Numbers! Been a while.

When was the last post, October — well, my year hasn’t gotten any worse since August, so that’s nice. Still here, thankfully. Still working on Book 3 and trying not to stress about it. It’ll happen.

Otherwise, signed up for to keep track of my woeful video game backlog. It’s one of a few sites that function more or less like Goodreads for video games. Current backlog: 39, most of which are indie games from Steam or that I bought in bundles over the last couple of years. And so far I’ve found 213 games that I’ve played for any length of time at any point in my life. I started out on a console that isn’t even on the database, the Intellivision, which was basically the Betamax to the Atari 2600’s VHS. (Uh, that analogy is for old people too. It was a competitor that time forgot, in other words.) It would be amusing to include those games on the list too, but that’s okay.

Current TBR, by the way, is around 10. That’s one-zero. I spent most of 2021, when I had the focus to read at all, striving very hard to read down the TBR and quitting a few books that I just bounced off of. Still slowly poking through a year’s best sff anthology from I’m not even sure what ancient year.

So anyway, since it’s the end of the calendar year and I haven’t done this in an extremely long time, I thought I’d do a numbers post. Why not. I think it’s kind of interesting, because I’m going about this in a way that I don’t see often (or at all, ha), and therefore, you don’t hear about this scenario much.

First, some caveats and context! My favorite

  • I’m not a professional. At best, I’m a lightly monetized hobbyist. I’m not trying to be a professional, and I’m not looking for advice. I like writing, I like trying to do my best at it, and then when it’s done, I throw it out there in case someone might enjoy reading it.
    • I do charge some money for my work. Mainly because it cuts down on people vacuuming down every free book on the internet without reading the description, and then complaining at me because it wasn’t what they randomly wanted it to be. No really, that is the number one reason why I don’t make my work free. Nothing wrong with not having money! Nothing wrong with collecting free books! It’s the complaining that I can’t abide. Read the descriptions. They are harder to write than the books are. Read them. /rant
    • Otherwise, I charge for my work so I can slowly make back what I’ve spent on cover art and website hosting.
    • Also, this isn’t a fully thought-out thesis or anything, but I think anyone who makes art, fiction, whatever should have the choice to get paid for it or not as they like.
  • Where were we
  • None of this is complaining. I don’t make enough money from writing to live on, and I don’t care, and if that bothers you, that’s on you. I’ve had people tell me I need to post my work for free because my primary motivation isn’t self-employment (???), but there IS a gray area! Welcome to it! It’s nicer here than people realize.

So here we go. As of mid-2021, my two books are on 3 marketplaces: Amazon (where they’ve been since 2014 and 2016 respectively), Kobo, and Gumroad. I have not advertised since 2015, when I bought two ads for the only book that existed at the time, to the tune of about $60 total.

However, my last zero-sales month was January 2017. Every month since then, I’ve sold at least A copy, and since April 2019 it’s been at least ten copies per month, every month. Zero effort. Almost negative infinity effort. No additional books since 2016. I have no social media presence and often actively avoid posting, as my mental health tends to respond badly to it. Haven’t bought any ads since 2015. Don’t link it anywhere. I haven’t even looked at my keywords in a long time (though I probably should). And that’s not even getting into the content of the books, which I still struggle to describe clearly.

I make about $20 USD a month on zero ongoing effort. Now, I worked a lot to write the books, especially the first one, which I poked and prodded and edited for literally years. But nothing since then. They have covers that I like and kiiind of match (I aimed to buy pre-made cover blanks that coordinated okay). I tried to write descriptions that are accurate to the story and in tone with the books’ style. Other than that…. ???

Sometimes I wonder if that’s the absolute floor, based on this situation, but I really have no idea.

Anyway, numbers.

Amazon (still the largest marketplace; so far the only one that has paperbacks)

Two graphs from Amazon. Top graph: Unit Sales and KOLL Borrows from Nov. 2020 to Nov. 2021. The sales range from about 15 to 40 copies per month. Bottom graph: KENP pages read, same time frame. There is a small blip in Feb 2021 and about 15 pages in Nov 2021.

Since the books aren’t exclusive to Amazon, they are no longer in Kindle Unlimited, but as I understand, people who took them out before the books left KU can still read through their copy. Something like that.

A chart of royalties from Amazon. Most of the amounts are from eBooks, with some from paperbacks and exactly 0.01 Euro from KENP, which I find hilarious. Totals: USD 310.27, GBP 53.10, EUR 29.50, INR 52.31, CAD 12.15, BRL 4.46, AUD 15.55.


A page of statistics from Kobo for 2021. Total 28 eBooks sold, $34.28 estimated earnings, purchased in 9 countries. Book 1 sold 22 copies, Book 2 sold 6.

I feel sheepish about Kobo because I messed up my cover files and then ran away for like, two years before fixing it. But hey! Now it’s up! Yay!

This chart makes me think about oh, there’s a term for this, read-through or something: whether people stop at the first book or move on to the second. However, this is just one year – on Amazon, where they’ve both been available longer, Book 2 has about half the total sales of Book 1. Honestly, that seems pretty good to me. I don’t know what the industry standard is and don’t care enough to look it up, but if half of the people who buy or read book 1 go on to buy or read book 2, they probably liked it? Or at least liked the descriptions? I’ll take it.

Gumroad (has only been up since July)

A page of stats from Gumroad: 5 sales, $10.95 total. There’s also a graph with 1 sale, 3 sales, 1 sale over time that I find pretty funny in its low stakes, though views and sales are overlaid awkwardly onto the same graph.

5 sales on a platform I have never ever advertised and only signed up for 5 months ago! For books that have been out for a geologic age in book-time! That’s pretty cool.

Grand total in USD for all 3 marketplaces: $355.50. (I love the all the all of you, international readers, but I am not going to convert all of those currencies right now. You matter, I am just tired.)

So yes, three hundred dollars for zero ongoing effort. Write a book! It’s fun! Maybe you’ll make zero dollars. Maybe you’ll make more. Who knows. That’s what I made this year.