MOUSETRAPPED: 1,000 Copies Sold (Huh?!)

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Something spectacularly crazy occurred this morning: Mousetrapped sold its 1,000th copy!

I am so pleased about this that I am allowing myself a self-congratulatory blog post (i.e. this one) but I am softening the impact with some potentially useful or at least mildly interesting self-publishing info (see below).

The Self-Congratulatory Part

When I released Mousetrapped on March 29th 2010, I was under no illusions about the potential of a self-published, Print On Demand book about me, Disney, NASA, master planned Floridian communities, learners’ permits, Bruce Willis’ singing voice, the Ebola virus and a Space Shuttle launch. Not to mention the fact that it was only for sale online (bar my local bookshop here in Cork) and I had no money to market or advertise it…

I had three sales goals: 100 copies in the first month, 500 copies in the first six months and 1,000 copies in a year. Thanks to friends, family and loyal Twitter supporters who all dutifully bought the book the week it came out, the 100 copies in the first month were easy enough to shift. I made my 500/6 month goal too – early, but only a couple of weeks early, so allowing for fluctuations I assumed that I’d make the 1000 too, but only right on time.

But now here I am making my 1,000 copies goal four months early. Sales have accelerated. How the hell did that happen? I’m not quite sure. Whatever the reason, I want to thank every single person who has bought a copy, blogged about it, tweeted about it, reviewed it, told a friend about it or even just added it to their Amazon wish list. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

I plan on doing an updated sales figures posts on Mousetrapped‘s one year anniversary (like the one I did at six months) but for those of you with burning questions who can’t wait until then:

  • Yes, that includes ebooks
  • No, it doesn’t include any books given away for free or discounted 100%
  • It could be more as Smashwords sales data is always a little behind.

The Potentially Useful or At Least Mildly Interesting Part

You might be wondering how I know how many copies I’ve sold. How does Createspace track my print orders? How can I tell how many e-books I’ve sold? How soon after a sale do I find out about it? Well, let me tell you.

Createspace (Print Orders)

At any time I can check my Createspace (CS from here on in; I’m lazy) account and see my sales for the current month up to today, or run a report to check any previous month’s sales, or all my sales to date. CS will tell me if a book was ordered from Amazon.com or a retailer included in the extended distribution plan, e.g. Amazon.co.uk, Barnes and Noble, The Book Depository. Unfortunately you can’t tell where the non-Amazon.com sales came from, only that they didn’t come from Amazon.com. Amazon.com sales appear almost immediately* whereas other retailers seem to be on a delay of at least a few days, if not weeks.

*How do I know I’ve made a sale on Amazon.com? My sales rank takes a sudden nosedive or Novel Rank tells me so.

Amazon Digital Text Platform (Kindle e-books)

Amazon DTP works pretty much the same way, although they don’t produce reports as straightforward as Createspace’s. When you log in, you see the number of Kindle editions you’ve sold so far in the current month. You can also access data from previous months. Sales are split into editions sold from Amazon.com and editions sold from Amazon.co.uk, and then are further split into those sold at the 70% royalty rate and those sold at the standard 35%. These seem to update almost immediately.

Smashwords

For some reason, Smashwords like to tuck their sales data away. For months I thought I’d only sold 9 Smashwords editions of Mousetrapped because on my “dashboard” (the screen you see when you log in) it said “Copies sold: 9.” It was only one idle night when I clicked into “Sales and Payment History” that I found much bigger numbers – turns out the copies sold thing is only for Smashwords.com.

Smashwords reports sales from all retailers included in their Premium Catalogue list. Mine include Kindle, Apple (iBooks), Kobo, Diesel and Sony and they can take ages to report. But when they do, it’s always a nice surprise!

A Word on Novel Rank

Novel Rank is a free tool that allows you to track the sales data for any physical or electronic book that’s for sale on Amazon sites. It seems to track sales by watching your sales rank, which gets lower every time you make a sale (i.e. the 78,882nd best-selling book on Amazon could become the 22,91st after a sale). It’s not entirely reliable and it admits this – last month it had me selling twice the Amazon.co.uk Kindle editions I’d actually sold – so although it’s useful as a guide, you can’t rely on it for sales data. That has to come from the sources above.

Click here for my detailed six month sales figures and costs/royalties breakdown.

Click here for all my self-printing posts.

15 thoughts on “MOUSETRAPPED: 1,000 Copies Sold (Huh?!)

  1. diane says:

    Well done! To be honest, I thought you might have sold 1000 when you first shared sales figures (perhaps because you have such a great online presence, or because I really had no idea what it’s reasonable to expect. Since then, I’ve learned some of the Booker-nominated books barely grazed 5k, and realised just how hard it is to even sell 500, especially without the backing of a publishing house. What I’m trying to say (and perhaps doing a bad job of) is… I think this is so brilliant 🙂 I had no idea how hard it was to track sales data, though!

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      Thank you Diane – and you’re one of the people I need to thank for blogging about the book and me. So THANK YOU!!!

      I also had no idea what was a reasonable amount to sell or what could be considered a success. I heard figures from everywhere like 200 for a POD was great (although I didn’t think so) and that 50-200 books a month would be amazing (doesn’t sound a lot but builds up quite nicely over time). But when I went to this self-publishing conference a few weeks back and I’d sold I think around 850-900 then, people in the industry (who like, know stuff!) were well impressed, and I wondered if I should be more impressed about it myself. I’ve also been told that with the ways things are – the awful recession business – 1,000 copies of any book is an achievement and as you say re: the Booker, when some of those books were longlisted they’d only sold 850-ish copies! (Although it’s safe to say they’ve sold more than that now!) So to sum up I am allowing some smugness today – but only today! 😉

      • diane says:

        Oh, definitely allow it! 🙂 I think a lot of readers think books sell much more than they do, or have no idea of sales figures at all, and I totally include myself in that. But you really have done brilliantly.

        And you’re so welcome! But if you weren’t such a friendly tweeter, engaging blogger and enjoyable-to-read writer I wouldn’t have tweeted and blogged about your book.

  2. Bridget Whelan says:

    Well done — truly impressive. And shows that as far as marketing goes imagination, planning and sheer hard work can do as much as a big budget. Did a stint on self publishing in a creative writing & advised students who were really interested to follow your blog. It’s not for everyone and def. not for the faint hearted but you’re a good role model (and advisor) for anyone wanting to go the same route

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      Thank you! I really think it’s easier than ever before (with Twitter, Facebook, etc.) for writers to get their names out there and sell books without spending anything but time. You just have to think outside of the box a little bit and then hope for the best!

  3. Rebecca Brown says:

    Yey! You need a celebratory cup of coffee & a cake (like you haven’t thought of that already). Very chuffed for you. I’ve loved reading about your process and seeing those sales figures climbing. Now when can we expect the sequel? 😉

    Keep up the good work, there are more good things coming your way I’m sure.

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      Thanks Rebecca! 😉

      I doubt there’ll ever be a sequel – at least not any time soon. I’m totally novel-focused and since my backpacking adventures were a) short and b) in early 2008, I don’t think I’ve enough material to fill a book and I can barely remember the material I DO have! I’ll just have to move to Paris or something for more of it…! 🙂

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