Some Really Fun Reactions…

Before you read this, you need to have read the blog post called The Math about three posts before this.

First…. I am finding it a massive hoot that not one person questioned that I gave the author 43,000 book sales traditionally (in about three months time) in my calculation, but are questioning 500 copies AVERAGE a year indie.

This is a prime example that authors really do think that traditional publishers have fairy dust to sprinkle on books and make them sell. The reality here in 2019 on the sales of that traditional book would be in the range of 15,000 copies per book, most of those forced into sales channels. Returns (books produced but destroyed) would run another 5,000 copies or more on the paper side.

Second book would be less because of how the ordering system works.

(You do not want to know how low a genre title sales normally is these days. Many are in the 1,000 range, and that is for the life of the book, remember.)

On the indie side, 500 copies a year might seem to be a lot to some writers at first. Many first author books won’t make that number for a couple of years as it takes time to grow in indie. But because of the nature of what I was doing, I had to use averages for indie authors because I was only talking about two books to compare.

For example, I had a series I loved writing just for me. Cold Poker Gang mystery series. First eight books I wrote over a three year period or so. They were trickling along, selling about a hundred copies or so per year I think. (I was told all this by WMG.) I didn’t care, with the eight books that was 800 sales for the series. Year-after-year. Do the math. Not chump change. But I wrote them for me, so honestly didn’t care.

Then WMG spent about three hundred bucks on a Bookbub for the first book in the series, and the series time was right and my stories and writing were good enough to keep readers interested and the series exploded. It has now sold, (the last time they told me, if I remember right) around a quarter of a million copies for the series.

So let me see… divide 8 books into that 250,000 and you get 31,250 books sold per title, divided by the four years they have been out and you get about 7,800 books a year. Way, way over 500 per year average. While for the three years before they caught on, I was about 100 books sold per title per year. Average, folks.

Unlike traditional publishing that has to make all its sales in a few quick months because traditional publishing considers books perishable like fruit on the stands.

Second…. In different places (not here), writers have brought up that silly myth of it costing $4,000 or more to produce an indie book, with all the costs of covers, paying editors thousands to make their book perfect, and thousands on promotion. That myth is deadly. Wow. And firmly held.

These people are saying my cost of $300 per book is not realistic, yet here, and in the earlier post on costs, many of you here were showing how it could be done even cheaper.

This myth would be laughable if not so deadly to so many writer’s dreams.

Third….. In a couple of places I saw posts of people saying they could never make 500 copies per year wide, only in Amazon Select (I may have that name wrong… you know, the place that is page-count and you can’t publish your book anywhere else and people who read it are free readers and Amazon pays you from a pool like a charity case.)

It seems that selling 42 copies wide (meaning around the world) per month is hard to grasp for some people. But how it works is three copies in Australia, five in Europe, one on Smashwords, five through other minor channels on D2D, three on iBooks through D2D, six on B&N through D2D, six copies on Kobo, and thirteen copies on Amazon.

All electronic. Paper and audio sales would be extra.

Or some combination like that. Plus other places like PublishDrive and so on. If you are wide and writing regularly, 42 copies sold per month can happen. But it does take a little build.

But if you put your books in Select (or whatever it is called now), even for three months, you lose build and readers who maybe have heard of your book, but can’t get it. You want every reader on the planet to be able to buy and read your book the moment they hear about it or want it.

And notice in this average I don’t even count any kind of bundling or licensing income that would not be possible if the books were in an exclusive sales place. Just a point.

Fourth…. Taxes. This one I got here and in another place. It seems that authors just expect to give almost half their money to the governments. Now I understand this with traditional published writers because they want to be taken care of and learning business and taxes is way beyond them. Hell, they are so stupid, they give a total stranger all their money and the paperwork with the money and then wonder why they get screwed and don’t get much money. Traditionally published writers in 2019 are not the brightest bulbs in the fixture.

But the smart indie writers I have observed tend to quickly get focused on business. They know what something costs (thus the discussion in earlier posts about how to save even more money on programs and art and such.)

Now granted, some indie writers have not learned yet and are paying “developmental scam editors” and hire agents for things they could do themselves. And pay thousands on advertising in a pattern that is not sustainable. But those indies tend to vanish in a few years after a number of years of shouting that they know the only true way.

The indies that are surviving are the ones that understand business, love doing things themselves, love being in control. And part of that control is just not blindly paying taxes to governments.

Now, don’t get me wrong, if you do not have a business structure that allows for savings on taxes, then you must not cheat and you must pay your taxes. Never cheat on taxes and always keep great records. Paper records!

But setting up the correct business structure is not hard. And does not change how you live. And if you find an accountant who works with musicians, writers, artists, and so on and who knows what we need, then you will be helped as well.

I teach basic business structure for writers in some classes and every year at the Master Business Class. It isn’t hard. Just don’t assume you have to pay taxes and then go learn the legal ways to not pay much of your hard-earned money in taxes.


Seems my little post with math caused a few people to get their undies in a bundle. Mostly beginning writers with a few books out, chasing the market, spending a ton on editing and advertising. Seems telling them that they will make a lot if they just learn to be better storytellers and write and publish.

But practicing writing, learning storytelling craft skills, learning business and copyright can make you a lot of money if you take control and have fun.