Time For Some Math (or, the post where I discuss sales)

January 2014 Earnings [& Expenses] Report

I’m starting a new topic on my website that details my monthly earning report. Everything in this post is as true as I know it to be, and is as true as my situation warrants. My goal is to show you a little bit of what happens behind the scenes. It’s not always exciting, but I’ve enjoyed the process thus far.

I’ve been earning money for my writing for a little over three years now, but I’ve been a writer for twenty-six years. I mention this only to give you an idea of my age and to also showcase that while I am a seasoned writer, I am relatively new at self-publishing. I adore having complete control over everything—the covers, my editor (love you, girl!), and, overall, my own schedule.

Right now I am only a part-time writer. My sales will reflect this. I have a full-time job and I am, at this time, the sole earner for my family. I also live in the Washington DC area, and this is a high cost of living area. I’m blessed in the fact that I have a wonderfully paying job and I can afford to pay—out of pocket—for the expenses related to writing (namely, editing is the costliest) with the thought that this is an investment for the future. Yes… my ultimate goal is to become a full-time writer, but this will take many years and I am completely comfortable with this. I consider myself a professional. I care about my writing. I care about the work I put out there. I also care about longevity (the long tail) and I’m not interested in making a quick buck. I care very much about my readership!!

Before I go forward and tell you what I EARNED, I need to tell you what I SPENT in order to earn royalties. As an entrepreneur and one that has complete control over her work, it also means that I have to pay for the services I use (covers, editing) —

January 2014 saw a few publications for me

1)   Falling For Him (The Complete Series) (Kelly Washington)

  • This is a bundle/complete package of 1) Falling For You, 2) Hungry For You, and 3) Ready For You.
  • All three novellas were written and edited in 2012 & 2013. Therefore I did not have any editing costs in the month of January 2014. However, in the sake of transparency, the editing cost for all three novellas was $600, or $200 per novella.
  • I packaged the novellas together and published it on 21 January 2014. I do all of my own formatting with a program called Scrivener, which I have owned since 2011. Therefore I did not have any formatting costs for the month of January 2014.
  • The cover for FALLING FOR HIM is a modification of the existing #3 novella cover. I use a program called Pixelmator to create my covers. I purchased Pixelmater in 2013. No costs were incurred for the cover in the month of January 2014.
  • On January 21, 2014, I filed and submitted the combined Falling For Him series with the copyright office. Price: $35.00.

2)   The Queen Of Scarred Hearts (#2, Reclaimed Souls) (Jean 8. Aeglothecca)

  • This is the second book/novella in my YA/Fantasy/Science Fiction Series called Reclaimed Souls.
  • The first book, The Pale Waters (#1, Reclaimed Souls) was published in November 2013.
  • The entire series (meaning, all FOUR books in the Reclaimed Series) was written and edited in 2013. Therefore I did not have editing costs in the month of January 2014. However, for the sake of transparency, the total editing costs for all four books was $1,300, or $325* per book. * Cost for editing was higher than the Falling For Him series because Reclaimed Souls was much longer, and editing normally is calculated using the word-count for the manuscript.
  • The covers for all four books were purchased (licensed) from istockphoto.com in September 2013. Therefore I did not have cover costs in the month of January 2014. However, for the sake of transparency, covers cost approximately $30, or $7.50 per image. I may be off a little bit in terms of what it costs since on istockphoto.com, the customer (me) purchases “credits” and then uses those credits toward licensing images. I recall that the images I chose for the Reclaimed Souls series were less than 10 credits each. So while $7.50 seems low, I can almost promise you that each cover cost less than $10 to license.
  • On January 19, 2014, I filed and submitted The Queen of Scarred Hearts with the copyright office. Price: $35.00.



Okay, now that you know that I incurred costs, you’ll need to know that I made one of my books FREE starting the last week of January and this had unexpected results for me. I made FALLING FOR YOU, (#1, Novella of the Falling For Him Series) Free. Within a few days I was #4 in the Gay Romance genre on Amazon. It shocked me! I have no doubt that this lead to many customers purchasing Novellas #2 and #3, as well as the entire Falling For Him Series bundle (the bundle was priced LOWER than if a customer had purchased each book individually). (Note: as I write this, Falling For You (#1) is currently # 29 in Amazon’s Kindle/EBook Gay Romance category.) <pause while I do cartwheels!!>

Based on numbers and my fuzzy math skills, I would estimate that of those that downloaded the free novella, approximately 5% went on to purchase #2 novella, and those that purchased #2, almost 75% of those customers purchased #3 novella. These statistics bleed over into February because I didn’t check my sales until the first weekend in February. I’m not a chronic statistic checker. I’ll admit, however, that I’m paying much more attention than I ever have before.

Next, before I get into the stats that I’ve promised you, I want you to know that during the month of January I wrote two short stories for a science fiction and fantasy magazine submission. If purchased, each short story will earn me $360 per short story, or $720 for both. However, I will not know until later this month (February 2014) if the stories will be accepted. For transparency sake, I actually wrote three short stories for this submission, but the last one was written at the beginning of February, so I’ll mention it more in next month’s report, as well as any earnings from them.

I sell across many e-book sellers: Amazon, Smashwords (which distributes to BN, Kobo, Diesel, and iTunes), and All Romance EBooks. All information contained below is directly from the vendors.


