Monday, August 5, 2013
The Commando Series - One Year Later
As of today, I've sold a little over 3,400 ebook copies of the two novels. Arrowhead is in the lead (as can be expected), but the lead isn't all that great - about 1,900 to 1,500. At the time I released Bedlam four months ago, Arrowhead had sold about 750 copies in 8 months. As you can see, not only did Bedlam sales almost immediately explode to exceed Arrowhead on a monthly basis, the first book's sales also immediately increased. I don't want to get into the dangerous territory of making causative guesses, but I feel that having a second title in the series made the books look a lot more attractive to prospective readers, giving them a sense of legitimacy.
As can be expected with a series featuring British Commandos, I sell more books in the UK than in the US - it's about 2/3rds of my sales. There is a small, but strong, market right now in the UK for WW2 "men's adventure" style fiction, with a handful of traditionally published authors selling their own series of books, each of them centering around a singular heroic Tommy in a regular line regiment. In fact, I find it rather interesting that almost all of the series follow this pattern. Some folks I've seen reviewing the books refer to this as "Richard Sharpe Syndrome" after Bernard Cornwell's Napoleonic-era fighting officer of the same name. Some use the term with mild scorn, but considering that Cornwell has done extraordinarily well for himself over the last few decades as a historical novelist, I don't really see it as a criticism. If it is a formula, it is one that works.
One of the more interesting phenomena of the Commando series venture has been the relative success of my short story, The Train to Calais. Although it received its first 1-star review this past weekend (from a reader who, apparently, didn't notice "short story" in the book description), The short story is averaging over a hundred sales a month. While this isn't crazy money, an extra $30-40 a month isn't bad, either. And many readers and reviewers commented favorably on the way it serves as a tie-in between the first and second novels, while at the same time spotlighting characters who are normally more in the background compared to the Commandos. I actually hope to publish another, similar short detailing the origin story of Andre Bouchard, the "Butcher of Calais".
It is also worth pointing out that while I have done a copule of free promotion days using KDP Select, they usually didn't result in that many downloads; I've probably only given away less than two thousand copies of Arrowhead and half that for Calais. Bedlam has never been given away for free. I'll probably arrange a special promotion when Cannibal is published, but so far, I haven't needed to rely on promotions to get the series out there. I sold more copies of Arrowhead in the first month it was available than I sold of Killer Instincts in the first three months.
So, all in all, I'm extremely impressed and elated over the success of this series. When I wrote Operation Arrowhead as a break from finishing Killer Instincts, it was written more on a lark than any serious attempt at breaking into the military historical fiction genre. I wrote Arrowhead in little more than a month, and although I feel the writing could be a bit tighter, and I know I made a few mistakes here and there, I do think the series is fun, entertaining, and a real pleasure to write. I hope to keep 'em coming for many years.