Surface-level takeaways from reading the Taleist survey (1007 self-publishers asked about self-publishing):
While I earn way, way below the $10,000 average (skewed by the top 10% of authors earning 75% of the revenue), I am somewhat above the $500 median, in terms of annual revenue. I also have triple the number of titles available, compared to the top 10%, and over seven times as many as the average.
The other number which jumped out at me was 1,500: That’s the average number of copies sold last year, according to respondents. I wish they’d included a median value for that, too. That’s over nine times more copies than I sold last year, across all my titles, and if I recall correctly, their number was *per title*. My sellingest title sold 27 copies in 2011, and it was a $0.99 short story (my two best-selling book-length titles sold 18 & 17 copies apiece in 2011) – I have no idea how to get from dozens of sales a year to thousands, and as opposed to the 53% of respondents who self-published for the first time in 2011, I’ve been doing this for nearly a decade.
Glancing at the Amazon page for the $4.99 version of the report (my copy was free, for taking the survey), I see that it appears to have sold more copies in less than a day than any of my books did all last year, and possibly more copies than all of my books put together last year. I suppose I really ought to get back to work on my book about my experiences writing and self-publishing 19 books over the last ~10 years. Maybe next week, after Phoenix Comicon crushes my soul for the next four days.
Here’s hoping Never Let the Right One Go sells out at Comicon, at least doubling my book-revenue and nearly doubling my max-units-sold-per-title vs last year.
2 thoughts on “My quick response to the Taleist survey”
Teel, thanks so much for mentioning the report (and taking the survey in the first place). I’m glad we were able to give you a copy.
You’ll have seen that many authors expect their earnings to triple over the next year. I hope the rising tide floats your books, too. I think it can all only go up from here.
Oh, I appreciate it. Thank you! I’m all for data – I publish all my numbers (small though they may be) right here on my blog, because I don’t think it should just be the occasional outlier who puts out figures on their book sales. Us low-to-median-sales guys can help paint a more realistic picture for everyone. I’ve been looking forward to reading the report, and didn’t hesitate to read it when it arrived. I look forward to next year’s survey & results; I also think it’s all upward from here, for self-publishing.
While I think tripling is a little too optimistic for me, my sales go up and up every year and I’m in this for the long haul. It doesn’t help that probably a quarter of my work is Literary Fiction, and over two-thirds qualifies as Science Fiction – this is not where the sales are… but I believe strongly in making all my books available for free to those who cannot afford them (or who want to try a new author without risk), so I have a lot of readers. I may have only sold ~165 books & eBooks last year, but my free eBooks and audiobooks were downloaded nearly thirty thousand times in 2011. I put out all my books under a CC BY-NC-SA license, and give them away for free right alongside the copies for sale (and the premium options – true fans are willing to pay more to support creators whose work they love), much like a certain Doctorow (whose much higher sales are, I believe, an effect of traditional publishing).
Your survey had options for temporary giveaways, but I don’t recall an option for what I do, which is a permanent giveaway, from day one of every book, alongside multiple for-pay options… or any way to let you know how many copies I give away. I’m one of those “rather have more readers for less money than fewer readers and high-price books” authors, so this is a major factor in how I measure my success.