Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Self-publishing survey

An interesting survey from Written Word Media, which is the organization that runs Freebooksy. This is the best book promotion site I have personally discovered so far, other than Book Bub. Promoting a book through Freebooksy is also the most expensive way to buy a promotion that I know of, other than Book Bub. Given the good results of the Halloween promotion of Black Dog, effects some of which lasted right through November, I will certainly use Freebooksy again. But at the moment I just want to pull out a detail from their survey.

Here is how we have defined our author stages.

Stage One: $0-$249 per month

Stage Two: $250-$999 per month

Stage Three: $1,000-$4,999 per month

Stage Four: $5,000-$9,999 per month

Stage Five: Over $10,000 per month

Yes, those seem like pretty reasonable categories. The survey does not give the number of authors in each category, unfortunately. I think all the authors participating in this survey have purchased a Freebooksy promotion, but I’m not actually sure whether they said that or whether it was something I just assumed.

Now, the survey offers various comments regarding the methods by which authors advertise their books — that’s their specific interest, after all — and average amounts spent on cover art and design and so on and so forth. Click through and read the whole thing if you’re interested. I just want to note a single detail: average number of books out for authors in each category.

Here is how we have defined our author stages.

Stage One: $0-$249 per month — average number of books out, six

Stage Two: $250-$999 per month — average number of books out, seventeen

Stage Three: $1,000-$4,999 per month — average number of books out, twenty-nine

Stage Four: $5,000-$9,999 per month — average number of books out, thirty-six

Stage Five: Over $10,000 per month — average number of books out, forty-two

So, that is one heck of a difference in numbers of books published, isn’t it?

  1. Category one: 6 books
  2. Category two: 3x as many, by far the biggest jump.
  3. Category three: 1.7x as many again
  4. Category four: 1.4x as many again
  5. Category five: 1.2x as many again, and also, 7x as many as the average for category one.

Given that, does anything else matter?

It turns out that the answer there is yes. The difference in royalties per month per book is not as great, but larger than my initial impression, which was pretty much: Wow, forty-two books, no wonder they earn a lot more in royalties.

Let’s take the high end of each royalty category. If you have six books out and make $250 per month total, that is an average of $42 per month per book. If you have 42 books out and make $10,000 per month, that is $238 per book, five and a half times the income per book, so the other stuff you’re doing is probably making a difference. This could be cover art or advertising or a combination of these and other things, but part of it is probably that you may be writing pretty decent books, if you’ve been at it long enough to write forty-two of them.

Naturally I can’t help but immediately assess how this might apply to me.

I have eleven books out, depending on how you count. Some are not very important in generating income. Door Into Light is, of course, the second book in a duology, and since I don’t have the rights to the first book, it’s unlikely to ever generate a lot of income for me. I can’t run sales on House of Shadows, though certainly I can point out periodically that House of Shadows is $1.99 for the ebook on Amazon, which, by the way, it is. In fact, H of S is also $1.99 right now for the Nook version at Barnes and Noble. Hachette seems to be leaving my ebooks priced very low a lot of the time at major distributers, for which I’m quite grateful. I hope they keep that up, especially as the paper copy of the Griffin Mage omnibus is astronomically expensive, comparatively.

Beyond the Dreams We Know, is, as a collection, never going to sell a lot of copies. It just isn’t. I knew that perfectly well when I wrote those stories and brought out the collection.

The Black Dog collections aren’t ever going to do all that much either, though I like them (many of those stories, I like a lot). I’m glad I wrote all those stories and I’ll be bringing out a fourth collection next year, I expect. I have one novella written for that.

If you take out those books, then I have six (self-published) books available: four Black Dog novels and two Tuyo novels. Next year that number should jump to at least ten as I add the Tenai trilogy and the third Tuyo book. (Also the fourth Black Dog story collection, but I’m not really counting that because first, it’s a collection, and second, it’s not finished.)

There is a pretty good possibility I will have another novel, possibly even two, ready by fall of next year. That will not be the fifth Black Dog novel. That is not only not finished, it’s not started. I’m sure I’ll be working on it in 2021, but I am very (very) unlikely to have it ready by the end of the year. But there are a couple of other things that might be ready much sooner.

So … I’m pretty pleased, overall, with how fast I can bring up my number of self-published titles now that I have really decided to do that; and I’m cautiously optimistic about the income stream that may generate for me. I don’t really want to quit my day job. But I do want that to be a viable option by 2022. Among other things, I could take the dogs for long walks more often.

And, yes, I could also write more.

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4 Comments Self-publishing survey

  1. Kim Aippersbach

    Do people buy the Black Dog novels but not the short story collections? That mystifies me. Many of the short stories I like better than the novels! And the overall story requires the short stories, really. Does it have something to do with marketing? Or just people being prejudiced against short stories?

  2. Rachel

    Yes, they do, Kim, and since sone of those stories are real favorites of mine, I wish they would try them. I’m sure it’s a basic disinterest in short stories, which I would complain about more bitterly except I also don’t generally care for short stories. But I do like stories that are linked to a novel, and hopefully a majority of Black Dog readers feel the same way. But the collections definitely do not sell as well as the novels.

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