Monday, November 30, 2009

Tis the Season

Sales of Crown, Avempartha, and Nyphron have been impressively brisk as of late. Crown sales reached an all time high this weekend. I’d like to think it is because the books are finally reaching critical mass through word-of-mouth, but this was also the weekend of Black Friday, the day retail stores enter black numbers on their ledgers. So maybe the sales are just the result of holiday shoppers, but even so, compared to last year, Crown is rocking.

The arcane enigma that is the Amazon sale rank—the subject of great study and dubious speculation—is far from an accurate reflection of number-of-units-sold, but the contrast at least is striking. The lower the number the better and last year about this time I was excited if my sales rank was below 500,000. I reasoned that since ranks run into the millions, this was respectable. After all, at that time I was an unknown author with one book.

Now I am an unknown author with three books so being under say, 200,000 would be great. Only I’m not under two hundred thousand. The sales rank of Crown has been fairly consistent hovering around the 20,000 mark with an all time low of 14,000. That might mean I am only selling 50 books a week, (that seems like a lot—but it really isn’t. Bestsellers move between 1000 and 10,000 a day.) When you factor in that, I make a buck or two a book that means I make a gross profit of only a couple thousand a year from which I subtract promotion costs for bookmarks, posters, etc. This leaves me in the hole overall, but I’m not complaining because the contrast between last year and this, is impressive. Regardless of how many actual books sell (a number I can never obtain but can only guess at,) it is clear that the situation has improved dramatically. People are buying the books in record numbers.

As I said however, this might all be a month-long blip due to holiday shoppers, but last year’s shoppers were not nearly so merry about the little gold book named The Crown Conspiracy. It is possible that hordes of impatient people were waiting for three books to hit the shelves before starting the series. If I remember correctly, I started reading Harry Potter the year the third book was released, but that was only coincidence. It is also possible that people are spreading the word, and sharing the books—virally infecting the reading public with news about Riyria.

Whatever it is, tis the season to be jolly.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

It’s Quiet, Too Quiet

Releasing a book isn’t like the release of a movie. There’s no early showings, no glitzy debut or parties to attend. More importantly, you can’t sit in the dark and listen to people murmur, laugh or cry. You can’t watch them walk out disgusted halfway through, or applaud at the end. You can’t get up the next day and read in the paper how critics are appalled at your lack of creativity, or how they are putting your name in for awards.

Releasing a book is…different.

You finish it, package it up, and mail it into a netherworld where it disappears without a sound. It is like throwing a stone in a canyon waiting for the echo.