Friday, January 15, 2016

Final sales numbers 2015: a comparison

Well, Smashwords has updated the December Apple sales numbers in our dashboards and, as I catch my breath from a breakneck week of fiction and sportswriting, time to filter through everything. In addition, I'm going to do some comparisons to prior years. Break out your notepads, gang.

For reference: I am a professional writer from Massachusetts. I've been a sportswriter since high school, and I started writing my first novel in 2003. I have self-published my work since October 2009; since then, I've self-published 23 novels, plus short stories and novellas. To date, I've sold well over 10,300 copies of my novels and have given away in excess of 105,000 free copies of my first thriller, Model Agent, on various electronic platforms. My titles are available in all electronic forms, on many non-exclusive platforms, along with audiobook and trade paperback. I would call myself a "midlist indie author." Anyway...

All told in 2015, I sold 735 copies of my books. As I've said in recent blogs, 2015 was my worst sales year since 2010, when I sold 758 books that year.  Last year was a rather frustrating year, especially after the last few "good" years, where triple-digit sales months were the norm; in 2015, I had one triple-digit sales month (April, 119). Am I doing well? Not exactly in comparison to some authors I know, but I'm doing better than some other authors I know.

The by-platform breakdown is as follows:

Amazon properties (Kindle/trade paperbacks through CreateSpace/audiobooks): 414
Apple/Smashwords: 152
Kobo: 120
Nook: 49

As you can see, Amazon represented well over 50 percent of my total sales for 2015. I averaged a little over two sales per day.

In 2014, I sold 1,037 books (a little under three books a day), so I've dropped off a bit in my total sales. But Amazon properties, again, represented well over 50 percent of my sales (539, -125). Nook netted 127 sales for me in 2014 (-78), while Kobo resulted in 106 (+14). That means, if my math is correct, 265 books came from the Apple/Smashwords queue (-113). You can easily see where I've dropped off and where I've progressed.

Interesting, indeed. My writing has improved from book to book, but my sales are dropping. How to explain these numbers?

Honestly, I do not know the true reasoning. My hypotheses range from Facebook algorithm changes/drop in organic reach, lack of paid advertising on my part, and reader lifestyle changes, i.e. not having enough time to read due to job/family situations. It happens. Some readers may have found other authors. (I'm still here, and I'm not going away any time soon.) Those in the UK may have passed on me due to VAT rules, and some may have passed on me due to me not being in Kindle Unlimited. As I've written before, no one in my circle has Kobo for an ereader, and I've dutifully posted to Twitter and hashtagged my Kobo books; most of my Canadian sales come via Kobo.

While I've dropped, I'm not totally dismayed: My current 2016 numbers are along the same lines as last year (currently at 32 books for January, plus 14 Kindle pre-orders for Chemical Agent), but I suspect they'll rise as I revamp my business plan in 2016 and into next year.

At least that's my hope. We'll see as the year progresses.