Numbers For August: Sales & Revenue Rise Again

Regular readers will know that I post my monthly numbers in terms of sales and dollars.

Today, I have August’s numbers for you. If you have an aversion to sales talk or wallet peeking, look away now.

I have just returned from vacation, and before I get stuck into the numbers, I would like to thank all my guest posters who kept things ticking over in my absence with some fine articles.

So, to the numbers.

In short, as you can see, August was my best month to date.

May: 153

June: 78

July: 253

August: 392

I had no new release last month but I was boosted by the continuing strong performance of Let’s Get Digital.

A combination of excellent Amazon reviews (43 reviews with an average of 4.9 on Amazon US alone), superb reviews from influential blogs (such as Big Al’s Books and Pals and Pixel of Ink), and innumerable mentions on Twitter and fellow writer’s blogs led to unexpectedly strong numbers which only began dipping towards the end of the month.

Even though it cost over $1000 to publish, that money was made back a mere 35 days after release. From now on, it’s all profit.

In fact, the only title not in profit is Transfection, which still lags behind the rest. However, overall, my entire self-publishing enterprise is in profit, due to unexpected extra revenue this month.

May: $70

June: $35

July: $425

August: $870

The huge increase in July was down to the release of my first title at $2.99, accessing the more lucrative 70% royalty rate.

It was only released towards the end of that month, and August’s figures benefit from a lot of the new release buzz.

However, one unexpected source of revenue was the free PDF version of Let’s Get Digital. It pulled in $146.50 in PayPal donations from readers – roughly a fifth of my overall revenue – for which I am both surprised and grateful.

As for more conventional sales channels, here is the breakdown for August.

Amazon US: 280

Amazon UK: 94

Amazon DE: 2 13

Smashwords Partners: 3

The stand-out here is that UK sales are growing at an even faster rate than US sales. However, that’s just when you look at the month as a whole.

Looking at my daily figures, I can see that there was a big drop off in US sales towards the end of the month, while the UK kept growing.

And in fact, looking at the first half of September, I can see that pattern continue. US sales are in the doldrums (relatively speaking), while the UK is holding on. In fact, they have nearly reached parity, which is a complete surprise.

Overall, I’m extremely pleased with August’s performance. $870 is a fantastic amount of money to bring in for only my fourth month. On top of that, the UK goes from strength to strength. I still can’t get any traction on the Smashwords partner sites, but with the reporting delays on those sales, I have no real idea how I am doing.

The tone of this sales report would have been a lot bouncier had I written it at the start of September but, the fact is, sales have tanked this month. The UK hasn’t dropped quite as much as the US where numbers have simply collapsed.

I have no real idea of the cause just yet, or even if there is one other than the fact that I have been on vacation for two weeks with no internet access. And to be honest, my primary focus is on getting my next title out, hopefully in October.

On the other hand, all that revenue is money in the bank (or at least it will be in a couple of months), and all those sales are new readers I have reached. No matter how bad numbers drop this month, that can’t be taken away.

So, instead of running around with a big promo gun for the rest of the month, trying to pull my numbers out of the fire, I’m just going to let things keep ticking over at a low level on their own and focus on writing.

When I get A Storm Hits Valparaíso up, then it will be worth devoting time to promotion. Until then, it’s back to wrestling the beast over the finish line.

I only got to this point because of everyone who helped promote and review Let’s Get Digital, and for that I am truly grateful. It must have nearly 150 reviews and ratings from the last 7 weeks across all the sites.

I got home from my vacation today – which I hope to write about soon – and I have a mountain of emails to deal with. If you are waiting for something from me, I ask for your continued patience while I clear the backlog.

It was weird being completely offline for two weeks. Bear with me while I adapt to the culture shock of working again.

Anything happen while I was gone?

David Gaughran

Born in Ireland, he now lives in a little fishing village in Portugal, although this hasn’t increased the time spent outside. He writes novels under another name, has helped thousands of authors build a readership with his books, blogs, workshops, and courses, and has created marketing campaigns for some of the biggest self-publishers on the planet. Friend to all dogs.

