1) What can you say about your method for tracking sales data? How do your sales trends influence your decisions about timing of new releases, advertising etc?
2) Given your experiences with Glacial Decisions Publishing Inc, have you foresworn traditional publishing altogether or are you still trying to get some of your work into the trad pipeline?
3) What haven't you said yet about your cover design process?
Tracking sales data for a self-publisher is fairly straightforward (unlike traditionally published authors, whose sales numbers may as well involve sorting through the entrails of a goat, so far as I can tell).
I e-publish through KDP, which posts sales within an hour or so (broken up between the three Amazon areas - US, UK and DE) and Smashwords which posts sales immediately for sales made on site (and emails you about them if you want), and sporadically posts data from other distributors that I sell through via Smashwords (Apple, Kobo, etc). Hard copies are through CreateSpace, which again is fairly immediate data.
These are my US KDP sales so far this month:
As you can see, my rambly SF diary is just a tad better a seller than my high fantasy, but that's apparently a general trend - high fantasy is considered a very non-hot genre at the moment. [Of course, it would help immensely if I did more promotion work.] I'm nowhere in the league of people making a living off their writing (hundreds of sales a day), but I've been having a great time reading some of the reviews popping up on Amazon which show me that for a couple of people I've become a "to buy" writer - that I meet their particular tastes, which is a really nice thing for me. [I also have a hilarious one-star review for being a swear-bear.]
Timing of new releases, advertising
Sales trends have no influence whatsoever on what books get put out when - I put them out when I'm satisfied with them, and they have a cover.
In terms of advertising, I haven't tried to time anything as yet, though I gather people buy more leading up to Christmas, but for e-books post-Christmas is the biggie, after all those new e-readers are unwrapped.
I do tend to second-guess myself about pricing, and it will be interesting to see whether sales drop off drastically for Stray when it goes back up to $2.99 in a week (let alone my high fantasy going up to $4.99). I've decided to stick to the pricing schedule I posted, at least for a while.
I don't submit any more, and have no particular motivation to return to the submission queue. I suppose if I started selling amazingly well a publisher might approach me, and I'd have to make some form of decision. It would be sensible to work with a traditional publisher for foreign language sales, but for English language books I'm not sure I'd want to give up e-book rights and apparently e-book rights are the big deal-breaker these days.
Still, not something I need to worry about unless that whole "selling amazingly well" thing happens.
Are fun! I'll talk about them more when I'm finalising the cover for Voice.