So how much do Kindle Single authors really make? Even if you’re not a big-name writer, the money from joining the Kindle Single program can be significant.
As a reminder, the Kindle Single program requires authors to submit a pitch and wait for it to be accepted (in contrast to Amazon’s Kindle Direct program where authors can upload almost anything and make it available for sale). Sometimes Amazon pays an advance for a Kindle Single, sometimes it pays just royalties. The program has sold more than 2 million singles, with Amazon’s take reportedly around $1 million.
PaidContent recently interviewed a dozen authors about their sales figures.
Mishka Shubaly was approached by Amazon Kindle Single editor David Blum, who asked Shubaly to write something.
“I said, ‘Dave, this is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. I don’t know anybody who owns a nerd pad, and there’s all this free stuff out there so nobody’s going to buy anything, and if they buy anything, why would they buy my stuff? And I’m sober now, I don’t have any more stories.’
He said, ‘Don’t you have ONE more story?’ and I said, ‘Well, I did get shipwrecked that one time.’”
That story sold 20,000 copies. Shubaly, a musician who was working part-time in a bar, took his first royalty check to the bar and said he quit. “He was like why, and I was like ‘Look at this check, man,’ and he said, ‘I’d quit too.’”
Oliver Broudy, former managing editor of The Paris Review, has written two Kindle Singles and even though Amazon took a loss on the second, they’ve signed him up to write a third. “They’re trying to develop an editorial brand here, and this is the price they’re willing to pay, much as they’re willing to take a loss on e-books because they want to sell Kindles. There’s definitely a literary culture within the Kindle Singles program, and that’s a very good thing.”
The actual sales for authors varies wildly–Shubaly’s royalties have topped six figures while author Will Bunch is estimated to have made more like $8,000–but that’s still not something to sneeze at. Won’t pay the mortgage all year but as an extra revenue stream (and one that will continue to see sales every now and then), yeah. Not bad.