Wednesday, January 11, 2012


One hundred grand. That's how much I've made on Amazon in the last three weeks.

This is just for my self-pubbed Kindle titles. It doesn't include Shaken and Stirred, which were published by Amazon's imprints. It doesn't include any of my legacy sales, print or ebook. It doesn't include audiobook sales. It doesn't include sales from other platforms.

This is from my self-pubbed books. The ones the Big 6 rejected.

Currently, my novel The List is #71 on the Top 100. It's been in the Top 100 for 66 days. It's the same one all those publishers rejected.

I am soooo glad I had so many books rejected.

Here's a screen shot of a portion of what I've sold since January 1.

This is missing 15 of my titles (some were cut off, some are on my co-writers' KDP accounts). It also doesn't show over 1500 sales I've had in Kindle foreign markets.

So far in January I'm averaging well over $3500 a day.

I'm having a very hard time wrapping my head around these numbers.

I'm also having a hard time trying to figure out what this means for the future. But I'll give it a shot.

In January of 2010 I made $2300 for the month on Kindle.

In January of 2011 I made $34,000.

Let's pretend that The List wasn't in the Top 100 right now and has only sold 1800 copies this month, comparable to Shot of Tequila. I'd still be selling 800 ebooks a day, making over $1600.

That means I'd make about $50,000 in January, just in US sales. Which means my income has increased by about 30% overall. I'm not sure this will last throughout the year, but it seems reasonable.

What intrigues me is the UK market. I may sell over 1000 copies of a single title in the UK this month. I price my novels at 1.49 pounds, which means I make $1.60 per sale. So I'm going to earn more in the UK this January than I earned in the US in 2010.

Remember back in April of 2009 when I first self-published on Kindle? I was giddy to have made $1450 in a month in the US on all of my ebooks combined. Now I can make $1600 in a month in the UK on a single title.

Amazon is continuing to introduce Kindles to more and more countries. The global market is happening. I can't see a limit. I can't see a ceiling.

This is no longer a question of choosing between accepting 17.5% royalties from a legacy publisher or doing it yourself. This has now become the best way in the history of mankind for a writer to earn money. It may be one of the greatest ways to ever make money, period.

We can directly and instantly reach hundreds of millions of consumers in a global marketplace. We can set the list price, and we get to keep the majority of that list price. Readers can buy our work instantly on devices that they love. They don't have to go to the store, the store is in their hands. Once a book is written and formatted it can sell unlimited copies, forever, without any costs to the writer other than the initial time investment and monetary investment (formatting, editing, cover.)

No other industry allows this. There are always continuing production costs and shipping costs. There are always middlemen who take cuts. There is always a limit to distribution. There are always times when something is sold out or unavailable.

Not anymore.

Imagine having instant access to every person's checking account in the world, and stealing one dollar.

Now imagine them willingly giving you that dollar.

We're not there yet. But I've been following the ebook revolution for three years, and I never could have predicted this would get so big so fast. I've consistently been surprised by numbers and sales, and have lost count of the times I've said, "This is unreal."

But it isn't unreal. It's very real. I know, because I just pinched myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. For the fifth time today.


  1. Bravo, sir. You deserve the success and it's brilliant for us aspiring writers to see self-pubbing working so well!

  2. Congrats, Joe. That's a lot of change. $3500/day... $1.3 million for the year. Wow. Amazing.

  3. I love hard data, and this only further convinces me that my change of mind on self publishing (as far as eBook go) was the right choice.

  4. This is absolutely fantastic Joe! Congratulations are an inspiration and a model for all of us to follow.

  5. Anonymous9:29 AM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. I cannot wait to self-pub my first book. It's soon, it's happening this year ... and I agree. Never in modern history have the doors been so blown open. (True for musicians and artists too.)

    Thank you, thank you.

  7. Congrats on the sales. Reading the blog here, I am encouraged to get off my lazy keester and get writing. Can't sell what isn't written. Heck, even if I only did $50K in an entire year, I'd be pretty happy.

  8. I honestly used to feel badly for people who self-published. It never remotely occurred to me I would do so myself.

    But four months after publishing my own book, it's sold more than 1000 copies.

    That's nothing compared with your numbers, Joe, but it's a start and I'm thrilled with it.

    Let's face it: no one was seeing the book when it sat on my computer gathering (virtual) dust. Now it's out there, and people are reading it.

    Like I said, I used to feel badly for people who self-published. Now I just think they're smart people.

    Thanks for leading the revolution, Joe!

  9. I'm also very happy for you. And it is encouraging news for those of us who started much later. I'm trying hard to believe that something better is also in store for me.
    My experience has been that I get good initial sales and then these flatten out, getting a tad smaller month by month. I am following your advice of increasing the offerings, but it takes a long time to write a novel. Sigh!

    Still, keep the encouragement coming! We need it.

  10. Amazing numbers. Congratulations Joe. Your "Newbies Guide" inspired me last year to self-publish (even though it took me until Dec to actualy publish my first book).

    I've read four of your books (Origin and Endurance being my favorites so far) and I have to say your success is well deserved. Thank you for putting so much information out in public, it is inspiring.

  11. Thanks for putting your numbers up. Most wouldn't.

  12. Congratulations, Joe!

    As I see it now, all those letters I received saying, "while we loved your manuscript, it doesn't fit with the type of books we represent" are the best things that have ever happened to my career. I can't believe I'm typing this, but Thank God I was rejected by traditional publishers!

  13. Amazing. Hell, I'd be happy just to have your refunded numbers.

  14. "No other industry allows this. There are always continuing production costs and shipping costs. There are always middlemen who take cuts..." The rest of the paragraph is perfectly true, but remember, Amazon, as a platform, is a middleman/distributor.

