word count and serials
When you do serials on Amazon, expect a lot of low-star reviews hating on the length (or lack thereof) of the book. Ranking doesn't have that much staying power either although there are exceptions to the rule. (Case in point, my super fave Whitney Gracia Williams).
On the other hand, you can also see from the chart that Apple users don't give an eff about the length serials. On Amazon, my biggest selling books for each month are the newest releases. On Apple, my newest release also takes the #1 spot but the second spot ALMOST ALWAYS goes to - yes, you got it - The Art of Trusting a Greek Billionaire, which is one of my oldest self-published books.
My takeaway: If you like writing short (and steamy), Apple is your BEST (but not your only) friend. Just be sure to have a permafree to keep sales steady. I really want to encourage Filipino authors to write serials since we grew up on serials and cliffhangers - I mean, hello, our telenovelas are rife with them and if you do them right, they can make a reader more invested in a book. Personally, as an author, nothing makes ME more invested in my own books than the heartbreak my characters are experiencing. The more painful it is, the more invested I am in their stories.
SEQUELS WITHOUT BOOSTS FROM PERMAFREES
My Apple sales usually outpace BN sales with a permafree but obviously that's not happening with DGB.
to go or not to go free
Anyway, because sales of TGBHS were so spectacularly curious, I wondered how effective it was at driving sales to the next book, which is DGB. I compared this to the sales of Burn, which was preceded by Book 1 (Swish) being in a USAT/NYT bestselling boxed set (Wild Rides).
- DGB went live only a few days after TGBHS. Burn went out THREE MONTHS after.
- Swish was part of a boxed set that made it to Top 50 on Amazon and even Top 20 on B&N. My $.99c prequel made it as far as Top 500 on Amazon and Top 100 on BN.
I also noticed that Dear Greek Billionaire "seems" to be reaching more new readers compared to Burn as you'll see in the graph below. I'm thinking that Burn's decline on Day 16 was because I had reached virtually all of my old readers in the first fifteen days. Day 16 onwards, mostly new readers were the ones buying (and obviously they're not that many).
With DGB on the other hand, weekend sales account for the spikes (Day 9, 10, and Day 16, 17) but other than that they're selling more steadily. Again, I'll need more data to back this up but that's what I feel about it for now at least.
My takeaway: Amazon and BN readers may be feeling so overwhelmed by the number of permafrees available that they've taken to checking out $.99 releases and using it to decide which series to follow. Obviously, the opposite's the case with Apple. For now, though, I'm thinking I'll stick with $.99 releases for Book 1 of my serials and see how things will continue to work out.
Another thing I want to emphasize on is TIME. If you feel you don't write fast enough then consider writing your entire series in advance before releasing them simultaneously. I know from firsthand experience that readers' interest in your books tends to wane the longer you make them wait. So either work on writing fast enough OR release the entire series in one go. ANOTHER alternative - which I'm still working on - is to have SPECIFIC release dates you can stick to (my greatest weakness alas) and maybe even set preorders up for sequels. That's one way you can be sure to get them hooked until the end.
- Released in October 2014
- Book 2 in a two-part serial
- Book 1 published in February 2013, was part of USAT bestselling New Adult Romance bundle in January 2014 and was set free when MTBY went live
- Categories / sub-genres: New adult / college age characters, contemporary romance with BDSM theme
And just to show you how well MTBY is doing on BN compared to my other books, here's a chart comparing sales of MTBY to Burn (Aug. 2014), This Round I'm Yours (Feb. 2015) and The Art of Trusting a Greek Billionaire (Dec. 2013).
Another thing I've noticed is that shifter romance doesn't really sell that well outside Amazon (refer to graph). Initially, it did well on BN and Apple but afterwards, sales just kept declining until they reached a certain (low) plateau.
My takeaway: Every retail site seems to have its unique share of popular niches. Up to you to find out what it is and see which one you'd like to write more. Pricing may also have to be adjusted according to which niche you're in and, lastly, it may pay to be exclusive with Amazon, depending - again - on your niche.
Some of you may also be wondering why I haven't discussed KU. To be honest, I just don't have enough data because KU seems to work better for new SERIES and as of now, I haven't any to speak of. Next month, though, I'm hoping to be done with another shifter romance trilogy so maybe I'll have figures then. It depends.
Note: Everything here is BASED ON MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. You aren't obliged to follow my advice or even think that I'm right. All I want is to give back and have more Filipino authors earning enough from self-publishing to be able to write full time. Is all.