Understanding your Sales Reports

All the hard work has been done, your manuscript written and edited, your design completed and your marketing plan in place. Now it’s time to receive your first sales report! 

We get a lot of questions about sales reports, understandably so, they can be difficult to process and when it comes to receiving income for all the hard work you have put in, you want to be sure that you understand exactly what is contained in them and when you will be receiving the royalties owed. 

In this blog post I’ll be giving you an overview of how Tellwell generates your sales report, how we pay out royalties, going over the report information in detail, and answering some of the frequently asked questions we receive about sales reports.

Receiving your sales report

Firstly, it’s important to be aware of the period that is being reported on in your sales report (I’ve included a handy grid above showing the key dates). We send out sales reports monthly but they report on sales for the period 2 months before the date you receive the report on (Updated: please see this post for updates). The subject line of the email indicates the period being reported on. You will also only receive a sales report if you recorded sales during the period. You can log on to Octavo at any point to check this.

Related to this is that Tellwell currently only pays out royalties 4 times a year, 45 days after the end of each quarter. Refer to the grid above to see how we divide the year into Quarters (Q1-Q4). Royalties are currently paid out by cheque mailed to the Author. Cheques are mailed around Feb 15th, May 15th, Aug 15th and Nov 15th. You will receive a report showing the total royalties you have accumulated during the previous quarter at this time too. We only pay out royalties if they exceed $100, otherwise the amount is carried forward and added to your next quarter’s royalties, until they exceed $100. If you have royalties due you will also be asked to confirm your mailing address, for mailing your cheque to, at this time.

OK, that’s the administrative side of sales & royalties, now let’s look at what the sales report reports on:

The sales report above is for July 2019 and show totals units sold and total net royalties earned in Canadian Dollar (CAD) for the month of July 2019. Let’s go over each column in detail:


This column shows the edition or format of the unit sold, it can be either a Paperback, Hardcover or an Ebook. The latter two options will only appear if you purchased a Hardcover and/or Ebook edition for your book package.

Sales Channel

Sales Channel is where a lot of people often start to get confused. The reason for this confusion is that, for physical books (i.e. paperback and hardcover) we do not receive information from the actual retailer who sold your book (for example Chapters/Indigo, either online or at a physical bookstore) – we only receive sales information from the company that fulfills your order (i.e. prints and ships the order). When a reader purchases a book from Chapters, Chapters do not fulfill the order, they simply forward the order to the printer who prints and ships the book to your reader.

So for paperback and hardcover books, the Sales Channel indicates who fulfilled the order.

For paperback copies of your book, the company fulfilling the order will be one of the two print on demand companies we use, either Ingram or Amazon. Bear in mind that Amazon will only be used if you have purchased Enhanced Amazon Distribution. Also, Hardcover books are always fulfilled by Ingram since Amazon does not support printing Hardcover books. 

Paperback and Hardcover:

Let’s take another look at our sales report again. As you can see the Sales Channel shows paperback sales reported from both Ingram and Amazon so we can tell that this Author had purchased Enhanced Amazon Distribution. We can also see that, for Hardcover books, sales are only reported from Ingram as expected.

In addition Ingram shows the region that the book was printed in, indicated by the two letters following the word Ingram. There are 4 regions that can be shown:

  • Ingram US: For orders in North America.
  • Ingram UK: For orders in UK and parts of Europe.
  • Ingram AU: For orders in Australia and New Zealand.
  • Ingram GC: For orders fulfilled by one of Ingram’s Global Partners, including printers in Asia, South America, Africa and parts of Europe such as Germany, Italy and Poland.

For Amazon the Sales Channel shows which Amazon center printed and shipped the order (not which website the order was placed on). So Amazon.com will be shown for orders in USA, Amazon.ca will be shown for orders printed and shipped in Canada (prior to October 16th 2019 orders shipped to Canada are shown under Amazon.com).
Also, since Amazon do not fulfill orders for any other company other than Amazon, Paperback orders from retailers other than Amazon will be printed and shipped by Ingram. This is one of the advantages of including Enhanced Amazon Distribution in your package; you get faster printing and shipping for Amazon orders without sacrificing the global reach that Ingram gives your book.


Sales Channel is somewhat more granular for ebooks, since ebooks do not need to be printed, they just need to be delivered and normally the website delivering the order is the same as the one on which the order was placed.

Take a look at the Sales report above, if you have included Amazon Kindle Ebook in your package, the Sales Channel can be any one of Amazon’s global websites. If you purchased Kobo, the Sales Channel will show as “Kobo” and if you purchased Smashwords the Sales Channel could be “Smashwords.com” if sold directly from Smashwords or, because Smashwords is an aggregator too, any one the websites which Smashwords distributes to, including “Apple”, “Scribd”, “Overdrive” etc. …

Sales Currency

The Sales Currency column indicates the currency that the royalties were reported in and is normally the local currency from the region the book was shipped from. Since Tellwell ultimately pays out royalties in Canadian dollars, all royalties are converted to Canadian dollars using the daily exchange rate for the last day of the reporting cycle as published by the European Central Bank and made available via the following API https://exchangeratesapi.io/

Units Sold

Indicates the number of units sold, this figure can include negative amounts (if there were returns) or fractions (for ebook channels that offer borrowing, such as Scribd (via Smashwords)). Borrowed ebooks can only be viewed for a certain time period after which they are “returned”. A fraction of a unit indicates the royalty received for a borrowed ebook.

Net Royalties

Net royalties are calculated as follows :
Gross royalties = Royalty Received from Fulfillment in reported currency x CAD exchange rate
For Tellwell’s Managed 100 program: Net royalties = Gross royalties
For Tellwell’s Managed 85 program: Net royalties = Gross royalties x 0.85

Calculating the Royalty Received from Fulfillment is outside the scope of this post and varies depending on numerous factors, but generally can be thought of as the cost of the book – costs to produce book (such as printing) – retailer discount (the % the retailer takes)

You should take note of what you are earning per book, by dividing the royalties earned by the units sold. Print costs rise over time and this can erode your royalty earned per book. If your royalty per book is less than $2 you may want to consider increasing the price. Though you should also bear in mind that some Marketing promotions offer free copies of your book which attract no royalties and can dramatically lower the royalty earned per book. If you have opted for promotional books, you should exclude these from your calculations.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. My friends or family members purchased a copy of my book but it’s not showing on the report.

    The report only shows sales 45 days after the end of the month being reported on. This causes some confusion because reports of purchases often don’t specify when the purchase was made. In addition purchases of paperbacks or hardcovers from retailers such as Chapters will not show as “Chapters” under the Sales Channel on your report, they will show as “Ingram” Sales channel. To further complicate matters because many purchases involve multiple companies, reporting of purchases can be delayed by 1 or more months from the date of purchase or shipping.
    At Tellwell we strive to ensure the accuracy of our reporting, but if you are concerned, please email [email protected] and we will be happy to investigate.
  2. I did not receive a Sales or Royalty Report email

    Tellwell only sends out Sales Reports emails if you had sales in the reporting period. We also only send out Quarterly Royalty reports each quarter if you have sales in the quarter reported on. However you can still log on to https://portal.tellwell.ca to view all your sales reports at any time.

Thank you for reading. I hope this explains some of the finer detail of reading your royalty report. Questions, concerns? Notice an error? Email [email protected] and let us know.