    Congratulations on your success! You're deserving of every bit of it.

  15. Congratulations to you. I'm going to pass this good news on to a few of my pals - inspirational.

  16. This is absolutely amazing. Congratulations are in order; you should feel very proud.

  17. Nice going, Joe. Very inspiring. This kind of news keeps us going. The future looks bright.


  18. So happy for you! Thanks for sharing your actual numbers, too.

  19. Joe, you know what would be the ultimate revenge? You make enough money to buy a legacy publisher!

    I know it wouldn't make financial sense(given this trend that you've documented over these years), but just for kicks. It would be great if you have enough money to do that for kicks.

    Lady at the Club

  20. Amazing. I'm completely in awe. Thank you so much for sharing your numbers and letting us know what's possible if we keep pushing forward. I went from making almost no income in 2010 to making over $50,000 in 2011 from self-publishing. Modest numbers compared to yours, but it's a beginning. And I plan to keep going up. You are an inspiration to me.

    Sarra Cannon

  21. Writing good books is the beginning. Without that, the checking accounts would close after a while. Congrat's! Keep it up!

  22. Congratulations!

    I just read a great blog post about how the Chicago Tribune is now reviewing self-published books. As the saying goes, money talks... Success like yours is helping to lift the stigma. Thanks for sharing!

  23. I love it! I wish all us independent authors the same success!

    Brian January

  24. Congrats. What's funny about all this is all the naysayers. I posted about your success on my blog and all I keep hearing is "yeah Jim, but he had this, and this, and this."

    They are all missing the point. The point is that anyone now has the chance to do this. Not that you are guaranteed success just like Joe. Now you have a chance to do it.

    The excuses are gone of "well, the way traditional publishing works is stopping me from being successful". No, now it's on you, and a little luck.

  25. two words: Absolutely Mindblowing! :-)

  26. Good on ya, Joe ... beats the hell out the 22.73 I made from Amazon last quater.

  27. There was an ad for the California lottery years ago. POV: guy walking in a daze through the grocery store thinking, "I could, like, totally buy all this cheese."

    Except in your case it's beer.

    How's that going, by the way? Do you have a video entourage documenting your progress a-la Supersize Me?

  28. Sweet, Joe.
    Thanks for sharing the Print Screen.
    This is incredibly exciting.

  29. Some thoughts regarding your question about sales forecasts:

    It's very difficult to forecast future sales and growth at present because of the number of variables and volatility of certain variables.

    Your supposition that much of the sales growth is due to growth in ereader sales is probably correct.

    At some point the market for ereaders will reach a saturation level. Look at the sales of personal computers over the past three decades or the growth in Facebook accounts for parallels.

    Once market saturation is reached, the rate of purchases of new titles by existing owners will be much more important than sales of ebooks to new owners.

    Sales of ebooks aren't competitively exclusive, such as Coca-Cola vs Pepsi, but they are marginally competitive: a buyer is more likely to buy more of a familiar brand (author or genre) than an unfamiliar brand.

    Sales ranking and reviews will become less important relative to the spread of social media usage.

    Sales rankings will be less of a decision making tool than awareness spread through background tools of social media. By "background tool" I mean social media applications that automatically share ebook purchase information among the purchaser's network without active intervention. Such tools bypass most of the rank and search tools on vendor websites.

    There is a saturation level for reviews above which additional reviews add little to decision making. Average review will be more important (how many reviews does anyone read beyond 10? 20? 50?).

    The point to all this is that after producing a marketable product, marketing itself becomes a critical component of success.

    If spread of awareness through social media supersedes vendor website searches, a robust social media presence becomes critical.

    As you've said, cover design and blurb are important. Along with average review, these become sales "clinchers" for recommendations passed through social media.

    At this point tracking recommendations through social media may provide a reliable basis for forecasting future sales.

    And success of failure truly rest with the author.

  30. Congrats, Joe!

    It's great to see all your hard work and dedication paying off in a big way.

    I've just had my best three weeks ever. My January 2012 is starting to look like your January 2010. :)

    Thanks for paying it forward.


  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

  32. Congrats Joe, that is wonderful news. Perhaps you can pop over to my blog post today and leave a comment about your success as it pertains to my post.

    My readers would enjoy your good news as well.


  33. Joe, you're correct that the UK ebook market is burgeoning at the mo. For the first time, it has become a mainstream media topic over here - mainly in the last 6 months or so. Noticeable increase in the amount of Kindles habitually seen.

    I'm guessing we're 18-24mths behind the US in terms of Kindle penetration into the market place & into general culture.

  34. Congrats, Joe. We're all rooting for you. You're the hot new restaurant who just opened up next door and we're glad to seat your overflow.

  35. Very glad to see your success. It makes me hopeful for my own. ;-)
    Keep up the good work.


  36. I need to get back to writing instead of doing math. I hope you have a good financial adviser because you are going to break a million dollars this year.

  37. Big congrats! I'd be too giddy to function making a tenth of that from writing.

    Quick question: are you Amazon-exclusive? If not, how are you doing with the other stores, percentage wise? I'm seeing some early evidence that Amazon is the only outlet that matters to indies, but I don't have enough data to make a statement either way.

  38. That SO beats the stuffing out of my $15K for all of 2011!

  39. Self-publishing really is the "Job" of Opportunity, and it really is crazy how badly it was seen originally and how it has since skyrocketed.

    VERY well done on your sales, sir. They're inspiring.

  40. I was just thinking this morning, I wish Joe would tell us his earnings compared to the previous years. It's absolutely ridiculous. Go get yourself some Dogfish Head beer.

