The Library of Lost Books One Year Later

On July 12 of last year, I launched my first novel and second published work, The Library of Lost Books. lolb_final_kindle_rev

At the time I was annoyed with the fact that there were so few stats out there about how many sales a first-time novelist could expect if they went the e-publishing route. I want to knock a hole through that wall to let the day light in, so today I’m publishing the stats for the first year of The Library of Lost Books collected via my Kindle stats from Amazon. Here they are.

Stats from July 12, 2012 to July 12, 2013 for The Library of Lost Books:


























Grand Total, Books on Device (Sales, Giveaways, Borrows): 1,863

To be clear, those are net sales, I didn’t count refunds. I didn’t include Nook sales either because they were minimal, i.e. five copies sold, tops. My e-book was only available on that platform for about 1 month anyway. I wanted to use the Amazon KDP Select program to give away my works for free and so could not make the book available on other platforms. “Others” in the graph above includes: France, Spain, Italy, India, Japan, Canada and Brazil.

So what does it mean? To me, it adds up to self-publishing success. I didn’t have any goals when I launched, I just wanted the story out there. I wanted to share the story with my friends and maybe a few other people. And most importantly, I wanted to prove to myself that I could write a novel. A few weeks later, my goals changed a bit and I thought that selling 29 copies and giving away 1,000 copies was more than I could ever hope for, because then I would get a paycheck from Amazon and I could say I was a professional writer.

That’s done. But getting to over 200 copies has exceeded my initial expectations beyond anything I could have rationally expected. Sure, they’re not even close to Stephen King numbers, but it’s humbling and satisfying to know that over 200 real people out there decided they’d at least give my book a shot using their hard-earned cash. When I combine that with the 1,643 downloads during giveaways, there are almost 2,000 Kindles out there that had my novel on it at some point. That blows my mind. To think that something I’ve created has become part of that many people’s lives, even if it was only for a moment to download it and leave on your e-reader.

I have more complete data, broken down by month and I may share that later. But for today, I’m only going to give you a few tidbits of analysis:

  • Since February I have consistently sold more copies of “Library” in the UK than in the USA. It’s especially striking when you consider the relative populations of the countries. I’m thinking it’s time for a British pub crawl/book tour?
  • The Germans seem especially adept at downloading the book when it’s free. They just seem to sense it. The ratio of sales to free downloads is 1:22 for Deutschland. USA is about 1:10. For the UK, God bless them, it is about 1:4. That last statistic shows the Brits are actually buying the book even when it’s not being given away. I hope that means that some of them like it.
  • The ‘Others’ category is very small compared to USA, UK and Germany. I had only two sales across all those countries. This may be good if it indicates e-reading devices have a long way to go before reaching mainstream adoption in those markets. Last year I was in Argentina and I noticed tablets and e-readers were almost non-existent. I’m hoping the e-readers market in those countries keeps growing.

So, that’s it. I just wanted to bring the stats for the book to a wider audience, nothing more. Mostly, I wanted writers out there how are thinking about self-publishing via e-book to have a frame of reference. But please don’t take it as typical or a good result or a bad one. It’s just one more data point to add to what’s already out there.

All for now, I’ve got to run! But not before I see you off with a musical palate cleanser.

As I was finishing the final drafts of the novel this song was big. I kept listening to it over and over. It was like a friend in those long, long months leading up to publication. Those days when I was trying to push through the final drafts, the proofreading, cover design and launch. Whenever I hear it, it takes me back to those not-so-distant days.

When I hear the strings at the beginning, I always have the same waking dream. It’s dawn in Madrid, the early morning when the sky is dull blue and the sun isn’t up yet. I’m walking along the deserted cobble-stone streets downtown. All the cafes and apartments are shuttered and everyone is finally asleep. And for a few minutes, it’s just me, a few garbage trucks and street sweepers in our own private Madrid.

[I will post video link to song, “Viva La Vida,” once WordPress/YouTube start cooperating again.]

In a continuing sub-series, I’m mentioning each time viewers from a new country visit the blog. This week we have:

– Slovenia.

Welcome to the blog!

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