Keep in mind that this post is written from the perspective of an indie (independent) author meaning I make a lot more money (per book) since I don’t have to pay an agent and a publisher. For traditional writers, I would eye-ball royalties to a third of what I calculated here.
The numbers I’ll discuss relate to “An Italian Adventure” book 1 of #TIS because it’s the one that’s been published the longest (11/1/15). Depending on the way of publishing, it might take up to six months for royalties to be paid!
I set up my paperback through two printers. Createspace prints it and distributes it worldwide through amazon, while Ingramspark distributes it worlwide anywhere else (B&N and any other bookstore or library that requests copies).
So, how much money do I make for each paperback I sell?
Through createspace, sold online:
Retail price: 13.99-Printing cost: $5.19= $8.8 Of this money, amazon takes 60% (yeah, you heard right, $5.28) and I make the remaining 40% ($3.52)
Through createspace, sold personally at signing events:
Retail price: 13.99-Printing cost: $5.19- shipping cost per book .89= $7.91 (of course I have to charge sales tax, but that money is passed on to the state. I’ll write a separate post about that.) Keep in mind that these copies do not count toward best selling status or ranking as an author!
Through Ingramspark and bookstores:
Retail price: 13.99 but Bookstores get a wholesale price (to be able to make money on the sale) so they only $6.30-Printing cost: $5.97= $ .33 out of this, Ingramspark takes 60% ($.2) and I make 40% which is $ 0.13
So, what drives up the prices of paperbacks? Printing costs, and distribution costs. Even if my book sells for 13.99+tax I make from 13 cents per copy .
Keep in mind that the number of copies I can sell myself at events ($7.91 income) are very limited!
Also, printing costs depend on the quality you demand and on the number of pages. AIA (for which I’m illustrating these stats) is 382 pages. Pages can be deceptive, because I could print a word per page, Joyce style, and rip you off. The book is around ~75,000 words, which is about 7-8 hours of reading ^_^
The AIA e-book costs $3.99. If you sell exclusively through Amazon, the book takes part in the Kindle unlimited program, and you make higher royalties. I did that for six months. I used to make $2.73 per book.
If people read the book through Kindle unlimited I was paid not per book, but per page read. How much it will be paid per page changes each month based on how many people pay for a Kindle unlimited subscription but it’s been around 0.0049 per page. For me that amounted to about $1.8 per book.
This method is awesome because it rewards GOOD BOOKS that get read rather than books that are dropped after a few pages :)
I recently opted out from the Amazon exclusive program because many readers had Kobos and devices other than Kindle. You can now find #TIS books 1 and 2 on Smashwords and download them straight to your computer or any device. I don’t know how much I would make there yet, I’ll let you know! I love this option because:
1-Readers can download FOR FREE a pretty good size sample of the book (on Smashwords) before they buy it
2-The book is STILL available through Amazon!
They set the price for my audiobook to $17.46, then they increased it to $19.95. Out of that, for some reason, I make $4.15 per book (more or less depending on how the book is acquired, through audible or not).
Notice that I narrated my own book, otherwise I would have had to share that money with the narrator.
SO, OVERALL, HOW MUCH MONEY PER BOOK?
On average, a few dollars per book. (Keep in mind that the amount of books you can sell yourself is VERY LIMITING compared to online sales! The majority of sales will be e-books in most genres.)
Remember that you write because it makes you happy, because you love it, because you are a writer!
By the way, the average author (through a major publishing house, not indie) sells about 400 copies per book (OVERALL!)
After researching some, I decided to write many books before I started publishing. Then I published three (hopefully it’s gonna be four before Christmas) within a year. Readers that fell in love with book one went on reading the rest. This allowed me to generate an income, not enough to get by, I have another full time job, but it’s still significant ;) So…
Write a lot of quality books and publish them within a short time (at least the first four or so).
This is harder than you can imagine. Most publishers (Amazon or IngramSpark) pay once a month, but with 1-5 months delay. Every month I have a ridiculous number of (small) payments coming in, sometimes for a few cents. Just from Amazon I might have Kindle payments coming in, separate, from different countries.
This is gold:
Make a new bank account and direct all royalties in there!
It will take months for royalties to stabilize (some won’t pay you for months) but after a while, as an author, you will have an easy way to track how much you’re making ;)
This is also fundamental because you will have to remit sales tax and you will have to pay income tax on every penny you make.
The best way to reward your favorite writer is not through money. Write reviews about their book, EVERYWHERE! Tell your friends! A great life trick is to only buy books as Christmas gifts; forget the stress, it’s very thoughtful, and it get rids of all non bibliophiles in no time ;)
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Who am I to give you advice?
I am a a strange combination of scientist and novelist, Italian (born and raised) and American (lived in US for a while): I am the author of the Italian Saga (#TIS): an irreverent series taking place in Italy and speaking of love, sadness, sex, and happiness with a healthy dose of humor <3 You can check out the books pretty much anywhere including Amazon and Smashwords ^_^