  41. You deserve it, brutha!!!

    God Bless and hey, I'm still picking up the tab when you visit me here in Vegas!


  42. I'm starting to buy completely into your arguments. I know. Hard to believe. Well, probably not completely. I'm a gotta-happen-to-me-too kind of believer here, but my sales have jumped in the last couple months. November was over $500, December was over $1500. Don't know if it will continue this month, although I'm already quite close tot he $500 figure. And in 2012 I will be publishing a couple more novels, so it's possible that I might get in the way of a lightning strike myself with a little luck.

  43. Wait a minute, wait a minute - all these "frothy" sales numbers the same month you're on an all-beer diet?

    I'm just sayin'...


  44. I’m flawed enough to be jealous.

    I’m also nice enough to know you deserve this!

  45. Joe, I write a very popular business and personal development (or whatever it is) blog. I have things I need to be doing. Your blog is totally fucking me up because thanks to posts like this, I keep spending more and more time writing fiction instead of doing my "real work." I can't take any more bliss in my life. This is an outrage.

  46. Huge congratulations, Joe. Stunning rate of sales which proves one of your theories: that you can never satisfy the market for your work, there is always more demand out there, if you can reach it.

    I think you should celebrate by drinking beer all day!

  47. Congrats Joe.
    I know you put in a lot of years before getting that first break with Hyperion. Now you've carved out a niche that none of us would have imagined when you wrote about Amazon's newfangled short story platform back in 04.

    I'll have some beer to celebrate on your behalf.

    O.K. fine, I'm going to spend the afternoon drinking in my basement. At least now I can say I have a reason...

  48. Congratulations Joe!

    You are truly an inspiration for many of us.

    I wish you nothing but the best and continued success. ;-)


  49. WOW! Ok, now that I have that out of my system...

    That is just crazy income growth. There are days that I still can't wrap my head around the fact that last month I made more than a lot of authors make in total on any novel they sell to a big publisher. They don't begin to compare with yours, but still... I'm not complaining.

    You answer an important question in proving your thesis that novels can keep on selling as well. I must admit I've been a bit skeptical on that, but it looks like you may be right.

  50. Congratulations. Your post is very inspiring for us newbies. It's a great time to be a writer.

  51. Mighty numbers. No wonder you're on a 30 day booze diet!

  52. "I'm having a very hard time wrapping my head around these numbers."

    That's because you haven't had any food. :-)

  53. Congrats on getting into the millionaires club. I agree with Robert I'd like your refund numbers.

    @Christopher I am praying for a check worth $22,73. I make so little it costs them more to cut the check.

    I am holding out hope that more kids will get ereaders and take a chance on my books. HEY KIDS!! IT's NOT A BAD READ!! :)


  54. You have got to be fucking kidding me.

  55. $2.99 of that came from me for "The List" (I also picked up Draculas for free, but haven't read it yet). It wasn't a great book, but it was a good book. Also, it was worth the price just for the line about the Louisiana Purchase. I am fascinated by the way Amazon's recommendation system works. Your stuff shows up all the time now and it never did before. I'm much more likely to buy something of yours again than I would have been in the pre-digital world. I forget authors' names all the time. But Amazon doesn't. This is a win for me, you and Amazon.

    Congrats and keeping pumping out the stories.

  56. Many congrats, Joe. I have learned a lot from your blog posts.

    I have a much more humble success story if anyone cares to read it.

    Link is here:

  57. You have got to be fucking kidding me.

    I know. Who would figured, huh?

    Well, I mean except for me. I kinda figured. :)

  58. You are completely amazing.

  59. Well done, Joe. And appreciate you sharing the $'s and insight.

  60. Congratulations, Joe! Mindblowing, and You deserve it. Maybe we should all drink more beer.

  61. Congrats!!! Very encouraging and eye-opening...I'm off to write my $1.99 novel since I can't bear to bring the price down on my $4.99 one ;)

  62. Congratulations, from one who would like to have something published while making some retirement one--before they shovel the dirt on top of my coffin.
    May I ask a question?
    How many words, do your stories approximately contain?
    Congrats, again on your successes.

  63. This comment has been removed by the author.

  64. You Go, Joe!!!


    I also hit the Amazon Top 100 and B&N Top 100 in December and made over $14,000 for the I'm not even close to your level but also seeing exponential growth!!! (I had been making around $3,000 per month.)

    But ever since I began my "Ridin' The Free-way Experiment", where I put the book that started it all for me as Free on Kindle and used "the first one is on me", then followed that up with a Boxed Set of 6 books for $2.99, I've really gained momentum!

    I've sold over 6500 Boxed Sets just in the last three weeks!!! And had over 80,000 downloads of the Free title plus 45,000 sales of my backlist, just since September!

    How superfab fun is all this?!

    Cheers to you! And thank you for inspiring me to go the Indie Epub Route!!!

    It sooo works!!!

  65. I know you can remember at some point having someone inspire you to keep on keeping on - you're that point for me.
    Thank you,

  66. Joe. Well-deserved based on karma alone, to say nothing of your prodigious talent.

  67. PS...JOE, I know you're posting your earnings to celebrate and to encourage us. Which is wildly generous! But what about the IRS ?

    I hear they now have a covert section called the Blog Police that snoops around on postings.

    Is anyone familiar with this?

  68. Thanks for your encouragement Joe. I'm approaching what looks like my first 1000 month. I made$700 last month. This is from publishing short stories alone....

  69. Congrats, Joe. Your sales are amazing!

    You know, about ten years ago my wife was heavy into selling used books on ebay. She spent a lot of time buying used books at thrift stores, creating auctions for those books, preparing shipments, and running back and forth to the post office and UPS.

