Thursday, June 11, 2009

Amazon Kindle Numbers

Elsewhere on the Internets, people have been referring to my previous posts about the Amazon Kindle (here and here) and one of the things they were interested in is numbers.

So here they are. Thoughts, explanations, and predictions to follow.

AFRAID
by Jack Kilborn, a horror novel, was released on the Kindle on April 1. During the first month of its release, it was available for $1.99 on Kindle. During that month, it sold over 10,400 copies.

SERIAL by Jack Kilborn and Blake Crouch was released for free on the Kindle May 20th. It's a horror novella. As of June 10, it has been downloaded on Kindle more than 34,000 times. SERIAL also appears on www.blakecrouch.com, and has had 12,000 downloads, along with 7000 downloads from the Sony Reader website.

Both AFRAID and SERIAL were released by my publisher, Grand Central. They promoted both titles on Amazon using sidebars on Amazon.com, and on the Amazon Kindle blog.

On April 8th, I began to upload my own books to Kindle. As of today, June 11, at 11:40am, here is how many copies I've sold, and how much they've earned.

THE LIST, a technothriller/police procedural novel, is my biggest seller to date, with 1612 copies sold. Since April this has earned $1081.75. I originally priced it at $1.49, and then raised it to $1.89 this month to see if the sales would slow down. The sales sped up instead.

ORIGIN, a technothriller/horror occult adventure novel, is in second place, with 1096 copies sold and $690.18. As with The List and my other Kindle novels, I upped the price to $1.89.

SUCKERS is a thriller/comedy/horror novella I wrote with Jeff Strand. It also includes some Konrath and Strand short stories. 449 copies, $306.60.

DISTURB is a medical thriller. 371 copies, $234.21.

SHOT OF TEQUILA
is a crime novel featuring Jack Daniels. 342 copies, $164.02.

55 PROOF is a collection of 55 short stories. 217 copies, $138.99.

PLANTER'S PUNCH is a Jack Daniels novella I co-wrote with Tom Schreck. 154 copies, $107.10.

DIRTY JOKES & VULGAR POEMS is a collection of over 1000 of my Twitters, one-liners, and funny poems. 37 copies sold, $18.57.

So far on Kindle I've earned $2781.35 in 64 days.

PRICING: I've kept my collaborations priced at $1.59, and upped my other books to $1.89. Also, I reduced the price of my poetry collection to 80 cents.

What I've learned about pricing: Not much. I went on some Kindle forums and asked what the magic price point is, and got answers ranging between free and five bucks.

I've kept my books under two bucks for several reasons. First, because my intent is to use these books to hook readers and get them to buy my other, in-print titles. I give these same books away on my website for free, so charging Kindle users more than a few bucks doesn't seem fair.

That said, raising the price from $1.59 to $1.89 didn't cause any drop in sales or Amazon ranking. In fact, my Kindle numbers have been steadily going up.

I don't know what the perfect combination of price/profit is... yet. Authors make 35% of their suggested retail price (Amazon then discounts this.) So I can raise the price, sell fewer books, but still make a greater profit.

For me, however, this isn't all about profit. It's about units sold. Which also gets confusing.

UNITS SOLD: Pricing doesn't seem to be much of a factor in units sold, as my lowest price book is also my worst seller, and there doesn't seem to be any correlation between price and sales.

What I've learned about units sold: Nothing. I have no clue why The List, which is a fun technothriller about cloning, is outselling Origin, which is about a secret government compound studying Satan. In fact, on my website, Origin has been downloaded 2675 times, and The List only 2223.

Even stranger is SHOT OF TEQUILA, which is a Jack Daniels tie-in novel. I'm known for my JD books, and there is a pre-existing audience for them. Yet the Kindle version is very much underperforming compared to my other three novels, even though I have sold more than 300 copies of it on my website for 99 cents.

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION: I've tweaked all of my product descriptions several times, playing with the wording and the formatting. I didn't see any noticeable uptick or downtick with any changes I've made.

What I've learned about product description: I believe the product description should sing, but the genre of the book may be more important than the description. I think my best and most provocative description is for the poem book, which is selling poorly.

Category listings and keywords seem to be just as important, if not more important, than the description, because this is how people browse for titles.

COVER ART: People do judge books by their covers, and the covers I've uploaded to Kindle aren't good.

What I've learned about cover art: Not much. I redid the cover art on the poetry book, and it apparently did nothing. Of course, the new art may be just as ugly as the old art.

I'm having a professional cover done for TEQUILA to see if that improves sales. I'll keep everyone posted.

NAME RECOGNITION: Having seven books in print does make it easier for people looking for my books to find them. But there are other authors doing just as well or better than I am on Kindle, and they've never been traditionally published.

What I've learned about name recognition: It may not be as important as other criteria.

QUALITY OF WRITING: Do good books sell better than bad books? Is it even possible to judge quality objectively?

What I've learned about quality of writing: Amazon reviews and Kindle previews (which allow people do download a sample before buying) should have a long range impact on sales. I would think poor reviews will sink a book, or poor writing will result in it not being downloaded, or it being returned (Kindle books can be refunded.)

