C.E. Murphy talks some math about why she won’t be continuing a series:
“I have some things to report about the Inheritors’ Cycle.
Not irregularly, people ask me if I’ll be doing more of them. I’ve been seriously considering pursuing that, but I just got royalty statements on them, and it’s clear that unless I could be absolutely certain of getting the books into bookstores, it would be a waste of my time. THE QUEEN’S BASTARD has sold about 1800 copies in e-book and THE PRETENDER’S CROWN has sold about 1000. Assuming that at the best I’d match TPC’s e-sales, I’d be looking at maybe $6K in income, all of which would be eaten by cover art and editorial costs. Not worth it.
‘But Kickstarter!’ people say, which, yes, but perks! rewards! etc! are costly and it kind of appears from royalty statements that in e-book terms, the people who might support an Inheritors’ Cycle Kickstarter (ie, the ones who are aware of my internet presence and pay attention to it) are very possibly the ones who might also buy the e-book, which means I wouldn’t even have as many as 1K sales to count on.”
(Via The Essential Kit | Inheritors’ Cycle update – The Essential Kit.)
Man, this is something I was hammering at the last convention I was at. The equations of each project differ, even sometimes from project to project with the same author. Focusing on Kickstarter, or 70% royalty, obscures the question: which method makes me the most.
In some cases, it might be one way, in some another.
I mentioned that, in the modern marketplace, the money offered to me for short story collections is way less than what I can do via self publishing and Kickstarter for a collection. But for novels, the other distribution method is more lucrative.
The equation is that there is a mix of Royalty times Price of product times Size of your individual buyer pool. Let’s call the equation: R times Pop times Pool.
So while a larger publisher might increase the price of the product, if the buyer pool that they give you access to (via shelves, stores) increases sales, it can offset and beat the lower royalty.
I’ve seen writers do well in moving series to direct publishing. I’ve seen writers make almost nothing and leave confused.
The best way to get an idea for what leverage (if any) the different methods give you is to be a hybrid: experimenting with methods so that you have an idea of how the personal equation works for you.