    I told her that we needed to find something we could post once and be done with it. We talked about selling recipes or other items that she could email to her buyers and save all that time and effort for shipping and handling.

    Well, today ebooks fit that model. Of course it takes a while to write and publish an ebook but once you're done, that's it. Multiple sales from a single posting with no time and effort on shipping and handling.

    I wish I'd started writing ebooks ten years ago.

    Merrill Heath

  70. Holy shit! Congratulations. All that hard work is paying off.

  71. Congrats, Joe. Like I've said before, I've been following you since I self-published back a few year ago.

    It just keeps getting better. And for me, a small fry, to sell over 5,000 books in the last two weeks is freaking amazing, compared to when I first started in 2008, it took me a year to reach 5k.

    Though I can attribute that huge sales spike to going KDP Select and a 2-day Free promo the day after Christmas that netted 30,000 free downloads and kicked me up in the paid rankings to #24 in all Paid Kindle Books and stayed in the Top 100 for almost a week. Cheating? Maybe. But hey---whatever it takes!

  72. I am so happy for you! thanks so much for sharing :).

  73. Get some Joe. Get some.

  74. Great post! I linked to it in my blog today:

    If only I could find a way to be that successful!

  75. That is crazy amazing success, Joe.


  76. Why I wouldn't want to call myself your number #1 fan (it smacks too much in the face of Annie Wilkes, the chunky ex-nurse/killer in Stephen King's Misery), I do have every book you've put out (and I desperately want to see a sequel to Endurance now that you've ended the reign of Jack Daniels).

    If anyone deserves this success, it's you. You write highly entertaining novels with witty characters and you love to dig into the dark heart of man. You're the hetero version of Truman Capote.

    America is a dark country and you just get it. Your characters are human and even when they are a bit dry or over the top, that doesn't make them any less American or real for the matter.

    Congratulations and even though luck is always a factor, rejoice, celebrate and don't ever let anyone tell you any different. You might not "deserve" it but it is yours to have and that makes all the difference.

    Good luck with your lager diet and have an extra one to celebrate! ;-)

  77. Color me GREEN for ENVY! Color me PROUD for YOU and Indie Authors! WTG!!!!!!!!!!!!

  78. How did you originally get people attracted to your books? What marketing magic did you use? I'd love to duplicate it!
    Janet Elaine Smith, multi-genre author

  79. Bravo, Joe! You have been such an inspiration for me and never moreso than now! Thank you for showing the rest of us what is possible in independent publishing!

  80. That's amazing, mind-blowing and encouraging.

    While I can only see those numbers for me when I sleep (and I don't even dare dream that high) I am very happy for you!

    Well Deserved and Congratulations!

  81. If my dumb ass doesn't start writing fiction...

    I'm also having a killer 3 weeks, but what you make in a day, I'll be lucky to make this month. You're making 30 times what I'm making Joe!

    I'm torn between writing fiction and ramping up my AimforAwesome (.com) living in Hawaii site. A friend just sold his site for $200K. I'm not a great fiction writer, but I'm pretty good at writing articles about Hawaii.

    Choices, choices Joe...

    I do hope these increases at Amazon hold...

  82. That was me last xmas too! I was making that much on BN last year for months after xmas.

    It slows down... but I imagine it will help being pubbed with Thomas and Mercer and getting that Amazon push. You may never plateau at a lower rate. Which would rock!

    But that xmas rush is such a huge push. And the ability to go "Free" for 5 days seems to be a big plus on Amazon for boosting sales/rankings.

  83. Congrats, Joe, and thanks for blazing the trail for the rest of us. :-)

  84. That's fantastic, Joe. I've been following your blog since before you started self-publishing your books and the journey -- not to mention your good sense -- has been awesome to read about. Thanks for sharing.

  85. Holy cow, congratulations! You can buy a lot of beer for $100k!

  86. Wow, this is mind-blowing! Congrats! I just published my first self-pub book last week and this is so inspiring. I think this is so far beyond what any author would ever think of in their wildest dreams. Incredible!

  87. Joe;

    I'm finishing my first book now and getting it prepared to go live ASAP. But I'm also a voice over specialist, whose done several audio books for others, and obviously, I'm planning to do my own. What's your advice on leveraging our audio books? I haven't seen too much here about that, but I'd love to see/hear more!

  88. Anonymous7:59 PM

    Who knew when we started corresponding about self-publishing in April 2009 that it would lead to this less than years later? At the time I'm sure we both thought it would just be a nice way to supplement traditional publishing income. Way to go!

  89. Wow!!! Congratulations, Joe! It's so well deserved. Wishing you and everyone here continued success.

  90. This is why I look forward to every new post. Congratulations to everyone experiencing the euphoria of success in the new year! :)

    Even my massage how-to e-book sales are exceeding my expectations on all platforms (especially Kindle) this month.

    @D.D. Scott - Please excuse my ignorance, but when you say you made Book #1 free on Amazon, was it through KDP Select, or is there another way?

    Many thanks to Joe - and every affirmation from the comments section - for the inspiration!


  91. Congrats, but your post made me feel like a total loser. I didn't write a thing all day and for the first time in years I'm thinking about throwing in the towel.

  92. Congrats, but your post made me feel like a total loser. I didn't write a thing all day and for the first time in years I'm thinking about throwing in the towel.

    Then you should. Life is too short to be unhappy.

    Or you can keep writing, keep improving your craft, keep self-pubbing until you get lucky. If you know anything about me, you know it took 21 years of struggle before I reached this point. I got over 500 rejections, wrote over a million words, and pretty much worked harder than anyone in the history of the publishing business. That isn't a boast. It's a fact.

