Sales and Royalties, The Sequel

So, my UK sales figures are finally in!  This is a sequel post to the piece on sales and royalties that I wrote last year, and, just like the last one, it’s mostly going to be about numbers.  If you’re not too interested in the details, just skip to the subheading marked ‘TLDR Summary’.

Ebooks and Print

Just as before, ebooks continue to be the biggest part of my royalty income, and not by a little, but by a LOT.  Partly this is because with an ebook, a higher percentage of the price goes to me, but mostly it’s because the ebook sales of my earlier books are much higher than the paper sales of the same.  This make sense if you think about it – it’s easier to get a writer’s backlist via ebook than it to track down paper copies.  Each new book has high initial paper sales on release (most of which goes to the bookshops) but once that’s done, paper sales drop to a trickle while ebooks just keep on selling.  Over time, the ebook sales end up eclipsing the paper ones.

This works out quite nicely for me, as it means that the format that most readers are using for my older books is also the one that earns me the most money.  Added together with the sales difference, the disparity between my ebook income and my paper book income for older books like Chosen and Taken is huge – as much as 10x in some cases.

Scaling Up

Back in last year’s post, I wrote that the sales for Chosen upon its release in the second half of 2013 were higher than the sales for Taken upon its release in the second half of 2012.  The same’s happened again with Hidden – its sales upon release in second-half 2014 were better than Chosen’s sales upon release the year before.  And although I haven’t yet got the sales figures from Veiled (that’ll have to wait until next spring), from what I’ve been told by my publishers, the same thing’s happened again, and Veiled’s first week has outsold Hidden’s.

The difference isn’t huge – it’s not like the sales are doubling or anything – but they’re going up by a noticeable fraction with each new book, which suggests that the fanbase for the books is steadily growing.  Publishers like that, and so do authors.

The American Dream

I’m getting more and more of my income from the US and Canada, rather than the UK.  It’s not that I’m selling badly in the UK, it’s just that while my UK sales are climbing, my US sales are climbing faster.  If I don’t look at income but only at sales numbers, then the difference is even higher – I sold almost twice as many copies of Fated, Cursed, and Taken in the US over the first half of this year as I did in the UK.

Why this is the case, I don’t know.  The obvious explanation is that there are 300+ million people in the US and only 60-odd million in the UK, and that’s probably the biggest reason, but I can’t help wonder if there might be other factors.  Usually authors sell much better at home than they do abroad, but maybe American readers like long-running urban fantasy serials more than British ones do?  If you’ve got any other explanations, feel free to put them in the comments!

TLDR Summary

The Alex Verus novels are still selling well (especially in America), my readership’s continuing to grow, and it’s looking like I’ll be able to keep writing the series all the way to its end.  Good news all around!

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17 Responses to Sales and Royalties, The Sequel

  1. Michael says:

    Hi Benedict:
    The reason you are selling well in the US is because Anne Sowards and Jim Butcher both “tweeted” favorably about your Alex Verus series. They both have a huge amount of Twitter followers. If they had not mentioned your series in their Twitter feed, I would never have found you. Dresden fans are waiting with quiet desperation for the next book in that series. Your series was a nice diversion and I hope more Dresden fans find you. Now I am waiting with great anticipation for the next chapter in Alex’s adventures. FYI, a collaboration between Alex and Harry would be MIND BLOWING!!!

    Hats off to you and your magnificent imagination!

  2. All good reasons to keep writing 🙂

  3. John says:

    Michael beat me to it. I’m an American and I found your series by way of Jim Butcher as well. Look for him on YouTube to find out why. Practically every time he does a book signing someone asks him who else they should be reading and your name is at or near the top of his list. I probably would have found you without his nod because of Goodreads and the fact that I read a LOT of UF but it might have taken me a lot longer to get around to reading your series.

    Now I’ve read your series five or six times and I’ll pre-order anything you write. Honestly, given the quality of your work I’m kind of shocked you aren’t selling a lot better. I guess I just assumed you were on all the best seller lists that I never pay attention to? *sends mass text message to recommend you to everyone I know*

  4. Robert MANDELL says:

    Same for me, I discovered your work via Jim Butcher doing a Geek and Sundry session on you-tube. Now with Gate Technology and parallel universe which are part of each universes lore , I believe a Dresden/Verus team-up is very conceivable. Maybe a novella or a short story?

  5. John says:

    I don’t usually like telling authors what to write because they can get twitchy about their creativity and what not but OMG please do the parallel reality Dresden/Verus cross-over in a short story eventually! I don’t know what you plan to do with the alternative dimensions thing in the future but it would rock if you could pull it off.

  6. Robert MANDELL says:

    So here’s my idea. Richard somehow throws Verus through a gate… which delivers Alex into Harry’s Universe. Alex doesn’t have the power to return through the gate, but he does have one of his gate stones. Alex needs what? Power ! Dresden level force power! Of course this is just an idea how Alex winds up in the Dresden Universe. I leave the rest to the authors!

  7. Matt says:

    Another American here who was introduced to your series through Jim Butcher during a local book signing. He threw your name out when asked about his favorite books/authors he reads.

  8. Nicola says:

    Three mentions of a Verus/Dresden crossover…

    I’ll remind the commenters that in Fated there was a comment about the possible existence of a powerful Chicago wizard named Dresden, but that no proof for it was available.

    Unless this is a Chekov’s gun, this is enough (in my eyes) to establish the commonality of the Dresden/Verus universe, and the possibility in a future book of at least a meet between the two characters. Not that this can be counted on, but one can hope.

  9. Bre says:

    Sorry if this is already answered somewhere, but by ‘to its end’ do you mean there’s a set number of books you plan to have in this series?

    Hello from another American reader, by the way. I found your books by googling ‘good urban fantasy’ and wading through the paranormal romance, although I do read Jim Butcher. I think your stuff juxtaposes in a really cool way. Dresden gets more and more bludgeoning power while Verus scrapes by on his wits.

  10. Benedict says:

    Bre: I know where the story’s going, but I don’t know how long it’ll take to get there. My current estimate is 12 books, but that could be a long way off.

  11. Bre says:

    Then there’s still a lot left! Yay! I’d read more but I’ll take what I can get.

  12. Tarun Elankath says:

    Your US sales could also be higher because many international readers started buying their Kindle books from amazon US and never changed even after region specific amazons were introduced.

  13. Geli says:

    I also found Alex Rider through a Harry Dresden Fangroup on Goodreads. Though I am German… and buy on amazon.de. ^^

    Is there a significant readership outside UK / US?

  14. Kadinh13 says:

    I’d actually already came across your first book on Audible and had it in my wishlist when I heard Jim Butcher recommending it in a Con Panel that someone posted on YouTube. I’m listening to Veiled now. I started listening to audio books 2 years ago because my knitting addiction was harmful to my reading addiction. Honestly I’m not fond of the narrator but your story pulled me in and kept me coming back. I’m planning to get paperback copies of everything in the series for my 18 year old. He won’t read ebooks or listen to audio unless he has to.

  15. Alex Rahr says:

    One more reason, minor as it may be; US ebook sales would include anyone coming thru Amazon.com, right? There is no amazon.co.nz site so anyone in NZ – & possibly some other places – is going to show as part of your US ebook sales.

  16. Robert Mandell says:

    How about an update on sales as of September 2016?