Let’s go to the numbers

As an author, I have limited access to BookScan numbers for my titles. And while I’ve heard some horror stories about how inaccurate their numbers can be, I find them helpful for tracking trends and demographics. I’d like to talk a little bit about those trends for The Pagan Night.

First of all, we’re two months into the release. That’s enough time to smooth out initial demand and any localized campaigning that I might have done. Early on, the book was selling very heavily in the Chicago area. That’s evened out. The people who are buying the book now are folks who have heard good things from their friends, or who happen to see the book on the shelf and pick it up. My sparkling personality has little to nothing to do with this.

One of the coolest tools that BookScan gives me is a Sales by Geography feature that’s a literal map of the US with counts over a 4, 8, 24 and 52 week period. This is how I know that Chicago was doing so well early on, but has now pulled back. The current top five cities for The Pagan Night are Chicago, New York, Boston, Seattle and Los Angeles. In some ways I think that’s just a heat map of the population, with the noted exception of LA coming behind Boston and Seattle. There are also a lot of high population areas that don’t seem to care about my books at all, including much of the south and south west. There hasn’t been much movement in Ohio, Indiana or Michigan, but Minnesota is number six on the list, only a hair behind Los Angeles. Strange stuff.

More interesting still, if you only look at the last month of sales, there are surges in places like Atlanta, Sacramento and Dallas. Nearly all my sales in Texas have been in the last month. Salt Lake City suddenly appears on the map.

Of course, there are things worth noting. BookScan misses a lot of sales, especially among independents, and it apparently doesn’t track ebook sales at all. The fact that Portland barely registers on the list might have more to do with the strength of Powell’s bookstore than anything else. And maybe folks in Texas simply prefer their kindles. I have no idea.

I will say, one disappointment is the weakness in my home state, North Carolina. Maybe everyone’s just watching basketball.

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