William King’s ebook sales figures

by Suw on January 13, 2012

I do love it when authors are honest about the kinds of sales they are making, particularly when they are not the pack leaders like Amanda Hocking or John Locke. I am sure both Amanda and John have worked incredibly hard for the success they currently enjoy, and I’m not slighting them in the least, but they cannot be said to be representative of the majority of writers going the self-publishing route. They are at the very head of the long-tail graph and as such they provide us with much needed hope and inspiration, but I want to know more about writers who are further down the spine, closer to the tail… closer to my position at the arse.

Via Zite I stumbled across William King’s recent blog post about how his four novels, self-published on Amazon, have been doing over the last six months. It’s a fascinating read. His sales numbers start off very small, as you might expect, but wind up being quite respectable: over 1500 for the month of December. His current prices stand at:

  • Death’s Angels – £0.72
  • The Serpent Tower – £2.92
  • The Queen’s Assassin – £2.92
  • Shadowblood  – £2.92

As you might expect, his cheapest title, Death’s Angels sells the best. He says he’s now making about £1900 pcm, which is a pretty decent income and certainly one that would allow me to write full-time.

The most interesting pattern I’m seeing in all this though is nothing to do with prices but is more to do with back-catalogue. A common theme amongst successful self-publishers is that they begin with a handful of books that they’ve written which they can release gradually and which each give the other books a bit of a boost. Having a back catalogue that is a series also allows you to price one book, probably the first, cheaply as a sacrificial lamb to encourage people to try your stuff out and hopefully pay more for your other books. I think this certainly provides an advantage, and is something to think about if you already have some manuscripts in your desk drawer which are currently sitting about doing nothing.

Unfortunately for me, my past manuscripts are either unfinished or shit, so I am just going to have to do this the hard way and write as I go along.

James Oswald January 13, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Of course, the arse comes before the tail ;}#

I think this is a very interesting point (not the arse thing). I suspect the most successful self-publishers will be series novelists, and possibly churning them out at a fairly rapid and regular rate. The beauty of e-books is, of course, that once you’ve put a book out it costs nothing to keep it there.

Fortunately for me, I have the first three books in a four part fantasy series just sitting here gathering dust. Now if I can just find time to wrangle them into some kind of publishable format and find a decent cover artist…

Stuart Ayris January 26, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Great article – my first ebook came out on 4th January 2012 and I have published the first three weeks of figures on my blog. From next week I will be reporting figures on a monthly basis if you’re interested!



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