Writing and Salary Updates of a Self-Pubbed Bestselling Author
I use the term self-pubbed proudly. I use the term bestselling with a slight eye-roll because we’re talking sub-genre Amazon lists here (Time-travel & Scottish romance), not the NYT. But still. It’s a thing, and I’m one of those things, and so there. I’m using it. *Sticks tongue out*
This is an exciting week for me! First of all, I want to thank everyone who visited my blog and spread the word last week, when I discussed my decision to go indie and compared my earnings my first month as a small-press-published author to my first month as a self-published author. I got a record number of hits and as an unintentional bonus, I saw the sales of my time-travel romance, WISHING FOR A HIGHLANDER spike into unheard of territory for me. I came so close to a ranking in the #2000′s I could taste it. And it tasted damn good. (nom nom nom! yummy rankings)
Today, I’m going to overshare again and post my income earned in February 2014, my first month as an indie author. I am happy to admit I was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Because of the popularity of last week’s post and the sales that came about as a result, my actual earnings will be much more than I anticipated. But before we get to the juicy details of what an indie author with a bestseller makes on a release month , I have some news to share.
On to the news!
Very soon, I’ll be re-releasing RECKLESS. This book is a special one to me. As a person who has difficulty processing anger, especially anger directed at me, I found it both challenging and therapeutic to write a romantic hero with anger-management issues. I dig deep into the psyche of anger and what it takes to be able to put it behind you. I’ll give you a hint…it has to do with finding someone special worth changing for.
RECKLESS also explores themes of forgiveness. Is there any act truly unforgivable? What about an act you committed? Are you more likely to forgive someone else than forgive yourself, even for a similar wrong?
If these questions get your creative/entertainment juices flowing, head over to Goodreads and mark RECKLESS “to read.” Also sign up for my newsletter so you’ll be among the very first to know when it goes live.
In other news, I’ve been tagged by the talented and beautiful Kitt Crescendo! Come back next week to see my answers to a few questions about writing process. I’ll also be tagging some of my favorite authors to answer the same questions the following week. In the mean time, click over to Kitt’s blog to see how she gets her wips (works in progress) in shape. She’s also a hoot. If you love nostalgic music, frank discussions about just about everything, and excellent poetry, you and Kitt will get along splendidly.
Now for the money talk
Last week, I blogged about my choice to self-publish. If you haven’t peeked at that post, you can find it here. It’s long but I’ve been told it’s worth a read, especially for anyone curious about what one might make as an indie author as opposed to earning a royalty from a publisher.
To sum up, I’m glad I took the indie plunge. When I posted at the end of the 3rd week of February 2014, I predicted two things based on the data I had available (Amazon sales reports):
1. As a debut self-pubbed author, I would sell about half the number of books in my first month as I did my first month as an author with a small press.
2. My income for Feb 2014 would be nearly double what I made in my first month as a small press author.
I was wrong on both accounts, and couldn’t be happier.
Let’s take a look at my first supposition, that I would sell about half the number of books as an indie author as I did as a small press author. I based this guess on a couple of factors. One was that the small press I worked with had a decent marketing program, and I didn’t think I could match that effort all by my lonesome. Second, as a reader, I’m a little skeptical about indie authors unless they’ve been highly recommended or they have a slew of positive reviews. I figured simply by having my own name listed as publisher, I’d lose a few sales.
I prepared myself to sell about half the number of books as a self-pubbed author as I had as a small-press author, but I hoped I might be able to match the number. After all, I was dropping the list price by $2 and because WISHING is in a popular romance sub-genre, I knew I’d get some exposure if I could just get enough sales to pop up on that bestseller list again. But I wasn’t going to hold my breath.
Well, now that February is over and I’ve crunched the numbers, I’m pleased to report my sales numbers actually increased over what I sold as a debut small-press author. My total number of sales my first month as a small-press author (January 2013) was 330 books.
This February, I sold:
Amazon – 546
Barnes N Noble – 80
iTunes – 6
All Romance – 24
Total – 656
I almost doubled my sales! I sold so many copies on Amazon, my ranking shot up and I landed in the top 20 (on the first page!) of the time-travel romance list. I almost fainted when I bypassed my favorite time-travel author, Karen Marie Moning. And stayed there for more than a week. I’m still there. It’s unreal.
There are a few reasons I can come up with as to why I’ve done better as a self-pubbed author. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
1. Lower price ($3.99 vs. $5.99)
2. New cover
3. Supportive indie community
4. In the past year, I’ve established some minimal name recognition that might have paid off
5. Blog love. Before last week’s post, in the first 21 days of February, I had sold 291 copies of WISHING on Amazon for an average of 14 sales/day. After the post, I sold 255 more copies in just 7 days for an average of 36 sales/day.
Who knows whether any, all, or some combination of these factors contributed to WISHING kicking butt sales-wise. Whatever the reason, I’m thankful! If you bought my book after swinging by to read last week’s post, I’m sending you massive e-hugs with cherries on top right now.
I’m just so happy my stories are getting into the hands of readers. That’s why I do this. It’s an awesome feeling.
Get to the money, already!
Okay, okay, cool your britches. Here it comes.
One nice thing about self-publishing is access to sales reports. I could always contact my publisher and ask for my sales numbers, but generally, I had to wait about three months to see what I sold in a given month. This is because retailers don’t pay until 60 to 90 days after the close of a sales period. Once the publisher got paid, they’d process royalties and send out statements and payments. So I was always thinking in terms of, okay, here’s my check. This represents what I sold 3 months (or more) ago. It was hard to get used to.
I still won’t get royalty payments until 60 to 90 days after the close of a sales period, depending on retailer, but I have almost immediate access to my sales numbers simply by logging into my accounts with each retailer. It takes me about 5 minutes to check all 5 places I’m selling books and see what I sold the month before.
Amazon is the most informative. Their Kindle Direct Publishing reports provide sales-to-date data for the current and previous month as well as royalty reports for the previous six weeks. Barnes N Noble is pretty good too, providing a running count of your month’s sales and royalties. All of the retailers I’m working with provide at a minimum sales data for the previous month pretty much immediately after the close of the sales period. Which is awesome for a gal who likes to play with numbers.
So, what did I make off my 656 sales? I have yet to receive the deposits (talk to me in 60 days), but I’m pretty confident my income for February’s sales will be $1764.05. This averages out to $2.69 per sale.
To give you an idea how this compares to my experience publishing with a small press, my best month as a small-press author was May 2013. I sold 509 copies of WISHING and earned $703 in royalties for an average of $1.43 per sale.
Am I happy I took the indie plunge? Yeah. I am.
Is it for everyone? No, it’s not. See my myriad caveats in my previous post. Hard work, good judgment, yada yada yada…
Would I do it again? Yes. In fact, I will be self-publishing five books this year. Sign up for my newsletter to get a brief email when my new releases come out or swing by my website’s books page for blurbs and covers the second I get them from my awesome cover artist, Kim Killion.
Thanks for stopping by. Every click on this site feels like applause. The self-pub community rocks. It’s a good season for me as a writer.