This post, by screenwriter John August, originally appeared on his site on 5/31/09.
My short story The Variant has been on the market for a week. As promised, here’s an update on how the 99-cent experiment has gone.
Short version: I sold more copies than I expected, with fewer technical issues. I had picked the Friday of Memorial Day weekend precisely because I hoped it would be slower-paced, allowing me to fix whatever disasters struck without a crush of weekday traffic. But I could have been more ambitious, and a mid-week launch would have made more sense.
I get 35 cents on each Kindle sale, versus 89 cents on each download.
I’d be less grumbly about Amazon’s 65 percent cut if their reporting were better. Their DTP publisher tells you almost nothing about your sales. It only shows how many total units, with no breakdowns at all — not by day, not by state, nothing. Fortunately, I had embedded my Amazon tracking number in links from my site, so I do know that 458 of my Kindle sales came from people who clicked through from the launch page. That’s only a third of the Kindle sales, so many people were getting it in one of three alternate ways:
- Following a direct link from an outside site, such as Daring Fireball.
- Buying it through Kindle itself, either the device or the iPhone app.1
- Finding the book on the Kindle bestseller list.2
Downloads provide a lot more data. I’ve already written about the international readers, but the numbers also help show the falloff over time. It sold ten times more on the first day than the seventh.