The second month of my Kindle experiment has ended and here are the results:
(Click on the image for a larger view).
All told, I made $375 in royalties selling three out-of-print novels at $1.99 each, a short story collection at 99 cents, and an out-of-print, non-fiction reference book for $2.39 .
THE WALK sold 444 copies in June and 373 copies in July. My short story collection THREE WAYS TO DIE sold 54 copies in June and 40 in July. So sales of both titles have dropped in their second month on sale.
Still, I'm very happy to have sold 817 copies of THE WALK to readers who missed the book the first time around in hardcover. At this rate, it won't be long until I've sold more copies of THE WALK on the Kindle than the book sold in print.
On July 14, I added my novel MY GUN HAS BULLETS to the Kindle Store. It has sold 95 copies in 17 days at $1.99 each, earning me $65 in royalties. On July 17, I added the sequel, BEYOND THE BEYOND, which has only sold 29 copies at the same price, earning me $20.
Two days ago, I added TELEVISION SERIES REVIVALS. I set the price for that one at $2.39, just to be daring. It has sold 17 copies so far, earning me $14.28.
(All those titles are also available on Scribd and Smashwords, but so far I've earned less than $10 in combined royalties from both sites over the last two months. They can't compete with Amazon and the Kindle).
This month I did slightly better than last month, but I also added three more books to the mix.
So far, I have earned nearly $700 on out-of-print books that I thought were long past their earning potential for me. That's not a lot of money, but it was enough to buy me a Kindle and leave plenty of money left over to buy books for it (I'm still not earning anywhere near what Joe Konrath and John August, my inspirations in this endeavor, are making with their work…but I am thankful to them both for showing me the way).
I've said this before, but I don't think the Kindle is the wave of the future for authors or publishing…at least not yet. Not even for self-publishing. There just isn't enough money in it for original works to make a living at it or simply a decent wage.
But not all authors care about making money. Some are in it "for the art" and just to reach people. They are happy giving it away for free…or for next to nothing. Well, let me tell you something, the "free" and $1.99 Kindle books that I have sampled so far have been, for the most part, unspeakably horrendous shit. There's a reason most of these authors can't find publishers for their work. It's stuff so awful you can't even give it away. The Kindle won't change that. The novelty of downloading crap, even when it's free, will pass quickly.
I do think, though, that for authors with out-of-print books sitting in their drawers earning nothing but dust that publishing on the Kindles makes a lot of sense. I don't see the downside. It's found money. And it's fun to watch the royalties and sales click up in real-time (yes, it's a new way to procrastinate!)
I was surprised to discover, once I got my Kindle, that my out-of-print books that I posted myself are better formatted than some of my in-print titles posted by my publishers. I will be talking to my publishers about it.
14 thoughts on “You Can Be a Kindle Millionaire, Part 8”
I think you are absolutely right about the opportunity for out-of-print books to find new life on the Kindle. No printing or shipping costs, no need for anyone to maintain an inventory beyond devoting space to it on a server somewhere. Like you say, it’s found money. And in the case of you and the Kindle, anyone who comes to you by way of a “Monk” book can download one of your other books in the exact same way they did the first book, and not have to go through a third-party reseller, something a lot of people just won’t bother with.
I also think you found a really good price point for these books. I agree that most of what is being given away as free is pretty bad, but I also hesitate when someone puts up their work and sets the price the same as if it’s a brand new hardcover. $2-3 for a backlist or out-of-print title, though? Very reasonable, and I’m willing to try something that I might otherwise have passed up.
On the other hand, authors will have to be vigilant about striking e-books sales from their “in print” clauses in their book contracts. Theoretically, as long as a book is selling a copy or two on the Kindle, a publisher can claim the book is still “in print” and hold on to the rights forever.
I have a question in regards to your Kindle publication of the Television Series book. Did you put that on Kindle yourself or was that through the Authors Guild? And is it still available in POD? I have some books that are through the Guild program.
I’m thinking about Kindle too, if I can figure out formatting. May have to pay someone to do that–and decide if it would be worth it.
