Sunday, October 9, 2011

Average Monthly eBook Earnings

Over on the Kindle Boards forum, Vicki (Victorine) Lieski started a thread with a poll to capture how much self-published authors are earning on average through ebook sales. I encourage all of you to go lurk on the forum, whatever stage you're at in your career. There's lots of good, honest information to be had.

The results of the poll so far:

Lots of caveats and cautions needed here!
  1. This is NOT a random sample. It's a sampling of folk choosing to respond in a forum of authors working at selling their ebooks.
  2. The figures do not discriminate between the author with a single title or 20.
  3. Price points aren't taken into consideration. Different genres tend to favor different price points.
  4. Length of time the title(s) have been on offer isn't represented. Some responders may have chosen to average their last few months sales or sales over a year or two. Other responders may have only two or three months of sales to average.
  5. The totals cited are gross amounts and don't take into account any costs to recoup for editing, covers or formatting fees.
What we can look at is a correlation between reported numbers of copies sold in July and August and compare to reported sales dollars. The combined stats anecdotally tell us that about 45% of the respondents are selling fewer than 100 copies of their books per month while about 1/3 of the authors make less than $100 per month.

Combined, we see that 25% of respondents sell more than 1000 copies of their books while about 1/3 of the authors earn more than $1000 per month.

The optimist will focus on the 2/3 of authors who are making more than $100 per month without considering the average may well be for sales across, say, 5 titles all priced at 99c.

The pessimist will focus on the 1/3 of authors making less than $100 per month or the 45% selling fewer than 100 copies and make dismal comparisons between self-publishing and traditional publishing.

The realist will look at the odds, keep their expectations in line with the realities of the market and do their damnedest to beat those odds with a clear understanding that it takes work to sell. (Don't forget that 80% of the books on Amazon are selling fewer than 5 copies per month so the results of the poll are definitely skewed toward higher sales percentages.)

So what are some average advances and earn-outs from typical traditional publishers? Here's one informal poll's results.

With agents jumping into the indie publishing arena and acknowledging a number of good books are being left behind, a lot of overlooked authors are feeling the love these days. If you're trying to decide which way to go with your writing career -- indie, traddie or a hybrid of some sort -- there's a handy little spreadsheet at Twiliterary you can use to number crunch.

No matter which way you choose to pursue your dream, I applaud you. Actually chasing a dream will reward you far more quickly than simply dreaming about chasing one ever will.


deanna said...

Be an optimist and follow your dreams.
Thanks for playing Red’s Trick or Treat Bash!, Red sent me!

Na said...

I am be a realist-optimist. With a lot of hard work and a bit of luck goals are possible. Never give up! Ebooks and ereaders are relatively new when you consider how long books have been around, there's a lot of potential for growth.

Red sent me.