Saturday, April 16, 2011

Weekly Update on Sales (or lack thereof)

This week, I sold two books, and that was on Sunday. Since then, crickets have been chirping.

I have given this some thought, and here's my theory as to why.

  1. I reformatted two of the books at the beginning of the week, and sent out a lot of tweets about that. So I figure, I probably lost some customers because they were concerned about my formatting, even though the point of the tweets was to let people know that an existing problem was fixed, and that I'd comp a new copy to anyone who had an old, flawed version.
  2. I raised my prices on two books: the two full-length novels. They went from $0.99 to $2.99. Although Amazon is still discounting one of them to $0.99, at least last time I checked. I did this after doing some research on prices, and I think it's the right choice. And I expected sales to slow a little but then recover. At this point, sales are beyond slow and show no signs of recovering, so we'll see. Also, the price change doesn't explain the halt in sales of "Veronica in Paris," which remains at $0.99.
  3. It's possible the pre-programmed tweets I sent out were in some way unappealing. I've been puzzling over this. I know a little bit about sales, and what little I know I've been applying to the tweets. For one thing, don't ask a rhetorical question, because a person's internal response may be "I don't care." As in, "Will Veronica find out who the murder is in time to save her friend?" My own response to such tag lines is often "Who cares?" so I don't want to make that mistake. And then if you do ask a question, make it one people will say yes to. So I had a couple of tweets going out with a question at the beginning, "Got a Kindle?" figuring some people would say yes. The next thing I asked was, "Like stories about ghosts, psychics, and strong women?" figuring that after the first yes they'd be more inclined to say yes again and click the associated link. However, that seems not to be the case. So I want to go back to my drawing board and figure out a different formula for my book tweets. I had a couple of others going out with just a summary tag, like "Veronica must accept her psychic ability or someone she loves will be the next to die." Those were generally more successful, if you believe my sales of the first two weeks were in any way correlated to them, and I think they were. But they didn't work this week. So maybe people got bored of them.
  4. It's possible that I've reached all the potential buyers I can within the first two weeks, among the population of followers I had on Twitter and Facebook. I've gotten new ones, but I have decided to wait at least a few days before putting out any more advertising. I figure if my tweets were in any way annoying, I'd better give people a break before starting up again.
Anyway, so this has been discouraging, but of course I'm not giving up. I'm focusing on the fact that 24 people have bought the books and presumably are reading and enjoying them. That's pretty cool. Also, on other blogs chronicling eBook sales, it seems typical to have bad weeks. I've got all three books out to reviewers, so I'm hoping those reviews will be good, and that once they are posted on Amazon and the rest, I'll see a return to regular sales. I've been getting mixed messages about the value of tagging, and in any case I can't seem to convince anyone to tag my books, so I'm not going to obsess about that. I may join the Independent Author Network, but they do charge a fee ($19.95), so I'm not sure yet. I probably will.

If you have any ideas for me about marketing, please let me know! Have you had to deal with any writing setbacks this week?


  1. Sophia, I think you're doing everything right. You'll have ups and downs, and experimenting at the early stages like you are is wise.

    And now that your formatting is flawless, your readers will have nothing to distract them.

    My writing set-back: my 4-yr old who wants me to color with him 24/7. He closes my laptop on my fingers if I try to type. Little stinker...

  2. Oh wow. I have a cat who's been interfering, but she's easier to shoo away than a 4 year old!

    And thanks for the supportive words. I'm thinking I'll hang back for a few days and then try a new round of marketing.

  3. You have to look at the overall picture--maybe that will mean monthly or even quarterly--for your success. Don't get down over a bad week. A lot of writing success is all about word of mouth. I think joining a few independent publisher sites (for support) is a great idea. I think there are more opportunities out there than just twitter and facebook--do some research and see what you can find out. Network with other self-published authors and see what marketing skills they applied to their success.

    Keep going. You're only at the beginning. There's a whole world of readers out there. Good luck.

  4. Definitely don't get discouraged! I don't think anybody knows exactly how this all works yet. Keep at it and don't give up. I'm convinced persistence will pay off :)

  5. Thank you, Angela and Jon! Your encouragement really makes a difference. It's not hard to feel isolated and discouraged doing this writing thing, and when people take time out of their day to show me support, it means a lot.

    I have been doing some reading on marketing and I'll probably try a few new things, like writing press releases for the books. It's so much work! No wonder Hocking went traditional. Still, if I went traditional they'd no doubt make me market my own books, at least at this point in my career. :)