Some good news for this week! My latest set of royalty statements arrived over the weekend, and I’ve had the chance to go through them properly. They look good – actually, very good.
Advance warning: the rest of this post is going to be about sales figures. I’m not actually going to copy-paste the entire sea of numbers from my royalty statements up on this blog, partly because I’m pretty sure it would bore most of you to tears, and also because putting your financial details out there on the Internet probably isn’t the smartest thing you can do from a personal security perspective. However, everything from here on is basically sales analysis. If you aren’t interested in reading it, skip to the heading below marked ‘TLDR Summary’.
Also, for some background, I wrote a post last year on advances and royalties: if you’re getting confused about the references to royalties and what ‘earning out an advance’ means, take a look at that first and it should explain most of it.
With that said, here are the highlights.
The Important Bits
- The first three books in the Alex Verus series (Fated, Cursed, Taken) have now earned out their advance and are into royalties in both the US and the UK. This means that from now on, any further copies that get sold directly give me money.
- My sales of Fated, Cursed, and Taken in the second half of 2013 are slightly (but noticeably) higher than the sales of the first half of 2013. Which probably doesn’t sound like much, but which from my point of view is REALLY encouraging. Books normally tend to sell less and less as time passes; the fact that the trend’s going the other way, even slightly, is a very good sign.
- The sales of Chosen upon its release in August/September 2013 are higher than the sales of Taken upon Taken‘s release in August/September 2012. Which again doesn’t sound like much, but is a big deal. It means that an increasing number of people both know about the series and like it enough to buy the next one when it comes out.
With regard to the second point, it’s worth bearing in mind that part of the uptick in sales for Fated/Cursed/Taken in the second half of 2013 can be put down to the release of Chosen and to the December holiday season, both of which are going to skew things a bit. That said, from a business point of view, the whole point of a book series is that the release of each later book is supposed to boost the sales of each earlier book. In my case, that seems to be exactly what’s happening, and the sales boost is strong enough that the books are getting into royalties.
The Less Important Bits
- Ebooks are a really big part of my sales numbers. In absolute terms, I still sell more paper books than ebooks. However, the ebook numbers are a high fraction of the paper ones, and they’re climbing – if things keep going as they are, they’re going to overtake my paper sales eventually. In particular, the further my books get from initial date of publication, the more their sales skew towards electronic rather than print.
- Despite selling more paper books than ebooks, ebooks actually earn me more in total than paper ones do. Partly this is because I get a better royalty rate on electronic sales than I do on mass market and trade paperbacks, but the fact that ebooks aren’t subject to returns has a fair bit to do with it.
- I sell more books in the US than I do in the UK, though not by much.
These are more a matter of trivia than anything else, though they’re still interesting for the sake of curiosity. Apparently my readers really like ebooks, which probably isn’t too much of a surprise.
Putting It Together
So sales are good, and from the way they’re trending, it’s looking as though they’re going to continue to be good. The earning-out-the-advance in the UK and US is especially good news – it means I’ll effectively have a second source of income in addition to what I get from my advances.
That said, I’m not going to be buying any mansions any time soon. I’m financially pretty successful by author standards, but given that most authors make basically nothing, that’s a really low bar to clear. However, it does mean that barring something unforeseen, I can keep paying my bills through working as a full-time author, for the next couple of years at least.
The sales are also good news for the future of the Alex Verus series. Publishing is a business, and publishers put out books because they expect those books to make them money. When a series sells badly, it gets cancelled: when it sells well, publishers will keep it going. These sales figures mean that Orbit and Ace are likely to be willing to keep publishing more Alex Verus books – obviously I still have to write them, but it’s looking increasingly likely that I’ll have the choice. And since right now what I really want to do is keep writing more books in the Alex Verus series, that’s not going to be a difficult choice to make.
Of course, when I’m talking about ‘more books’, I’m looking WAY into the future. Alex Verus #5, Hidden, is coming out this September, and I’ve already got contracts for Alex Verus #6 and #7, so the ‘more books’ I’m thinking about are numbers #8, #9, or even further beyond. So this is seriously long-term stuff we’re talking here. But then, when you’re writing a series that stretches out for years, that’s kind of what you expect, isn’t it?
The books are selling well, my readership’s growing, and it’s looking as though I’ll be able to keep writing more books in the Alex Verus series. Good news all around!