Thursday, March 16, 2017

Checking Under the Hood: Using Book Report to Crunch Your Numbers

By Jana Oliver, @crazyauthorgirl

Part of the Indie Authors Series

One of the challenges an indie author faces is the necessity to acquire, then evaluate sales data in a timely fashion.Fortunately, Amazon and its online brethren have made significant strides in supplying that information for us indies. We can tell exactly how many books have sold per day, including where those were purchased. The latter is important if I’m running a Facebook ad and wish to target specific countries or regions, and to determine if I’ve established the proper price point.

This wealth of data was a sea change for me as I had grown accustomed to receiving my sales figures every six months via my traditional publisher (plus another 90 days for that information to arrive in printed form). That meant I wouldn’t see April – October’s numbers until February 1st of the following year. There was no geographic breakdown by country, and no day-by-day sales data, which made it impossible to judge the impact of marketing campaigns, or to determine if I received a sales bump from attending a particular convention. Other than for calculating royalties, this information was pretty much useless.

To keep track of my indie sales, over the last six years I have maintained an Excel spreadsheet that details units sold per month, broken out by platform (Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, B&N and Google Play). Since I have multi years’ worth of data, I can deduce certain patterns. For example, August is not a good sales month for me. I’m guessing this is because my readers are finishing up summer vacations and herding their children back to school. Other authors might have completely different “off” months, or none at all.

So when a recent newsletter from Jane Friedman mentioned a book sales tracking program, one heartily endorsed by indie guru Joanna Penn, I decided to check it out. Usually I’m not comfortable sharing access to my online sales accounts, but I decided to take the leap. I accessed Book Report’s webpage and clicked the Learn More link to find out exactly what this program offered. It look intriguing so I followed the easy installation instructions, which did not require a download. Instead you place a Book Report bookmarklet on your bookmarks bar.

 Once I logged into KDP and double-clicked the bookmarklet, Book Report populated each month’s sales data from April 2011 through March 2016. Of course, the speed of that data retrieval is dependent on your internet speed, so it might take some time.

Book Report pulls its information from the Prior Month Royalty spreadsheets (available on the 15th of the month) and the Sales Dashboard for more recent sales figures. In this case, it began documenting my first month of sales (September 2011) through present day.

Note: Each time you access the program, you need to click the KDP Sales Dashboard link from their site to load the program, then once that has loaded you click the bookmarklet. Just accessing KDP directly and then clicking the bookmarklet on your computer doesn’t appear to work.

Now that your data is loaded, under Settings you can choose to display that info By Pen Name or By Book. The Pen Name option gives you a bird’s eye view of your sales while the By Book takes you deeper into the data. You have a choice of currency (USD, CAD, GBP, EUR, AUD or NZD) and can select various time periods for your reports, including Custom or All-Time.

These are my Jana Oliver stats (By Name option):

The one big spike in sales to the near 2K mark was a BookBub ad, as was the next smaller spike. The third spike coincided with the publication of one of my Demon Trappers books.

From here you can check out Earnings per Book, and Earnings by Store.

 If you hover your cursor over a specific wedge of the multi-colored Earnings by Book graphic, you’ll see total sales and percentage of sales for each. In my case, over half of my sales are in the United States, however nearly a third were purchased in the United Kingdom. (My Demon Trappers series has always been strong there.) These results also match my spreadsheet data, though I’ve not seen a  per country percentage before, and it definitely made me blink. Fortunately, because of the strong UK fan base, I almost always include that region in my Facebook advertising. This information justifies that decision.Beneath this section is the Details by Book which displays overall sales income and then revenue per book, as well how many copies have sold.

When you use the By Book setting, you receive similar information, including percentages, but it is broken down (no surprise) per book. Below is my geographic percentages for both GRAVE MATTERS and MIND GAMES (Books 4.5 & 5 of the Demon Trappers series.)

At first glance there appears to be a big disparity between percentages sold, across all countries except Australia. That could mean that the readers aren’t aware GRAVE MATTERS exists—always a possibility—or stopped reading the series at that point. More likely it is because I offer GRAVE MATTERS for free on the web, so there is no need to purchase an e-book copy. Still, seeing this difference in “flow through” from one book to another in a series is a reason to do more investigation.



Also like the By Pen Name option, there is a breakout of your total earnings plus a book by book listing of income (from highest to lowest). It also includes Kindle Unlimited page reads, total books sold and the number of free copies you’ve given away. I found it quite handy to have all that info in one place, rather than having to dig around KDP to find it.

Currently Book Report offers a two-week free trial, and then pricing is based on your monthly sales figure. If you earn more than $1000 per month, their subscription rate is $10/month.

For me, Book Report proved to be a handy way to study my sales numbers and determine strengths and weaknesses, so I will continue to use the platform. I look forward to see what other bells and whistles Liam (the creator) will be adding down the line.

Do any of you use Book Report? If so, what do you think?

An international bestseller and the recipient of over a dozen major awards, Jana Oliver often laments that there are far too many stories inside her head at any given moment.

Best known for her young adult Demon Trappers series, she writes what intrigues her, and spends a good deal of time fretting about whether demons actually exist.

When not wandering around the internet researching exorcisms, or posting on social media (eerily similar, those two), Jana can be found in Atlanta with her very patient husband, and a rapidly dwindling collection of single malt Scotch.

Jana Oliver | Chandler Steele | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Indie Bound |

About Cat's Paw

After five years in a Louisiana prison, Alex Parkin desperately wants to start over. Even more, he craves revenge against Vladimir Buryshkin, the New Orleans drug lord who framed him for cocaine possession. The second he walks out of prison, Alex is a wanted man, both by the Russian mob, and by Veritas, a private security firm that claims to be "on his side." When his sister is brutally beaten, he has to choose: Join forces with Veritas, or let Buryshkin destroy his family.

Because of the Russian mobster, Morgan Blake lost both her husband, and her career at the FBI. Now working with Veritas, she's eager to take Buryshkin down. So eager, she's willing to do anything to make that happen, even sacrificing a certain ex-con, if needed.

As a load of tainted cocaine hits New Orleans' streets, the body count quickly rises. To prevent more deaths, and a potential drug war, Morgan and Alex must learn that revenge comes at too high a price, and that love always has its own agenda.

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