Our Four Year Anniversary

July 3 marks the four year anniversary of Pegasus Pulp. We started in July 2011 with three e-books for sale. Three years later that number has grown to 74 titles in two languages with four more currently going through editing, proofing and formatting.

Our sales could still be better, but they are growing from year to year, which is the most important thing. We also crossed the 1000 sales threshold earlier this year. Plus, we’ve managed to expand our reach and Pegasus Pulp e-books are now available at 92 retailers worldwide.

And now for the percentage breakdown of sales channels (rounded). For comparison, here are the respective figures for 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Warning: Lengthy statistical neepery under the cut:

Amazon.com: 38.8%
Amazon UK: 14.1%
Amazon DE: 12.9%
Kobo: 7.1%
Barnes & Noble: 6.2%
Scribd: 3.5%
DriveThruFiction: 3.1%
Apple: 3%
OmniLit/AllRomance: 1.9%
Amazon AU: 1.45%
Smashwords: 1.4%
Tolino general: 1.05%
Amazon CA: 0.97%
XinXii: 0.8%
Casa del Libro: 0.65%
Weltbild: 0.5%
Amazon FR: 0.5%
Amazon IT: 0.4%
Libiro: 0.3%
Amazon BR: 0.24%
Baker and Taylor Blio: 0.24%
Page Foundry/Inktera: 0.16%
Amazon ES: 0.16%
Amazon IN: 0.16%
Feedbooks: 0.16%
BookRepublic: 0.16%
Buecher.de: 0.08%
Der Club: 0.08%

These figures once again confirm a trend I’ve been noticing for a while now, namely that as Pegasus Pulp continues to expand into new markets, the market share of the various Amazons is declining, while the market share of other outlets is growing.

Amazon.com is still our strongest single retailer, but its marketshare has dropped to an all-time low of 38.8%. Even in January 2015, it was still 42.1%. Among the lesser Amazons, it is notable that Amazon UK has significantly pulled ahead of Amazon DE by now, when they used to be head to head until fairly recently. What is more, I have also noticed fewer sales at Amazon DE in recent months. It might just be the summer slump or it might be the effect of Tolino pulling past Amazon in the German market (more on that later).

Of the much lesser Amazons, Australia and Canada are the only ones with some significance, every other store is 0.5% or less for me. Though it is notable that my sales are spread widely across the Amazons and that Amazon.com makes up only 55.7% of my total Amazon marketshare. This is quite unusual, since many indies writing in English report that Amazon.com makes up the lion’s share of their sales with figures of 90% or more. The combined marketshare of all Amazons together is 69.68% by the way, which leaves a little over 30% for all other retailers, so it really makes no sense to go Amazon exclusive for me, even discounting the recent Kindle Unlimited changes.

Kobo continues to be the strongest of the non-Amazon retailers for me (again, quite unusual for indie writers) and has expanded its marketshare. Barnes & Noble also continues to do well and expand its marketshare, which is a surprise, because it took me ages to start selling there. Even as recently as two years ago, Barnes & Noble was still at a pitiful half percent. I think switching my Barnes & Noble distribution first to Draft2Digital and then going direct, once it became possible for people outside the US, helped to increase my visibility and marketshare there.

The e-book subscription service Scribd landing in fourth place after Amazon, Kobo and Barnes & Noble is a surprise, since I haven’t even been with them for a whole year yet. Though Scribd’s recent deletion of thousands of romance and erotica titles, because romance readers just read too damned much, seems to indicate that the company and maybe the subscription model itself is in trouble, though for me crime fiction and SF have always done better at Scribd than romance. Coincidentally, I have never sold/lent anything via Oyster, the other big e-book subscription service, though I recently switched Oyster distribution from Smashwords to Draft2Digital, so maybe that will help.

Niche retailers like DriveThruFiction and OmniLit/AllRomance continue to do decently for me and tiny DriveThruFiction is actually a bigger market for me than international giant Apple, but then I’ve never done well at Apple. Smashwords is holding steady and XinXii, where I used to do pretty well initially, has fallen under 1% now.

Meanwhile, Tolino’s alleged 45% share of the German e-book market is not at all reflected in my personal sales figures, for all Tolino stores taken together, that is Weltbild, Der Club, Buecher.de and Tolino general (since Draft2Digital fails to differentiate between the various Tolino stores), only make up 1.71% of our total sales, compared to 14.1% for Amazon DE. This notable discrepancy confirms that Tolino is still not a particularly indie-friendly environment, though they have made strides in embracing indie authors and even opened their own self-publishing portal earlier this year. It will certainly be interesting to see how Tolino’s marketshare will have developed by next year.

