Righting the Ship: 2014 Sales Recap

Precipice

About 15 months ago, I wrote a post titled “S.O.S.” in which I detailed just how poorly my books were selling. A lot of writers chimed in, both publicly and privately, to offer suggestions and feedback. The aftermath of that post led to my decision to release the stories I’d been working on as individual titles in an attempt to grow my catalog and reach more readers.

The first story went on sale on January 3rd, 2014. This post will discuss the year of sales data that followed that first on-sale date. In other words, this is a “business” post. If you’re just here for the fiction, my feelings won’t be hurt if you skip over this.

Still here? Okay. I’m going to present the summary data here, broken out by sales, borrows/promos, and refunds. These charts include all titles currently available in all territories, and represent both Kindle and print data. A few notes of interest: 1) I’m only including Kindle data (I’ll explain why in a few minutes); 2) the print data is based on my most recent wholesale compensation report from Lightning Source (10/30/14); 3) I opted out of the KDP Select program at the end of the summer.

Like last year, the print numbers do not reflect print books I’ve ordered from the distributor for promotional purposes. These are strictly related to sales:

Total Kindle Sales:

TotalSales2014
RFN, Harbinger, and low price-points were the clear winners.

Total Borrows:

TotalBorrows2014
Only ALT & TLM were opted into the program. Historically, the lending program has done almost nothing for me.

Total Countdown Sales:

TotalCountdown2014
The best countdown period I had was during RFN’s launch in January, boosted by KND’s feature. The other two went . . . well, you can see for yourself.

Total Refunded:

TotalRefunds2014
Not as many as I suspected.

Total Print Sold:

TotalPrint2014
I only have sum totals up through the most recent statement from LSI. I don’t have monthly break-out. The ULT sales occurred for a sixty-day period over the summer.

In summary:

SumTotal2014
The long and short of 2014.

As you can see, 2014 was a great year in terms of actual sales vs. prior years. Establishing ULT as a brand of individual stories was a solid move, and sales of those titles yielded corollary sales of my full-length novels (every ULT release contained a sample of either ALT or TLM).

To put this in perspective: I sold 82 books in 2011. I sold 169 books across 2012 and most of 2013.

Yeah. I sold more books last year than I did in the previous three years combined. Excuse me for a moment while I do a victory dance in my chair.

Uh, Todd . . . that’s not very many books.

Maybe not, but it’s a step in the right direction, friends.

Weren’t some of those ULT releases classified as “bestsellers?”

Yeah. That’s the sad, fucked up reality of today’s publishing landscape. You don’t have to sell millions, thousands, or even hundreds to be considered an “Amazon bestseller.” But whatever. I’m still doing that victory dance.

So what changed?

  • First and foremost, my catalog expanded from two to six titles. You can catch more fish with a bigger net.
  • The new series had pricing tiers built around story length, ranging from 99 cents to $2.99. This ensured there was something for everyone—especially readers less inclined to pay full price for a new author.
  • Getting some really awesome reviews of those titles also didn’t hurt.
  • Kindle Nation Daily ran a feature about my work in January that coincided with the first ULT story. I think this worked extremely well in conjunction with RFN’s 99-cent price point.
  • I didn’t give away a single title for free through KDP Select; I eventually opted out of the program entirely.
  • I was more “involved” in various writer circles, which led to more exposure. The Geeky Writers broadcasts, publication in multiple anthologies, and my participation in several “release parties” hosted by Ragnaraok Publications were major contributors in this area.

What’s all this mean for Precipice?

It means I may have found a way to keep Precipice sustainable, provided I continue to build upon the momentum I’ve gained in the last 12 months.

How can that momentum be maintained?

I’ve got a number of things in the works for 2015. The first volume of ULT stories goes on sale in February. I’m sending out a lot of review copies as well to build hype.

The next two ULT entries will follow in March and May/June; my goal is to have a total of four released by the end of the year.

There are two projects in the works. One concerns the Geeky Writers broadcasts, and another is a “guinea pig” project collaboration with Anthony J. Rapino. I’m not ready to reveal details for either of these, but the possibilities that both bring to the table are exciting.

What about opting out of KDP Select? 

Yeah, about that. As I mentioned above, I decided to opt out of KDP exclusivity this summer following the news of Kindle Unlimited (which looks like it’s going exactly how I thought it would). ALT’s exclusivity ran out in August; TLM’s followed in September. Last time I experimented with other channels, I used Smashwords; this time around I decided to give Draft2Digital a spin since their “no style guide” formatting options were more appealing to me. Long story short, my entire catalog was available on Nook and Kobo by the end of October.

I was actually prepared to tell you that I haven’t sold a single title across any of those channels, but after logging in to the site to double-check, I discovered something pretty surprising: I did sell two books in December (and one this month in January), but the site’s reporting doesn’t tell me which books sold.

Well I'll be damned . . .
Well I’ll be damned . . .

So I stand corrected, folks: Someone, somewhere, is still reading books on their non-Kindle device or app. Kudos to you, nameless person (or people).

I suppose this goes without saying that I didn’t include non-Kindle sales data because, until December 28th, I didn’t have any non-Kindle sales data that wasn’t related to print sales. At this point I’m going to give Draft2Digital the old college try for 2015. I’ll re-evaluate Amazon exclusivity if things don’t pan out in the other channels after a year’s time. Regardless of this lack of sales outside of the Amazon ecosystem, I still stand by my belief that KDP Select as lost its potency. My KDP-related data above supports this. Furthermore, that new Kindle Unlimited program doesn’t make sense for me (and it still scares me). If you missed my post about that last summer, click here.

To the Future!

I intend to keep the momentum going as much as I can. As I mentioned above, I’ve got plenty to keep me busy this year. With any luck, 2015 will blow 2014 out of the water.

One more thing before I close this entry: I owe you all my thanks. When I wrote that “S.O.S.” post in 2013, I was ready to call it quits. Your support kept me going. Seriously, thank you.

More soon,

TK

2 thoughts on “Righting the Ship: 2014 Sales Recap

  1. Invaluable information for somebody learning how to wrangle her own sales data. Impressive, Todd! Selling ULT as individual stories and then bundling them together into something so beautifully packaged was really clever. Pyramid Head would be proud.

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