But I'm not sure if this is a deciding sales factor yet, because the Kindle is still so new, and because people are buying cheap Kindle books but aren't reading them right away.

I also have to look at SERIAL, which has gotten more than twenty 1 star reviews, and is still being downloaded 1000 times per day.

Perception of quality ultimately dictates if a person will buy your next book, but may not be a factor in them trying your first book. For two bucks, why not try it? And if it sits on the Kindle without being read for a year, it isn't helping or hurting your future sales.

But good reviews do help sales, just like a good cover and a good product description does. I just haven't figured out how much yet...

CONCLUSIONS

It's hard to draw any conclusions, because there just isn't enough data. But there are some things I'm noticing.

1. Publisher releases vastly outsell author releases. This seems obvious, but a publisher can buddy-up with Amazon and get primo placement. Authors can't do this on their own.

2. Price matters. All of my ebooks (even the poetry one) are on the genre bestseller lists, outselling name-brand authors. I'm sure this is because of price.

3. Being active on the Kindle forums, in newsletters, and on Amazon, may do more for sales than your cover, your description, your reviews, or even your writing. The key is to make people aware of your books. The more awareness there is, the more you'll sell.

Once you're on a bestseller list, that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. People browse the lists, see your book, buy your book, you stay on the lists.

4. Novels outsell short stories. It's like this in print as well, but my numbers confirm it.

5. No one buys poetry. Even outrageously funny poetry.

6. My technothrillers are doing much better than my medical thriller and my crime novel. Is this because more Kindle owners like technothrillers? It seems so.

GOALS:

1. To get professional cover art for all of my Kindle books.

2. To release a Kindle exclusive novel at a slightly higher price point ($2.99) under JA Konrath to see how it does.

3. To release a Jack Kilborn/J.A. Konrath short story on Kindle for 99 cents to see how it does.

I'm not sure what the future holds for the Amazon Kindle. I'm currently earning $90 a day, with no signs of slowing down. Now that the Kindle DX was released, I expect my numbers to rise.

With 1.5 million Kindles sold, I could sell 200 books per day, for 720 days, and still only reach 10% of all Kindle buyers. If we include all of the iPhone and iPod Touch owners who can download a Kindle ap, along with continued Kindle sales, I should be able to sell quite a few books before coming close to saturating this market.

If the $90 per day trend keeps up, that's $32,850 a year. Not a huge amount, but not chump change either.

I'll keep everyone updated. And FWIW, in the time it took me to write this blog entry, I made $16 on Kindle...

92 comments:

Ty Johnston said...

Okay, Joe, you're recent blog posts finally convinced me. I'm running a little test of my own, self-publishing (which I swore I'd never do) a short story collection called "Preludes" on the Kindle. Just testing the waters to see if a no-name writer can accomplish anything there.

Anonymous said...

Afraid sold 10,400 copies at $1.99 in April.

What did the price go up to in May? How many copies were sold in May?

Boyd Morrison said...

Ty, if it's done right, self-publishing on the Kindle can be indistinguishable from traditional publishing. As long as you have a nice cover and a well-written description, it can be difficult for a Kindle buyer to tell the difference. About the only way is if they look at the publisher line in the description. Even a low price doesn't necessarily stand out in a bad way. Many traditionally published authors have free or cheap books listed.

Joe, I agree that it's hard to draw conclusions about what works. My lowest price novel had sold the fewest number of copies, but that may also be because of the subject matter or because it was my first novel and a little less polished than my others.

I agree that technothrillers seem to be dominant on the Kindle. My action/adventure novel, The Ark, has been my biggest seller, and I think it's because the description makes it clear that it's similar in style to Clive Cussler and James Rollins novels (and having a James Rollins blurb hasn't hurt). I do think there's a pricing threshold at $2, where buyers will put more thought into it before they click the "Buy" button.

Stacey Cochran said...

I posted about you at First Offenders on Monday, Joe. My exact words were "most of us have read Konrath’s blog talk the past few weeks. If you haven’t, you need to go read his blog."

I also mentioned Boyd, John Rector, and Sam Landstrom as exemplary Kindle authors.

Share the wealth of knowledge, I say.

THE COLORADO SEQUENCE is making another run at the top 100 milestone today!

JA Konrath said...

What did the price go up to in May? How many copies were sold in May?

I haven't seen the May figures for Afraid yet. But at $5.59, Afraid still seems to be selling well, ranking at around #450.

Origin is also ranking around #450, and it is selling between 20-30 copies per day.

Anonymous said...

So, AFRAID was selling about 346 copies a day at $1.99 ($692/day in retail sales) and then went down to 20-30 copies a day at $5.59 ($161/day retail sales).

Just a guess, but I think the $5.59price point is too high for a MM, or any book where the author isn't already well known.

It would be interesting to lower it again to $1.99 and see what happens.

Maria said...

I've been in a few discussions on price point and arrived at this price point for me as a reader: $2.50. Why? Because for 2.50 I can interlibrary loan a book. Anything under that represents a saving and a "give it a try."

