New indie authors usually imagine that when they hit “publish,” they can finally take a breather. The hard work is over … right? Instead, the next several days tend to involve being glued to the monitor watching your sales (hopefully) come in.
A small handful of sales on a single retailer is easy to see and track. But what if you’re publishing wide, reaching as many readers as possible on multiple platforms, and trying to view your total sales all in one place?
As it turns out, that takes a bit of strategy. Keeping on top of your book sales may sound easy, especially if you’re just starting out. But when you’re hours deep into manual data entry and struggling to compare apples to oranges, you’ll realize it’s anything but.
Fortunately, there are tech tools and DIY strategies to help make sense of your indie author sales data.
Here are the two best ways to track your indie author income, book sales, and everything else you need to know to make writing a business.
#1: Tech Tools
Hallelujah, it’s finally happened! Over the past few years, indie authors who understand the pain of manual tracking have created software that provides a centralized place to view your sales data.
And of all the tech tools out there, we think ScribeCount does the best job of pulling your data into plug-and-play reporting. It works from a browser extension (like Google Translate or AdWorks) that allows your browser to see specific data—like your book sales. But ScribeCount never stores or even sees your passwords, so your most sensitive information stays safe.
Another perk is that ScribeCount only sees what you want it to. You choose when to run a reporting session and when to close it, and everything is updated automatically until you log out. When you log out, the session expires—and that’s it. No background operation, no muss, no fuss.
You can customize your dashboards to suit your needs whether you publish wide or in KU. Out-of-the-box reports include:
- A worldwide sales map showing which countries are buying your books
- Downloadable Excel spreadsheets, in case you want to get nerdy and play with the data
- Current and historical data (updated every 15 minutes)
- Visually stunning graphs like sunbursts that let you drill down into helpful details
The best part? If you’re earning less than $1,000 a month, ScribeCount is free!
(And in case you’re wondering, this post is NOT sponsored. There are a few tech tools on the market designed to centralize your sales data—ScribeCount just happens to be our favorite.)
One drawback of software like ScribeCount is that they can’t possibly track everything. Between retailers (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple), distributors (Draft2Digital, Kobo, Smashwords), e-commerce, book fairs, in-person sales, book signings, etc., there are enough distribution channels that the DIY route is practically a necessity if you want to see everything.
So, yes—it is possible to capture ALL of your unit sales from all of your channels. But be warned. There’s a significant amount of manual effort involved.
You’ll want to keep track of metrics like:
- Sales by month (in units and dollars): Include direct sales via retailers, distributors, e-commerce, book fairs, etc.
- Sales by distributor/retailer: Understand exactly where your books are selling
- Units sold: Plus earnings by title, format, country, retailer, and distributor
- Sales growth or decline over time
- Series sales comparisons
- Average costs and income by title and format
We hate to beat a dead horse, but one of the many perks of using tech tools like ScribeCount is making this kind of reporting easy! If you’re an Excel wizard, you won’t have much trouble creating the charts and graphs you’ll need to track this data over time.
But the rest of us tend to need a bit of help, and that’s where pre-built tools can save you a whole lot of time and headache.
(After all, we’re writers, not mathematicians!)
How do you track your indie author sales? If you’ve got an alternative or hybrid solution that works for you, let us know in the comments below!