Monday, August 20

Fifty Shades of Alice In Wonderland: Sales Peak At $1,000 Per Day

Ever wondered what other authors are making on their self-published titles?  Melinda DuChamp, author of the indie bestseller Fifty Shades of Alice in Wonderland, shares how much her book has earned. (All quotations are from Joe Konrath's blog post Independence.

Fifty Shades of Alice in Wonderland: Marketing
On July 23, 2012 Melinda DuChamp self-published Fifty Shades of Alice in Wonderland. Over the next two days her novel sold one copy. (Melinda also bought a copy to check the formatting, but that doesn't count!) Then, on the third day after it was released, Melinda set Fifty Shades of Alice in Wonderland to free for the next five days.

Other than enroll Fifty Shades of Alice in Wonderland into Amazon's KDP Select program and take advantage of the free days, Melinda did two other promotions:
The only promotion I did was the interview on Joe's blog. NYT bestseller Ruth Cardello was also kind enough to include Alice in a contest for her fans. Joe also was sweet enough to mention it on the Facebook page "What to Read After Fifty Shades of Grey" because I'm not on Facebook yet (I know! I know! I need to get on Facebook. I'm trying to become more like Joe and Ruth and get into social media, but I'm a Luddite and I was on a deadline for another book.)

Other than that, I didn't do anything to promote Alice. I figured it would sink or swim on its own merit.
Downloads of Fifty Shades of Alice in Wonderland
Melinda writes:
During the free period, I gave away 22,740 copies in the US and 10,255 in the UK and hit the Top 10 free list in each. That surprised me, because I'd done free promotions before but had never given away that many.
Sales of Fifty Shades
Downloads when a book is free is one thing, how did those downloads translate into sales? 
Assuming the loans are $2 each, Alice has made close to $15,000 in the last 20 days. That's more than many of my advances. [....] Alice peaked at #194 in the US, and #56 in the UK. It is currently #643 and #208. At its peak, it was earning over $1,000 a day. Things have slowed down, but it is still outselling all of my other novels on Amazon.
Melinda's Plan
Where does Melinda go from here? How is she planning to capitalize on the incredible success of Fifty Shades of Alice in Wonderland?

Melinda has done what any smart author would do in her place: write a sequel. Fifty Shades of Alice: Through The Looking Glass is now available on Amazon. Melinda writes:
At the height of Alice's sales, I was fantasizing about money. What if I had twenty ebooks doing well instead of just one? Making $20,000 a day is almost impossible to comprehend. But is it really impossible?

I'm working on the third book in the Alice trilogy. When finished, I'll release it as a stand alone, and also package the trilogy as a set. So I'll have four ebooks (each individual title, and the combined collection.)  If I did this four more times with four more trilogies, I'd have twenty ebooks for sale. With twenty for sale, I could have one ebook always free on KDP Select. Twenty ebooks at five days per free promo is one hundred days of free promo. KDP Select resets every three months, and then you can use the free promo again.

Writing twenty ebooks might seem like a daunting task. But remember, five of those are box sets, and each ebook is only around 30,000 words.

So in order to have 20 erotica ebooks, and one title always free, I only need to write 450,000 words. That's less than five full length-novels. Writing 2500 words per day, that's only six months of writing.

Half a year to write twenty ebooks? It sounds crazy, but it is entirely possible, even though I really believe $20k a day is a fantasy that can never happen. It's just too big a number. And who knows when the mommy porn bubble will burst?
I'd never thought of it quite like that, but Melinda's got a point.

If an ebook were only 30,000 words long and every three books written was a trilogy, each trilogy could be bundled to make a fourth book. In that case an author could write 20 books after writing ([3 x 30,000] x 5) 450,000 words. At 2,500 words a day that would take about 6 months to do.

Amazon Select allows an author to offer her book for zero dollars for a maximum of five days every 90 days. With 20 books on Amazon's virtual shelves an author would have 100 days of free promo time which means that she could always run a free promotion on one of her books.

Here's Joe's comment on Melinda's plan:
If she [Melinda DuChamp] wrote 20 ebooks (15 titles and 5 collections) and each one earns only $150 a day, that's a million dollars a year. That's just 75 ebook sales and loans a day per title, and I've hit that number many times and for extended periods.
2,500 words a day, huh? Where'd I put my pen ...

UPDATE (February 25, 2013): Joe writes:
I ... asked my buddy Melinda DuChamp for a sales update, and she emailed me.

Melinda: "Happy to share, dearie. The two ebooks have made me over $65k in seven months. I'm working on a third, then I'm going to follow your lead and make a trilogy boxed set and a paper version via Createspace. Considering how quickly I wrote these books, this is the highest paid I've ever been as a writer per hour, even with traditional paper sales in the millions under my other names." (Ann Voss Peterson's Big Regret)

Other articles you might like:

- Kristen Lamb: 5 Steps To Writing Success
- What To Write About: Fiction That Sells
- Update On Amazon's KDP Select Program
- Indie Authors: Bad Sales? Redo Your Cover!


  1. This is a great article, and inspiring. It makes me feel like I'm writing in the wrong genre, but that's ok too. I see I'm a bit late, but thanks for this. We need to read more such success stories. It's good for lighting fires under our butts.

    1. Thanks Wolf! I love reading success stories too. :-)


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