The Numbers Game

It’s September!

September is one of my favourite months of the year. I think I may secretly be Parisian because to me, September feels like the start of something, the time to get something going. And even when September meant – ugh! – going back to school, it did also mean having a valid excuse to buy loads of new stationery which is always a good thing. In fact, I’m nearly tempted to visit a stationer’s and load up on fresh copybooks, Post-It Notes, highlighter packs, unsharpened pencils and ballpoint pens with lids on them. (Especially because I need cheering up after yesterday’s awful news that Waterstone’s are ending their 3 for 2 next month. I’m devastated.) September is also the month I moved to Florida back in 2006. Now here I am five years later, about to publish the sequel to the book I wrote about it, Mousetrapped. I didn’t pull Backpacked‘s release date – September 5th – out of the sky. That’s the date I arrived in Orlando.

This day last year Mousetrapped was out six months and as I’d promised, I released my sales figures. Back then they were:

  • 183 paperbacks sold
  • 348 e-books sold
  • 531 books sold in total or an average of 3 books per day from March-August 2010. 

(Read the post here.) 

Last March, Mousetrapped was out one year. At that stage my sales figures were:

  • 477 paperbacks sold
  • 3,492 e-books sold
  • 3,969 books sold in total or an average of 19 books per day from September 2010-February 2011.

(Read the post here.)

As of today, 18 months after Mousetrapped went on sale, they look like this:
  • 657 paperbacks sold
  • 7,093 e-books sold
  • 7,745 books sold in total or an average of 21 books per day from March-August 2011.
Mousetrapped is $14.95 in paperback and has been $2.99 in e-book until the end of last month, when I lowered it to 99c. It’s still 99c but not by my choice; I’ll be posting about that headache once I get it sorted. I’ve also sold 214 copies of Self-Printed and 44 Self-Printed Shorts, so that makes 8,004 books sold in total (715 paperbacks and 7,030 e-books).

Selling at 99c won’t keep you in coffee (not even instant!), but it will give you some nice bestseller ranks.

I like my numbers because:

  • they’re better than a slap in the face – any number of readers is better than none!
  • they’re only for one book
  • they were achieved without any costly promotion or cheap tricks
  • they’re sustainable
  • they’re achievable – if you read my self-printed posts or Self-Printed, you don’t have to say to yourself, “But I’ll never sell that much…” because you could
  • I make, on average, about $5 from (most) paperback sales and $2 from (most) e-book sales and I do that every day on a project that I last worked on in January 2010.

I’m holding my breath about Backpacked. Because its release is so close to Results (my novel that’s out next month) and I’m doing a big promo push for that, I’m not doing anything special to promote Backpacked. I’m not really doing review copies, I’m not organizing any blog tour or anything like that and the book trailer (as you’ll soon see) isn’t really a direct advertisement of the book.

So this will be a real test of the foundations I’ve (potentially) laid with Mousetrapped. I have a theory about releasing self-published e-books that goes against 95% of the “advice” out there and if Backpacked sells well, it’ll go some way to being proved.

I think. We’ll see.

3 thoughts on “The Numbers Game

  1. Amit M says:


    You are an angel for posting all the numbers and experiences related to your self-publishing adventures.

    Amazing also that as I was sitting and reading your various posts and wondering to myself that today would be 1 year since her post on her numbers and wondering how is she doing now in terms of publishing … I see a twitter update on the sidebar with the latest post a few minutes ago.

    I wish you well. And I will be picking up one of your “shorts” on self publishing. Do you sell them for the Apple store or is it only kindle ?

    God bless you.


  2. Tahir says:

    I’m also interested in the paperback to eBook ratio for self-printed- If I have read your numbers correctly, that’s 58 paperback and 156 eBook (full version)? I actually think that it’s advantageous to only make the eBook initially available in one place only (Amazon) in order to make maximum use of the internal recommendation system to go over the “hump” more quickly, the Kindle book can be read on any device so it wouldn’t be restrictive. However, if smashwords sales are only a small fraction of the total it wouldn’t make that much difference I guess.

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