Part of my goal as an indie author is to be as open and honest about my journey as possible. When I share my sales like I will do in this post, I do so because I think it is helpful to learn from other people’s experiences. That being said, there are people who have higher initial sales than I had and people who would be excited to have my numbers on their reports. Comparing ourselves to others is a quick way to ruin the experience of being a writer. So please take these numbers in the spirit in which they are given. Maybe my experiences and my strategies will be helpful for you.
To those who have no interest in publishing a book and just want to see the numbers, you are welcome too. I am going to start out with the context before I get to the numbers, so feel free to skip whatever you like.
For those that are new, I published No Heart for a Thief on January 24, 2023. I published exclusively for with Kindle for my ebook, however, I published my paperback through Ingramspark and Amazon so that I could have my book in other online and physical stores.
I set my ebook at $0.99 and have it as a part of the Kindle Unlimited subscription service in an effort to remove as many barriers to potential readers. My goal with this book is to build a readership, even at the expense of my profits. If this strategy pays off, I will find readers that will follow me through my career, and the initial lost revenue will be worth it.
To that end, I put out as many Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) as I could regardless of a reviewer’s platform. I wanted as many reviews and people speaking about my book as possible. For more information about this strategy, check out this blog post.
Since launching my book, I have tried a few different paid advertisements. I tried both Facebook and Amazon ads for a brief period to limited success. I will continue to try to figure out how to use them to my advantage. I also tried two virtual book tours, however I cannot correlate any sales directly to these tours. Last, I held a giveaway on StoryGraph, which I also cannot attribute any sale to.
This is part of the difficulty. You can almost never say definitively that a promotion brought in sales. You can measure clicks and impressions. You can evaluate if giveaways led to reviews. However, a lot of what you end up doing is educated guessing, and sometimes, the word “educated” is not pulling its weight.
The one promotion that I can fairly certainly say helped me out was my free ebook promotion on Amazon. As a part of the Narratess indie book sale at the beginning of April, I gave away my book for free on Amazon
to 2552 people. This drove my book to #1 in one category and #4 and #5 in others. I have never had my book added to people’s reading list on Goodreads at the same rate as during and directly following that sale. My ebook sales went up immediately after the sale and continued strong through the rest of the month.
For full transparency, I extended my free promotion a day longer than the Narratess sale and pay for placement in the Freebooksy newsletter, both of which helped my book find more eyes than some other books in the sale.
While I cannot definitively say that my free promotion was responsible for the larger number of reviews, ebook sales, and adds on Goodreads than the previous month, I am fairly confident that it played a role.
Would I do another free promotion? Maybe. I think that it’s a tool that being exclusive with Kindle offers me, and I will probably use it again when it makes sense.
Will I run free sales often? No. Part of the benefit of a free sale is spiking your numbers in the algorithm to bring more eyes to your book. If I did it too regularly, the sale would work against me.
Here is the reason many of you continued on (or scrolled, I see you) with this blog post. What are my sales like? I’ll break it down into a few categories to make it as clear as possible.
I launched No Heart for a Thief with 196 ebook preorders. This number shocked me, but I was able to get the word out through my ARC team, and I think the low price point helped. Since then, I have rarely gone a day where I don’t sell a couple. Most days I sell 2-3 ebooks. There have been a couple days with zero ebook sales, and some that have shot up much higher. The day after my free promotion, I sold 15 copies of No Heart for a Thief.
In total, I sold 600 ebooks between January 24 and April 26 on Amazon.
That is in addition to the 2573 ebooks I have given away through the StoryGraph giveaway and my free promotion on Amazon.
Kindle Unlimited allows subscribers to read any KU book with no any additional cost, and authors are paid based on pages read. The price per page read varies based on the number of subscribers and how many pages the total readership of subscribers consumes. So it is hard to estimate how much income will come in through KU each month, but it is typically $0.003-$0.005 per page read. Which, oddly enough, pays me more for each fully read book than my ebook sales because my book is longer than most and my ebook is priced at $0.99.
In the first three months, KU readers have read 90,013 pages. This is amazing and comes out to about 209 books.
My paperbacks priced to match other indie books in my genre at $15.99. In addition to Amazon, they are available to order from a slew of other online bookstores through Ingramspark. Signed versions are available through my website and Silverstones Books.
I have sold 38 paperbacks through Amazon, 38 paperbacks through IngramSpark, and 20 through my website. I have also sent 20 signed copies to Silverstone, but I am not 100% sure how many have sold. I think the number is closer to 10, so we will go with that.
That brings my paperback sales to 106 books.
I also gave away 10 paperbacks in the StoryGraph giveaway.
This month on April 20, I launched my hardcovers of No Heart for a Thief. Unfortunately, the whole time they have been “temporarily out of stock” on Amazon. I made a change to the formatting a little too close to the release date, so it will take time for them to make their way back to Amazon. Hopefully, it won’t be more than another week or two.
That being said, I have sold 16 hardcover books through Ingramspark.
Total sales: 722 books
Total sales (including KU): 931 books
Total Giveaways: 2583*
*These numbers do not include ARCs, review copies, book tour copies, or any other books given to reviewers. I consider those different and apart from giveaways.
So how does this translate to dollars and cents? Well, I still haven’t earned enough to balance my costs. I didn’t expect to do that very quickly, especially as I am still spending money on promotions, creating an audiobook, and producing No Safe Haven (Malitu Book Two).
Some of these numbers are estimates, and many are based on money that won’t come in for months. I should see my first payments from Ingramspark this next month and Amazon also works on a couple months delay.
Estimated Amazon Royalties: $705.32
Estimated Ingramsparks Royalties: $170.64
Other Sales: $94.98
Total profit from sales: $970.94
To put that in some context, between production costs for both books, an audiobook, and promotions, I have invested over $11,000 into my writing career in the last two years. If sales continue, or hopefully grow, I believe I will make that money back in the long run. However, this is important context because my investments inform my sales.
I will continue to share data on my sales as I move forward, but I probably won’t do another post until 6 months in. Hopefully, sharing this information with the writing and reading community is helpful.