Thursday, 27 February 2014

Exactly How Much Does a Self-Published Book Earn?

Why is everyone so secretive about how much they are truly earning from their books?

I believe it would be helpful for the many thousands of authors venturing into self-publishing if those who have gone before would be a little more open and transparent about how much they are actually earning for their efforts.

Authors are traditionally evasive about their earnings, either out of modesty or embarrassment, so it is almost impossible for a newcomer to get a true idea of what rewards are likely to lie in store.

So, in the hope of encouraging others towards greater transparency, here are some actual figures for my novella, “Secrets of the Italian Gardener”, which went up on Amazon about six months ago as part of their “White Glove Service”, in conjunction with United Agents, one of the biggest and most successful literary agencies in London.

After a month or so the money started to dribble in at about £50 a month, but much of that was from purchases which I had made of POD copies that I could hand out for promotional purposes.

The reviews started to build up, (on Amazon there are now eighteen with five stars, four with four stars, two with three stars and one with one star), on various blogs, writers’ websites and a variety of news sites. That meant that anyone coming across the book could feel pretty confident that they would not be wasting their money, but the problem still remained of how to alert people to book’s existence in the first place – (the all-encompassing problem of “discoverability” which dogs ninety nine per cent of books ever published).

Once they could see the reviews building, Amazon included the book in a promotion which instantly raised it from around 150,000 on Kindle’s charts to being in the top thousand and number one in their “political books” and "political thrillers" categories. Most of the sales were in the UK, but some also came from the US and Germany, (even though it has not yet been translated).

So, the actual money coming from Amazon in February has been just over £850, from which United Agents deduct their well-earned fifteen percent. Since the costs of the cover design and the initial purchase of copies was covered with the earnings from the previous few months, this is now clear profit.

If the book was a plant I would say it is now firmly bedded in and starting to spread its roots. Once the sun warms the ground it should be able to thrive and blossom with time and continued tender care.






1 comment:

catherineryanhoward.com said...

"After a month or so the money started to dribble in at about £50 a month, but much of that was from purchases which I had made of POD copies that I could hand out for promotional purposes."

Andrew I hope you weren't buying your own book at retail...? On Createspace, Lulu. etc you can buy as many copies as you like of your own book at cost through your account. For example if I were to buy my own book from Amazon at $14.95, I'd get something like $5 of that back because of the retailer discount so the book is costing me close to $10. But I can buy copies of it direct from CreateSpace for $3.50.

I'm not sure this is what you meant but I mention it because I've seen other self-publishers make this mistake and it's a biggie in terms of your costs.