Didn’t know that…

Even though there are a lot of authors publishing books, most authors don’t sell many. The typical self-published author sells about five copies of his book. 

The average US book now sells less than 200 copies per year and less than 1000 copies over its lifetime.

Full article, HERE from TonerBuzz.

I’m doing better than that, and over 1000 copies on all of the Grey Man series, and one of the Rimworld. Sneaking up on it with two more Rimworld and everything else is in the mid-high triple digits, including the anthologies.

The article does have some interesting ‘non-number’ issues mentioned, especially the lack of coverage of Amazon and Google books…

I know I’ll never be a best seller, but I’m having fun doing the books, and if I make enough to pay for some trips to cons throughout the year, I’m good with that. I’ve made high 5 figures since I started, and I’m happy with that ‘extra’ income. I know that doesn’t hold a candle to ‘real’ authors, because I write what I want to write, don’t pander to the market, and sure as hell don’t write message fiction.

I just want to write a good, fun, entertaining story where the guns are right, the characters aren’t perfect, and there are actual good and bad characters…

With almost 3000 reviews across my books, I’m averaging between 4.3 and 4.5 for each book, novella, or story, so there must be a ‘few’ folks out there that like what I’m doing.

Chatting with a couple of other authors over the last few days, they have also indicated their sales are down this year, too. Inflation IS kicking people’s expendable cash right in the you know what. Sigh…

Kicking my soapbox back in the corner now…


Huh… — 12 Comments

  1. I think you do an outstanding job as a writer, someone who takes the time to research your subject and want to get the terminology correct. You take the time to ask your readers to read a sample of your work and make any suggestions on how to make it better. That is humble and a humble writer is a good one.

    My reading and purchasing hard copies is down too. Some is economics, but much of it is I already have too many books as it is, especially living in a small home as we do. I weed out as much as I can, but it is hard to give up an old friend. Many of my books are old and re-read many times.

    Just my 2 cents – you have a great day.

  2. This was a surprise to me. A few months ago a podcaster and author to whom I listen mentioned that he’d probably sold a few hundred copies of each of his two books. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed both of them and been listening to his podcasts since he started, about ten years ago. I assumed that if a big name author was ranking in the millions, a medium in the hundreds of thousands, that even a small author with a certain following would be in the thousands.

    I’ll echo jrg on buying dead tree books. I’d much rather have them but at some point, there’s just no room. I lived in libraries when I was younger but now libraries don’t (can’t) have much of what I read with all the indie publishing going on. I think I read all yours using Kindle Unlimited so now, of course, can’t reread, having cancelled the service a bit ago. Waiting for the list of stuff I want to read to go back up and then resubscribe.

  3. I remember discovering that the ‘average’ author made about $15K a year on their writing – and this was among the ‘pros’. That a lot of the (modern day) Hugo award winners were earning between 10K and 20K. That anyone earning $30K or over was ‘in the big time’.

    I discovered this because I thought earning $30K was small peanuts with the way all of the other authors I used to hang out with were going on about their success. Until one day I did the unforgivable and shared my actual numbers and WOW that didn’t go over well.

    I think it’s still true that the median income for authors is under $30K. That for a lot of the politically correct message fic authors that it’s way less than that (from sales, not from donations) I remember a certain famous lefty author begging for money cause they were only making $10K a year – despite numerous major awards.

    I’m sure it also doesn’t ‘help’ the numbers that everybody and anybody is now publishing their own novels – Not that that is a bad thing. Far from it.

    I tell people that if you want to write, write. Don’t get all wrapped around the axle about ‘becoming a professional’ and just do what they enjoy. There’s no shame in being a ‘hobby author’ or a ‘part time author’. That’s how I started out after all.

    The good Lord knows that being a ‘full time author’ is no picnic – I mean it’s great work if you can get it and I wouldn’t give up being one, but there were and still are a lot of unexpected pitfalls. I’d compare it at times to tap dancing through a minefield, and every once in a while snipers show up armed with anything from a pea-shooter to a bazooka.
    Oh, and the minefield, as well as the lay of the land, is always changing.

