One of my dear writer friends, Megan, asked me a question about self-publishing and income. She wanted to know if ebook or print sales were more profitable when publishing through Amazon.
I have no data beyond my own, so please consider this as anecdotal information. I am one individual. I do not have access to sales like a publisher does. All I can share with you is the performance of my novels.
In order for this post to work, I must first discuss the differences between print and e-book copies, particularly in the royalty department.
Ebooks are far, far more profitable. There is no contest between the two formats. Here is a list of my ebooks and their royalty rates for Amazon.com:
Here is a list of my print versions and their royalty rates for Amazon.com:
Here is a convenient list showing how many print copies I need to sell to stay on par with ebook sales:
I tried to price the print copies to make them somewhat affordable for their length for those who want print versions of my titles.
Most people want ebook copies.
Here is a list of all of my print sales through Amazon.com:
Here is the data for the past six weeks of ebook sales for Amazon.com, including number of sales and royalty figures:
Now, something that did factor into these sales (and in some cases, the lack thereof) is the fact I did a free promotion on three of the four novels. Here's the number of free copies given away by title:
For my final presentation of numbers, the current week's royalties. (No number of copies sold data, sorry–Amazon's reporting system can be mean sometimes.)
Because I'm unwilling to jack the price of my print novels up by $5.00+ a copy for expanded distribution, I do not have a presence in bookstores. As a self-published indie with limited budget, this is just something I have to live with. I think I'm in the same situation with many others.
I won't stop doing print copies because I like having them–and I know fans enjoy print copies as well. However, I write my investment into formatting and print costs as a loss with no expectation to get it back. It is a luxury I can afford, because it makes me happy and it makes some of my fans happy.
That alone makes the hassle of producing a print version worthwhile for me.
Your mileage will vary.