Real Earning Figures for ebooks - Andrew Crofts

One of the most annoying things when you are setting out on the self-publishing path is trying to find out exactly what other authors are earning in order to prepare your expectations. Authors are traditionally evasive about their earnings, either out of modesty or embarrassment, so it is almost impossible for a newcomer to get a true idea of what rewards are likely to lie in store.

So, in the hope of encouraging others towards greater transparency, I thought I would share some actual figures for my novella, “Secrets of the Italian Gardener”, which went up on Amazon about six months ago as part of their “White Glove Service”, in conjunction with United Agents, one of the biggest and most successful literary agencies in London.

After a month or so the money started to dribble in at about £50 a month, but much of that was from purchases which I had made of POD copies that I could hand out for promotional purposes.

The reviews started to build up on various blogs, writers’ websites and a variety of news sites. On Amazon UK there are currently twenty six and three on Amazon in the US and Europe. That meant that anyone coming across the book could feel pretty confident that they would not be wasting their money, but the problem still remained of how to alert people to the book’s existence in the first place – (the all-encompassing problem of “discoverability” which dogs ninety nine per cent of books ever published).

Once they could see the reviews building, Amazon included the book in a promotion which instantly raised it from around 150,000 on Kindle’s charts to being in the top thousand and number one in their “political books” category. Most of the sales were in the UK, but some also came from the US and Germany, (even though it has not yet been translated).

So, the actual money coming from Amazon in February was just over £850, from which United Agents deducted their well-earned fifteen percent. Since the costs of the cover design and the initial purchase of copies had been covered with the earnings from the previous few months, this was now clear profit. So far in March there hasn’t been another cheque, but if the book was a plant I would say it is firmly bedded in and starting to spread its roots. It should now be able to thrive once the sun warms the ground and blossom with time and continued tender care. Sometimes, of course, spring can seem agonizingly slow in coming.


Dennis Hamley said…
A very interesting post, Andrew. So far no book of mine has come anywhere near taking root like yours, though I live in hope still. But I'm not a bit surprised about pre-translation sales in Germany. Year ago, Arena Verlag published translations of the first three of my Joslin de Lay mysteries but didn't do 4, 5 and 6, I was besieged by emails from Germany asking when they would be coming out and I answered that I had no idea but don't bank on it ever happening. However, I had a cupboard full of UK editions bought in at authors' rate and sold pretty well the lot. The standard of English in these emails told me that they could well cope with them and I wondered why anyone even bothered to translate English books into German.
Mari Biella said…
An interesting post, Andrew. Your spring may seem agonizingly slow in coming, but it's certainly a lot closer than mine! Well done on these figures - they look very impressive to me.
That's very interesting... I've been wondering if White Glove books get any kind of extra promotion at amazon. Thanks for sharing. Your figures sound really good for a single book, and I hope the successful run continues for you!
I am also marketing through Amazon but without an agency and sales are slow. I sell far more myself in person at fairs etc. It looks as though yours is the way to go. I will investigate, thanks.

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