Ebooks and the royalty statement part II

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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.

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6 Comments

  1. Pingback: October 28, 2010 « Paul S. Kemp, Fictioneer

  2. I always find these types of posts very facinating. Thanks Paul.

  3. I just finished reading Shadowbred (so aaaaaaaawesome!) on my Kindle, and just purchased book 2, also for the Kindle. Please do whatever it takes to get your books available as e-books as much as possible. Not everyone lives in the US, and if you think finding the out-of-print books are hard in the US, imagine how it is for us fans living outside of the US.

    • Riki,

      No worries! WotC is into the ebook market with both feet and I expect all my WotC releases going forward will be available as ebooks.

      And hey, I’m delighted that you enjoyed Shadowbred. Hope you enjoy the rest of the Twilight War, too.

      Paul

  4. I just finished and the whole thing was aaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwweeeeeeeeesssssssssoooooooooooooommmmmmmmmmeeeeeeeeee. Too much thoughts to digest through right now, but I can’t wait for Godborn. If only WotC would release it already 🙁

  5. I agree with Riki, like i said in several other post i was on the brink of tears when i was going into Barnes and Noble looking for Godborn EVERY day for about a month asking them if they had news on it, if they had copies being shipped in, etc. Cannot wait for Godborn!

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