My takeaway is that fewer than 1000 KDP fiction writers earn more than $50 a day. (The same of course is true of traditionally published fiction writers!)
$50 is what you'd earn for seven hours at minimum wage. I've been writing for a long time, and I've never been able to average as much as seven hours a day.
Notice that one really can't compare Big 5 publishers and KDP publishers, because the vast majority of KDP publishers would never been accepted by a Big 5 publisher. Thus we must discard the experience of the vast majority of self-pubbers.
I agree, Notjohn, this is really fascinating. I wish Amazon was a little more open about the statistics, though.
I think, though, that more than 1,000 writers earn more than $50 per day. When I was down at about 3,000 in author rank for Kindle Fiction, I was making more than that (that was about $70 per day). So I would have to assume that maybe closer to 4,000 might be making that much.
For the top 1,000 authors, the numbers look much better. For $2.99 books, that is probably $300 per day.
This was really interesting to read through because I always wondered where I stood with other Indie authors. I released my first book in April 2012 and honestly hit a big stride with it and that encouraged me to keep going. I know I can never make it my full time job but I'm enjoying it until the last copy is sold
I realize what the chart indicates, but I am not buying it. I cannot state what other writers make, but I know what I make. For the first six months of the year, I slipped into the top 1,000 Kindle fiction writers exactly once, at 964. I have been down as low as 3,168. For all books, I have been as high as 2,816 and as low as 12,698. Yet my average for the six months was just over $100 per day (thanks to a good January). My highest amount was about $200, and my worst day was $44.
With those numbers, I just can't buy the chart numbers. Until last week, I was not a top 1,000-ranked writer for Amazon. Nowhere near, in fact. Yet I still made over $100 per day.
If anyone else has similar numbers and wish to share, I would like to see if they are in line with what I just posted.
In May of 2014, an Amazon author rank (not sales rank) fluctuating between 5,000 and 10,000 would result in over 1000 books sold. At a modest $3 per book, that would be $3000 for the month of May. That would lead me to believe that 10,000 authors are making pretty good income in any given month. (Does author rank just count the number of books sold? Now if it distinguishes between print and ebook sales, or list price or royalty, or genre, or any other factors, well, then it becomes harder to interpret the author rank.) Actual royalties earned get a little more complicated because some people selling 1000 books made a mere $300, while others made $7000 or more, as list prices and royalties vary. (Then some of those 'sales' are through MatchBook or Countdown Deals, or price-matches.) While 99 cents is a highly popular price range, we do have data that shows that $9.99 is very profibtable, and so is the $3.99 to $5.99 range, so there are many authors earning $3 to $7 per book to compensate for all the 30- and 70-cent royalties.
Then consider that one 'person' may have multiple pen names, so, for example, an author can have three pen names with an author rank of 15,000, and that 'person' will be making as much as an 'author' in the top 10,000.
I would have picked June, but most of the authors' data I have for that month show a strong seasonal enhancement. Plus, these numbers for May happen to be close to good round numbers, i.e. 10,000 author rank and 1000 books per month. Most of the data I can check on personally is paperback sales, so it's nice to see correspondence with e-book data.
Edited by: extradimensions on Jul 16, 2014 2:38 PM
I can say that I personally know four Kindle authors who have made more than two hundred thousand a year. All of them started as unknowns and had immediate success. They are currently exceeding that figure. It can be done.