Saturday, October 05, 2013

Guest Post by Tom Keller (and Konrath talks numbers)

First, a big thanks to Joe. Not only for the opportunity to guest post on his blog, but also for the wonderful way he chose to help others with Alzheimer's. My grandmother, rest her soul, lived till just shy of her 90th birthday and many of the ideas for my first book grew out of the stories she told me as a child. Which is why my book, Return of the High Fae, is dedicated to her. She spent the last 6 to 7 years of her life suffering from this disease and it was heart breaking to see its effect on her. Thanks again Joe, not only for this, but for your consistent advice and information to others in their journey to publish and sell books.

As a quick introduction, I've spent most of the last 33 years of my life as a cop and investigator. I never planned on publishing a novel and I certainly never planned on one that involved faeries and other mythological creatures. I was just one of those folks that always thought about it and then one day sat down and the words started coming. Due to certain aspects of my work, I stayed away from police procedurals and similar genres, and instead starting writing fantasy. Before I knew it, I was having fun.

Like David Haywood Young, I don't have a lot of readers, but the ones I do have are incredibly supportive. I chose to self-publish for a lot of the reasons you can read right here, but also because I didn’t want to wait around for the sometimes years it takes to sell your idea, if ever. Then, if you're one of the 'fortunate' (and I use that term loosely) ones that gets a contract, it can be more years before your book ever sees the light of day. Not to mention that now you have to rewrite your novel in their image if you ever really want to see it published. I also like the idea of owning all the rights.

Somewhere in my journey I came across Joe's blog and an article he wrote entitled "Bedtime Story," back in 2010, and the idea of self-publishing my book was born. Although I never submitted my novel to any publishing houses or agents, the truth is I’ve been rejected plenty of times. My short stories never saw the light of a page, (and I submitted quite a few) so I took that into consideration when I decided to self-publish Return of the High Fae. I've done ok with Amazon's Kindle Select for the last year and I also used ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) to publish the book in audio format. Since I wrote this post I have removed Return of the High Fae from KDP Select but still have at least one of my other stories enrolled. We'll see what effect that has on sales now that it will be back on the other venues as it gets redistributed through Smashwords.

Like others I was pretty content with selling 30 – 50 books a month, I mean, at least someone was reading them. And I like the idea of a potential long term revenue stream and thanks to the type of information found here, I'm hoping to try some different things in order to write and sell more books. I really like the idea of letting fans help choose covers and that might be an idea when choosing a narrator for the audio version as well. I've recently had fans solicit ideas in a story line with what they'd like to see, the feedback has been interesting, to say the least. The big thing I've seen is that it's important to get those books out there. From a strictly business perspective, more books = more money.

Although I started with the idea of maybe a sequel or two as I had time, recent changes in my life have forced me to focus more on not just my next novel but some new stories as well. Thanks to what I've learned here, I've also started a few short story tie-ins to try and increase overall sales. I'm also rewriting some of those old stories that might work as Kindle singles. I decided to do that with my short stories, but now Joe has me thinking again, as novels sell better than shorts, so maybe I'll try a different approach there as well. I've still got to decide why I'm writing the books and stories I do, and there are some good points here on changing genre's and using pen names as well as others to sell more books. Since they were a change of genre, and initially spurred on by Joe's 8 hour challenge, I published some short stories under a pen name, although a minute's actual investigation will lead you to me anyway. I think I did that originally to make sure that people liked them before linking them back to me. Seems silly now, but, hey, what can I say? Besides, using a pen name allows you to write in darn near in any genre, especially those that might be a little risqué for the home front.

I can't say enough about what you can learn about writing and publishing on Joe's blog. And it's not just Joe, Carlos Cooper's and David Haywood Young's posts are just a few example of the excellent assortment of ideas and experiences presented here. Carlos' and Joe's post that mentions to use all 5 of your freebie days to increase your rank on the top 100 free list is just one idea worth remembering. If I've learned anything it's that you can't buy the lifetime of experience and writing tips that Joe and his guest's present here. Not to mention that their ideas can spawn creations of your own. The 8 hour publish a book on Kindle was an amazing idea and prompted a lot of folks to do just that. I guess all I'm trying to say is that you should never be afraid to try. Just do a little research and make this blog your first jumping point to your next novel or short story.

Joe sez: Thanks for the kind words, Tom. I meant to post this yesterday, but was having some computer issues. I just bought your book, and encourage others to give it a try. There's something extremely cool about a police officer writing faeries stories, and you've piqued my curiosity.

One thing I'd like expound upon is that inspiration comes in many forms, and while I'm grateful to have inspired many writers, and humbled when they thank me, I encourage people to use this blog and my words as resource, but not as gospel.

I'm just a writer trying to figure things out. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I'm a bit ahead of the curve, but my success still comes down to luck. I believe, if you work hard, you can also improve your chances at luck.

No one reading this post will ever be me, because I'm one of a kind. And I'll never be you, because you're one of a kind. We all have out own journeys to follow, our own choices to make. I'd like to think my blog helps people make informed choices, and from the email I get I know my blog as also helped many people find some measure of success. But I'm just one guy, and sometimes I'm wrong, and I should be only one resource out of many.

In other words, I share what works for me, but it might not work for you. If you do everything I do on my blog, there is no guarantee you'll succeed. Success is something you need to find on your own, and you may take a much different route than I did.

That said, here are the things I've done that have helped me get to where I'm at.

1. Love what you're doing. This is a brutally tough business, and if you aren't in love with writing save yourself a lot of heartache and go do something else.

