Dear Writer-Friends,

I've been self-publishing since 2011, and I've shared the knowledge I've gained in two books: the Indie Author Survival Guide, Second Edition, and For Love or Money. I'm not an indie rockstar or a breakout success: I'm one of thousands of solidly midlist indie authors making a living with their works. These books are my way of helping my fellow authors discover the freedom of indie publishing. Write on, writer-friends!

S.K. Quinn, Independent Author of Science Fiction

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR QUICK START GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING and to be notified when the 3rd Edition of the Indie Author Survival Guide releases!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Indie Business Talk - Tracking Sales

Indie publishing is a micro business that can be as individual as the author that's running it. This week I'm doing a series on the business side of things. What this week isn't about: marketing. While marketing is important, this is about the details of running the business, not the strategy behind how to make your books successful. See my marketing posts here.

This week's posts include:
Mon: Setting Up
Tues: Tracking Sales
Wed: Hiring Your Team
Thurs: Exploiting Rights

OMG PEOPLE.

I have the best news for you: there is a way to track your sales and writerly income that is easy, awesome, and lets you be a numbers geek to your heart's content.

May I introduce you to: TRACKERBOX
This unassuming piece of software will change your life.
I'm not even kidding.

Created by an indie author, for indie authors, this software will suck in all the sales reports from all your vendors and allow you to track all your sales trends, for every book on every channel.

If you only have one book, or you only upload to Amazon, you might not think this is important. However if you have 8 titles (short stories quickly hike up that title count) on 5 distribution channels (each with their own crazy reporting system) and have plans to release lots more (like me)... TrackerBox is your friend.

Here's what it can do:
Suck in reports from all your vendors, 
including Apple, which has the most PITA sales reports I've ever seen.



Track unit sales (or income) by title each month...

(I use this to see how each book is performing over time)


Track income (or unit sales) by vendor each month...

(this shows me that Amazon continues to be my main source of income)


I can track how much money I make from the three novellas selling separately compared to the collection...
The collection makes me more money by far, but the short stories continue to sell well.


I can track overall monthly income across all titles and vendors...
Definitely headed in the right direction.

You can play endlessly, or set it up to what you want and just check back each month to see how things are going. I still track Amazon US sales every day when I have something special going on (like going free, a promotion of some kind, or the launch of a new book/series). For that detailed work, I use a spreadsheet. But I had virtually given up on keeping an accurate, complete record of all my sales on all channels... it took too much time. With Tracker Box, the effort is minimal, and the data is waiting for me whenever I want to access it.

Downsides of TrackerBox
1) The graphs can be difficult to generate and read. Fortunately, you can also EXPORT from Trackerbox. Think of it as a database of all your information. Then, when you want a query about some kind of data, you can group the data that way, export it, and plot the way that suits your little geeky heart.

2) It is essentially a retrospective tool, which means you can track your sales in previous months, but you don't know what's happening RIGHT NOW. For example, I know that going free has gotten me a toehold in the UK and DE markets on Amazon over the last month, but that's not showing up in Trackerbox yet, because my monthly Amazon report won't come out for another three weeks. (Note: I understand the irony here, where authors used to have no idea what their sales were for 6 or 12 months, and now we complain we have to wait a few weeks.) But that data IS available - you'll just have to track it in your spreadsheets. Whenever I have a promotion, I'll be tracking the results in a spreadsheet, just so I know if it's working or not. But in general, I'd rather be writing. And now I know that TrackerBox will safely capture all the data for whenever I have time to go back and look at it.

TrackerBox = well worth the $60 price tag

All this tracking of sales makes me think I need to 
SAY THANKS
 and 
GIVE STUFF AWAY!
(reminder: Open Minds is still free on most retailers, including Amazon UK and DE)

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11 comments:

  1. Where would we be without your expertise?

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  2. Wow, that's pretty impressive software. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Sounds like a great tool. Thanks for sharing it, Susan.

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  4. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise! These posts will help so many people!!

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  5. I downloaded and have played with it this afternoon--I LOVE it!! Thanks for sharing. :)

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  6. omg, yes! I am IN LOVE wiht TrackerBox! Thank YOU for telling me about it~ :D <3

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  7. Susan, I can't find anything on the site that mentions this: does it work for Mac users? Or Mac users running Windows as a virtual machine on their MacBooks?

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    1. I've seen him comment on the KB about Mac - it does NOT work for Mac now, but it may be possible to run under Virtual Windows. He's very responsive if you email to ask! Or you can just download the trial and give it a spin.

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  8. Thanks, Susan. I've contacted him.

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  9. ooh I've just tried it and ordered it straight away. It's awesome!

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