Alright, I was going to post about the business data about short stories with details about my sales not just on Amazon but wide, but when I poked into the details I realized that it didn’t truly matter. So, I figured I’d just post the information. This is from Bookreport.
These are the sales as of early this morning (Sept 30, 2020). Pretty much 2 months of short sales. My sales wide are an additional CAD$22.96. The only other income of note other than wide sales is the advance I received for the Favored Son when I had it included in the anthology US$75.
So, total I’ve made around US$1539 or so.
Yay! That’s an incredible amount isn’t it? Amazing…
There’s the cost.
Expenses wise, each of these stories are roughly 5,000 words or so (some 6k, some 4k, we’ll average to 5k). They were all professionally edited and proofed. Each cost me around $15 per 1000 words, so $75 each. Total editing cost = $300.
For the covers, the A Thousand Li one was homemade. So the cost of that was just time.
The System Apocalypse cover I had made professionally, but then just change the font myself. That cost $200 in total.
So, total expenses on all this is approximately $500 in actual outlay. None of that includes time of course, for formatting, for writing, for editing and cover design.
For those wondering, I’m a relatively fast writer, so each of these takes between 3-5 days to write. So, figure it’s something like half a month to a full month (not including the weekends).
Total profit then makes it around US$1000.
Pretty decent, especially considering I expect to earn something from all this for the next little while. If I was smarter, I’d probably have spaced the releases out a lot more so that they came out when I wasn’t releasing anything else.
The Pricing Question
Now anyone looking at the reviews will note that there’s quite a lot of complaints and bad reviews due to my pricing. Specifically, why I price it at $2.99 instead of cheaper.
Firstly, outside of LitRPG, shorts priced at $2.99 aren’t uncommon. Not usual, but not uncommon.
Secondly, I’d point out the above issue of costs ($500). Now, due to the way that Amazon is set-up, if I priced the shorts cheaper (example $0.99) I get 35% of the income. That means at $0.99, I make $0.35 a short. For the same number of sales I have right now, I’d have earned – (946 * $0.35) – $331.10.
In other words, I’d still be running a loss (on just expenses) never mind time spent writing it. Now, some readers might point out that it’s not their business – and that’s very true. It’s not the readers business to worry about my personal expenses/income. It’s also entirely up to them to purchase (or not) the shorts at the price I set them. It’s not as if I’m trying to hide the fact that these are shorts.
Anyway, pricing wise, there’s just no way to price it out properly with the way Amazon cuts royalty down once we drop down to $0.99. I even tested selling the shorts for cheap on my own site before releasing them wide, but I had very few purchases on Payhip.
It’s also the same reason these shorts aren’t in Kindle Unlimited – there’s no point. I wouldn’t earn anything (probably even less!) if I stuck them in KU which is why they’re outright purchases.
Oh, and some of the stories (like the A Thousand Li: Favored Son) are available for free if you subscribe to my newsletter. And all of them are free on Patreon.
On Wide Income
One of the things to note is how low my wide income is in comparison. It’s worth further noting that (currently) outside of audiobooks, both A Thousand Li and System Apocalypse are in Kindle Unlimited.
So I don’t have much of a ‘wide’ fanbase. So I’m not particularly surprised sales are pretty low.
Oh, and that’s partly also why I’m releasing these wide, to continue to build my wide audience. At some point, I’ll get the other books wide in ebook format, when the income from KU drops off. Probably in another 6-12 months after the series are done I expect.
The only short I have with an audiobook is the Favored Son. I will get the rest recorded at some point, though I need to find a narrator(s?) for the others. Currently, wide audiobook income is pretty insignificant again (and months behind), while I am still waiting for ACX to approve release of the short on Audible. So… meh.
I’d do it, but that’s because I like having multiple streams of income for the same work. As always, I’m looking down 20 years rather than 2.
Some Final Notes
Obviously, these are all works in 2 of my main series. Works that are quite, quite popular and who I have a ton of fans for. I would not expect to see the same level of interest if I released a short story that had no such backup.
I’ll find out soon enough since I wrote a short in another world (First Steps into the Night) that I just released.
And obviously, I’m a fast writer who keeps releasing into these series so that should push up interest in the shorts as time goes on. It’s not as if I’m majorly impacting my production of my books by writing and releasing these. And the only reason there’s 4 shorts released in a 2 month period is because they were built up over a 2 year period. I expect it’ll slow down a bit, though I’m trying (as my patrons know) to be a little more consistent by writing a short story for them each month.
Other indie pub authors might note my editing & proofing cost are high. They are. I have an editor and proofers I like, I am happy to pay more for expertise. There are places you can pay for less.
Lastly, remember those negative reviews? There’s at least one reader who has decided to not read my work because he feels cheated. The number of people who might feel that they are cheated by me writing and releasing shorts at $2.99 is probably higher than 1. So… *shrugs* That might affect you too. Take that however you want.
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