2. Write when you can, finish what you write, edit what you finish, self-publish what you edit, and repeat. And make sure everything you release is as good as you can make it,

3. Experiment. You need to constantly try new things in order to find something that works. Don't be afraid to change covers, titles, prices, names, platforms, and even genres.

4. You should seek out as much information as you can, but don't believe everything you hear or read. Some people lie. Some exaggerate. Everyone has an agenda, and you should take it all with a healthy dose of skepticism.

5. Ebooks are forever. That means you have a very long time to find your audience. If you aren't seeing success now, that doesn't mean it will never come.

6. Work your ass off. It will always come down to luck. But the harder you work, the luckier you'll get.

7. Seek criticism, not praise. Get this from the key people in you life that you trust.

8. Ignore haters. They aren't worth your time.

9. With only a few exceptions, I haven't found that advertising, publicity, or promotion helps much. The problem is that sometimes they do help, and it is very hard to predict when that will happen. I tweet, email, and blog new releases, I use BookBub, Bookblast, and EbookBooster every so often, and I do a rare interview or appearance once in a blue moon. But most of all, I focus on my writing.

10. My motto is: Learn all you can, pass along what you've learned, leave the world a better place because you lived, and have as much fun as possible.

Several people have emailed me, asking when I'll do another numbers update. Way back in the year 2009 I began posting my Kindle numbers, and that seemed to inspire lots of writers.

I'll quote myself from that post: "So far on Kindle I've earned $2781.35 in 64 days. If the $90 per day trend keeps up, that's $32,850 a year. Not a huge amount, but not chump change either."

I've come a long way since 2009. Here are my latest, cumulative self-pub numbers, both units and dollars, as of July 2013.

These include free downloads and KOLL borrows, and are numbers for all the platforms I've been on (KDP, iTunes, Smashwords, Kobo, B&N, Createspace). They do not include any of my legacy pubbed books, or my secret pen name. They also don't include my seven Amazon published books, my audio books, or my legacy foreign sales.

Don't let these numbers discourage you, and at the same time don't assume you'll be able to replicate them.

Also look at some of my individual titles and see how few they're selling. I've had some big hits, but the majority of my books have modest, and even lackluster, sales. But when you have a lot of titles, even modest sales can add up.

I'm sharing these numbers with you to show you what is possible. In fact, a lot more is possible, because there are many authors outselling me.

This isn't a contest. This isn't a competition. Don't envy me, and don't hope to get where I'm at. Envy and hope don't empower you--they're excuses for not being in control. Focus on where you're at, and what you can be doing to improve. If you have goals that are based on your efforts (as opposed to dreams, which require someone else to say yes or no) you won't need hope or envy. 

And feel free to post your numbers, even if they aren't very good. Especially if they aren't very good. One of the reasons legacy publishers controlled the market for so long was because writers were afraid to talk numbers, and everything was hush-hush. 

The more everyone shares, the more everyone learns. The more everyone helps, the more everyone benefits.

