Well, I just got my royalty statement for the first period in which Grand Central Arena and Threshold were released. The short summary is that GCA has earned out its advance in the first six months of release with a sell-through of about 81%, and Threshold is near earning out in hardcover, with a reasonable sell-through of about 61%. In addition, Boundary did a significant surge in sales, with (I'm guessing) another 3500 - 4000 copies sold.
. The way in which this all works, however, may be of interest to those who are writers, or who may be writers, and are watching the current industry trends. I am therefore going to speak in detail about Grand Central Arena. Other people have done similar breakdowns, but there may be salient points of interest based on the unique period we are currently going through -- the transition from mostly-paper to mostly-electronic markets.
The first interesting point is probably this simple fact: based on print numbers, Grand Central Arena could not possibly earn out. According to my statement, the total number of books shipped (and thus the maximum number that could possibly have been sold) was 9,104 (out of, I would guess, an initial print run of 10,000, since I sincerely doubt anyone prints 9,104 books in a run). On GCA I have an 8% royalty rate; at a 100% sell through (which will never, ever happen; I think John Ringo is legendary for managing over 90% a couple of times), therefore, the entire run would have earned me 9104*7.99*0.08 = $5,819.28.
My advance for Grand Central Arena was $8,000. Meaning that even absolutely perfect performance in the marketplace would have left me about $2200 short of earning out.
In actuality, as of the end of December, 7,141 copies of GCA had sold, giving me $4,564.62 in income (my calculations say it's 4564.53, oddly). Now, apparently that didn't include Canadian sales, because those get accounted for as $305.86.
So, obviously, something else must have kicked in to make up the difference.
One part of that, of course, was the unexpected but gratifying sale of the Japanese foreign language rights to Hayakawa, which netted me an additional $1,050. Note that in this case Baen makes out like a bandit, because the Japanese actually paid $2100 for those rights, and Baen gets 50% rather than what an agent would take (about 15%). Still, that's another thousand for me, so I'm not kicking.
Nonetheless, that leaves me over two thousand dollars in the hole. Where does the rest come from?
Webscriptions. I.e., ebooks. Over $2,000 from the Ebook sales.
Some of those were for EArcs -- Electronic Advance Readers Copies, which are copies of the book, in electronic form, before the final editing and changes. For the privilege of reading it before anyone else, these people paid TWICE what the paperback costs. The rest would be regular Webscriptions -- either from my share of the whole monthly bundle in which they were released, or from people buying it individually.
And that's with Baen ebooks ONLY available on their site, not through the vastly more trafficked Amazon.com.
Over ONE QUARTER of my income from this book came from sales of electronic books. Under conditions that I don't think were even optimal for the Ebook version (not being available in the known-largest market for Ebooks can't be ideal).
The Electronic Age has arrived for books; I think there's no doubt about it.
What does this mean for me? Well, it looks like I'll have a good shot at doing a sequel, or more than one, for GCA, and maybe get to do some more in the Boundaryverse as well. Plus, this proves FINALLY that I, as an individual author, can sell enough books to make a publisher money. I'm no longer in the question-mark category.
I'm pretty happy, eh? :)