Looking Back and Looking Forward
Okay, this column is either incredibly appropriate or incredibly ironic. But this is what I wrote and published in January 2011.
One year ago, I made a decision to devote myself to writing fiction full-time. The decision wasn’t made easily or on a lark.
I started off feeling fairly hopeful, however. At that time, my novel IDENTITY CRISIS was starting to sell pretty well as an ebook. During December 2009, I lowered the price from $1.59 (slightly lower than the going rate) to 99 cents and sales took off. I was amazed.
My sales momentum became so great in January, I decided to do a totally impromptu Kindle rush experiment on Twitter. One Saturday, I tweeted my rank every hour and urged people to buy the book. In this way, I managed to raise its Amazon rank in the hardboiled category in the Kindle Store to #3. I couldn’t believe it. I’d actually used the power of social media to successfully market my book. A book that I’d only published the previous June.
Sales continued to be strong and I sold well over 1,000 downloads every month for the next couple of months. In March, sales slacked off a bit. I figured, okay, maybe that’s it. I raised my price to $1.99 (the going rate at the time). Meanwhile, Amazon announced a new, higher royalty rate of 70% to go into effect during the summer. The rate would apply if you priced your ebook between $2.99 and $9.99. This was tempting. However, my thought was, “What’s more important for me?” If I charged more per download would it inhibit my sales to the point where I’d earn less than I would if I charged a cut-rate price? If I charged less, would I gain more in visibility?
While contemplating this, I noticed that even though my sales had dropped when I raised my book’s price to $1.99, my rank and sales were better than they were when the downloads cost $1.59 each. I chalked this up to sales momentum created by the 99 cent promotional price I’d offered in the interim.
When summer rolled around, instead of raising my price and getting a higher royalty, I dropped the price to 99 cents again, figuring people would buy e-readers as gifts for various occasions (anniversaries, graduations, etc.). I also figured e-readers would make great summer travel companions and readers would want new ebooks to download.
In June, sales rose considerably. In July, I sold more than 1,230 downloads of my book. In August, that figure rose to more than 1,660 downloads. In September, the download count exceeded 1,870. It was in September that I raised the price to $2.99 (the price was initially discounted and got raised to the full price by degrees) and although sales remained incredibly brisk until about mid-October, they eventually settled into lower (but still comparatively good) numbers.
The upshot of this is that in August, IDENTITY CRISIS became the #1 hardboiled mystery on Amazon (ebook or print) and held that rank for several weeks. In September, I’d sold a total 10,000 downloads of my book. (A figure I would have thought unreachable when I started out.) As I write this, I’ve sold more than 11,200 downloads of IDENTITY CRISIS and I’ve just released the sequel LEAST WANTED, which has already gotten several great reviews, along with some awesome blurbs from other authors. Many observers think the sequel is even better than the first book. They’re telling me that I’ve done what all authors should. Raised the bar on myself and improved my craft.
Keep in mind, my sales are small compared to some indie ebook authors. Even so, considering what others have done, I think the possibilities are nearly endless.
And speaking of possibilities, did I forget to mention that my short story “The Right to Remain Silent” was also nominated for a Derringer Award this past year? I must admit to feeling very proud to have been so acknowledged. That story, along with four others was published as part of an ebook anthology called FIVE UNEASY PIECES last summer.
When I look back on what I’ve achieved during the past year, I’m amazed and very grateful. And when I look forward, I’m more than just a little hopeful.
I feel about the same now. For very different reasons. 🙂
And speaking of concerns about NFTs, energy consumption, and market bubbles, I’m familiar with the concept. Unfortunately.
Originally published at http://randomandsundrythings.wordpress.com on January 7, 2022.