Friday, June 17, 2011

E-books can cannibalize the sales of p-books, but you can still make more money

Novelist and e-book evangelist Joe Konrath has been unusually frank about revealing his publishing sales and income. Today I'm going to do the same thing. It's not for ego (I'm not getting rich). It's for education and encouragement of other writers.
J.K Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, has stated that there will be no e-versions of her books. She can afford to be a prima donna and turn away potential income. I'm not and I can't.

I was initially reluctant to offer e-books because I think they look much worse than p-books. However, I realized that fighting e-books was as self-defeating as pissing into the wind, so I gave in.

I used to handle the conversion of my Stories I'd Tell My Children (but maybe not until they're adults) book, and I've been quite pleased with the company's quality, speed, service and price.

The book has gotten excellent reviews, but I never expected it to be a great seller. It's a mostly humorous memoir initially written for my friends and family. I later revised it to try to reach a bigger audience. I'm not Tina Fey, Sarah Silverman or Artie Lange, so fame won't sell it. And, unlike my nonfiction books which are sold to people who search for relevant topics, this book depends on social media and viral marketing.
  • In April, I sold a grand total of five copies of the paperback, and earned a grand total of $38.75. The cover price is $15.95.
  • In May, sales of the paperback dropped to ONE pathetic copy, which earned me a pathetic $7.75.
  • HOWEVER, yesterday I got the report on my e-books sales for May. I earned $394.56 on 135 books selling for $4.99 each. Some days I sold just one or two books. Other days I sold as many as a dozen.
Books were sold by sellers worldwide. Here's the big surprise: The vast majority were sold by Apple's iBookstore, not by B&N sold just a few.

If any of you writers, especially self-publishing writers, have been reluctant to take the plunge into e-books, plunge. As Jim Morrison wrote, "The time to hesitate is through." Or, if you're more likely to be motivated by a Bob Dylan lyric, "the times they are a-changin’."



  1. Very impressive numbers. Dylan was right.

  2. Wow Michael-- I got the comment on my blog, and your numbers are impressive. Mine are similar, and they continue to grow every month. This month, I'll make exactly $975 from my Kindle editions. Last year, I was averaging only about $150 per month, and in 2009, it was a meager $20. I think you'll notice a similar trend with your books. I converted even some books that I thought were duds as POD editions, and they are dong well as ebooks-- They will continue to increase in sales. That's just the way the market is going.

    Times are changing, that's for sure.

    As for JK Rowling, she's wrong. The Potter series is the most pirated series on the web. You can find ebook versions of all her books easily. That's her fault. If she actually catered to the needs of her readers, she would probably make more money.

  3. Morrison is soooooo sexy. Even dead, he still lights my fire.

    (So do you, of course.)

  4. I'm noticing a similar trend with my e-books. However, since my books are non-fiction, I suspect that some readers are buying the Kindle edition first to see if it's worth buying the paperback. I've noticed slight spikes in my p-books' sales ranks after several e-books were reported.