July 3 marks Pegasus Pulp’s nine year anniversary, so it’s time for another overview post. In the past nine years, our catalogue has grown to 146 titles in two languages.
What is more, I’m currently trying for a repeat of the July short story challenge, where the idea is to write a short story per day in July (for a summary of the 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 challenges, see here). I’ll also put up a running tally of stories written over at my personal blog again. I’m not sure if I will manage to do the challenge for the whole month this year, because Worldcon is in late July and will take up most of my time and attention. But so far I’ve written three stories in as many days. And since writing a short story every day takes time, this post will be somewhat basic.
So let’s take a look at the figures and percentages. The figures of previous years may be found here BTW.
Warning, lots of statistical neepery under the cut.
Let’s start with the retailer breakdown:
Amazon DE: 29.84%
Amazon UK: 7.6%
Barnes & Noble: 3.85%
Tolino (store not specified): 2.3%
Amazon AU: 1.43%
OmniLit/All Romance: 0.8%
Amazon CA: 0.65%
Kobo Plus: 0.29%
Google Play: 0.2%
Casa del Libro: 0.2%
Amazon IT: 0.2%
Amazon FR: 0.2%
Amazon IN: 0.2%
Baker Taylor: 0.15%
Amazon ES: 0.07%
24 Symbols: 0.07%
Page Foundry/Inktera: 0.07%
Book Republic: 0.04%
Der Club: 0.02%
There hasn’t been much change since the last time I did this. Amazon Germany continues to sit in the top spot, ahead of Amazon.com, though the percentages of both keep dropping. I’ve also noticed that my Amazon sales have faltered of late, probably because Amazon sales are becoming steadily more reliant on ads. I’ve also noticed that my Amazon sales pretty much slowed to a trickle, since the beginning of the pandemic. Meanwhile, Kobo is doing well for me and has increased its percentage. Ditto for DriveThruFiction, who have pulled ahead of Barnes & Noble by now. I’ve also noticed that DriveThruFiction customers don’t just buy a single book, they buy the whole series. The library service Bibliotheca is still in fifth place, even though my sales suddenly stopped dead there about a year ago after an initial flurry of strong sales. I strongly suspect that they’re not reporting properly, since the pattern is so weird, but according to the distributor, everything is fine. One surprise is a newish vendor called Dreame, which came out of nowhere and cross the 1% mark in less than a year. They seem to be some kind of subscription service, though I don’t know much about them. Google Play still does hardly anything for me.
Does being a Hugo finalist increase sales? That’s still inconclusive. True, my sales increased notably in April, but then they had completed tanked in February and March, very likely due to the pandemic, and bounced back to their previous level. Would sales have remained at the low February and March levels, if not for the Hugo nomination? Would sales have increased further, if not for the pandemic? There’s no way of telling, since both are events that have never happened before. Though I have repeatedly noted that major world events (Brexit, the 2016 US election) and sports events (Olympics and Football World Cups) tend to negatively impact sales. At least, we’re spared the Summer Olympics and European Football Cup, two events which would have affected sales, this year thanks to the pandemic. And the US election, while still happening, is strangely muted.
So let’s take a look at the individual books and their sales:
1. Der Lohn des Henkers
2. Heiligabend im Café zum Lila Kakadu
4. Christmas Eve at the Purple Owl Café
5. Under the Knout
6. After the End – Stories of Life After the Apocalypse
7. Unter der Knute
8. The Cork and the Bottle
9. Der Kuss des Richtschwertes
10. Outlaw Love and The Kiss of the Executioner’s Blade
12. The Hybrids
13. Mercy Mission
14. Hostage to Passion
15. Four Minute Warning
16. Gesetzlose Liebe
17. Unter dem Galgen
18. A Bullet For Father Christmas
19. Hangman’s Wages
21. Hanging Day
22. Murder in the Family
23. Rites of Passage
24. Dreaming of the Stars
25. The Spiked Death and Kitchen Witch
26. The Butcher of Spain
27. Christmas Gifts and The Iron Border
28. Egg Hunt
29. Open Season
30. Evacuation Order
31. Seedlings and Southern Monsters
32. Countdown to Death
33. Flying Bombs and Paris Green
34. Conspirators and Debts to Pay
35. Bank Job
36. Bloody Bananas, Bug-Eyed Monsters and the Women Who Love Them and Honigtopf
37. Operation Rubber Ducky and Spiked Tea
38. The Tinsel-Free Christmas Tree and Dead Drop
39. Baptism of Fire, The Valley of the Man Vultures, Partners in Crime, Christmas Shopping with a Broken Heart, Tea and Treachery and Familienkutsche
