When I published my first collection of short fiction, I said I would add up the stats after 30 days. The highlights:
- The book cost me $0 to create. I did every bit of the work myself: writing, editing, page layout, cover design, and art. Ebooks and print-ready PDF, too. I also did the distribution, setting up for a variety of ebook sales, and print via Amazon. I chose methods that didn’t have any up front cost at all. The only thing I paid in advance was $10 a month for the online shopping cart.
- The fiction in the book was worth $462.21–based on a $0.05 per word minimum pro rate for the new writing, and the standard $0.01 minimum reprint rate.
- I published the book on June 28, and calculated income for the end of June/all of July; that’s about 33 days.
- I made a total of $195.31 over that time. I haven’t been paid for all of it yet, but that’s the calculated income.
Doing the math
The stories were six reprints I’d previously published, and two stories I hadn’t sold before, along with an intro and notes at the end.
How many words is the collection, and what’s the breakdown?
“Mrs. Henderson’s Cemetery Dance” (reprint, 4546)
“Letter From a Murderous Construct and His Robot Fish” (124*)
“Annabelle Tree” (reprint, 2385)
“A Cage, Her Arms” (1661)
“Call Center Blues” (reprint, 864)
“Mitch’s Girl” (reprint, 1106)
“All The Right Words” (reprint, 1478)
“Monsters, Monsters, Everywhere” (reprint, 3867)
“About the Mirror and its Pieces” (2300*)
About the Stories (1221)
Though the Intro and About sections aren’t fiction, and the items starred above appear on my website (though not published elsewhere, that’s often considered “published” by markets), for the purposes of this experiment, I’m treating them like “A Cage, Her Arms”–new, and not available anywhere else.
14,246 words at reprint rates (1 cent per word) equals $142.46
6,395 words and pro rates (5 cents per word) equals $319.75
That’s the low end of both scales but I’m an emerging writer, so that’s a reasonable expectation. If I’d sold all of those stories, even the extra bits, I’d have made $462.21, and as we figured above, my overheard is $0 (which usually would get added to your total goal). So, that’s my target profit. If you’re curious, it took about 12 hours to do all of the packaging work, plus another 2 of writing. $462.21/14=$38.52 an hour, if you want to look at it that way–which doesn’t take into account how long it took to write the fiction in the first place, but if you’ve already made money on it once, it’s not a bad bonus.
How much of the individual sales do I get to keep?
I set the prices, then did an ebook pricing experiment, which convinced me to lower them. The current price/profit breakdown is:
- Print via Amazon US = $1.44 (321 sales)
- Print via Amazon EUR = €1.14/$1.51 ( sales)
- Kindle ebook sales via Amazon = $0.70 (Would need sales) (was $2.06)
- Direct ebook sales
- epub = $2.99/1.99 (after price decrease)
- mobi = $2.99/1.99
- pdf = $1.99
- ebook bundle = various/$2.99
- signed paperback = $10
- book + ebook bundle = $15/$12.99
Note that Amazon takes a month or two months to pay after the end of the month the sale was made in, and they give less profits back to the author than direct sales, but they can generate their own sales because Amazon is one-stop-shopping for many things. Also, a lot of Kindle users would rather buy from Amazon than get a mobi file from you and import it, so it’s an important distribution channel. Just one that’s weighted toward Amazon making money, and not necessarily you.
Also, direct sales cost me a % of sales (Paypal fees).
How did I do in the first month?
- Print Amazon US – 1
- Print Amazon EUR – 1
Total print profits: $1.95 (unpaid)
- Kindle (70%) – 6
- Kindle (35%) – 10
Kindle profits: $19.36 (unpaid)
- Direct sales
- epub (2.99) – 8 = $23.92
- epub (1.99) – 3 = $5.97
- mobi (2.99) – 14 = $41.86
- mobi (1.99) – 0
- pdf – 0
- ebook bundle – 15 = $43.91
- print = $10
- print + ebook (15/12.99) – 5 = $66.96
Direct sales profits: $192.62 (paid) – Paypal fees = $184
Notes: I gave away about 40 copies, mostly to fans who’d supported me previously, which certainly cut into sales. I got some great reviews, including this one from SF Signal, which probably boosted sales. I also heard from people who said that even with the availability of the individual stories for free, they haven’t read them, but would buy a book to read them all at once.
$205.31 in sales – $10 shopping cart = 195.31 profit.
That means in the first month, I’ve made almost 1/2 of my target. Sales are higher in the beginning, so I don’t expect them to continue at this rate, but even so, I can expect to meet or exceed my goal by the end of the year. Once it earns out, everything else is extra.
Not bad for a tiny collection of previously published fiction that’s partially available for free online.
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