Dummies author earning nearly $6000 a week off one title
The "Dummies" brand is ubiquitous. I don't think there's anyone who hasn't heard of some topic or another that doesn't have a matching dummies title. But how well do these books really sell?
I decided to track the sales of five leading dummies titles to get a feel for the type of sales these books were making over the typical week. The results may surprise you - earnings for some Dummies books show they're not all that stupid ;)
It turns out that, on average, their sales figures are modest but not poor. At least relative to the books I tracked in previous sales smackdowns, like:
- Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point" outselling nearest competitors by over five to one on Amazon
- "The Lean Startup" by Eric Ries sells its way to small business and entrepreneurial success
- Guy Kawasaki's "Art of the start" outsells other titles by marketing gurus
The following dummies books were tracked over the week beginning 1st Feb, 2012:
- Kindle Fire for Dummies by Nancy C. Muir
- Social Media Marketing All-In-One for Dummies by Jan Zimmerman
- Stock Investing for Dummies by Paul Mladjenovic
- Personal Finance for Dummies by Eric Tyson
- Small Business for Dummies by Eric Tyson
Sales data for Dummies titles (week starting Feb 1st, 2012)
Sales figures and average sales rank are also provided for each book (according to the sales graph provided courtesy of RankTracer - Amazon sales analytics):
- Kindle Fire for Dummies: 1530 sales at an average sales rank of 30
- Social Media Marketing All-In-One for Dummies: 25 sales at an average sales rank of 18632
- Stock Investing for Dummies: 107 sales at an average sales rank of 2325
- Personal Finance for Dummies: 58 sales at an average sales rank of 4604
- Small Business for Dummies: 39 sales at an average sales rank of 7487
Ok, so no prizes for noticing that "Kindle Fire for Dummies" is a smash hit. Any guesses why?
Taking nothing away from the author, Nancy C. Muir, it is likely that the unsurpassed sales and interest in the Kindle Fire itself, as highlighted in a previous article entitled "Kindle Fire's analytics indicate unprecedented sales figures", is driving sales of this book.
Calculating how much Dummies authors earn
Let's do a few quick calculations to work out the rough earnings of each of these authors. Feel free to modify the assumptions I make, or change the numbers to reflect what you believe to be a more accurate picture.
I base my assumptions on my own experience as an author (who, in the past, has written books for the Dummies' parent company Wiley, amongst others).
Here is my list of assumptions:
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- Amazon.com constitutes around 20% of the overall sales of a title
- An author receives, in general, 15% of the publisher's net revenue of each book sold
- The publisher's net revenue from a book is about 30% of the retail price of the book
This gives us an equation that looks like this:
Author royalties = Books sold on Amazon x book price x 5 (to get total books sales) x 0.3 (to get publisher's net revenue) x 0.15 (to get authors revenue) = books sold on Amazon x book price x 0.225
Dummies authors' earnings for the week starting 1st Feb, 2012
Let's plug these assumptions into each book to get the author's royalty earning for the week starting Feb 1st, 2012:
- Kindle Fire for Dummies by Nancy C. Muir: 1530 x 16.99 x 0.225 = $5848 royalties
- Social Media Marketing All-In-One for Dummies by Jan Zimmerman: 25 x 29.99 x 0.225 = $169 royalties
- Stock Investing for Dummies by Paul Mladjenovic: 107 x 21.99 x 0.225 = $529 royalties
- Personal Finance for Dummies by Eric Tyson: 58 x 21.99 x 0.225 = $287 royalties
- Small Business for Dummies by Eric Tyson: 39 x 22.99 x 0.225 = $202 royalties
Whoa! Nancy C. Muir is earning nearly $6000 a week off one title. That is quite amazing. Despite what many people think, the publishing world is not floating in cash. The vast majority of books make little to no money at all.
As you can see from the earnings of the other authors, and remember that these books are selling modestly well, that the earnings from those books would not really be sufficient to give up their day jobs... Unless, of course, they have multiple books selling simultaneously.
If you'd like to see a comparison of other books or products (it could be anything), connect with me on Twitter or Google+ and let me know. Alternatively, you can create your own infographic by creating an account on RankTracer and purchasing a few subscriptions to track different books and products for comparison.
Feel free to share your thoughts about these sales figures/earnings and what they mean in the comments below. If you have any additional insight, I'd love to hear it.
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