39 Replies to “Numbers For August: Sales & Revenue Rise Again”

    1. Thanks Bill. I would like to say that it’s good to be back, but, to be honest, I could easily spend the rest of my life doing all seven shades of nothing on a remote beach…

      But that’s going to require shifting a few more books 🙂

        1. I saw your graphs and wrote about it a little today (and linked to you). Trade paperback figures were shocking. There seemed to be a slight change-up this month with 79 houses reporting print data and 15 reporting e-data. Depending on which houses didn’t report this time around, that could skew things a lot, and there is no indication that the AAP adjust or weight their year-on-year comparisons to take account of this.

          Having said that, the number is still shocking. Trade paperback numbers have been comparatively robust. Not this time.

  1. Welcome back! I hope you had a great vacation.

    Yeah, I think the only way to have any kind of stability or continuity is to have a large number of titles, with new ones coming out on a regular basis. Dean Wesley Smith did an interesting post a couple of days ago that addressed that issue.

    Good luck with your next release! I look forward to checking it out!

    1. The vacation was great, really great. I was very sad to leave.

      I look forward to catching up with Dean’s blog (and the rest). There is no doubt that more titles help. Each one is another chance for readers to discover you, and the greatest battle we all face is the one against obscurity. Also, while certain titles may ebb and fall, and certain channels may be strong one month and weak the next, having lots of titles out on as many channels as possible is the best way to protect yourself from external shocks that can hammer your sales. There are so many advantages to having many titles out, for sure. My only concern is not to sacrifice quality in the name of expediency.

  2. Congratulations Dave – and welcome back!

    And in relation to the drop in sales for September – I saw a thread somewhere on which various authors complained about experiencing a similar drop, specifically in relation to the American market. Opinion seemed to be divided re the cause. Somebody said Hurricane Irene was partially to blame – a lot of people would have had no power and thus no access to the internet. Somebody else said it might be partially due to 9/11 – a nation in mourning and thus not interested in buying ebooks.

    More likely, a lot of people were holiday, just like your good self!

    1. Thanks Aonghus.

      I’m not going to fret too much about it, what goes up must come down after all. I will keep an eye on it though. But really, I will be focusing on getting my next release out.

  3. Welcome back David, and thanks for taking the time to post August figures when you’re still thrashing through a mountain of emails. Good to see Let’s Get Digital continuing to do well for you, too. It’s a very worthwhile read.

  4. Welcome back from Portugal, we southern hemisphere people don’t have traditions of travelling to Portugal for holidays. LOL. The Cook Islands or The Gold Coast are our warm holiday haven equivalents. September sales across the board are down in New Zealand – with the exception of anything which is related to the Rugby World Cup. So maybe September is simply one of those quiet months. As a self-employed person relying on the public for income I can attest that waves of buying seem to run world-wide. Sometimes you can’t serve customers fast enough and other times you may as well go on holiday. Fortunately with ebooks our stores are open 24/7 and we benefit from that so long as we do not allow ourselves, as you say – to fall into obscurity.
    Looking forward to further instalments of Valparaiso. We are working on final edits for our next book, a murder mystery scheduled for publication at the end of the month.

    1. Unless all my American readers have suddenly discovered a latent rugby obsession, I would say the cause is somewhat different! Sales are running at about 25% of normal levels. That’s quite a drop. But hey, it could be worse, and at least I have another new release ready to pump things up again.

      And if you are going to miss two weeks of checking numbers, it’s best that it’s the bad ones! New chapter of the book tomorrow.

  5. Wow! Really admire your huevos for posting your numbers like that. Congrats on the growing success, BTW. I was curious. You mentioned spending $1,000 on publishing. I’m guessing you paid for a cover artist, the ISBN and probably an editor. What else did you have to spend money on? Great post 🙂

    1. That was all editing. I use an experienced pro, and she is worth every penny. My sister (to date) has kindly donated her design services, I haven’t needed an ISBN thus far, and I do the rest myself.

      I promised at the start to post all my numbers so that people could see how an unknown, unpublished writer would get on. I regretted that in June, and I will regret it again this month when things take another dip, but what the hell. C’est la vie.

  6. Welcome back, David. Your guests were wonderful as was to be expected and they offered more food for thought. Now you’re back, you can continue the stirring of the pot that we indies rely on. Serve up those bites that make you blog a ‘must read’. Congratulations and envy on your rapid figure rise!

    1. Thanks Melissa, but one pretty good month doesn’t make me a success by any stretch! This month will be dramatically lower – I can tell you that right now. It will require continual work to even get a month like this again, but I will keep at it.

