Friday, April 5, 2013

Excel book: Sales get a boost in March, but why?

Excel Basics
A strange thing happened in March. My book about Excel Basics, which had resisted numerous attempts to boost sales, all of a sudden starting getting traction. Sales for Excel Basics In 30 Minutes weren't nearly as good as Dropbox In 30 Minutes or Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes, but they were nearly double the levels for January and February. The book's "Paid In Kindle Store" ranking, which had never dropped below 300,000 before February, finished the month of March at #157,675.

Before I put forth some of the hypotheses for March, let me describe some of the things I tried in previous months to boost sales:
  • Changed the name: Started with "Spreadsheets In 30 Minutes", changed to "Excel In 30 Minutes", then "Excel Basics".
  • Made slight changes to the metadata (keywords, descriptions) in Amazon.
  • Posted Excel tutorial videos and other resources on the product website and YouTube
  • Lowered the ebook price from $8.99 to $5.99

Out of all of these activities, only the price cut seemed to have any impact on sales, and it was marginal.

Then came March. Sales nearly doubled. There were increases in Amazon, Createspace, and iTunes sales. Even B&N (manufacturer of the Nook) saw a few more sales in March than the previous month.

What happened? I have a few hypotheses:
  1. A change in Amazon categories (it's now listed under Education, rather than Computers) revealed it to a new group of potential readers
  2. The Goodreads Giveaway I launched on March 11 resulted in purchases by people who didn't want to wait until mid-April to learn if they had won a copy.

The problem with both of these hypotheses is they are difficult to test. Amazon and the other platforms don't share with authors where buyers come from, or how changing categories directly or indirectly impacts sales. While it's sometimes possible to track activity through the use of affiliate program codes, which I use on my product websites, Goodreads uses its own affiliate codes, meaning I cannot see the data generated by buyer clicks.

In any case, I am happy with the increase and looking forward to seeing what happens to sales of Excel Basics In 30 Minutes this April. The Goodreads Giveaway already has 190 registered readers, and the total should break 200 by the time the registration ends April 11. Of the registrants, 25 will get free books … but there are still nearly 200 other people who have indicated interest in the title. Will they end up buying a copy?

Fingers crossed ...

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