Category Archives: eBooks

ebook sales for 2013, part one

There’s been a lot of doom-and-gloom jeremiads from prominent agents and traditionally published writers about self-publishing ebooks recently, mostly centered around how a “tsunami of crap” (or, more crudely, as a “shit volcano”*) shall destroy readers’ appetites for ebooks. This is, to put it bluntly, utter nonsense, and based upon a flawed understanding of how the Internet works. (My opinion on why is here.) YouTube and eBay both, for instance, are awash in “crap”, yet people seem to be launching careers off both sites on a regular basis. The assumption is that without the help of “gatekeepers” to curate appropriate books for the public, readers shall lose themselves in a sea of poorly written books, grow disgusted, and abandon reading for watching “Dancing With The Stars” or whatever.**

The irrationality of this assumption is quite visible in hindsight. It turns out that if you offer people near-infinite choice, they will still select the things they like! Subway offers a gazillion different possible sandwich combinations, and I pretty much order the same thing every time I eat there.

However, the reader need not take my word for it. Hugh Howey (author of WOOL and SAND) released a massive report this week that confirmed what many people have suspected – self-published ebooks have basically taken over the market, and traditional publishing has become increasingly vestigial. (UPDATE: There’s another good analysis of the topic here.)

So, in the spirit of sharing information to help other writers make informed decisions, here are my ebook sales from 2013.

I sold 75,896 copies of my books, and gave away 125,091 free copies. Thank you, all! I am very grateful, and that is an amazing number.

Individual details are below. Note that I skipped some of the weaker-selling short stories below, though I did include them in the final total:

THE DEMONSOULED SERIES

Demonsouled (free book): 30, 983

Soul of Tyrants: 3,298

Soul of Serpents: 2,875

Soul of Dragons: 2,696

Soul of Sorcery: 2,726

Soul of Skulls: 3,447

Soul of Swords: 2,381

Demonsouled Omnibus One: 73

DEMONSOULED SHORT STORIES

The Wandering Knight: 513

The Tournament Knight: 336

The Dragon’s Shadow: 433

THE GHOSTS SERIES

Child of the Ghosts (free book): 81,258

Ghost in the Flames:  5,312

Ghost in the Blood: 4,381

Ghost in the Storm: 3,932

Ghost in the Stone:  3,916

Ghost in the Forge: 4,207

Ghost in the Ashes: 2,811

Ghost in the Mask: 2,100

Ghost in the Surge: 7

The Ghosts Omnibus One: 66

THE GHOSTS SHORT STORIES

Ghost Dagger:  1,330

Ghost Aria: 885

Ghost Claws: 336

Ghost Omens: 424

Ghost Thorns: 129

The Fall of Kyrace: 217

THE FROSTBORN SERIES:

Frostborn: The First Quest:  629

Frostborn: The Gray Knight: 1,765

Frostborn: The Eightfold Knife: 629

THE THIRD SOUL SERIES

The Testing (free book):  4,605

The Assassins: 1,103

The Blood Shaman: 940

The High Demon: 806

The Burning Child: 884

The Outlaw Adept: 656

The Black Paladin: 609

The Tomb of Baligant: 554

The Third Soul Omnibus One: 361

The Third Soul Omnibus Two: 321

THE TOWER OF ENDLESS WORLDS SERIES

The Tower of Endless Worlds (free book): 6,700

A Knight of the Sacred Blade: 688

A Wizard of the White Council: 626

The Destroyer of Worlds: 649

NONFICTION

The Ubuntu Beginner’s Guide:  2,855

The Windows Command Line Beginner’s Guide: 5,397

The Linux Command Line Beginner’s Guide: 4,431

The Ubuntu Desktop Beginner’s Guide: 547

The Linux Mint Beginner’s Guide: 746

The Windows 8 Beginner’s Guide: 205

-JM

*I have always found it wise to ignore statements from a writer who is incapable of constructing an argument without profanity.

**Which, to be fair, is a surprisingly entertaining show.

beware the one who names himself a rancher of men

A fairly prominent literary agent, perhaps accidentally, revealed his opinion of writers in a recent post. I will not link to it, but if you are sufficiently curious Google the phrase below, since it captures the crux of his post:

Better still, because some authors are now—voluntarily!—willing to bear the expense and undertake the effort of building an audience by themselves, print publishers have the luxury of culling the prize cattle from the herd. 

If you want to be a writer and are just starting out, you are really infinitely better off self-publishing ebooks than attempting to query agents or publishers. Yes, you’ll make mistakes, or screw something up with the formatting or the cover, get a bad review or two, and (most likely) not sell many copies. But so what? You’ll learn from these mistakes and become better and stronger (and you will learn infinitely more from a paying reader’s bad review than a rejection letter from an agent that says the book “just didn’t work for me”). Perhaps you’ll decide writing is not for you, and that is fine, or you will double down and become a better writer. But either way is more productive than querying agents, which is a waste of time.

