As I’ve mentioned, starting in 2011, unless I notice something unusual in the numbers I feel is worth reporting, I’m going to be cutting these posts back to (probably) once a quarter. I’ll still be gathering all the data once a month and putting it into my spreadsheets and thinking about the numbers, but I’ve got an idea that the balance between total transparency and boring blog readers out of their minds lies somewhere closer to infrequent statistics-based posts. Plus, if I only post once per quarter, all the numbers will look bigger, right? Heh. Anyway, I’m not going to give you the exact numbers for December here. If you want to see all the numbers, email me and I can either tell you what you want to know or send you the huge spreadsheets. Here’s an overview:
For December, Podiobooks downloads were down across every title, roughly to where they were in September & October. I added a new row to my spreadsheet to divide the “number of people who finished downloading a book” (an estimate, based on the number of downloads of the final episode) by the number of finished Podiobooks I’d had available that month. As you know, my downloads have been gradually dropping off over the course of 2009 (they peaked in December 2009, when Cheating, Death was completed), and around that peak I was getting about 300 people listening to each book each month. My March 2010 it was below 200 people/book/month, by August 109 people/book/month, and in December (with 10 complete Podiobooks) only about 75 people listened to each book. (Close to 200 listening to Cheating, Death, 100-120 listening to each Untrue Tales book, and as low as dozens listening to books like the Lost and Not Found – Director’s Cut and More Lost Memories.) ((The finished/titles number for 2010 (sum of each month’s estimate) is 1,809 people/book.)) It’s a bit sad to see this number dropping off so precipitously, though it is nice to know that something in the vicinity of at least 5,200 people have listened to my free audiobooks in the last 3 years, and up to over 25,000 people. I know that’s a big range, but there’s no way to know how many people downloaded more than one of my books; if every listener has downloaded all my books, it’s closer to the lower number, and if most listeners only download one or two books, it’s closer to the higher number. I do know that, since starting Untrue Tales… Book Four on the Modern Evil Podcast, its subscription numbers have about doubled (from around 30-40 to around 60-80) … based on the number of people downloading new episodes from the feed within a week of being posted.
December’s eBooks numbers were interesting. They were roughly flat with October and November’s numbers, but here’s the interesting thing (to me): I put the new versions of the eBooks up less than 2 days before the end of the month/year (to be sure they were there before the new year), including 5 titles I’d never offered for free directly on modernevil.com before, and there was no hesitation in finding and downloading them. In fact, the 5 new titles, which I haven’t mentioned anywhere but here on this blog (and I’ve only mentioned the blog post about them on Twitter and facebook), were downloaded somewhat more than any of my other books. Untrue Tales… Book Four was downloaded almost 3 times faster/more than the other Untrue Tales books have been in the last 3 months. Also of note is that eBooks download numbers for 2010 were almost exactly double those of 2009; that’s pretty good growth. I look forward to seeing how my eBooks numbers look in 2011, both as more people begin reading eBooks and with the easy availability I’ve created for all my books.
Here are the eBook and Podiobook download numbers for the entire year of 2010, as usual giving the total of eBook downloads, the total of Podiobook downloads, and the more-accurate (re: # of people who dl’d a full book) total downloads of the final episodes of each Podiobook, as: eBook/total-PB/final-PB
- Lost and Not Found: 1,015 / 14,808 / 693
- Dragons’ Truth: 1,574 / 11,766 / 1,277
- Forget What You Can’t Remember: 1,316 / 39,767 / 1,152
- Untrue Tales… Book One: 1,103 / 31,564 / 2,682
- Untrue Tales… Book Two: 989 / 34,991 / 2,586
- Untrue Tales… Book Three: 1,043 / 18,073 / 1,644
- Untrue Tales… Book Four: 26 / 434 / N/A
- Cheating, Death: 67 / 45,931 / 3,276
- Lost and Not Found – Director’s Cut: 20 / 3,641 / 439
- More Lost Memories (full): 22 / 5,032 / 385
- More Lost Memories (ind. stories, eBook only): 67
- Time, emiT, and Time Again (full): 15 / 6,254 / 200
- Time, emiT, and Time Again (ind. stories, eBook only): 6
- Last Christmas: 8
- Total YTD: 7,271 / 212,261 / 14,334
- Total all-time: 15,693 / 392,362 / 25,453
Here are some year-over-year comparisons for you, in 2008 / 2009 / 2010 order:
- Total eBook downloads: 4,849 / 3,573 / 7,271
- Total Podiobook downloads: 14,364 / 165,737 / 212,261
- Total Podiobooks finished: 1,351 / 9,768 / 14,334
- Podiobooks donations: $0 / $22.49 / $59.78
- # of eBooks sold (not free): 5 / 38 / 100
- kindle eBooks income: $14.61 / $38.06 / $69.25
- Smashwords eBooks income: N/A / $33.11 / $54.96
- Total eBooks income: $14.61 / $71.17 / $124.21
- # of paper books sold wholesale: 0 / 22 / 17
- income from wholesale books: $0 / $56.35 / $52.16
- # of paper books sold by hand: 21 / 39 / 51
- income from hand-sold books: $292.91 / $383.97 / $534.99
- Total # of paper books sold: 21 / 61 / 68
- Total income from paper books: $292.91 / $440.32 / $587.15
- Total income from all books sources: $307.52 / $533.98 / $771.14
I have growth in every area but selling paper books wholesale (ie: via Amazon.com, bn.com, or actual brick&mortar book stores), which is a segment that has consistently earned me less than eBooks (and insanely less than selling paper books by hand). I haven’t included my art sales numbers, though it might interest you to know that, despite only painting 2 things since “taking a break” in February 2010, I had $775 in art income in 2010 ($60 of that for crochet art)… Which actually means my art income has been falling off almost in lockstep with my books income ramping up. My total income from art+books for the last three years is: $1691.52 / $1607.98 / $1546.14. My net income after expenses is nowhere near those numbers; recall I’ve said that 2010 will be my company’s first profitable year, and by about $33. Next year should be better, just by doing more of the same things I’ve been doing. …Obviously art is more profitable than books. I already know that. If I cared about money, I’d put my focus for 2011 on making and selling art.
