E-book Experiment: Week One
Last week, I announced my little experiment, putting my mainstream novel Goldfish Dreams [B&N | Amazon] up for sale as a $2.99, DRM-free e-book.
Amazon was much quicker than B&N to get things uploaded and processed, but the book is now available on both sites. (And to B&N’s credit, they were able to recognize and link the e-book to the print edition, which Amazon failed to do.)
The sales results after release week?
Amazon: 10 copies sold
B&N: 2 copies sold
Both Amazon and B&N pay roughly $2 royalties per copy, which means I made about $24 that first week. Really, that’s not too bad — it’s more than I was making when the book was on Fictionwise, where it was priced at about seven bucks.
6 of those sales were from the first day, when I blogged about the book being available on Kindle. To see how blog hits translate into sales, that post was viewed 3198 times on LJ according to their stats site, with probably a few hundred additional hits from my site, RSS feeds, and Dreamwidth. A few people also Tweeted about it.
Several folks commented that they’d love to read the book, but either didn’t do e-books or else didn’t like the formats available through Amazon and B&N.
Over the past week, I spent about an hour updating product info on Amazon and B&N. I also updated my LJ profile with a link to the book and started doing the same on my web site, but haven’t finished that yet. Nor have I had time to check into other stores/sales outlets for the book. This underlined a problem I was anticipating: namely, I don’t know that I have the time to effectively do the self-publishing thing.
I could have spent more time working to promote and sell Goldfish Dreams. Instead, I finished the first draft of my goblin zombie story. With limited writing time and two other anthology invites sitting on my desk, not to mention (hopefully) a forthcoming deal for the new series … I just don’t have time to be my own sales force.
The question then becomes, what happens when I sit back and concentrate on the writing? I will get the site updated, but once I do, will the book sell without my help? Even a few copies a week could add up to several hundred bucks a year. Or will it become one of the many forgotten books on Amazon with a sales rank in the three millions?
I have no idea. I’ll check back in about a month from now to see how things are going.
October 25, 2010 @ 1:41 pm
Wow, if $24/a week ends up being the average in ebook sales you get, that’s pretty darn good! (x52 weeks = $1248 a year!) And $2/book for a book priced at $2.99 is an incredibly high cut of the sales. If you were a newer author who had the time to do all the self-promotion, etc, ebook publishing might actually be pretty lucrative.
Then again, this first week’s sales might be a bit higher than the norm because it’s the first week. I’d be curious to see week 2 and 3’s sales and see where weekly sales really average out.
Jim C. Hines
October 25, 2010 @ 1:43 pm
If they follow the same pattern as my normal books from DAW, there’s a big spike when it first comes out, and that drops off after a while and settles into a much lower plateau of weekly sales.
But I have no clue at all if this will follow the same pattern or not 🙂
October 25, 2010 @ 3:01 pm
Most likely, the majority of follow-sales will come when people click on your name in reference to a more recent work and see it in the list of titles, then go “Hmm, 3 bucks? Why not?”. Of course, any mentions in blogs, etc may cause a small spike. In reality, maybe 1-2 copies per month is probably realistic, especially since its out of your normal millieu. A Goblin novella would probably do better.
The nice thing about e-books in the current world is that once you have done the prep work, there’s no ongoing expense or effort, so it eventually becomes all profit.
October 25, 2010 @ 3:07 pm
I have added another one on to the B&N sales! I was going to get it as soon as it was available but I have spent most of the last week hunting down rumors customers are likely to ask me about. Being a Nook lead, this week has been pretty stressful. I’m a smart person, I can read between the lines and figure out what is probably going to happen with Nook. But I won’t know anything “officially” until they actually announce it. Blerg.
Jim C. Hines
October 25, 2010 @ 3:10 pm
Thank you! So you’re the one to ask about whether the next version of the Nook will have an EMP function that fries all Kindles within a 100′ radius? 😉
October 25, 2010 @ 3:12 pm
LOL! All I’d be able to say at this point is “I don’t have the offical answer to that.” But then I may add in a whisper “Just ask me again tomorrow.”
Jim C. Hines
October 25, 2010 @ 3:13 pm
$2.99, not $3.00. That’s a significant psychological distinction, darn it! 🙂
My gut tells me I can and should do better than 1-2 copies per month … but my gut has absolutely no basis for that feeling. You’re right that with GD being a mainstream title, it’s not going to do as well as another fantasy title would.
Funny you should mention the goblins. I’m working on the second draft of a goblin short story for an anthology, but if the editor doesn’t like it, I’m thinking another online self-publishing experiment…
October 25, 2010 @ 3:22 pm
My expectations are that in the not so distant future, there are going to be a number of operations (legitimate ones, not some of the shady ones already out there) that will convert an edited manuscript up to novel size and handle distribution to the major sites for a fee in the range of $199. Heck, I thought about it but don’t have the resources or time to get it off the ground. At that price point, 100 copies (which is very reasonable to expect even with only self promotion) = break even and you’ll see a lot of projects like these.
Longer term, competition and automation will probably reduce the cost to the $99 range per novel.
November 9, 2010 @ 4:19 am
What puts me off trying to get into reading ebooks is the whole “shop tied up with hardware” thing.
I don’t have a kindle, or a nook, so can I even download and read these books? Maybe I can, but amazon is spending so much effort shoving “BUY A KINDLE!!!” in my face that trying to find out seems too much effort.
Oh! but B&N points out you can read them on multiple devices, so maybe I should look into signing up with them (if they don’t lock out international customers.)
The amazon version is also priced at $5.74 (may be more expensive because I’m in Germany? Which would be weird for a simple download, but with their WE NEED OUR OWN CLOSED SYSTEM!!!! fixation… I think I’m rambling.)
Jim C. Hines
November 9, 2010 @ 2:53 pm
I would love to see a single, universal format for these things. The amount of time and energy that goes into prepping every single manuscript for all of the different vendors and formats is just nuts.
No clue why the price is higher in Germany. I don’t know if that’s a regional thing, a currency exchange, or what. I set it up to have no geographic restrictions, so I don’t know why it would cost almost twice as much to download a file to a German Kindle as it would a Kindle in the U.S. Seems silly to me.
January 3, 2011 @ 5:37 am
While looking into maybe getting Kindle, I found an explanation for the higher prices: It’s a “roaming fee”, to finance the data transfer of Kindle 3G models. Apparently having all German customers pay more, no matter through whaich channel they buy ebooks from amazon, was thought to be a better idea than require people to pay fees for 3G access.