I promised a third post, discussing things I had learned and what I might decide to differently in future eBook publications. With a few weeks having passed, now felt like a good time to do that. I'll caveat all of this that I'm going off a single "experiment" here and that I'm generalizing from it. If you've experienced something dramatically different from what I've described, I'd be very interested to hear about it.
The first thing I've learned is that my supposition about what sales would be like was correct. In my first post, I said: "I wouldn't be surprised to see a couple more sales trickle in through these channels over the next couple of weeks, but unless I put more effort into getting eyeballs to the eBook it's probably going to have very, very few sales from month to month."
So far, that's been spot on. I got a handful of sales right away when I announced the launch of the book and another small handful (including one borrow from the Kindle Lending Library) several days later when the first blog post went up and someone who I know only casually through Twitter tweeted about the story. (I have no idea which, if either, of those drive that handful of sales.)
Since that second little burst, though, there've been only a pair of isolated sales. That includes the release of the blog post on the cover art and a couple of passing tweets mentioning the eBook. I'm not disappointed by this -- it's exactly what I expected. But it's still good information to have. I'd consider there to be three lessons learned here:
- Simply throwing an eBook out to the wild, especially one with a title which provides no ready "hook" for a reader, is going to net very few sales.
- The percentage of people who follow you/subscribe to your blog/etc. who buy what you're selling is going to be very small for a random (non-targeted) eBook such as this one. This may not be quite as true if you're selling something specifically aimed towards a particular market. If I was, for example, blogging and tweeting about hockey regularly and had a following of hockey enthusiasts, I think there'd be a fair chance of a slightly higher sales rate. Even then, I would expect it to be in the single-digits percentage-wise.
- Secondary promotion (at least without some new news, like a price break or something of that nature) seemed to have little/no impact. So, in my opinion, those people who are out there tweeting "Buy My Book" every hour or every day aren't "just" irritating people, they're doing it needlessly. (Admittedly, you would think that they would stop doing it if it was getting no results. But it's not something I'd feel comfortable doing.)
- Get a second set of eyes on the cover design before release. Someone I know locally is a professor who deals with graphic design regularly. He had a suggestion on tightening up the cover design a bit which I would have preferred to be able to do before the release. I've already followed this advice (both his specific advice and showing him and a few other people a mockup) for a cover I've designed for a work in progress which I'm intending to have be an eBook release this summer.
- For something that I want to heavily promote, put in the time to research rollout promotion websites, etc. For a 99 cent stand-alone short story, there doesn't seem to be much point to that. But for something I was releasing at $2.99 and/or as part of a series, I could see the effort being worthwhile.
- I want to research Smashwords and other platforms as well though at this point I'm inclined to wait to do that until I'm sure that releasing new eBooks regularly is something that I'll plan on doing into 2013. For now, I'm happy with the (relatively) easy process of putting an eBook up on Amazon.
As a related aside, there's a growing chance that I won't release a May eBook. There are a variety of reasons for this, but it all boils down to wanting to release the right product at the right time. I'm OK with "Gravity's Pull" being one to learn from even if it ends up not coming even close to the target where I'd be content with its sales numbers. Whatever I release next, I want it to be something that I feel is worth putting some marketing effort into and (probably) have it be something which can justify the $2.99 price point.