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Monday, 22 December 2014

Ebooks – Time to Take Stock

Chris Longmuir at the launch of  Dead Wood
The International Book Prize winner, 2009
Every author who publishes eBooks is fascinated by sales figures.
It’s easy to check sales figures on Amazon’s Kindle publishing platform so the newly published author may be unable to resist the urge to keep checking, and may visit the reports section of the site several times a day, noting with glee every single download of their book. However, with the publication of more books, plus the development of a more blasé attitude, these visits lessen, tapering to once a day, then maybe once a week, finally ending up at once a month, in order to check the sales figures for that specific month. I don’t think I’ll ever get too blasé to omit the monthly check.
Of course, many authors juggle their prices and offer promotions, and it’s a good idea to keep checking whether these have resulted in additional sales. For me, it’s too much effort to go down this route, and although I did try it a couple of times, I discovered it made no difference at all to my sales figures. So I reckon I won’t be doing any more juggling, or going down the promotional road again. I am wondering, however, whether the VAT (Value Added Tax) increase from 3% to 20% will have an effect on sales because it will push up the price of all eBooks.
It is of value, though, to run an annual check to see which of your eBooks has performed best. So, given it’s December, the last month of the year, I thought I would have a quick tally to see how my eBooks were doing. So here are the results:-
My top best-selling eBooks
1.  Night Watcher

2.  Dead Wood (rounded up because it’s only been on sale for 7 months)

3.  Missing Believed Dead

4.  The Death Game

5.  Ghost Train (short stories)

6.  Crime Fiction and the Indie Contribution
7. A Salt Splashed Cradle

8.  Obsession (short stories)
In terms of author earnings the list would look the same with the exception of 5, 6 and 7. Number 6, my non fiction book Crime Fiction and the Indie Contribution, which sold less than half the number of copies compared to Ghost Train, earned approximately four times more than Ghost Train, and A Salt Splashed Cradle, my historical saga earned three times more. Therefore my two lowest earners are my two cheapest books, no wonder I refer to them as loss leaders. In fact, when I think about it, the profit from the sale of either of these books wouldn't even be enough to cover the cost of getting into the toilets at Edinburgh Station.
Compiling these figures was interesting for me, from the point of view that my Dundee Crime Series is selling better than the other books, which indicates to me that series are popular. The first book of the series, Night Watcher, is consistently selling far more than the others, even my International Dundee Prize winning book, Dead Wood. But I suppose that only indicates that readers like to read book one of a series first.
The other interesting thing is that my two loss leaders, selling at 0.99c/77p, are at the bottom of the leader board, and the $4.99/£3.00 books are doing far better (NB: the UK price will rise after 1st Jan due to VAT increases)
The Winner is



Note: From 1st January 2015 the VAT (Value Added Tax) charged on ebooks will increase from 3% to 20%. I won’t get anything extra, but the government will!
Chris Longmuir


Rosemary Gemmell said...

That's a fascinating overview, Chris - thanks for sharing it! I need to do something similar for my own information (I'm bad at keeping track of everything), although I have to wait for royalty statements from the e-publishers I'm with for some books. Definitely think you're right about series being popular, especially in crime fiction.

Chris Longmuir said...

Yes, Rosemary, I found it a fascinating exercise, far better than just having a gut feeling about which book is the bestseller.