Sales Pump

by wjw on May 8, 2014

So my Voice of the Whirlwind 99-cent sale continues through Saturday.  I’ve made enough sales that I’ve paid for the Bookbub advert and will have some profit left over, even though I’m only making 30-40 cents per copy (depending on the forum).  My overall sales have increased slightly after each of these sales, though my suspicion is that far more ebooks are sold are the 99-cent rate than are ever read.

The big exception was the sale earlier this year of my historical novel Brig of War, which not only did well during the sale, but pumped sales of the other Privateers & Gentlemen books as well.  In fact the historicals now outsell all my SF save for Hardwired.  Can it be that thirty-odd years after their first publication, they have finally found an audience? 

And another curious thing.  For the past few months, The Rift has been my biggest seller, outpacing Hardwired, which had been well ahead of everything else up to that point.   I haven’t done any advertising on The Rift other than a blog post, but sales just took off.  Is it a book the world has been waiting for?  Was there some review that I didn’t see and can’t find?  

The Rift and P&G were the most recent novels to be uploaded, so maybe it’s just that they’re new to the ebook audience.  But still, I’d like to think that they’ve found some readers they deserve.

John F. MacMichael May 8, 2014 at 8:19 am

I am glad to hear that you have done well with your 99 cent sale for VotW. I bought one (despite having a paperback copy on my shelves) since it is one of a small and select class: books that I think are worth rereading.

I am not surprised that the sales techniques of the free sample and the special introductory offer work for ebooks. I have noticed over the years that the chance to “…just taste it!” is one of the most effective ways to sell at our local Farmers Market. The free sample has sold me on products ranging from heritage tomatoes to goats’ milk cheese to gin from a local distillery.

Of course, a 99 cent sale price also has the advantage of recalling to me the lost golden age of the 95 cent paperback (in the bygone era when California sales tax was 5 cents on the dollar so I add to my collection a new book by Jack Vance or Avram Davidson or Fritz Leiber by simply handing over a one dollar bill).

blatanville May 8, 2014 at 5:03 pm


thanks for this. While I was over at Smashwords taking advantage of your generosity (I’ve got pocket book, and trade editions, so why not a low-priced ebook version!?), I spied “Angel Station,” which I haven’t read in decades, so I splashed out an bought the two of them.



Bruce Arthurs May 9, 2014 at 12:38 am

Perhaps, in an e-book market flooded with second-rate or worse disaster and post-apocalypse novels, one that’s actually well-written stands out?

John MacMichael’s comment reminds me that I am old enough to remember complaining when paperback prices went up to 60 cents. And when they went up to 75 cents. And 95 cents. And $1.25. Et blooody cetera.

John Appel May 9, 2014 at 5:19 pm

In my case, I already own many of your books from years past in (lovingly worn) print versions, going back to my tattered and oft-loaned copy of Hardwired. But I’d completely missed the historicals, and for reasons I can’t recall now didn’t pick up The Rift when it was published. Never saw the Maijstral books, Ambassador of Progress or Knight Moves for sale when they were published, either. So while I’ve picked up a few books which I already own, most of my e-book purchases have been from those works on your backlist I didn’t already have.

Travis May 9, 2014 at 6:50 pm

Similar to what’s been said already I find it hard to justify 5 – 10 bucks (0r even $3.99) for a book I have but at 0.99 I’ll pick up a digital copy just so I have the choice of reading it on a reader someday.

Glad it’s making you at least something too.

Mat E May 9, 2014 at 7:12 pm

“Voice” is still one of my favorite Sci-Fi books. I still have have my original tattered mass market paperback that I bought in my teens because the cover looked similar to “Hardwired.” I re-bought the e book version as soon as it was released, but do you have any metrics at all regarding how many new readers the .99 versions are bringing in? I’ve noticed that there is a deluge of low cost e books from new authors, does it effect sales for established authors such as yourself? Sorry for all of the questions, but is the Sean Makin short that was released in a recent anthology gaping to be released separately?

wjw May 9, 2014 at 8:35 pm

Mat>> There are no metrics for distinguishing between old and new readers. I assume most of the purchasers are new, because the old readers already have a copy.

The big question is: how many of these new readers actually read their 99-cent book, and of these, how many go on to purchase other books at the regular price? My guess is not very many, unless they read nautical historical fiction, in which case the answer is: a heartening number.

The Sean Makin short will be out in June, and will eventually be released by me as e-text, but the original publisher has exclusive rights for a year or so, if I remember the contract correctly.

Luke Silburn May 13, 2014 at 10:39 am

I’ve been snagging your back-catalogue as they make it onto Smashwords. At one point or another I’ve had about 50% of your SF stuff already, but housemoves and general attrition meant that I was happy to pay again to get a complete set in ebook form.

The P&G books never really made it over to this side of the pond so I was glad to pick those up – I have fond memories of the p+p RPG they were written with, so in addition to being a sucker for good historicals I was interested to see how you handled the subject matter in long form fiction.


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