You get much over that, especially if I don't know the author, and I won't buy it as an e-book no matter the format (kindle, pdf, download, whatever). I'd rather just ILL it and see if I like the author first.

The List is selling well because it's good. :>)

Thanks for sharing this info--really great!

Mike Cane said...

Thanks, J.A. These are the kind of real-life numbers I've been waiting for writers to publish. Very interesting and helpful.

JA Konrath said...

Anon - I've asked both of my publishers to keep my ebooks at $1.99.

But that opens up a big dilemma for publishers.

At $1.99, that would undoubtedly sway more people to buy digital than print, which would hurt print sales.

Print sales are what keep publishers in business, and the people who work their employed.

If publishing switched entirely to digital, a lot of people would be out of work. And it could be said (according to some number crunchers) that profits could go way down, because mark-up goes way down.

Stephen King is going to sell X number of books at any price. If X is $19.95, it's more money for everyone than if X is $1.99.

So a low price for ebooks across the board could hasten the end of print and shrink profits.

Then there comes the obvious question: what do publishers actually do for books? Well, they edit, print, and distribute.

With printing and distributing no longer needed, are publishers still needed?

As of now, yes. But don't expect them to lower their ebook prices anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

"At $1.99, that would undoubtedly sway more people to buy digital than print, which would hurt print sales."

I'm not sure I agree with that premise. It's my guess that someone who spends $350 to buy the Kindle reader basically stops buying paper books. So, you're either going to sell your book to them in Kindle format or you're not. Obvsiouly, price then plays a huge role in whether that sale takes place or not.

JA Konrath said...

A lower price for ebooks, and eventually a lower price for ereaders, will make more people switch to ereaders for cost as much as the many other features.

It isn't in the best interest of print publishers to have a low cost ereader with low cost ebooks. That will definitely hurt print sales.

Noel said...

Thanks for breaking all that down again. I hope at whatever time I'm ready to go the route of publishing that I've learned all I can from people like you that are passing along great information.

Stacey Cochran said...

More data to chew on.

So far in June, I've sold 573 copies of The Colorado Sequence.

CLAWS has sold 386 copies.

Both books are priced exactly the same. I'm marketing them on the forums the exact same way. If anything, I should actually be selling more of CLAWS because it's the book I'm on blog tour for and it's a leaner novel with a more focused concept.

All I can figure is that The Colorado Sequence got on a couple of sci-fi & thriller bestseller lists at Amazon at the start of the month, and that visibility has led to exponentially more sales.

Also, Kindle buyers may be more interested in a James Rollins / Clive Cussler / Dan Brown kind of thriller (which The Colorado Sequence looks like) than a darker thriller/horror novel like CLAWS.

It certainly has got me thinking about how to package and market a book via its cover, blurbs, and description.

Blue Tyson said...

The 1.89 - 1.59 thing is interesting.

Do you think people are using price as an indicator of length, too? Too cheap = either free online elsewhere or a short story?

Henry Perez said...

You didn't discuss FLOATERS in your blog, so allow me.

For those who don't know, FLOATERS is a novella Joe and I wrote featuring our series protagonists, Alex Chapa and Jack Daniels, working together to solve a series of murders. It's fast and funny.

It originally appeared in the short story collection, MISSING. For the Kindle edition, we each added a short story, there's a discussion between Joe and I, as well as a few other goodies.

FLOATERS for Kindle launched on May 28th, so far we have sold 78 units at $1.59. At one point, FLOATERS was number 18 on the Kindle list of bestselling police procedurals.

These numbers seem pretty good, considering that FLOATERS hasn't received anywhere near the kind of push or attention that SERIAL got.

On Monday, June 8, a week after my debut thriller KILLING RED officially hit store shelves everywhere, Joe and I made FLOATERS available as a free download on my website, www.henryperezbooks.com, and Joe mentioned it in his newsletter. In the past four days there have been 291 downloads off my site.

I'm not sure what to make of these numbers. It's tricky to measure anything against SERIAL, not only because two large publishers are behind it, but also because it's free. A lot of folks would download their neighbor's grocery list off Kindle if they didn't have to pay for it.

There's no question in my mind that ebooks are going to be a huge part of the future of publishing, and that future may arrive sooner than many folks expect. But I think it's still difficult to predict how it's all going to work.

There's a lot of trial and error still to come.

Ty Johnston said...

Henry, what you said about the future coming faster than many might think is what has me most intrigued. Until a year ago, I was a newspaper journalist. Not now. Probably not ever again. I knew newspapers were dying, but hell, I figured they at least had another 20 years left in them. Not now. And I'm wondering if something similar isn't going to be happening to book publishers over the next few years. And when it hits, it'll hit hard and it'll hit fast.

JA Konrath said...

Thanks for chiming in, Henry.

While the future of ebooks and print books may be difficult to predict, I'm 100% certain of one thing.

Ebooks are going to continue to sell in higher numbers.

IMO, as fantastic as the Kindle is, it is still too highly priced to be embraced by the masses.

Wait until someone makes a $99 ereader that is sold everyone--drug stores, supermarkets, department stores, airports--just like MP3 players are.

Then we'll see the revolution.

