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How much can you realistically make e-publishing?

Discussion in 'Electronic Publishing' started by Ursa, Jun 15, 2015.

  1. NigeTheHat

    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you can guarantee 200 sales with any kind of marketing, I don't really know why you're trying to make money self-publishing books. Set yourself up as a $5000/hour consultant instead, because you're some kind of genius savant.

    (Assuming you mean doing it profitably. I can totally get you 200 sales of any book you like as long you don't mind re-mortgaging your house for the ad costs)
     
  2. ToeKneeBlack

    ToeKneeBlack Contributing Member Contributor

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    Since my previous post was written, I've sold about 40 more copies between work, friends and family. Instead of promoting, I've been working on another book, but I have spread out into other eBook platforms to try to get the word out.

    I'm glad you like my website. I'll add to it once I finish my next book.
     
  3. psychotick

    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    How much? Who knows. Look at your covers, your blurb, your story, your editing etc. Make sure they are all the best they can be. Then put your book out there and start on the next one. Think of it as a marathon. There's no one book and you're done. Not unless you're incredibly lucky.

    The surveys I've seen suggest that average indie authors earn less than 5k US per year. Average trade published (note that's published and does not include those trying to get an agent, earn between 5 and 10k US per year). And hybrids between 10 and 15k US per year.

    But hey, I'm a simple indie beating all of them, and I don't market at all. I just keep writing. So who knows?

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  4. Raven484

    Raven484 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Nige, sorry if I came off a little pompus, you don't have to spend a lot of money for the first sails of your book. Word of mouth with friends and family should get you a couple hundred. If you are serious about it, blogging can help build a mailing list. Just two minutes ago, I went to your site. My work internet protocol system did not allow me to give you my email, but latter tonight I will send it to you for your free samples. If I like it I will buy it.
    But do you see how just a little bit of marketing yourself will slowly help you grow. You have a simple web site that probably did not cost you much, just your time really. Your smart enough to include your link hopefully wherever you post.
    You just cant sit back and expect everything to fall into place.
    I am from Philadelphia, its considered a big city and I think it is a big advantage over writers who live in small towns. I participate in writer meetings every Saturday for a couple hours in the morning at libraries throughout the city. During the meetings we get a lot of authors who just published come in and give samples of their work. After they leave their info if you are interested. I have bought many new books this way, some I have passed on to friends. All it took was their time to dig up costumers. Usually there about 40 people at these get togethers and at least 5 new writers walk in to promote their stuff. If they get 5 or 10 interested, its worth it.
    If your work is good enough, even this forum is free marketing. You just received a new possible costumer just from a reply.
    Sorry for coming off the wrong way Nige, hope I am a little bit clearer on what I meant this time.
     
  5. Raven484

    Raven484 Contributing Member Contributor

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    sails=sales, some writer I am going to turn out to be.
     
  6. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    You keep saying this. Do you have any study or other evidence that reflects it?
     
  7. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Those are nice imaginary numbers, but the real numbers don't usually match up.

    I mean, why would I buy a book just because it was written by someone who works with me? Or a friend of a friend?
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2016
  8. Raven484

    Raven484 Contributing Member Contributor

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    You guys are right. There are 45000 members of this forum. Maybe 200 will be good enough for traditional publishing. The rest of us are worthless and should just give up.
    I was just trying to give some positive motivation to someone. My bad.
    Bay: I have bought several books from friends who have a family members that self published. I did it to help support them. They were not the best, but they were good. They were worth the 3 bucks I spent for them. If they create more, I would buy again. There not garbage, just good stories.
    Chick: I base my figures on the seven people I know who self published. They have all sold over a thousand copies. None of them have quit their day jobs, they just do it for extra vacation money and they love to write. Again, they are not great, but good stories.
    Just saying 500 copies can be done with some effort. It takes great effort to write and rewrite and edit and the whole nine yards. But it is all wasted effort if you spend zero time marketing, and when I say marketing I don't mean buying expensive adds. There is about a gazillion links out there on how to market your book cheaply, research a little and see if one might work for you is all I'm saying.
     
