Happy author birthday to me!
That’s right folks, last week (the 16th) marked my one-year anniversary as an author (by which I mean, 1 year of selling books to people for real money). In honor of that, I’ve decided to throw open my publishing/sales numbers for all the world to see. Generally, authors don’t do this … book sale numbers and income are often closely guarded secrets like the location of covetous pirate gold. This is mostly because if you have bad sales numbers (which can be very subjective numbers) it can prevent an author from selling future books to a traditional publisher. And, let’s not forget the fact that most people just aren’t comfortable airing out their finances online.
But I’ve decided to put my numbers out into the world anyway, because I want other authors (especially ones who might be considering self-publishing) to know what my experience has been. Now I want everyone to know my experience is probably not typical of what to expect and your mileage may vary greatly. There are plenty of new authors that make much more than I do (sometimes dramatically so), but there are also lots and lots of others who make dramatically less. Still, I think my experience is both encouraging and worth sharing.
A couple of notes before you jump into my spread sheet below. First, the spreadsheet doesn’t account for sales or money from physical print books or audiobooks. Physical book sales aren’t a huge revenue stream for me—maybe a hundred or two hundred a month. Audiobooks add quite a bit more (though I’ve only been selling them for three months), usually between $700 and $1,000 a month, and like I said, those figures are not included.
Second, KDP Select. A huge portion of my income comes from being enrolled in Kindle Select’s lending library (which means my books are exclusive to Amazon). The income from KDP is included, but I haven’t listed the specific book sales figures from KDP (because I get paid by the page, not per book). Generally, though, I lend as many books as I sell each month and I do get paid for those lends (though not quite as much as for a regular sale).
Third, a couple of notes about the spreadsheet itself. You’ll notice three yellow-highlighted boxes under Siren Song; those are not technically “sales”, since those books were given away for free. Also, when you see a “0” in a sales column, that simply means the book wasn’t published yet.
Lastly, my listed “income” is … well, deceptive. For one, that’s gross not net, which means a huge chunk of that money goes toward taxes (which, reminds me, don’t forget about taxes). For another, this doesn’t account for book production overhead. Each book costs around $1,300 to make (editing, cover art, marketing and promotion) while audiobooks run around $1,000 apiece. Still, this should give all you curious authors an idea of how 2015 has treated me. If you have specific questions or need clarification, just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.