Why aren't my sales appearing? I know I have sold books.

There are a number of possible reasons:

#1: Be sure that enough time has elapsed since the publication of your book. Because book sales are uploaded within 60 days following the end of the month in which sales took place, a book that was published in January, for example, may not see book sales reported until the end of March.

#2: Keep in mind that orders you place yourself inside your Publishing Center are not included among book sales that earn royalties. You will see your personal book orders on your "My Book Orders" page. Only wholesale book orders placed by someone other than you appear on your "My Book Sales" page and earn royalties.

#3: Recognize that it sometimes takes Ingram up to 45 days to record a book sale and report it to us. So, for example, they may receive a book order from Amazon in January. That may not appear on their report until March. Since we are notified in March, we may identify that as a March sale. Therefore, that sale may not appear in your Publishing Center until May. This is a rare occurrence, but could play a role in why sales are taking a while to be seen.

#4: The date of a retail purchase may not always correspond with the date of a wholesale sale. In many cases, retailers order books months before someone buys them and then the books are sitting in that store's inventory or on the shelf, waiting to be bought. This means that if you buy a book from Amazon.com in March, for example, you may not see the sale reported in your March report. The book could have been purchased by Amazon months earlier. We report when wholesale orders occur, not when retail orders take place.  

#5: Authors sometimes confuse availability of a book with the sale of a book. They see all the places their book is available for purchase (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, even eBay, among hundreds of other e-retailers) and assume that ALL those places have purchased copies of the book.  This is not the case.  Those e-retailers are displaying digital information about the availability of your book. If a customer buys the book, those e-retailers will place an order with us to fulfill the customer's order. The advantage of Outskirts Press is that we make your book available just about anywhere that sells books -- but just because it is listed as available doesn't mean people are buying it. That's where your marketing efforts, and our optional marketing services, come into play.

#6: When a friend or family member says "I'm going to buy your book" authors often assume they do it immediately when they may do it later, or may forget to do it altogether.  Perhaps the friend or family member means well, but doesn't realize how easy it is for Outskirts Press to track book sales (or lack of sales).  If someone you know says they purchased a book that isn't appearing on your sales report, ask him or her to confirm their purchase by sending you their purchase order or receipt. Let them know you need it to investigate an order discrepancy with Ingram (who provides us with all book sales).   One of three things will happen when you do this. They will either tell you that they didn't actually purchase the book, or they will go and order it right away (in which case, it will appear in an upcoming sales report), or they will send you the purchase order or emailed receipt.

We need copies of receipts to investigate serious claims like this with Ingram.  Ultimately, as a print-on-demand publisher, we have a double-check on the accuracy of book sales -- they always exactly match the number of books we have printed, since books are printed when they are ordered. The accounting numbers uploaded into the Author's Center are checked against the number of books that are printed. Those numbers will always match.  If we receive evidence that Ingram is misreporting, we will pursue it aggressively on your behalf. Thus far, Ingram has always been 100% accurate.

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2 Comments

  • 0
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    Bob Wojciechowski

    Regarding Item 5, is this the case also when bookstores report they have 20 or 30 books in stock?  Do they lie about having them in stock?  This would make people unhappy on delivery if it takes a couple weeks to be printed and shipped instead of being directly shipped from the stock they said they had.

    Our book showed no sales, on a custom report, for July or August, but a number of stores report they stock them.  Or is this a case of Item #3 applying and this is just a delay in reporting from Ingram

  • 0
    Avatar
    Outskirts Press

    It depends upon the bookstore (online or offline) and how they are actually "reporting 20 or 30 books in stock."  If it's a human being, they're either guessing or assuming. If it's a computer, it's taking data from a particular source, and then the answer depends upon the source.  Bookstores don't purposefully lie; it's more a matter of interpretation of the data.  Orders placed from either online or offline sources through Ingram are printed within 24 hours, so there are never couple of week delays on shipping POD books.

    In order for a bookstore to have a book on hand for stock, they must order it first. The book sales and custom sales reports indicate when wholesale orders (not retail orders) take place, so a store that is showing in-stock in July ordered it earlier, like June or May, for example.

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