Friday, March 11, 2011

Past performance is not a guarantee of future results

Today, J.A. Konrath has a guest post from Selena Blake (not to be confused with Selena Kitt!) on his blog. She writes, "At the time of writing this, I’ve sold just over 12,000 copies in less than a month. 12,000 copies. That number truly blows my mind. Actually, I almost fell out of my chair.Now, instead of just paying the car payment, royalties from January’s sales will cover ALL my expense."

Konrath comments: "Joe sez: To date, Blake has sold 23,000 ebooks. Which is impressive. I expect she'll begin to sell as well on Amazon as she is on Nook, and will eventually work her way up to a six figure annual income, selling 99 cent titles."

This all caught my attention because Selena's figures for last month are remarkably similar to my own. I sold about 11,500 copies on B&N last month, and did well on Amazon, too, totalling about $5800 in royalties. Which is undeniably awesome. However, I can't extrapolate from this that I'll eventually be making a six figure annual income, or even $70,000 a year. I wish I could, but my sales have fallen off dramatically this month (around 2300 sales on B&N so far-- and I wouldn't even dare extrapolate from this that I'll sell 7000 copies there this month, because sales have dropped off a lot in the past week).

Furthermore, it's not just me; I've seen people complaining about a big drop in sales on Kindleboards and the PubIt Help board, too. A lot of people suspect the drop in sales is due to the Smashwords Ebook Week promo, and hope sales will recover once it's over. And they may be right. But it goes to show you that all sorts of things can impact sales numbers, and that they aren't all that easy to predict. So you can't really say, "Oh, I made X this month, so I definitely should be earning Y by the end of the year." You might earn more than what you project, but then again, you might earn less. Writing is a fickle bitch, in my experience:-).


  1. That is interesting and something I NEVER see really taken into account...the assumption seems to be that people will continue to buy the same books at the same rate and your income will only grow as you release new books and they buy even more of them.

  2. I think it probably depends. I know Konrath has said his income pretty much goes up steadily, so it's not surprising he expects that for most authors. But it's not necessarily true for all of us. Sales can go up and down quite a bit due to various factors, some of which are beyond our control and can't be anticipated in advance.

    I'm not trying to diminish Selena's accomplishments in the least. I'm objecting more to Konrath's casual assertion that she will probably sell just as many on Amazon (I don't) and that she'll probably make six figures. She might well (I hope she does!). But it's not a given, IMHO.