Row Labels Sum of Net Units Sold Sum of Earnings USD
65 Proof 27,222 $14,511.59
2009 847 $611.24
2010 844 $1,705.04
2011 4,616 $4,817.85
2012 4,659 $4,245.99
2013 16,256 $3,131.47
Afraid 114,657 $23,546.12
2012 58,940 $7,375.38
2013 55,717 $16,170.74
Babe on Board 20,012 $5,214.39
2011 4,888 $1,329.20
2012 4,331 $1,083.65
2013 10,793 $2,801.54
Banana Hammock 11,920 $11,150.20
2010 560 $1,107.09
2011 6,571 $4,693.58
2012 2,420 $2,918.40
2013 2,369 $2,431.13
Beginnings 36 $161.65
2013 36 $161.65
Birds of Prey 22,219 $12,186.84
2011 7,431 $6,677.88
2012 6,994 $4,231.40
2013 7,794 $1,277.56
Bloody Mary 186,848 $83,598.86
2013 186,848 $83,598.86
Burners 4,043 $7,910.63
2012 2,406 $4,692.66
2013 1,637 $3,217.97
Cherry Bomb 70,999 $31,983.77
2013 70,999 $31,983.77
Crime Stories 14,355 $4,625.54
2010 789 $1,091.54
2011 7,773 $2,037.57
2012 5,156 $1,249.70
2013 637 $246.72
Dirty Martini 147,067 $32,000.49
2013 147,067 $32,000.49
Disturb 56,670 $47,364.94
2009 1,785 $1,292.87
2010 5,517 $6,940.73
2011 18,556 $21,142.74
2012 7,569 $10,882.90
2013 23,243 $7,105.70
Draculas 35,629 $40,207.73
2010 3,878 $7,640.40
2011 13,557 $18,461.23
2012 6,615 $10,162.07
2013 11,579 $3,944.03
Dumb Jokes 5,640 $922.33
2009 408 $148.70
2010 597 $225.37
2011 2,096 $254.00
2012 1,656 $257.31
2013 883 $36.94
Endurance 118,728 $124,954.46
2010 11,984 $23,586.89
2011 41,251 $59,265.56
2012 15,800 $28,289.20
2013 49,693 $13,812.80
Exposed 25,232 $15,893.67
2011 4,614 $2,264.62
2012 18,182 $8,818.28
2013 2,436 $4,810.77
Flee 36,635 $25,932.17
2011 28,358 $15,911.42
2012 8,276 $10,018.75
2013 1 $2.00
Floaters 17,495 $8,036.23
2009 609 $427.49
2010 2,990 $2,206.17
2011 4,634 $2,094.81
2012 6,116 $1,805.54
2013 3,146 $1,502.22
Fuzzy Navel 68,578 $38,680.14
2013 68,578 $38,680.14
Haunted House 53,794 $23,475.90
2013 53,794 $23,475.90
Hit 2,064 $3,913.76
2013 2,064 $3,913.76
Horror Stories 34,970 $37,903.13
2010 4,363 $6,882.19
2011 13,793 $17,887.50
2012 12,360 $10,417.10
2013 4,454 $2,716.34
How To Attract the Opposite Sex 839 $5.68
2013 839 $5.68
How To Get Rich 747 $12.40
2013 747 $12.40
How To Give Good Sex 1,983 $267.58
2013 1,983 $267.58
How To Stop Farting 3,308 $119.98
2012 5 $4.82
2013 3,303 $115.16
Jack Daniels Series - Dirty Martini  Fuzzy Navel, Cherry Bomb 6,717 $42,749.23
2013 6,717 $42,749.23
Jack Daniels Series - Whiskey Sour, Bloody Mary, Rusty Nail 3,020 $19,406.02
2013 3,020 $19,406.02
Jack Daniels Stories 25,644 $29,234.82
2010 3,117 $4,543.70
2011 10,057 $10,189.51
2012 9,482 $5,730.46
2013 2,988 $8,771.15
Jack Kilborn Trilogy 616 $3,755.45
2012 144 $758.20
2013 472 $2,997.25
Killers 24,906 $24,201.44
2011 12,072 $16,754.09
2012 5,887 $5,686.79
2013 6,947 $1,760.55
Killers Uncut 2,687 $3,092.13
2011 1,895 $1,510.18
2012 488 $983.65
2013 304 $598.29
Newbies Guide to Publishing 11,015 $6,985.29
2010 1,072 $1,708.00
2011 4,282 $3,495.98
2012 3,897 $1,456.75
2013 1,764 $324.56
Origin 121,596 $117,055.29
2009 3,884 $2,792.69
2010 12,433 $16,342.03
2011 54,107 $60,368.57
2012 22,109 $24,606.85
2013 29,063 $12,945.15
Planters Punch 18,863 $4,232.54
2009 590 $413.00
2010 1,467 $1,863.09
2011 4,325 $837.37
2012 3,275 $687.12
2013 9,206 $431.96
Rusty Nail 97,405 $58,198.85
2013 97,405 $58,198.85
Serial 95,361 $2,312.91
2010 9,460 $341.19
2011 56,946 $542.74
2012 27,859 $999.76
2013 1,096 $429.22
Serial Killers Uncut 27,233 $26,417.70
2011 7,780 $9,739.69
2012 17,468 $12,082.31
2013 1,985 $4,595.69
Serial Uncut 33,110 $48,630.51
2010 5,400 $8,365.09
2011 18,371 $27,406.29
2012 7,326 $8,988.12
2013 2,013 $3,871.01
Shapeshifters 8,555 $1,550.79
2011 5,113 $790.70
2012 3,042 $531.27
2013 400 $228.82
Shot of Tequila 113,331 $70,058.98
2009 1,322 $949.20
2010 7,209 $11,085.29
2011 37,739 $24,094.89
2012 17,949 $17,930.37
2013 49,112 $15,999.23
Street Music 7,359 $768.94
2011 2,386 $181.39
2012 2,360 $330.85
2013 2,613 $256.70
Suckers 25,857 $18,193.78
2009 1,347 $944.95
2010 2,996 $3,854.64
2011 7,665 $8,093.55
2012 5,370 $3,776.24
2013 8,479 $1,524.40
Symbios 11,034 $1,253.43
2011 4,318 $735.62
2012 2,436 $389.95
2013 4,280 $127.86
The List 332,786 $226,535.57
2009 7,129 $5,293.42
2010 16,212 $17,896.26
2011 134,538 $114,268.84
2012 57,960 $71,195.72
2013 116,947 $17,881.34
The Screaming 12,237 $2,254.48
2011 5,822 $1,368.34
2012 3,544 $691.76
2013 2,871 $194.38
Timecaster 27,604 $2,603.61
2012 105 $65.22
2013 27,499 $2,538.39
Trapped 177,366 $159,242.24
2010 12,035 $23,116.53
2011 92,468 $91,309.95
2012 14,462 $30,167.73
2013 58,401 $14,648.03
Trapped-German 7,715 $3,037.31
2012 4,632 $1,763.82
2013 3,083 $1,273.48
Truck Stop 42,633 $13,511.13
2009 2,093 $1,184.88
2010 7,760 $4,126.50
2011 19,018 $5,126.99
2012 7,479 $2,042.37
2013 6,283 $1,030.39
Truck Stop-German 10,701 $1,809.78
2011 1,887 $342.53
2012 5,167 $709.22
2013 3,647 $758.02
Whiskey Sour 191,427 $101,060.02
2013 191,427 $101,060.02
Wild Night is Calling 26,758 $6,031.83
2011 14,269 $3,928.39
2012 7,009 $1,507.46
2013 5,480 $595.97
With a Twist 29,936 $2,598.45
2011 4,545 $479.66
2012 4,853 $1,031.13
2013 20,538 $1,087.66
Grand Total 2,575,162 $1,591,362.71


M. Louisa Locke said...

Dear Tom,

Great post, and as someone else who decided to self-publish because of what I read in Joe's posts, and my feeling that at 60 I had already wasted too much time postponing my dream of being a writer to waste any more of my time with the traditional route.

