Monday, June 4, 2012

My book sales data, Nov 2010 - April 2012

This is how many sales I’ve had by title per month.  Each author is has different strengths and weaknesses.  Genre also affects sales.  I write fantasy, which does not have as large of a fan base.  If I were writing romance, then these numbers might have been two or three times as high . . . although I suck at romance, so they might have been worse.

One of my biggest strengths is the fact that I’m fairly prolific.  I’ve published these books and short stories in addition to having a full time job and spending time with my family.

I don’t market or social network anywhere near as much I should.  There are so many sites to request reviews, and forums to talk about your book, that a person could spend the rest of their life marketing one book.  I prefer to work on the next, so I do minimal marketing.

My primary form of marketing is free short stories.  This gets people to know my name and brings a steady trickle of sales to my other titles.  You may notice that sales jump in January 2012.  That’s when I made Rojuun free and it drew sales to my other fantasy novels.

I’m going to add total downloads for each of my freebies at the bottom.  Tracking how many were downloaded each month is impossible due to insufficient reporting.  Apple does not report downloads of free books at all.  Kobo has not reported free downloads since August 31st.

Nov 2010  (Published “Rojuun” Nov 24 and “Blue Haired Alien Girlfriend” Dec 27)

Rojuun: 7 Smashwords

Dec 2010  (Published “Test Pilot” Dec 24)

Rojuun: 5 Smashwords, 2 Apple

Jan 2011 (Published “The Emo Bunny that Should” Jan 24)

Rojuun: 2 Smashwords, 3 Apple, 1 B&N

Feb 2011 (Published “Don’t Ever Change” Feb 24)

Rojuun: 2 Smashwords, 8 Apple, 3 B&N

Mar 2011 (Published Rojuun to Amazon March 26)

Rojuun: 8 Smashwords, 11 Apple, 8 B&N

Apr 2011 (Published “Anilyia” April 6 and “Zachary Zombie” April 19) (Published Anilyia to Amazon April 7)

Rojuun: 7 Smashwords, 3 Apple, 3 B&N, 3 Amazon
Anilyia: 7 Smashwords, 3 Amazon

May 2011 (Published “Blue Haired Alien Girlfriend”, “Test Pilot”, “The Emo Bunny that Should”, “Zachary Zombie”, and “Don’t Ever Change” to Amazon May 5)

Rojuun: 2 Smashwords, 1 Apple, 9 B&N, 31 Amazon
Anilyia: 2 Smashwords, 8 Apple, 2 B&N, 18 Amazon

June 2011

Rojuun:  2 Smashwords, 6 Apple, 7 B&N, 15 Amazon
Anilyia: 2 Smashwords, 5 Apple, 3 B&N, 16 Amazon

July 2011 (Published “Kethril” July 17)

Rojuun: 4 Smashwords, 4 Apple, 5 B&N, 58 Amazon
Anilyia: 4 Smashwords, 5 Apple, 3 B&N, 12 Amazon
Kethril: 5 Smashwords, 1 B&N, 7 Amazon

Aug 2011 (Published “Alien Coffee” August 31)

Rojuun: 2 Smashwords, 8 Apple, 22 Amazon
Anilyia: 1 Smashwords, 4 Apple, 1 B&N, 17 Amazon
Kethril: 1 Smashwords, 7 Apple, 1 B&N, 23 Amazon

Sep 2011 (Published “Drippy the Peg-Legged Rainbow” September 20)

Rojuun: 1 Smashwords, 4 Apple, 4 B&N 7 Amazon
Anilyia: 2 Smashwords, 2 Apple, 2 B&N, 6 Amazon
Kethril: 2 Smashwords, 3 Apple, 3 B&N, 29 Amazon
Alien Coffee: 2 Smashwords, 3 Apple, 3 B&N, 29 Amazon

Oct 2011 (Published “Unholy Cow” October 3, “The Complete Willden Trilogy” October 8, “Dralin” October 16, “A Collection of Stories for Demented Children” October 21, and “Attack of the Sugar Plum Fairies” October 21)

Rojuun: 1 B&N, 11 Apple, 9 Amazon
Anilyia:  6 Apple, 4 Amazon
Kethril: 1 Smashwords, 3 Apple, 8 Amazon
Alien Coffee:  2 Smashwords, 3 B&N, 13 Amazon
Willden Omnibus: 4 Smashwords, 11 Amazon
Collection of Stories for Demented Children: 13 Amazon

Nov 2011 (November suuuuuuucked for sales directly through Smashwords. I’m really not sure why.)

