Indie Author Book Sales Stats & Income for 2019 // This is the first year I’ve tried really hard to take my income, expenses, and book sales stats. I thought it would be fun to break down my sales numbers and percentages. Because everyone is always wondering how many books an indie author can expect to sell, how much money can an author make, is self-publishing on Amazon and Kindle Direct Publishing worth it? You get the idea. So today I’m talking about much (percentage-wise) I’ve made this year off of book sales and side-hustles.
Patron of the Week, Samantha Traunfeld: https://www.instagram.com/sam.traunfeld/
How to Self-Publish a Book Playlist: http://bit.ly/2Ay62hF
How did my book sales go in 2019? How did my book sales go versus my other author income streams? Stay tuned to find out in this video.
Want weekly videos on self-publishing, writing and book marketing? Be sure to hit the subscribe button as well as hitting that bell icon to get notifications every time I post a video. Hello everyone. My name is Mandi Lynn. I’m an author, a book cover designer in the creator of The Book Launch Planner, and today we’re going to be breaking down some publishing stats. So before I move into things, I do have to do a little bit of an intro. For those of you who don’t know, I’ve published three fiction novels. Essence, I am Mercy, and She’s Not Here, and I’ve also published three co-written nonfiction books. How Your Book Sells Itself, Grow Your Author Platform and Book Sales That Multiply, and this will also be eventually a six-book series, but until then we only have three books out. And lastly, I also have The Book Launch Planner, which is a planner I’m designing that is coming out hopefully in a few months here in 2020. Now, the reason I’m telling you all of this is that you need to know how many books I’ve published as we talk about sales numbers.
Now we’re not talking specifically about how many books specifically I’ve sold or how much money specifically I’ve made. We’re going to be talking a little bit, sort of kind of about that, but we’re more talking about percentages. How many books have I sold of She’s Not Here in comparison to Essence? She’s Not Here was published in 2018 but Essence was published in 2013, so with such a big publishing gap, how did the sales numbers compare? Now, basically I’ve thought for a long time, should I even share my sales numbers? I will say 2019 was one of my best sales years, even though I didn’t actually publish any fiction books. I did publish three nonfiction books with fellow author Bethany Atazadeh, so that helped immensely with my sales numbers, but overall the increased sales numbers have a lot to do with my growing platform and just knowing how to market books better.
Now comparing my sales numbers for all my books has been interesting because Essence has been out for six years. I am Mercy has been out for four years and She’s Not Here, has been out for a little over one year. Anyone who really knows publishing, may know that a book has a typical shelf life of two years. You’ll see most of your book sales within two years, and then after that things will peter out as people lose interest. I am proud to say that despite all that, my books are still selling pretty good, but you will notice later as we jump into the numbers, that the older the book is, the fewer sales it has in comparison to my other books. Now I will say, I am not talking specific sales numbers and money I’ve made because like most people, I’m uncomfortable talking about my income with the world. As most of you know, it is rude to ask people how much money they make off of their job.
And while I do have a full-time job besides this, I would still consider it rude if you guys asked me how much money I’ve made. So I’m going to try to be as open as possible to let you guys know a little bit. But of course, I’m not going to give you my full income because that’s just weird and unnecessary. So basically we’re talking about where are my sales coming from. Are they coming from Kindle Direct Publishing? Are my books sales coming from IngramSpark, or are they coming from the in-person book events I try to do as often as possible? So if that sounds interesting, be sure to stay tuned. I’ll also be talking about my author income as a whole. So this includes not only my book sales, but my book cover design, my Patreon, YouTube, and I think that’s it. So since we’re talking about numbers, let’s talk about how much the average author can expect to make per book sale.
If you’re an independently published author, odds are you’re making $3 or less per book sale, which isn’t a whole lot. My personal goal in order to quit my full-time job is to have my author income be about $50,000 a year. Now, if I wanted to calculate how many books I would need to sell in a year to make $50,000 it would be 16,667 books. That’s a lot of books to sell in one year. But to help you understand things a little bit more, that means I would have to sell 1,389 books a month in order to make a full-time income. So as an author, it can be very hard to reach that sales number. If you guys follow the self-publishing world, you know that the best way to meet that sales number is to publish a lot of books. So the more books you publish, the less amount of books you have to sell per book.
Now I love writing but, I hate the idea of pressure to write and publish a certain amount of books every year in order to continue meeting sales goals. I don’t think that sounds enjoyable at all. I like to publish books as I feel like publishing books. I don’t like feeling the pressure. So one way I alleviate pressure is through side hustles. Not only does it alleviate pressure off of my writing, but it’s also another creative outlet for me. So I enjoy graphic design, which is why I do cover design. I enjoy doing my videos on YouTube, which you know is great. I do YouTube videos on here and I enjoy helping other authors, which is why I do my Patreon page where I have exclusive videos, webinars, and podcasts. So basically I’m able to do all these different passions without putting all the pressure of income and sales onto one of them.
Not only that, if you talk to business experts, you will hear them say that the best way to get a consistent income off of your business is to have multiple streams of income. So I will let you know that in November and December it’s a little bit harder to get cover design clients because everyone is kind of celebrating the holidays. So during those months, I cannot depend whatsoever on my cover design for income. However, November and December are top-selling months for my books because people are shopping for presence. So that is where you see the multiple income streams come in handy and help even each other out. If you’re an author and you have other side hustles that help fuel your passion as a creative, let me know in the comments down below, I’d love to hear more about them. I think the writing community needs to celebrate more side hustles and other hobbies outside of writing.
