August / September Sales

August / September Sales

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve updated with my current sales data; life as an actual-factual author has become more complicated than I expected. I’m promoting the book, working on getting Grey Gecko up and running, working my day job and somehow trying to find time for some semblance of a life and maybe, if I’m lucky, some time to write, too.

It ain’t easy, that’s for sure. Not that I’m complaining. Take out the day job, and I’d love it. Someday…

Anyway, if you’re not interested in sales numbers, go ahead and skip this post altogether. It’s all about the digits, as they say. To the numbers!


First up, total sales for the month of : 542, across all editions/channels. Here’s the split:

Unsurprisingly, Kindle still holds the lead easily with about 78% of sales. Royalties look about the same for August, in terms of source, with total royalties of $1,495 (not including Grey Gecko’s 15%):

Some of you may have noticed that quick info up there about Grey Gecko taking 15%. You’re not mistaken; I pay GGP 15% just like every other author I’m going to be signing. It just makes sense to sort of split myself into two people: the author, and the business owner. But more on that in a later post.


September was, as many of you might guess, not so hot. I saw many blogs from writers I follow (yay, Google Reader!) who talked about flagging sales for last month. David Gaughran talked about it in his blog, although he attributed part of it to the fact that he went on vacation. I didn’t, and I still saw the slump. Of course, my sales are doing a bit better than his, but I attribute that mainly to the impact of Comicpalooza and lots and lots of good reviews (which he also has, to be fair).

Total of 540 for the month, with about 80% coming from Kindle US. Those of you who look at these graphics closely will notice a slight difference in this chart from August: 1 single UK sale. Yep, I sold my first book outside the US! Just the one, but it’s still something. You’ll also notice 2 sales from Apple’s iBookstore.

Total royalties (again, not including GGP) of $1,501. That’s right; royalties increased for the month, even though sales dropped. Why? Because I sold more of my highest-royalty item, the 70% ebook. I sold 477 in August, and 492 in September. That small increase of 15 books bumped my royatlies about $6 overall. This just goes to show how important Kindle is, and why I focus 9/10 of all my marketing on that sector.

Overview – Sales

October is looking to be a good month so far, given that it’s only the 5th, and I’ve already sold 89 copies on Kindle as of this writing. Of course, that can change in the blink of an eye, as we all know. Again, from this graph you can see the vast difference in Kindle vs every other distribution channel. I need to figure out a way to break that graph up though, so the others don’t get lost completely.

Just another way to see the same data. I haven’t added iBooks to this chart yet, not that it would matter, really.

Here we get the real numbers for all the sales channels. 81.35% is huge. Remember, these are overall sales since the book was released.

Overview – Royalties

Here are the same graphs, but for royalties instead.

I didn’t do anything special in August or September, aside from having the book’s review appear on A Book Vacation’s blog. Mainly just tweeting content (and not “buy my book” spam) to keep my followers interested. I didn’t really even post that much on Facebook. One or two blogs, but who follows this thing, anyway?

I’m firmly convinced that a large part of my success thus far is due to the timing of the book’s release and the chance I had to get it in tons of people’s hands at Comicpalooza so shortly after its release. Those initial few reviews I received on Amazon, plus the GoodReads giveaway that I did for the book, generated a lot of interest – 694 people registered for the giveaway.

One thing I did in early/mid September was clean up my description on the Kindle. I had a long diatribe in the “From the Author” section, and when I read this article about ebook descriptions, I knew that I had work to do. So, I 86’d the From the Author bit, and added the best three quotations from the tons of good reviews I’ve had. Of course, I put the punchiest one right there at the top: “The best zombie book since World War Z…”

Now, when you go to my book’s page on the Kindle store and scroll down past the also-bought’s, that’s the first thing you see. BAM! Then another great review. BAM! And another. BAM! Then the first line of the book: “I didn’t see Rebecca die the second time.” BAM! BAM! (Thought it deserved two.) Then you’ll see the 47 reviews, all but 2 of which are 4 and 5 stars (more 5’s than 4’s). As Carolyn McCray says in the article, readers are looking for any reason to “…abort the purchase funnel.” Why give them reasons to leave?

I’ve already seen a spike towards the end of September, and I’m betting it’s caused by that change. Simple, direct, to the point. Why wouldn’t you spend less on this book than you would on a cup of coffee?

