One of my good friends and fellow writers asked for a blog on royalties. A great topic for sure! I will preface that everything contained in this post is my point of view and my experience with royalties.
So, here we go. Sorry. It's tough. Real tough to make money as an author if you don't have A. Big publishers behind you or B. Marketing budgets in the thousands.
Since I am with a small publisher, I don't have to shell out any money for editing or covers, but all marketing responsibilities are shared between me and the publishers. Luckily, my publishers are focused on marketing, and do a great deal to help promote me and my books. However, since most publishers have many, many authors, it's not profitable for small presses to pay for individual advertising online or elsewhere, so we all tend to focus on author-share marketing, where all authors in the publishing house help promote the other authors. This varies from publishing house to publishing house, but it's something that every small press should consider doing. Not only is it great to network with other authors it is very likely you already share readers or can find new ones if you are interacting in the right way.
I know, I know, you want numbers right? Well, you're not going to like it...
Most of my eBooks are $2.99. Per my royalty contract, I get 50% of the royalty after Amazon takes their cut. Basically, I make between $1.00 and $1.10 per ebook sold. Yep. A whole dollar. Believe it or not, this is actually pretty good considering the royalty on a print book isn't much higher, at all. I do make more on print books when I buy them and resell them for signings, but even then, when you add in all the costs to get to the signing, most authors break even if they're lucky.
Each book is different, too. My YA SciFi Tiva Boon has done the best, sales-wise, more than all my other books combined. I can only assume it's because it's in the YA Genre. To be honest, I have no idea how and where all these readers found me. The first quarter Tiva was on sale I made over $1000. Every quarter after, that number got smaller and smaller. This past quarter I made just over $100 on three books, the two Tiva books, and the first MIND book. Tiva #1 and MIND #1 were also on sale for .99cents in March. That means I make .33 cents for each sale that month.
Let me say this before I go further. I AM NOT COMPLAINING. Yeah, it kinda sucks you only make $1.00 on a book that took you a year or two or three to write and then another year or two or three to sell, but I AM MAKING money writing. It's a dream come true. I never thought I'd make it this far. I never knew I had the perseverance to keep going after two years of rejections (per book). It's still hard. I promote myself and my books just about every day. Sometimes I take off Sunday, everyone needs a day off, right?
When it finally came time to work out my numbers for taxes, overall, I came in at a loss, but I purposefully spent the majority of my royalties buying paperbacks and marketing because I wanted the exposure. I'm not sure if it worked or not, I'll let you know when the next book comes out in October :-)
While I am not an expert, I'm happy to answer anything I can. Ask away. I don't bite. Usually.