I posted a bit about my royalty statement and the impact of ebooks on royalties last quarter. I thought I’d revisit it this quarter. This isn’t a deep dive of any kind, just a few data points.
First, while I can’t give exact numbers for this quarter (or any particular quarter), typical quarterly sales of my backlist amount to 6,500 to 9,000 units in the aggregate (excluding from the data: (a) all anthologies, which throw off negligible royalties; (b) all Star Wars books, which are their own thing entirely; and (c) any new release released during the quarter in question). Not a ton of units by any means, but a reasonable quarterly number.
So, there’s some context. Back to ebooks.
Ebook sales of the individual titles of The Erevis Cale Trilogy made up 54% of all sales this quarter, up from 37% last quarter. These numbers were skewed though, because Dawn of Night, the second book of the Cale Trilogy, needs a reprint (or WotC is letting it go out of print; P.S. WotC, don’t let it go out of print! It’s still selling well!), so print sales for it were off considerably from last quarter. Had print sales of Dawn of Night been similar this quarter to those of the other two books of The Erevis Cale Trilogy, ebooks sales of the individual titles of the trilogy would have been 44%, up some from last quarter, but not as much.
On the other hand, e-book sales of the individual titles of The Twilight War went up considerably, from 8% to 20%. Sales were higher overall this quarter for The Twilight War, and the mix of sales reflects many more ebook sales relative to print sales.
So what do I conclude? Well, not much. There’s not a lot of data. Overall sales for the books are fairly stable, though the mix seems to be changing in favor of more ebooks. I suppose that’s consistent with the general trend in the market, as more and more readers opt for a digital experience.
The only other thing I’d add is the obvious point that having a fair number of backlist titles still in print and available is a nice situation for an author. If sales of each title are anywhere near decent, the total number adds up enough to throw off moderately substantive royalties. Combine those with advances on new books each year and you start to have something resembling a writing career, even if you’re not a blockbuster seller. And ebooks will help in that regard, since most books will stay “in print” digitally far longer than they will physically (though that fact will invariably crowd the marketplace with ever more options, which may drag on sales indirectly). This point is particularly salient to me at the moment since The Halls of Stormweather and Shadow’s Witness , the first two books in which Erevis Cale appears, are both out of print and not yet available as ebooks. I’m sure I’m losing sales, as lots of readers ask me about those books. Hopefully, WotC will get them (and the rest of the Sembia series) in digital format soon.
So, there you have it, such as it is.