I also keep track of income and expenses on a per-title basis. (I heard it was what all the cool publishers were doing.) I’ve already added the cost of keeping each book in print for 2011 to these numbers ($12/title/year) though none of them have been billed yet. I also don’t track the number of hours I spend working on each book, or assign an arbitrary “value” to my time; I’m not getting paid hourly, so those hours don’t count as expenses right now. (In the event the “total income for year n” for my company ever reaches tens of thousands of dollars, maybe I’ll start paying me a salary.) Right now I’m tracking 15 titles, 12 of which are available for purchase as eBooks, 2 of which are poetry books only available in print, and 1 of which is a short story only available as an eBook. 5 of these titles are “profitable,” and 4 of those are only available as eBooks. (Okay, 3 of those are the first three Untrue Tales… books, which I made available individually in print via CafePress back in 2004-2006, and have no idea how much they cost me prior to 1/1/2007 (for the purposes of this calculation), so that as individual titles they’re effectively only available as eBooks.) Time, emiT, and Time Again is the only book I have in print which isn’t still in the red, and that’s because -through a Kickstarter fundraiser- I raised the money to pay for its printing before putting it in print. The combined paperback edition of Untrue Tales… Books 1-3 is about $40 away from breaking even, after strong sales at Phoenix Comicon in 2010. My poetry books are each down around $200 (though if their original journals sell, that’ll be covered… which is the idea behind selling them, and pricing them that way). Lost and Not Found, Forget What You Can’t Remember, and More Lost Memories are each down around $150, since they don’t sell well. Cheating, Death has had better sales, and is only down about $75. I miscalculated when I priced the cover art for the Lost and Not Found – Director’s Cut, so while it’s not down $200, it is currently about $65 in the red. …and then there’s Dragons’ Truth, which is $400 in the red because back in 2008 I spent a couple hundred dollars on materials and equipment for putting together Audio CD and MP3 CD versions of the audiobook… and I think I’ve sold 1 copy of each in the last two and a half years… Yeah. So.
So… the eBook-only books cost me time (currently counted as free, since making these things is what I want to be doing with my time, anyway) and the cost of an ISBN (currently $9.15 apiece, since I bought them in 2007, well before the recent price drops plummets), then produce a gradual trickle of income. Getting out of $10 in red ink is much easier than getting out of $100 of red ink (just to get a book in print) or $350 in red ink (if I want to have copies for hand-selling). Last Christmas is one of my best stories (financially) to date: the only expense was the ISBN, but the original cover art sold before the eBook was even ready to go online, so it’ll be forever in the black. That’s more than most of my books can say.
Of course, only a handful of people have read or heard Last Christmas. I’m much happier to see that I’ve given away over 21,000 eBooks and audiobooks in the last year. I’ve got two new books coming out in the next few months (and who knows what I’ll do later in the year), both of which will be eBook/audiobook only at first, and then as part of a combined trilogy for print later… though if I didn’t expect them to do well at the Phoenix Comicon, I might have indefinitely put off printing the Untrue Tales books at all. I make more money hand-selling books than from any other income source, but not nearly enough to cover the cost of having those books printed in the first place. Not yet, anyway.
I think that’s all I have for now. I don’t think I intended to go on and on like this, but I feel I’ve included a fair amount of clear data. If there’s something you feel I’ve left out, don’t hesitate to ask. I’m not trying to hide anything; I’m trying to avoid overwhelming you.