Linda Chavis said...

Interesting but I must say, as a reader, I have no interest in Kindle. I love holding a book. As an aspiring author I suppose I have to think about this in terms of marketing. Thanks for the insight.

JA Konrath said...

Linda, you're not alone. Many people love paper books, and see no reason to switch to ebooks.

But...

If you've ever used a Kindle for more than a few minutes, you'll see what the fuss is about.

I never thought I'd give up my CDs and stereo system. Then iPod came along.

Michele said...

I loved Serial, since I was trying my new Kindle out. Will be reading all of your books.

http://michellemuto.wordpress.com/ said...

Really interesting. So much so, that I've referenced this post on my blog.

I'm also wondering if people are realizing that reading gives them more entertainment bang for the buck during this craptastic economy.

Morris Rosenthal said...

JA,

I'd appreciate if you drop me a line to talk about your Kindle numbers. I've been following Amazon rankings for ten years, and just yesterday I finally got around to adding a section on Kindle sales. Through the public data on Amazon, it was fairly easy to build an curve to proportion Kindle ranks to regular book ranks, but it would be nice to have some more data for the actual sales.

I'm commenting from my regular gmail/blogger account, so you should be able to reach me directly without a problem.

Morris Rosenthal

Automotive Intelligentsia said...

Thanks for the info. I recently published the first Kindle new-car compendium, "Automotive Intelligentsia 2009-2010 Sports Car Guide," and it's only been selling so-so. I originally priced it at $6.99, then dropped the price a buck (Amazon sells it for $4.79) and saw a small boost in sales, though it's still at a relative handful. I have a professional looking cover and snappy description, but maybe I have to try selling it at a price that makes it more of an impulse buy. I have to give it a quick update in the light of the recent GM doings, so I might cut the price to $2.50 for a couple of weeks and see how that goes. I'm working on followups on luxury and hybrid/electric cars, and maybe cheaper is the way to go there, too.

Jim Gorzelany

Mediaman said...

When AnyThing, AnyTime, AnyWhere (AAA) gets established (soon,I hope-probably a few years though) the problem will be getting "noticed" as it is today for so many aspects of marketing. And, it's getting worse.
I recently wrote of an Internet New Movie First Release called "Mission Impossible 5," in which our erstwhile operative, aka Tom Cruise, gets 20,000,000 Pay-Per-Views of this action flick, at Twelve Dollars each, grossing $240,000,000 in two hours. Think I should raise the price to Fifteen Dollars or go for the high volume marketplace? What is the right price?
The marketplace determines the price equilibrium between a willing and informed buyer, and an informed seller. Auction markets best perform this function.
maybe you could try a quasi-auction marketplace in which "Name your Price." is offered. Who knows? You can't drive up the price by limiting supply-the supply is endless. Only desirability and Content will drive the price.
The problem with Creative Content is that "one man's meat is another's poison."

Zoe Winters said...

Hey, this is really interesting! Thanks for sharing these numbers. I published a paranormal romance novella on the Kindle in November that has sold about 1,400 copies now. Which isn't too bad for a complete unknown.

As I build an author platform online, I hope to grow those numbers. It's very encouraging to see what you're doing though and to see the potential already out there with Kindle sales.


My novella is priced at the lowest price point because I also have it free in other formats. It would be free on Amazon if they would allow individual author/publishers to do that.

My "free" may in some way be cannibalizing Kindle sales, or may not be. This was a bit of test marketing before I release my first book length work in trade paperback, kindle, and other e-formats. And also because I wanted to get myself into the "Amazon system."

I haven't really been active on the Kindle boards, or doing marketing to actively drive Kindle sales which I really need to start doing.

That $90 a day you're making is certainly nothing to sneeze at and congrats on what you're doing. I hope you keep us updated.

Stacey Cochran said...

Hey, folks, I did a guest blog appearance today at podioracket.com

I mention this here because the folks at podioracket are looking for authors to interview, and they have a very strong listener following and readership.

Just let them know you're an author, that Stacey Cochran suggested you get in touch with them, and that you'd like to do an interview on their show about your book.

Here's my guest blog post there today.

Good luck!

Simon Haynes said...

I've been offering Hal Spacejock book one through my website for 12 months now, and recently hit 55,000 downloads. The next three books in the series are available in ebook format via my publisher's website, but it looks like they should definitely be exploring Kindle versions. (I just sent them a link to your post, so thanks muchly for coming out with these stats and figures!)

Stacey Cochran said...

Hey, Joe, I'm guest blogging today over at NakedAuthors.com about my worst dating mishaps and how I found my wife.

Come laugh at my suffering and awkwardness. It's fun!

Nick Kelly said...

Great to hear, Joe. Thanks for the temperature reading. Neither Stacia nor myself have enough material available to get the type of reading you have. Glad to hear the way you're testing certain criteria to see what gets an uptick or a downtick. Will be watching. :)

Kathryn Magendie said...

Interesting.....I have no idea how my novel is doing on Kindle, guess I'll find out later....

Anne Frasier said...

