by L.J. Sellers, author of provocative mysteries & thrillers
Recently Kindle Review, a blog that tracks indie authors’ Amazon sales, posted its list of the top 50 indie authors for 2011. I was surprised and pleased to be listed at #11. I never reported my sales to them. In fact, I don’t know my actual sales numbers for last year because I’ve never taken the time to add them up. The blog contacted me again near the end of March and asked for my numbers for the month. I wasn’t sure how to respond.
This is more of an issue with ebooks because the royalty rates are public and simple to calculate. I worry that people will do the math wrong and think: 10,000 books at $2 each, that’s twenty grand. They have no idea how many of the books sold at $.99 for a .35 cent royalty...and how little money that adds up to.
So I didn’t give the blog specific information. Still, they listed me first on their Authors to Watch list and reported my estimated sales. It was a little weird to see that number, and I’m not sure where they got it. But it probably wasn’t difficult, and I know how I would do it (based on rankings and another author’s reported sales).
A lot of authors have called for transparency in reporting sales. Some traditional authors have posted their royalty statements online, and Joe Konrath has been very open about his sales and royalty income. (He must not have poor and needy family members. <grin>)
I’m not sure I’ll ever be comfortable talking about income in public, yet I expect this issue to come up again and again. Amusingly, I have an interview with Amazon this morning for their newsletter, and the person may ask about my numbers. Which is ironic, because the company actually has a better idea than I do.
So what do you think? Writers: Do you report or talk about actual sales numbers (or income) publicly? Readers: Do you think writers should?