Goblins vs. Goldfish (Another E-book Update)

Spoiler: the goblins win.

Author John Locke recently became the first self-published author to sell more than one million e-books via Amazon. With most of his books at the impulse-buy price of $.99, this means he’s earned probably around $400,000 by my estimation through Amazon. Impressive. Most impressive.

(Is it worth pointing out that this is less than a “traditionally” published author would have earned for the same number of sales, or will that just stir things up?)

Anyway, I figured this was a good time to check in and see how I’ve been doing with my own self-published e-books. Let’s just say I’m not quite ready to join Locke in the million-sales club.

Goldfish Dreams [B&N | Amazon] came out in October of 2010. Goblin Tales [Amazon | B&N | Lulu] was released in March of this year. Both are priced at $2.99, and are DRM-free. Both are available at Amazon and B&N. Goblin Tales is also up at iBooks, Kobo, Wizard’s Tower, and Lulu.


As of yesterday, I’ve sold a total of ~430 self-published books. 72 of those (17%) were Goldfish Dreams, and the rest were Goblin Tales. Here’s the breakdown through May, the last full month I have sales figures for. (A refers to Amazon, BN is Barnes and Noble.)

Lulu sales aren’t included on the graph, ’cause I don’t have a nice month-to-month breakdown. To date, I’ve sold 3 PDF downloads and 28 print copies through Lulu, for a grand total of $19.95. By comparison, the ~400 books sold through other venues come to roughly $800 in royalties.

Some thoughts:

  • Amazon and B&N are the two big sellers. E-book sales through other venues have been minuscule.
  • Amazon sold almost four times as many copies of Goldfish Dreams as B&N did, and 2-3 times as many copies of Goblin Tales.
  • Months ago, I was told there’s no reason sales should decrease over time, since it’s not like books are being taken off the shelves, right? But while sales of Goldfish Dreams are too low to draw any real conclusions, sales of Goblin Tales seem to follow a very similar dropping-off curve to sales of my print books. (The June numbers look like they’ll continue in this pattern.)
  • I have no idea whether releasing Kitemaster & Other Stories will have any effect on sales of my other e-books, but I look forward to finding out!
  • Goldfish Dreams is a mainstream novel. Goblin Tales is fantasy. I’ve built a name as a fantasy author, not mainstream. This matters.

Would I have sold better at $.99 like Locke? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe they’d sell better at $4.99. It’s impossible to say. I’m satisfied enough that I’m continuing to move forward with Kitemaster.

Comments and discussion are welcome, as always.