5 Strategies to Improve Your Ebook Sales

5 Strategies to Improve Your Ebook SalesEbook sales have been under pressure for various reasons over the past year or so, in particular the digital footprint of the Big Five publishers. However, this is still an industry that is finding its feet now that it has moved beyond the heady days of “the peak of inflated expectations.” Publishers flexible enough to respond to the new positioning of the ebook market can still find plenty of opportunity to improve ebook sales revenue by a process of continuous learning using data insights.

For Vearsa customers, 2015 actually yielded a seven-percent increase in volume ebooks sales compared to 2014, although the earnings result were mixed due to currency fluctuations and a rise in average prices. The following five examples show just some of the areas that publishers harvested for additional earnings.

1. Country-specific Growth

Don’t get dissuaded by the high-level figures. Use your sales data to identify countries that are still situated somewhere along the “peak” part of the ebook curve. For example, the Vearsa combined dataset showed sales volume growth in the following countries (change is from 2014 to 2015):

• Canada +25 percent
• Germany +24 percent
• Australia +18 percent
• France +14 percent

For some of those countries that experienced growth, here are a couple of trends:

•Canada – Romance (erotic, contemporary) have seen large, sustained growth in the past 24 months.
•Germany – Literary fiction and action & adventure are the strong sellers for our publishers. Military history was also strong throughout 2015.

2. A Bigger Bank for Your Buck

Look at your average earnings per genre, as this can help when developing a pricing strategy that is country-specific. For example, below are the top three earning genres in the UK and the US:

   UK                                     US
1. Sports & recreation          Sports & recreation
2. Business & economics     Science
3. Science                            Health & fitness

So although fiction is the volume generator, these non-fiction categories can yield a higher return per unit sold.

3. The Devil Is in the Details

There is no surprise in the type of Fiction books that are making the biggest sales (romance, science fiction, thrillers), but by drilling into the detail we found some other classifications that are making significant inroads such as cultural heritage, short stories (single author) and Westerns.

With juvenile fiction, the top sellers were action & adventure and fantasy & magic. But classics were also very strong and point to the importance of looking to backlists for conversion opportunities. School & education as a topic or setting was also strong.

4. Improve Ebook Sales by Exploring New Avenues

If your numbers have plateaued, then have a look at the distribution paths you are using and see if there is an opportunity to add new retailers. The numbers below shows the year-on-year movement for retailers in our combined dataset. The change is based on unit sales:

• Apple +33 percent
• EBL (libraries) +30 percent
• Google +88 percent
• Kobo +27 percent
• Scribd +52 percent
• Skoobe +268 percent

5. Finger on the Pulse

In a fast moving market, the importance of near real-time data cannot be overstated. Our daily sales figures provided some interesting insights during December, and any publisher that saw these trends and had a flexible approach to pricing could capitalize on movements such as:

• 200-percent increase in earnings for comics & graphic novels in December over November figures. The bulk of this came through in the days immediately after Christmas. New tablets or e-readers?
• There was a doubling of sales for juvenile fiction, with action & adventure and classics showing the strongest increases.
• Health & fitness saw a 49-percent increase, in particular the area of children’s health (+71 percent).

This is just a sample of the insights gained from a review of ebook sales data, but it shows that opportunities exist. The key is awareness!

This article originally appeared on Vearsa’s blog.

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2 thoughts on “5 Strategies to Improve Your Ebook Sales

  1. Palessa

    Very insightful. I do have a couple of questions:
    How does cover art fit into this? I understand that moe mutes, elegant covers work better in the EU…thoughts on that?
    Also, language. On Germany, do books need to be translated or do English language works have a chance.
    Then there’s price point. I’ve adopted a certain strategy for US but does a higher price point help in certain countries like Germany oer France? Will they see a book for less than 5€ as inferior… Just some of the questions I have

  2. Anne Gaynor

    Thanks for your comments.
    With regard to cover art, I have not done any analysis on this to date but our sample publishers would usually issue separate art work for US versus EU releases, and yes, they tend to be more muted.

    As for English-language books selling in Germany, there is definitely a market for them – I have seen this in a review of best-selling titles that Vearsa carried out on this market previously. This is in keeping with the very high percentage of people who speak English in Germany (sources vary but general consensus is well over 60%).

    With pricing, Vearsa has done some analysis on regional pricing across a handful of key genres and our most recent analysis (done at the end of last year) would show average prices for fiction titles in Germany averaging 30% more than in the US.




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