Every day, I do two things: I check my ebook sales through Amazon, and I update a file that keeps track of my monthly earnings, and my earnings per book. But how many ebooks does it take to match my monthly earnings in work?
Let's break this down a bit:
- A $0.99 ebook earns me, approximately, €0.30.
- A $2.99 ebook earns me, approximately, €1.70.
- I earn, on weeks in which I don't have extra hours, roughly €90 from work. We'll call it €360 for the month.
With those figures in mind, I would need to see 1200 ebooks at $0.99 per month to be matching my earnings from the bookshop. You read that correctly.
I currently have three books with that price tag stuck on them: Planning Before Writing, Old Gods Returned, and Writing Gifts, on a Shoestring.
Similarly, I need to sell 212 ebooks at $2.99 to make the same €360 per month. It's considerably less, as you can see. Right now, I only have one book published at that price: Balor Reborn.
I'm under no illusion that this is an easy task. Selling even a tenth as many books as I'd need to just to match my bookshop earnings is difficult. If a writer planned on making a living from writing, they'd need to: (a) have a massive readership and/or (b) earn money from different sources.
I would recommend the latter. Ebooks, as I think I've said here before, are not the goldmine people seem to think they are. Unless you become a bestseller, you're probably not going to put food on the table three times a day every day of the month from ebooks. (Unless you can feed your whole family on €1.70 per meal and sell only 90 ebooks at $2.99... and even then, that's a challenge.)
Considering the fact that rent for most people is at least as much as I earn per month, most likely more, there are obvious obstacles to overcome financially. Believe me when I say this, I would much rather be able to earn from ebooks than mop up a shop floor on a Sunday afternoon. But that's just not possible at the moment.
Why the honesty about the figures? I guess because I want to make it clear to myself why I'm not just packing in the job every time I feel like I don't want to be there (mopping up floors with people walking on them at the same time, or carrying out rubbish bags that are torn in several places...) The reality is, I don't currently have another way of making money than working in a shop that isn't getting enough business to keep me constantly busy. I wouldn't mind if there was something to do throughout the entire day. I would prefer be nearly run off my feet in the shop keeping the till going or replacing stock on the shelves. I wouldn't feel like I was just waiting for the next person to show up with a book to buy or a complaint to make about how we don't, as a small bookshop, have the out of print book they're looking for.
Part of me had these high hopes that when college finished up, I'd be in a position to change my life drastically. That just isn't so. Sure, life is different. But I didn't make that change. Maybe I'm afraid to do something about it. That seems very likely. I'm going to try challenge that fear this week (Thursday's going to be my Face Up To Fear Day) by doing something different, by breaking out of the mould I'm in. While I'm still going to keep publishing ebooks (and I'm working on getting Planning Before Writing available through Smashwords, but the site is giving me some trouble), I'm not going to pretend that it'll be easy to even match my income from the bookshop any time soon.
It take a lot of ebooks to make a difference in a life. The best way you can help an author is to buy their books and recommend those books to friends. It can help pay food bills, or make life more meaningful, or help save for education, either their own or their children's or their partner's. How many people does it take to change an author's life?