    If you don't want to put in the same effort, don't. No one is holding a gun to your head. If one guy's success story is enough to make you throw in the towel, you probably don't have what it takes.

    But if my words make you angry, and make you want to prove me wrong, then maybe you do have what it takes. If so, I bet I'll see you on the bestseller lists someday.

  93. Congratulations, and continued success!

  94. Congrats, Joe!

    Does it feel like "found" money, since some of those novels were trunked for years? I think it would for me. I was looking through some old files earlier, some unfinished stories, and started thinking hmm, maybe I could make something out of that...

  95. THANK YOU for sharing and a big congratulations. Unlike the guy who feels like a loser, I can only see the possibilities. You were a pioneer and it paid off. Yippee!

  96. Congratulations, Joe!!!

    That figure is mind-boggling. I remember last year, when you said you made $22k in one month and you and your wife looked at each other and couldn't believe it.

    Thanks for sharing. You deserve it all!!!

  97. Amazing, Joe! Thanks for beating the drum for self-publishing. Here's to greater success for us all in 2012!

  98. Plus readers can now find more books to read for much less money than before. Particularly great for the Southern Hemisphere anglosphere.

    Where in Australia before xmas Hachette raised their prices 65% and Macmillan 90%. (and no, those are not typos).

    So you and others are likely to be snagging an ever increasing share of oz money, too, given this treatment - and lots of people talking about buying Kindles, supermarket chains having them on sale, etc.

  99. Wow, this is insppiring and I'd be happy with a fraction of your success. I have just published my first crime novel and an anthology on Kindle, and I have a "Virtual Book launch" this weekend when my anohthology "Wargeld & other Stories" should be free to download. They're already free to borrow for US Amazon Prime members. Please do drop by, especially on the US Amazon site as I don't have many US customers as yet.

    I'm trying to get my head round the marketing at the moment, and it's all very new and scary to me, so posts like this are so inspiring. Thank you.

    Linda Gruchy

  100. If only I had a fraction of the market presence you do, Joe, I would be raking in a few bucks too. I would love, love, love it if you would blog, extensively, about how you're marketing yourself. That's the big question I, and others, have. Your success shows you know the formula. But I don't recall you talking about it in real depth. Would you be so kind?

    (Self-serving note: my book is available on Kindle and Nook. Details on my blog. Thanks.)

  101. Joe,

    I think you have made a little more than $100k. It's $1.70 a borrow for December (295,000 borrows total).

    And the pot for Jan is up to $700k

  102. @David - Cool. That's another $12k for December,

  103. That should keep you in beer for January.

  104. Anonymous8:52 AM

    Wow! Your success has made my day! :-)

  105. Congrats, Joe! More money to buy beer!

  106. Congratulations, Joe. What a tremendous way to start the new year. All your sharing of experience and knowledge has come back to you doubly so. Enjoy! Good deeds do go rewarded.

  107. Amazing, Joe! Congratulations!

    I had a great first half of the year, but then sales fell off--mostly because I didn't have time to promote and I was slow getting my next book out: GINGER DEAD HOUSE.

    But I still made over $21,000 in 2011, so I'm not complaining. And I think this year will be much better.

  108. Wow, Joe that is an insane amount of money. You worked hard and deserve every cent you make and more. You not only entertain us but you educate us which is very generous on your part.
    Thank you and I hope you do 200,000 in february.

  109. You are an inspiration as I step foot on this path.

  110. Joe, proud of you, man! Keep rockin' like you do and posting it too! Kudos and thanks!

  111. Very inspirational, Joe.

    Thanks for showing the increase you've had over the last few years. I've made more in the first twelve days of this year than I did all of last year, so I can relate!

    If things stay this way I'll be able to quit my job or pay off some serious debt writing and working a full time desk job.

    Why did I spend $50,000 for college when all I need is a laptop?

    My return rate is 9%. Is that bad?

  112. Congratulations. This is a huge encouragement for me to sit down, and start writing some of the stories I have running through my head.

  113. I look at that income ($3,500/day) and think about how many friends and family members I could help. I would be making more money than I could spend!

  114. I find this to be inspirational

  115. Alas, I didn't do anywhere near as well as you did, Joe.

    Since November 27, it has taken me not three weeks, but six weeks to make $100,000 (from 50,000 Kindle sales + 3,754 KDP Select borrows).

    But then, unlike you, Joe, I only have one book available -- my debut thriller, HUNTER.

    Yeah, you better believe I'm working on the sequel!

  116. Hi Jeff,

    What type of marketing have you done? I'm curious to know how your work is being advertised? I run a blog myself, ad have considered wrapping up a collection of short stories into an ebook, but I'd like to know what you do on your end to promote.


  117. I have just read an article about Amanda Hocking in The Gaurdian, English newspaper who has said exactly the same as you and you were mentioned. This has given me hope, for I have written a story which is true and will be going along these lines. Thanks for the post.

    Dave Perlmutter

  118. Freakin' A, Joe! The word awesome isn't strong enough.

    Thank you for so boldly sharing your numbers, humor and even the name of your editor.

    Hats off to you.

  119. Crazy, man! It is unreal. But congratulations, Joe, you deserve it. You are an inspiration to us all.

  120. There you go, joining the 1%. Don't forget us 99%ers you left behind, Joe.

    And congrats. Well deserved.

