That’s pretty much what everyone wants to know, right?
There’s no secret formula but there are some things you can do that will boost your chances of seeing increased and sustained sales over time.
- Having a Series;
- Having New Releases;
- Having Good Prices;
- Having a Mailing List.
Those four things will increase your chances of selling eBooks year-round, long-term. So what’s the best way to go about those things? Here’s what I did.
eBook Series Sell More
Before you’d go to a publishing house or whatnot and they’d look at your Book 1. If it was no good you’d have to start over, beginning a whole new series. And if they did think there was potential for a series maybe they’d hold off on releasing it until a Book 2 was ready.
First of all, this is pure nonsense and all indie authors know this and will tell it to you happily. The most successful indie authors routinely tout how important series are, and how you should keep publishing more books in that series. That means getting up to book 8, 10, 14 and so on. Don’t stop at just 3. You’ve got a money machine on your hands.
I have several series and we’ll discuss each of them:
- Jonguria Trilogy: This is my closed trilogy, already completed, wrapped-up and in the bag and selling nicely now. And when I say selling nicely I mean I get about $100 off each of the two books a month. What about Book 1? Well, if I wasn’t giving that away for free I’d probably go back to making about $10 off each book a month. This series is finished so, well, it’s a closed book. Or is it? Don’t underestimate the power of prequels to build buzz and how they can make a dead series start selling again, and without resorting to discounted prices.
- Warring States: My second series of novels is the Warring States series which is an open-ended series. What this means is that there’s no final book that’s set in stone. Really, with this series I could go up to 10 books or more. Right now I’ve got just 3 books, and I also have those 3 in a box-set. They’ve never sold that well (Book 1 has about 80 sales and Books 2 has 60 or so and Book 3 just around 20. I plan to keep writing them, and have had emails from people saying they like them. I fully expect these books to be making me some good cash when I get up to around 5 or 6 books out.
- Vigilante Justice Series: My latest series is about crazed urban vigilantes around the Great Lakes area of America. These books are shorter, around 20,000 words, though I charge $2.99 for them. So far I have just one finished and another on the way with a third floating in my mind that combines the two. No traction on them so far but I’ll keep pushing at it.
- SEO Series: I put out an SEO book on how to write websites last spring and another one on 2014 SEO tactics around Thanksgiving. I write SEO articles for people so I focus on that, giving my advice to others. I like writing these books, but it takes time to build new ideas. I hope to have another one out in late spring, giving me 3 books, and another box-set opportunity.
- ESL Series: My largest series is my ESL book series which will have 4 books here in another week or two when I finish my latest. I’ll put another really short (5,000 word) book out next month that I’ll do my darndest to get perma-free status for. That will be my loss leader, pulling people into my ESL funnel that’s set up with my ESL website and really at this point just leads to my $9.99 ESL book. There’s a lot of potential for future profits there, as I see no slowdown to the global ESL industry.
Hot New Releases Get You Noticed
These days 30 days is how long you can expect to be on the Hot New Release lists for one of your Amazon subgenre’s or categories. That means to stay on that list year round you need to have a new release each month.
First of all, I can’t begin to tell you the amount of exposure you’re going to be getting when you get on that list. It’s a much smaller list than the larger Amazon site, as most of the other books have been winnowed out of it. What’s more, genre hounds are going to be snooping around there to see how they can get their next fix.
Staying on it will be difficult for most authors. The way I see it there are only 3 genres that can do it:
Everything else simply takes too long. You could argue for short stories, but I think if those aren’t in the erotic genre you’re really wasting your time. Well, I guess if you love writing you’re never doing that, huh? Give me a break. No one’ loves writing – it’s work and you know it.
That said, I put out a Thriller novel last month and look set to get my Epic Fantasy novel out this month. Don’t forget I also put out a shorter 22,000 word novelette last month as well.
If you write fast you can put out a lot, right? And how perfect do things need to be? Sure, you could go for some kind of Adonis-like book but I’m willing to bet you’ll still be chipping away at it when I’ve put another 10 on my shelf – 10 that are making money. I’d rather have measurable results coming in from Amazon each month than a pile of words that looks great but collects dust on my hard drive. How about you?
eBook Prices are a Bitch
I think a lot of indies shoot themselves in the foot with this, and I’ve sure done it a lot. We could be charging a lot more, and I’ve recently raised nearly all my prices to reflect this.
Kristine Kathryn Rusch has a good article on eBook prices this week, and how many indies are selling themselves short by pricing too low. I discussed this same thing months ago when I wrote an article asking authors if they should say ‘to hell’ with their eBook prices.
Prices are a tricky beast, but you’re telling you’re reader what the value of your product is. If you continually lower it with never-ending promotions what does that say? Now what if you have higher prices, and prices that remain static, unlike some which jump all over the place like they’re on some bookstore trampoline?
Sure, you have the power to lower your prices as much as you like and as often as you like, but does that mean you should? I know it’s tough to see a book sitting there for months at a time without a sale, I’ve had them, and sometimes you think lowering the price will fix this. How will that fix anything?
First, I doubt the book is selling so poorly because people are fretting over that extra dollar or two you’re charging. I doubt the problem with you selling books is the price, but your visibility.
Promotions might be the trick there, but do you need to lower the price to get more eyes on your work? Not necessarily, there are many sites that will advertise you or give you a blog tour and that won’t force you to go rock-bottom with your prices.
Personally I have more sales when my eBook prices are higher, so how are you going to convince me otherwise?
Your eBook Mailing List is Like Gold
Well, that hasn’t changed too much for many authors, but now the mailing list is even more important.
These are people that have signed up so you can tell them to buy the next book. Having this ensures your new title gets a huge boost right out of the gate, gets you onto those Top 20 charts, and higher on that Hot New Releases list. That’s what you need for success.
So how’s your mailing list? Mine sucks. I have about 7 people on it, which is a lot more than I had a few months ago, which was around 0.
I’m not sure if people I send emails to buy any of my books. I think they may click back on the links to my monthly articles in the monthly email newsletter, but most don’t even open it, at least that’s what MailChimp tells me. I wrote about mailing list newsletters last month, and my worries that people would un-subscribe, but no one did.
Did I get a lot of extra sales? Not really, but like a lot of things in indie publishing you have to keep doing things over and over again even though you’re seeing no results. It’s insane, right?
Well, there’s my spiel about indie publishing today. Some of these things work for me, some of them I fully expect to work, and some are just rubbish. Mainly I’m just missing a key ingredient, time, which I have to wait for.
Overall I’d just say do what you want, listen to a little of what others say, but really – do what you think will work best to help you sell more eBooks.