    But what truly blows my mind is that these major publishing houses have NO FREAKING CLUE as to ‘what sells’ when ALL they have to do is look at the indy market and see. But apparently their politics are far more important than their bank account. Witness that DAW just sold themselves to the chicoms. Oh yeah, I can’t wait for them to get their reality checked when one of these days soon they get their leashes yanked by their new Chinese masters.

    It’s not really the ‘indies’ that are killing the tradpubs. It’s because they went Woke and are now going Broke. They’re all committng suicide.

    But, as always, the current situation will continue to change as those ‘politically correct’ folks with their ‘correct ideology’ leave their dying hosts of the traditional publishers and comic book companies behind and look to invade those companies publishing ebooks, so they can gate keep once more and be the lone arbiters of what is ‘right’ and ‘proper’.

  4. I didn’t realize that the sales numbers of good books that I like were so low.
    I have found it hard to search for non-crap writing through Amazon, as they keep showing me garbage, apparently hoping that I will submit, lower my standards, and buy it. Not happening.
    I occasionally find a new author on Sarah Hoyts’ book promo posts, but I think that cross-referrals might be useful.
    Some bloggers have a list of other blogs which they read and like. A similar list of indie authors might help, because if I like your stuff, and you like theirs, I might also.
    A bunch of quick fun reads that I am still enjoying are the “Bob and Nikki” series by Jerry Boyd, a humorous sci-fi first contact and extension seties, up to 27 books now.
    John in Indy

  5. A couple questions: does your count include the books read on Amazon reed for free and do you make anything from the ones that end up on audio books? Are Jace, Diplomatic Immunity, and Twilight coming out any time soon on audio? I have read all of them but like to listen to books on audio to test my tired old eyes late in the day.

  6. Apparently I’m another “not typical” author, because while my sales numbers are not huge, they are not five sales/title total. And I don’t really market, for a number of reasons.

    One thing that’s happened is fragmentation, now that people can write and sell just about anything to anyone, so people who used to buy, oh, “big sci-fi author” because that’s all that was out there are now buying “little quirky sci-fi author” because he writes the sort of thing they really, really missed reading.

    And I agree about the search functions and recommendations on pretty much any book-sales site. B&N is . . . frustrating as all get out, Amazon’s better, and I’m still sorting out Kobo and a few others.

  7. I know it’s hard to believe but I am not an author. With Southern as my native language, English is my second, I have a difficult time putting words in the order they need to be to keep interest up. (See what I mean?) But I really like what you and your writer buddies put out, so keep it up, gang.

  8. jrg/Hereso- Understood, and I don’t begrudge anyone that…

    Mike- Sigh… Sorry to hear that.

    John- Agreed! I just hate the damned bouncing bettys… sigh

    Hammer- I hadn’t counted them. I have something over 5.5 million page reads if I take an average page count, that’s around another 18000 ‘book’ reads. I make a little off of that. Re the other books, yes they will be coming on audible, and I do get paid a bit on those. I hadn’t thought about the novellas, will talk to the folks that are doing that! Thanks!

    TXRed- Excellent points! And I know you’re doing better than I am! LOL… Search functions are @##$#%@#!! up!!! Sigh…

    CP- Thanks! We try…

  9. I generally stick to Smashwords or Amazon for book purchases. Some author’s sell on both sites if they are not being promoted by Amazon.

    I’ve found a lot of good authors from reading the blogs of various authors that I enjoy, such as you. Some of these have led to additional authors & books.

    I don’t pay a lot of attention to the promotional emails, etc that I get from Amazon, but I do pay attention to what is being recommended by the authors I read.

  10. Feral- Thanks and I ‘hope’ you’ve been happy with the ones I’ve recommended… 😉

  11. Love that “Bob and Nikki” series. Funny!
    I expect that my Kindle buys are going to take a hit very soon. Packing to move, as I can’t work much due to an injury, and can’t afford to stay here in CA.
    My Kindle shows over 800 books in the last 8 years. Lots of them due to plandemic time factors, I think, in addition to the injury.