On Saturday, I sold the one thousandth ebook of Death’s Angels. It was a nice milestone to pass. It comes in the first month in which I have sold over a thousand ebooks too. All in all I have sold a couple of thousand books in the Terrarch series and roughly 2400 ebooks in total including short stories and collections. I have also had roughly five thousand downloads of the Guardian of the Dawn since it went free.
I started selling ebooks in July and have released one of the Terrarch books roughly every six weeks since then. The last book, Shadowblood only went on sale this month. December will be the first month that the whole series will be available and I am curious to see how it goes.
Creating your own ebooks is pretty simple. It’s not quite as simple as saving a document on your word-processor but pretty close. If you know how to save a document you can learn how to create your own ebooks in about fifteen minutes. I am not kidding. You can do it all with free software as well. I’ll cover this in a future post.
It is amazing what the ebook revolution has made possible. The Terrarch sales numbers would be very good for a small press. I doubt any major publisher would be interested in selling in these numbers but if you consider the fact that the royalty rates are much higher (35% or 70% depending on price) it still looks perfectly possible to make a living doing this. It is certainly the most profitable hobby I have ever had.
When I started out, I mentioned the fact that I would be delighted to sell two books a day. For the past few months Death’s Angels has been averaging 13-15 books a day and the rest of the books in the series roughly 6-7 per day. There is usually a surge of sales during the initial release but these seem to be the way long term numbers fall.
Is there anything I learned that might prove useful to anyone else contemplating doing this? A few things. In my experience novels sell a lot better than short stories (not really a surprise there!) and a series is a very good idea. Releasing the latest book always seems to give a boost to the earlier ones.
What about marketing? My marketing has consisted of posting on this blog and on a couple of boards dedicated to the Kindle. There has been no advertising and very little tweeting. I strongly suspect most of the heavy lifting has been done by Amazon’s algorithms.
Is there anything you can do to increase sales? Well, my sales really took off when I reduced the price of Death’s Angels to 99 cents. This meant a huge fall in revenue for this book, not just from the drop in price but from the reduction of the royalty rate to 35% from 70%. On the other hand, sales of Death’s Angels increased by a factor of about 6. Sales on the later books increased by a factor of three.
There does not seem to be any difference in sales between prices of $2.99 or $3.99. The books sold equally well at either price. There was a definite fall-off in sales at $4.99, more than the increased royalty rate would make up for. For me this seems to fix the price for future releases. I would open a series with a 99 cent book and follow on with prices set at $3.99 for books of 75K or longer, less for shorter books.
If you do go in for this, I would also advise you to be patient. In my first month (really my first 3 weeks since I released on July 8th) I sold 38 books. This month I have sold more than a thousand. It takes sales time to build. The more books you have the more you will sell too (that seems only common sense, doesn’t it?)
For me, the biggest benefit is that epub had renewed my enthusiasm for writing. It’s not that I was not enjoying my work previously either, I enjoy writing Warhammer novels. But it was disheartening (to say the least) to go 6 years with out finding an English language publisher for the Terrarch series. Now at least a thousand people have bought a copy and maybe more will find it. It has a chance to reach its audience. When you consider it’s in a genre that is not exactly fashionable (Lovecraftian gunpowder military fantasy), that is all that can reasonably be asked.
There is something tremendously invigorating about the idea that you can write what makes you really enthusiastic even if it does not fit into the lengths or genres that publishers demand. You can write short stories or novellas or short novels or very, very long novels and you can find an audience. It might not be a huge one but it will be an audience. It makes me truly, truly grateful to be working in this field at this time and I would like to thank every single person who has bought one of these books.