Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Year of Profits in Ebooks 2010

2010 was a good year for ebooks. The stats are being thrown around like bibles at a Tea Party rally - but the concensus seems to be something like a 190% increase in the year 2010 over 2009?

Yes, it's been a good year.

Anecdotally, our sales at Excessica show this is true as well - they have increased exponentially every single quarter. We went from selling 16,000 ebooks in Quarter 1 2010 showing $27,000 in royalties to selling 73,000 ebooks in Quarter 4 2010 showing $154,000 in royalties. Talk about a jump - that's no measly almost-200% jump - that's more like an almost-600% leap!


A few months ago, J.A. Konrath challenged me to post my own numbers when I complained that Amazon was setting price points (too low in my opinion) for ebooks. While I would argue that $9.99 is too high and agency pricing does, indeed, suck - $2.99 may just be too low of a value for books.

So I thought I'd put my money where my mouth is (so to speak) now that the numbers for the year are all in. What follows is a basic breakdown.

In 2010, I sold 62,000 books on Amazon Kindle. That worked out to a $120,000 profit from Amazon.

Of those books, my highest sellers are priced as follows (in order, highest selling to lowest):

$5.99 - Babysitting the Baumgartners
$5.99 - Under Mr. Nolan's Bed
$4.99 - The Real Mother Goose
$4.99 - Quickies
$5.99 - A Baumgartner Reunion
$4.99 - Unfolding
$4.99 - Heidi and the Kaiser
$5.99 - Baumgartner Generations: Janie
$5.99 - Naughty Bits
$4.99 - The Sybian Club

In total, I sold approximately 80,000 books this year through various distributors (though a majority of those sales were, as you can see, through Amazon) and made a total of $170,000 in profits from those books.

Now, granted, I'm not complaining about profit here. (Ow, my diamond shoes are too tight!) But I'm just wondering aloud about the price points we set for our books. Would I have sold more books at $2.99? It could be. I've put all my short stories on sale for $0.99 on Amazon for a month and have seen my sales of those titles triple. Of course, my royalty rate went from 70% to 35% for most of those and it's pretty much averaged out, in terms of actual profit for me.

But more books are being downloaded, which means higher rankings and increased visibility. That's always a good thing. And considering I write adult material that isn't ever going to be featured on Amazon Encore or anything like it, I have to market my work a little differently than a mainstream author might.

But what would happen if I dropped the above prices of those top ten bestsellers to $2.99 or even $3.99?

Maybe that will be my 2011 experiment. 

Still, I would encourage you, self-publishers, to stop waiting and start publishing, no matter where you decide to set your price. There's nothing to lose, and a lot - a whole lot! - to gain.

And think of this way - you're lucky. You don't need to do what I did. Back when I started out, we didn't have things like Kindle DTP and Barnes and Nobles "PubIt." We had to actually form co-ops to be considered a "publisher" before we could get our work out there to the major distributors. You don't have to do that. The whole self-publishing world is wide open to you!

Not that I'm really complaining. Yes, I've been working my a$$ off for two years publishing authors who might otherwise not have done it on their own. But I've given a lot of new authors a start under the umbrella of Excessica and it's been an amazing journey so far. I'm proud of what I've accomplished, and that I've put my money (and time - lots and lots of time) where my mouth is when it comes to helping other authors. I don't just talk about it. I actually do it.

And what a ride it's been! I've been in the middle of a huge revolution in the industry - one that isn't anywhere close to being finished. Who knows where it may end up?

Let's hope next year's post: "Year of Profits in Ebooks 2011" will grow exponentially as well!

Selena Kitt


  1. That's amazing, Selena! Congrats!!

    You're one of my self-pub guru role models! :)

  2. Glad to hear! My YA novella is priced at $1.99 now, but I have been using freebie coupons to help build a fan base. Between that and a pdf version all over the web, I've had over 5,000 downloads in about 6 weeks. Good for the fan base, not so good for the bottom line. I'm just a beginner, though - bigger and better things to come!

  3. Building a fan base is the most important thing. I had been writing on Literotica for two years before I published, so I already had a fan base that I built for free. At least y'all are building a paying fan base! That makes a huge difference. They're already used to getting your work for a cost. When I switched to e-publishing many of the "fans" were up in arms - "You mean I have to PAY for this now? Well forget it!" So much for support. *snerk* But things rolled along and I gained more fans who were willing to pay for my stuff. It takes time. But if you have a good product, people will want to buy it!

  4. *bows down* I'm thinking of self publishing a few books I have, but feel I still need to do the research. Thanks for posting this!

  5. It's posts like this that really motivate me to write, write, write and get more books out...I only have one out at the moment, but several more in the works, and I only hope I eventually do even half as well as you have.

    Very inspiring - thanks for sharing...and congratulations!! :-)

  6. HOLY CRAP Selena, seriously? Fans were bitching that they had to pay? Do they think magical fairies feed you? Any author I love, I WANT to pay them because I don't want them to be doing anything with their time but writing stories to entertain me. LOL

  7. Hi Selina, How much do you think what you write (adult rated) contributes to your high sales figures? I know you write more mainstream stuff too. How do those figures compare with the excessica level books? Do you think other authors could earn at your level without writing at excessica ratings?