Short Stories

In August, I wrote and uploaded two short stories, The Last Ginger (a sci-fi horror short) and Wave, Wind & Blade (a fantasy tale WITH ZOMBIES!). They haven’t sold very well, and I’m guessing the reason is that they don’t tie into The Dying of the Light: End. That and the fact that short stories generally don’t sell well, even at $1 a piece. I even had some returned – more on that phenomenon in another post.

In September, I finished and uploaded another short, called Whatever Happened to Thomas J. Reynolds?. This is a direct tie-in to the main book, and is also much longer than the others, at nearly 6,000 words. This one has, in my humble opinion, been selling like hotcakes for a short story: 62 in September, and 7 so far this month. The reason is clear: the connection to the book, and the slew of “also-boughts” that it’s generated.

I envision these Dying of the Light shorts (yes, there will be more) as the “deleted scenes” from the books, and I think they really come off well that way. You’re not required to read them to get the basic story, they’re just an extra. And eventually, I’ll collect all of them and release them as one companion volume to the series as a whole.

Don’t get excited about the shorts, though. Even with the good sales in September, I’ve still only made a whopping $28.15 off them. Not going to retire that way, that’s for sure. They’re loss leaders.


So that’s it, really. September was a very bleh month, but August was good and October is looking to be pretty good so far. Plus, we’ve got Christmas coming up, and with the release of the new Kindle Fire (which you’ve likely already heard all about unless you’ve been under a rock), Christmas numbers should be fantastic.

What a good time to be self-published!


  1. Red Tash October 6, 2011 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    Melissa Marr writes a lot of shorts like that for her fairy series. I haven’t read them yet, but it seems like such a good idea!

    Thanks for sharing this info and giving me the head’s up on twitter. I’m impressed with your productivity. I didn’t even realize you had published more shorts beyond the fantasy one.

    I want to do a graphic novel version of This Brilliant Darkness. I might try to bet a booth at ComicCon (the Louisville version) and see what happens. It’s a small con, but we got the artist from The Walking Dead last year, so it’s growing. Hrm. Something to think about.

    Have a great day, J! I’ll retweet.

    • Grey Gecko Press October 6, 2011 at 4:41 pm - Reply


      If I wasn’t trying to promote the book all the time as well as getting GGP off the ground as a business with all that entails, I’m fairly certain I’d have four or five shorts published in addition to the ones I’ve already got. And be a significant way through the writing of the second book. If I have the time, I usually write pretty fast. The original version of the short The Last Ginger was actually written in about 30 minutes.

      Cons are great, sometimes. I did really well here at Comicpalooza, but the next two weren’t great at all. Barely covered my costs for one and ate a $300+ loss for the other. I doubt I’ll attend any con with less than a couple thousand folks at it anymore, unless it’s specialized such as a horror con or ZomBcon. To each his/her own, though. Your mileage may vary.

  2. Rachel October 7, 2011 at 2:28 pm - Reply

    Red sent me.

  3. Na October 9, 2011 at 4:35 am - Reply

    Kindle copies have really dominated sales and the competition isn’t even close! Thank you for the visuals it really helps puts things into perspective. I think with the unveiling of the Kindle family in such a way that it targets multiple price points, a lot of people will be looking to purchase an ereader for the first time. I’m in the market and I know many people in the same boat. Even though I don’t have an ereader I have been buying ebooks that I find on sale or are cheap and they go into my TBR pile. I think it’s a good time for self-published authors because people who normally buy books in bookstores or in supermarkets will have to seek out Amazon (and other ebook retailers) and take notice, especially those in the 0.99, 1.99, 2.99 range, a price that they’re not used to. It’s a good price to try an author they have never heard of.

    Wishing you all the best for the month of October and upcoming months!

    Red sent me.

  4. deanna October 11, 2011 at 12:12 am - Reply

    Trick or Treat! Thanks for playing Red’s Trick or Treat Bash! I’m looking forward to reading your book on my new Kindle!, Red sent me! xoxoxo

  5. Michelle T (USA) October 15, 2011 at 2:49 am - Reply

    Hopefully one day you will be able to lose the day job completely as ebooks become more and more popular. Red sent me.

  6. Corey Olomon October 16, 2011 at 7:51 am - Reply

    “Trick or Treat! Thanks for playing Red’s Trick or Treat Bash! I’m looking forward to reading your book on my new Kindle!, Red sent me!”

Leave A Comment