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Interesting stuff. Not quite sure about where's they've drawn the line for different income categories, though. There's a negligible difference between $0-$249 and $250-$999, regardless of whether it's your sole income or supplementary income, but $1,000-$4,999 is a crazily huge bracket for me. People at the bottom end of that would be under the poverty line, and people at the top end would be middle class. It's the difference between 12k a year and 60k a year - and probably, for most writers, if they're thinking of quitting their job and writing full-time there would be a very big difference in their decision making between even 2k and 4k a month, let alone 1k and 5k.
 

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Really helpful charts and breakdown of the data. Some of it seems blatantly obvious--of course people with more books published are going to earn more money! Of course those who spend more on editing and covers are going to see a greater ROI!--but honestly, when you are looking at dismal sale numbers and asking yourself if it's worth keeping on with this next book, if it's worth getting that editor, etc, it can be hard to see things so clearly. Because all you see is you pouring yourself into the work and nothing coming out of it. So having that chart is really helpful, to be able to say, "yes, it is worth continuing, it is worth making everything as professional as possible, eventually perseverance will have its reward."
 

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Louise Bates said:
Really helpful charts and breakdown of the data. Some of it seems blatantly obvious--of course people with more books published are going to earn more money! Of course those who spend more on editing and covers are going to see a greater ROI!--but honestly, when you are looking at dismal sale numbers and asking yourself if it's worth keeping on with this next book, if it's worth getting that editor, etc, it can be hard to see things so clearly. Because all you see is you pouring yourself into the work and nothing coming out of it. So having that chart is really helpful, to be able to say, "yes, it is worth continuing, it is worth making everything as professional as possible, eventually perseverance will have its reward."
I like this attitude a lot. When I first started off, it was with the expectation that I'd probably have to write at least 10, probably 20, books before I could do it full time. As strange as it may sound, it's comforting to know that in an industry where it feels like certain people get "Lucky" or and some don't, the number of books you write is an element under your control. And that it's actually the most important element, at least according to this report.

At 4 Books a year, it would take about 7ish years to get up to 30. Not an easy feat by any means, but certainly doable, and financial freedom can be sped along by bookbubs or other lucky breaks (which become more common the more published and visible you are).
 

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I don't know if I'm just being dense - but when they say author earnings, do they mean royalty earnings or net earnings (profit)? (i.e. royalty - all expenses), so someone making $1K a month could very well be spending $2k in expenses (i.e. they make $3k in royalty revenue)
 

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Louise Bates said:
Really helpful charts and breakdown of the data. Some of it seems blatantly obvious--of course people with more books published are going to earn more money! Of course those who spend more on editing and covers are going to see a greater ROI!--but honestly, when you are looking at dismal sale numbers and asking yourself if it's worth keeping on with this next book, if it's worth getting that editor, etc, it can be hard to see things so clearly. Because all you see is you pouring yourself into the work and nothing coming out of it. So having that chart is really helpful, to be able to say, "yes, it is worth continuing, it is worth making everything as professional as possible, eventually perseverance will have its reward."
Keep in mind, those numbers are averages. For every average, there are highs and lows that can be far removed from the average. For instance, I spend more than double the editing cost shown in stage five, more than $2000 per book. Including audio recording costs, I'll spend in excess of $7000 before a book is released. And I've a long way to go to reach the average number of books published for stage five, my 24th will be out in two weeks. I'm no longer in Select, so my income from KU is now less than 10% of gross and falling by the day. If they were to carry it further and create a Stage 6, you'd probably find that authors at that stage spend less time writing. At he most, I'll write 20 hours a week.

But if Stage 5 were $10,000 to $25,000, they'd have to create a new stage for me and many others. I'd be really interested to see the numbers for those who are earning $500,000 a year.
 
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Louise Bates said:
...--of course people with more books published are going to earn more money! Of course those who spend more on editing and covers are going to see a greater ROI!
Not "of course" in my experience.

If an author writes 100 of the wrong type of book (let's say mouse shifter dinosaur erotica children's stories) the number of titles they write isn't going to matter because the number of readers who will buy that is never going to add up to enough to reach the higher income levels. So for me personally I had a lot of titles published before I moved up some levels but it was one title that really did it. Maybe I learned things along the way that helped when I finally published that title, but it's equally possible that if I'd started with that title I would've seen that level of success immediately. I would agree that once you find a good genre or good readership then absolutely more titles can help with income. (To a certain point for some authors at which point they burn out on what they're writing or readers burn out on them.)

Also, for covers it really is genre dependent how impressive a cover needs to be. Some romance genres don't require a really expensive cover whereas some fantasy genres do. (Maybe.) And there is probably a limit on cover expense where you're in the good enough category and more expense isn't going to result in that much of an increase in sales.

Same with editing. That's one where if you get good editing it will help, but a lot of people don't know enough about what they need to actually get good editing. Or they pay twice what they should for the editing quality they are getting. Or they get good editing but then reject the edits. Depending on the writer and what they can do without paid editing, editing may not make enough difference in the story to lead to increased profits.
 

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jm2019 said:
I don't know if I'm just being dense - but when they say author earnings, do they mean royalty earnings or net earnings (profit)? (i.e. royalty - all expenses), so someone making $1K a month could very well be spending $2k in expenses (i.e. they make $3k in royalty revenue)
Would be nice if they also asked how much spend per month on marketing for each group.
 

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Interesting breakdown. My takeaway, as an author who straddles stages 3 and 4, is that I have a lot to be grateful for! I write and market fewer hours than average and have yet to get AMS or Facebook ads working for me. That said, I do spend quite a lot on editing and covers and Bookbub is sometimes kind enough to take me. I guess it all evens out.
 

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I'm in Tier Three and it's pretty close to accurate except I don't spend  that much on covers.
 
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