  121. Congratulations, Joe! I can't believe someone said that your success made them want to throw in the towel - it just inspires me all the more.
    I have been following you for a while and have had my novel in my head for much longer. Thanks to your information sharing on self-pubbing I have decided that is the way for me to go and am motivated more than ever.
    Thanks for sharing

  122. "Or you can keep writing, keep improving your craft, keep self-pubbing until you get lucky. If you know anything about me, you know it took 21 years of struggle before I reached this point. I got over 500 rejections, wrote over a million words, and pretty much worked harder than anyone in the history of the publishing business. That isn't a boast. It's a fact."

    Fall down seven times, stand up eight. - Japanese Proverb

  123. This is wonderful! :D

    I just made my first $10,000 this year, and this month it looks like I'm going to make over $4000 :). Mostly from short stories and one novel.

    You are one of the main reasons I started down this path in the first place, so I thank you!

    You've earned this awesome success. May you have even more!

  124. Congratulations! We met at a Backspace Conference years ago.

    Susan Schwartzman
    Book Publicist

  125. "Or you can keep writing, keep improving your craft, keep self-pubbing until you get lucky. If you know anything about me, you know it took 21 years of struggle before I reached this point. I got over 500 rejections, wrote over a million words, and pretty much worked harder than anyone in the history of the publishing business. That isn't a boast. It's a fact."

    Thanks for that. Sometimes I keep forgetting that someday I can be at that level, and it is inspiring!

  126. Thanks for sharing your numbers, Joe. You're like the light at the end of the tunnel, an inspiration to keep moving forward.


  127. You are an inspiration to us all! Keep it up, man!

  128. Thanks to all offering thanks and congrats. :)

  129. A few words of, if not warning, then perhaps wisdom.

    When the iPhone App Store opened in 2008, I had a lot of success selling apps and exactly the same thoughts. A limitless market! 70/30 split! Sit at home, do work I love, and sell it at big profits!

    And it has been like that, mostly. I love this work, and I'm thrilled that the democratization I first experienced three years ago has now reached authors.

    But it's not likely to stay this way. The weakness of the App Store--and of all the e-book stores--is discovery. There are a *lot* of apps, and it's hard to get attention on your app. And there will soon be a *lot* of books, and it will be hard to get attention on your book. And bigger fish, the ones with lots of resources, will be able to spend more money to get that attention than you can.

    That's not to say that all is doom and gloom. But you should start thinking *now* about how you're going to get attention on yourself when the competition gets more fierce.

  130. But you should start thinking *now* about how you're going to get attention on yourself when the competition gets more fierce.

    I do what I always do. Write more books.

  131. God bless America, and God bless Kindle

  132. Joe,

    You are an inspiration to us all.

    I've been following your blog for a little over a year. When other people were saying, "don't do ebooks," you gave plenty of reasons why one should try. I'm so glad I followed your advice because now I have a steady income from my ebook sales and I'm making more money with my ebooks than I would at a regular 9 to 5 job.

  133. Amen to that, Sheila. Joe, along with Robin Sullivan, were the major inspirations for me to give this "indie" thing a shot. And in just one week last month, it changed my life forever.

    I'm grateful.

  134. I enjoy your blog and marvel at your success. As others say your explanations of the 'new publishing model' are inspirational to us.

    But, doesn't this lead to a new writing model as well? This came up in my writer's group last night. I quickly realized that they are indoctrinated into the publishing contract mindset. "You must do this or that because that's the way it's done or you'll never get published."

    As you might guess, I wrote my own blog on it.

  135. I do what I always do. Write more books.

    Something you've always preached about is, I think, the best lesson for Newbs here.

    Looking at the royaly sheet the sales for The "List" are incredible and the next 4 highest selling titles are strong as well. The bottom sixteen titles, while selling comparitively low, all add up to a pretty high volume.

    Kris Rusch just blogged about what Newbs do to tic her off; lament and wail that their one single upload hasn't allowed them to quit their day jobs yet.

    Marathon. Marathon. Marathon.

    Congrats again Joe. I still go back to your old page periodically where you touring blitzes, road quests and mailout carpet bombings are logged.

    Well earned.

  136. As somebody who has wanted to be a writer since the age of 6, I'm both incredibly jealous AND excited for you. Bravo.

  137. just holy f'n crap. i mean, my jaw dropped and i can't even imagine those kinds of numbers. BUT I WANT TO! oh, how i want to! lol congratulations and THANK YOU for sharing numbers and things that are personal with us. i appreciate it. :)

  138. Stunning! Congrats, Joe, and thanks for sharing. You have worked hard and improved your craft over many years -- this is money you've earned with blood, sweat, and beer tears.

    I'll be guest posting on David Gaughran's blog next week, sharing my numbers in some detail. I've done very well since my first free day, 12/23/11. $5,000+ in 7 paid days in December. It was a nice surprise to hear today about another $900 from the borrowed books.

    Truly an exciting time to be a writer.

  139. Awesome. FINALLY. I have been looking for a blog that encourages writers to self-publish and finally have the shroud lifted on what a writer can actually EARN. You rock! Congratulations on all your success, I would love to read one of your books.
    By the way. I write a blog and would love to interview as a gues. Would you be interested? I'm very new to this whole thing but am gathering followers quickly. I think it's so important to have an inspiration to look up to and keep us writers going when the rejections keep flowing in!
    Thanks so much for your honesty and giving me a huge boost!!

  140. At first I thought I'd slit my wrists, then I decided I might be better off finishing the book I've been working on then writing another. And another. And another.

    Congrats, Joe.

  141. At first I thought I'd slit my wrists, then I decided I might be better off finishing the book I've been working on then writing another.

    Just read a pretty cool post by Bert Carson that is worth sharing.

    The secret to success is refusing to let failure stop you.

  142. How do refunds work for an ebook?

  143. @Brent Royal-Gordon:

    Ahh, but there's two major differences between the Apple app store and Kindle books: the Social Effect, and the Saturation Effect.