Now let’s take a look at the sales rankings of our 74 books:

1. Seraglio
2. Under the Knout
3. The Kiss of the Executioner’s Blade
4. Outlaw Love
5. Christmas Eve at the Purple Owl Café
6. Unter der Knute
7. Der Kuss des Richtschwertes
8. Hostage to Passion
9. Gesetzlose Liebe
10. The Cork and the Bottle
11. Mercy Mission
12. The Hybrids
13. Rites of Passage
14. Hanging Day
15. Murder in the Family
16. The Iron Border and The Spiked Death (tie)
17. Flying Bombs
18. The Butcher of Spain
19. Seedlings
20. Countdown to Death, Overdose, A Bullet for Father Christmas and Christmas Gifts (tie)
21. The Other Side of the Curtain
22. Flights of Madness and Honigtopf (tie)
23. Debts to Pay, Bank Job, Pissed, Last-Minute-Geschenke and Kurierdienst (tie)
24. New York City’s Finest
25. Dead Drop, History Lesson, The Great Fraud, Mean Streets and Dead Alleys, Heartache, The Hidden Castle and Familienkutsche (tie)
26. Partners in Crime, Open Season, Paris Green, Egg Hunt, Insomnia, Family Car and He never brings me flowers… (tie)
27. He has come back to me…, Payback Time, Thirty Years to Life and Die Liebe in den Zeiten des Frischkornmüslis (tie)
28. Letters from the Dark Side, Old Mommark’s Tale, Love in the Times of the Macrobiotic Müsli, Courier Duty, The Apocalypse Protocol, Reiche Beute and Whaler (tie)
29. Elevator of Doom, Acacia Crescent, Boardwalk Baby, Cartoony Justice, Dream Job, The Four and a Half Minute Boiled Egg, Honeypot, Muse and Crisis and Auf der anderen Seites des Vorhangs (tie)
30. Demolition, The Revenant of Wrecker’s Dock and The Dark Lily (tie)
31. Albrecht the Nightmare, Seeing Red, Loot and Unter dem Galgen

Again, there aren’t any huge surprises here. The top ranks still go to historical romances and historical adventure stories that have been out for a long time now. The biggest surprised is my sweet little lesbian holiday romance Christmas Eve at the Purple Owl Café which has been out for only a little over six months and yet has already rocketed to 5th place and continues to sell decently throughout the summer, which is amazing considering that this is a Christmas story.

The two series starters The Cork and the Bottle and Mercy Mission do okay in 10th and 11th place respectively and the rest of the respective series continue to sell decently as well. In both cases the second book in the series, Overdose and Seedlings respectively, also does pretty well, though not nearly as well as the first. The remaining books of both series sit fairly close together in sales rank and give a nice indicator how many people have gone on to read the entire series. The lone outlier in the Helen Sheperd Mysteries is A Bullet for Father Christmas, which I suspect got a holiday boost, cause it sells better than the two books to precede it. I also notice that whenever I release a new book in either the Helen Shepherd Mysteries or the Shattered Empire series, the previous books get a boost. Let’s hope this continues to hold true, for both series have new books coming up soon.

The sales pattern for the Helen Shepherd and Shattered Empire series is pretty common for series and similar to what many indie writers report. Meanwhile, the Silencer series still doesn’t do overly well and notably sells out of order with book 3 selling the most. I hope that the Silencer will eventually find his audience, especially since I’m still very fond of the characters and their world. But I guess pulp-style retro thrillers simply aren’t that popular these days.

Regarding the lower ranks, one thing that’s notable is that there has been some churn here and that even those titles that I have mentally filed away under “Never-sellers” do sell on occasion, even if it’s only a copy every couple of months.

Whaler has been the most consistent of my never-sellers to date and has always inevitably found itself in last place, whenever I compiled such a chart. Which is why it’s amazing that in these past six months, Whaler has suddenly started to sell and no longer sits in last place. It will never be a bestseller, but it’s also no longer a never-seller either. Since I did nothing with it, no promos, no cover changes, I suspect that it got a boost from the success of my other SF titles.

Meanwhile, the red lantern (no pun intended) of the worst selling Pegasus Pulp title has passed on to Seeing Red. Now three other books sell just as badly, but both Albrecht the Nightmare and Unter dem Galgen are fairly recent releases that came out within the past three months and Loot is the standalone edition of a crime short that can also be found in Murder in the Family. Seeing Red, however, has been out for almost a year now, cannot be found anywhere else and just doesn’t sell. I guess a lot of people have issues with crime shorts about women killing their boyfriends/husbands.

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