Rojuun: 2 Apple, 5 Amazon
Anilyia: 4 Apple, 3 Amazon
Kethril: 5 Apple, 2 B&N, 7 Amazon
Alien Coffee: 3 Apple, 4 B&N, 20 Amazon
Willden Omnibus: 3 Apple, 5 B&N, 10 Amazon
Collection of Stories for Demented Children: 1 Smashwords, 24 Amazon

Dec 2011 (Made Rojuun free on Smashwords. Once again, sales sucked through Smashwords.  I just don’t know why November and December were so bad there.)

Rojuun: 1 B&N, 2 Apple, 8 Amazon
Anilyia: 9 Apple, 1 B&N, 7 Amazon
Kethril: 11 Apple, 1 B&N, 5 Amazon
Alien Coffee: 1 Apple, 6 B&N, 20 Amazon
Willden Omnibus: 1 Smashwords, 6 Apple, 4 B&N, 10 Amazon
Collection of Stories for Demented Children: 2 Apple, 4 B&N, 39 Amazon

Jan 2012 (Amazon price matched Rojuun for free, Rojuun sales after this through Amazon are Amazon UK, which hasn’t pricematched.  You may noticed the jump in sales for the rest of the Willden Trilogy through Apple, B&N and especially Amazon.)

Rojuun: 4 Amazon
Anilyia: 3 Smashwords, 29 Apple, 7 B&N, 126 Amazon, 1 Sony
Kethril: 2 Smashwords, 22 Apple, 7 B&N, 91 Amazon, 1 Sony
Alien Coffee: 6 B&N, 24 Amazon
Willden Omnibus: 9 Smashwords, 39 Apple, 10 B&N, 84 Amazon, 2 Sony
Collection of Stories for Demented Children: 1 Smashwords, 9 B&N, 22 Amazon

Feb 2012

Rojuun: 3 Amazon
Anilyia: 1 Smashwords, 16 Apple, 19 B&N, 98 Amazon
Kethril: 1 Smashwords, 14 Apple, 16 B&N, 85 Amazon
Alien Coffee: 2 Apple, 2 B&N, 6 Amazon
Willden Omnibus: 7 Smashwords, 23 Apple, 17 B&N, 109 Amazon
Collection of Stories for Demented Children: 1 Smashwords, 5 Apple, 3 B&N, 20 Amazon, 1 Kobo

Mar 2012

Anilyia: 8 Smashwords, 27 Apple, 9 B&N, 72 Amazon, 1 Sony
Kethril: 5 Smashwords, 22 Apple, 7 B&N, 53 Amazon, 1 Sony
Alien Coffee: 1 Apple, 4 B&N, 14 Amazon, 1 Kobo
Willden Omnibus: 11 Smashwords, 27 Apple, 24 B&N, 77 Amazon, 1 Sony
Collection of Stories for Demented Children: 1 Apple, 2 B&N, 23 Amazon

Apr 2012 (Published “The Emo Bunny that Should - Illustrated Edition” April 6)

Anilyia: 27 Apple, 21 B&N, 53 Amazon, 1 Sony
Kethril: 7 Smashwords, 25 Apple, 19 B&N, 51 Amazon, 1 Sony
Alien Coffee: 1 Smashwords, 1 B&N, 15 Amazon
Willden Omnibus: 7 Smashwords, 34 Apple, 11 B&N, 90 Amazon, 1 Sony
Collection of Stories for Demented Children: 1 Smashwords, 2 Apple, 4 B&N, 16 Amazon
Illustrated Emo:  1 Smashwords, 4 Amazon

May 2012 (Published “Ebudae” May 13)

This data is incomplete, so I’m not going to add it.

These are my current totals of sales as of the date of the post.  There are a few Smashwords and B&N sales from May included.

Rojuun (sales)



Willden Trilogy



Emo Illustrated

Demented Collection

Alien Coffee

Total Sales

Unexpected sales:

These are sales for books published to Amazon that I wanted to be free.  It takes a while for Amazon to pricematch.  These are legitimate sales for which I earned money, even though I wanted to give them away for free.

Titles that shouldn't be free

Emo Bunny





Blue Haired

Test Pilot

Don't Ever Change

Total unexpected sales

Grand Sales Total

In addition, I sold 250 books through Amazon in May that isn’t included in these numbers.  I don’t know how many I sold through Apple, but it’s been running 30-80 per month this year.

Free downloads

These are all the downloads of stories I give away for free.  Free books help readers to become accustomed to my name.  They also link readers to all of my other works.


Emo Bunny





Blue Haired

Test Pilot

Don't Ever Change

Total Free

I hope all of this information will help other Indie Writers to understand what to expect.  Sales for most people start out slow and gradually increase. A big key is that the more you write, the more likely you are to sell books.

All my best,

John H. Carroll


Dionne said...

That's such a great post, thanks for sharing and putting out information that a lot of people would think is very private. What I am hearing from you is that it's very important to keep writing and be patient. Thanks and congratulations on the success you've had so far, you've definitely earned it :)

John H. Carroll said...

