“Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.

Friday, April 29, 2011

EIGHTBALL BOOGIE ON E: Facts, Figures And Damned Statistics

As all Three Regular Readers will be aware, I published EIGHTBALL BOOGIE as an ebook a couple of months ago - February 19th, to be precise - making it available on Kindle US and Kindle UK, and also on a number of other formats via Smashwords, with the ebook retailing at $0.99c / £0.86p.
  Ten weeks on, it’s time for an update, and I’m happy to provide sales figures, royalties, and all that guff - although be warned, it’s not an exact science. I probably should have waited until March 1st to upload the book, as the February 19th start-date kind of skews the figures a little. Also, this post is being written on the morning of April 29th, which means it’ll be out by a few copies come midnight on April 30th, but not by enough to influence the general trend.
  Anyway, on with the show:
FEBRUARY

February 19 - 28 Kindle US: 23 copies sold (net royalty $8.05)
February 19 - 28 Kindle UK: 8 copies sold (net royalty £2.08)

Total books sold: 31

MARCH

March 1 - 31 Kindle US: 58 copies sold (net royalty $20.30)
March 1 - 31 Kindle UK: 27 copies sold (net royalty £ 7.02)

Total books sold: 85

APRIL

April 1 - 29 Kindle US: 89 copies sold (net royalty $28.43)
April 1 - 29 Kindle UK: 14 copies sold (net royalty £2.71)

Total books sold: 109

OVERALL FIGURES

February 19 - April 30: total books sold: 225
February 19 - April 30: net royalty (in euro): €50.78
  So they’re the stark figures, which mean that that there’s a modest but pleasingly upward curve on sales, and that I’m currently €50.78 in the black.
  That said, I should point out that I had a new cover designed for the epub book, which cost me nothing, given that the designer, JT Lindroos, was kind enough to do so for the sake of a quid-pro-quo plug on Crime Always Pays. It’s also true that the book had previously been edited, so I didn’t have any editing / proofing costs. It’s also the case that I formatted the book myself, so I need to build in the hourly cost of the formatting (it took me about three hours). Then there’s the amount of time I spent on promoting the release, which included emailing people, responding to very kind offers of interviews, and generally doing various kinds of admin. It’s difficult to put a figure on that kind of time, though, given that a lot of the work was done early in the morning, so that it wasn’t eating into my work-day schedule; let’s just say that if I was to be scrupulous about it, I haven’t broken even yet.
  On the upside, the ebook of EIGHTBALL BOOGIE has received seven five-star reviews to date, and you’ll have to take it on faith that I didn’t post any of those reviews myself, or badger friends and family into doing so. As this is an experiment of sorts, it would defeat the purpose; besides, there’s an ethical line there that I refuse to cross, not least because there’s a singular joy to be had when an unsolicited review pops up from a reader who enjoyed your work.
  On top of all that, the stark figures tell me this: that in the last ten weeks or so, 225 people read my book. Perhaps not all of it, and it would be ludicrous to believe that everyone who read it liked it; but if even a quarter of those people liked it, then there’s a pretty good chance that they’ll tell other people about it. That, to me, is the real investment here. If you’re a writer, it’s nice to think that you might be earning a few bob from your writing; but crucially, fundamentally, it’s far more important to know that people are reading your work, and that a goodly number of those who read the work, like it. Does that smack too much of ego? Perhaps. But I guess that’s the trade-off, that the writer’s ego is stroked, and the reader gets a good return on their investment of time, patience and $0.99c.
  Anyway, and never being one to shirk from making things more difficult than they need to be, and this being an experiment of sorts, I’ve decided to raise the price of EIGHTBALL BOOGIE from $0.99c to $2.99, beginning May 1st. There are a number of reasons for this, and they run thusly.
  First off, there’s a perception abroad that readers simply won’t value a book offered at less than the cost of a second-hand book, and that may well be true. That said, you’d be hard pressed to find even a half-decent second-hand (or ‘pre-loved’) book at €2.99 these days, but that’s an argument for another day.
  Secondly, and assuming I’m not deluding myself, a book that has picked up seven five-star reviews at $0.99c is likely to be just as enjoyable a read at two dollars dearer.
  Thirdly, pricing the book at $2.99 allows me as a writer to avail of a higher royalty return from Amazon’s publishing programme - in other words, the royalty soars from 35% selling at $0.99c to 70% at $2.99. Naturally, this makes perfect sense to me as a writer, particularly if I feel the reader is still getting value for money. Whether the reader / audience / marketplace will agree is another matter entirely.
  We’ll see. This is, as I say, a work-in-progress, an experiment of sorts, and it’s very possible that this time next month, when I publish the latest figures for EIGHTBALL BOOGIE, that I’ll be climbing down from $2.99 to $0.99c again, and devising a new cardio work-out for myself designed to burn off all those calories consumed by eating humble pie.
  In the meantime, if you’re a blogger, reader, reviewer, tweeter, or simply fancy helping out, I’d be more than delighted to do any kind of interview, promotion, or whatever you’re having yourself. I can be reached at dbrodb(at)gmail(dot)com, providing I haven’t swanned off to Grand Bahama with that €50.78 royalty cheque burning a hole in my pocket …

