You Can Become a Kindle Millionaire, Part 20

I've got a new guest post up on Joe Konrath's blog charting my Kindle experience…and the complete change in my thinking about ebooks. A lot of what I'm saying there you've already read about here, so let's cut to the chase:

This January, if sales continue at the current pace, I will sell about 3100 books this month and earn $6600 in royalties.

That’s a 166% increase in sales and a whopping 751% jump in royalties.

In just one year.

On out-of-print books that I wrote years ago that were earning me nothing before June 2009.

If those sales hold for the rest of the year, I will earn $77,615 in Kindle royalties, and that’s not counting the far less substantial royalties coming in from Amazon UK, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and CreateSpace.

Even if my sales plummet tomorrow by fifty percent, I’ll still earn about $38,000 in royalties this year…and I’d be very, very happy with that.

My most profitable title, in terms of hours worked and pages written, is THREE WAYS TO DIE, a collection of three previously published short stories. In print, it’s a mere fifty-six pages long, but it’s selling 24 copies-a-day on the Kindle, earning me about $1500-a-month. That means I could potentially earn $18,000 this year just from those three short stories alone.

That is insane.

But what would be more insane is if I took my next, standalone, non-MONK book to a publisher instead of “publishing” it myself on the Kindle.

That’s right. I’d rather self-publish. This from a guy who for years has been an out-spoken, and much-reviled, critic of self-publishing. But that was before the Kindle came along and changed everything. I was absolutely right then…but I’d be wrong now.

Yes, it's happened. I have become a complete convert to self-publishing and the Kindle. But do I recommend it for you? It depends. I go into more detail in the post on Joe's blog, so check it out.

10 thoughts on “You Can Become a Kindle Millionaire, Part 20”

  1. Thanks for sharing all this, Lee. I’ve had a mixed experience with my one e-pubbing experiment, but that’s not going to keep me from trying it again, sooner or later. My position on ebooks has changed…well, not by 180 degrees in the last year, but maybe 178.

  2. These are impressive numbers. I am curious about what percent of Kindle downloads are actually read. Only a third of purchased print books are read; the rest simply go on the shelf. Given the negligible cost of a Kindle download, my guess is that many people simply want to have a library in their pocket rather than something to read. I’m guessing 95 percent of these downloaded books won’t ever be read.

  3. Thanks for the info Lee. If not for blogs like yours and Joe’s, writers like myself wouldn’t take this perceived risk. How would we possibly know what kind of numbers were achievable?
    Big thanks.

  4. Richard, I’ll argue the other side of the issue.
    Neither of us has any data on how much of an ebook will be read. It could just as easily be that 95 percent of downloaded books are read cover to cover. My guess is that a buyer will buy on the basis of an implicit promise made by the book-cover, the reviews, the blurbs, etc. As the reader starts to read, either the promise is fulfilled or it’s not. On that basis, the reader will decide to continue reading or not, and to buy another of the author’s books or not. Good writers will fulfill the promise and sell more books. Other writers will let the reader down and not sell this reader any others. Superior craftsmanship and quality is what will win out, in my opinion. An ebook download that is not read, therefore, does not deserve to be read, in this argument.
    What I believe is certain to happen is that the sale of ebooks will explode due to lower prices. This is, in fact, what is happening with Lee’s books. Lee, the rising sales of your books is not “insane”–it’s what happens to quality when prices are lowered. Print publishing is insane with the constantly rising prices. Sales shrink as prices rise. A writer cannot sell more copies if book prices keep rising. But when they come down, all those who couldn’t afford books before now can, and do buy, and it’s like a miracle is happening for quality writers.
    My guess is that readers are dying to find authors who write one book after another that’s a hit. They will read these books cover to cover. Richard, let’s see how many more copies your books sell as ebooks. If sales are better, and much better, then you would have to admit that being published by the big six no longer has the cache that it once did.

  5. Yes, Mark, I agree that being published by the Big Six still carries with it a huge amount of prestige for the writer in the eyes of a potential book buyer, and who publishes the book is a factor for me when I buy a print book, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying that who publishes the book is the “deciding factor” in whether I buy the book or not.
    For instance, I have no idea who publishes Agatha Christie these days, but if I see one of her books at the used bookstore in Guelph that I haven’t read, I buy it without a second thought. I just like her stuff so much, this is the deciding factor. Same with Robert B. Parker. He’s published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons of New York, but I have no idea if they are a prestigious publisher or not, and in this case who the publisher is does not enter into my buying decision, I just love Parker’s Spenser novels and that’s why I read them. In both cases, the quality of the reading experience is the deciding factor for me.
    When it comes to buying ebooks I’m guessing that who the print publisher is, is going to be of diminishing importance going forward, since who needs the Big Six anymore to reach the huge audience that, say, Amazon can reach? The importance of positive reader reviews will probably be huge for me in deciding whether to try a new writer or not. And these are generated from very high quality reading experiences. On a level playing field like Amazon, the quality of the writing determines the number of books that get sold.


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