Monday, April 20, 2009

A study of the arcane

In the joyous fashion of the SA postal system, my royalty statement arrived. For the period to June 2008. Hey what's a year? I should be grateful. They arrived, not a thing that is always gauranteed -- I've yet to recieve a single ARC, although they're on sale by various collectors, and as often as not I don't get my author's copies until the book has been out for six months, if i get them at all. On one occassion I got 5 (not 10). The country has its joys but there are a few tempering factors... Anyway, back to the arcane - it's only when -as a statistician - you peer at these documents that you realise that understanding it involves the dark arts (more like necromancy than statistics or accounting)
Here is the theory HC:PB ratio will be around 1:4
Here is the fact - they range 1:2.1 to 1:7.3
Theory: 95% of sales of a new book occur in the first 3 months
Fact: The Forlorn - 1999 - sold 123 copies in the last 6 months. It's sold more than 25% more than the initial report. It's not on many shelves.
Theory: Sequels will sell more or less 20% less than the first book.
Fact. huh? Whut? sometimes the second HC outsells the first, seldom loses more than 5%, and the paperback figures are all over, but mostly a lot lower... because (theory by Dave proved by his loco... uh, local bookstore ) no one wants to by the second book in a series when the first isn't for sale.
Theory: names draw sales. Actuality - names draw hardcover sales. except A MANKIND WITCH -solo - hardback, with an awful cover, outsold anything by Eric and I combined. The PB on the other hand sold badly, barely getting 1:2.1 ratio. PB sales I think are cover and content driven - and distribution naturally. Actually the distrib might be important for the hardcover sales too.

I can't make head or tail of it. I'll stick to writing with occasional breaks to grumble about it.


Rowena Cory Daniells said...

You're absolutely right, Dave. It is arcane!

John Lambshead said...

I love royalties!

Ori Pomerantz said...

I often wait until I can get the first book in a series for cheap (PB / remainder). If it is good, I might buy the rest ASAP, which means HC. If a lot of people do that, it might skew the results.

It would be interesting to see the difference between the results from normal book stores (limited shelf space, no Forlorns anymore) and places like Amazon. If I want a book, I go to the book store. If I want a specific book, I go to Amazon. Of course, I don't have to rely on the SA postal service.