Hi Dionne,

I debated whether or not to share it, but I've seen too many Indies stressing about how many sales they have. Writing is definitely a long term prospect.

Thank you for visiting. :)


Kate Policani said...

Thanks for this, John! It helps ease the pain of low sales. I released a free short story in March and I'm seeing a lot of improvement since then.

John H. Carroll said...

You're very welcome, Kate. :)

writing and publishing really is a long haul process. It's worth doing though and I definitely recommend keeping at it. :)

It took quite a while for me to see substantial sales, but it's been worth it. I hope to see many more as time goes on.


Liz/moth said...

Thanks for this post. I'm about to take the plunge into Smashwords and probably Amazon (fantasy)and it's good to know what to expect. Of course, every writer and every book is different, but you've shown us how sales can gather momentum. I'm really grateful to writers like you who share your experiences to help others.

John H. Carroll said...

Hi Liz/moth. :)

You're very welcome. It's a lot of hard work, but each sale is a joy and still makes me grin.

It's my hope that this can help encourage others to give it a go, but keep expectations realistic too. :)


Mark said...

Just a quick question about Rojuun. I see from many months prior that it only sells 1-3 books per month right up until the end and then rather suddenly it has almost 300 sales spike. Am I reading that correctly? That it went from almost zero to hero in *one* month (May)?

John H. Carroll said...

Hi Mark,

I didn't post May's sales. that 295 was total sales over the entire time it was for sale.

I just didn't separate the sections well enough there.

Mark said...

Thanks for getting back to me. Can I ask you a followup question? I saw your novella "Alien Coffee", on Smashwords and was wondering how long it took you to write it? Also, what was the hardest thing about writing it..characters, plot, length?

Thanks :)

John H. Carroll said...

Hi Mark,

No problem. :)

That one took longer than expected, about 6 or 7 weeks. I just wrote another novella a couple thousand words longer in 12 days.

As far as what was hardest, I guess I would say building all of the characters. It's a stand alone story, so everything had to be made from scratch, unlike my novels, which have an established world.

The trick with a novella is to keep a limited range of characters and locations. It's even more important with a short story.

With a short story, keep the main characters to 1 or 2. The timeline to one incident, the locations to one or two.

With a novella, keep the characters to 1-6. I have one main character in both of my novellas and tell everything from their point. I have 3 or 4 strong supporting characters. The events span 3 or 4 locations and 1 day to 1 month or so. The plots are probably strongest with the novella. You have to tell the story as efficiently as possible.

With a novel, especially epic fantasy, I tend towards 3-4 main characters and scores of supporting characters. The locations are in countries or continents and The plot is intricate, often with numerous subplots.

I should do a blog post about this, shouldn't I? lol

Mark said...

Oh yeah definitely do a blog post :)

Thanks for the advice. I pretty much had the right idea for my horror novella. It is just under 20k and I quickly realized that I had to cut off a *lot* of fat from it in order to tell the story within novella length. I take after Clive Barker a bit with my environment descriptions, but his books are HUGE. So are Stephen King's. Desperation took me months to read. Main thing that I learned is the writing has to be really, really tight for a horror novella (ie no unnecessary sentences). This was hard for me because I just like to go crazy with room descriptions, probably from my childhood Infocom addiction. :)

John H. Carroll said...

I definitely understand about the descriptions. I generally get rid of a lot of that in editing.

Anne Rice and Jean Auel have big problems with over-describing things.

The trick is to ask, "Does this description advance the story?" If it does, leave it in. If it doesn't, then rip it out. It's tough, especially if you love those muave curtains, but . . .

Anonymous said...

I notice the huge jump between May-Sept for Rojuun. Might this be because the summer period has kids out of school who want to read books over the summer months? Or perhaps their parents are buying for them

John H. Carroll said...

The jump May-Sep for Rojuun came because I published to Amazon, lowered the price to $.99 from $2.99. I also promoted with Ereader News Today. It was that combo of things that made it happen. :)

Thoughts from all over... said...

Thank you for thinking of us aspiring storytellers! I have found a lot of people give some encouragement but offer little practical assistance. You definitely help see the dream in a more realistic vision! I have tried to support would-be authors by simply telling them to write for themselves and NOT to get famous or to please a publisher. To me, that is the only way for true satisfaction of all the hard work.
Thanx again and I will post a link to this site to make more folks aware of the help you are providing. Keep writing!

Thoughts from all over... said...

I also want to post a link for readers to go directly to the books you currently offer. With the array available, which one should I use??????

John H. Carroll said...

Hi Tom!

Thank you for the support. You are correct in that a person should write from their heart. Of course, I won't begrudge someone from writing what's popular if it feeds the kids. ;)

As far as which link to use, You can give them my Amazon page: or my Smashwords page:

Whichever you think your readers would prefer.

All my best,