Last month my two self published books (The Final Winter and ASBO) earned me £5300 ($8500)! To put that in perspective, my job as a phones salesman (which I quit in June 2011 after being close to a nervous breakdown - that's how much I hated it after 5-odd years) used to make me around £1500 a month ($2400). So just one year on from becoming a full time author (my dream job) I made, last month, more than three times as much as I would have if I'd stayed in the same dead end job that I hated.
Now the reason I am discussing this is because I know there are other authors considering whether or not to self-publish rather than submit to agents etc. Well, I'm just being totally upfront and honest. People can look at my results and think what they want of them.
Which is why I have to admit right now that what I earned last month is not typical. In fact the month before I made £2000 (still more than my sales job) and this month things have gone quieter and I will probably earn about that amount again. One thing is clear, £5000 paycheques from just 2 self-pubished books is not something to expect on a regular basis (but it's possible).
Now there are certain things that I believe helped me gain this result. Mainly it was the perfomance of ASBO in the UK. Usually The Final Winter makes about £1200 a month and ASBO has been making around £800 or so. Last month ASBO earned £3500 pounds in the UK alone. One thing I did differently in July is that I put ASBO on a free giveaway for the first 3 days of the month. It was downloaded over 6,000 times and reached number 2 in the entire Kindle Free Charts. It then reverted to the paid sales chart and entered the top 100 for all paid titles in the UK (top 10 for thrillers). For the next week it proceeded to sell about 150 copies per day (at £2.99 - making me £2 per sale.) That along with the slightly boosted sales of The Final Winter was bringing me sales-days of over £400. The final two weeks of the month were much slower and made me about £100 a day. The entire month's earnings crept in at just over £5000 (not including royalties from my other works such as Animal Kingdom).
The other thing that could have helped with sales of ASBO was that one of my fans/friends got her online reading group to choose the book for their monthly read. She told me the group consisted of 26 people. Whether or not this helped I don't know for sure, but someone certainly lit a fire under ASBO's ass!
One other bonus of giving the book away free for 3 days (via KDP Select) was that having 6,000 people download the book meant that I had a lot more reviews popping up for the following few weeks (the UK review count for ASBO went from 12 to it's current number of 40-odd). Having all those reviews has the added bonus of making my paying customers feel more inclined to take a chance on the book - so sales obviously increased.
For anyone considering whether KDP Select is worth it, then you have my experience to consider in making your decision. While it doesn't always boost sales this much (I have used the promotion several times before), I feel that sometimes one might strike it lucky and lead to my profits more than doubling like they did in July.
So, blindingly good month aside, what is my typical sales performance? Well as I said, at the moment I usually make about £2000 per month (more than I used to earn working 9-5 in a job I hated). I get up at 10AM and work about 6 hours a day Monday to Friday. I take days off whenever I please. So all in all I am leading a pretty charmed life.
The current split between my books is about £1200 The Final Winter and £800 ASBO (But ASBO was released 6 months later and is still slowly rising each month). I think on average (for me at least) a book will tend to hit around the £1000 per month mark when it's been out about 7/8 months or so. They then seem to stay at this amount fairly consistently. The thing that excites me is that I have two more self-published titles due out very shortly, and I fully expect that they will eventually hit at least the £1000 per month mark as well. This will make my earnings by this time next year a pretty stable £4000+ ($6500) by my calculations, which means that if I get the odd freak-month like I did last month I will be looking at a paycheque of over £12,000. Not bad for doing a job I love.
So my message to fellow authors would be to at least try self-publishing - even if its for just one book. I too have books published traditionally so I am not adverse to working with publishers (I actually think it gives you the credibility that Indie authors lack by nature), but I have no doubt that, so long as you pay for or design a decent cover, and make sure your work is well-formatted and well-edited, then you can make a living from your self-published titles. At the very least you will earn pocket money that will maybe get you a new TV for Christmas.
Publishing has changed and there is no on that can tell you that you're not a writer or that you're not good enough. Everything is there for you to give it your best shot, so do it. That's what I did when I told my bosses to shove their sales job up their arses, and now I'm earning more, working less, and loving life. I want you to join me!
As always, I give my heartfelt thanks to anyone that has ever brought one of my books. Everything I have said above would have been impossible without you. XXX