I promised several authors results of my private label publishing experiment. I now have sales numbers from February from Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, and CreateSpace. Just like the January post, this comes with some caveats:
Without further ado, here’s the numbers:
I said last month that February sales were lower than January’s. One a per-day basis, they were much lower. But the book only went live on Amazon on 20 January. The excellent January numbers were due to my hard-core fans buying it. (And I thank you all, sincerely.)
Similarly, the print version was available on 27 February, if you bought it directly from my CreateSpace store. It went live on Amazon on 29 February. One copy sold on the 27th, and three on the 29th. The March average per-day sales per venue will be lower, but the greater number of days will create higher totals.
A couple sales per day per channel adds up. The B&N sales don’t look impressive, but hey, it’s $52 that I wouldn’t otherwise get, and eight readers I wouldn’t otherwise have.
I expect sales to go down from this point on. Reviews drive sales. Reviews this far have all been from people who follow my work. There’s nothing wrong with that — indeed, I appreciate every review. But I think I’ve basically worked through all the reviewers in my hard-core fan base. In the future, I must attract disinterested reviews. I have saved the contact information for everyone who has ever reviewed my work, and am working my way through the list offering review copies. I’m going slowly; I’d rather have 3 reviews a month for 6 months than 18 reviews in one month.
So, what about the expenses? Publishing this cost:
So, how much more do I need to sell to break even?
Total expenditures: $3,399.86.
Total Jan-Feb royalties: $3506.88
I have made $107.02 in about forty days of sales (assuming my time is free). So, I’d like to give a sincere “thank you!” to the 482 people who bought SSH Mastery in January and February, as well as those who bought it since then.
Again, this assumes that my time to write, design, lay out, test, corral reviews, and so on, is free. Also, I don’t have that cash in hand yet. Ebook retailers delay payment for 30-60 days after the close of the month or quarter. I’ll get my first check at the beginning of April.
Clearly, the self-publishing route is viable, if you have good content. (I’ll babble about tech book content, and the distressing quality thereof, some other time.)
If you want to do this yourself, I strongly recommend you to get into Dean Wesley Smith’s Think like a Publisher workshop. No, I don’t encourage you to go. I command you to go. DWS is a fiction writer, and his other workshops are for fiction writers, but TlAP is suitable for all sorts of writers. I spent weeks pounding my head against the desk trying to figure out how all the different ebookstores work, and this workshop not only solved all those problems, it let me get this book into print as well.
I’m also going to cut off the Big Question that I get asked any time self-publishing comes up: “What about Absolute OpenBSD, 2nd Edition?”
Even if self-publishing SSH Mastery turns into an absolute freaking gold mine and self-publishing showers me with riches, I will finish AO2e. I will send it to NSP. I’ve promised that I would do this book, and I know many people are eagerly waiting for it. Breaking my agreement with my publisher and, more importantly, my readers, would be blatant asshole behavior. And I’m just not going to behave that way. AO2e will be the next big book I publish.