Publishing an E-Anthology – Is It Worth It?

This question appears in Della Galton’s column in the current Writers’ Forum magazine. I thought I’d try to answer it using my own experience, with two anthologies published over the last six weeks or so.

I published One Day For Me on 23rd January and, as of 6th March, I have sold 63 copies, 3 on and the rest in the UK. Of the UK sales, 58 were at 77p each (giving me a 26p royalty each) and 2 were at £1.53 (giving me £1.03 royalty each). This has given me total UK royalties of £17.14.

I published Old Friends on 22nd February and, as of 6th March, I have sold 20 copies, all in the UK at 77p each. This has given me total UK royalties of £5.20.

So, financially, I say it has not been worthwhile. BUT I still have a lot to learn about e-book marketing and the inner workings of the great Amazon machine. So I’m hoping that once I get my head around that and also publish a couple more books that I have ideas for, sales will improve. In the meantime, if anyone knows how to get a foothold in the US market – please let me know!

Forgetting the financial side of it, there have been many other benefits from dipping my toe into e-publishing.

I’ve had lots of positive feedback from people who’ve read the books, particularly One Day For Me, in the form of Amazon reviews, emails and face to face. Also, I’ve learnt that those outside the ‘writing industry’ often don’t appreciate the importance of leaving reviews for books they’ve enjoyed – and many simply don’t know how to do it.

But the best thing to come out of this experience is the new respect that family, friends and work colleagues have for my writing. It is no longer just ‘a little hobby’. Instead it is something that has a tangible product which is on sale worldwide and which they can buy. This has made me feel more professional and less guilty about claiming to be a writer.

So, in summary – YES, the anthologies have definitely been worthwhile.

And if you buy one, I think you’ll find they’re a worthwhile read as well!

One Day For Me: 8 Award-Winning Stories – these stories have all either won or been shortlisted in UK national writing competitions.

Old Friends: 13 Coffee Break Stories – these stories have all previously appeared in UK magazines

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  1. #1 by Patsy on March 10, 2013 - 9:15 am

    I rather suspected these anthologies wouldn’t be big money spinners. That’s partly why mine is free. As you say there are other benefits to having a collection available online. I’m hoping mine will help publicise my other writing.

    • #2 by Sally Jenkins on March 10, 2013 - 5:01 pm

      That’s a good idea, Patsy, to use anthologies to introduce readers to your full-length novels. I just need to produce a full-length novel now!

  2. #3 by Writer / Mummy on March 10, 2013 - 9:50 am

    Well done! Having had my YA novel ‘out there’ for several weeks and only selling 7 copies I can fully appreciate your achievement. Even my free novels have only racked up 200 downloads between them in two months. The e-publishing route is worthwhile if you can crack it but it takes lots of hard work. The good bit is that the books will be out there for as long as you want so they don’t have to be a runaway success overnight.

    • #4 by Sally Jenkins on March 10, 2013 - 5:06 pm

      Thanks for this, writermummy. It does help to know how other people are getting on.As you say, the marketing bit is very hard work! But I suppose we’re in it for the long haul. Best of luck with your novels.

  3. #5 by susanjanejones on March 10, 2013 - 2:52 pm

    Well done Sally on those great sales and publishing your e.books. It’s the way forward, and even though I’m still fumbling around a bit, we have to get to grips with it if we aim to be taken seriously. I find it hard though, especially when I need to be writing. Sometimes I miss banging away at the old typewriter…

    • #6 by Sally Jenkins on March 10, 2013 - 5:07 pm

      Susan, I do agree – we writers have to get to grips with e-publishing and it does open up a whole new world to us …

  4. #7 by Wendy Clarke on March 10, 2013 - 3:09 pm

    Thank you, Sally. It’s so interesting to hace a breakdown. I think you are right to view it as a great way to show case your work – after all it hasn’t cost anything. I am please that I was one of the downloaders of your book!

    • #8 by Sally Jenkins on March 10, 2013 - 5:09 pm

      Wendy – I’m pleased you downloaded my book, too! And it is good having it available – now when anyone asks about my writing, I can point them in the direction of Amazon.

  5. #9 by Anne Harvey on March 10, 2013 - 3:37 pm

    Thanks for this, Sally. It’s very helpful. I think I’ve overpriced my own trio of short stories but there didn’t seem to be any option for pricing it less. Still, it’d been a learning experience. Just posted a new blog about it today.

