Thank you, PJ, for inviting me to guest post on Bookbrowsing. I’ve been so focused on promotion that I haven’t taken the time to analyze my sales. The data I uncovered for this blog has been tremendously insightful. I’ll use it to shape my marketing efforts going forward.
In February of 2017, I published NO REST FOR THE WICKED, Book Three in my Nantucket Mystery series through my Indie imprint, Buccaneer. From the get-go, I’ve tracked the sales results of my promotional efforts to see what worked best. Here is the analysis of those stats.
I used Amazon’s CreateSpace to publish NO REST as a trade paperback, and as a Kindle (.mobi) edition. I did not opt for the Kindle Select program, because I wanted my distribution to be as broad as possible.
I used Smashwords to create the other retailer e-book files I needed (.ePub for Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Scribd, Oyster & Kobo, Kindle.mobi, PDF, PalmDoc.pdb, Sony eReader) including library distribution through Library Direct, Baker & Taylor’s Axis360, Gardners, OverDrive, Bibliotheca, and Odilo.
Sales Ranked by Percentage
Let’s cut to the chase. Amazon is the 900-pound gorilla. CreateSpace trade paperbacks and Kindle e-books accounted for 80% of my sales.
Smashwords accounted for the remaining 20%, broken out by individual retailer, as shown below:
- Apple iBooks: 33%
- Barnes & Noble 26%
- Smashwords 1%
- OverDrive (Libraries) 39%
- Kobo less than 1%
Interestingly, from a series perspective:
- 71% of my sales came from THE CHOKING GAME, Book 1;
- 10% started with THE NATURE OF THE GRAVE, Book 2 and the notable Independent Publisher IPPY award winner; and
- 19% started with Book 3: NO REST FOR THE WICKED, the new launch.
This stat seems to support what I’ve been hearing from writers, editors, and agents, that once readers discover a new author and/or a new series they start reading from the beginning of the series. This statistic supports the suggestion that authors need to be offering more than a single book. It also supports the suggestion that hybrid authors should recover their copyrights and e-publish out of print backlists, to take advantage of crossover sales.
Promotional Tools and Marketing Efforts
I’ve been targeting guest blog posts to help get the word out on NO REST, scheduling at least two blog posts a week. I’ve heard of marketing services that can schedule blogging tours for you, but I’ve had great success by simply reaching out to host bloggers on my own. Bloggers (and readers) are always looking for fresh, insightful, and entertaining new content. For every guest blog post that I wrote, I saw a follow-up sales spike within a day or two, usually through Kindle (as noted above) or Smashwords/Kobo.
Amazon, GoodReads, and Smashwords Giveaways
Here’s the third big thing I’ve learned: For my book launch, I used a Smashwords coupon code for an initial fan/reader free giveaway to encourage reviews and create buzz. I chose the Smashwords (.ePub) option because the Smashwords dashboard seemed the easiest one to manage. Now that I see that the majority of my sales are coming through CreateSpace and Kindle, I’ll make sure that any future giveaways offer trade paperbacks and/or Kindle (.mobi) versions.
I’ve been actively using Facebook and Twitter for book launch and author appearance announcements, but I can’t link any direct sales to these announcements or promotions. The sales spike I do see comes after I’ve used social media to point readers to an eye-catching topic on a guest blog post, and then connect to new readers that way.
Advertising Options and Future Campaigns
This year, I’ve purchased program ads for Malice Domestic, Pennwriters, and New England CrimeBake. Program ads are very affordable. The Malice Domestic ad was an appeal to cozy and traditional mystery fans and readers. The Pennwriters and CrimeBake ads will be geared more toward the overall crime and mystery community.
I’m also researching online services like Publishers Weekly/Booklife for Self-Pub Review, BookBub, and ShelfAwareness.
Where am I seeing sales spikes?
- Print and e-book sales after each guest blog posting;
- In-person bookstore, conference panel, or author event hand sales;
- Reading groups, book clubs, and discussion groups;
- Social media guest blog pitches; and
- Good, old-fashioned word of mouth.
Martha Reed is the author of the award-winning John and Sarah Jarad Nantucket Mystery series. Her latest release, NO REST FOR THE WICKED, is garnering 5 star reviews. You can follow her online at reedmenow.com, on Facebook, or on Twitter @ReedMartha.