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Taming Fire Sales Charts (1 of 2)

Last week I left you hanging with the promise of a sad story and some detailed sales analysis. I know you’ve just been waiting on the edge of your seat ever since.

Well…I’m more than a week late with the follow-up, but it kind of works out. Because I’m late, I can share all my September sales information with you. If I’d followed through on my promise last week, we’d’ve been stuck with a lopsided graph, and no one wants that.

Looking for Trends

One of the things I tend to mention every time I discuss doing business in the midst of this publishing revolution is the difficulty of making informed business decisions. That’s because there’s so little reliable data.

Thanks to the transparency of guys like J. A. Konrath it’s possible to make some guesses, and thanks to Amazon for updating their sales values in realtime and their sales rankings every 15 minutes, it’s possible to derive some worthwhile guesses. But those guesses are based on an incredibly complicated market as it exists at this moment in time, and not only are elements within the market changing, but the whole structural foundation of it is in a state of rapid upheaval.

Nonetheless, I’ve tried. As I mentioned last week, I’ve been charting sales from day one, trying to recognize meaningful trends. But before July, I was dealing in such small numbers it was difficult to separate the signal from the noise.

That all changed the moment I released Taming Fire.

I’d intended to just include that top chart there, but as I mentioned above I’ve benefited greatly from the willingness of other indie publishers to openly share hard numbers, so I’ve decided I can do as much here.

But the important bit (for today’s story anyway) is in the three colored lines on the top chart. You’ll see the yellow one that starts near zero on the left and climbs up over 200 on the right. Those are my numbers for July (10 days after the book was first released). The values represent new sales per day.

August is red. It started the month strong, climbed to a point just shy of 300 sales per day, and bounced around there. Then at the very end of the month you’ll see a “Big Dipper” shape. That’s the sudden plummet created by the 1-star review I talked about last week.

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones

September is the blue line. Frankly, I’d prefer to stick with the red one. But if you look at the far left, you’ll see Taming Fire did fully recover from its late-August slump for a while there. It flirted with 300 sales a day for part of a week.

Then I got another negative review. This one wasn’t even as useless as the one I mentioned last week. It was openly hostile and blindly malicious:

I think this author hates his readers or he would not have produced something so rancid. There is no life to the story and its just icky. I would not ever purchase from this author again in the future. Dustin anfeald is a much better story with great action.
Update: Dustin anfeald was no better once I got halfway through it turned into pure defication.[sic]

The reviewer in question has only ever reviewed two books: mine and the Dustin Anfeald title mentioned there. Both of them were 1-star reviews, and they were both about as useful as that one.

On the internet, we call someone like that a troll. Good advice is to ignore them, avoid them, and by all means refuse to engage with them. Responding at all just provides the sort of attention they’re looking for and encourages them to do more.

Problem was, this review once again dropped me from a 4.5-star average to 4.0. The review came in on the 4th and I instantly slipped from 323 sales  to 248 on the 5th. (I’m not certain why I had another 300+ day on the 6th, but it’s the sole outlier across both incidents.)

After that, my daily sales went:

  • 226
  • 219
  • 208
  • 197
  • 191
  • 200
  • 208

And…y’know, I can hardly complain about that. It’s a devastating drop compared to the daily numbers I’d gotten used to back in August…but at the same time that’s over 1,400 new sales generated in the course of that week.

And then at the end of the week I caught a lucky break. Two complete strangers, totally unsolicited, both posted 5-star reviews on September 15th, and that same day my sales jumped from 200-ish to 230. It’s no 300, but it’s still a significant improvement.

Dolla Dolla Bill, Y’all

That’s not the end of the story, though. A week later the average daily sales dropped all the way down to the 160s, and this time it had nothing to do with my star rating. This time, it was all about the money.

But that’s another story of its own. Come back next week, and I’ll tell you what happened there.

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