And Joe, thanks for the numbers. It was that 2009 post that lit a fire under me. I particularly liked that you put in the free downloads and borrows, since I tend to separate them out when I am looking at my numbers, as if it wasn't important how many people actually have my books in hand--that it only counts if I made money on the sale.

I know that some people will fixate on the fact that your total net per sale is around 60 cents (as if trad pubbed authors don't end up getting much less per book in royalties!). My net is closer to 50 cents per book, but from my perspective, putting books in KDP Select and doing 99 cent discounts and free promotions are what has helped keep my books visible and the money coming in--I see it as the cost to doing business. And the bottom line--books in people hands and total income--is the proof that this strategy works--for big names like you, and more obscure ones like me.

I don't have 2 and 1/2 million in sales and 1 and 1/2 in income, but when I did the math I realized that is primarily because I have only had 2 books and 2 short stories out there (a third just published.) I did a quick look and if I divide my total income by 4, I actually am averaging a slightly higher income per work than you are (which made me giggle!) You are right--its not a competition--but it did reassure me that the strategy I was following was a sensible one.

I put that out to encourage people to take your advice seriously. Writing more, while doing the occasional promotion, over time can produce the income that will sustains us as writers (or make you rich if you are as prolific and have been in the business as long as Joe Konrath.)

So, thanks again for the numbers!

M. Louisa Locke

Mario Jannatpour said...

Thanks Tom and Joe---

Joe, I love your 10 point list. I have a day job and write when I have time. My first book is slowly getting traction, 5 books a day and I am very happy with that given the niche it is in.

I am getting close to publishing my second book, completely different genre. I wrote this book for myself but I am excited about its sales possibilities.

Both books I have used CreateSpace, gotten a professional designer to do the book covers and I paid for professional editing. My first book, "The Honest Real Estate Agent" has gotten a lot of good reviews. I'll keep you posted when my second book, "My Time, My Life" is published.

I really appreciate all you do in posting your thoughts based on your experiences. You made it to my Acknowledgements section in my new book.

I am truly grateful.


Anonymous said...

I'd like to see some traditionally-published authors be so brave as to show their numbers.

I think it would show that SOME people get good deals - but most get pretty lousy royalties and totals.

I love that the new world of publishing has people like you who show what's possible - without the gatekeeping. Otherwise it is all just talk.

You keep warning that luck is a big part of it - fair enough. But hitting a vein is still possible - witness such books as The Mill River Recluse - so you keep us searching for the new veins.

By definition, those books won't fit well with traditional publishing (which wants more of the same, only better and with sparkles); indie is the only way those books will have a chance.

I'm hoping the one I'm working on is in that category - because being prolific is not an option.


Veronica - Eloheim said...

Joe! Wow, thanks for the numbers post. It's really helpful to see that books make different amounts AND that those amount fluctuate over time a lot (in some cases).

WTF happened with Flee? Did you have to take it down?

I spotted two typos I figured you would want to know about.

Several people have emailed me, asking when I'll do another numbers update. Way back in the year 2009 I began posting my Kindle numbers, and that seemed to inspire lots or writers.

2. Write when you can, finish what you writer, edit what you finish, self-publish what you edit, and repeat. And make sure everything you release is as good as you can make it,

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

WTF happened with Flee? Did you have to take it down?

He mentioned that his Amazon published books are not included.

Veronica - Eloheim said...

Flee is on the list. It made $10k last year and $2 this year.

Something happened.

JA Konrath said...

WTF happened with Flee? Did you have to take it down?

And and I allowed Amazon to publish it, so it is no longer self-pubbed.

Ann Voss Peterson said...

We originally self published Flee, but late last year it went to Thomas and Mercer, who have published the other two full novels in the Chandler series (Spree and Three). The numbers Joe listed here are only for self-published books.

Anonymous said...

For fun, I'll share my numbers:

1st novel in a year: Free books: 2500+ - Paid: 300+ - $250+

2nd Novel in a year: Free Books: 3000+ - Paid: 450+ - $350+

3rd Novel in a year: Free Books: 150+ - 50+ - $40

Most of those sales were in the first 2 months after a free promotion. I have not platform and have never been published before.

They sunk quickly after I got trashed in reviews for having bad editing (it was true).

I have since taken everything down and am building my product back up with better editing.

Lee Goldberg said...

Out of curiosity, Joe, what's your thinking to account for the fantastic sales of your new, re-released backlist titles (the ones you got back this year from your publisher) and the decline of most of your others compared to how they did in 2012 & 2011? Do you think it's simply because the Jack Daniels backlist are "fresh" product (although they were available before, only at much higher prices) while the rest are aging titles?


Anonymous said...

Joe, congrats on the huge sales. My story is exactly the opposite. After several years of very hard work I got to a high of $142K in 2011, down to $80K in 2012, and will be lucky to get $28K in 2013. At this point I'm lucky to sell 5 or 10 books a day. The downward spiral has been difficult to take and I really don't have any idea why it happened; but it definitely has. I've tried every way I could think of to reverse the trend but nothing has worked. I've finally had to admit to myself that I had a go at it but now it's over.

To keep myself sane, at this point I've quit writing and have moved on to other interests. it still nags me though that I failed. Anyway, congrats to you and those like you who have found a way to make it work. You've been able to do something I couldn't and I have to respect you for that.

RJ Jagger

John Erwin said...

RJ Jagger -- You wrote books. You made a lot of money selling them. So what if your sales are now just a trickle? I wouldn't say you failed.

My numbers for one novel published last December via Createspace and Kindle are too minimal to take the time to research for details. I've given away about a thousand copies and have sold maybe 100. Sales average about one per month lately.

