I’ve written and read a fair amount about authorial promotion, what is and isn’t effective. Anyone who’s tired of book sales talk can feel free to skip this one, but I figured some of you might appreciate a little raw data to go with the conversation.
This is a graph of the sales for The Stepsister Scheme (purple line) and The Mermaid’s Madness (black line). Stepsister has been selling for just over a year now, and Mermaid has been out for about three months.
The sales data comes from Bookscan, which isn’t exact, but it’s the best measure I’ve got for week-to-week sales. All five of my books have followed the same pattern, starting with that nice big spike in the beginning. After the first three months or so, many of the books are stripped and returned to make room for new releases, and we head into the long plateau.
With all of the signings, conventions, and other events I’ve done, only two factors have ever caused a visible spike in sales. The first is Christmas. Having a book on the shelves in December is a good thing! (Thank you to everyone who bought books for presents!)
The second is the release of the next book in the series. You can see where sales of Stepsister more than doubled when Mermaid came out. I saw that same bump with the goblin series as each new book was published.
I didn’t include the goblin data here, because that would have gotten too messy. But I’ll note that the release of the two princess books did not cause a similar spike in sales of the goblin books.
Does this mean all of those other efforts are ineffective in terms of sales? Not necessarily. For one thing, Bookscan isn’t as good at capturing data from independent book dealers and such, which means there’s a good chance all of those dealer sales from conventions aren’t showing up. And while any individual event or effort doesn’t show up on the graph, they could still be having a cumulative effect over time. There’s really no way of doing a controlled study to prove it one way or the other.
And that’s it for 2009. Happy 2010, all! No resolutions here, but I am setting a goal to finish rewriting the outline (version 3.0) for Snow Queen by the end of the day, and to finish this @!#$^ first draft by the end of January. Wish me luck!