Sales results – Month 1 as an indie author

Posted on October 1st, 2011

This is my first monthly report on how sales are going for my book.  Eventually I’ll include multiple books as I release them.

Why release my numbers publicly?

By sharing this publicly, I hope it helps other indie authors set expectations, plus it helps me maintain a monthly record of what I’ve done and what the results were.


Book Title: The Caldarian Conflict (preview)
Current Rating: 4.5 stars with six reviews on Amazon
Pricing: $2.99 ebook, $10.95 paperback

Favorite quote from a review: “I was literally up all night because I couldn’t stop reading (if there are any typos in this review blame them on my blurry vision).” – Maxine McLister (Amazon)

This month’s goal: 100 books sold (ebook & physical)
Total sales: 124 books sold – 50 ebooks and 74 paperbacks
Promotional copies: 41 ebooks + 12 paperbacks (not included in sales)


I’m pretty pleased with the results.  Exceeding my goal for first month’s sales is pretty awesome–especially since I had no measurements to guide my estimate.

My biggest surprise? That physical books outsold the ebooks this month.  With everything I’ve read, and the lower price point on the ebooks, I expected ebooks to far exceed paperbacks.

That said, it’s probably a result of the heavy marketing I did.  The single biggest day of sales was 43 paperbacks at my launch party.

At this point, I think it’s most effective for me to allow people time to read the book and (hopefully) write reviews.  With the exception of occasional tweets and Facebook posts, I plan to focus most of my spare time on writing additional material.

I’m also planning to point out that signed copies of The Caldarian Conflict make a great unique gift for fantasy fans. (hint hint: check the right-hand panel for ordering autographed copies, or buy from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, CreateSpace, or Smashwords)

In October, I plan to invest a lot of time working on my next two projects.  With luck, I’ll finish the first draft of at least one of them by year-end.

Next month’s goal: 50 books (ebook & physical), due to spending much less time marketing

What do you think?  Should I continue focusing on writing more material? Or are there other marketing avenues that I should pursue?

15 responses to “Sales results – Month 1 as an indie author”

  1. John Bullock says:

    These look like impressive figures. I guess it’s hard to tell how successful it’s been without knowing how much of your own cash you spent on marketing. For example, what percentage of the money you spent marketing did you make back in profit in that first month?

  2. Really good question.

    There were three things that cost me money: the launch party (the big expense, at about $1000), BookRooster ($67, for reviews) and the books sent as promotional copies (approximately $100).

    From a dollars and cents point of view, I recovered about $400 of that cost this month, which means I need to make another $800 to break even on marketing costs. However, I’ve gotten a lot of word of mouth, positive press, and excellent reviews. With luck, I’ll be able to leverage that investment for a long time to come.

    Also, I should note that the launch party was something I did both as a promotion and as a celebration with friends. The intangible “making memories” and celebrating the completion of my first novel is worth a fair amount to me.

    I’m pleased with the progress so far, but I’m not at the point of making the “big bucks” yet. That remains to be seen. 🙂

  3. John Bullock says:

    Oh, I wasn’t implying that all your cash should have been returned in the first month, I just meant that the percentage of your expenditure makes for a better indication than your book sales. For example, if you’d sold 124 books at $14.99, you’d be a little richer 😀

    Either way, I have my Kindle version which, despite my earlier insistence that I hadn’t the time to read it just yet, I have started reading it, and like the two chapters I’ve gotten through.

  4. Ah, yes, understood. That makes sense.

    I chose to err on the side of keeping my books as cheap as possible, while still making some profit. At this point, I just want as many readers as I can find. 🙂

    I’m glad you’re enjoying it so far. Hope you’re able to finish it soon!

  5. Hi Mike,

    congratulations! This looks like an impressive result (found this post via Reddit). Since I’m not a usual reader (I may become one, after all my RSS reader is already crowded 😉 what did you use for self-publishing a paperback copy? I have plans to write at least 2 books (one about memory techniques has already started, but stalled due to lack of time, the other… we’ll see, I want to use a set of posts I’m in the middle of writing as the backbone) and I’m interested in knowing more options than Amazon (if it is Amazon, it’s also a good option, I just wanted to know).

