There is no doubt that when it comes to making money off of fiction, a book series is king. Understanding how to calculate your fiction series value is just as important.
Certainly, there are other things you need to do in order to have that fiction career … write to genre, write character-based stories, have a great cover, blurb and opening page/chapter to name a few … but after it’s all said and done, the real juice comes from having several books in a series.
The strategy is simple: Hook your reader with book 1 by giving them a tale they have to follow and a character they absolutely love, and they will follow their character to the ends of the Earth – or in your case the end of the series.
What exactly does that actually mean the business of writing? It’s not as simple as ‘write the books and they will come (or read)’. You need to make sure the right kind of readers are picking them up. And in order to do that, you need to market the damn things.
One of the most important things that you need to calculate in your fiction career is what is your series worth. Because it’s only in understanding your series worth, can you truly set your marketing budget.
I know, I know – yuk, right? You’re an artist. A writer, not seller. That’s all fine and dandy, but if you want to spend your days torturing fictional characters in your head, you need to make money.
It’s not as hard (or unpleasant) as it seems. Let’s go through a simple example of what we mean:
Let’s say you have a 5-book series, with the following pricing strategy:
- Book 1 is priced at 0.99c* to give your reader the minimum barrier to entry to try out a new author and series.
- Book 2 is priced at 2.99c* so that it’s not a complete shock when jumping up a pricing level. (NOTE: If you have a great story and amazing characters – that should be enough to overcome any pricing objections they may have.)
- Books 3 – 5 are priced at 4.99c* – a price point that is generally accepted as the maximum level one can set an eBook without too much reader objection. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but if unsure, this isn’t a bad rule of thumb to follow.
* Note – Amazon pays different royalty rates depending on the price point. Books priced at 0.99c or ABOVE 9.99c have a royalty rate of 30%. A book priced between 2.99c and 9.99 has a royalty payout of 70%. See Table A, below:
|Royalty rate – 0.99c||35%|
|Royalty rate – 2.99c+||70%|
Now that we’ve established the pricing strategy, it’s time to record how many books in the series are sold. Once you’re at this point, calculating sell-through is pretty easy to do. This is where your fiction series value is truly understood.
It’s simply the number of books sold divided by the number of books sold in the previous book in the series.
For example: If you have a 5-book series and you sell the following:
Book 1: 10 Sales
Book 2: 5 Sales
Book 3: 4 Sales
Book 4: 3 Sales
Book 5: 3 Sales
Then your sell-through from book 1 to 2 is:
10 sales of book 1 divided by 5 sales of book 2 = 50%. (Not bad at all 😊 )
But what’s your marketing budget, then? For that we need to know what the value of selling a single copy of book-1 in your series.
For that, we need to know your series value translated into value of a single copy of book-1. Taking the example above (5-book series set at beforementioned pricing strategy), let’s calculate your series budget:
|Title||Price||Royalty||Book Sales||Sell Through||Sales Revenue*|
*NOTE: Since we’re trying to figure out your fiction series value, we’re taking a percentage value of each book in your series and turning it into the actual income you’re earning. In other words: If book-2’s royalty rate is 2.10c, and we know that for every copy of book-1 sold, 50% of readers go on to buy book-2, then your earnings for book-2 is 1.05c. A bit complicated, we know, that’s why we created the calculator for you.
Following the chart above, we know that a single sale of book-1 is worth 10.07$…
In other words, 10.07$ is your series marketing budget. As long as it costs you LESS than 10.07$ to sell a SINGLE COPY of BOOK-1, you’re making money. It is also the number you can spend on ads, promos or whatever book stunt your creative mind can conjure.
***Caveat: there’s more that goes into these calculations: length of time you’re measuring your series value, promotions you may be running, if your books are enrolled in Kindle Unlimited and thus you’re getting KENPs reads as well, etc.,… The above is a simplified overview of how making money off of fiction works. If you’d like to go deeper, please CLICK HERE.
Check out our calculator below. Play with it … different pricing strategies, sell-through rates, number of books in the series … what are your potential marketing budgets?
If you have a series out, calculate it’s sales value. BONUS: Calculate your series value if you wrote one or more books in the series
(PRO-TIP: Assuming you have at least a 4-book series and want to calculate the value of expanding it, take the sell-through value of book 3 to book 4 in your series and cut it by 10%. That should be a fairly accurate estimate of sell-through.)
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This post was written by one of our Self-Publishing School best-selling fiction series coaches, Ramy Vance!
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