The latest tale in the saga of our indie publishing is a tragedy, not a triumph. We plan to turn it around, and you’ll get a ring side seat, but here’s the scoop for now.

Some of you may recall that we had a tremendous run on KDP Select with Saving Grace, first as a free promo in late October and then as a best selling ebook. It was so great in November that we want to tell you about the numbers that month, the months leading up to November, and the first few days of December. It helps to show you all sources of income aggregated for all books, so here’s how it looks (click to see it all):

Part of the benefit of KDP Select is that Amazon allows its Prime members to borrow your ebook as part of their membership at no additional charge to the member, and Amazon pays the participating books/authors/publishers their share of a pool of designated funds each month based on their percentage of overall member borrows.

Note that in October, with the pre-launch of Saving Grace, income was up. Then we ran all my books into KDP Select, and Saving Grace in the free promo. We did 33,000+ downloads in the promo.

In November, total income was way up. Including and especially on Kindle, where we had Saving Grace priced first at $4.99 then at $3.99 (separate post someday in the future on pricing strategy– it’s important and too detailed to address here). It also became a bestseller for most of the month. We priced the other five books at $2.99. In October, we made $2.36 per borrow, and we estimated the same amount per borrow for November.

All in all, since my first book only came out in May 2012, we were really happy with nearly $4500 in royalties for November. Note: actual sales $$ are much higher of course, but there is a cost of goods sold element which royalties are net of. There are also additional expenses, both before and after publication, but this isn’t a post on running an indie publishing business. I’ll write that at a later date, possibly a “first year retrospective” that includes profit/loss and costs. Suffice it to say we were elated with the numbers.

Then we got some bad news. Smashwords, with whom we had previously listed Saving Grace, had tried repeatedly on our behalf to get Apple to pull it down so that we could do KDP Select exclusively, as required. Apple did not comply. KDP Select booted Saving Grace.

We gnashed our teeth and sought advice and decided that with our upcoming marketing and promotional blitz plans for mid-December 2012 through March 2013 (online ads, publicist, and paid blog tour), that fate had spoken and we were better off available through all possible outlets, foregoing the $2.36/book borrow fee through KDP Select. {Huge sigh.} We hope this decision is right in the long run. For December, it looks awful. We sold 19 Kindles of Saving Grace per day in November, and we are down to 3/day in December. We did 35 borrows per day in November, and there are none and will be none for December. The other five books are still under exclusive for KDP Select. We re-enrolled Saving Grace with PubIt (Barnes & Noble) and Smashwords, and we enrolled it in Omnilit and Kobo. So far, zippo under any of them.

So, the promo and marketing are about to kick off, with the biggest surge unfortunately not until January. We are hopeful that we will regain some mojo in December, but without the exponential impact of rankings and KDP Select promo we are at a disadvantage just when the sales opportunity is best. Big fat freakin’ bummer.

I will say that the fantastic reviews continue to pour in, and are up from 19 to 71 from pre- to post-free promo on KDP Select. We’ve also experimented with a giveaway on Goodreads to increase the number of ratings there and it has taken it from 17 to 45 in three weeks. I hope this continues.

I am not a big fan of Amazon, the company. I hate their review policy, although I won’t rehash it here. I do recognize what they did for us as an indie author and indie publishing company through KDP Select, though, and I am hoping that we don’t live to regret our decision to accept Apple’s foot dragging as fate.

I’ll update you as updates become available.


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2 Responses to Interesting, and not in a good way: sales crash post KDP Select.

  1. Terri Sonoda says:

    Very interesting! I learn more with every post on this website and look forward to each one. I am in the middle of a Free promotion for my book, and am getting lots of downloads. Too bad that doesn’t happy when I’m charging 99 cents. Oh well. I’m just elated to have so many people reading my book. I’m hoping to get a better handle on this marketing stuff with my second book. Time will tell. Thanks for all the good info!

    • Eric says:

      You are welcome. We figured if even a tiny percentage of Pamela’s downloads resulted in reads, we had gained light years in visibility, and the reviews are bearing this out. The paid sales were also great. The ongoing sales of course are higher than we had expected the book to sell in the first place. It’s just hard not to be frustrated with the terrible timing of losing KDP Select, as obviously that was quite lucrative for us.