I'm not making a living selling my one book, but I consider it a huge success -- I wrote it, published it, and almost everyone who has read it has loved it (click my name to see its Amazon listing). Money would be nice, but it is not necessary.

Now I'm writing novel number two. Maybe when I have ten or more in the bag my income will climb.

JA Konrath said...

what's your thinking to account for the fantastic sales of your new, re-released backlist titles

I'd guess it's a combination of luck and time. The majority of my sales happen Dec-April, and the last three years have coincided with a promotional push on my part or Amazon's part (their KDP Select program) coupled with new Kindle buyers looking for books.

Also, 5 of my 8 new releases in the last two years have been Amazon pubbed books, not mine, so technically I haven't self-pubbed anything new except for Haunted House since 2011.

The JD books got lucky. I got the rights back and did a few Boobkbub promos and the series was able to sustain itself on the bestseller lists for months. They were new to most people because to the big price drop.

The point is to keep putting out new material, keep experimenting, keep reintroducing older work via sales and promotions, and keep your fingers crossed.

Unknown said...

I'm not doing numbers anywhere near yours,but I have done some worthwhile promos starting in June and have since accumulated more sales every month since. I'm now going full time for awhile. Tragedy has stuck me on the home front, but that hasn't stopped me. I'm now three books into a senior sleuth series and can see the brighter picture. Series sell well and I published a box set. Having a backlist helps. Even if you promo one book, it helps the other books in the series. Writes ask me how I did it and I must say what J.A. Konrath has always, said.... sometime you get lucky. Thanks Joe for your blog. It inspired me to take the leap. I have no regrets.

Alan Spade said...

Thanks for Tom and Joe.

Joe, I find it wonderful you give such a detailed account of your numbers.

What worry me, though, is that you seem to sacrifice more and more titles with time to move numbers. In this regard, The List 2013 numbers are striking.

(I'm not worried for you but for this kind of trend).

On another note, making trilogies of your work was a wonderful business decision.

I'm selling almost all my book and ebooks in the french market, so I distinguish paper sales from ebook sales. In 2009, I had found a small publisher for one short stories compilation, so I put also that number

Souffle (self-published) sold in 2010 : 398 (paper)
ebooks : 3

Total money with books and ebooks sold in : €6,673.54
Net income : €2,244.49

Les Explorateurs (with a publisher) : 67 sales, rights : €69

Paper books total in 2010 : 465
ebooks total in 2010 : 3

Souffle sold in 2011 : 643 (paper)
ebooks : 9

Eau Turquoise sold in 2011 : 162 (paper)
ebooks : 8

Les Explo sold in 2011 (the rights reverted in 2011) : 16 self published(+ 61 with the small publisher)

Les explo ebooks : 21
GPS : 29
Désastre : 9
Entre deux feux : 5
Marinopolis : 4
Confrontation : 3
La Chasse : 4
Source de Jouvence : 1

Paper books total in 2011 : 880

ebooks total in 2011 : 93

Total money with books and ebooks sold in 2011 : €13,304.50

Net income: €4353.40

2012, first year without a publisher:

Souffle sold in 2012 : 411 (paper)
ebooks : 296
Eau T sold in 2012 : 138 (paper)
ebooks : 189
Les Explo sold in 2012 : 157 (paper)
ebooks : 60
GPS : 16
Désastre : 45
Entre deux feux : 31
Marinopolis : 21
Confrontation : 17
La Chasse : 18
Source de Jouvence : 8

Paper books total : 706

ebooks total in 2012 : 711

Total money with books and ebooks sold in 2012 : €11,741
Net income : €7,445,75

ebooks sold with Amazon in 2012 : 465 (65,40 %)

ebooks with Apple in 2012 : 152 (21,37 %)

ebooks sold with Kobo in 2012 : 70 (9,84 %)

ebooks sold with Smashwords in 2012: 12 (1,68%)

ebooks sold with my website in 2012: 9 (1,26 %)

ebooks with Google Play in 2012 : 3 (0,42%)

I had less business expenses in 2012, which explains the net income.

Of course, I do have a day job to survive.

I expect my sales to be roughly divided by two for year 2013, paper and ebooks. I had to concentrate on writing in 2013 and to do less signing sessions.

On a side note, I've never used KDP Select.

On another side note, I'm thinking about the english market for my paper books and ebooks. What do you think about that, Joe ?

Alan Spade said...

Sorry, that was what I wanted you to read at the beginning of my post, for the year 2010:

Souffle (self-published) sold in 2010 : 398 (paper)
ebooks : 3

Les Explorateurs (with a publisher) : 67 sales, rights : €69

Paper books total in 2010 : 465
ebooks total in 2010 : 3

Total money with books and ebooks sold in : €6,673.54
Net income : €2,244.49

Robert Burton Robinson said...

Thanks so much for sharing your detailed numbers, Joe. Very enlightening
and helpful.

I had my best year in 2011. One of my books was on the main Kindle bestseller list for 29 days, which helped lift the sales of my other books. I got lucky. But it seems you need a lot more luck now than you used to. My sales are way down.

I finally realized that my books are just not getting sufficient word of mouth, and that I needed to write stronger books. But, hey, I've only written a half million words of fiction, so I've still got a ways to go before I reach my full potential. ;)

This may be the problem that a lot of newbies are facing. You always like to think you've written a great book---and maybe you have. But the chances are that your first few books are not going to be your best. You're still learning. So, if you give up after one book, or even after three or four books, you'll never know.

Once you do reach your full potential, you might write a blockbuster---a book that really gets to the reader, that makes her want to tell everybody she knows about it. That's when you start to pick up real fans. And true fans will go back and read your early stuff.