    • #10 by Sally Jenkins on March 10, 2013 - 5:10 pm

      Well done on getting your stories ‘out there’, Anne. I shall pop over to your blog and take a look!

  6. #11 by Nas DeanNas on March 10, 2013 - 11:41 pm

    It is a good idea to have something online so your writing gets branded and your name to get ‘out there.’ A great, informative post, thanks for sharing!

    • #12 by Sally Jenkins on March 11, 2013 - 1:08 pm

      Glad you found it interesting, Nas. I thought I’d share my sales figures because I’ve no idea how many copies other people sell.

  7. #13 by Jenny Roman on March 11, 2013 - 12:42 pm

    This is a really encouraging blog, Sally. Great that both of your collections are achieving sales. OK, the numbers might not be massive just yet, but they are likely to build, and in any case, you make a great point about the other benefits – not least about other people now taking your writing seriously. Best of luck for future sales – and the full-length novel!

    • #14 by Sally Jenkins on March 11, 2013 - 1:09 pm

      Thanks, Jenny. I think that full-length novel might be a way off yet – but at least it’s possible to publish’shorts’ with e-books.

  8. #15 by Linda on March 11, 2013 - 1:25 pm

    It’s early days, Sally, and I don’t think your sales so far are too bad compared with many other self-published ebooks. Unlike a story published in a print magazine, an ebook has a much longer shelf life so it can keep selling for months or years to come …

    • #16 by Sally Jenkins on March 11, 2013 - 1:28 pm

      Fingers crossed, Linda that those sales keep coming… Best wishes with your writing, too.

  9. #17 by Debbie Young on March 11, 2013 - 5:04 pm

    I agree with Linda, it’s really early days yet, Sally, and you are doing very well – #38 & #39 in the Kindle section for the slightly bizarrely named “Women Writers & Fiction – Short Stories” section on Amazon just now! I reckon if you took the plunge into Twitter to promote it there, you’d get a useful boost to sales – but I know you may not necessarily want to go in the direction of Twitter!
    Thank you for sharing this really interesting feedback – I’m especially interested as I’m planning to release some e-books of short stories and blog collections later this year, and I feel much encouraged by your experience! (And I loved your stories too!)

    • #18 by Sally Jenkins on March 11, 2013 - 8:39 pm

      Thanks for the encouragement, Debbie. I know I ought to do Twitter but I just don’t seem to have time to fit everything in! Good Luck with your e-books and do let us know when they’re released.

  10. #19 by Jeanne Olivier on March 12, 2013 - 11:31 am

    I agree Sally. Like you, I also published a small womans flash fiction e-anthology in October last year and another single teenage fantasy short story in November. I published both on Amazon and on Smashwords so could not sign up for Amazon KDP Select which understandably resulted in the Smashwords editions being much more successful. Although I haven’t made any money from this and only had about 300 downloads to date – the experience was invaluable and I have certainly learned a lot. It has also made me feel less guilty about ‘claiming’ to be a writer. I’m sure your anthologies will both be very successful – I really enjoy your stories.

    • #20 by Sally Jenkins on March 12, 2013 - 7:58 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Jeanne. 300 downloads sounds a lot to me! I too have learned a lot. May we both go onto greater things!

  11. #21 by Nanny_cool on March 15, 2013 - 5:36 pm

    I have nominated you for the Liebster Award x

  12. #24 by Wendy Clarke on March 16, 2013 - 6:35 pm

    Hi Sally. Have nominated you for an award. Just pop over to my blog for details.

  13. #26 by Rob Innis on March 17, 2013 - 9:49 am

    I published an anthology of my previously published (and with some new content) articles etc under the title of Spain Exposed – and whilst it has not made me a millionaire (and neither did I expect it too!) I have been pleased with sales and being able to share my work with more readers. I now have it on other platforms apart from Kindle. Bit annoying the sales from have not been paid because I do not have an account in America – but that was all explained up front (if you wade through all the details) so all in all I would say it was worthwhile and remember Sally you have only had them online for a short time – so keep the marketing going and watch those sales go up. Good luck.

    • #27 by Sally Jenkins on March 17, 2013 - 7:20 pm

      Thanks for the encouraging words, Rob. It seems the key to selling on Kindle is all about the marketing, keyword and category selection etc. It can take up a lot more time than the actual writing!

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