13 comments:

Dana King said...

I think your price increase will be all right. A friend (not a writer, someone who runs his own business) has advised me not to pick the lowest 70% royalty price on Amazon ($2.99) but to raise it to something like $3.25, to imply a little more value at an additional cost not worth mentioning.

I'd happily pay the increased price if I didn't already have a paper copy I dug up on a used book site a couple of years ago.

salazarbooks.com said...

I'm halfway through the paper copy of 8ball and enjoying it immensely. It's a good story with some cracking one liners.

This book, and yourself, deserve to be successful.

Seth

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Thanks for sharing that info on sales. Interesting move on the price increase and I'm curiuos as to how it will work out. I'm going to invest as $2.99 is still very reasonable.

Declan Burke said...

Much obliged for the feeback and the good word, gents, really appreciate it.

Cheers, Dec

@frankamcgrath said...

Get Val McD to post her comment on Amazon and your sales should soar even more!

seana said...

I can't imagine that the two dollar price jump is a disincentive to anybody but people determined never to pay more than 99 cents for a book, who I expect is not your true readership anyway.

Declan Burke said...

Frank - As I suggest in the piece, I have issues with bugging people to post comments and reviews - it just doesn't feel right. It was a smashing feeling to read Val's verdict on Eightball, certainly, and I'm sure her opinion would boost sales, but given that she was generous enough with her time to read the book in the first place, it'd be a bit rich of me to ask her to do any more.

Seana - I had a conversation during the week with a book editor, who is very concerned about the race to the bottom, price-wise. My theory is that pricing will evolve according to what people are prepared to pay. In other words, if you limit yourself as a reader to books that cost no more than €0.99c, then you'll get books that are worth €0.99c; but the top quality books will be priced accordingly, and those who prefer top quality will be prepared to pay extra to get it. We'll see ...

Cheers, Dec

seana said...

Declan, I think you are in a relatively rare situation, which is that you've got some street cred, and you have a professionally edited book to offer, which is light years beyond what most self-published books have to say for themselves. You're also using this book as a kind of preview for future things, which is a wise way to use a previously published book.

But again, people who flinch at 2.00 don't deserve you.

Spartacusthedog said...

It's a wonderful book. I would have paid the standard kindle 9.99 without batting an eye.

Declan Burke said...

Seana - Again, I appreciate the sentiment, although I'd baulk at the use of the word 'deserve' - it suggests an entitlement, which I'm not, y'know, entitled to. But yeah, I suppose Eightball is a different animal to most e-pubbed books.

Spartacus - I thank you kindly, sir. I may have to rethink this pricing strategy entirely ...!

Cheers, Dec

michael said...

Dec, do you have any print copies left?

Declan Burke said...

Hi Michael - Still a few print copies left, certainly ...

Cheers, Dec

michael said...

Thanks, now I can finish my review. No, it won't be on Amazon, but I will send you a copy.