    Websites like Goodreads tap into the desire for readers to connect, communcate, and share with one another. And in doing so, those users provide a social filter network that enables discovery of content they might not normally find.

    My wife is an absolute brilliant case study in this. She was a rabid reader before she bought a Kindle a year or two back, and not long after she found herself on Goodreads.

    Now, before the Kindle, she was a heavy reader of mass-published books. However, after migrating her reading to the Kindle, all of that has changed. Through the Kindle free promotions, she's discovered new, small authors she never would've otherwise discovered. Through Goodreads and the fans of those authors, and even the authors themselves (!), she's discovered yet more authors.

    The result: she's purchased *vastly* more books than she had before, from new authors that she would've otherwise never discovered.

    This is the Social Effect.

    Meanwhile, she will *never stop buying books*. When a user buys an iPod or an iPhone, they find a few apps that do what they need, purchase them, and that's that. They might pick up a couple more here and there, but I strongly suspect there's a leveling-out that happens, where app purchase rates drop off to some minimal level. This is the Saturation Effect.

    But books don't work that way. A reader will continue to be a reader, and will continue to purchase content. Heck, Amazon has claimed that a typical Kindle user buys *two times* as many books after purchasing a Kindle as they did before. So not will a typical Kindle owner continue to purchase content, they'll purchase more than they would have previously! I suspect this is partly due to lower average prices (at least for new and self-published authors), but one can't rule out the convenience factor. And, again, the Social Effect also applies, here.

  144. @Geoff:

    JFGI: "Books you purchase from the Kindle Store are eligible for return and refund if we receive your request within seven days of the date of purchase."

    That said, do you find yourself returning a lot of books?

    I honestly can't remember *ever* returning a book. I've certainly encountered the odd bad book and I might try to ditch those in the second-hand market, something which isn't available to the eBook market (and that's certainly a shame). But I've never actually returned a book back to the store from which I purchased it...

    Now, that's probably because the purchase price is low enough for a typical paperback that I don't find it worth my time. Interestingly enough, that's even more true when it comes to eBooks.

    As such, while there's definitely a loss of freedom associated with eBooks, which you can't resell and can only return for a limited time, it feels like a worthwhile tradeoff.

    Personally, I have a far bigger problem with DRM preventing me from viewing the same content on multiple devices using software of my choice. Fortunately, DRM can be circumvented...

  145. Hi Joe,

    This just goes to show what continual hard work and determination can do. Congratulations. Never have you once taken the easy way out. You have always stuck to what you believe in, followed your dreams and now you're getting the rewards.

  146. Look up sticktoitiveness and perseverance on Wikipedia--there should be a picture of your ugly mug beside them!

  147. So far I have read four of your
    e-books, and believe, that I will keep reading your book's

  148. Your Ebook store link is broken

  149. Your Ebook store link is broken

    I momentarily shut it off to participate in the KDP Select Program. All of my ebooks are available on Amazon, DRM free, so they can be easily read on any ereader (Nook, Sony, Kobo, iPad, etc.)

  150. Congratulations. What tool are you using to agregate these sales numbers?
    I am asking as I am helping a lean startup that is creating a tool for that. http://www.pragAuthor.Com

  151. Hey Joe,

    Congratulations!! That is absolutely amazing!! Big congrats to everyone else here as well for all of your successes! This blog is incredibly inspiring.

    Joe - I wanted to thank you for being so open and straightforward and for all that you have shared here. You are changing people's lives for the better, mine included. Since I joined up with KDP Select a week ago, we had over 5600 downloads in our 1-day free promo, and afterwards sales of Secret of the Sands have increased five-fold. It's amazing. I am truly grateful for all of these new readers.

    Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you for being our lighthouse and guiding our paths to this happy & prosperous place... :)


  152. This is incredible. I've always been silly enough to believe that someday I'd find a way to make a living - a really good living - off of being a writer. Seems the times have caught up to my dreaming. I'm so encouraged to read of your success. Thank you for sharing every step of it. I discovered your blog only two months ago, and I'm going back to read it from the beginning. Again, a million thanks!

  153. Joe, thank you so much for your generous sharing with the rest of us. At least we're no longer standing out in the cold, even if we can't share your incredible numbers, but things are truly moving in a great direction. I have a small publisher because she does all the techie things I can't or at least don't want to do, but she gives us a lion's share of the profits and I've made a few thousand this quarter. And as you say; it's just the beginning.
    Onward and upward.

  154. This is amazing! Congratulations! I cannot wait until when I publish my book on amazon! This is absolutely inspirational!

  155. I wanted to let you know about a really stupid situation.

    I wanted to buy the John Updike books series of Rabbit books.

    I would prefer to have them on kindle because its easier than having the books and they'll be with me wherever they go and take up no space in my flat.

    To buy them on Kindle? 3 at £7.99 and 1 @ £10.99. Actually more expensive than buying them new as books.

    What did I end up doing?

    I have spent £9.50 plus £4 postage and packing to buy them second hand. So the publisher gets zero.

    If they had charged £4 a copy for the kindle edition they would now have £16 on the way to them with the publisher keeping 70% with no cost of printing or postage.

    How many millions of £'s are publishers missing out on because of this situation.

    I don't expect these books on kindle to be cheap, but they should be pitched at a realistic and sensible price.

  156. Just to clarify that was 3 @ £7.99 and 1 @ £10.99 which was a total of £35. Over $50.

    They have missed out on $20 plus of revenue for 4 books.

  157. Joe, thank you so much for posting about your success as a self-publisher. It's refreshing to see the numbers -- most success stories don't go into that kind of detail. Keep writing!

