First and foremost, “Biba Jibun” is now up at Pseudopod for your free listening pleasure, read by the talented Kara Grace. Enjoy!
Next, laid out in quasi-scientific fashion, an update on my foray into releasing some of my previously published and out-of-print short fiction as e-books:
In November, I published three new e-books and also acquired e-book distribution rights (previously held by Norilana Books, the print edition publisher) for my Returning My Sister’s Face collection. That provided a nice initial sampling of offerings as well as a range of price points, with:
- One of my best-known stories: “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” ($0.99)
- A relatively unknown story: “The Wish of the Demon Achtromagk” ($0.99)
- A new short story collection: Mortal Clay, Stone Heart and Other Stories in Shades of Black and White ($2.99)
- An already published collection (both in print and e-book): Returning My Sister’s Face ($6.99)
I used three distributors: Amazon (Kindle), B&N (Nook), and Smashwords (all e-reader formats). Amazon and B&N provide monthly reports while Smashwords provides a quarterly report. I published “Sinner” and “Achtromagk” in mid-November and Mortal Clay at the end of November, so for ease of this preliminary evaluation and analysis, I’m just going to look at the month of December.
Total units sold for the month of 12/2011: 59*
(*I also ran a few holiday freebie offers in December. I’m not including those in my “total units sold” figure.)
Units sold by title:
Units sold by distributor by title:
It’s clear that the lion’s share of sales came through Amazon, accounting for 41 out of 59 units sold; followed by Smashwords with 15 out of 59 units sold; and B&N trailing at a distant third with only 3 out of 59 units sold. Amazon’s position as most popular distribution channel is unsurprising, considering Amazon’s market share in online retail overall and the popularity of its Kindle devices. I’m a little surprised by how dismal my B&N sales were, considering that the Nook seems to be a pretty popular e-reader.
As for the per title data, “Sinner” outsold the other three titles by a wide margin, accounting for 25 out of 59 sales. Interestingly, “Achtromagk” and RMSF tied for the second best sales position, accounting for 12 sales each. Royalties, of course, are calculated as a percentage of list price. So even though I sold, by far, the most copies of “Sinner,” I earned the most royalties on the less-well-selling RMSF.
Of note, minimum list prices are fixed by distributors, as are royalty percentages. For example, Amazon stipulates on its pricing page as part of its terms and conditions two royalty tiers: 70% and 35%. In order to qualify for the 70% tier, the list price must be between $2.99 and $9.99. The absolute minimum list price (excluding “free”) is $0.99, which only earns a 35% royalty.
I was and am particularly interested in what’s more likely to entice readers (and generate more sales) as an e-book, a short story collection with a list price of at least $2.99 or an individual short work for $0.99, but I don’t believe it’s possible to make any sort of meaningful statistical analysis with my current results. Not enough data, too many variables, etc. If anyone’s got input, thoughts, or data on this, I’d like to hear from them.
Generally, I’m inclined to call this endeavor “reasonably successful.” I’m not going to get remotely wealthy or make the bestseller list, but it seems to be a worthwhile thing to do with my previously published and out-of-print works.