With the launch of Small Victories, I made a plan and a post to donate the first month’s earnings from that book to a couple of food bank organizations in Los Angeles and Orange County, CA. I have the cash, so it’s time to make good.
So let’s talk about receipts! Ever wonder what the data looks like for a self-publisher on Amazon? Here’s my sales page for July 2020, with Small Victories on the very bottom line:
Is this a lot? Is it underwhelming? A little of both, if I’m honest. If sharing numbers like this sparks any questions, I’m happy to talk about it further. I wish the publishing industry was more open about the numbers and the money in general. I should probably focus on Small Victories for now.
My expectations for Small Victories were low for several reasons. Short stories don’t often soar on the indie market, this one was pretty niche given how it’s all drawn from established series, and July is usually a low point in my experience. (You wouldn’t know it from the July drop-off, but the launch of Past Due made for a great June.) I wasn’t even sure whether to link this to one series or another since I could only link one in the metadata, and that labeling problem likely cost me some sales. A chunk of reliable buyers already got this as a free download from my Patreon, too, because the stories all came out of Patreon in the first place. Kinda felt like they had already paid.
And then there’s that whole Summer of 2020 dumpster fire thing. Ultimately, sure, I wish Small Victories had done a little better. That said, there’s a hell of a lot to be grateful for in that page even without all my caveats.
Anyway, on to the tally!
232 sales (meh, I’ll eat the 2 refunds) x $3.99 = 925.68. Let’s round to $930.
Amazon gets 30% of that as their standard royalty share. 70% of $930 is $651.
As I said in my initial post on this, I normally withhold 35% of everything I earn for federal taxes… which I’d be more concerned about if this had come out to a bigger dollar figure. It’s not a big hit here, so I’ll cover that on my own instead of withholding. We’ll keep the ebook sales figure at $651.
In the Kindle Unlimited program, the author gets paid for the number of pages read in each month. KDP has its own magic formula for what constitutes a page, since people read on lots of different screen sizes and devices. The payout varies from month to month. As a basic summary: Amazon sets a payout figure for the month—I forget the term they use, but it’s basically a pot of money—and every book in the program draws from the same pot. The “pot” is divided up by all the pages read by subscribers and then distributed to the authors. This means it’s a different figure every month. Historically it has run between $0.0045 up to just about $0.005 per page.
Turns out I had a hard time running down the exact figure for July, but August appears to be $0.0043. I can’t remember the last time it hit that half-a-cent-per-page mark, but we’ll use that here since it’s the conceivable maximum. If I turn out to be undershooting, I’ll gladly post a correction and make an additional donation to make up the difference.
For the Kindle Unlimited page reads, we have a count of 83,283. At $0.005 per page, that’s $416.42 (okay, $416.415). Again, I can handle the taxes on that on my own. No need to let that impact the donation figure.
$651 in sales plus $416 in KU reads comes out to $1,067. Let’s round that up to $1100 for the sake of convenient numbers. Again, not staggering or life-changing, but I’m really happy for any sales and support going to charity.
Here’s the bonus good news: my wife’s employer is a company with a charity donation-matching program. We checked with the administrators to make sure this was all within the rules and they told us a joint donation was totally cool with them, so both donations got corporate matching!
The resulting receipts were a little heavy on the privacy concerns, so rather than blacking it all out I’ve screenshotted the bottom lines:
Thank you to everyone who picked up this book or read it on KU, and an extra thanks to everyone on my Patreon who already had a free copy and bought it online to support the drive. I’m looking forward to doing more such drives in the future.