  7. Corn in Egypt! Nice to have you back, David.

    Thanks for posting your figures, they make for interesting reading. Everyone seems to be experiencing a September drop off in sales but there’s no concensus as to the cause. I hope things pick up before I’m published.

    Glad you enjoyed the holiday.

  8. That’s great, David!! August was my best month as well, I have three titles out and one coming out in October. I released the first three within a month of each other. I’m seeing my sales trickle in (about 100/day~which isn’t bad), but I was hitting over 200/day. And I wonder if it has to do with the length between releasing my next novel. It’s the first time that I’ve had two months between releases. What are you thoughts on that?

    1. It’s really hard to say; there are just too many variables. It could be seasonal. It could be the “new release” buzz fading. It could be your books being on a Amazon “Hot New Release” list, then dropping off after 30 days. You might have been on the first page of some influential also boughts, then got bumped off by another new release. One wave of word of mouth could have hit a dead end. But all that could be reignited again, either organically, through promotion, or by your new release. The one factor that is firmly in your control is the production of new content. That will always give your sales (of all titles) a shot in the arm (unless it’s a radically different genre). Each new title is a chance both to sell to your existing readership, and a chance for new readers to discover you through all those little promotional breadcrumbs that accompany the new release that lead back to you and your books. The more titles you have out, the more return you will get for your promotional efforts, as readers seem to buy all your titles if they like the first that they read.

      You could probably scientifically analyze the optimum time between releases, the optimum day of the week to release, and all that kind of stuff. But ultimately, what is going to keep adding numbers is good books and more of them.

  9. Welcome back, David, you were missed!

    I love that you’re positing these numbers. It feels somewhat special to be on the ground floor of all this right here with you. (I missed Konrath before he became the Konrath.)

  10. Congrats on the August sales David, nice to see that your Let’s Get Digital experiment has paid off. Some have mentioned the drop in sales in September already, either way, you at least have made some headway in gaining readers and generating some exposure for your name and your brand. I’m sure that with the release of your next book you’ll see a similar explosion in sales, and as long as you’re still getting some sales, it’s better than none! Good luck, and get that book finished.

    1. Thanks Brett. I’m quite sanguine about it. August was way, way ahead of where I expected to be, so maybe there is no harm having a little correction now, and getting those expectations back to realistic levels. Sales will go up and down. Such is life. I can’t really control that. What I can control is writing. Speaking of which…

  11. Dave

    Checking out your blog for the first time after seeing your comments over on Joe’s blog. I recall seeing a post from you somewhere back in the summer after your book first went out and though you had single digits at the time you said the whole experience was as exciting as hell to watch things unfold. Now you’re in the hundreds and climbing. Looks like you have a phenomenal system for tracking and analyzing your progress, Congrats and best of luck getting up to the 10k’s a month!

    Also loved the interview on fearnet with you, Blake, Joe and the others. Fantastic info! Thanks for being part of the Kindle information sharing movement. I hope to have my first short online soon (for free…with trailer blurbs and samples for an upcoming novella and novel) so I can’t wait to jump into the fray.



    1. Hey Dave,

      Sorry, your comment was caught in spam. My filter has been acting up. I think it feels unappreciated. So, right now, I would like to publicly thank my spam filter for protecting me from crazed phishermen.

      Thanks for your comments. It’s still very early days, and I will only barely scrape three figures this month (unless Oprah drops my name between now and Saturday). A new book will help them pick-up, and that’s something firmly in my control. Which is great (if I can ever finish the damn thing).


  12. Dave

    Love this post with your breakdown, seems like you have an excellent system for tracking and analyzing your progress. I can’t recall, it was earlier this summer, if I stopped by your blog or if you posted on Joe’s blog, but you had just gone out with your novel. I think you posted you were watching it daily, 5 sales one day, 9 the other. Nothing impressive you said but it was excited as hell watching the process unfold. You’re in the hundreds now, congrats and good luck on getting into the 10k a month group!

    Thanks also for the info you contributed the interview with Joe, Blake and the others. Fantastic stuff, am looking to get into the fray myself with a short I’m finishing up. I plan to put it out for free (at first perhaps and maybe charge later of the traffic supports it) with trailer blurbs and excerpts for my novella and novel that will be following.

    Congrats again.


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