It's the same thing with music artists. If the Beatles had given up after "Love Me Do," I probably never would have become a fan. It was "I Want to Hold Your Hand," and "She Loves You," and "A Hard Day's Night" that turned me into a fan. I have all of their music. "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You" were good songs, and I enjoy them. But weren't breakout hit material.

So, what if your first few books are not breakout hit material? Does that mean they won't ever sell? No. If they're any good at all, new fans will want to go back and pick them up. But in order to get those fans, you've got to breakout---and you may never breakout unless you write that fifth book or that eighth book or that twelfth book. You have to keep going until you get there.

That's my two cents. Oh, and, I must give a link to my newest book, my ninth. It's the first novel of my John Provo Thriller Series: Deadly Commitment.

Sylynt Storme said...

Thanks for sharing Joe.

I thought I'd share what it's like on the other end of the spectrum.

Since June 2012 I've published 70 stories. About 80% are short stories and collections and the other 20% are novellas and novels.

In these past 15 months I've sold 1,733 books. I'm not really seeing any increase in sales for the past few months.

I've made about $2,200 in that time.

I'm not impressed to be honest, but as you said I think luck has something to do with it, and I just haven't gotten luck yet I guess. I've used 4 pen names, though I now mostly write under my real name.

Perhaps in another year or three :)

Bolded to highlight the numbers.

Unknown said...

It's great that selfpublishing has finally reached this stage of acceptance. We are Cathie and John Celestri writing together as "Cathie John". We authored and self published five crime fiction novels back in 1997 through 2003: the historical crime fiction novels "Little Mexico" and "In the Name of the Father", and the "Journals of Kate Cavanaugh Mysteries". This was definitely at a time before "Indie" publishing was cool. We bucked the odds back then...our trade paperback and hard cover editions were distributed through Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and Brodart. We won't go into the whys and hows we managed to make that happen (that's not the purpose of our comment); but we will say that we were reviewed by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, and the Chicago Tribune as selfpublished authors. "Little Mexico" was a finalist for the Barry Award in 2001 as Best Paperback Original.

However, financial difficulties caused by the way Ingram and the other distributors restacked the deck against small independent presses forced us to leave the publishing game. Now we are relaunching our novels as eBooks through Amazon KDP. Since we have literally started only three weeks ago, we are at ground zero after a ten year absence from our genre, essentially starting from scratch with no advertising budget. But what we DO have is credibilty as writers, since what we are offering is not untested material. We're anxious to see how long it takes for our books to grow a new audience. Our plans are to write new stories in our series as novellas, issuing them every two months.

Our starting total sales figures are:
8 Net Copies of "Little Mexico: An Original Sin City Novel":
1 Net Copies of "In the Name of the Father: An Original Sin City Novel":
0 Net Copies of "Original Sin City 20,000 Word Sampler"

John & Cathie Celestri
aka Cathie John

Patrice Fitzgerald said...

Thanks, Tom, for the guest post. Thanks, Joe, for the numbers. Your 10-point list was great.

I think it comes down to enjoying the writing. If you enjoy the writing and can keep bread on the table until (and if) your books make enough to help you do so, just... write. And if you write and publish and make only a pittance, you simply decide if writing brings you enjoyment anyway. It's not about the money simply because you don't have control over that. Deciding to stop is completely reasonable if the act of writing doesn't give you satisfaction in itself. However, if you stop, you'll never know if book number 3, 8, or 15 would have been the one that finally got you noticed.

I published my first novel, a political thriller, in the summer of 2011. I sold very few until December and the advent of Select and free days. Mostly because of the bravery of jumping in early, in the last week of December, I sold 1,500 copies, gave away 12,000+ and made $6,000+. If not for that week I would have made a few hundred dollars in 2011.

In 2012 I added three short episodes of a chick lit series, plus three short stories. I sold about another 3,000 ebooks total, gave away nearly 40,000 copies of the thriller, and made $12,000 for the year.

In April of 2013 I added four novellas -- a new series based in Hugh Howey's world of WOOL (so the fan base was there). Altogether I have sold more than 10,000 of those shorts (and not much of my other work). I've given away perhaps 1,200 copies of the thriller and 800 of the first of the Silo stories. I haven't used Select giveaways often; they don't gain you much these days. I have some months I make $1,500+ and some under $1,000. I'll have the fifth and final episode of that series out next month, and will put it into a single large (80K) novel as well. I anticipate making about $12-$15,000 for the 2013 year.

The writing is getting better and faster; also shorter. I like a goal of one novella (10-20K) a month, then putting them together into a big book. So you end up with 5 or 6 books to sell. The plan is to make the first book free forever, as a permanent invitation into a series.

I need to remind myself how much fun this is, and if (when) the bigger money comes, it's all gravy. My husband has a job that pays the rent... when he retires in about 4 years, I hope to be able to do that.

Meanwhile, I'm a writer!

VA Andrews said...

After three years of talking myself out of it, I finally started indie publishing with Joe's 1 hour ebook challenge. Since that challenge, I've sold exactly 7 copies of the three items I have up.

A small part of me is a discouraged, but it's not as bad as I'd feared. Instead, I've decided to celebrate every sale. And it feels so good every time I get to celebrate!

Russell Blake said...

Great numbers, Joe. Also highlights that this year's hit won't necessarily be last year's or next year's. And that if you have a series that takes off, ride that wild wind.

