Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What Writers Don't Know About Their Book Sales or - Just About Everything

So, you're a writer and you're busy writing your third book. Your second book just came out, and it's doing okay, you think.

And you think that but really you have just NO FLIPPING IDEA how it's doing.

People ask me how book sales are going, and the truth is I don't know.

And that's because there is no one source for book sales, and some sources won't share their info. I can look at what Amazon tells me on my Author Page, but those numbers don't include: 1. Sales from independent book stores who don't use bookscan. 2. Kindle sales. (No, really. Amazon won't tell me how many electronic copies they've sold of my books on Kindle. You would think that would be the easiest thing thing for them to track and to share with an author. But no.) 3. Nook sales. (Barnes and Noble doesn't even have an Author page or its equivalent, so forget it!) 4. Kobo sales. 5. Sony E-Reader Sales. 6. Random other sales that apparently happen that nobody knows about.

You would think in this age of electronic whatchamajiggies and tracking thingamabobs that it would all be known.

No, it is not flippin' known!

So when I get a cool @reply on Twitter from a friend telling me that OTHERKIN has hit #94 on the Amazon Teen Fantasy (Kindle) charts, I rush out and squee and tweet about it. And I watch obsessively throughout the day, refreshing the OTHERKIN page to see if it's moved. And it did move! All the way up to #81 on that chart! Then it was on two charts - Kindle Teen Fantasy and Kindle Children's Books at spots 84 and 99!

Now today, it's not on either chart, but is (as I type this) ranked #4,694. OTHERMOON isn't far behind.

But what does that mean?

Say it with me:

I do know it's a good thing to be on a chart somewhere. Being in the top 100 (or top 10, as OTHERKIN was on the Sony Reader store Children's list last year for awhile) is better than not being in it.

Now this may vary, depending on your publisher. Another writer told me that her publisher sent her weekly emails with sales numbers.

I hope she's right. But I can't quite believe it. It's like believing in fairies or the Easter Bunny. You want it to be true, but if your life depended on believing it... like, if a vampire was coming at you and you held up a picture of the Easter Bunny to fend it off, would the vampire flinch back? Or would it laugh and tear the picture from your hand, saying, "Your lack of faith will be your doom!"

What if the Easter Bunny was a vampire? Oh wait. They did that story. And it was awesome.

So I celebrated and tweeted being on the Amazon charts yesterday. But I have no idea what that really means for my sales. It's good - don't get me wrong. But I can't quantify "good" for you. I wish I could.

Eventually I will get royalty statements. I'm looking forward to those.

Sort of.

I think some part of me is glad not to know, not to quantify my writing too much. It's a creative process. Getting numbery about it isn't conducive to my creativity.

Meanwhile, a three day weekend is coming up, which means ... more writing away at book 3. Wish me luck. Wishing you a happy:


Tay said...

Wow, that is really interesting! As a reader, I just assumed that you as an author had access to that information. I mean, of everyone who has an interest, the author should know, right? Unbelievable they don’t share that with you. There are plenty of articles that correlate Amazon rankings to sales figures but they all hedge and underscore that they are relative, change constantly, and are really just guesses. Amazon itself is vague on their FAQ page-

What does the sales rank mean?

Our sales rank is a best seller list much like The New York Times® Best Sellers list, except instead of listing just the top 50 or so titles, it includes millions! The lower the number, the greater the popularity of that particular item in comparison to other products listed. Items are ranked within their product category only, so a book ranked at Number 1 is the best-selling book at Amazon.com, but may not be the overall best-selling item.

Sales rank data is calculated hourly. While we cannot provide specific information about our calculation formula, Amazon.com Marketplace sales are also included in the calculation. Please keep in mind that our sales rank figures are simply meant to be a guide of general interest for the customer and not definitive sales information for publishers - we assume you receive this information regularly from your distribution sources.

How do I find sales information for my title?

We don't provide sales information to authors and publishers at this time due to the competitive nature of our business. It is recommended that authors contact their publisher, or publishers contact their distributors, for more information concerning the sales of their titles.

So I guess the question is whether your publisher has any sales figures to share with you.

Wishing you wild sales!

Michele said...

Downloaded my copy from iTunes, do they let you know how sales are doing?
BTW, I'm loving Othermoon!

MåїÐ»-(¯`v´¯)-» said...

This posy is hilarious! I love it! :D And honestly, the bunny is super creepy...O_O