Analyzing the Royalties

One of the many things my agent does for me is to take my royalties information from DAW and track it all in a nice, convenient spreadsheet.  This allows me to better indulge my data fetish, examining trends and playing with numbers until my wife reminds me I’m supposed to be going grocery shopping instead of spending all afternoon on the computer.

Last week I received the spreadsheet for my royalties statement through June 30, 2010 — right before Red Hood’s Revenge came out.

This is my fifth royalties check from DAW.  (They come out every six months.)  As of June 30, I had five books in print, four of which had earned out their advances.  I’m still waiting for the reserve against returns to go away on Mermaid, at which point I expect that one to start paying out as well.

To me, this royalty statement — particularly the graph I put together below — illustrates the importance of a backlist.  You can see how the royalty checks have grown pretty steadily over the past three years as I’ve continued to write and publish books.  This latest check will be about ten times what I got back in June of 2008 (point 1 on the graph below).

Some authors who get that bajillion-dollar advance for their first book.  I’m not one of them.  The slower but steady approach seems to be working for me though, at least so far.

Those books will eventually go out of print.  But DAW is pretty good about keeping things in print for a while, so I’m hopeful this trend will continue.

Another interesting data point came when I compared print sales to electronic.  I believe e-books are growing, and electronic sales are likely to take up a larger portion of overall sales.  For the moment though … well, take a look at the breakdown of total sales per book:

I’ve had the best electronic sales with Stepsister Scheme (don’t ask me why).  For that book, e-books make up about 4.3% of the total sales.  I don’t really have enough data to say how much or how quickly those e-book sales seem to be growing.  For now, while I definitely appreciate the extra royalties, they’re not yet a significant factor for me.

Another interesting point from that second graph: total sales of Stepsister are a little lower than sales of Goblin Quest.  Likewise for Mermaid.  This threw me for a second.  After all, the weekly sales numbers for the princess books are great, so why are the goblin books selling better?

The answer is, the goblin books have been selling longer.  Goblin Quest came out in November of 2006.  Stepsister came out in January, 2009.  Meaning in a year and a half, Stepsister Scheme has sold almost as many copies as Goblin Quest did in just under four.

And now it’s time to save this post and go get groceries.  Questions and comments are welcome, as always.