the higher your book is in a chart, the more copies you sell. Giving away books also increased the number of reviews, which in turn helped drive sales, although inevitably it increased the number of bad reviews too.

I think another 24-hour giveaway might be a good idea, not least because it’ll be interesting to compare its effect to the one I did in February. Did I luck out and choose a particularly auspicious date, or are giveaways a reliable way to give ebook sales a lift?

If there’s anything I haven’t covered or explained properly, please yell in the comments.Откъде да купя икона