Joe, you have me hooked on this idea. 18 of my 19 books have reverted back to me. None were ever ebooks. And I love the idea of publishing something new on Kindle. Downside for me would be converting Word files to Kindle. Looks like a nightmare. Was this as hard as it looks? just glanced at Amazon's 72 pages of directions and code. ick.

JA Konrath said...

Thanks to all who chimed in on the comments so far.

Anne--Formatting for Kindle is a big pain in the ass. But, like anything else, it's learnable, mostly by trial and error.

I used three ways to various degrees of success.

1. Directly upload the MS Word .doc. Sometimes, with a simple document, this formats correctly without any big errors.

The errors I get most are indenting paragraphs--sometimes it doens't indent, sometimes it indets too far, when if goes from MS Word to Kindle.

If you have formatting errors, try:

2. Save a Word .doc as .html, remove as much of the formatting as possible (I use Find and Replace on the coding screen using Dreamweaver) and get it down to the bare minimum: bold, italics, paragraph ends, and indenting.

Don't bother with pagination, page breaks, justification, or anything extra.

Then save the html file as a .doc, and reupload to Kindle.

I haven't had good luck uploading html or pdf files to the kindle--they result in formatting errors for me.

I also haven't had much luck downloading the HTML file from the Kindle preview--it seems to add a lot of junk and is much easier (for me) to just convert to html in Word.

If that doesn't work:

3. Save your entire .doc file as txt. Then cut and paste back into a format-free .doc file, and reformat it (indent, italics, paragraphing) by handm and upload to Kindle.

These are the three things I've done to get my books formatted.

Again, trial and error is the only way to do this. You never know what little bit of code is throwing off your formatting, so trying removing a bit at a time and reuploading, and then do your global html replace.

If anyone has a better tutorial, please let me know.

JA Konrath said...

Attention any webmasters and coders:

I predict a new market for you: helping authors upload to Kindle.

I bet you could charge $25 to $50 for a document conversion, and if you're html savvy, you could probably convert a whole document in less than an hour...

Anonymous said...

I've had no problem directly uploading WORD to Kindle. It comes out perfect every time.

Boyd Morrison said...

Kindle conversion was a snap for my novels. I just saved my Word files as HTML files, and uploaded the HTML files straight to dtp.amazon.com. That was literally all I did. I have a Kindle, so I could check out the formatting, and it looks great. Some books I've bought on Kindle have no paragraph indenting, which is quite annoying, but my indenting came out fine. I use section breaks between chapters, and that wasn't a problem in the conversion.

Anne Frasier said...

Thanks, Joe, Anon, and Boyd for the great info. Results certainly do vary, and I've cut, pasted, and saved it all. Totally agree that someone could make some decent money converting files.

Ty Johnston said...

Ha! Joe, your prediction has come true. I've already seen a few Web pages out there offering conversion to the Kindle for a price.

Anne, my experience was much like Joe's. It was trial and error, and I had the most luck working with txt files.

My little ebook of four short stories, Preludes, has been up for four days and so far I'm averaging a buyer a day. Obviously that's next to nothing, but for a no-name writer like me (and considering it's four short stories instead of a novel ... I'm still considering that one), I think it's a decent investment so far.

Jon said...

Hi Joe,

Many thanks for the informative articles on the Kindle. I released my novel Parallax as an ebook exclusive in late March and have made very decent scratch from it. It definitely helps getting onto the bestseller lists on Amazon. Parallax did just that and the numbers shot up nicely. I've also just released a horror novel, Vicarious, which has yet to sell very many copies on Amazon. Interesting what subject matter can do for sales.

My question is with regards to promotion: what websites and forums do you visit to promote your Kindle works? I'm over on Kindleboards.com, but haven't found many others.

I'm sure sales will increase once my website is back up and functioning. As it is, I sell ebooks direct (.pdf has been the most popular format) so between direct and Amazon, it's definitely another great income stream for writers - even those of us traditionally published.

Thanks again for the info!

Best,
Jon F. Merz

Stacey Cochran said...

Hey, Jon, I just posted about your new book Vicarious on the Kindle discussion forum. Hopefully that'll drive a couple sales your way.

How did you get the word out about Parallax? It seems to have done pretty well.

Stacey Cochran
Author of The Colorado Sequence for 80 cents

Jon said...

Thanks Stacey! Is that over on Amazon?

I did a lot of tweets about Parallax and did some postings over on the kindleboard forums. Pretty much the same as I've done with Vicarious.

Best,
Jon

Stacey Cochran said...

Yes, the main Kindle discussion board on Amazon. I have a post titled "Books under 2 Bucks" and your book and a link to it is there.

I just downloaded and read the sample of Vicarious on my Kindle. It's very noirish, very good. I loved it. For some reason, it reminded of the very best Philip K. Dick, and I'm huge fan of PKD.

Maybe I could do an interview with you about your Kindle experience? Might help move some books.

SC
Author of The Colorado Sequence for 80 cents

Jon said...

That sounds great, Stacey - thanks! My email is jonfmerz AT verizon DOT net. Let's talk! Hopefully I can return the favor!

Stacia said...

