A curious thing happened last week. Amazon sent an order request for one copy of my oldest mystery novel, Taxed to Death. It was the first print order in two years. Given that I published the book nearly two decades ago, I’ve done zero promotion for this book in recent years. Working on the Casey Holland series with my current publisher takes up all the time I have. So, even though the book isn’t an e-book (that’s another story), I was surprised to see the order. It was also funny to see my ranking drop from about 5 million, to 700,000 with one sale, but that also is another issue. Anyhow, this out-of-the-blue order got me thinking, why now? It’s possible that someone came across the title during tax season, and wanted to read something more fun than income tax guidelines. Who knows?
When the sequel to Fatal Encryption was released in 2008, I got involved with social media and took part in a number of Amazon forums for independently published authors. My posts resulted in a few paperback sales for both titles. But then the e-book revolution took hold. To no surprise, paperback copies of my books stopped selling. By 2011, I’d left the Amazon forums to focus on the Casey Holland series. Writing and publishing one book a year has left little time for social networking.
Yesterday, I checked the rankings of all five of my titles and found that the paperback versions of the second two Casey Holland mysteries have never sold on Amazon. But since I’m a Canadian author with a Canadian story, the book does sell through Canadian stores and Kobo, so I’m not complaining. Like most people, I’m buying a lot fewer paperbacks than I used to. Also, it costs me quite a bit to mail a book from Canada to Amazon’s warehouse. Since Amazon expects a 55% discount, I’m actually losing money with sales. So, you see why I’m not complaining? They also want me to keep at least one copy of my books in their warehouse, otherwise they’ll list the book as out of print. You may ask, why not go out of print where Amazon is concerned? Well, I’m planning to add more self-published titles in the future, and some of them may involve the further exploits of young intrepid tax auditor, Alex Bellamy.
I’ve read occasional posts on other forums about dwindling paperback sales, so I’m curious about the sales of other authors, especially those from Americans who either publish independently or with smaller publishing houses. Have your paperback sales noticeably dwindled over the past five years? Do you notice a bump in sales if you start promoting your paperbacks?
A few months ago, I blogged about a survey which revealed that about 70% of all books sold are paperbacks, however I’m not sure if this applies to mysteries. As for paperbacks in general, do you think most paperback sales are generated from the titles of well known authors? Let’s discuss.