I finally got a report from my publisher detailing my book sales from January, February and March.
As I touched on last month — yes, that did take a while. There was a delay of two months, to be exact.
This type of delay between the close of a sales quarter and a report of those sales is fairly normal in publishing, from everything I’ve learned from other writers and information available online.
So let’s take a look at how my novel is doing. Then, we’ll look at what efforts I have put into getting those sales.
Drum roll, please?
In the first quarter of 2016, I sold 197 books. These were all purchases from Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and CreateSpace.
Add to that the seven books I sold in the last quarter of 2015 (very early pre-sales — probably my mom), and as of the end of March, there were 204 copies of my book out in the world.
Assessing the data
In case anyone isn’t clear, those are not bestseller numbers.
However, the average book sells only 250 copies in its entire first year.
That’s not new authors. That’s an average.
It includes everyone from that guy who posted his book on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and did nothing else at all, all the way up to J. K. Rowling’s latest hit release.
In addition to this, my book was on soft-launch pre-sales for most of this period — it didn’t actually release with real promotion behind it until March 15. So most of those sales are likely from the last two weeks of the quarter.
I have another two weeks of launch promotions still to come in my second quarter data.
So I’m not popping champagne over here, but I’m not slamming my head against the wall, either. I’m not overwhelmed. I’m not underwhelmed.
Can you ever just be whelmed? I’m feeling pretty evenly whelmed.
The post-launch dip
This is a perfectly solid start. But following a book’s launch period, it’s extremely common for sales to take a dramatic dip.
But I’m nowhere near my goal of selling 1000 copies of my book within the first year. In fact, I’m starting out a little behind.
This means it’s time to step up those marketing efforts. Big time.
Thanks to my marketing and PR background, I was prepared to take steps to establish a strong foundation for my book marketing prior to my book release.
I have a website I’m happy with, I got some great professional headshots, and I have a pretty good blog and social media presence.
But if I’m going to reach my 1,000-sale goal, I’m going to need to step it up.
I’ve been studying some of my author peers, and when I can, I ask them about their marketing successes. I’ve also been researching online and doing my own brainstorming.
As a result, I’ve got some next steps in mind:
Hone my sales funnel
I activated Mailchimp automation so that I can engage new subscribers with a short series of emails that introduce them to my work, ask them what they’re reading, and then prompt them to buy my book with a small discount.
As the data comes in, I’ll tweak it to maximize the results.
I learned from talking to other writers that some things I generally consider best practices in social media are in fact holding me back. I’m shifting my focus away from sharing sci-fi/fantasy news and more toward interacting with individual followers.
I’m also making a point to share promotional posts about my book a few times a week. This goes against everything I’ve learned about social media, but it’s working for others, so it’s worth experimenting with.
Beat the pavement
Promoting my book online is comfortable for me because I don’t have to directly engage with anyone. But an author friend has been having a ton of success with in-person book events in her community, so I’m making myself get out there and give it a try.
I can handle a few hours of social discomfort, if it means more exposure for my book.
Time to step it up
My book sales so far are fine. Not outstanding, not terrible.
But with the inevitable post-launch sales dip coming, this is the time to step up my efforts.
Thanks to some research, creativity and insights from other authors, I’ve got big plans ahead.
Stay tuned—you can bet I’ll keep sharing what I learn along the way.
Authors, what’s your preferred way to promote your work? Online interaction, or in-person events?