Business Resources for Authors

Tracking Sales

Self-published authors have an advantage in maintaining control over their books’ selling price. But all authors must understand the contract terms from their distributors and/or publishers on how different prices affect royalty rates. You can review general information on the major eBook distributors in our Self-Publishing section, but your contract terms will be the most accurate.

Start making plans now for how to track earnings and royalties received from each distributor. We’ve included some Excel spreadsheet options below with download links.

Sales Figure Breakdowns

How much money do indie authors earn from their books? There’s no simple answer. Every author, every title will be unique.  Some factors that can affect sales include:

  • Whether the author has an established brand or is a debut author
  • Number of distributors who carry the title
  • Number of formats available for the title
  • The author’s marketing plan for the title (paid ads, blog tour, reviews and more)
  • Price of the book

Commercially published authors who don’t have first-hand access to their sales figures and must rely on “ranking” on the online retailers to guess at how many books they’re selling can learn much from reviewing information shared by indie authors. Authors are becoming increasingly willing to discuss hard numbers and we thank them.

There are a few individual authors who track their sales—on both indie books and commercially published books’ royalty statements—and post updates on their blogs. Keep in mind that these are merely examples and should not be viewed as likely results. Your sales may be bigger or smaller.

Show Me The Money

Brenda Hiatt has also added indie books to her Show Me The Money chart. She updates it at least twice per year, and the chart shows average advances and royalties from print publishers, digital publishers and, now, indie authors.  Authors are encouraged to send her information to add to her statistics.

Sample Spreadsheets

If you’re looking for a way to track sales, you might want to start with one of the below Excel spreadsheet templates.  Click the link to download.
1.  Sales Tracking:  Spreadsheet built to track daily sales of one title across multiple distributors.  Includes space to jot notes on promotions, book pricing and ranking to see how those affect sales. Make copies of this template for each book for each year.  In .xls format.
2.  Sales Royalty Reconciliation: Spreadsheet built to track monthly royalty earnings for one title across multiple distributors. Fields built to allow for matching up royalty payments with earnings.  Feeds info to a Totals page that shows earnings and sales total for the book in numbers and as a graph.  In .xls format.
3.  Writing Sales Report: Spreadsheet built to track sales of multiple titles across multiple distributors. Color-coded with instructions on how to adapt.  In .xls format.  This report created by Pepper Phillips and Donna Caubbareaux.

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