40. Mean Streets and Dead Alleys, The Other Side of the Curtain and Last Minute Geschenke
41. Freedom’s Horizon and Parlour Game
42. Graveyard Shift, History Lesson and Children of the Stone Gods
43. A Mess of Arms and Legs and Limbs, The Tomb of the Undead Slaves, The Forest of the Hanged, The Great Fraud, and The Revenant of Wrecker’s Dock
44. Dead World, Acacia Crescent, Blasters of Forever, Heartache, Letters from the Dark Side and Pissed
45. Bullet Holes, Courting Trouble, The Bleak Heath, The Night Court, Flights of Madness, He has Come Back to Me, Kiss of Ice, Mightier than the Sword, New York City’s Finest and Old Mommark’s Tale
46. St. Nicholas of Hell’s Kitchen, The Cave of the Dragon, The Temple of the Snake God, The Apocalypse Protocol, The Hidden Castle, Whaler and Kurierdienst
47. The Road of Skeletons, Christmas After the End of the World, Flesh Trade, He Never Brings Me Flowers and Auf der anderen Seite des Vorhangs
48. Double-Cross, Elevator of Doom, Fact or Fiction and The Four and a Half Minute Boiled Egg
49. Hunter and Hunted, The Milk Truck Gang, Boardwalk Baby, Dream Job, Family Car, Love in the Times of the Macrobiotic Müsli and Seeing Red
50. The Thing from the Dread Swamp, Demolition, Insomnia, Valentine’s Day on Iago Prime, Weihnachtsshopping mit gebrochenem Herzen and Die Liebe in den Zeiten des Frischkornmüslis
51. Collision Course, The Heavy Hand of the Editor, The Crawling Death, Loot, Courier Duty, The Death of the American Dream and Thirty Years to Life
52. Honourable Enemies, Mementos and Memories, The Tentacled Terror, The Bakery on Gloomland Street, Christmas on Iago Prime, A History of the New Ice Age, Liquid Muse, Lovers’ Lane, Our Lady of the Burning Heart, Payback Time and Reiche Beute
53. The Taste of Home, A Valentine for the Silencer, Albrecht the Nightmare, Cartoony Justice, Muse & Crisis, The Shantytown Robin Hoods and The Three Quarters Eaten Dessert
54. Santa’s Sticky Fingers, Double Feature, The Faulty Television Receiver, The Cursed Arm of Driftwood Beach and The Dark Lily
55. The Mermaid of Foghorn Point
56. The Beast from the Sea of Blood and The Standarounds of Twilight Gardens
Once again, the lifetime sales rankings remain relatively stable compared to last year. Der Lohn des Henkers is still on top, followed by Heiligabend im Café zum Lila Kakadu and Seraglio. In general, most of the top ranks still go to stories which have been out for years and had plenty of time to accumulate sales.
Of my various series, the Helen Shepherd Mysteries continue to be steady sellers. Shattered Empire is also still doing well for a series that hasn’t had a new release in a while now. My other space opera series In Love and War is gradually picking up, though it never sold as well as I’d hoped. And even though the Thurvok series is still fairly new, it’s a steady and reliable seller. The Silencer is doing okay, considering the audience for 1930s style pulp adventure isn’t very big.
Meanwhile, The Day the Saucers Came…, Two-Fisted Todd and Alfred and Bertha’s Marvelous Twenty-First Century Life have never sold very well, since they’re all somewhat offbeat. And in spite of new covers, the Hallowind Cove series just doesn’t sell. Either there is no audience for humorous fantasy stories set in quirky seaside towns or I simply haven’t figured out how to find it.
The Hallowind Cove story The Standarounds of Twilight Gardens is also still holding the red lantern, shared with the Thurvok story The Beast from the Sea of Blood. However, The Beast from the Sea of Blood has only been out for about a week and hasn’t even been officially announced yet, so I expect that it will eventually sell en par with the other Thurvok stories. Finally, there also are stories like The Dark Lily, Cartoony Justice and Muse & Crisis, which have been out for years and just don’t sell. A pity, since Cartoony Justice is a personal favourite and is generally liked by everybody who actually read it. But I guess it’s just too out there.
However, one thing I have noticed is that even the stories that never sell do sell on occasion. It may only be a handful of copies per year, but they do sell. And indeed, when I compiled the data, I noticed that stories which had sold 50 copies last year suddenly sold 100, that stories which had sold 20 copies last year suddenly sold 50, that stories which had sold 10 copies last year suddenly sold 20 and that stories which had sold 5 copies suddenly sold 10. My indie publishing career may not be as flashy and those of other people, but sales are slowly, but steadily climbing year after year, even without AMS ads, Facebook ads, Bookbub and whatever other “must-have” marketing options there are.