I hesitate to talk dollars because it sounds all braggy. Last year I sold about 104K books. This year I'll sell 250K or so. My blended ASP is $5. Some are closer to $6, some $4.50. Most can do the math. I couldn't be happier about self-pubbing, obviously.

I particularly agree about the work your ass off part. Sound counsel.

Alan Spade said...

Patrice said : "It's not about the money simply because you don't have control over that." I couldn't agree more. When I go in a signing session, I know I'll sell at least 10 books, because I very seldomly sell less. But when selling online, when you do not have your books in a bookstore as a permanent advertisement, when you don't have a wide fanbase, it seems totally random.

If it was only for money, I would have given up a long time ago. It's not so easy to say for me, because I was a jornalist who used to bring money with articles, but yes, there is a lot more than money with writing.

Daniel Kenney said...

Joe, thanks as always for posting your numbers. Very helpful. Got a question and I can't find the answer to it on your blog but how ultimately do you decide whether to publish a new book with Amazon publisher as opposed to self publishing via Amazon? Curious about the calculus you go through on that. Thanks, Dan

Scott said...

Thanks for the words of wisdom and the numbers. What makes an impression on me is the number of titles that Mr. Konrath has available.

I started publishing (4 short story pairs/trios) shortly after the 7 hour challenge, and in September I sold 19 units at $0.99 each. So far in October, none... (I really don't think anyone outside of my Facebook people know I'm out there...) But I do have the collection (the ten already published plus 4 more shorts) ready to go...maybe this weekend.

I make a good living at my day job (and I like it, most of the time), so I really don't care that much about the sales. I'm just happy to be putting stuff out there.

Thanks again, to Joe and to ALL the guest posts on here...

SJ Parkinson said...

Write because you love it.

If you do it for that reason, then the numbers are irrelevant. :)

Still, sales do help pay the cable bill. So, yes I AM a bit of a hypocrite, I suppose.


Paul Draker said...

@ John Erwin,

Something you're doing right now is working :)

On October 6, your book sales jumped from the one-a-month level where they'd been steady to something like 20-40 units a day, even with a nice price increase.


Anonymous said...

Excuse me if I am being obtuse, but do Joe's sales figures (which I or anyone would think is great), mean that the vast majority of sales were at .99c? Because even at "just" $2.99 per book one would make 70% of that per book right? (i.e. $2.09)

John Erwin said...

@Paul Draker

Thanks for noticing my sales bubble. I did a 99-cent paid promotion with that ran on 10-6. I made about 50 sales that day. This morning I moved the price back to its normal 3.99. Made one sale that was immediately refunded -- probably somebody that thought it was still at 99 cents and hit the "buy-with-one-click" button without thinking.

Alan Spade said...

Sorry to digress from the subject of this blog, but I've noticed Amazon does not so much price-match the ebooks you put for free on Kobo or Apple these days.

Instead, they keep the price as it was, but list sales as "free units-price-match", with no royalties.

Not very friendly to authors at the least, I would say. That makes me put in question the legality of Amazon's terms of use : you sell something and don't earn a dime.

I don't think I'm suffering of Amazon Derangement Syndrome, but the impossibility to put ebooks free without using KDP Select, preventing permafree ebooks, has been one of the main inconvenience of KDP. It's becoming awkward.

Anonymous said...

397 self-published authors have posted their sales numbers on the Kindleboards

Would be great if Joe Konrath and others also stop by and share their sale numbers there...

JA Konrath said...

Would be great if Joe Konrath and others also stop by and share their sale numbers there...

Your realize that authors post numbers on Kindleboards because I did it first, right? ;)

Anonymous said...

I think I'm dumb, but I don't know how to get my sales numbers broken down by year, they still give it to me monthly, or I'm doing it wrong.

Todd Travis.

Lacey Harper said...

I write taboo erotica...dirty, smutty, and very my numbers are probably above average.

Month/# of Units/USD


April/6/$13 - 1 Novella, Erotic Romance
May/48/$76 - 0 new releases
June/71/$90 - 5 short stories, Erotica
July/830/$1530 - 4 short stories, 2 collections
August/951/$1870 - 3 short stories
Sept/872/$1915 - 2 short stories, 2 collections
Oct/157/ ~$400 - 1 short story, 1 collection

Keep your head down and keep writing, the more books you have, the more chance you have to make money (if that's your goal). I love to write, but I also like the money. :)

Thanks again to Joe for being an inspiration!

Anonymous said...

399 authors now....

H.M. Ward 2.1 million ebooks sold
Bella Andrew 2 mil
Amanda Hocking 1.5 mil
Hugh Howey 1 mil
Liliana Hart 1 mil

I want to see Joe Konrath among that list since I believe Joe Konrath has surpassed the 1 million sold mark already.

Merrill Heath said...

H.M. Ward 2.1 million ebooks sold
Bella Andrew 2 mil
Amanda Hocking 1.5 mil
Hugh Howey 1 mil
Liliana Hart 1 mil

Most of us know about Amanda Hocking, Hugh Howey, and Bella Andrew. But I've never heard of H.M. Ward. According to her Amazon author page she's sold over 2 million ebooks in 2013. Holy crap!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing Tom and Joe.

Aimlesswriter said...

Great post!
But I need a lesson in marketing...

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for posting your numbers. Two main observations. 1) I cannot believe how prolific you are. I am going to now go scour your site for insight into how many hours a day you write and your writing process. 2) It is encouraging to see that many of your books started slow in 2009 and then trended up each year, and that there are year by year fluctuations but still steady growth. It is also interesting to note that there is variation in the total number of sales of your books. This does to me highlight that persistence, a good product and a variety of continually growing offerings is the way to go.

