“Do Over!” by the numbers

Okay, remember, it’s way, way early here. But I’ve had “Do Over!” on sale for almost two weeks, and thought I’d give my thoughts and observations about epublishing as it stands today.

For my newish readers, I’ve been in the epublishing game for a long, long time. About a dozen years ago I co-founded a website called “Free ePress” that published original works on the honor system—we gave the books away for free and asked people to pay us what they thought the story was worth (an idea that came to me after watching a festival of street performers here in Denver, writing as busking).

Since then, I’ve been published on eReader, Fictionwise and other smallish, pre-Kindle ebook sites. I’ve watched the ebook industry mature from an outlandish “why would anyone read a book on their Palm Pilot?” goofball idea to now the almost certain future of publishing as brick and mortar stores close and disappear.

“Do Over!” is my first book to be published on Amazon (and, oddly, Barnes & Noble, considering they bought Fictionwise, which already carries it). It’s a novella rather than a full-length novel, so I priced it accordingly at 99 cents, even though that puts me outside Amazon’s 70% royalty range.

So how has it done in two weeks? The first week, I sold 14 copies, netting me a total of $4.90 in royaties. The second week that firehose tapered off, and I sold 4 copies for a $1.40. So in the first two weeks, I’ve taken in $6.30. The upside is that’s not enough to declare to the IRS, so that whole $6.30 is tax-free, baby. Sales rank is #81,546 in all paid books available on Amazon. Eat that, #81,547!

Ahem.

Oh, and on Barnes & Noble? Zero copies. You disappointment me, nookers.

Over the weekend, I changed the description marketing copy on Amazon to give a bit more detail.

Before:

Richie Preston is a loser, in every sense of the word. He never moved out of his parents’ house, still works a dead end job and lost out on the love of his life.

But when the fates give him a second chance, he has the opportunity to live his senior year of high school all over again, only this time remembering where he went wrong. All he has to do is make sure he doesn’t interfere in the lives of others, and he can start over.

If you had the chance, would you make the choice?

After:

Richie Preston is 27 years old and still lives in his parents’ house, still works at a dead end job, lost his great love, still hasn’t really begun his life.

One day the fates smile on him and give him the opportunity to start over, to go back to being 17 and about to start his senior year of high school, only this time with all the memories of what he did wrong the first time. All he has to do is not interfere with anyone else’s life. It sounds like a great deal, but living up to his end of the bargain turns out to be harder than Richie ever imagined.

If you had the chance, would you make the choice?

I also changed the genre to YA (or “Juvenile Fiction” in Amazon parlance), given that the main character is in his senior year of high school. No idea if this will help, but at least I’m trying something.

I know I probably shouldn’t be, but I’m underwhelmed. I’m in need of some serious whelming. I know a 16,000 word novella is a tough sell even at 99 cents, and I know I’m not exactly a household name. But Joe Konrath makes this sound so easy (maybe I should quit taking writing advice from guys named Joe). Evidently, selling ebooks is a self-reinforcing system. Once you reach a certain critical mass of sales, they just keep building (see Konrath, Amanda Hocking, etc.). But getting to that point in the first place is a bit trickier.

The trick, it seems, is volume. Right now I’m seeing the level of success you’d expect from someone with only one book, and that a novella, in the store. Hocking has nine. Konrath has over a dozen (accounting gets tricky as he has several collaborations that aren’t just him). So maybe when I get the first Unification Chronicles trilogy done and posted they’ll feed each other. What I have learned is that one book squeaking plaintively in the Amazon isn’t going to get noticed much.

(squeak.)

And still. That’s 19 (I sold another one over the weekend) people I’ve entertained that I hadn’t a month ago. 19 people I maybe gave something to think about.

That’s something.

4 thoughts on ““Do Over!” by the numbers”

  1. I have a novella epublished by a small press epublisher. Granted, they’re an awesome publisher, and do a lot of pushing for themselves, and it’s not the same as self-published ebook situations. But I myself did a very small amount of marketing for it, and have almost no online presence under that name.

    The results were very poor… I thought at first. First month, 40 bucks. I thought, wow, that was a lot of words to only get 40 bucks. After that it tapered off to about 20 bucks a month on average.

    But it’s now two years later. It’s slowed down now, not getting much some months, 20 on really good months. But cumulatively… I’ve made MUCH more on that novella than I will on the print novella I’m having published mainstream. Almost a thousand bucks, total.

    Ebook success should be measured over time, as well as supporting one another over several publications. Have some faith and give it some time. See if it’s made money two years from now before you decide whether it was succeed or fail.

  2. After reading your blog, I went over to Amazon and bought "Do Over" and spent the next half hour consumed by it. I hate the cliche but it was thought provoking. Please, KEEP WRITING!!!! I'm always looking for thought provoking books. When you're gone your writings will be your legacy. 
    Thank you. 

  3. Thanks! I’m working on the final revisions for Revelation, the first book in the Unification Chronicles series. This is the book I wrote for NaNoWriMo 09, and I’m working with a professional editor to make sure it’s as good as it can be. I plan to release it sometime this spring, then get to work on the second book in the series.

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