"" Rob Parnell's Writing Academy Blog: Tracking Your Book Sales

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Tracking Your Book Sales

This Week's Newsletter

Dear Fellow Writer,

Now at Number One in the Education and Writing Skills chart:

Fast and Furious: Writing for Amazon and Kindle (The Easy Way To Write)
Click the link to get this brand new writing resource for just ONE DOLLAR!

Keep Writing!

Your Success is My Concern

Tracking Your Book Sales
Tracking Your Book Sales

Are your books selling?

If you're with a traditional publisher, it's possible you don't know the answer to this question. And perhaps won't know for quite a while.

 When I published books offline for authors, it often drove them crazy that they couldn't find out about sales for months after the release of their books.

 It's not usually the publisher's fault. Offline distributors are notoriously un-together when it comes to reporting sales - mainly because it's a complicated business.

 Distributors have to supply books to bookstores on consignment and then wait to see whether they're going to receive the unsold copies back - a process that can take anything from thirty days to a year, or more.

 Plus, it's best not to hassle a distributor over these numbers because they're likely to snap and say they've sold none and return their 'stock' copies to the publisher just to get them off their back.

 Contrary to the hype, the majority of published books - around 98% - sell very few copies a day, perhaps less than ten to fifty globally, even if you're a competent mid-list author. Therefore, keeping accurate records of this trickle of sales can be time-consuming and is often labor-intensive.

 No wonder, then, that you may not know your own sales figures for a traditionally published book for a year or two, then hopefully six monthly after that.

 Writers often have to be patient. However, when you self-publish with Amazon, you at least have one less headache to deal with: your sales are updated hourly. You can get a good grasp on the popularity of your books just by logging on to your KDP reports page or your Amazon Author Central page. The latter will also give you access to your global author rank, your Nielson Ranking, and enable you to track the relative success of all your books in real time.  

 This kind of instant feedback is vitally important.

In the real world, it's unlikely a novel will be released unless a proven market can be found or is envisaged for a book. Many publishers will reject a book, no matter how good or well-written it is, if they believe there's insufficient demand for it - but this is often a qualitative judgment that cannot be verified.

 Amazon gives authors the ability to prove to literary agents and publishers, beyond doubt, that there is demand for their work. Assuming they would want to.

 What's happening more and more these days is that legacy publishers are approaching self-published authors and offering them contracts and advances, only to have those authors reject the offers because they realize the deals are one sided: they only favor the publisher and always remove the rights of the writers to control their own work.

 This is happening because traditional publishing is still out of step with the modern world. Over the last one-hundred years, publishers have systematically slashed royalties down from 90% of a book cover price to around 10%, or less. That's how they've stayed in business and grown so strong: by siphoning author royalties and giving themselves the majority of the profit.

 I'm not saying this is bad practice. Publishing is a business. I understand that. All I'm saying is that, once authors know better, you can't keep pretending the online digital revolution isn't going to replace The Big Five unless they start paying authors a more fair percentage.

 Not because writers should all be rich, but because mid-list authors often can't afford to keep writing under the current system UNLESS they go it alone and start using online distributors instead. At least there, they get a fair percentage, are paid monthly, and they can respond effectively to demand - or indeed, lack of demand.

 Many wannabe authors believe that their writing must improve until they are good enough to be traditionally published. Yes, this is how the system appears to work. But this is an illusion that Amazon has shown to be false.

 Writers become successful because their work is popular, not necessarily because it is well-written.

 This may seem obvious but it's surprising how few authors grasp this concept - and wonder why they receive countless rejections for books they might consider to be faultless masterpieces.

 The fact is that just because a book is flawless and well-written doesn't mean there will be any demand for it. At all.

 And, instead of struggling to be understood and appreciated by publishers, ambitious authors can now circumvent the system and discover for themselves, quickly, what sells and what doesn't - by, you guessed it, self-publishing through Amazon.

 Authors, in order to plan for success, need feedback. Real time, sales-based feedback
provides clues on how to capitalize on angles and hooks that might have appeal.

 Plus, of course, any review must be plundered and, if possible, brought to the attention of potential purchasers. Amazon, again, does this for you.

 Traditional publishers hold meetings about how well their books are selling on a regular basis.

 For a bestseller, once a week is not uncommon.

 This makes sense because book sales are the lifeblood of a publisher.

 As an independent author, you need to emulate this practice.

 You need to analyze how and why your books are selling - or not selling - on an ongoing basis and make adjustments to your strategies. Not just to your marketing strategies either, but sometimes to your writing strategies too.

 If you're ambitious, you may come to understand you may need to change what you write about to reflect the requirements of your potential readers.

 Plus, you'll need to decide when a book has run its course and it's perhaps time to move on to the next one.

 Authors tend to become successful empirically, as in, the more books they have available to the public, the more successful all of their books become.

 Stopping at just one book has never been the way of the career writer!

 If you're a wannabe author, focusing on getting your books onto Amazon Kindle initially is great start.

 At least there you have access to a huge potential audience - one that hopefully puts you ahead of the game.

 But there are, of course, other platforms.

 40% of all tablets out there, for instance, are iPads - and iStore has its own list of books that you might want to get listed on. Don't forget though, that iPads are now also Kindle compatible.

 Plus there's Kobo, CreateSpace, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Sony and a few others. All of these booksellers require slightly different formats - and there are different protocols associated with submitting your books to them.

 Of course, you still have the option of selling your own versions of your books from your website. These days, many online booksellers make no claim on your copyright - so you're usually free to publish on more than one platform, including your own.

 Try not to get sucked into the traditional publishing myth, would be my best advice.

In the modern world, writers have far better options than the relative slavery of being a mid-list Big Five author.

Keep Writing!

Rob Parnell



Sherlock Holmes

No comments:

The Writing Academy

Welcome to the official blog of Rob Parnell's Writing Academy, updated weekly - sometimes more often!