    Have a nice day,


  6. I used CreateSpace for printing the paperbacks. I’ve been very pleased with their quality, and their pricing is pretty good too. I upgraded to the pro plan for $39, which significantly reduces the per-book cost.

    CreateSpace is owned by Amazon, so I guess it’s kind of like going through them. I also investigated Lulu and a few others, but none matched CreateSpace’s per-book cost and quality. One thing to note is that CreateSpace does not offer hardcovers, so if you want those, you’ll need to go through a different service.

  7. LK Watts says:

    Hi Mike,

    First of all, congratulations on your success. It just goes to show what positive things can be acheived if you have a little faith in yourself. I always love to read posts like these because it shows there are plenty of indie authors starting out on a successful career.

  8. Thanks, LK! Very appreciated.

  9. Anna says:

    You want to go out of the regional area? 🙂 I thought of your book as we were working on our Florida trip. St. Augustine has pirate stuff just like Savannah. In fact, there is a boat dinner theater of going on a treasure hunt. I don’t know if the boat actually leaves the dock (would be cool if it did).

    I guess where I am going is trying to come up with thinking-outside-the-box marketing. Find quirky places where you might be able to place books. Maybe partner with places offering a pirate gift basket they could give away, find out if they would carry your book, etc. You just need to figure out what the marketing goal is first. Do you want to build a database of contact for future books/more traffic to website? Or do you want to build sales? Depending on your time, maybe you could start a quirky blog talking about pirate stuff and the world the book is based on. (I wasn’t sure if you had done this already).

  10. Those are great ideas. I’ve been getting sales internationally already (Canada, UK, and Germany), so it’s already spreading. That said, if I could link up with a Renaissance Festival or some of the events you’re mentioning, that would be pretty dang cool. I’ll have to think more about that. Thanks!

  11. Mike,

    Phenomenal first month! I’ve never had a single book break 100, so major kudos to you for that. Sounds to me like I could use some pointers! Granted, I don’t push the print books because, well, I just don’t really care for print books anymore. I believe the future is digital and I’m happy to make the transition and encourage others to do so as well. Plus Createspace has pissed me off one time too many.

    I’ve got Tweets set up to go out every 45 – 65 minutes and I try to change them up fairly often. I adjust them even sooner if I catch any feedback or flack from people about them. My goal is to work with my readers, not to alienate them!

    Outside of that I’m not sure I have any additional advice to offer – especially if you’re cranking out 50+ ebooks a month. Check out a few guides from some authors that figured it out and are doing it full time – M.R. Mattias (@dahgmahn) and Michael Hicks (@kreelanwarrior), as well as John Locke.

    If we’re following one another shoot me a DM, I’d be happy to drop an occasional retweet for you as well (and hopefully you’ll do the same for me. 😉 ). If you’re not following me, why not? Look me up (@booksbyjason) and I’ll reciprocate in very short order.

    -Jason Halstead

  12. Thanks, Jason! It was a lot of work, pushing out to all of my social networks and doing a lot of events. It was also a lot of fun, but unsustainable with continuing to write new books.

    What tool do you use to schedule your tweets? I’ve had some trouble with TweetDeck sending out tweets that are too similar…they seem to get held up for some reason. I’m wondering if I need to try a different tool.

    This month it looks like I’m actually on track for 30 ebook/physical books, but I’ve been doing significantly less marketing.

    Looking forward to interacting with you more!

  13. hfase says:

    Looking good! Quite inspiring to watch you get the ball rolling on this!

  14. […] that authoring can pay off, in that case you should check out Michael’s posts here “Sales results – Month 1 as an indie author” explaining what he has earned with a little hard work on hist first month after […]

  15. Thanks Hans! Very appreciated.

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