    I literally just published my very first eBook 4 days ago ( and I'm super excited to actually have it out there in the market! Like they say about acorns: the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, and the next best time is NOW.

  158. [A Newbie's Guide to Publishing], is stirring new, positive emotions and enthusiasm to many of us unpublished unknown, new writers.
    Where short stories have been on the decline e-books, have lifted the spirits, of many including myself where perhaps we may have a shot at making a few bucks while working on our larger works.
    My question is this to those that have published on Amazon-Kindle…
    How does one get the artwork for the cover of your submission, and what writing-format does Kindle require for submissions?
    I am either on the wrong page for submissions, or do not have a clue.

  159. Hi Joe,

    I've been following your blog for a while now and it has been incredibly helpful. I am getting ready to self-publish 3 of my horror books on Amazon. I want to personally thank you for making your hard data available to see what is possible. Amazon has made it viable for anyone to make a living at what they love doing...WRITING BOOKS!

  160. Thank you for sharing, Joe. Amazing.

  161. That's good to see. I'm still baby stepping in the world of publishing. But, great see u guy doing it so easily. Need to follow u.

  162. Thanks for inspiration! After few months one special book will be ready for publishing.

    Anyway, maybe you will want to read it and write review?

  163. CONGRADS! Thanks for blazing the path for the rest of us!

  164. Congrats, Joe. My own books are doing fine on No complaints. But they are outselling the same books on by 50-1. I do wonder what you have to do to get our British cousins to pay attention?

  165. Thank you. This is soooo motivating. You've put in a lot of hard work and it has paid off.

  166. I am completely and utterly jealous. I dipped a toe in by putting a reprint short story out there, but have sold, uh...4 copies so far. In three months. Which included Christmas. So, clearly, I have no clue how to market and get attention to said story.

    Clearly you do ;). I want to be you when I grow up *grin*. Thank you for reminding people that it can be done...although it is not easy.

  167. What a wonderful success story! It's great and inspiring to read a REAL tale of victory,rather than the made up rubbish and downright lies that Internet Marketers use!!

    Thanks also for showing me a new word - "pubbing" - excellentstuff!!

  168. Anonymous3:44 PM

    There is one other industry I know of with no costs for manufacturing or distribution for each subsequent unit:
    computer software
    (so ebooks effectively bring books into the realm of software / computer files).

    Your point is excellent: once created, the "product" can keep earning you a profit with zero money or time from you.

  169. "I've spent hours talking to Amazon. And Amazon listened. They took notes. And I've seen them adopt my suggestions. Many times. And I'm not the only one they're listening to."

    To Amazon I am not a cost center, not someone who must be humored, or managed. I am a vendor, a business partner who must be treated with respect.

    Big 6 would do well to learn the difference.

  170. How does one sell enough Kindle books to earn that much money? How much do you spend on promotion of those books and web advertisements? Did you write how to do it in a Kindle book I and others can buy? Because it would be worth it.

  171. Sorry to be the sour pill but this seems more of a bragging point than a guide to publishing. Yes you published in Kindle as most of us here reading this post. Though not to deny you your praise as so many are doing where is the guide? Yes you made what looks like good money and more than one could possible use to survive and live well.
    Besides the hard numbers of Kindle sales which is good information to see and few would post this would have worked better if you posted some advice for marketing or even some gateways into advertising paths that would be free or low cost for the not established writer.
    As it sounds you were pretty much established and published so you are not coming from the straight amatuer writer trying to self-publish because we do not know how to or have been turned away from publishers.
    Thank you
    Omar Pina Pena
    FB group Ebooks4all
    You can come and shamelessly promote your books. We also are into giving adice and posting links to finding ways to promote our books.

  172. really amazing success story.Congrats Joe.

  173. Congrats concerning the sales. studying the weblog here, I am encouraged to acquire away my lazy keester and get writing. Can't market what isn't written. Heck, even if I only do $50K in an whole year, I'd be pretty happy.

  174. Thanks for sharing, Joe. It's always refreshing to see someone who actually makes it, and takes the time to help others get there. Congratulations on all your success.

  175. This is awesome, but are these really your first 3 weeks on ebooks?

  176. It certainly shows with the books the publishers turned down that they made a big mistake. Excellent sales. Well done.

  177. I have read every post on this blog in the last 2 months or so, and most of the comments. This post, and the "you should self publish" post, I have read repeatedly.

    I don't say this to praise you, or feed an ego you don't care for anymore, but to simply say that if I do reach a place in my life where I can live off of my writing (and I'm confident I will), I want you to know you are a reason for that.

    I want nothing more than to help people with my writing, the same way stories helped me get through bad times. Through self publishing I have the tools to do it the way I know it can be done and on topics I feel need to be addressed.

    I've said it before on your posts, and I will say it again. I have two shorts up, a novel coming (which is sampled up until chapter 7 in those shorts), and many more to come. I'll see you at the top.

  178. I need education on something, Joe. The Kindle Direct Publishing Terms & Conditions state that sales figures are confidential and publicly disclosing them results in closure of your KDP account. You don't appear to be concerned about that. Please tell me why. If you don't publish this comment, which would be totally understandable, please have your people let me know privately.

  179. Hi Joe, I understand in the initial stage for first time publishing it is learning process of other because they have been focusing on feedback and sale but nothing happen. Please guide me for getting good result for my book

  180. Anonymous10:05 AM

    @Hermine Strand: This article was posted in 2012, the Amazon contract probably did not have such confidential and disclosure requirements at the time. These contract conditions may have been added later.


Thanks for the comment! Joe will get back to you eventually. :)