Examining the success of “Forced Awakening”

So, I did a bit of research on Amazon’s Kindle marketplace today.  I figured it was a good idea to know the environment which I was planning to throw the Progenitor eBook into, so I picked an erotica title which looked like it dealt with paranormal and impregnation.  I settled upon “Forced Awakening”, and what I learned was very interesting, and it reinforces what I’ve read from the Smashwords how-to on ebook publishing.  In other news, the second book in the series is “Breeding the Female”.

Interesting points about this eBook:

  • It’s presently in the top 100 best seller list for Kindle erotica.  Now, I would love to know what “top 100” means in terms of sales.  For all I know it could mean 100 sales or 10,000.
  • It was once available for free on Amazon, and it now costs $2.99 to download.  Probably the author made it free at first, then switched it to paid once she released later books.  Note: It’s free again now that I checked on 12/29/12.
  • It’s still available for free here, and it’s still selling on Amazon.  http://gallery.mobile9.com/f/2765031/?ref=3828

Naturally, I downloaded the free ePub in order to figure out what the stats on Amazon’s page mean exactly.  Those following this blog will already know that I’m really big on trying to draw statistically valid comparisons with things I know, so here’s what I learned about Kindle ePubs from this exercise:

  • Amazon’s description lists the story as being 71k.  Now, the .epub file is 130k, while the actual html text story is 70k.  This means that Amazon’s file size is going for the actual text of the story.  Exporting it to a pure flat text file brings it down to 62k, which means that Amazon’s size count does not exclude HTML markup.
  • Amazon’s “Page Length” analysis says it’s 30 pages long.  Running it through my Baen book derived baseline, it’s 47ish pages.  This tells me an approximate ratio for comparing Baen paper pages vs Kindle pages.
  • The story is 10936 words long, including the peek at the next book at the end.  That places it at just a little bit longer than Progenitor 2, and about half as long as Morgan’s Curse.
  • A review said there were 5 sex scenes in that story.  I haven’t read it yet, but 5 scenes in a 11k word story sounds like Amazon readers are just fine with what we’d call stroke fic.

What I learned: I should probably split up Progenitor: Origin, since shorter erotic stories seem to be the norm.  Price-wise, Progenitor 1 can stay free forever as far as I care, and then I’d expect to price the rest of the stories at $0.99 apiece.  That’s what a lot of the “Forced Awakening” series readers were complaining it should’ve been priced at.

In other news, I need to work up a nice-looking cover graphic for Progenitor.  That’s one thing which all of the best sellers I’ve seen have had.  Good thing I have thousands of pictures of the beach which I can use for the first one.

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