Now, you might argue I have an unfair advantage – I submitted my first story to a magazine in 2000 and DEMONSOULED was originally published in 2005, so by the time I discovered the Kindle and ebooks in 2011, I had something like ten unpublished novels ready to go. But if in some parallel universe the Kindle and the Nook and the iPad had been available in 2000,  and if I had a time machine and the option to do it over again, I would definitely self-publish. Certainly I have put that advice into practice – everything I have written since 2011 has been geared toward self-publication, and I do not regret it in the slightest.

Besides, publishing is a business relationship, and you don’t want to get into a business relationship (or any kind of relationship, really) with someone who thinks you are the prize cattle from the herd. Because we all know what happens to prize cattle:

800px-Steak_03_bg_040306

Image credit PDPhoto | WikiMedia Commons

-JM

writing goals for 2014

Yesterday, I discussed my writing goals for 2013, and how many of them I met. Today, I will list my writing goals for 2014.

Of course, it is important to say that these are things I would like to do in 2014, if unexpected events do not get in the way. Who can say what the future holds? But if my health holds, the rain falls on time, and the creek doesn’t rise, there are the things, the Lord willing, I would like to do in 2014.

In order of priority:

-At least two or three more THE GHOSTS books.

-At least two or three more FROSTBORN books.

-Return to DEMONSOULED. I’ve been bashing my head against the wall for a year trying to figure out what to do next, but I think I have it at last. More on that later.

-Return to THE THIRD SOUL.

-In 2012 I wrote 530,000 words, and in 2013 I wrote 863,000 new words. So in 2014, I’d like to see if I can push that up to one million words. This might not be doable, but I shall like to try. (Of course, reaching the first four goals will help with this. Synergy!)

-A tech book. I didn’t write any new tech books in 2013, but I would like to do one. My new website, Computer Beginner’s Guides, should help with that.

-16 books available in print by the holidays of 2014. I’ve found it’s best not to think of them as “print books”, but as “holiday gift editions”. So, I hope to have 16 of my books available as “holiday gift editions” by the holidays of 2014.

-I’m hoping to get another book in the Top 100 for Epic Fantasy, since GHOST IN THE FLAMES & GHOST IN THE BLOOD made it into the Top 100 on Thanksgiving Day.

-I hope to reach 1,000 total subscribers for my New Release Newsletter. Subscribe here!

-Sell a thousand copies of a one book in an individual month.

-Have more books available on Google Play. I’ve heard rumblings that Google Play is growing as a market for ebooks, which makes sense, as there are something like a billion Android phones floating around out there. I’ve held off on it, since Google has a habit of randomly cutting ebook prices, but the situation appears to have improved. Right now two of my nonfiction books – THE WINDOWS COMMAND LINE BEGINNER’S GUIDE and THE LINUX COMMAND LINE BEGINNER’S GUIDE are available on Google Play, and if I like how they perform, I’ll start adding more of the fiction books.

So those are the writing goals I hope to reach in 2014. Have a Happy New Year!

-JM

Did I reach 2013′s writing goals?

Last year, I wrote a post laying out my writing goals for 2013. Did I reach them? Let’s take a look!

-Finish the DEMONSOULED series. I’m in the final phases of SOUL OF SKULLS, which should come out in January or February. After that, there’s one book left to write – SOUL OF SWORDS. Hopefully I can get that done sometime in the summer.

Success! SOUL OF SWORDS came out in June.

-Continue THE GHOSTS series. As soon as I finish SOUL OF SKULLS, it’s time to start the  next GHOSTS book, GHOST IN THE FORGE. I’d like to have that done by the end of April, after which I want to start SOUL of SWORDS.

Success! GHOST IN THE FORGE came out at the end of February.

-Start a new series. After I finish SOUL OF SWORDS, I would like to write the first book in a new series. More thoughts on that later.

Success! There are now three books in my new FROSTBORN series: FROSTBORN: THE FIRST QUEST, FROSTBORN: THE GRAY KNIGHT, and FROSTBORN: THE EIGHTFOLD KNIFE.

 -Do a novel in THE THIRD SOUL series. I’ve been at a loss on how to continue the series, but the other night (while on the treadmill, appropriately enough) an idea came to me. I haven’t been able to figure out how to continue Rachaelis’s and Corthain’s character arcs. So the answer is to do a novel with new characters in the same setting, which would then link up with Rachaelis’s and Corthain’s plotline in the next installment. More information on this to come.

-Sort of halfway. I did THE OUTLAW ADEPT, THE BLACK PALADIN, and THE TOMB OF BALIGANT, but I had already written THE BLACK PALADIN and THE TOMB OF BALIGANT years ago, and THE OUTLAW ADEPT was a novella, so it doesn’t really count. I thought about doing a THE THIRD SOUL book at the end of the year, but I decided to work on GHOST IN THE SURGE instead. (To be fair, a lot more people were asking for the next THE GHOSTS book). Perhaps I’ll be able to come back to THE THIRD SOUL in 2014.

 -Another GHOSTS book after GHOST IN THE FORGE. I’ll probably write that in in fall of 2013, and I haven’t decided on a title yet. I’m not sure what’s going to happen in that book, since I have to write GHOST IN THE FORGE first. :)

Definite success! Not only did I write GHOST IN THE ASHES, I also wrote GHOST IN THE MASK and GHOST IN THE SURGE.

