Earning the Big (sic) Bucks!

I got my 2010 royalty statement and check last week for No Going Back. The check was for a little over $150: my share in the sale of 109 print copies and 77 electronic copies during 2010. That brings total sales to 227 print copies and 77 electronic copies, for a grand total of 304 — and about $250 total in royalties earnings between 2009 and 2010.

Figuring out just how many copies have actually been distributed is somewhat trickier. Between myself and Chris (my publisher), I’m pretty sure we’ve given away at least 50 print copies and distributed another 60-70 complimentary electronic copies to reviewers and readers of my manuscript. I don’t know for sure, but gave away probably 10-15 more print copies to family and friends. I’ve sold 13 copies myself. (These don’t count toward my royalties, but I get to keep the difference between the cost to me — half the cover price plus shipping — and whatever I charge. Between last year and this year, I’ve made about $80 from this source.) And Chris and I made electronic copies available to all the judges of the Whitney Awards, a large group that potentially could have included several hundred people, though I don’t know how many took advantage of the offer. So make it a little less than 450 copies distributed total, plus however many took got a copy through the Whitney Awards.

This, believe it or not, is not actually too bad for non-mainstream Mormon fiction (i.e., fiction that doesn’t get carried by the LDS bookstores such as Deseret Books). Chris tells me that for Zarahemla Books, I’m about midstream in terms of sales: less than Doug Thayer’s two books and Coke Newell’s On the Road to Heaven, but more than some of the others. Don’t know how it compares with numbers from the other independent sellers and/or from those who have self-published their work.

I’ve shared all this info, partly because I think it’s interesting to know these kinds of details about the Mormon publishing world in general, and partly so people will understand that the positive reviews and such that I keep mentioning do not, in fact, translate into mega-bucks for me and a readership in the multiple tens of thousands — though it’s now getting close to the point where I might make back the money I’ve personally spent on gift and complimentary copies. I wonder how these numbers compare to more mainstream fiction publishing within the Mormon market (e.g., titles from Covenant or Cedar Fort)?

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3 Responses to “Earning the Big (sic) Bucks!”

  1. Pam Williams says:

    You do it because you love it. You get the big bucks only if you sell it to a movie producer. I keep that in mind when I plan how I’m going to pitch my manuscripts to an LDS publisher. A piece of LDS fiction is really just one elaborate but beautifully stated comment in a Sunday School class.

    • Jonathan says:

      I like that. Although I think a novel is maybe a bit more like an extended sacrament meeting talk…

      (Fortunately, this is a low-circulation blog, so I doubt anyone will come along and seize on this as evidence that you and I believe that all Mormon fiction ought to be didactic…)

  2. LauraN says:

    . . . or maybe you’re trying to inprove the quality of your average Sunday School class? I’ve never seen one that couldn’t be improved by a good story.

    On another note, my profits off of my “worldly” publication aren’t as “sic” as yours, but I won’t quit my day job, so to speak, and they’re already dropping off.

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