Yesterday I highlighted John Locke as a successful ebook author who has sold more than 1 million ebooks. Along with Amanda Hocking and J.R.Konrath, they are the Grishams and Pattersons of the new book reality. Thinking gof this made me wonder whether there is an emerging ‘midlist’ in the ebook jungle. Gotta love Google – I came across “The New Midlist: Self-published E-book Authors Who Earn a Living” by Robin Sullivan.
Ms. Sullivan suggests that this is in fact the case and that these authors are able to generate income because of the high royalties. The traditional book model (the terms offered by the big six publishers) offers 25% royalty on net sales of ebooks. But Amazon.com offers 35% for books up to $2.99 and a whooping 70% for books that sell between $2.99 and $9.99.
The trick is to leverage the Internet to generate high volume sales that are attracted because of the price is allowing more self-published and small press e-book authors to receive five and six figure yearly incomes. Many of these authors are able to leave their day jobs and make a living by doing what they love most–writing.
Ms. Sullivan runs a small press, Ridan Publishing. Her husband, Michael J. Sullivan, has six books published. From January to September 2010, his income averaged just over $1,500 a month or around $10,700 in total (Amazon US Kindle sales only). Once he hit the tipping point he earned more than $102,000 in just five months. For details on his monthly income see the following chart:
A quick glance at Writer’s Café (a section of the Kindle Boards forums), shows that Michael’s sales increase is not an isolated phenomena. The following graph shines light on the number of authors who sold at least 800 books a month (Data provided on Kindle Board).
Ms. Sullivan estimated the income of several of these authors according to the sales and book price data that the authors were posting on the Kindle Boards for one month.
- Michael J. Sullivan — $16,648
- Ellen Fisher — $3,915
- Siebel Hodge — $15,425
- N. Gemini Sasson – $4,222
- David McAfee — $6,085
- David Dalglish — $12,132
- Victorine Lieskie — $7,281
- M. H. Sergent — $4,211
- Nathan Lowell — $9,296
What I found interesting is that only Victorine Lieskie, from among those listed above, ever had a book that made the Amazon Top 100 Bestseller List. The other authors are selling at least 800 books a month.
It is possible to live the author’s life.
Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).