Sunday, December 05, 2004

A Question of Royalties

I was recently asked by a fellow author about how much I made in Royalties from my e-Publisher, as he would like to break into the e-publishing market.

Unfortunately my figures would have done him no good. The trick to Royalties, or how many books one sells, depends on far too many different factors to make a decision from one author's paycheck.

My reply:

Dear Aspiring Author,
-- I am one of the top grossing authors for several eBook publishers, but this means nothing when considering how much money You might make because YOU are not ME.

The real question here is:
How well will YOUR story sell?

Consider: All of the e-pubs offer a similar level of royalties, however, how well an individual author does depends on several additional factors in this equation:

Number of books for sale:
The more you have, the more you sell. 

The faster you write, the more you make.
How fast can you put out a story? 

60k (60,000 words) is the average size for an e-published novel. Sure most e-pubs take stories as short as 5k (5000 words), but the real money is made on the NOVELS. Compare selling 5 20k stories at $2.99 verses selling 5 90k stories at $7.99 when you get 40% off each cover. If you are good, they will buy your longer works simply because they don't want your stories to end.

If you are a beginning author and somewhat unknown, three shorter works at 10k, 20k and 30k will offer a nice taste of your style and build an appetite for a more lengthy work. After that, it's simply a matter of offering as many as you can.

Author popularity:
Do you have dedicated readers? 

Popularity is a Huge factor. I am very popular and have been since I began posting free stories on back in 1998. My reading audience followed me from there - to my e-publisher with my personal website as a bridge.

If you are not well known, then it's up to you to Get Known. How?

Network! Network! Network! Join reader groups (Yahoo Groups, Smartgroups) for your genre. Be friendly, fun and approachable. Post excerpts and articles in EZines and on bulletin boards. Post free stories on your website and on popular story sites to build an appetite for the tales you have for sale. Get a Blog!

Market Appeal:
Who Buys E-Pubbed Novels? 

This Buying Audience is 90% women who are well over 30. They buy Laurell K Hamilton, Charlain Harris, Nora Roberts, Angela Knight and Christine Feehan off the shelf. These ladies are your role models and your direct competition. Don't know who these authors are? Do a Google search and find out.

Can you put it in Writing?
Not just any Dirty Story will do!

These Readers want a vaguely romantic STORY, not just sex. They want a PLOT. They don't care about colorful prose, they prefer tight descriptive writing so they can forget that they are reading and SEE the action as though it was a movie. They prefer heroines they can identify with, and heroes they can fall in love with. They adore smart-asses and they loathe whiners. Angst is fine, whining is Not. And they absolutely positively demand a Happy Ending.

Can you write that?

The Top Selling E-Book Genre:
Erotic Romantic Fantasy Adventure
  • Sci-Fi & Futuristics as in: Spaceships and Alien Encounters.
  • Gothic Fantasy as in: Vampires, Werewolves and/or Dark Magic.
  • High Fantasy as in: Faeries and Mythical beings. 
  • Paranormal as in: Ghosts and Psychic Powers. 
Homoerotica, both Yuri and Yaoi, sell surprisingly well, as long as it's romantic in nature. It sells even better if you mix it with one of the genres listed above.

In short: 
Popularity and Market Appeal are the two major factors in selling to the ladies who shop the e-book markets. 

If you have both you will do very well indeed with ANY e-publisher you choose. Just be sure to check with the publisher's Submission Guidelines to ensure that You have what that Publisher is looking for.

Be Warned! 
This is Not an arena for the beginning author or someone who has posted the occasional dirty story on one of the free sites.

Both the Readers and the Publishers expect good quality writing. If you are a writer - Expect the Curse of the Red Pen - also known as editing. NO ONE is Perfect - or exempt. The editor's job is to make YOU look good because it makes THEM look good.

Never Forget...!

Publishers are Businesses
NOT patrons of the arts.

If you were chosen by a publisher, it was because they think they have a chance to make a profit on Your Work - and when They Profit: YOU PROFIT.

And that's what Publishing is all about: PROFIT.

Morgan Hawke

1 comment:

  1. You mention that the unknowns such as myself will do well to have three works--one of 10k, one of 20k and one of 30k--to give a taste. Two questions:
    1. Do you mean publish these size works or offer them on story sites, your website, etc?
    2. Could you share how you plot the 10k story? I want to be a plot whore too:)
    Thanks in advance,
    - Jessie