I’m just some guy who wrote a book and decided to publish it on the internet.
I often have family and friends ask me how many books I’ve sold, or how much money I’ve made. When I give them the numbers, I can see the look of disappointment on their faces or hear it in their voice (HI MOM!) as if they expected me to give them Stephen King or Fifty Shades of Grey like numbers. FUN FACT: One in five books sold in 2012 was a part of the Fifty Shades Trilogy. What these loved ones seem to forget is that I’m just some guy who wrote a book and decided to publish it on the internet.
But they shouldn’t feel too bad. Sometimes I have a hard time remembering this myself. I see other self-published writers report their successes and read the sales reports at the end of the month and I often think to myself: Man, how come I’m not selling that many books? Most of the time the answer is simple. I’m writing in the wrong genre. Many of the indie authors reporting massive sales write romance and erotica. Plain and simple. There is a giant market for those books. Their authors can’t seem to pump out new material fast enough. Paranormal romance is another big category.
Don’t believe me? Check out this book.
It’s about a freaking shape-shifting hedgehog. In love. And it’s in the Top 5,000 books on Amazon, which means it’s probably selling somewhere around 300+ copies a month. A book about a shape-shifting biker hedgehog hooking up with a bartender, not much longer than I, Minion, making its author over $500 a month. I’m in the wrong genre, see?
Only, I’m not. I love science-fiction and fantasy. I’ve grown up reading stories about elves and magical swords and dark wizards and spaceships and scary aliens ever since I was a kid. So it’s only natural that I’d want to start my own career in those same genres. Granted, I, Minion isn’t a typical fantasy story — but that’s okay. It’s my fantasy story, and I love it. And chances are, if you’re reading this long-winded blog post about I’m not even sure what anymore, then you loved it too.
That, my friends, is what it’s all about. Being a writer isn’t about the number of sales. It’s about making things up in your head and sharing them with others. Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy getting paid as much as the next guy, and I hope that one day I’ll be able to write full-time. Getting paid to make up stories? How cool is that! But that’s not why I do it. I do it because I enjoy it. Because I love finding out what happens to my characters just as much as you do. And because it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than half a dozen other hobbies I’ve had over the years.
Now, onto the stats! I published I, Minion on April 24th this year (Happy Birthday, Liam!). In just four days, these were our numbers:
- 64 US Kindle sales
- 7 iBook sales
- 2 Nook sales
Note that these were all ebook sales, as that’s all I had available at the time. 73 sales, in 4 days!! To be honest, that’s about 70 more sales than I expected — and it’s all thanks to you. The way it works is, at the $0.99 price point, Amazon offers 35% royalty, B&N 40%, and iTunes 70%. As you can imagine, it didn’t add up to very much money for me. And that’s okay! I didn’t go into this expecting to become rich right away. In fact, I don’t expect to become rich at all.
- 36 US Kindle Sales
- 38 US Paperback Sales
- 1 UK Kindle Sale
- 2 iBook Sales
- 3 Nook Sales
Thus far, a little over a month into this writing gig, and I’ve made about $50. Hey! That’s $50 that I made with my brain. $50 not from working, per say, but from doing something that I enjoy. So you see, I’m not exactly rolling in the dough. Especially when you take this into account:
- Editing Cost for I, Minion: $90
- Cover Design: $60
- CreateSpace (Paperback) Proof: $13.50
- CreateSpace order of 25 Books for Giveaway/Sale: $73.40
- Mailing Costs for Giveaways/Reviews: $23
- TOTAL EXPENSES: $259.90 TOTAL PROFIT: -$209.90
Throw in the $35 I’ve spent on a bit of marketing (joining a Kindle Fire Giveaway and getting featured in a daily Kindle Books and Tips e-mail on June 30th) and you can see that I’m REALLY not swimming in the dough. Far from it. But again, that’s okay. You see, even though the writer in me doesn’t care whether or not I get paid, the publisher in me does. It’s his job to make sure that I promote my work. That I find readers to read it. And, most importantly, that I sell it. He knows that as with any good business, you have to invest money to make money. So that’s what I’m doing. Investing $$ to put forth the best product that I can.
Hopefully, somewhere down the line, we’ll go in the black and actually start making money off this thing. In the meantime, the writer in me is going to keep writing books. Because it’s fun and he enjoys it. And if you decide to buy them and read them, the publisher in me will not only thank you, but jump up and down with joy and dance a little jig. Hmmmm, I see a youtube video in my future.
Got something to add to this convo? By all means, leave a comment. Happy Sunday! Is anyone else drinking yet? It’s not too early, is it? *peers over his shoulder*