May 15th, 2010 by Sasha White
Show me the money.

Last year, Lynn Viehl shared a couple of her royalty statements with us, and we all love her for it. No matter how much writers say they like to share, sharing hard core sales numbers is not a common thing. I completely get why too. Not everyone wants to share, and not everyone wants to know. I however, like to know, and I’m okay with sharing too.

How much an author can make with electronic publishing has long been a subject of debate, and a while back I said I’d share my first royalty numbers from a new eBook release when I got it. So I’m going to.

ONE WEEKEND is a short story by me that released on April 6th from Samhain Publishing. It stayed in their Top Ten best seller list until April 27. Three weeks. Thats sounds pretty good right? I was pleased. I mean, I’ve only had one new release in the last year, and not had an ebook release in the last 3 years. My last two eBook releases weren’t even really all mine, as they were short story collections I put together with other authors. Before that GYPSY HEART was my last eBook release and that was in early 2006. So, basically I wrote ONE WEEKEND to remind readers I was still alive and writing, and give them something to hold them over until I could get another novel written. I figured I’d put some promotion behind it, and be happy if I made any money on it.

So, I placed an ad in the June Issue of Romantic TImes Magazine, because I knew it was the issue they’d be handing out for free all over the place at the RT conference in April. ($440.00) I ordered some collector cards (like bookmarks) and had them stuffed inside some water bottles with my name and website on them to be put into good bags that went out at the same conference. (Design fee, printing and bottles = $181.43 And I paid to have an email blast sent out by Access Romance a community for romance and erotic friendly readers. ($150)

Promotion total of $771.43.

Normally I wouldn’t do that promotion for an eBook, but like I said, the reason for this book was mostly to get something new out there and remind readers that I’m still alive while I work on my next novel.

I was optimistic after seeing the title stay in the top ten sales for three weeks, but alas, my first royalty statement didn’t even cover my costs -yet. ONE WEEKEND had 433 downloads in those three weeks. Since it’s a short story the sale price was $2.50. There was no advance to be earned out so that story made me $433 in three weeks. Not bad at all.

Now, to get the full picture you have to pay attention to some of the smaller details.

1) The only promotion I did for those three weeks that cost me any money was was the email blast from Access Romance that cost me $150. Other promotion efforts were my own newsletter going out, which cost me nothing. A guest blog or two that included excerpts, but cost me nothing. The occasional tweet on Twitter again, cost me nothing.

The magazine ad, and collectors cards were aimed at the RT conference which took place at the end of April. The plan would be for those things to extend my promotional efforts for another month or so and to hopefully bring me new readers that don’t already follow me on twitter or who are not on my newsletter list or AR’s.

2) Electronic publisher pay royalties monthly, so this is only for 3 weeks sales AND thats only three weeks of downloads from their home site. It doesn’t include Kindle or Nook or any other electronic books.

3) The new electronic release boosted sales of my backlist with them, and added a few hundred dollars more to my check.

One of my close writing friends also writes eBooks as well as her NY books. Only she writes many many more than me. In fact, she has a new releases almost every month or two, and I know she’s made over $15,000 in a year from one title. GYPSY HEART, my category length novel with Samhain has made me almost as much in the 4 years with them as my Berkley title BOUND, the first novel that earned me the national Bestselling Author label-both of those books released within 2 months of each other in early 2006-interesting comparison eh?

Making a good living from eBooks is possible, but I think the key to doing that is just like with anything else- consistency. Consistency of quality, and of releases, helps build a loyal readership.

I completely have faith that I’ll make a decent profit from my short story. It’s only been three weeks and I’ve already made more than half my costs back. Costs that were unusually high because of my own agenda. Still, all-in-all it’s pretty good for a story that only took me a weekend to write.

If I’d written a longer story, then the price would’ve been higher, which means my take would’ve been higher. The length of the books doesn’t matter to the cost of my promotional materials…they would’ve cost the if I’d written a longer story, I probably could’ve covered my costs in that first month…..make sense? But, once again, the reason for releasing this eBook wasn’t simply to make money, it was to get something out there for my readers, as well as to study the possibilities of spending more time and effort on writing for my electronic publisher versus some of my other options.

Also, because of the release timeline and the conference, to study how effective some promotional tactics are. So… next month I’ll share my thoughts on if the RT ad and promotional items I sent to the conference were worth it. Since those items went out at the end of April, any sales they might get me should be on the next monthly statement. I’ve spent way more on ads in that magazine for my bigger print books, but it’s hard to judge if they did any good because print royalties come every 6 months, and are lumped together in a 6 month package, we don’t get to the see the month -month sales numbers so it’s hard to see any correlation. WIth the monthly royalties and the timeline of the release and the conference I’m very interested to see what the sales for May are going to be. Aren’t you?

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18 comments to “Show me the money.”

