40,000 For Joy: A Month of Magpies
The Magpies was launched a month ago today and it’s been a pretty phenomenal month. The book has now sold 40,000 copies, which is way beyond my initial expectations (although I am always optimistic). It’s currently sitting at No.2 on Amazon UK and has over 90 five star reviews. Of course it could all go wrong at any moment (I’m occasionally pessimistic) but here’s a little rundown of some stuff that’s happened and some more things I’ve learned over the last month – for fans of stats and anyone interested in ebooks.
1. As I’ve stated before, getting and staying in the top ten is much harder than it was two years ago – especially because of all the Daily Deals and bargain books that are price-matched from other sites (because some books are offered at 59p on other sites, Amazon price matches them; this is also what happened with the 20p books). But the volumes of sales are much higher. When Catch Your Death was No.1 for a month it ‘only’ sold around 25,000 copies during that period. I imagine the current No.1 book has sold 3 times that this month – at least.
If you look at the print book bestseller list, and compare it to the Kindle chart, you can also see something very interesting happening. The No.1 print book last week was Marian Keyes, who sold 25,000 copies of her new one. My guess would be that the No.1 ebook had similar sales to this, and that the same will follow through the top ten. So The Magpies would have been the third or fourth biggest-selling book in the UK last week. Of course, the books in the Kindle top ten are a lot cheaper, but, based purely on volume, and based just on the top ten, British readers are buying almost as many Kindle books as they are paperbacks.
2. Readers are far more likely to leave reviews than they used to be. I don’t know if this is because Amazon sends out emails asking for them, or because of some change in Kindle culture, but they come in much faster than they used to. Every time I see that the review count has gone up I feel sick with dread and scroll down the page with my eyes half-averted. Of course, I can handle bad reviews but they still hurt when they come in. Luckily, I haven’t had many. (Looks for a piece of wood to touch. Really.)
3. Sunday is the best day of the week for sales (by far) and Monday is the worst.
4. There aren’t as many big self-published books around these days. At the moment, The Martian is in the top ten, and Sealed With a Kiss by Racheal Lucas was in the top ten two weeks ago. Rachel Abbot hit No. 2 a couple of weeks ago with The Back Road. There also a few US indie titles around, mostly erotica or new adult. But in 2011 there were a lot more at the higher end of the chart.
While all this has been going on, Louise and I have started gearing up for the release of Forward Slash, which has been brought forward to 20th June. And we’re making great progress on our next book too. And the success of The Magpies has got me itching to start another solo novel, for which I have an idea that I’m mulling over. Readers seem to ever hungrier for more material. Even though Louise and I will have published 5 novels in 2 years, our readers want more…and being ‘hybrid’ authors is a great way for us to do this.
Finally, I want to say an enormous thanks to the 40,000 people who’ve bought The Magpies already, and to all those people who’ve tweeted about it, written reviews and told their friends. Hearing from readers who like your work is by far the best thing about being a writer. I’ve reported a lot of stats here – but the really important stuff is the stuff you can’t measure.