Saturday, January 31, 2015

My mad, mad, mad e-book sales experiment

Before you think I'm crazy, hear me out ...

For the last 6 months, give or take, I've noticed a trend over at Amazon, a trend that cuts across genres. Multi-author collections of novels are selling really well, often at cheap, cheap prices. For instance, Epic: Fourteen Books of Fantasy has been selling at 99 cents for quite a while now and it has consistently been ranking well at Amazon, appearing tops on several sales charts.

At first I thought I would like to take part in something similar. My plan was to work together with some other fantasy authors, each of us to go in with a novel, then to see how things go.

But then I started thinking of all the headaches this would involve, the accounting problems, the trust issues, etc. And being the greedy huckster that I am, I thought, "Why not do it all myself, avoid the headaches, and keep all the money?"

So that's what I did, in mid-December.

I collected all the novels from my Kobalos Trilogy and my Horrors of Bond Trilogy, then combined them into The Darkbow Collection: Six Epic Fantasy Novels. Each of these novels features my Kron Darkbow character, so it made sense.

What might not seem to make sense is me selling six full novels for only 99 cents. It might even sound a little on the insane side.

But experimentation is key to success, and if things hadn't worked out well after a few weeks, I would have pulled the plug.

However, I've been pleasantly surprised by my sales. In January alone I have sold more than 2,600 copies of The Darkbow Collection, and there's still one day left in the month as I write this. Still, that's not a whole lot of money for six novels, and wouldn't it cut into my regular sales?


In fact, my UK sales are nearly double what they were the month before, and I've actually sold books in several countries where I've never sold before. My U.S. sales are about average compared to the last few months.

As might be expected, my returns are higher than usual, but they are still well below 1 percent. I can live with that.

Also, I haven't really done any marketing. I think I mentioned the collection once on Twitter, and I've intentionally not mentioned it elsewhere.

Admittedly, all of this might have been a fluke. In fact, two things outside of my hands probably had an effect upon my January sales. First off, near the end of December some gifts I sent to Skallagrim were featured on his YouTube channel (which is worth checking out if you are into historical fencing, combat, etc.). Second, on December 31 my Spaghetti Western screenplay Day of the Dollar got a shout out as among the favorite books of 2014 for Charles Gramlich, and that screenplay has sold better than usual this past month.

Either way, to my way of thinking, this experiment has paid off. How long will I keep the collection at 99 cents? I'm not sure. The sales are slowing a little after having averaged more than 100 a day the first couple weeks of January, but I'll ride things out at least a couple weeks in February just to see how things go. Eventually I might raise the price to $2.99, or maybe even higher. It all depends upon how I think things are going.

Am I crazy? I don't think so. I made a little more money than usual, sold a bunch of cheap books, and hopefully have reached some new readers.

And that's what it's really all about, the readers.

Addendum: I didn't think of these two things until after posting, but wanted to let others know:

1.) No, The Darkbow Collection was not part of the Kindle Select program.

2.) Yes, The Darkbow Collection was for sale at other venues besides Amazon (Nook, Smashwords, Apple, etc.), but no, the sales price there did not seem to help any at all. In fact, my sales at the other sites have gone down quite a bit of late.

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

Wow, I never would have guess it would have much positive effect. Definitely something to keep in mind. Thanks for sharing.