The Calling, A Year Later

One year ago today -- plus an extra day thanks to Leap Year -- I released The Calling into the world. It was the first complete novel I'd written, and was rewritten and revised many, many times. I kept coming back to it, tweaking this and that, because I really loved the story. I think I once heard somewhere that writers are oftentimes way too close to their first novels, and this was probably the case here. But through the years I received great feedback on the novel from very close friends and teachers, as well as writers who have become mentors, including Stewart O'Nan and David B. Silva. I even received some great blurbs from Tim Lebbon and Jay Bonansinga -- which, at the time, I planned to use to help me stand out when querying agents, and when the querying agents thing failed and the novel was put away, I felt really bad because those great blurbs would go to waste ... until a year ago, that is.

So last year in preparation of The Calling’s release (the cover was done by Wyatt Perko, who, after I found the image of the ghost and got permission from Sultan Alghamdi to use it, made a really kick ass design), I released what I billed as a "prequel of sorts" called Spooky Nook (I talked about that release earlier this month), and I set up a few stops for a blog tour. My reason for doing a blog tour? Well, they seemed all the rage a year ago. Who knows, maybe they still are, but unless you're visiting some very well trafficked blogs, it seems like a waste of time (just my two cents). Still, I'm eternally grateful to everyone who hosted me on their blog last year to let me talk about my novel or just blab about one thing or another (even Z. Constance Frost who, as we all know, doesn't really exist ... so yes, I was talking to myself in that interview). Anyway, here was the tour schedule:

For the first month or so I released The Calling at an "special introductory" price of 99 cents, and then raised the price to $2.99, which it has been ever since (in the UK it's been £1.99). As I talked about before, the trajectory for ebooks typically goes against the traditional grain. Normally books start out with high sales and then dip down to pretty much nothing, whereas here it seems digital self-published books start out slow and pick up (not all, of course). Eventually those sales will peak, sure, but who's to say when that will happen ... and who's to say the sales won't pick back up at some point either? Anyway, starting last year, here are my sales for both Kindle and NOOK:

  • March: 41
  • April: 168
  • May: 243
  • June: 285
  • July: 291
  • August: 374
  • September: 333
  • October: 456
  • November: 585
  • December 1,033
  • January: 1,402
  • February: 1,308
  • March (so far): 992

So since its release last year, The Calling has sold nearly 7,500 units. Is that good? Hard to say. Some authors sell 7,500 units of their book a month, while it might take other authors over ten years to sell that amount. I'm certainly happy with how it's doing. Currently it's holding steady in both the US and UK Kindle stores, and the sales in the NOOK store are picking up ... which is why, when my exclusivity with Kindle Select runs out, I'm reinstating Man of Wax, No ShelterThe Dishonored Dead, and Phantom Energy. Kindle Select can be a great tool for promotion -- it's done wonders for Man of Wax and No Shelter -- but after that initial burst, sales begin to slow and it can take months before they start to pick up again and continue to grow. While it's certainly nice having that immediate success of sales, it's even better to watch a book sell consistently high every month ... though it should be noted that, on the flip side, the book's sales could slow and slow until the book stops selling at all, so there's that. Or the book could reach the Kindle Top 100 and sell thousands of copies, and then continue selling hundreds of copies a day for months. You just never know.

Fortunately for me, The Calling has been in the horror Kindle Top 100 in both the US and UK Kindle Stores for the past several months. To give you a more visual insight, here's a graph of my sales in the US Kindle Store:

In the UK Kindle Store, the sales have been more erratic, but have really picked up in the past few months:

What have I been doing in regards to promotion since the book's release? A whole lot of nothing. The reason it's selling is, I believe, because Amazon recommends it to readers, who check it out and then purchase it. I also believe reader reviews play a major factor, as for the past year The Calling has had pretty good reviews (except recently, someone gave it a one-star review because they wanted a Dean Koontz book and for some reason got The Calling instead, and were none too happy, and while I thought that might hinder sales, it apparently hasn't ... for now). Also, it helps that I have grown a backlist of titles pretty quickly in the past year -- four other novels and a handful of novellas.

Obviously, there's no guarantee those sales will stay consistent. Next month they could begin to dip, or the month after that, or even the month after that. Or the sales could pick up for the next several months. Again, it's really completely out of my hands, and that's sort of scary when you've begun to count on a particular title bringing in a particular amount of money each month. But, well, that's publishing for you. Of course, The Calling is my best seller right now, but then again, it's been out the longest. The Dishonored Dead, which I released shortly after The Calling, isn't faring nearly as well, but we'll talk about that later.

In the meantime, if you haven't already checked out The Calling, you can purchase it in the following places: