The question we’ll explore in this post is focused around ‘enough money to not have to get a day job’. We’re NOT talking about –
- The prestige of a ‘contract’ with a big publishing house.
We’re also not talking about –
- Whatever desire you might have to see your book in print, whether Print on Demand or in print in a bookstore.
- Non-Kindle ebook sales. For this post, we disregard Sony, Fictionwise, and Google Books.
- Selling books from our own website.
Lets put all that aside and focus on whether an author can make enough money off of JUST Kindle Store sales to –
- Earn a decent living.
- Focus on writing and promoting his work without needing a day job.
- Create a brand and a following.
Act I: Authors begin to Believe
The biggest block for authors is the lack of belief that it can be done.
J. A. Konrath put up a post talking about how he’s making $1,250 a month off of his book’s sales – these are unpublished books that he’s giving away for free on his website and selling for $1.85 on the Kindle Store.
Read this response from another author (sarcastically titled ‘you can be a kindle millionaire’) –
I’m sure that Joe’s success is very exciting and encouraging news to a lot of aspiring writers out there. But I suspect Joe’s success is the exception rather than the rule.
If Mr. Positive had actually read the post’s comments he would have seen that other self-published authors are also earning non-trivial money off of Kindle Sales ($50-$100 a day).
There are authors making money off of Kindle Sales. So there’s no question that it can be done.
It comes down to two things –
- Do you believe your work is good enough?
- Can you work hard enough promoting your work to get it in front of enough people?
Act II: Authors begin to make a decent living.
We’re still at the initial stages of the Kindle’s spread. Already, multiple authors are making upwards of $1,000 a month.
There are a lot of factors that will come into play by end of 2009 –
- The number of Kindles and readers of Kindle Editions will at least double, and probably quadruple.
- Kindle might go International which would increase Kindle owners by another factor of 1.5-2.
- At some point Amazon or another source will create and publish a Self-Published Authors Top 100 bestsellers list. This will definitely increase sales for Self-Published Authors.
- Self-published authors who begin to see success will start trying out slightly higher prices. Customers will start accepting higher prices. There have been comments on the official Kindle Forum where readers are saying they’ll be willing to pony up higher prices for authors they like (around $5).
The success of the $9.99 boycott has shown that Kindle Owners are proactive and in control. As soon as they see the opportunity to create the next big successes they will seize the opportunity.
Kindle Store, and in particular the purchase of a book by a self-published author, lets you become a true patron of the arts. You don’t have to be a king or a multi-millionaire any more.
Act III: Kindle Store Millionaires
Part 1: Can we even make the jump and believe its possible?
This is the real stumbling block.
Just 12-14 months ago people were talking about how the Kindle is bound to fail, and that it’ll probably sell just 10,000-20,000 total units.
We are now facing the exact same situation – negativity and pessimism fuelled by ulterior motives.
- The whole current Publishing Model is based on the belief that somehow Publishers take struggling authors and turn them into NYTimes Bestsellers.
- They would have you believe that it is not Stephanie Meyer (or her #1 fan Stephen King) who are the cause of success. That it is them, the publisher.
- If you disagree look at how revenues are split up.
At some point, customers (who admittedly get this already) and authors are going to realize that authors create art and customers appreciate it –
- We no longer need to pay people for ‘curation’ and ‘distribution’ and ‘shipping’ and ‘retail locations’.
- We no longer need Publishers to decide what constitutes ‘art’ and ‘good writing’ and what is fit for us to read.
Part 2: Kindle Millionaires are not too far away
We know for a fact that –
- A self-published author (John August) can reach #18 briefly (and sell 500 copies a day).
- Multiple authors can hit the Top 250 (and sell 50-70-100 copies a day).
- Customers will pay more for quality writing. Even $3 or $4 or $5 for a good book. (If you choose to not believe this, that’s fine – we’ll consider $2 for our analysis).
Let’s look at a Self-Published Author who hits a consistent Top 25 position with one or more of his books (each at $2 per book) –
- He earns 70 cents a copy.
- He sells 500 copies a day for 5 months out of the year. Rest of the year he sells 200 copies a day.
- That’s $350 a day for 5 months and $140 a day for 7 months. That’s $52,500 plus $35,700 equal to $88,200 in a year.
Wait a minute – This analysis is what holds true today (1st week of June 2009).
Will the market size and sales of bestsellers be ten times by June 2010? By June 2011?
Perhaps June 2010 is optimistic – However, June 2011 is definitely within the realm of possiblity. Which means that by 2011 we could have one or more authors earning $882,000 per year from their self-published books. Kindle Millionaires 😉
Just two questions
We’ve seen the Kindle, which was supposed to never get beyond 10,000 units sold, hit a million or so sales in just 1.5 years.
- Question 1: Do you think the Kindle market size will be 10 times its current size by 2011?
We know that self-published authors have gone as high as #18, and lots of them have hit the Top 250.
- Question 2: Do you think by 2011 self-published authors will be able to hit the Top 25?