  1. Elspeth Cross
     · May 15th, 2010 at 10:16 am · Link

    Thanks, Sasha. This is very interesting information. I hope the promotion pays off for you at RT.

  2. Andrew McKay
     · May 15th, 2010 at 10:20 am · Link

    Thanks for sharing. Hope the promotion pays off. I only wish I would make 1500 on a book.

  3. Mima
     · May 15th, 2010 at 11:10 am · Link

    Thank you for sharing this Sasha. It’s great information by which newer ebook authors can compare. Not having ANY framework to gauge success can be hard.

  4. Vivi Anna
     · May 15th, 2010 at 11:44 am · Link

    Great post Sasha. thanks for sharing your numbers.

    I”m going to be writing more ebooks in the future.

  5. Crista
     · May 15th, 2010 at 12:40 pm · Link

    Thanks for sharing your numbers, Sasha. You’re spot on that consistant releases of good quality will boost your numbers in the e-pub world. Which reminds me — I need to get back to writing. :-)

  6. Suzan H.
     · May 15th, 2010 at 1:48 pm · Link

    Thanks for the info, Sasha! It’s not too often any one is forthcoming in this business with solid information on the marketing and audience targeting, much less numbers. But stuff like this less will help me make my decisions down the road.

  7. Sasha White
     · May 15th, 2010 at 6:45 pm · Link

    Thanks for the comments, everyone. I’m glad to share as I know I myself am often curious as to what people are making, and what’s the best bang for my buck promotion wise. It’s true that what works for one might not work for all, but information helps us all to make informed choices. :)

  8. Shelia Goss
     · May 15th, 2010 at 7:23 pm · Link

    Sasha, thanks for sharing. The water bottle sounds like a good promotional tip. Do you mind sharing where you ordered them from, because I’m always looking for new ways to promote my books.

  9. Sasha White
     · May 16th, 2010 at 12:14 pm · Link

    I get promotional items from all over. The water bottles are from i like them as they have a CND and US website. :)

  10. Charlene Teglia
     · May 16th, 2010 at 1:07 pm · Link

    Thanks for sharing, Sasha. I hadn’t realized AR did the email blast; I should check into that.

  11. Vivienne Westlake
     · May 16th, 2010 at 4:39 pm · Link

    Thanks, Sasha, for sharing these details. I’m often curious about ebook sales as that is one of my big goals for the next 12 months: to sell to the ebook market. But, sometimes it’s hard to find specific numbers for things and I really appreciate it when authors are willing to share the hard numbers.

    Good luck with sales this month!

  12. Yinka Wills
     · May 17th, 2010 at 12:03 pm · Link

    I’m just starting out again, having been published (hard copy form)years ago before motherhood etc got in the way.
    I dont have an agent, and epublishing seemed to me to be the way to go in my genres (scfi, urban fantasy, with romance or erotic elements). These genres are not what I was published in before.I hadnt thought of selling an ebook consisting of a story. How many words was yours? 10,000? 15,000? Or was it longer, like novella length? What format was it delivered to the publishers in? There’s a great cover- did you do that, or did they? Sorry to bombard you with queries, but I’m likely to be taking the plunge within the next couple of months, and I’m researching as much as I can. Thanks for being so approachable!

  13. Shelia Goss
     · May 17th, 2010 at 12:10 pm · Link

    Thank you for sharing the link. Their prices seem to be real reasonable.

  14. Sasha White
     · May 17th, 2010 at 2:32 pm · Link

    Hi Yinka, thanks for dropping by.

    Those are all questions with answers specific to which publisher you sell to, and you’re deal with them.

    My release ONE WEEKEND was with Samhain, and it was-as I said in my post, a short story. For Samhain that means 12,000 words. And it was susbmited and edited electronically. One of the best things about ePublishers is that they are just like more traditional publishers in some ways. They did the cover, and they have editors who read and go over each story very carefully.

    Some ePublishers have been known to be sloppy with their editing, but not Samhain. Their editing process is more stringent than anything I’ve done through with my own NY publishers.

    WHen researching where you want to submit be sure to go over each publishers submission guidelines carefully. IF you follow them, things will go a lot smoother for everyone involved.

    Good Luck.

  15. Sasha White
     · May 17th, 2010 at 2:33 pm · Link

    They really are. :)

  16. Yinka Wills
     · May 17th, 2010 at 7:30 pm · Link

    Wow! That was quick!
    And very, very helpful 😐

    Thank you so much.

  17. Linda Randall
     · May 18th, 2010 at 10:48 pm · Link

    So if a publisher makes you an offer to do a young adult novel, you have to pay for all your advertising costs? I thought the pub did?

    Sorry, new novelist here, looking for a literary agent and just learning the info about getting a book published.

    thank you for your time

  18. business gifts
     · February 18th, 2014 at 8:49 am · Link

    Currently it seems like BlogEngine is the top blogging platform
    available right now. (from what I’ve read) Is that what you are using on your blog?


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