After reading about how you could be on the NYT bestseller list and almost qualify for food stamps with Big Publishing, let’s move over to indie world.
As those who have read The Passive Voice for awhile (the first post was less than three months ago, so it hasn’t been that long) know, Joe Konrath is the Vladimir Lenin of the self-publishing world – developing the economic theories and political philosophies of indie writing. A lot of what passes for standard self-pubbing strategy in this very new world began with something Joe wrote.
It’s worth your while to go to Joe’s blog and read through his business-related posts chronologically, beginning in January, 2011, and moving forward. You’ll see the evolution of his thinking and understand how we got to where we are today.
Just so we’re clear – in six months, we’ll be in a world much different than the one we’re in today.
As a useful comparison to the previous Dollar Day posts about authors working with traditional publishers, here are some excerpts from one of Joe’s posts in late January, 2011, comparing his life in traditional publishing with indie world:
Last January, I made $2,295 on Kindle, and I was amazed I could actually pay my mortgage on books NY rejected.
“Amazed” is no longer strong enough a word.
In just 12 months, I’ve seen a 2000% increase in income. And ebooks are still only 11% of the book market.
What happens when they’re 15%? 30%? 75%?
And yet, I still see some writers clinging to the notion that getting a book contract with a Big 6 publisher is the way to go.
. . . .
For Bloody Mary, my second novel, they sent me to the West Coast. I had ten official signings. But I quickly realized what a giant waste of money tours were. Why do signings at only two bookstores in L.A. when there were 30 stores in town? Why fly from city to city, and pass up all those bookstores between cities?
So, on my own, between official signings, I dropped in 95 additional stores and signed stock.
It was eleven days of busting my ass. No sleep, constant travel, constantly being “on.” But I felt it needed to be done.
The next year, for Rusty Nail, I was on the road for 55 days, and signed at over 500 bookstores. I blogged about it, day by day, but here are the final stats for that tour:
Miles driven: 11457
Books signed: 4066
Books hand sold: 214
Booksellers met: 952
Bookstores visited: 504
It remains the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I was so exhausted after that tour–physically, mentally, emotionally–that it took me weeks to get back to normal.
If we assume that every book I signed on that tour wound up selling (which is a big assumption,) it means for every hour I spent on the road, I sold three books.
It was the very limit of what I was capable of doing, and the best I could do was a book sale every twenty minutes.
. . . .
[After self-publishing ebooks on Amazon] In January, I haven’t done a single bit of promotion. No touring. No signing. No interviews. I’ve basically sat on my ass this month.
And I’ve earned, on average, a dollar a minute.
In 2006, it took me almost 8 weeks to sell 4000 books.
In 2011, it took me five and a half days to sell that many. And I didn’t have to drive across twenty-nine states to do it.
. . . .
I just checked my last royalty statement. Rusty Nail, that book I worked so hard to promote, has thusfar earned me $42,000. This includes all of my hardcovers, paperbacks, ebooks, and foreign editions, combined.
With self-publishing, in a single month, I was able to earn the same amount of money it took me four and a half years to earn through traditional publishing.
. . . .
Last year, I released Trapped on my own, on Kindle.
In the last 68 days, Trapped has earned me over $20,000. It’s currently selling over 160 copies a day.
Because this is my career, I measure my success with how much money I’m able to make. But money is only part of the equation. The amount of time invested in order to earn that money is just as important.
I’m pretty sure I’m the only author who has ever visited 100 blogs in a month, or 500 bookstores on tour, or sent 7000 letters to libraries and bookstores (each with a signed drink coaster.)
These things took a considerable amount of time to do. Time I could have spent writing more books.
. . . .
I used to spend about 80% of my professional time self-promoting.
. . . .
I’m a writer. So I’m devoting my time to writing, and quitting all of that other stuff.
Self-publishing ebooks hasn’t just made me money. It has also given me my life back.
In a more recent post from just a few days ago, Joe updates his self-published numbers:
Two hundred and seventy-six thousand, one hundred and eleven.
That’s how many self-pubbed books I’ve sold.
About 245k of these on Kindle.
20k on Smashwords,
5k on Createspace,
The rest divvied up among Nook, OverDrive, and my website.
. . . .
So far, in April, I’ve sold over 30,000 books. I’ll easily break 35,000 this month.
So, by Christmas, I’ll have hit half a million books sold.
Of course, that’s a conservative estimate. I’m releasing four more ebooks this month, have several more scheduled for the year, and I expect ereaders to keep selling as their prices keep going down. The market isn’t close to being saturated.
I don’t think I’ve really hit my stride yet.
In March, I earned over $68,000. But I know that number can go up. Other authors have earned more. A lot more.
Link to the rest at Joe Konrath #1 and Joe Konrath #2