Monday, 1 June 2015

30 days in June - The 1,000 sales challenge

I've had a tremendous response to the last blog entry I made on marketing and selling Kindle books. One kind respondent on one of the Facebook groups I participate in even went so far as to say:

 "that was one of the best blog articles on marketing books that I have ever read"

Encouraged by this, and with the risk of ending up with egg on my face, I've decided to put my money where my mouth is and "go live" throughout the month of June when I'll be tracking what I'm doing via this blog. Apologies to readers who don't follow me for the book stuff but I'll endeavour to entertain too.

To make it more interesting, I am going to set myself an extremely ambitious target, that target being to sell 1,000 copies in total of all my books during the calendar month - that is including borrows which pay out at just under a quid a shot, so they all count.

If you'd said to me a year ago I'd ever be contemplating selling 1,000 books in a month, I'd have thought I was dreaming. At that time, 100 in a month seemed unattainable. A year before that I would have been congratulating myself on getting 10. Let's hope it's exponential and next year I'm sitting here going for 10,000! OK - now I really am dreaming.

So, how am I going to do this? Through a combination of maximising my usage of the Amazon Select programme and spending a good wedge of cash on a number of promotional campaigns - about $200 in total. If you are wondering why I am stating that in dollars rather than pounds, it is because all of the sites I am promoting with are in the USA, so it makes sense to stick with the currency I am dealing in.

So, 1,000 books - can I do it? In April and May I exceeded 500 for the first time in both months. I had very little promotion in May, other than a Kindle Countdown Deal on poor old unloved Fortysomething Father in the final week which yielded no sales whatsoever. This in itself proves a point I've made before - promoting a book that doesn't sell at all will not make it sell just because it is on promotion. I've seen 4x and 5x uplifts on Countdown Deals on my books that do sell. So you could argue that happened on Fortysomething Father too - as 5x zero is still zero. To be fair, I did nothing to promote it either, not a single tweet or post to let people know, but I don't think it would have made much difference.

In this month, June, each of my other books will be on Countdown Deal during the month, though all the action will focus around the third week of the month. All of the marketing budget is going to be spent on one book only, My Tomorrow Your Yesterday, and it is all going to be during that week. This is the full line up of Countdown Deals for the month:

1st - 7th June: Austerity Dad
8th - 14th June: The Sausage Man
15th - 21st June - My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday
22nd - 28th June - The Time Bubble
29th June - 4th July - Global Cooling.

I expect the first two weeks to see very little activity. Those two books don't sell in any great numbers either, it is only my fiction books that sell. So by the time we get to the 15th, I'll probably be lagging some way behind my target but I hope to make it up in the second half of the month.

To put everything into context, here's a breakdown of what I sold in May:

609 in total (61% of this month's target)

By Type:

Sales 349 (57%)
Borrows 260 (43%)

That alone is a very convincing argument for being in Select.

By Country:

USA 330 (54%)
UK 272 (45%)
Others 7 (1%)

That's fortunate, as it is only in the USA and UK where you can run Countdown Deals so these are clearly the two markets to concentrate on. Interestingly, this is the first month where my USA sales have exceeded my UK sales - well they do say the secret to success is to crack the American market.

By Book

My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday 306 (50%)
The Time Bubble 208 (34%)
Global Cooling 89 (15%)
Austerity Dad 3
Sausage Man 2
Fortysomething Father 1 (Thanks, whoever you were!)

As you can see, the new book is doing best, and it seems to make that the focus of my promotional activity. As for the bottom 3, they are very much in the relegation zone. It is not worth spending any time on them, I'm quite happy to let them bump along and let them surprise me with the odd sale. Funnily enough, The Sausage Man does shift a few paperbacks. They aren't included in this analysis, accounting for very few sales overall, It is Kindle all the way.

So that's the state of play as of today. Each day I am going to report the previous day's sales, as well as giving an update on the sales ranking of My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday (from here on referred to as MTYY).

So as at lunchtime on Monday 1st June, MTYY is ranked as follows:

UK: #15,584
US: #19,310

Not a bad point to start from. In my next entry, I'll talk about where and how I am going to spend my marketing budget for the big push during week 3.


 Jason Ayres is the author of six books, including his brand new novel, My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday, available here:


  1. Excellent article Jason. It's comprehensive and transparent which is just what indie writers in particular need to give them clear guidance. I am also one for conducting experiments, but I aim to do so without spending money on marketing campaigns if I can avoid it. I have done in the past, but these days I try to get the books to do the work.
    I've now subscribed to your blog - which I thought I already had, but at least that's sorted now. Good luck with this endeavor mate.
    I'll be watching as I carry on writing.

    1. Thanks, Tom, appreciate that. I was in two minds about whether or not to publish sales figures, but it adds clarity and lays everything bare on the table. I've no idea which bits of the marketing will succeed and which won't - but it is going to be fun finding out - and not too expensive hopefully!