Saturday, July 26, 2008

Unsolicited advice: Number crunching -- Jules

I've just finished putting this month's royalty statement numbers into my spreadsheet. As predicted after last month's figures, another book has gone over 1500 copies sold. I've received almost exactly $4000 in royalties on that title since it was released in April last year. The bulk of the sales came from the publisher's own website, but the book was also released through Fictionwise and All Romance Ebooks some months after its initial release, and both sites have shifted some units.

This is why I have a day job.

On the other hand, that's rather more than the price of a round of beers. It's a lot less money than I'd get if I'd been steadily selling books to Tor over the last four years, but it's a lot more money than I'd get at some publishers. Even if you're writing in a genre that New York won't touch, do your homework before submitting to a publisher. Money isn't the only factor, of course, or I'd be putting more effort into writing something that I could sensibly submit to Tor (who I'm using as an example because I *would* like to submit something to them). But it's a really good idea to submit first to a publisher that has a sane contract and has a reasonable chance of both staying in business and making you more than beer money. There are no guarantees in this business, but there are elementary precautions you can take to reduce your risk of getting burned.


veinglory said...

I think that's what it comes down to, basically. Know what you are getting into and choose the best press you can to meet your goals.

Anonymous said...

Actually, some authors would KILL for that money, even though a part of you thinks it's not enough. One good thing to remember is this, the majority of authors in the world today spend months and months (maybe years) working on a manuscript, then months and months (maybe years) finding an agent, then months and months (maybe years) waiting for the agent to actually get a deal for them, then...yes, waiting years (not months) for the publisher to put out the book. Then after all that time, the book finally arrives in the stores, and like the majority of new releases, it gets pulled from the shelves after only a few weeks due to lack of sales, with no paperback deal, and what have you gotten other than a whole lot of waiting time but a small advance, if that? So look on the bright have an e-pub (hopefully a good, honest one) that is supplying you with royalties more than a year after the book went on sale, while the majority of NY authors would have had their book pulled from store shelves a long time ago and have no paychecks arriving in the mailbox each quarter.

I have a friend who is shopping the same book she wrote nearly TEN years ago. It's pretty darned good, too, mind you, but she can NOT get a NY publisher. Her agent(s) have tried for years, but no nibbles. My friend, however, refuses to even consider that "lowly world of e-publishing," yet had she tried it, she could have probably had her book e-published years ago and had been making at least some royalties all this time. So which is better...$4000 in royalties vs. $0.00? truly is a matter of perspective when you really think about it.

Jules Jones said...

Oh, I'm very pleased with my $4k, (although I'm not so pleased with what it looks like in sterling at the current exchange rate). That is good money for a small press book, and I will laugh at anyone who suggests that I'm not really published because it's only an ebook.

But epublishers are not all created equal, and while I'm all for people going to an epublisher if it's the most appropriate market for their manuscript, I am also all for them realising that some epublishers can net them decent money, and others... can't.

If I post some hard numbers, it might encourage other authors to take a hard look at what *they're* getting, both in audience size and in cash. Now, those are the numbers for my most successful book, and I've also had one at the other end of the scale that well and truly tanked, but it does show what is achievable at an epublisher which has a decent audience. Anyone out there who's had several titles published, none of which have sold over 100 copies, might want to think about that.

Angelia Sparrow said...

I posted my half-year sales figures at my LJ as well as sending them to Emily.

I'm not displeased with having made over $1000 this year (since that's all I made last year) but part of me says I'm wasting my time.

Anne D said...

I can only agree with Jules. It's all about your publisher.

My first 6 months of ePublishing I earned nearly $2000. Last year I earned roughly $5.5k and this year I hope to crack $6.5, maybe even $7 (if I get my finger working PRONTO).

Enough to quit my day job? Hell no. But as Jules said $5.5k last year versus $0 and a whole lot of frustration... why not take the money?

Katrina Strauss said...

I recently calculated what I'd made so far this year with my current series. If I write for 30 hours a week, I'm earning about $4 an hour. Yes that's a bit below minimum wage here in the States, but not bad, either, particularly compared to how pathetically little I made last year with three times as many titles at three different publishers! So yes, choosing the right publisher proved a big step in the right direction.

No, my family couldn't subsist on $4 an hour alone, which is why we rely on my spouse with the real job and the benefits. ;) But if I was currently working part-time at minimum wage, after I paid for my commute, work clothes, babysitter, etc, I'd be bringing in about what I am now with the writing, a career choice that allows me to be at home with my kids. My current goal - at least $10 at 40 hours a week. Once I reach that, I'll aim higher.

Sooo.... don't think I'll get that jacuzzi installed anytime soon, but I've recently covered extra expenses like glasses for two kids, a weed specialist when our landlord failed to bring in the landscaper, a new desk for my workspace, and other oddball stuff that my spouse did not have to worry about or take out of the general household budget. It's a start, anyway, and the only way is up!

K. Z. Snow said...

A publisher that has a "sane" contract AND can earn you more than beer money?

No such creature exists!

Jules Jones said...

As such things go, the contract I signed for the book that's paid me $4k so far is reasonably sane -- and yes, I did get an agent's opinion on that. :-) (She had suggestions on things to ask for in the hope they'd be given, but didn't see anything too horrible in the boilerplate.)