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.
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!
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!