As I obsessively check sales figures, I'm trying to decide if what I'm seeing is good or not. (Reading articles about Amanda Hocking doesn't help.) How do we self-pubbed authors determine if we're successful? And I realized I never really set a bar for myself. I hadn't defined what success would be beyond a hazy concept of being able to quit my job and write full-time.
When I set Unicorn Bait and Scary Mary for free, I had no expectations. I knew I would get some downloads, but I had no idea what the numbers would be. (I'm going to use only Amazon data in this post because it is the most up-to-date and accessible.) My books were initially .99 on Amazon. They stayed .99 for a few months, and I wasn't seeing much in the way of sales. In the first month, I sold zero. Then I sold 1 the next month. I sold 84 copies in the next nine months. Then Amazon finally made Scary Mary free like I wanted.
And then my socks were knocked off. Scary Mary was downloaded 16,125 times in one month. I was beside myself. I couldn't believe just how many people were downloading Scary Mary. I was sure this was some sort of sign. And it is a sign. A sign that free is the perfect price for a lot of people.
As of today, Scary Mary and Unicorn Bait have been downloaded over 110,000 times on Amazon. If I add up all platforms, their total downloads are north of 150,000. That's amazing to me because I did no promotion outside of my own website. I've had some reviews on small indie blogs, but I know the driving force behind that six digit number is the free price tag.
Considering how well the free books did and how many people have read Scary Mary, one would think Stalking Shadows would be a great success. I mean at least 50,000 people have downloaded Scary Mary, and it appears a great many enjoyed the book...so Stalking Shadows should be a best seller, right? Um, no. Stalking Shadows was released in late October of this year, right before Halloween. At this time, it has sold about 600 copies. Don't get me wrong. 600 is pretty damn good, but when I compare it to 50,000, it seems kind of paltry.
So I'm having to adjust my perspective. Selling 600 copies of Stalking Shadows is GREAT. I'm very happy with that number, but I've got to accept that nothing will ever beat free. I mean look at this--Scary Mary has been downloaded 12,000 times this MONTH on Amazon.uk, and Stalking Shadows has sold 220 copies. Comparing these two numbers and wondering why there was such a disparity could drive someone insane. Someone could wonder if maybe 11,780 people read Scary Mary and didn't think it was good enough to read the sequel. Someone could wonder if she can really hack it.
Or someone could take a deep breath, stop refreshing the reports screen in Kindle Direct Publishing, and write the freaking sequel to Unicorn Bait. Someone thinks that's what she'll do.