So it’s been a month since I shared sales figures for my self-published romantic suspense series. In the spirit of full disclosure I thought I’d share what’s happened since I put the first book in my series up for free! I have to tell you, there are still LOTS of people who cringe that authors are doing this for fear it may set up 1) unrealistic sales expectations for readers or 2) that it is devaluing the time and talent required to write a full novel. But as you’ll see, this is working for me.

I didn’t enroll these short novels in the Kindle Select program where Amazon asks for exclusivity to any books in that program. They also offer authors the opportunity to take advantage of 5 free days during the 90 day period it is in the select program. This just didn’t seem to fit for my books and I chose to upload my book through Smashwords and have it distriubted for free to all venues save for Amazon. Once the lower price was reported to Amazon, my book was price matched at the $0.00.

And I want to repeat what I said last month. There are many authors making goooood money through self-publishing. Some of these authors are even being courted by Amazon to pull their book from the virtual self-publishing shelves and sign a contract with their Montlake publishing arm. There are many success stories, including Debra Holland, who has also been forthcoming about her sales success with her self-published series. But remember it ain’t all roses and royalty checks for everyone.

And there isn’t one right path to success in the self-publishing business. What works for me and my books, may not work for you. The only consistency is writing the best book you can and making sure it not only is well-edited, but also presented in the correct format for the platform whether it be kindle, nook, sony or iTunes. So don’t hesitate to try different price points or different methods of promotion. Find out what works for you.

Listing the first book in my sexy romantic suspense series, BLIND HER WITH BLISS has been a real boost for promoting my books. Following are the sales I posted last month for books released 4/11, 6/11 and 11/11. (Sales figures are just for Amazon, because there weren’t enough others at B&N, Smashwords or ARe to make an impact on my royalties.)

December: 136 books = $142.80
January: 74 books = $84.22
February (until the 20th): 4695 free books 20 books = $40.00 (approx.)

And here are the sales for the full month of Feb and March (to Date). And just a note, I took my books down from All Romance Ebooks because they really weren’t selling over there:


Free Downloads: 6280
Deceive Her With Desire: 73 books = $76.65
Cheat Her With Charm: 62 books = $65.10

Barnes & Noble
Free Downloads: 2319 (through Smashwords)
Deceive Her With Desire: 87 = $168.78
Cheat Her With Charm: 56 = $108.64

Apple (through Smashwords)
Total Books:   264 = $448.85
(That’s if I’m reading my Smashwords report correctly. It’s the first time I’ve had sales there, so I’m trying to figure this one out)

So there you have it. It may not be the blockbuster sales other authors are experiencing, but seeing as March is turning out to be my most successful month ever, I’m extremely pleased. I whole-heartedly believe that offering my book for FREE! is working for me. BLIND HER WITH BLISS floats between 15 and 30 on the free romantic suspense list right next to the PAID list. And 25 to 40 on the contemporary list. (It was lower on both lists at the beginning of the month when downloads were at their peak.) Being listed next to the paid books means that readers who search particular categories may peruse books listed for free as well.

B&N doesn’t have a ranking system, but I have no doubt it is the free book that allowed readers to try out a new-to-them author and brought about the sales of the second and third books in the series. Since I haven’t seen any sales at that venue prior to this, it is the only thing I can attribute my sales success this month.

Again, this method might not work for you. But with my sales the highest they’ve ever been, I know offering the first book in my series is working for me. Writers, have you tried something different that worked to get your books noticed? As a reader, what makes you willing to try a new author you’ve never read before?

0 Responses to A Month of Sales Figures

  • Thanks for sharing your sales, Nina. As an author I feel non-writers don’t understand we’re not breaking the bank with royalties. Maybe some of the people stealing free downloads will stop. Probably not, but….
    On a different note, I’m not breaking $20 a month for three books on B&N, Amazon and Smashwords.

  • Nina, thank you so much for sharing your information!
    Your patience and willingness to try different things, as well as having plenty of books to offer for sale to follow-up that free book, are paying off for you and so I bet you’ll continue to do well with your strategy.
    Great job and much congratulations!
    Now I need to come up with a strategy of my own to go with my patience!
    Stephanie Queen

    • Stephanie – I think the key is to realize that self-publishing is truly an individual journey. What works for one author may not work for another even if everything is equal (like genre and story length). Who knows why that’s the case, but it is.

  • Thanks Nina, it’s nice to see what is working for you.

  • Thanks for sharing your figures, Nina. I’m new to the indie world, so I’m taking in all advice.

    It think you’re numbers are only go up from here. Congrats!


    • AJ – There are so many paths to success in this changing world of publishing. Just do what feels right and works for you. (And thanks for the encouragement.)

  • Thanks for sharing your sales figures and what has worked for you, Nina. I hope your sales continue to grow.


  • Nina,

    I love how forthcoming you are with your info. Thanks for sharing. I think that some of your continued success, besides the great writing is also the fab covers you have. I know you worked hard to get them right.

    Keep up the good works. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Happy Spring.


    • Michelle – Thanks for the compliments on the covers … I did work really hard to get the right design and Dar Albert certainly knocked them out of the park.

      I know people keep saying it’s a marathon, but I don’t have that much patience. LOL! Here’s hoping readers have found these books and sales will continue.

