I currently average around $200 a month in royalties from my self published books. That sounds great, but it’s actually pretty low, because I have around 20 books that consistently sell a few copies a month (accounting for the $200 royalties), but also another 30-ish that sell at best a few copies a year. I just counted, and I currently have 52 books on Amazon, which may sound like a lot, but remember that I have been doing this since 2oo6, so that’s 11 years, an average of under 5 books a year. Which isn’t hard to do when some of those books are quite short (discussed in the third paragraph).
Publishing (self or otherwise) is a tricky business, because everything depends on the individual book (not all books perform the same, by a long shot), plus factors like when things in the news suddenly trigger people to buy books on certain topics — for a while. For example, my best performing book of all time brought in a staggering (to me) average of $600 a month all by itself, and maintained that performance for two solid years. Then it dropped dead, for no reason I can fathom. Another title sold a trickle for a couple of years, then a news event caused it to sell 800 copies in a single month — then it dropped back to 5 a year. Go figure.
I publish under at least 10 pseudonyms (I’ve lost count over the years). Why so many? Because I write across a very broad range of topics, from fiction to memoir to cookbooks to “how-to” to religion/spirituality and the paranormal. Every time I leaped to a new topic over the years, I created a new pseudonym. Many of my books, the ones that actually sell with the most consistency, are short non-fiction how-to books, 10,000 to 20,000 words, published in eBook only, and selling for 99 cents. People are more than happy to drop a dollar in exchange for a useful guide that tells them without any BS how to accomplish some task. When this self-publishing series I’m doing on Medium is complete (hopefully next week), I’m going to leave it right here on Medium for the free use of my writer friends, but I’m also going to spin it off as a 99 cent eBook on Amazon and iTunes (the apple iBookstore). There are gozoombas of people out there who don’t like reading things on their PCs and prefer an eBook, or they just prefer to own a copy so they don’t have to remember where they saw your Internet article, or they simply start on Amazon looking for information because that’s their habit. Nobody is going to be hurt by giving me 99 cents in exchange for useful information. If a thousand people a month do that, it turns into real money. Everybody’s happy.