The 15th of the month is an important day for all of us indie-publishers and writers. It’s a day both eagerly anticipated and dreaded. It’s the day Amazon releases their monthly Kindle sales reports – in a horribly messed up spreadsheet.
For me, the 15th of the month is a day of general taking stock of monthly book selling activities. Since I usually don’t check book stats during the month (lest I get sucked into an electronic OCD loop) it all falls on the fifteenth. There are other retailers apart from Amazon of course, but they’re still the biggest, so I picked this date to take care of all the others, too.
To summarize, what I do each month on this date is:
- looking at the total of monthly ebook sales across stores (US, UK, Germany, Spain, etc.)
- tracking which books are in high demand, which ones are sinking
- quickly going through customer feedback (reviews) and earmarking future changes
Welcome To Spreadsheet Hell
Especially if you are trying to keep track of more than one book this can be quite an arduous task. But even if you just try to keep track of one book per month across various retailers it can be real headache because you need to track a variety of different currencies, volume sales, average list prices and transaction types.
Those who have seen Amazon’s monthly sales report spreadsheets know what I mean, for those who haven’t, here’s a screenshot:
This report has 12 columns and can be very long based on the number of books you have published multiplied by the number of different Amazon stores/countries. And the spreadsheet reports which Kobobooks or Smashwords generate aren’t necessarily easier to follow. In short: it’s a mess. And if you’re like me, you didn’t become an indie publisher to spend more time with spreadsheets but to write!
Enter, Indie Sales Tracking…
A few months back I saw a software that promised to make sense of all these different reports by automatically creating graphs and overviews based on the spreadsheets you fed it. I forgot the name of the program, but in the end it created more trouble than benefits. Therefore, I was very skeptical when I saw yet another software which promised to make sales tracking less of a headache. This time, however, I was positively surprised.
The program is called Indie Sales Tracking and I’ve been testing it for the last few days. Here’s how it works.
Step 1: Upload your indie sales tracking reports (supports Amazon Kindle, CreateSpace, SmashWords, Barnes & Noble and many more…) and click on “Generate Reports”
Step 2: Select Your Filters: Here you can filter your data and generate reports and charts based on different values.
Depending on what you select here, you can create beautiful overviews and charts. Here’s an example for a chart based on a single book selection “by month”:
By using this chart I can see the sales per month (divided into different currencies) with the volume chart showing the number of sales per month.
IndieTracking is a great tool which allows you to focus on visualizing your books’ performance and making the right decisions instead of messing around with cluttered spreadsheets. The price might be a bit steep at $49.95 but there’s a free trial and the program’s author even has some generous offers if you help him improve the tool by sending in yet unsupported sales reports spreadsheets.