Another Post About Joe Konrath’s Sales Figures

As most of you will probably have read by now, Joe Konrath has just posted about his sales figures to date.

Inspiring, yes?

Of course it is.  Most of us see the dollar figures and our mouths start to salivate like they would when someone peels a juicy orange in front of us, squeezing the juice and letting it run down their hands.

But many authors are also saying on forums, that those figures are just Konrath.  It isn’t possible to make that kind of money themselves.  He’s an outlier.

Or is he?

Sure there is no doubt he’s had a bit of luck (an important ingredient in one’s success as a writer), but if you crunch the figures a little more, it is actually far more achievable than you think.

Let’s dig a little deeper…

NOTE: For this analysis I’ll only be using his self published ebook titles.

Don’t Expect Every Book to be a Winner

He currently has over forty self published titles.  Since 2009 when he started publishing these himself, he’s made $912,138.

He also mentions that most of this money comes from just six of his books: The List, Origin, Disturb, Shot of Tequila, Endurance, and Trapped.

That means that one out of every seven of his books make the bulk of his sales.  One out of seven.

TAKE AWAY: Not every book will hit a home run.  You need to write more books and have a big virtual shelf for one of them to get lucky and break out.   Konrath’s average is 1 in 7.  

TO DO: Don’t stress if one of your books doesn’t sell well.  


If he has earned $912,138 from 632,501 books sold, he is earning an average royalty of $1.44 per book.

That would mean the bulk of his books were (are) priced at $2.99 ( a combo of 70% and 35% depending which country purchased them).  This is true enough as he prices his novels at $2.99 in nearly all cases.  He does have some short stories and collections for 0.99 cents, but the majority of his self published work is at $2.99.

I’ve also been playing with pricing this month, and finding that $2.99 really is a nice sweet spot for fiction.  It’s low enough for customers to take a chance, and high enough for authors to get the 70% commission.

TAKE AWAY: While it’s true that each book and each genre is different, lower priced books do sell more.  $2.99 seems to be a sweet spot for novels.

TO DO: Price Low.

More Books = More Money

I’ve already sort of mentioned writing more books above, but I thought it was interesting to look at it from another angle.

Joe mentions that he has made an average income of $210,000 per year for his self published work.

Considering he has 40+ books, that means that each book earns him around $5,000 per year.

That’s only $416 per month (per book).

When you look at it that way, it looks a lot more achievable doesn’t it.  Each book earns Joe Konrath just over $400 per month on average. (It’s probably much more than that now, but we are looking at averages since 2009 here).  The reason he has such high earnings is because he has a huge virtual shelf.  43 x $416 = $17,888 per month = $214,656 a year.

My best selling fiction book is currently earning around $100 per month.  So I’m a little behind Joe ( 😉 ) but the number of books that I have is a lot less too.  When I consider that, and that fact that I don’t have Joe’s years of writing experience (yet), my stats are looking pretty good.

TAKE AWAY: Instead of just concentrating on the large $912,138 which seems unachievable, if you break it up, you can see that the reason he earns so much is because he has written so many books.

TO DO: Write More.

Novels sell better than short stories

Duh!  Okay, so that probably wasn’t a huge revelations.  Whatevs.  It’s still important.  Konrath’s six best titles are novels.  He has said on numerous occasions that his novels sell better than his shorts.

While I know hundreds (thousands?) of authors are writing short stories right now, I only know of one who has been successful at it – Hugh Howey with his Wool series.  Although to be fair, his ‘short story’ is more novella length.

TAKE AWAY: Longer works do sell better.  That’s true of both my fiction and non fiction books.  The short stories just chug along.

TO DO: Write Novels.

Konrath’s secret to success

Joe has said many times, that his success comes down to:

  1. Pricing low;
  2. Having lots of books;
  3. Books that have good covers and have been edited and formatted well; and
  4. Luck.

From crunching his numbers, it’s clear that this is the case for him, and could be for many others too.

$400 a month per book doesn’t seem all that unreasonable to me.  In fact it seems very doable, especially as more and more people embrace ebooks.

His income is only likely to go up.  And I believe as I get more titles out my income will as well.

So what are you waiting for?  Get writing.


  1. Peter says

    Interesting ideas regarding the maths and ‘doable’…. What do you think as a ball park figure is a suitable word count for a novel? When you put your work up on Kindle how did you promote that it is there?

  2. Skyward says

    I’ve been tempted to go this route as well. I figure a novel starts somewhere around 50k words. All of my twenty books are 10k-15k, with only one being a horror novella at 20k words that I released back in June. Know how many it sold? TWO! This, despite having an awesome cover, decent blurb, competent writing and so forth.

    The 50k word mark is daunting, no doubt. I personally have two tiers I like to work at (or levels). First is 2000 words per day, which is 10k a week. I did 3k per day for about two months and found that the writing was stilted a bit. So a novel would take me five weeks to write, give or take, if I write at my “comfort” level. In the same amount of time I could put out FIVE 10k books. So which is the better option? Since I have been doing this only since June, I don’t have the data either way.

  3. says

    Hi Tracey,

    Great breakdown — as you point out, there are a lot of lessons to be learned from those who have gone out and done it. I follow another writer who routinely posts his numbers, and it is interesting to see how the whole business thing ticks.

    In Konrath’s case though, I think it’s important to mention that he had a readership from his traditionally published novels before he started self-publishing. This is a huge leg up that newbie authors don’t have. Not to say that 400-book/month sales are unreachable for us too, just that Konrath had a bit of a boost which made it way, way easier.

    So, perhaps his Number 5 secret to success: Get Published Traditionally Before Going the Self-Published Route… (Insert winking smiley face here.)


  4. Sello says

    Konrath is selling the fiction equivalent of rotten stolen dog-meat burgers and self-publishing newbies are consuming most of it.

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