    Adam Kalauz likes this.
  9. R.P. Kraul

    R.P. Kraul Member

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    Quality is important, obviously, but there are other factors that are more important--an appealing cover, a burb that intrigues potential readers. You also need a thorough understanding of the market--categories, how readers look for books on websites, etc.

    Social media can help, but it provides a fairly low ROI--unless you're interested in marketing to other writers. A lot of readers use Amazon alone or a similar site to find books. The question is whether your target audience can find your book easily. If they can't, you're stuck marketing to other writers, and that's a low ROI.
     
  10. psychotick

    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    To add to this whole marketing thing - I'm an indie. I don't market at all. And last year in one month, I made 20k. It was a good month. The others sadly weren't nearly so good.

    However my advice is start with the basics. Good book, edited, beta read etc. Good cover. Good blurb. Get it out there. Market or don't market - it's very hit and miss. But do write your next book and look at this as a marathon with each new book another chance to sell well and also a marketing tool for your other books.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
    Gareth MH likes this.
  11. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't buy the idea that encouraging people to work toward a higher level of skill means that those people are worthless. I don't buy the idea that acknowledging that there is a higher level of skill is a bad thing.

    Also, I'm not saying that self publishing should go away. I'm saying that it DESPERATELY needs some substitute for the quality bar that exists for traditional publishing. I'd love for it to be possible to sell books to markets that are too small to attract the interest of traditional publishers. And right now, without some sort of quality measure, that's all but impossible.
     
  12. R.P. Kraul

    R.P. Kraul Member

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    You make some good points, but even if you go back prior to self-publishing, I don't think the bar of mainstream publishing spared readers from crappy books.
     
  13. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    It doesn't eliminate all risk, but it drastically improves the odds of finding a book worth reading.
     
  14. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why not motivate them to get better at writing, rather than telling them not to bother getting better because self-publishing is way better than trade publishing anyway?

    I don't think we need to lie in order to make self-publishing look attractive - it's a good option for some people some of the time. It's just not a good option for all people all of the time. And trade publishing is a good option for some people some of the time.

    No black-and-white needed.
     
  15. RikWriter

    RikWriter Member

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    Not in my experience. The shelves at the book stores are full of crap that I don't consider worth reading. There's not as much of it, just because it's harder to get published by a traditional publisher, but the percentage of good stuff to crap is probably close. 90-10 crap.
     
  16. editorjaneh

    editorjaneh New Member

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    I've heard many of the points raised here from lots of writers over the years, and I do think that when faced with all the realities of self-publishing, it can stall a writer in their tracks. There's nothing worse than having your creativity stifled just because of the way the industry is set up. I was reading some stats over the weekend on the Bowker site that shows approx. 156k ebooks are currently self-published yearly without any expectation of future growth. They think the market has levelled off, and I don't think that's due to lack of talented writers. From my experience, it's down to everything else that comes with authorship nowadays.
     
  17. psychotick

    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Janeh,

    Yes, it's easy for people to self publish and hard for them to self publish well. There is a massive learning curve and an endless amount of work, and in my view the vast majority of those who attempt to self publish either don't appreciate this or don't care. They simply shove an unedited work on the market with a crappy cover and expect to make millions. Naturally they are dissappointed.

    But for those who go the self publishing route and who are prepared to do the hard yards, pay the pipers like editors and cover artists, do the marketing, they should find that their work rises above the grist.

    In my view those who aren't prepared to do the hard yards have no realistic chance of a future either self publishing or trade publishing.

