Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Look at My Royalty Statements--Or Appearance vs. Reality

I recently received my royalty statements from Berkley and spend a little bit going over them. Here's what I learned:

(Data these observations are based on: Three mass market books; three trades; two anthologies [one mass market, one trade]; and one book that was in both trade and mass market. All titles were pubbed between July 2007 and Oct 2009, except one from early 2006. Two titles were mainstream fiction; the rest paranormal or erotic romances.)

1. Ebook sales: Ebook sales constitute FIVE PERCENT (5%) of the print book sales overall. In other words, for every thousand books sold, 50 were ebooks and 950 were print.

This is across the board, whether the book was mass market or trade; anthology or single book; erotic or mainstream romance; higher price or lower price.

2. Ebooks sales drop off significantly as the book ages. Ebook sales were strongest in the first six months and then tapered off, same as the print sales.

3. Two books I thought had tanked actually had very strong sellthroughs (number of books sold compared to number printed). I thought they had tanked based on my Amazon/B&N rankings, plus lack of online chatter about the books. But no.

4. Mass market paperbacks had far bigger print runs than the trades. So despite making more royalty *per book* on a trade-sized book, the royalties for the title as a whole are much smaller than the overall royalties on the mass market titles.

5. Trade paperbacks sell a little cleaner than the mass markets (i.e., fewer returns). (Part of the reason is that trades don't get "stripped and returned; the bookseller has to send back the entire book.)

6. The title that got the worst reviews has the best sales.

7. A title that won a significant award--tanked. My worst-selling book ever!

8. The romances (so far) have outsold the mainstream fiction titles.

I can't really compare how erotic romance sold vs. "regular" romance, because they are in different print formats, so it's hard to tell. Different print runs, different return rates, different prices, different distribution. (Although both sold ebooks at the same rate: 5% of the print sales.)

Also, all the romances are paranormal, so I can't judge the difference between it and historical. (However, the historical romances I did at Dorchester have sold as well, or in some cases better than, the paranormals at Berkley).

There you have it. I offer no conclusions or philosophical statements, just the data!


kerribookwriter said...


Really enjoyed this informative post. I, too, have e-books & print books in multiple genres (with both smaller houses and a new one coming out from Dorchester).

Thanks for giving me a heads up on the world of royalties.

Most interesting is one of my books that has gotten poor reader reviews is also my BEST seller. Fascinating!


Vijaya Schartz said...

Great informative post, Jen. Although the eBook sales are getting stronger each quarter, the big money in this business is still coming from print books.

It will be interesting to watch these figures evolve in the near future. I do believe eBooks will soon represent a much larger piece of the pie.

Vijaya Schartz, Romance with a Kick

Alexis Walker said...

Hi Jennifer,

Very interesting information. It appears to be very hard to predict what will sell and what won't based on electronic buzz or reviews! I'm not surprised that romance trumped the mainstream, though. I mean really, where would bookstores be without us? :-)

Gillian Layne said...

Does the time of year affect things very much? I find the type of book I buy changes with the seasons, but I keep buying year round.