-Expand into paper books. It occurred to me in December that I had missed an opportunity by not having paper books available. People don’t buy ebooks as gifts. They buy ebooks for themselves. They do, however, buy paper books as gifts. So by 2013′s holiday season, I wanted to have at least some of my novels available in paper form. Consequently, I’ve been teaching myself CreateSpace. I suspect like ebook formatting, the first one is the hardest, and after that it’s easier because you have a template from which to work.

Success! I had a goal of having six paper books available by the holiday season of 2013,  and I wound up with eight.

-More short stories. I used to write a lot of short fiction, but it’s fallen by the wayside in the last few years. But my book series take place in this big rambling fictional universes, and there’s a lot of room for short stories in them. So if there’s time, I’d like to do some $0.99 short stories in the DEMONSOULED, THE GHOSTS, and THE THIRD SOUL settings.

Success! In 2013 I wrote the short stories THE WANDERING KNIGHT, THE TOURNAMENT KNIGHT, GHOST ARIA, GHOST CLAWS, GHOST OMENS, and GHOST UNDYING.

-Additional tech books. But probably not until the second half of 2012, since I want to focus on fiction until SOUL OF SWORDS is done.

Didn’t happen – there just wasn’t time.

Tomorrow I’ll write out what I hope to accomplish with writing in 2014.

-JM

BookBub Ad Results

There’s been a bit of controversy over BookBub among self-published writers this last week, so I thought I would share the results of my most recent BookBub ad. BookBub, if you are unfamiliar with it, offers a daily newsletter of books targeted by genre.  You sign up based on genre (fantasy, romance, whatever) and BookBub sends you emails with recommendations in that genre. Naturally, this presents an advertising opportunity for writers, and  BookBub charges a fee for writers based on the popularity of the genre (if the ad is accepted – BookBub reserves the right to decline the ad).

I had a BookBub ad for my free book CHILD OF THE GHOSTS (the first in a series of eight books, with the ninth coming in January 2014) on November 28th. 11/28, you might recall, was Thanksgiving Day in the United States. I was quite pleased by this, as family togetherness is a wonderful thing, but eventually people get sick of togetherness and go check their email on their phones. An additional idea came to me when I saw that fantasy writer Lindsay Buroker had a BookBub ad on her book THE EMPEROR’S EDGE earlier in November, and lowered the price of EDGE’S two immediate sequels to $0.99 for a limited time.

I thought that a good idea, so I followed suit.  I decided to call it the “Black Friday & Cyber Monday special sale”, and so from Thanksgiving to Monday, December 2nd, I lowered the price of GHOST IN THE FLAMES and GHOST IN THE BLOOD (the 2nd and 3rd books in the series) to $0.99.

Now, on to the results. Note that all these figures are for Amazon US, since I didn’t have a way to track free downloads on Barnes & Noble, and BookBub’s subscriber base seems to be mostly American.

The first day, CHILD OF THE GHOSTS was downloaded 8,372 times, GHOST IN THE FLAMES sold 47 copies, and GHOST IN THE BLOOD sold 46. This was enough to put both GHOST IN THE FLAMES and GHOST IN THE BLOOD in the top 100 books for Epic Fantasy on Amazon US, which has been a goal of mine for years.

By the end of the sale on December 2nd, CHILD OF THE GHOSTS had been downloaded 11,341 times, GHOST IN THE FLAMES had sold 134 copies, and GHOST IN THE BLOOD had sold 120. By comparison, in the entire month of October on Amazon US, CHILD OF THE GHOSTS had been downloaded 1,803 times, GHOST IN THE FLAMES had sold 118 copies, and GHOST IN THE BLOOD had sold 112.

The entirety of THE GHOSTS series has stayed higher in the sales rankings than it did in October. Netflix recently argued that binge-watching is the new normal for TV viewing, and the same rule applies to series of books. Sales for the remaining five books in THE GHOSTS series have been higher in December than they were in October and November. Additionally, I received nearly 50 additional subscribers for my new release newsletter.

To sum up, I have been entirely satisfied with BookBub, and hope to advertise with it again at some point in the future. Though given that GHOST IN THE FLAMES, a former top 100 Epic Fantasy bestseller on Amazon US, was rejected by something like 30 different agents before BookBub and the Kindle even existed, the source of my satisfaction may be apparent.

-JM

print books

I’ve been half-heartedly experimenting with print books over the last year, and I now have eight books available in print. (DEMONSOULED, SOUL OF TYRANTS, SOUL OF SWORDS, CHILD OF THE GHOSTS, GHOST IN THE FLAMES, GHOST IN THE ASHES, GHOST IN THE MASK, and FROSTBORN: THE GRAY KNIGHT.) They tend to sell only a few copies a month, so I haven’t paid close attention to them.

But in December they’ve had a big sales spike. The logical conclusion is that people are buying them as Christmas gifts. Which is so nice! That means someone liked the book enough to give it to someone else. That doesn’t happen every day.

So, thank you, holiday gift shoppers! (Instead of thinking of the ebook version and the print version, I may have to think in terms of the “ebook version” and the “holiday gift version.”)

-JM