L. M. Ironside said...

What a great post! Very encouraging, and it's nice to see such an awesome community of helpful professionals forming around self-publishing.

I write historical fiction. I've had one title out for two years and another out since March of this year (didn't pay much attention to this self-pub thing until relatively recently.) I also have one literary novel out which doesn't sell too spectacularly, par for the course for that genre.

Since I began in 2011, I have sold 35,000 books, with the majority of those sales taking place this year, since Historical Novel #2 came out (no surprise there.) Having seen how fast sales and earnings can pile up, I have now made producing new books my biggest priority. I've got another coming out in a couple of weeks, and another in about three months, and a schedule to write at least four more in 2014.

I've earned about $30,000 since I started in 2011 -- again, most of that happening in 2013, when I actually started to take this seriously and put in more thought and effort.

Even better than the money to me, readers are really loving what I'm writing -- they're READING it! And loving it! And contacting me to tell me they love it, all the time! If I'd gone with a legacy publisher, I'd still be waiting for a book to appear in bookstores.

I am VERY excited to see where the next couple of years take me. I feel as confident and optimistic as I think its possibly to feel in this industry.

Shayne Parkinson said...

What a great post! Tom, congratulations on getting your work out there, and very best wishes for it.

Joe, thank you for sharing your numbers and experiences so freely - and thank you for the reminder that everyone's circumstances and journey is different.

My own experience:
- in 2009 I sold the grand total of 160 books.
- 2010 was around 3,500.
- Sales picked up in 2011, then tripled in 2012. 2013 is on track to be ahead of 2012.
I've now sold over 350,000. I have five books (I'm a very slow writer), one of which is perma-free, so that total is for four books. I write historical fiction set in New Zealand; more family saga than romance, and what I thought would be quite a small niche. I've been astonished (and delighted!) at the response of readers. Writing is now my full-time occupation, which is something I hardly dared dream of.

Mike said...

I don't know whether to be encouraged or depressed by those sales numbers. I thought I was doing well making ~50k/ year from my books - nothing compared to these numbers :(

I can always dream...

Jorja Tabu said...

Hello everyone, and thank you so much Joe for the endless stream of help...

My numbers from Amazon so far this year (doesn't include B&N, Kobo, AllRomance, but I haven't been on them long with the exception of B&N, which gave me very negligible numbers; no freebies; all books with the exception of one are 1.99 or less; all books are contemporary/erotic romance):

Jan: 65 sold, $58.50
Feb: 112 sold, $91.72
Mar: 104 sold, $107.53
Apr: 89 sold, $93.24
May: 83 sold, $84.23
Jun: 69 sold, $76.55
Jul: 76 sold, $73.12
Aug: 77 sold, $78.69
Sep: 95 sold... I'm bad at math, so no total for Sep yet.

Conclusions: Don't write novellas/short stories if you have a novel in you! That has been the biggest thing I've noticed, particularly in romance. Readers want immersion, and its hard to pull off with brevity. Also, I'm trying to make sure I write books worthy of the 2.99 price point, because I think that's the make or break. I didn't publish anything new until September and it shows in the numbers. I'm horrible at marketing, also.

So there's a bunch of what not to do, I guess ;)

All of which is probably mentioned elsewhere before as well.

Good luck everyone!

Sollog said...

Nice to see you putting up raw numbers as to your sales.

Reading your own comment on this post, in regards to 'bookbub', I see you are verifying the formula we've seen launch many 'indie' or 'unknown' authors on Amazon.

The formula seems to be, a catalog of well written novels in your genre on Amazon and then a major push by 'bookbub', where tens of thousands of books are given away, so you ride the wave of new fans from that give away.

Now if only 'bookbub' would allow controversial non-fiction titles in, I might sell in volume too on Amazon.


Henry Bugalho said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Henry Bugalho said...

I'm trying to educate myself about the US market, so I think I have a lot to learn with Joe's experience.

I'm a full-time writer thanks to a travel guide I self-published in Portuguese em 2007. I'm reaching the 10k books sold mark (both print and ebooks), most of them through direct sales on my blog.
I'm making a good income out of it, since the price is quite high for a digital book (in Brazil, this cheap Kindle prices haven't taken off yet), about 9 dollars each, and I receive 100% royalties. That means I'm making 18k a year with this book only.
I also sell other titles, that adds up in the end.

I've been selling some novels and short stories in Kindle BR (which started operating in december 2012), but the sales are almost negligible.
From jan to sep 2013, I've sold 221 books, and didn't profit much from them (foreigners have an additional 30% tax deduction on royalties).
However, the vast majority of Brazilians doesn't have Kindle, and doesn't buy ebooks. Actually, many of them have never bought (or read) a print book either.

Those are some of the reasons why I'll start reaching out for the american audience, with represents a much bigger chunk of the book market.
I expect to publish one of my novels next month, and hope to tell a whole different story by the end of 2014.

Wish you all plenty of success.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just discovered your blog via Amanda Hocking's blog. Is getting published (by a traditional publisher) just a matter of dumb luck? Harry Potter was rejected 14 times, Gone with the Wind was rejected 38 times, Carrie (by Stephen King) was rejected 30 times, my question is this -- how can publishers claim to have any expertise or authority on what makes a "good book" when they've demonstrated numerous times that they can't even recognize a good book that's right in front of their face?

Amanda Hocking was rejected by traditional publishers for years b/4 she finally turned to self publishing. She's since sold over 1 million copies -- a pretty impressive feat that most writers can only dream of. The girl clearly has talent, yet these so-called professional book people couldn't see it!