    For those who are prepared, there are advantages to both self publishing and trade publishing, and these days I think self publishing has the edge for them.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  18. antlad

    antlad Banned

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    When asking a search engine, or a forum, you need to ask the question that gets you closest to the desired results. I think this sums up the frustration-
    Just as unsatisfactory as this thread?
    OP, you asked the correct question in your post-
    Your question is- "How to make a $300 per month publishing ebooks?" or "How to make residual income with ebooks?" or something similar.
    If you search- "how much money can I make publishing ebooks", you end up with results like this thread has provided. Mostly- I did, my friend did, etc; but no real answer. Then there are the little squabbles over something or other.
    If you format your search for the answer that you want, you will get varied results, with actual ways people make money with ebooks, and how much they make (some verifiable, some not).
    What you will ultimately learn is that it is mostly up to you. Now, this is where 'you' come into play. We all have 'lines' we won't cross, and there are a lot of them in these results. You can be 'noble', all the way to a 'scallywag'.

    You will learn the traditional things like- write a good book, market yourself, gain a following, etc.

    You will learn that many go to websites and buy erotica stories for 5-$50, edit, cover, title, publish. Over and over. Does it work? Yes, if you do it well. Amazon likes this type of publisher and subtly promotes their books (prolific publishers can make good money for Amazon).

    You will learn that selling ebooks is exactly like using SEO for websites. You can go learn/buy how to most effectively tag your titles to gain better search rankings in a variety of searches.

    You will also come across people that game the system; who read the TOS, rules, examine the system built, and then work within the system to maximize what they can earn. The most common way is to put the ebook into unlimited, and put the Index on the last page. You will find all kinds of fights about this on forums far and wide, and inside Amazon too. With unlimited, the buyer pays a flat fee, and the author gets paid by pages read. 'Noble' authors don't do this, but many complain that they don't make money while complaining these others do.
    Amazon will not change this until payouts to authors hit a certain internal percentage.

    You can learn many ways, but nobody can tell you ho much you will make.
     
  19. Edward M. Grant

    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

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    The thing is, once you're past the basic level of readability, one person's crap is another person's treasure. I consider all those Twilight ripoffs on the 'Horror' shelf at the bookstore to be 'crap', for example, but others obviously lap them up.

    On the self-publishing front, five or six years ago you could put up any old crap at $0.99 and it would sell in moderate numbers. Today it's a much tougher market, because there are so many good books out that no-one has to go looking through the rest, and being able to buy a book for $0.99 is no longer a novelty.
     
  20. rktho

    rktho Member

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    Look up Jeff Wheeler (twitter.com/muirwoodwheeler). He's a friend of mine and he got his start e-publishing. His books routinely make the top 5 on Amazon.
     
  21. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Here's an article a found the other day about ebook sales on Amazon. which gives the impression that there are authors out there who make a reasonable living (read: enough to live on) selling ebooks.

    Then this morning, while trying to find that article so I could post here about it, I came across this other one that implies Amazon isn't very accurate in reporting sales for individual authors.

    Having read both, I'd say it's very likely no one except the authors themselves know if it's possible to earn a living wage selling ebooks. And considering ego and tax avoidance, some will lie and say they do while others will lie and say they don't.
     
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  22. RikWriter

    RikWriter Member

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    That's not really a viable assumption Amazon reports your earnings to the IRS and issues a 1099 to its authors to use on their tax returns. No one is going to go too long without reporting that income before they get in serious legal trouble.
     
  23. Lew

    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just put two books up. I am priced to make about two bucks per book, intentionally trying to hold the price down, so do the math: to make $60K a year, I would have to sell 2500 a month. In short, don't quit your day job until your sales get established.
     
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  24. Adam Kalauz

    Adam Kalauz Member

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    Great point.

    ~inner accountant fights to the surface~

    Great article above from Sack-a-doo too!

    There were 448k self published e-book sales on Amazon in January. Units moved, not titles.
    Using the above rule of thumb (a rough and ready guide, it obviously doesn't hold for everyone) then hat's enough to create 'full time jobs' for 179 authors.

    There are 2.2m titles on Amazon, not 179. That means that AT LEAST 75% of the titles didn't sell a single unit in January.

    Scary stuff.
     
  25. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    The IRS doesn't make that information public and that brings me back to my point: we, the public, have no way of knowing for sure if, who, or how much. ;)
     

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