Exploring Authors’ Earnings

“Submitting a manuscript to a traditional publisher is like sending a letter to Santa Claus.”

This comment, made by my husband, hit the mark so close that I had to pass it along. It made me chuckle, and then sigh.

About eight years have passed since Amazon opened up Indie publishing through Createspace and Kindle. I remember asking, “What kind of name is that?” Thinking back, it burned the traditional publishing industry pretty hard.

How has everything changed? If you like hard data, here’s the link to data guy’s author earnings report, complete with pie charts and spreadsheets. It’s quite fascinating. Print books still sell the most in total dollars, stronger than other formats due to the inclusion of textbooks and children’s books.

Science fiction is fourth in dollar revenue for ebooks behind literature, thrillers & mysteries, and romance.

Data guy shows how many books customers are buying and what price points sells the most.

Also interesting for marketing was the seasonality question. Undoubtedly, print books are seasonal. They sell most in… surprise… August and September. (Textbooks) However, most interesting was that ebooks sold the same every month no matter what the season.

Hmmm… I wouldn’t have guessed that. I still sell better in summer, but then I do more marketing at that time.

There are spread sheets that show the top selling publishers by book units and revenue and name the best selling authors in ebook, print, and audio. In some cases, names are named, but not in all. Indies appear to be shy, and almost half asked to be blanked out.

For the complete report, go to:


All right. So maybe numbers bore you. How about cute monkey faces? Remember I mentioned a cloning factory in China in one of my blogs ages ago? Well, the Chinese have cloned a pair of non human primates called macaques, using the Dolly sheep method. For pictures of adorableness, follow this link: Then wonder if any humans are in their queue.

http://bit.ly/2FCpdK8  (right click. open in new window)

Because I was negligent on reading Angel City Blues by Jeff Edwards last year ( hey, this is a flexible list), I decided to start with that title this year.

Boy, was I glad.

This is an urban punk detective mystery that is a fun and thoughtful read. Detective David Stalin, down on his luck and living under a dome in the dangerously poor section of L. A., lives with a highly developed A.I. Saving his life, cooking his dinner, and guarding the slovenly flat, the A.I bickers constantly with David while attending to his needs. I loved their interaction. David gets a case from a wealthy woman to find her missing daughter. There’s no DNA, no motive for her missing, no record of what happened on any security camera, and a belligerent LAPD feels he is trespassing on their case, even though they are at a dead end.

His client, however, can pull strings and cover any expense. Tempted, David takes the case, which leads to virtual reality snuffs. Here is a dirty little area of criminal activity where our detective soon finds himself secured into a helmet and thrust into a world of death and danger from which he cannot escape. He is tormented, warned, and finally released. At least, the first time. Undaunted, David continues to follow the case, which leads to an orbiting space station and the organization behind the girl’s disappearance. An exciting conclusion pushes the technology boundary even further and will delight most any techno geek.

In this novel, Edwards explores the danger of high tech used for criminal activity. With our society on the verge of adopting virtual reality for more than Pokémon games, Edwards asks us to consider what genie we may be letting out of that bottle. Even greater is the risk of using nanotechnology. He offers a scenerio that will chill you and lead you to hope that cutting-edge scientists know what they are creating while making you mindful of the threat certain technologies might bring us.


Filed under artificial intelligence, Clones, Cutting Edge Science ideas, ebook marketing, Future of Publishing, genetic manipulation, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Publishing Trends, Science Fiction Detective Story, The future of publishing

4 responses to “Exploring Authors’ Earnings

  1. Just a comment about authors’ earnings: It’s not all about earnings. For me, it’s about readership. It’s also about investment. I used to self-publish, but not 100% DIY. It costs me somewhere between $500 and $1000 to produce a book (editing, formatting, and cover art are the basic ticket items)–that doesn’t cover PR and marketing, and the exact amount depends on whether I do a print version or not. People might say, “So what? That’s not much.” Sure, not for one book, but it adds up to quite an investment over 20 or more.
    I’m now trying indie publishers (small presses). The main reason is up-front costs. They pay them; I don’t. For my first small press book I ended up spending what I saved in up-front costs in PR and marketing, so maybe it’s a wash, but there are other advantages that shouldn’t be overlooked. I don’t know about other self-published authors, but around here it’s almost impossible to get a self-published book in a local bookstore, for example. There seems to be more respect for small press-produced books than self-published ones too. I sell so few books, that it’s nice to have those up-front costs paid by someone else.
    I guess I’m becoming a mongrel.
    Just some thoughts….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Steven: Your comments are very valid. Self-publishing isn’t cheap. You have to spend on cover art, editing, marketing, and other expenses–not to mention time in learning it all and researching your path. To achieve a quality look is expensive. To enhance discoverability is expensive. However, you have control over the costs and what it looks like and how much you market.

      Small publishers are finding a real niche because of this and the balancing act becomes what they have to charge in upfront costs to the author or what percentage of royalty they are willing to negotiate in order to make a living contrasted against what an author can afford. Unfortunately, some real predators are out there and can escalate the costs for little return so authors have to be wary.

      Good luck with your books. I have ten now, so you comment on the cost of one may be sustainable, whereas the cost of more can get expensive is spot on.


      • I’m always running in the red because I invest royalties to produce the next book. That’s true for the one published by the small press and will be true for the next one too. I also go back and promote the rest of my oeuvre. It’s not a zero-sum game yet, but I’m having a lot of fun with my storytelling.


  2. That’s the endgame. Enriching your life. I try to save ahead in finances for cover expenses and marketing. I didn’t advertise or spend on marketing last month so that I would have what I needed for the next cover and marketing costs. It really impacted sales. So, it’s a balancing trick also. Meanwhile, my life is much richer for the stories and the experience of managing a business. Thank you for your comments. Let me know if you discover the secret to making it all work.


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