There is an idea I’ve become a big fan of and that is the idea of “learning in public.” In April of 2020, I self-published a book on Amazon titled, Medicare Simplified - What Retirees Need to Know about Medicare in 100 Pages or Less.
Also, an announcement! I just published my second book titled, Creating a Retirement Income Plan - What Retirees Need to Know About Creating a Retirement Income Plan in 100 Pages or Less.
Since I’ve been writing books, I have had a number of people ask me what kind of sales the books are generating and are wondering whether they should pursue writing a book themselves. Given that I love the idea of “learning in public,” I thought it might be valuable to share the numbers on how my self-published books have done thus far. I’ll keep sharing these numbers no matter how large or small they become. Transparency is great, isn’t it?!
I know a lot of people have at least considered the idea of writing a book so this may offer some answer to the intrigue. And in retirement, writing could even be a side hustle that could generate income if you are up for giving it a go.
Because Amazon delays royalties by two months, all numbers below are through November 2020. Note that this was obviously before the publication of my “Creating a Retirement Income Plan” book. So, all numbers below are sales generated just from the Medicare book thus far. The first income report that will reflect both books will be in March 2021.
Since the date of my publishing at the end of April through November, I have sold 785 books during the seven-month period as shown below.
785 books in seven months isn’t too bad in my opinion. That’s about 112 copies per month. Though I feel like I’m just getting started because if I’m honest, I’ve done a very poor job of marketing my books. Marketing my books is something I hope to do a better job of in 2021. But since this is Update #1, my plan is to share these numbers with you each month moving forward.
All that is fine and good, but what does selling 785 books translate to in terms of income. The economics of publishing through Amazon are pretty straightforward. You set the price at whatever you’d like and Amazon pays you a percentage of sales. There is a difference between what you are paid per “sale” depending on the format because, with a paperback, we must account for book printing.
The book printing may be the most impressive part of Amazon’s ecosystem. I do not hold any inventory of my paperback. Amazon actually prints all paperbacks ordered “on-demand” as they are ordered and still manages Prime delivery. Wow, right?! Onto the royalty calculations…
Kindle Book Royalties
For Kindle books, I am paid 70% of the price paid (minus an $0.11 delivery charge). This means for a book that is $6.99 as mine is, I am paid $4.82 per Kindle book sold.
Paperback Book Royalties
For paperback books, I am paid 60% of the price less the printing cost. The printing cost depends on the size of the book, as well as whether you print in color vs. black and white and a number of other choices. In the case of my Medicare book, the printing cost is $2.15 per book. This means I make $5.04 per paperback purchased ($11.99 x 60% = $7.19 - $2.15 printing cost = $5.04).
The reason I priced my books this way, and I played with the pricing a little at the beginning, is because I wanted to be indifferent as to whether a purchaser wanted to buy the Kindle version or the paperback.
So, what have I made so far?
As you can see above, my total take on the book through November is $3,826.53. This comes out to $546 per month. And like I said, I’ve done a poor job of marketing the books so far.
Long story short, if you’ve ever considered publishing a book as a side hustle, or even as a hobby in retirement, you could make some money in the process. I’ll continue to share my numbers as I go along to keep you inspired - or to discourage you depending on how you look at the numbers above.🤣
I hope that offers some helpful insight! If you have questions, feel free to reach out as I’m happy to chat!
Stay the course,
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This post is not advice. Please see additional disclaimers.