Saturday, January 15, 2011

I Sold 44,334 Kindle Books In December

Last month I sold 44,334 books on Kindle UK. That’s a lot of books. I don’t know of any Indie author who even comes close to that in the UK. I know that I’m not a true Indie author in that I am also published by one of the best publishing houses around – Hodder and Stoughton. But I have published five books on my own and they are true Indie books.

I know of only one Indie author who sells more than me in the US and that’s paranormal romance writer Amanda Hocking – and she sells more than twice as many as me.

I’m putting my December sales figures onto my blog so that people can see for themselves where my sales are coming from.

In December it was my vampire book Once Bitten that sold best, accounting for 22,607 sales. Interestingly it is my New York serial killer story, The Basement, that is currently selling best – and heading the Kindle UK bestseller list. But in December it was lagging behind Once Bitten with 17,321 sales. For most of December Once Bitten and The Basement were Number 1 and Number 2 in the Kindle UK bestseller list respectively. As of today, it’s The Basement that’s Number 1.

Someway behind in December was Dreamer’s Cat which sold 3,899 copies. Dreamer’s Cat is a science fiction murder mystery novel and I never expected it to sell as well as the other two. Science Fiction is always going to be a niche market. Though I am pleased to say that for the most of the time Dreamer’s Cat has been on the Kindle it has topped the UK Science Fiction list, both as a book and as a download. More copies of Dreamer’s Cat were sold in December than of 1984 and Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, which I think is pretty good going.

I have two other books that I put on Kindle myself – Bangkok Bob and the Missing Mormon, which sold 302 copies, and Private Dancer, which sold 205 copies. Why are they so far behind the other three? Because I am selling them at full price. I did that because both books are set in Thailand where they are both published as ‘real’ books. They have been professionally produced and therefore I believe that they should command a premium price. But there’s no doubt that I would sell a lot more if I reduced them to 99 cents (74p) like the other three. Why don’t I? It’s partly because I believe they are worth the money, but it’s also by way of an experiment. US Indie writers like the great Joe Konrath and Amanda Hocking can sell their work for $2.99 and $3.99 and still command high sales. I wanted to see if it was possible to do that in the UK. And I’m afraid that the answer is no. Not yet, anyway.

There’s another reason that the two Thailand-based books don’t sell as well as my three cheap books. That’s because they haven’t been picked up by Amazon’s automated recommendation system. When someone buys a copy of either The Basement, Once Bitten or Dreamer’s Cat, the buyer is immediately given my other books as a suggested purchase. But they are not given either Private Dancer or Bangkok Bob and the Missing Mormon as a suggestion. It’s as if they haven’t been linked to the other books so therefore don’t benefit by association. That I think will be the key to getting those two books into the bestseller list, and I think I have come up with a strategy that will achieve that. How? All shall be revealed!


  1. I have to comment on "Private dancer"
    One of the very few books that comes close to understanding Thai ways/culture, particularly as it affects young local girls who end up living a drug hazed life working in Bangkok bars. Apart from a great insight, its also a tremendous read! Widely appealing, it should be top of the list for anyone venturing to "the Land of Smiles"
    Trust me, I know what I'm talking about - for over a decade I ran the best known Western owned and operated Private investigation company based in the region.
    Warren Olson

  2. Hi Stephen

    Thanks for the fascinating post. I have been keeping a close eye on the Kindle chart as I am about to publish my first novel, a thriller called Killing Cupid, on the store and have been thinking about pricing. This post is very helpful.

    Mark Edwards

  3. Congratulations! I am an indie author/publisher and converted to kindle last year. I was absolutely delighted when my novel Beautiful Strangers was at Number 1 in the Kindle UK bestseller list in August 2010.

    Ellen Dean

  4. Great to see indie publishing making such progress.

    What is the key to your marketing success? - marketing is the major hurdle for all ebooks - how to get noticed over the ever increasing volume of content available.

    Continued success with your indie publishing...

  5. I love tales of novelists' success . . . anywhere. Well done. I'm with Hodder too, but put up my OOP fantasy novels and historical romances from other publishers on Kindle, and have had very good sales (though not in your league) with the Anna Jacobs books and not so good sales with the others. I think that's because my Anna Jacobs name is well known in the UK, and my Shannah Jay name isn't. It must have helped you to have a known name/platform to support your Kindle sales.

  6. Congratulations on your Kindle success!!

    I am one of those indie authors who has chosen to totally shun traditional publishing. I am writing specifically for the Kindle marketplace, as I believe that it is the way forward. I also happen to believe that those of us who spend hour after hour, day after day producing saleable works are worth far more than traditional publishing offers - especially when you compare it to the royalties available via Kindle.

    It would, of course, be wonderful to have a big advance to bank, but a steady monthly income is something I for one would prefer.

    Self-publishing has never looked so good, and I for one applaud authors such as Stephen and JK for giving the rest of us the encouragement we need to take the plunge.