Author, Editor, Publisher

A Barnes & Noble Nook eBook Sales Mystery!

For those of you who are interested in the world of eBooks and self-publishing, I have a bit of a Barnes & Noble eBook sales mystery that I’m trying to unravel.

Some background: like many authors these days, has always sold the most copies of my eBooks.

If Amazon sells 100 copies of The Painted Darkness in a month, Barnes and Noble will sell 50, Apple will sell 15, andΒ Sony will sell 8.

That trend has been pretty steady. For the sake of discussion, let’s say Barnes and Noble might have had sales like this for The Painted Darkness to start the year:

January: 52
February: 51
March: 55
April: 59

Everything was pretty much normal, in other words. But suddenly, there was a surge:

May: 177
June: 220
July: 447

And I have absolutely no idea why. I’ve done no additional advertising. There have been no new major reviews of note. I’ve had no new releases to bring attention to my work in general.

The only thing that has changed is that the trade paperback edition, priced at $9.99, came out this spring, but I don’t see how the two events could be connected.

Anyone have any thoughts?


  1. Joel Arnold

    I bet it started showing up on other book’s ‘also boughts’ sections. That happened to one of my offerings last month. Where it was only selling a dozen or so copies a month at B&N, it suddenly sold over 200 last month, and that was the only thing I could attribute it to.

    • Brian James Freeman

      That’s a really good point, Joel. I’ve seen that a lot with Amazon at work (one CD eBook starting showing up on a Stephen King book’s “also bought” list and it’s been selling like crazy since then), but for some reason I didn’t even think about the possibility with B&N.

  2. Rick Crawford

    Word of mouth? It’s really good! I’ve told everyone I know.

    • Brian James Freeman

      Thank you, Rick! I think good words from trusted readers is still the best way to promote any book, so that is *very* much appreciated!

  3. Club Stephen King

    Hello, from my point of view:
    – more visibility. That could have been gained from online reviews (amazon, goodreads, facebook… etc). Having a paperback edition being released (is it available in some shops?) may have increased its visibility, therefore its reviews, therefore its sales?
    – more visibility : have you a nook to try? Maybe your book is more easily accessable in a specific page/menu? ie : home of the mystery/horror pages, or something like this?
    – no change in the price? it’s known that usually, a decrease of price increase the number of sales.. and therefore, likely the number of reviews, and so on (a virtuous circle).

    Anyway : thumbsup !


    PS : do you have a Google alert or so, on the name of your book/ your name? Could help noticing if there were numerous articles published about it?
    PS2 : “the illustrated stephen king movie trivia book” went for sale recently. Your co-written this book… could be related to that πŸ™‚

    • Brian James Freeman

      No change in price, which is indeed often the first step to seeing a nice boost in sales!

      I do have a Google alert for my name and the book title, so nothing new on that front, although I wouldn’t mind if that changed, too! πŸ˜‰

      I thought about the Trivia book! But this started before that. πŸ™‚ That said, I’m very pleased with sales for the Trivia book, too! My fellow King fans are awesome!

  4. Matthew Iden

    A commenter on Kindleboards suggested that there’s a 9 month “seeding” process on Amazon and went on to show several examples (analytically charted) of successful e-book authors. It was data without a conclusion, but–in the absence of any other efforts–the rule might be a direct correlation of the marketing maxim “consumers have to see something 7 times before they buy.”

    In other words, over 9 months, your name/blog/book title has been seen by bunches of people bunches of times…but they needed the 8-9 month honeymoon period before they clicked “Buy.” Maybe you got one more review or a sideways mention on another site that you’ll never find in a search. But it may have been enough to get your over the hump for a bunch of readers.

    I should say, before all us indies run over to the calendar and count out 9 months from our publication date, that the data only worked for titles that hovered in the overall #50,000 overall Kindle ranking range during the “undiscovered” months. So…you need a slow burn of sales to keep you bobbing up and down to be seen…which describes your early Spring numbers. Did you break any Top 100 sub-lists then?

    Lastly, I can’t imagine searches for “Stephen King” don’t turn you up on a fairly consistent basis. You’re going to get fished out of the net at least once in a while!

    BTW, from where I’m sitting, those are amazing numbers for not having done any promotion or tinkering. Congrats.

    • Brian James Freeman

      Thanks for the great comments, Matt! What should really help my sales overall — I hope! — is that all of my backlist titles and three new books will be out as eBooks by this time next year, which will give me seven books to promote.

      • Matthew Iden

        This is complete speculation on my part, but 3 titles and up seems to start the magical trend.

        One title free or promoted is like one person dancing with themselves (apologies, Billy Idol). Two is nice. But three allows you to put 1 title free or on giveaway, one reduced, and the other hanging out, waiting to be snapped up by eager readers.

        Once you get that backlist out, I think you’re going to have a ton of fun with the promotion game.

  5. Dana Jean

    Well, you did have your promotion of free downloads of some of your stories. Sometimes people just have to get a taste for an author and offering free things gave them a chance to get to know you and then buy other things.

  6. Felinda Bullock

    For one thing, people are taking eBooks on vacation instead of paper copies, and those are the vacation months. That’s what I did. Even if people stick around here, they load up their tablets to take poolside or along with them on family outings. That was a huge surge, but seems feasible to me.

  7. Justin Thiele

    Could be word of mouth about how good this story is…and it certainly is good!

  8. mikelimon

    Well Brian I gave you and your books a mention on my blog, but I don’t think that’s the reason.It must be word of mouth. See, if you had any doubts as a good writer, you can now put them to rest. Glad to see people are finding out about you pal. Take care.

  9. Todd Wells

    It may have something to do with that new Mars rover picture takeing thingy. Nah,It is realy just a damn good story.

    • Brian James Freeman

      You know, I thought sales originating from Mars seems to be higher this summer!

  10. Mike Kazmierczak

    Books-A-Million reported a growth in their second quarter that they attributed in part to Fifty Shades of Grey. Plus they also mentioned that their stores are “selling Nook in a big way.” This combination of increased foot traffic along with your paperback being in the stores might have sparked all the new Nook users to purchase the book.

    Plus maybe you have some carryover folks thinking “Fifty Shades of Grey, that’s close to The Painted Darkness. Both have dark in their title. Maybe I’ll give it a try.”

    Or maybe your paperback was sitting next to Fifty Shades and it’s all coincidence. Personally I go with Justin’s thought that people are now waking up to a good author.

    • Matthew Iden

      There’d probably be fifty shades of a grey in a Painted Darkness…maybe some people got mixed up, lol.

      BTW, did you mean BAM or B&N is “selling Nooks in a big way”?

      • Brian James Freeman

        HA! There will be some very disappointed readers who mix the two up. πŸ˜‰

      • Mike Kazmierczak

        The article I read said that BAM was “selling Nooks in a big way.” BAM apparently has Nooks being sold in their stores. I’m out on the West Coast and don’t see any BAM stores to verify though. While not beneficial in the long term since B&N will get future eBooks sales, it makes sense if it helps BAM in the short term to be selling an eBook reader.

      • Brian James Freeman

        A BAM moved into one of our old Borders, but unfortunately it’s the one that’s way on the other side of the city. My old manager from when I worked at Waldenbooks is working there and I really need to get out to see him. It does appear BAM is selling Nooks, which I had forgotten about:

      • Matthew Iden

        Very cool! It might be a futile effort for BAM to remain relevant in the age of the e-reader, but good for them for trying. They might’ve been smarter to hook up with Kobo (or is there a merger/back room deal with B&N I’m unaware of?)

  11. Hunter Shea

    No matter what did it, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. LOL Enjoy the run!

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