First, a few differences in how the releases went: When I released In Treachery Forged, it only took me one month to get the print book out. Two months in and there still is no print edition for In Forgery Divided, and the biggest delay has been the cover. (I just couldn’t bring myself to approve that cover. I went back to my cover artist to see if he could help, and he’s sent me a “watered down” version that might not become quite so blacked out in print. A new proof just arrived, and it actually looks like it’s supposed to. I’ll have to make a quick check to make sure nothing odd has creeped into it since my last proof, but I should be approving it this week regardless).
The world has changed some; namely, taxes on eBooks in Europe have gone up significantly (they used to be a negligible sales tax; now they’re a 20% VAT tax)
Also, I attempted a few more new-release promotions, trying to get advertisements on Awesome Gang and another company (which I’m not linking to here; from what I can tell, they never showed my ad after agreeing to do so, negotiating a fee, and scheduling a date to show it. They also never charged me, however, so I suppose it’s no harm, no foul). I should also note I have twice as many Facebook followers, twenty more mailing list members, infinitely more twitter followers (I opened my twitter account for the first time a few months after In Treachery Forged’s release, so one person would be infinitely more), and… oh, yeah — this blog.
Some things remain the same. The prices for both are identical at US$5.99, and I haven’t (for either book) run any price promotions; I will note that some portion of oversees books (mostly in Europe) will cost readers more because of the aforementioned changes in tax laws. Both times, I submitted the cover to the Monthly Indie eBook Cover Design Awards (one difference: For In Treachery Forged, I was able to submit the cover such that, by a fluke, it was shown by these awards during its first month of release. For In Forgery Divided, however, it only showed up on the awards well into the second month after publication). Both books have been given wide releases; I have never availed myself of Amazon’s KDP Select marketing program because of the exclusivity demands.
With that out of the way…
Two months in, with In Forgery Divided, I had sold a total of 1,505 eBooks (and a lone print book, but we can ignore that for now). Or, rather, I sold 1548 eBooks and had 43 returns for a net of 1,505. Most of them (1,406 of these net sales) were purchased on Amazon.com’s US store. I also had 8 net sales on Amazon.uk (curiously, I had 4 returns, so 1/3 of my gross UK sales were returned at that point — by far the largest percentage at the time. This trend did NOT continue, but at the time I was wondering if something odd was was going on), 20 net on Amazon.de (Germany), 2 from Amazon.fr (France), 4 net from Amazon.in (India), 1 from Amazon.bs (Brasil), 26 net from Amazon.ca (Canada), 27 net from Amazon.au (Australia), 7 from Nook (two of these sales are not technically part of the 1,505 figure even though they did occur in the first two months; the explanation for why is too long and involved for here), and 6 from Smashwords. (I may have sold as many as 3 additional copies through Apple iBooks via Smashwords during this period; those weren’t credited to my account for another month, however, so I couldn’t count them here. I now go to Apple directly, thanks to my brother owning an Apple computer).
Most of those sales didn’t start until the book was in its second week of sales, but when it started selling it went right up the charts. I do not have screencaps, but in 2014, I had a few weeks in the top-50 (topping, for one day, in the top-20) on several genre list bestsellers. At the peak on those lists, I was getting 50-100 sales a day.
I will note that those 1,505 sales were roughly half of my sales of In Treachery Forged prior to publishing In Forgery Divided (which sparked a resurgence of sales in the former). Another thousand (roughly) were sold over the next four months, and since then the sales dropped to a mere trickle, selling a mere 500 copies over the next year and a half. So, what my experience with In Treachery Forged suggests is that the “New Release” burst of sales, even when successful, only lasts about six months (to a degree, I saw the same pattern with The Kitsune Stratagem, but that book never had the sales of In Treachery Forged). Ideally, I’d have another book out before then… but it took over two years for Book 2 to come out. (I’ll try to be faster with Book 3)
Unsurprisingly (given that not everyone who buys the first book of a series will buy its sequels… especially after a two year wait), sales for In Forgery Divided have not been as strong (on their own, anyway; as I said, it inspired a resurgence in sales of In Treachery Forged, which is making up much of the difference). They’ve been pretty good, however, considering how long it took me to get book 2 out.
In Forgery Divided’s sales started strong, with its heaviest day of sales occuring just a week and a half after it was published. The totals for the (roughly) first two months of sales are as follows:
Total Gross Sales: 702 (note: Amazon gives you three different ways of checking your sales; your ranking on the sale page, a graph on your sales dashboard, and a full accounting of your “month-to-date sales.” These all report at different rates; I’m using the month-to-date sales for these records, because it’s the only one of these that also lets me know about returns… but it’s also the slowest one to report. I think I have somewhere between 3-5 more gross sales that haven’t been accounted for in this record, yet)
Total Net Sales: 694 (only 8 returns, total? That’s a real improvement over In Treachery Forged’s initial release)
Net Amazon.com (US) Sales: 603
Net Amazon.co.uk (UK) Sales: 31
Net Amazon.de (Germany) Sales: 18
Net Amazon.fr (France) Sales: 1
Net Amazon.ca (Canada) Sales: 8
Net Amazon.au (Australia) Sales: 27
Net Smashwords sales: 2
Net Nook Sales: 3
Net Apple iBooks Sales: 1
Far fewer returns, even accounting for the fewer sales. I guess people who read book I are less likely to return book II.
UK sales are much stronger (the UK did, eventually, become the #2 purchaser of “In Treachery Forged,” but for some reason most of those sales didn’t start coming in until four months after its release), and there are even small improvements to sales in Australia and Germany.
It’s only in the US (both on Amazon and with the other vendors) where my initial sales are significantly weaker. And much of that gap is being compensated for by sales boosts for my other books — over the past two months, the boost in sales to In Treachery Forged can account for approximately five hunded eBooks sold, and even my unrelated novel, The Kitsune Stratagem, has had another twenty or thirty sales generated by the new book release.
I’m not really sure what to make of these numbers, just yet, but as time goes on and I get more data ponts to go on, these numbers might start to mean something.
In the meantime, I’d better keep writing — I want to know what effect Book III will have on sales.