Falling For Him ($.99) (before set to free) Royalty: $8.05

Units Sold/Borrowed                        Units Returned

24                                                            1

Falling For Him ($.00) (set to free) Royalty: $0.00

Units Downloaded/Borrowed              Units Returned

266                                                                        0

Hungry For You ($1.99) Royalty: $16.76

Units Downloaded/Borrowed              Units Returned

24                                                                        0

Ready For You ($1.98) Royalty: $2.78

Units Downloaded/Borrowed              Units Returned

4                                                                        0

(note about the above… seems low, right? Well, I, at some point, unwittingly set #3 also to FREE – probably thinking I was modifying #1, so you’ll see a different story right below this)

Ready For You ($0.00) (set to free) Royalty: 0.00

Units Downloaded/Borrowed              Units Returned

879                                                                        1*

* The return coincides when I accidentally placed the novella for free. While I do not know for sure, I believe the customer purchased it just before the novella became free, realized a couple of days later it was free and returned the purchased version. Otherwise, I do not see a reason of returning a free ebook. <grin> I should also note that I’m super cool with this. If I went to a store and bought a book and then, the next day I went back in only to realize the same book was either on sale or free, you better believe I’d return the purchased book in order to get the free or reduced priced product. Just saying.

Falling For Him (The Complete Series) ($3.99) Royalty: $54.94

Units Downloaded/Borrowed              Units Returned

26                                                                        6*

* This is a 23% return rate. I haven’t investigated, but I think this may be on the high side for return rates. It alarms me. It could be related to the fact that during the same week, Falling For You and Ready For You were both, at times, Free. I’m not sure. I’ll state that when I purchase an ebook, I rarely return to the scene of the crime (i.e., the book’s page on Amazon) to see if the price is different. In fact, I rarely read the book right away. Hopefully these 6 customers went back to see what else I had for sale and realized two of the three books that they just paid $3.99 for were free. I’m probably reading too much into it, tho. I’ll see if February holds the same % rate of returns. Hopefully it will not.

Units Downloaded/Borrowed              Units Returned

2                                                                        0

  • Military Love (Three Erotic Short Stories) ($2.99) Royalty: $2.07

Units Downloaded/Borrowed              Units Returned

1                                                                        0

Units Downloaded/Borrowed              Units Returned

1                                                                        0

Units Downloaded/Borrowed              Units Returned

1                                                                       0

Sadly, I did not have any sales of my Reclaimed Souls series across any Amazon channel for the month of January.

 Total Amazon US Royalty: $86.69

I’m not going to break down Amazon UK, AUS, DE, or the other countries. Across all titles, I earned $17.94 in the other Amazon stores.

Total Amazon Royalties: $104.63


Smashwords distributes to Kobo, Sony, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, among others. Typically, my sales are much lowers on Smashwords, and January was no different. I won’t break down the titles, but overall I earned $27.29. It appears, however, that I gave away 391 free ebooks. I experimated a little bit with Smashwords on pricing and I did set many of my titles for free for a week or two, to include Falling For Him. I did not see a jump in sales in the non-free titles due to this.

Sometimes, however, Smashwords’ spreadsheets are difficult for me to read. For example, it will list a sale, but it won’t break it down any further, such as delivery fees (authors are responsible for the costs associated with delivering the ebook to your ereader), and the vendor’s cut (anywhere from 30-40%). So, in the “Final Amount Tab”, it is empty and it doesn’t factor when I do the auto-sum. I’ll cut Smashwords slack, however, in that they report it when the vendor reports the sale. So, what I’m seeing in my January report may really be stuff from November, or December. Also, it is very possible that I’m reading it all wrong. That said, I feel comfortable with the $27.29 amount since this is in line with what they pay me quarterly (~$80-90 / 3 months = $26.66-$30.00 per month). However, if the trend I saw in Amazon (where free gained me many new sales) happens, I may not see the numbers reported until next month.

All Romance Ebooks

All Romance Ebooks (ARe) is a new distributor to me. Their uploading system takes a bit of getting used to, but once you’ve got it down, it’s VERY easy to upload all of your titles. I did this with ARe in January 2014 (in fact, the LAST WEEK of January). I have had no other history with ARe, so January is my first month with them, and I am very happy with my sales!

Note: Nothing was set for free on ARe in January.

  • Falling For Him (The complete series) 29 units sold
  • Falling For You (#1) 42 units sold
  • Hungry For You (#2) 9 units sold
  • Ready For You (#3) 8 units sold
  • Ignite Me (An Erotic Short) 24 units sold
  • Military Love (Three Erotic Shorts) 1 unit sold

I sold 113 units at ARe (in one week) for a total Royalty of $98.64. I’ll hint that February is looking very good already.

January 2014 Royalty Earnings


Minus Expenses (copyright filing of $70)


So, there you have it. I earned, after expenses, a grand total of $160.56 for the month of January 2014. However, this doesn’t do you much good unless you knew how much I earned in January 2013… $10.20. Yes… ten dollars and twenty cents. <grin> I’d call that an improvement.

2014 looks good for me. I have several more titles to published and several short stories that, hopefully, will be accepted into science fiction & fantasy magazines. February sales are already looking great and I hope the trend continues. I doubt I’ll ever be Colleen Hoover, Amanda Hocking, Bella Andre, or Addison Moore – whom are great and I’ve read their stuff and enjoyed it and they deserve the sales they’ve earned – but I’ll put my work out there and see if it resonates with anyone. I’ll learn along the way. I’ll take risks. I’ll experiment. I’ll dabble in other genres. The great thing about being my own boss is that I get to call the shots, even if those shots only earn me a few hundred bucks a month. It’s worth it.



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