First off, good to hear from you!
I put the book on the Kindle myself and simply used the Back-in-Print.com cover to illustrate the listing.
It’s super easy. Just go to https://dtp.amazon.com/ and follow the simple steps.
But first you will need to prepare your manuscripts. If you already have them as a Word or other document file, you are in fine shape. Save it as a Text file, look it over for formatting problems, then save it as an HTM file.
If you don’t have your manuscript file, you can do what I did — I dismantled two copies of the book and fed the pages into my old HP Officejet 7410, which scanned the pages using the off-the-shelf software Omnipage 17. I outputted the scans into Text files, which I then edited in Microsoft Word and saved as HTM files, which I uploaded to the Kindle (at https//dtp.amazon.com).
I got the idea indirectly from Dan Williams, a reader here, after he was kind enough to volunteer to scan my book for me with the professional equipment at his university. I knew I couldn’t impose on him for my other books, so I began looking for a way to do it myself and experimented with TELEVISION SERIES REVIVALS.
It’s time consuming to use the method I described…but it’s a lot faster than retyping the book and far cheaper than paying for the book to be converted.
Thanks, Lee for the information. I may consider giving it a try at some point. I may start with a short story in Word.
Scanning sounds like a lot of work but I suppose it could be done.
My web designer does POD and ebook covers for me and others so that is not a problem for me. She recently did one for Mark Terry for his new Kindle book. She also did it in 3-D for his website. She’s done several of mine, even some iUniverse POD publications. Anybody interested, her site is
Thanks again, Linda
This is all so weird to me, as Kindle is not yet available in Canada. Feels like I’m living in East Germany before the wall came down, listening to all the talk about new technologies that we can’t get. E-readers, yes, but no Kindle. It’s supposed to be making its debut soon, though. Maybe once the wall comes down.
I’m looking forward to the Kindle being available in other countries, too…because it means more potential sales for me!
Lee, do you have concerns about their contract? SFWA made some pretty compelling arguments about the downsides there. Me, I’m trying to make up my mind…
What are the downsides?
Zoicks, I’ll have to go look for specifics, but it comes down to ambiguous language that can be interpreted in ways that really screw the author. It’s been too long since I read it–will have to look again, especially as I consider this option. I guess I was wondering if you disagreed with those points, or felt the pros outweighed the cons… (If this link comes through, the analysis is available here: http://www.sfwa.org/2009/07/amazon-kindle-contract-review-and-annotation/ )
I just re-read the contract and I have no problem with it. I can always yank the books from Amazon if they ever add terms I don’t agree with. That said, I think the SFWA’s reading of the contract is overly paranoid. They are reading ominous stuff into clauses instead of using common sense. For instance, they make a big hoo-haw out of Amazon being able to offer a sample of your book for free (and to determine, on their own, what percentage of your book to offer, which is usually just the first chapter). As a Kindle user, having those samples to review before buying a book is wonderful and I think it actually encourages sales.
I agree it’s a paranoid reading, which is why I still ponder…but I very much respect the folks who were involved in the analysis. It’s a conundrum. Thanks for your two cents!
Lee, the next thing you want to do is go Amazon “CreateSpace” crazy. Go to http://www.createspace.com and set up an account. This will make your book available in print form as well. My advice is to format it for a trade paperback (5.5 x 8.5)and price it about $13.95. Amazon then lists the book in it’s regular store as “in stock.” When someone orders it, Amanzon prints a POD, ships the order directly to the customer and wire transfers your profit to your bank account (same as kindle). You’ll probably make $2-4 per book, depending on page count. The quality of the CreateSpace POD’s is extremely high. The books are barely distinguishable from an off-set printed book and the “cream” paper is very pleasing.If you have an questions, feel free to email me.
Thanks for the suggestion, but the books (with the exception of BEYOND THE BEYOND and THE WALK) are already available in trade paperback, at no cost to me, through the Authors Guild’s Back-in-Print program with iUniverse….and have been for several years now.