30 July, 2015

Sales Figures, Royalties and Expectations

Expectation vs. Reality?
Last week I received my latest sales report for The Art of Letting Go from my publishers, Thistle Publishing. Sales figures and royalties are given several months after the fact, and so these were the figures from February to April this year. I was pretty excited about receiving this report as I knew it would include the figures from when my novel was on promotion on Amazon and was in the Bestseller lists on Kindle.

Until I receive the reports my only way of estimating the number of books I've sold is by using NovelRank - an independent website that uses Amazon ranking information to estimate the number of sales for any book you care to track. What I hadn't realised was that NovelRank is mostly accurate when you are selling a small number of books a week/month. At higher levels, the data can be pretty far off. So, where I thought I'd sold a few thousand books - and was darned happy with that - it turns out I actually sold closer to the 10 000 mark worldwide. I probably don't need to tell you that I'm even more happy with that! I can't believe nearly 10 000 people have paid money to read something I wrote. Not only that but I also received two more reviews - both 5* - which takes me up to 62 reviews of 5* out of 102 in total. A good day!

When I mentioned on Facebook that I had sold over 9000 copies of my book, I was interested to see one of the first comments was about how much money I must've made. I've found that people are uncommonly interested in  how much money writers make. I would never dream of asking a nurse, or plumber, or accountant... or anyone, really... how much they make from their job, yet people often ask me outright about my income from writing (this particular person didn't ask, to be fair - he was just being encouraging!). Maybe the myth of the rich writer is why one recent survey found 'author' to be the most desirable profession?

I remember one of the first blog posts I read from the successful author Martyn Beardsley made me laugh because he was describing how he'd blown his latest royalty cheque on a chocolate bar and a newspaper. This particular set of figures might afford me a little more than that, but I'm certainly more towards the confectionary end of the market than the private jet end. I suspect over 99% of authors receiving sales reports this week worldwide will be in the same boat. Most of us will probably never reach the threshold even into having to pay tax just from book royalties. I wonder what other expectations people have of writers that would take a hard knock from reality?

7 comments:

  1. Chloe, I cheered from my side of the screen when I read your post. Not only in congratulations at your success so far but also because I found it so refreshing to see this topic discussed.

    I've encountered some strange attitudes from people when they find out I'm a writer. Responses have included: a) It must be nice to sit around and just make up stories. b) How much do you earn from your books then? c) Do you do it full time or aren't you good enough at it (in which case it's some sort of hobby)?

    As you say, other professions do not attract the same attention over the financial rewards (or not!). Sometimes you can't win. Declare a payment of £200 for a short story (just the once) and some think it's easy money. Declare a small royalty for a book and some take that as proof that you're not a 'real' writer.

    Here's to the next cheque!

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    1. Thanks Derek! I expect you'll be seeing something similar, if not even more impressive, soon-ish!

      I've often wondered how much you have to earn before people believe being a writer is your "real" job. Until this year I've only ever really won money, rather than earned royalties.

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  2. Martyn here - I'm sorry you thought fit to draw attention to a fellow author's tragic, impoverished plight and you'll be hearing from my lawyers in the morning. Plus, you were reviving ancient history - your blog follower might be interested to know that my last royalty cheque stretched to a newspaper and TWO chocolate bars. (But in the intervening time the manufacturers have made the bars smaller, so I actually only got the same amount of chocolate. They'll be hearing from my lawyers after they've dealt with you.)

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    1. Ah, and I'd hoped to pacify you by calling you a successful author. You've seen right through me.

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  3. That's fantastic news, Chloe - what an achievement! It sounds like the Amazon promotion was extremely successful in raising awareness of your book, and the reviews show how well-received it's been. Great stuff, very well done.

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    1. Thanks, Dan. I hope your novel is coming along nicely.

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  4. Well, it sounds like you can buy a couple chocolate bars, huh? :) That's awesome. I've heard other author friends talk about the same thing, authors getting wealthy. But very few authors I know can live off just writing.

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