Sunday, November 16, 2008

I got yer numbahs right here.

I should be working. I have a long list of edits, stories, and prints to complete, yet part of job is also comprised of watching sales and making notes for the future. Given the rough ride Mr. Dow Jones took us on a while back, one would think my little corner of the business harbors sobering news. Well, yes and no. If you heard the gossip at NJRW, the romance genre did weather the storm, and hopefully a new administration will see an upturn in business all around. However, we can't until January, we must keep moving forward. For me to plow ahead, I occasionally have to look over my shoulder.

Last night I rounded up some numbers, sales by unit for Phaze Books for 2008 through the end of October. By Halloween we had far exceeded the unit (eBook only) sales of 2007, which I expected since we have more product this year. Now, if you want actual numbers, I'm sorry to disappoint you. However, if you are interested in eBook publishing and are curious about what is selling, I will do my best to give you an idea.

I am looking at unit sales in a ten-month period for close to 400 titles. Of the top 50 titles for 2008:

  • Six titles were reprints
  • Thirteen titles were published prior to January 1, 2008
  • Fourteen are part of an author's series
  • Thirty-two titles were written by an author with more than one title in the Top 50 (eight authors have multiple titles so far)
  • Twenty are print-length (35K words and longer)
  • Thirty-three are currently available in print or about to be printed
As for percentages:
  • 47% are primarily M/M
  • 24% are interracial, all BW/WM
  • 9% are fantasy
  • 7% are primarily shapeshifter stories
  • 5% are Regency historicals
  • 5% are primarily BDSM
We still have two more months to go, one of which hosts our annual half-off eBook sale, so I expect these numbers to change a bit. In the meantime, what can be learned from this survey?

1) It is possible to find continued success with a reprinted book. If revised or lengthened, and placed with the proper house, you may be able to renew interest in an older title. The Loveswept titles by Janet Evanovich are currently all over romance bookshelves, for example. Just remember, if somebody hasn't read the book, it's new to them.

2) The best method of self-promotion is the next book. Once you have captured your audience, keep them in thrall with a new story. The more you write, the better for your skills and your visibility in a crowded market where the average book sells 500 copies. Rise above the average by becoming prolific.

3) Write a series, and you can boost interest in your backlist. Build a world, build a readership.

Now, what I won't tell you is that writing M/M or Interracial will land you among our bestsellers automatically. As it happens, these are strong genres with us, though not every title we have pubbed has performed well. I should note, too, we continue to have the occasional stand-out performer that fits none of the above categories. Write what you write best, and the sales follow because readers will recognize and recommend the quality.

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