1) hello....where the hell is my drinking partner :)
2) this rocks! You are the only person/writer I have run into who quantifies things....I swear..there's a math focused person in there hiding...

As a reader..I buy on covers, back covers...and recommendations.

As a writer, I lament over it ALL.

JA Konrath said...

Last week I did a Listmania for Amazon called Inexpensive Thrillers on Kindle less than $2.00.

Inexpensive Kindle Thrillers

Along with my books, I listed Boyd's, Stacey's, Rob Walker's, Lee Goldeberg's, Rector's, and now just added Jon F. Merz.

Promoting as a group does two things.

1. You can reach more people if other authors are promoting you.

2. When you're promoting other authors, it is less like self-promotion and more like helping readers find books, which readers enjoy.

Jon said...

Thanks Joe. Just did my own Amazon list HERE to reciprocate.

Also, did an interview with Perpetualprose.com this morning (don't know when it goes live) and gave a shout-out to Boyd & Stacey as authors selling great numbers despite not being "traditionally" published. Hope it helps, guys!

Anonymous said...

Jon mentioned pdf files on websites. I wondered about that too.

another question: can i use the original cover art, or does that belong to pub?

anne frasier

Haste yee back ;-) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Haste yee back ;-) said...

Sorry, the first post was written by my "morning" fingers. I've since tamed them...

Okay, I write and illustrate, so is an e-reader that accommodates both illustrations,(color - black and white pen n' ink) on the horizon? Kindle do this and I just don't know?

http://www.jacketflap.com/profile.asp?member=PYXX

or

http://robertwahl.blogspot.com/

Any info appreciated.

Haste yee back ;-)

Stacey Cochran said...

Thanks, Joe, for the mention on the list.

You wanna do an interview? I'd publish it at Kindleboards.com, the Amazon Kindle Discussion board, staceycochran.com, howtopublishabook.org, and onlinebookreview.org

That'll move some books.

I don't have your email address, though. Can you send?

Erik Williams said...

Thanks for posting all the data. It's been incredibly enlightening. So much so that I, too, have decided to post on Kindle. My horror novella "Gone, the Day" has been up since Saturday. http://www.amazon.com/Gone-the-Day-ebook/dp/B002D48LGQ/

Pretty good sales so far (just north of 30). I've posted in the Amazon forums and that seemed to help sales A LOT. Still no reviews up so it'll be interesting to see how those effect the numbers once they start coming in.

Keep the info coming. It's been extremely helpful.

Robert Burton Robinson said...

Joe, thanks for waking us up to the possibilities of Kindle.

After setting up my four suspense novels on the Kindle Store and adding this post to the Kindle Form, I started to see my rank rise for all four books.

This is great!

Stacey Cochran said...

Hey Erik,

If you can find your way to the "Books under 2 Buck" topic on the main discussion board at Amazon Kindle, you're more than welcome to post a link to your book there.

That'll move several copies.

Also would love to do an interview with you about your book, if you're interested.

Stacey
Author of The Colorado Sequence for 80 cents

Stacey Cochran said...

Same deal for you, Robert Burton Robinson. Feel free to post a link on my thread about your books.

Would love to do an interview with you also.

Stacey
Author of The Colorado Sequence for 80 cents

Robert Burton Robinson said...

Stacey, I just posted on your Kindle thread. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Recently, I've seen some absolute garbage rise to high rankings in Kindle. It makes me wonder if the authors are maniupulating the numbers somehow. Does anyone know if a kindle owner can download a free or cheap book over and over to make it look like it's selling?

Stacey Cochran said...

The Jon F. Merz Interview is live at onlinebookreview.org, our first official interview.

I'll roll out a wave of links to it in the next 24-48 hours at all of my sites and e-mail it as announcement to my 2,000 member database.

JA Konrath said...

Anne-- Cover art belongs to the cover artist and the publisher. You would need permission.

Haste-- I've heard that someone just refined color e-ink, so we'll see it eventually. E-ink and e-paper is the technology that removes screen flicker, so there is no eyestrain.

Stacey-- My email is on my website.

Anon--AFAIK, there is only one download allowed per book per Kindle owner. If you want to download the same book twice, you have to return a copy for a refund. Too many returns and your Kindle account gets banned.

As for "absolute garbage" reaching high rankings, everyone has an opinion, all opinions are valid, and there doesn't have to be a correlation between popularity and what an individual thinks is quality.

Anonymous said...

When I see no-name people with unknown books, weird product descriptions and clip-art covers immediately jump into the top 1-2 percent Kindle sales rankings as soon as they upload something, it makes me very curious how that's happening.

Erik Williams said...

Sure, Stacey, I'm interested in an interview. Let me know what has to happen to set it up.

Oh, and thanks for directing me to your thread on the forum. Very helpful.

-Erik

Jenna said...

"If the $90 per day trend keeps up, that's $32,850 a year. Not a huge amount, but not chump change either."

Joe, I love you, but you need to shush. $33k/year is well more than I make waiting tables six days a week. THAT *IS* HUGE!!

That's just your Kindle releases! Not even your advances or print books! YOWZA!!!