So just be sure to celebrate it down below in the comments. Okay, so with that all aside, we are going to break into the chart. So the first chart we’re going to be breaking down is the different streams of income. Coming in first place at 41.3% is my book sales. So that is a pretty ideal number if you ask me. That is almost 50% of my income as an author and I would like that to kind of stay that way because first and foremost I am an author and I would like to see the majority of my sales coming from my books. Next, we have cover design at 34.6% YouTube at 11.6 Patreon at 9.3 and AuthorTube Academy at 3.3 and for those of you who are curious, I did move off YouTube Academy to Patreon. So in 2020, you will see that stat disappear completely. Now, of course, YouTube and Patreon aren’t big income streams and if anyone is on YouTube or Patreon you already know this, but it’s kind of something that I would do anyways so it’s nice to get income off of it.
The next chart is the more exciting one and that is book sales specifically where the book sales are coming from. At 56% we have Kindle Direct Publishing, so Kindle Direct Publishing handles all the distribution through Amazon, whether that be through ebook or paperback. So it kind of makes sense that that is the top earner. I wasn’t able to break down exactly ebook sales versus paperback sales. I just couldn’t gather all the stats and it was starting to give me a headache. I did find that about 70% of my sales were ebook and the other 30% were paperback, which is kind of what you expect as a self-published author. Signed books come in at 31.8% so that counts as any books that are sold through my website or in-person signings. During these book signing events, I actually did a lot of vlogging and I published a lot of those vlogs exclusively on Patreon.
So if you’d like to watch those, be sure to join the vlogger club tier on Patreon. And this percentage actually does not include bookstore book signings because bookstores ordered their books through IngramSpark, which brings me into the next percentage, which is IngramSpark, which is 12.2% so IngramSpark is anyone who ordered books through expanded distribution, which includes bookstores and also includes all my hardcover book sales. So basically to sum it all up, this chart does not surprise me at all. And again, I think I would like to keep the percentages the same coming 2020. This next chart is actually kind of sort of my favorite because it breaks down each title and how many of each title I sold and which one sold the most versus which ones sold the least. So my top seller of this year was Grow Your Author Platform at 35.6% this is not surprising at all.
Uh, Bethany and I kind of knew this was going to be a hot topic for the series that it’s kind of the bare-bones basics, whether you are published or unpublished as an author, you will want to read this book. And before I go any further, I will say I do have How Your Book Sells Itself on here at 2.1% and the reason that percentage is so low is because that book is technically owned by Bethany. So she’s the one that has all the sales numbers. Um, so this 2.1% is only when I sold the book physically at in-person book signings. Coming in second place is She’s Not Here at 20.7% which is exactly as predicted because while I did not publish that book this year, it was published late 2018 and it is also fiction. So ideally I do want to sell my fiction more than my nonfiction, but it tends to be easier to sell my nonfiction because I am teaching here on YouTube.
So when I publish nonfiction I am also teaching. So it’s automatic that my audience would want to buy that, whereas She’s Not Here is an adult psychological thriller meets dark contemporary. So it’s not exactly my ideal audience. Um, my audience here on YouTube, if they are into fiction, it’s more young adult rather than adult, so it’s a little bit harder for me to sell that book. Um, and I have to go through more traditional means of selling it like ads and um, promotions and different things like that. Next is Book Sales That Multiply at 15.2%. Again, not surprising at all. While this is another book that was published in 2019, I do expect it to be a little bit lower than my sales numbers for She’s Not Here because while I think Book Sales That Multiply is an extremely important topic. I do know that book ads, um, and that sort of marketing is something that most authors aren’t into.
Most authors don’t want to pay for ads for their books. So I did know that the sales numbers for this book were going to be lower. Do I wish it were higher? Because I think the information in there is valuable? Absolutely, but again, not surprised. Next, we have I am Mercy at 13.8% which again for a book that was published four years ago, not too shabby. It’s catching right up with all the others. And to as predicted, my oldest book, which is six years old is Essence and it comes in last in terms of book sales at 12.6%. The fact that any book that is six years old is still selling. It makes me extremely happy and it will always hold a special place in my heart because it is my debut novel. I hope you found this information extremely useful. If you did, let me know in the comments down below.
I also want to give a huge shout out to my patron of the week, Samantha Traunfeld. As a thank you for her supporting me on Patreon I’m going to read you guys a little bit about her book. Her work in progress is called A Night Without Stars, which is about a group of teenagers who all wield magic that came from the stars. Like their ancestors, their job is to protect the earth from the darkness that threatens to consume it. There are only supposed to be six of them, but when a seventh child is born she might be a thing to save the world or she might be what plunges it into eternal darkness. If that sounds interesting to you guys, be sure to check Samantha out on Instagram. She will also be linked down below. Thank you so much, Samantha, for supporting me on Patreon. If you’d like to be featured here on YouTube, you can join me on Patreon. There are also exclusive videos as well as a podcast. If you’d like to stay up with everything I’m up to be sure to subscribe to my author newsletter. When you subscribe, you get access to printables and webinars. If you want to learn more about self-publishing, be sure to check out my playlist here on YouTube. Thank you all for watching. Be sure to give it a thumbs up. Comment down below and subscribe.
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