The Numbers Are In!
About a year ago, I compared royalties for traditional versus indie publishing in a blog post. I had a unique perspective to offer since I did this comparison for the SAME book and close to the same month of different years, an opportunity afforded to me when the traditional small-press publisher I was with changed hands and gave authors the chance to ask for their rights back.
View the post here to see what I made in January 2013 as a traditionally published author versus what I made on the same book in February 2014 as an indie author (both were debut months). At the end of the post, I suggest I might do a similar comparison for a full year of traditional publishing versus indie publishing.
Well, here I am to do just that! Thanks for stopping by to peek! If you’re new to my blog, sign up for my newsletter over there on the right, and you’ll never miss any big Jessi Gage news.
This comparison is for Wishing for a Highlander, which debuted the first time in February 2013 with a small press at a price of $5.99. It was also available in print for around $12 to $14 depending on the retailer.
Here’s the cover. I rather liked it.
Wishing was for sale from January through December for a total of 12 months of 2013.
Here’s Wishing’s indie cover, created by the fabulous Kim Killion of The Killion Group. (Update 4/6/15): Now I have an updated cover for 2015 done by the amazing Damonza, but this is the lovely cover Wishing had for the sales period in this post.)
It was for sale from February through December for a total of 11 moths of 2014.
Here’s Wishing’s monthly sales for 2013 vs 2014. The blue bars represent units sold through traditional publishing (2013). The red bars represent units sold through indie publishing (2014).
The spike in September 2014 coincides with a BookBub promotion that ran for three days that month.
Total units sold in 2013: 3,699
Total units sold in 2014: 13,929
Here’s what Wishing brought home in royalties for 2013 vs 2014. The blue bars represent royalties paid to me by my traditional publisher (2013). The red bars represent royalties earned through indie publishing (2014).
Note that my highest earning month did not coincide with my highest selling month. This is a result of the BookBub promotion,during which I sold like gangbusters but at a lower price and a lower royalty rate on Amazon.
(Caveat: I did not take the time to calculate USD from foreign sales for the retailers that don’t make that conversion for me on the royalty statements. Amazon is one of these. In other words, the 2014 numbers are incomplete, but the numbers won’t be off by a whole lot since the vast majority of my sales are domestic.)
Total royalty earned in 2013: $5,139.69
Total royalty earned in 2014: $21,827.29
I sold 277% more units of Wishing for a Highlander in 2014 compared to 2013, and my earnings were 325% higher.
It’s that difference in percentages I want to call attention to more than the higher indie sales. As a traditionally published author, I received a smaller “slice of the pie” because more people had to get paid. It’s a simple fact of the industry that the fewer hands that touch your book, the larger the slice you get to keep.
In the case of Wishing, I was able to price it lower as an indie book and make about twice the royalty per unit moved. If you look at the charts again, you’ll notice the DIFFERENCE between the blue bars and red bars is much bigger for the earnings chart compared to the units sold chart (with the exception of my BookBub month, September). This demonstrates that “slice of pie” effect. I got to keep more of the pie, and readers paid less for the product.
This isn’t necessarily a plug for self publishing. See my post on my decision to go indie for reasons why traditional publishing is a perfectly valid and profitable option for many authors. But for some authors, indie can be a more profitable option if they are willing to put the work in.
Self Publishing has been good to me.
Feel free to share this blog post. It’s good info for those considering which publishing track they want to take. In this post, I blog about the pros and cons of traditional versus indie publishing, and I reveal why I decided to go indie.
Are you an author with an indie or traditional-publishing story? Are these numbers surprising to you? Encouraging? Disappointing? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
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