Well done! And thanks for the info. Of course, by the time I consider my novels ready for uploading, the market will be oversaturated, but I'm glad it's working for you!

Jenna said...

QUOTING JOE:
"Attention any webmasters and coders:

I predict a new market for you: helping authors upload to Kindle.

I bet you could charge $25 to $50 for a document conversion, and if you're html savvy, you could probably convert a whole document in less than an hour..."

I AM AVAILABLE FOR DOCUMENT CONVERSION!! :D

Just thought I'd put this out there. Joe, feel free to post this and my email if you'd like.

If you are interested, we can negotiate a price. The range that Joe mentioned above is fair, unless you have a really weird MS. You can email me at jennasaispas@gmail.com

-I have 27 years experience on computers and with coding
-I have a kindle to check the formatting
-I'm in the process of formatting Kindle editions for a major gaming company
-I'm in negotiations to format all the out-of-print works for a couple of my novelist acquaintance, and they've been on the NYT bestseller list... 17+ times!

Hi, my name is Jenna, and I will format your Kindle MS! jennasaispas@gmail.com

Stacey Cochran said...

Hey Erik,

I've added your blog to my blog roll at onlinebookreview.org and I've downloaded your book to my Kindle.

I'm going to read it right now, and will email you questions for our interview.

Thanks so much, man!

JA Konrath said...

When I see no-name people with unknown books, weird product descriptions and clip-art covers immediately jump into the top 1-2 percent Kindle sales rankings as soon as they upload something, it makes me very curious how that's happening.

I'm curious at the books you're talking about, anon. Name names.

ben said...

Joe, what about having a cover contest for your loyal readers to design a cover of one of your ebooks? I'm definitely interested.

JA Konrath said...

I love that idea, Ben.

Pat Mullan said...

Hi Joe,

Great discussion - of course I'd expect no less from you :)

I wrote a Backspace article on KINDLE :
http://www.bksp.org/index2.php?option=com_content&...

and I recommend Andrew Sullivan's June 14th article in the Tiimes:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnist...

I have put a few of my own pieces,as an experiment, on Kindle - some have sold, some have not. I'm planning to put some more substantial works on it. I have to use my US address to do so because, at this time, they're not accepting non-US (Europe) based writers - although I believe that they're planning a UK launch quite soon.

Happy Kindling!
Best, Pat

Haste yee back ;-) said...

I'd take a stab at the book cover! B&W pen and ink... will that translate well in E ink?

Haste yee back ;-)

Stacey Cochran said...

Hey, folks, my interview with Kindle author Erik Williams is now online.

Erik's insights into the Kindle and traditional publishing are spot on, as is his terrific novella 'Gone, the Day.'

I'm working on getting an interview with Robert Burton Robinson about his Greg Tenorly series, and of course, Joe, would love to publish one with you!

Rock on!

Stacey Cochran said...

A stroke of good luck...

my novels The Colorado Sequence and CLAWS are being paired with the #3 overall book on Amazon Kindle Dead Man's Rain as a "Customers Who Bought This, Also Bought" exclusive.

That pairing is driving a lot of sales this past 24 hours.

Anonymous said...

It's really a shame that a good blog like this one gets repeatedly clutter up with billboards from other people who contintually drone on and on about themselves, as if anyone cares. Why don't they just start their own blogs instead of polluting this one?

JA Konrath said...

Anon - While I appreciate you using my term "billboards" to describe promotional links leading from one place to another, I keep a pretty close watch on spam here.

I feel the authors posting comments in this thread are adding to the discussion by keeping us updated on their experiments and progress with the Kindle.

If the comments turned into blatant self promo, I'd start removing them.

Anne Frasier said...

*pant, pant*

formatting for kindle --

took me about 4 hours, but finally figured out what worked for me. at least once. :D after trying about 20 different approaches and variations with no luck, i finally dumped file in google docs, edited in html, saved in rich text and it came out fine. i think. only dealing with a short story, but this method took me about 10 min.

JA Konrath said...

@Anne - Cool. I expect you to have five novels uploaded and to be on the Kindle bestseller lists by next week. :)

Stacey Cochran said...

Data time. It's 2 PM Friday June 19.

So far in June I've sold: 1,523 copies.

At a 35-cent royalty rate that's: $533.05

If I'm able to consistently approach a thousand bucks a month, I will be very, very grateful.

If sales drop off entirely tomorrow, I will still be very, very grateful.

Thanks so much, everyone, for such an informed, passionate discussion on books.

And thanks so much, Joe, for your tireless enthusiasm, intelligence, and good humor.

The Colorado Sequence for 80 cents

CLAWS for 80 cents

Jenna said...

WOW! Well done, Stacey! :D

I noticed that you are #1 in 2 sci-fi sub categories also! Good job!

What else are you doing to market these?

Anonymous said...

Absolute garbage or not, the question is valid about the old trick of manipulating the numbers to induce people to buy a product blind, thinking they're picking something hot. A cousin of mine did that on Amazon.com, moving her not-garbage-but-not-hot book into the 4,000s. It didn't stay there long, but she did it. So, anybody know if this can be done on Kindle too?

jayfrasco said...

