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I’ve Sold 1,000 Books!

King Liam, First of His Name and Accidental Intelligence in front of a photograph of the Starfield Library in Seoul, South Korea

I am delighted to announce that I’ve joined the Thousand Book Club™—1,009 sold to be precise! June has been a fantastic month for me as an author, thanks to the release of my free short story, King Liam, First of His Name, and a paid advertising campaign on BookBub.

Chirp, Audible, and More

May and June were both insanely busy for me. I had to get King Liam ready to go, and I got it and Accidental Intelligence on more book retailers. I also made an audiobook for King Liam, which you can find on Audible, Apple Books, Amazon, Kobo, Barns & Noble (coming soon), Chirp, and another 30-40 audiobook retailers (via Author’s Republic). That was a ton of work, but I enjoyed it immensely. If you’ve listened to it, I’d love to know what you think.

The cover of the audiobook for King Liam, featuring a grizzled and slightly crazy looking belter pilot with control surfaces in front of him
King Liam, First of His Name
Audibook Cover

Making King Liam an audiobook gave me the courage to make an audiobook for Accidental Intelligence. Don’t get me wrong, this novel-length work is orders of magnitude more difficult than a short story. In addition to Accidental Intelligence having 22.8 times more words, there are so many more characters to voice. Including women. Especially women. I want to get it right, and it’s taking a while.

Google Play Comes Alive

Also surprising has been my results on Google Play. Thanks to the BookBub campaign (see below), I’ve gone from 5 units solid on Google Play to 146 in just the last three weeks. For the record, that’s almost as many as Apple Books in the same period (152 units), though I had more units of Accidental Intelligence (7) on Books than on Google Play (2).

Sales on Kindle vs. All Other Retailers

This is my message to authors: publish widely! Yes, I’ve moved a lot of books on Amazon and Kindle. 462, to be specific, which is more than any other single retailer by a factor of more than 2:1. But, it’s currently a minority of my sales when compared to all other retailers! I was shocked and delighted by these results. Between Books (224), Barnes & Noble Nook (88), Google Play (151), Kobo (72), and ACX (which handles audiobooks on Amazon, Audible, and Apple Books) (12), that’s 547 units!

This gives me a little more optimism about the future of the book world.

BookBub Ads

Thanks to some author friends I hang out with in Ceres Station—hey folks 👋—I’ve learned a little bit about some of the marketing tools available to indie authors. I’ve been running Facebook ads for months, but though I got a ton of clicks to my site, I got next to no sales from the those ads. I kept it up for the vanity-value of having people check out my website.

Then I was turned on to BookBub, thanks to Nick Snape in particular. After the first day of BookBub ads, I canceled my Facebook ads, gladly.

BookBub is a marketing service to readers looking for info on their favorite authors and related recommendations. They’ll send out emails announcing new books and deals from the authors you’re following (follow me on BookBub!). They then allow authors and publishers to include a very small ad in those emails. It’s one ad per email, as best as I can tell, and it’s not intrusive. It’s also going to be for a book you’ll likely be interested in.

Here’s an example ad I received for my own book. I followed Larry Niven on the site, and my ad targeted Larry Niven, hence me seeing it. This screenshot is just part the bigger promo email, FWIW.

Screenshot of BookBub promo email, including my ad

In any event, authors can choose the author they want to target for their ads. As mentioned, my ad for Accidental Intelligence targets fans of Larry Niven. My thinking is that people who enjoy Larry Niven’s work might enjoy my novel, too. If users click on the ad, they’re taken to the ebook platform of their preference where they can learn more about my book.

Bryan Chaffin Joins the Thousand Book Club™

To be honest, I went a little nuts at first and spewed money through a firehose. It got me a lot of readers for King Liam and Accidental Intelligence, enough to catapult me over the Thousand Book Club™ threshold, but it was hardly sustainable. 😅

I’ve dialed in my campaigns and dialed back the budget, and the exposure brings me steady new readers on the daily. And that is amazing.

Without further ado, here are my numbers since November 14th, 2023, the date I published Accidental Intelligence. I published King Liam on June 4th, 2024.

Amazon: 462 Books Sold (AI: 157, KL: 305)
Apple Books: 224 Books Sold (AI: 74, KL: 150)
Google Play: 151 Books Sold (AI: 3, KL: 148)
Kobo: 72 Books Sold (AI: 0, KL: 72)
Barnes & Noble Nook: 88 Books Sold (AI: 27, KL: 61)
ACX: 12 Audiobooks Sold (Only KL exists in this format)

Totals: 1,009 Books Sold (AI: 261, KL: 748)

And here’s a screenshot to show you what that journey looks like. All of my outlets have similar trajectories, with essentially just under 2/3 of my sales having come in June since I started my BookBub ads and released King Liam.

A screenshot showing my cumulative lifetime Kindle sales: 462 books on Kindle to date.
Screenshot of my lifetime Kindle sales

Caveats and Thoughts

“Selling” a free short story or novel is MUCH easier than selling a paid novel. For sure. But, it’s worth it to me to peddle King Liam as a free short because it allows people to take a chance on a new-to-them author without risk. And getting people to hit that download button is still hard!

While it’s still early in my BookBub campaign—I started it just under three weeks ago as of this writing—I do feel like I’m seeing a little momentum in my sales of Accidental Intelligence from people who bought King Liam and liked it. I can’t prove it—and it’s equally possible that pickup is based solely on my BookBub ads for Accidental Intelligence—but I think it’s coming from both. That’s a win!

The indie publishing path is a long haul, and I have many more stories to tell, including the three main Mason Truman novels, various shorts involving Mason, at least one novel involving Liam’s niece and Commander Andrew Bowers, and an epic fantasy that’s been kicking around for years.

2 Responses

  1. Nice work, Bryan! It’s been really amazing to see the arc of this journey so far, and I can attest that anyone who sees this should pick up Accidental Intelligence, if they haven’t already. Looking forward to more!

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