Self-Publishing Profits: Where Most of My Ebook Sales Come From

I reached a milestone selling ebooks on BarnesandNoble.com. Last month, for the first time ever, I sold 100 ebooks (101 to be exact; see graphic below — click for larger view). They were all romance novels.

I know it’s not a big deal for some, but it is for me. You see, I’ve been selling ebooks on B&N since 2012; first just my non-fiction, how-to ebooks. Then, starting in 2013, I uploaded my first romance novel (3 Weeks ’til Forever). In the spring of 2014 – when my romance writing career started in earnest — I uploaded about 15 more.

Sales just eeked along. Barnes and Noble has never been what I call a “hotbed” of sales. But this last month, sales definitely heated up. I don’t know if they’ve done some algorithm changes or what, but sales have definitely been streaming in regularly from the site.

Where Do Most of My Ebook Sales Come From?

This depends on genre. Following is what the breakdown was last month (March 2015).

Most of my non-fiction, how-to ebook sales come from this website (about 90%). The other 10% come mostly from Amazon. I sell very few non-fiction, how-to titles on Barnes & Noble.

Self-Publishing Profits on Barnes & Noble
Amazon accounts for most of my romance (fiction) sales– approximately 75%

B&N: Roughly 15% (Mostly romance (fiction) sales)

AllRomanceEbooks.com: About 8% (All romance (fiction) sales) Update: This site went offline at the end of 2016.

GooglePlay: Right around 2% (and I only have 6 books uploaded there to date – all non-fiction (romance)). I’ve read reports where romance writer say that their Google Play sales rival Amazon’s in some cases, so I’ll be uploading all of my titles here over the next month (I have written almost 30 romance novellas to date).

Note: I don’t sell my fiction titles from this site (well, I have one listed, 3 Weeks ‘til Forever). I put it up because it was my first one, but I soon realized that it wasn’t an efficient way to sell my romance (fiction) titles. These titles will be sold from my publishing company’s site – InkwellEditorialPublishing.com – at some point, but for right now, I rely on the above outlets.

Looking Towards the Future

Looking towards the future, one of the things on my plate is to start getting my ebooks distributed via Draft2Digital.com. They can distribute to many more places (much more quickly) than I can myself. Their current sales channels include:

  • iBooks
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Kobo
  • Page Foundry
  • Scribd
  • Tolino
  • and CreateSpace!

Except for Barnes & Noble, my titles are not carried via any of these other outlets, which means I’m leaving money on the table every month.

One Important Key to Making Money in Self-Publishing

In addition to producing regularly, one of the keys to making good money as a self-publisher is to distribute your book far and wide. While Amazon is a leader in the game, it’s not the only game in town.

And I can say from first-hand experience (especially as a romance writer), it pays to NOT be exclusive to any one retailer.

Last October, I enrolled all of my fiction titles in KDP. I saw a jump in income initially because of the borrows. But after a few weeks, the borrows were cannibalizing my actual sales, and of course, the borrows didn’t pay as much as an actual sale.

As soon as I could, I unenrolled all of my existing ebooks (Jan/Feb). As of this writing, I have just one title in there. It was a new book I wrote in February. It comes out on May 14th. After this one comes out, I’ll be hard pressed to put another book in. Why?

Why It’s NOT Worth It to Enroll an Ebook in Amazon’s KDP Program IMO

Several reasons …

1) It’s a pain to have to snatch a book down from other outlets to be exclusive to Amazon;

2) I feel it’s unfair to readers (especially if the book is part of a series, which a lot of mine are); and

3) Missing sales from other outlets. The income generated on Amazon by a book being there exclusively doesn’t make up for missed sales on other outlets.

For all of these reasons, it’s just not worth it for me to put a book in KDP.

Learn how Amazon’s KDP program works – and get some pros and cons.

Your Insight

Where do you sell your ebooks? Where do most of your sales come from? Have you tried Amazon’s KDP program? Do you think it’s worth it, or not? Please feel free to share your thoughts on any/all of these issues in the comments section below.


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