  • Thanks for posting your numbers, Nina. A huge part of my journey so far has been gathering info about what others have tried and what has worked or not. Hopefully I can avoid having to completely reinvent the wheel, by learning from others, but the prevailing wisdom I’ve gained so far is this: we each have to try different strategies for ourselves. Oh, why can’t there be just one right way to do this?

    I’m glad to see your current strategy is working. Best wishes!

    • Lucy – That’s just it … no one way works to create success. Which is such a bummer. Yes, in the past year I’ve tried many different approaches. It’s a matter of juggling different strategies to see what works. Good luck with your books!

  • Thanks for sharing, Nina. Publishing is changing so fast that any information helps me make informed decisions. Good luck with your future sales!

    • Paris – At this time in publishing it’s more important than ever to be willing to change and adapt. Hopefully the information I’ve shared will help other authors make decisions about what’s right for their career.

  • I should have said that publishing is changing so fast that any information that helps me make an informed decision is helpful. LOL! Where’s my internal editor when I need her (probably out having the doughnut I want and shouldn’t eat)?

  • Thanks, Nina! Appreciate the information. And may your sales keep going up and up!!

  • You’re a brave, dear soul, Nina. Thanks so much for your willingness to share.

    I’ve decided the self-publishing route isn’t for me. After gaining the rights back to a novella and maintaining the rights to a short story that appeared in an anthology, I posted both to Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, and All Romance eBooks. The cover design process was fun and I enjoyed revising the novella for a new audience, but that’s where my enjoyment ended.

    Formatting the manuscripts for each site was extremely stressful. Uploading, marketing, promotion–my head ached! At least, for now, I’m sticking with publishers who will create the cover art, provide editing, formatting, pricing, and distribution. I have a much better appreciation for the work publishers have done for me since I tried it on my own. I’m proud of the titles I indie published, but won’t forge a career with self-publishing.

    I’ll keep my options open about posting indie titles to Amazon, etc., while continuing to write new books and place them with publishers. I like having choices. For me, the royalites have been about the same, so I’m choosing to have the packaging done for me.

    Good luck to you, my friend!


    • Adele – I didn’t find preparing the manuscripts different from what I do for my publishers (but I definitely took the path of least resistence in uploading) and the marketing seems to be about the same (since so few publishers are doing any marketing). But self-publishing doesn’t feel good or work for every author. That’s the beauty of this time in publishing. There are so many avenues available to authors.

      My royalties at my publishers haven’t met my expectations and I’m hoping this self-publishing route will help with my books published at traditional publishers.

      Best of luck to you as well. With your wonderful writing, I’m sure your publishers are pleased you’re choosing to continue working with them.

  • Nina, thank you for being so open and taking time to post this. It shows that even big well know authors have ups and downs…I wish you all the success and more sales.

    • Savannah – Oh, I’m not sure about the “big” or “well known” which is probably why my sales have been so lackluster. All ten of my fans have bought the books, but they don’t seem to be breaking out of that small circle. LOL! (But thanks for the sweet words.)

  • Nina – thank you for showing your very realistic numbers. Most people don’t become bestsellers overnight. I do want to congratulate you on your Apple numbers. Those are pretty fabulous!

    • Kristine – Thanks. I did want to be one of those overnight successes, but I’ll take it if it comes now even if it is nearly a year later.

      And the Apple numbers just posted last night. I was squeeing all over the place. (I just hope I’m not reading the sales report wrong.)

  • Thanks for sharing your experiences…it’s a tough decision to self-pub, and all angles of introspection are appreciated. Keep selling books!

  • Nina, those are wonderful sales figures! I’ve tried every kind of promo route suggested except offering the book for free. I’m indie, not self-published though. 2 questions: do you think offering a back-listed book for free would do it; and do you think it’s appropriate to do for a non-self-published author? Everyone, feel free to jump in! Meredith

    • Meredith – Before I answer your question, what is the difference between your definition of self-pubbed and indie pubbed? (I hear the terms used interchangeably.)

  • I know an author that used the Nook First program and was very pleased. (A new release, exclusively through BN for 30 days and they promote it, I don’t know exact details).
    Best of Luck and continued success with your publishing.

    • Janet – I’m pleased to see that B&N is actually offering a new program for authors with an exclusivity for Nook only. I understand they’re even doing marketing for authors. Definitely a step in the right direction so there is another choice for self-published authors.

  • Nina, the good thing is that as people read the free book and any purchased book, they’ll come looking for more. It’s not always an instant ripple because who has time to read all the free books we download? But when I get into a free book and I’m loving it, I go back for more.

    • Aileen – that’s my hope. I’m thinking it may take time for 6000 people to actually read the freebie. Hopefully that just means my sales will continue to increase.

  • Nina, thank you for sharing. I’ve found success also when I’ve offered books for free. It’s a good marketing tool, yet I worry that readers are coming to expect free books, and IMHO, the glut of free books is hurting my other sales. But I feel forced into offering some of my books free to get the exposure. It’s a two-edged sword out there.

    Congratulations again on winning the Silken Sands award.

    • Cara – It definitely is a double-edged sword. I don’t know what the right answer is here, but I’m trying every marketing avenue to find out what works for me.

      And thanks, Silken Sands was my first win. And right back at you for finalling as well.

  • Congratulations, Nina.

    • Each and every sale is a success – it doesn’t matter you haven’t got J.A. Konrath’s numbers yet, what you are selling is still something to be proud of 🙂

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