Many charts and graphs are available to authors through the auspices of various retailers and distributors. In part, because these businesses must keep the data for their own purposes, in part because they know we eagerly follow the ups and downs of our sales with the same dedication others follow the stock markets.
My books retail almost exclusively on Amazon, and mostly as eBooks. I have tucked a toe in the waters of audio books, I believe that market will grow, and hopefully I will learn how to evaluate it and use it better. I sell almost all of my print books at signings, launches, and craft fairs throughout the year, shelving only a handful at independent retail outlets. The latter sell very few, requiring special promotions to do so, such as signings or book talks. Following such events, the sales stagnate once again. It is a lot of work, and takes a lot of time, for little gain.
I participated in five craft fairs and launches in 2016. I presented three illustrated talks and signed and sold books afterward, and I participated in an Old Time Radio Show with Sisters in Crime. Sporadic as these events were for me, they accounted for my second greatest volume of book sales.
An independent, self-publishing author must follow the fluctuations of the book publishing world of today, no easy matter. However, I have learned there are marketing constants, unchanged after decades of upheaval. They are quality and quantity. The human constants for success are persistence and patience; neither are easy.
A whopping 78% of my 2016 book sales income came from eBooks on Amazon. The remaining 22% came from all other sales. Of that number, 55% came from my talks, launches and craft fairs, and the Radio Show. Also of interest, the total of royalties from my only traditionally published book was 6.5% of the remaining 22%. Finally, my new entry into the campaign, the audio books, sold 5% of that 22%.
What have I gleaned from these numbers? I see four clear directions for 2017. 1) I will continue to sell eBooks on Amazon, increasing the number of books in my series as I am able. 2) I will participate in more craft fairs, book launches, and present more talks in the new year. 3) I will convert more books to audio books and endeavor to learn more about that market. 4) I will refrain from publishing traditionally unless a publisher is willing to make me an offer I can’t refuse.
But I must do more. As Social media grows, and changes, I know I must learn and change with it. I will not attempt to engage in every platform as it comes along. I cannot, and it will not serve my best interests to try. I will use a single platform (probably Facebook) as my hub and link to other platforms that appear able to service me best.
I continue to have a fond hope to sell more print books, perhaps persuade a large distributor to take an interest in my series. I know they sell when placed in front of readers––I see it happen.
It is reflection time, when as an author I count my blessings and thank those who have supported me and my writing over the year. I particularly thank my reviewers, for good or ill, for the time you took to present your thoughts about my novels. While I might not always agree, I will always appreciate the thought and time taken to present your views.
Amazon has tightened guidelines for those eligible to review, excluding close personal relationships with the author (sorry, mom) and other close ties. It is now much more difficult to accumulate reviews (without cheating). A review is still the best gift you can give an author.