Sunday, May 5, 2013

An Experiment of My Own

With William's experiment in mind I decided to conduct an experiment of my own with my latest release.  Storm Warning, my collection of short crime fiction set on the fictional St. Crescens, was uploaded to Amazon via KDP on 23rd April. I duly informed my FB and Twitter circles and over the next few days SW appeared at #32 in the Bestselling list of African-American Mysteries in the Kindle Store. It remained in the thirties for the most part that first week, rising once or twice to the lower 20s.  This ranking represented the sale of 12 ebooks at $3.49. (There are five stories in SW with a total page count of 167 pages or around 56,000 wds.)  SW also rose to #5 in the Hot New Releases on African-American Mysteries.

I'd entered SW in KDP Select and chosen two free days for the week after the launch. I spent some time combing through mystery blogs culling the email addresses of possible reviewers and checked who had been reviewing other crime fiction somewhat similar to mine.  I also listed it with a few of the free ebook listing services such as Awesome Gang and One Hundred EBooks.  I chose 1st and 2nd May for my free days since they fell in the middle of the week which I thought might help me avoid any weekend crush (if there are such things).  I didn't inform my FB friends or Twitter followers because I wanted to see what kind of boost these smaller listing sites would give me. On the free days, I contacted all the reviewers (about thirty of them) with a request for a review which included the blurb and a link to SW's page.

By the second day, SW had risen to #1 on the African-American Mysteries list and to #26 on the more general Fiction Literature Short Stories list.  On the other hand, it completely dropped off the Hot New Releases list I mentioned earlier. It got a total of 432 downloads. Since coming off Select, there have been no sales as of Saturday 4th May. None of the reviewers I contacted on the free days has gotten back to say they will do a review (which doesn't mean they won't but I thought I'd also make that point).

By contrast - when I launched Collision, one of the bigger stories in the collection as a novella on its own I'd only gone the FB and Twitter route and gotten more than 900 downloads but it didn't rise as high in the rankings.  This may be because Amazon's algorithms put a greater weight on higher-priced books or maybe because it rained in Timbuctoo those days, I have no idea.

So what are my conclusions? Actually, I'm not quite sure but the following are some of the things I'm thinking about:-

1.) Using social media certainly does make an impact on downloads and also on sales.  Sales, though by no means huge, originally drove SW up the rankings.

2.) Ebook listings can also help an author to reach new audiences.  I've noted, however, that few African-American authors are using these services - have they tried and concluded that the audience for their books doesn't make it worth the effort? When I have more titles out and can afford the expense I'll try one or two of the heavyweights like BookBub and EReader News Today to see what results I get.

3.)  I've also put another of my books, The Water of Sunlight, on sale at .99 and I've finally got more sales of that than I have fingers on one hand. :)

4.) Success, in terms of being able to make a living from my writing, will probably not come from genre hopping nor will it come from writing in genres that are not hugely popular such as historical fiction. If I'm not writing what lots of people want to read then I can hardly moan about not being read.  This doesn't mean I'm going to rush out and start in on a European billionaire vampire who embarks on a sexual odyssey with some virginal college student - no, I'm going to make my billionaire a werewolf! :)


Julie Luek said...

Oh the road to creative success. On one hand, you birthed a book you are proud of with writings from your heart-- and maybe that's the only hand we need to value. Commercial success is always a goal, but a bit like a strike of lightning, rarely having anything to do with what we do or don't do.

Charles Gramlich said...

An African American writer that I know who writes fantasy has done REALLY well in the last year with his collection, but he has blitzed the media, particularly facebook. His work has definitely attracted a lot of fantasy fans of writers like Robert E. Howard.

Liane Spicer said...

Thanks for sharing, Eugenia, and congrats on getting to the top of those rankings.

If we're putting our books in the stores then we're in the business of writing and commercial success is our goal. Here's hoping those free downloads net you more paying customers!

Liane Spicer said...

...and I've downloaded Water of Sunlight--couldn't let the .99 price pass me by. I'd love to buy all my friends' books at full price but the budget doesn't permit yet.

Do you have any idea why Amazon adds $2.00 to most Kindle downloads for my area but not to some? I have to pay $2.99 for most .99 books but I just got yours for .99 flat. Not that I'm complaining...

Eugenia O'Neal said...

Hmm, when I buy directly from my Kindle I get the lower price but if I'm on my desktop it shows a higher price. Don't know why that is but it encourages me to use the Kindle when purchasing.

Thanks for the buy!

William Doonan said...

This is really cool, Eugenia! And I agree with you conclusions - social media does increase sales, no doubt. But I have to admit then when I started publishing I was hoping to sell more than a few dozen books a month.

Carol Mitchell said...

Liane, it might also be the way that the authors set up the books.

Thanks for this insight, Eugenia. There is so much information to navigate it is overwhelming and very useful to read other people's experiences.

I can say that I purchased Storm Warnings, read, enjoyed and recommend it.

Eugenia O'Neal said...

William, I know what you mean but we're slowly building our readership. The more books we put out, the more our readership will grow. I know it. Ensuring we give the readers who like us what they want is key, though, I think. If somebody signs up to my blog or my newsletter because they liked Jessamine (historical fiction) but now they're hearing my news about Storm Warning (crime) they may be confused at best or, at worst, disinterested enough to opt out of my updates and I've lost a reader. So, for the other genres I'd like to try I'm going for pen names.

Carol - Thanks lots, lady!

Lynn Emery said...

Love the post with information on what you've done. Like you and William, I've found that Facebook ads increase sales. Last year my tiny sales doubled because of those ads. Now I'm finding that just after a few days of putting trailers on You Tube, sales are going up. These don't work for all authors, so those reports made me hesitate for a long time. So imagine my shock when I looked at the annual numbers for last year. Keep writing!