Thanks for so much for all helpful info on this site. I don't own a Kindle...yet. My question is, do illustrations transfer, or is it only text? Also, would anybody know or have experience selling YA ebooks via Kindle?

JeffBach said...

Good thoughts here. I have a Kindle formatted book up in Amazon. I am doing it one chapter at a time in a serial sort of way. So far so good,I am enjoying the writing exercise immensely. Sales-wise my overwhelming discovery is the simple act of getting discovered. We, as authors, can all run around and post on forums and talk on Authonomy etc., but this mostly seems to be communicating solely with other authors. I'm sure you all are great people, but authors are lousy book buyers :) I need to fish where the fish are. Which gets me right back to my beginning point, whether book or kindle or even web page, getting people to simply be aware of you is the overwhelming topic and tends to prove the value of the traditional publisher model. I can see it clearly now. We live in a huge world with infinite choices. The resources of a single author is simply not enough to attract enough attention. This is the value of a traditional publisher. They have more money and more clout. Same old same old grrr :) :(

TaB said...

Maybe the sales go up (not necessarily because the price did) but because of word of mouth. It takes time for people to buddy read / discuss a book and get the word out.
I know I won't be paying a lot of money for an ebook. I purchase a ton of books a year and price is definitely a consideration.

Katlynne LaSalle said...

Thank you for being so open about your Amazon.com Kindle experience. I've published an erotic novel that is available in paperback and Kindle form. I think the cover art attracts readers to my books. I've published it under 2 different titles with 2 different covers. One cover and title is outselling the other 2 to 1. The $4.99 Kindle versions of both are outselling the $14.88 paperback versions 2 to 1.

I can gather from your info. that I should write more novels and publish them in Kindle form. The titles of my books are "Her Husband Made Her Do Him," and "Life on the Low:Creepin' With Hip Hop."

Best wishes for continued success. I will definitely go to Amazon soon and purchase one of your "Jack Daniels" Kindle books. Sounds extremely intruiging!

Anonymous said...

As far as I can see, no one here has mentioned the vital importance of the first free chapter. Having that allows people to make an informed decision on purchase, independent of cow-catchers like cover, blurb, price. That first chapter is vital to get right - linked TOC, proper introduction, embedded b&w cover, good formatting, no typos, great opening...

Generalissimo said...

This sounds great, but will you be blackballed by big traditional publishing houses if you first publish on Kindle? What if you still hold out hope for signing a deal with a traditional publisher? Does publishing on Kindle turn you into an untouchable?
Thanks.

Wodke Hawkinson said...

Thank you so much for putting this information out there. It is very helpful.

jennie said...

Hi thanks so much for your posts I will follow with much interest as I am considering self-publishing my Young Adult romantic novel, cheers.
http://welshjensblog.blogspot.com

Lauren F. Boyd said...

This is a great post! As I writer, sometimes I think about getting into self-publishing, so this really was interesting and eye-opening. Thanks for all your research - keep us posted on what else you learn.

Dean Barrett said...

Joe and Barry are doing a fantastic job of shaking up the publishing industry in a way that benefits writers. After lots of stalling, even I finally went over to the Dark Side and have put some of my titles up on Kindle and Nook, especially the detective novels, Permanent Damage and Skytrain to Murder. Or is it that writers have been existing in the Dark Side all along and are now seeing the Light?

Shar McBee said...

Joe,
If you sell multiple copies of a book (sometimes an organization buys 500 copies of my book about how to attract volunteers) do you think an e-book is a good idea?

I've been dying to try an e-book, but don't want to give up the multiple buyers.

Any thoughts?

Andrew said...

Thanks for that Joe, I have taken your comments on board. I am in the first stages of self-publishing my first book (OOBE) on Kindle and it was, in a strange way, comforting to read your inconclusions.

A.G. Claymore said...

Bought 'Origin' and read it over the weekend. The opening, with Roosevelt at the canal, is very strong and hooked me in for a solid weekend of ignoring family. Maybe the price needs to be raised? Kind of like when I got rid of an old bike by locking it securely to the front step railings....
Not that 'Origin' is an old bike, it reads like an OCC chopper.

phaans said...

Read over 3500 book with Kindle

The Amazon Kindle is an e-book reader developed by Amazon dot com subsidiary Lab126 which uses wireless connectivity to enable users to shop for, download, browse, and read e-books, newspapers, magazines, blogs, and other digital media.The Kindle hardware devices use an E Ink electronic paper display that shows up to 16 shades of gray, minimizes power use and simulates reading on paper.

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LuLuC1nda said...

I just don't know how to get my book to look right on the Kindle... I preview it and the size is all wrong... I am so frustrated... I just wanted to test the waters and see if I could make a bit of chump change...
Help?

Dianne Durante said...

I'm relieved to see some hard numbers on sales: thanks so much for posting these and your other comments. I've released as Kindle books 6 illustrated articles on art that were no longer available in print - am very happy that they're out there again. After sweating over their formatting for months, I ended up writing a guide to Kindle publishing: Step-by-Step Kindle Publishing, now available on Amazon.