Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kindle Numbers: Traditional Publishing Vs. Self Publishing

I got quite a shock last week, when I got my bi-annual royalty statement.

Hyperion publishes six titles in my Jack Daniels series. They gave me my ebook figures.

Authors are usually quite secretive about their sales and their royalties.

Me? I'm spilling the beans. Here are my ebook Kindle numbers from Jan 1 to June 31, 2009.

Whiskey Sour priced at $3.96: 550 sales, $341 earned.

Bloody Mary priced at $7.99: 180 sales, $381 earned.

Rusty Nail priced at $7.99: 153 sales, $341 earned.

Dirty Martini priced at $6.39: 202 sales, $604 earned.

Fuzzy Navel
priced at $7.59: 152 sales, $341 earned.

That's 1237 ebooks sold in six months. Total money in JA's pocket: $2008.

Why do these numbers vary so much?

I get 25% of the amount received by the publisher. Depending on the deal my publisher makes with Amazon, that can be anywhere from 62 cents to $3 per ebook sold.

We can draw a simple conclusion looking at these sales: a $4 ebook sells 3 times as many copies as an $8 ebook.

Now lets compare these to my self-published Kindle sales. I'll use my four novels for comparison. This is also for a six month period.

The List priced at $1.99: 5142 sales, $3600 earned.

Origin priced at $1.99: 2619 sales, $1833 earned.

Disturb priced at $1.99: 1139 sales, $797 earned.

Shot of Tequila at $1.99: 900 sales, $630 earned.

That's 9800 ebooks sold in six months. Total money in JA's pocket: $6860.

I get 35% of the price I set on Kindle, or 70 cents per ebook download.

We can draw some simple conclusions looking at these numbers.

Ebooks priced at $4 sell an average of 1100 ebooks per year.

Ebooks priced at $8 sell an average of 342 ebooks per year.

Ebooks priced at $2 sell an average of 4900 ebooks per year.

It doesn't take a math whiz to see that the biggest profit is with low priced ebooks.

Now let's play the imagination game.

My five Hyperion ebooks (the sixth one came out in July so no royalties yet) each earn an average of $803 per year on Kindle.

My four self-pubbed Kindle novels each earn an average of $3430 per year.

If I had the rights to all six of my Hyperion books, and sold them on Kindle for $1.99, I'd be making $20,580 per year off of them, total, rather than $4818 a year off of them, total.

So, in other words, because Hyperion has my ebook rights, I'm losing $15,762 per year.

Now Hyperion also has my print rights, and my Jack Daniels books are still selling in print. But they aren't selling enough to make up the $15,762. Especially since all of them aren't regularly being stocked on bookstore shelves.

According to my math, I'd be making more money if my books were out of print, and I had my rights back.

Of course, there are a lot of different factors at play here. Certain titles are more popular than others. Print sales may fuel ebook sales. Ebooks sales may wane (though mine haven't yet.) Branding and name recognition and past customers and fans all come into play, making this damn confusing and far from conclusive.

That said, do I really want to keep signing deals with print publishers?

$3430 per ebook per year isn't really a big number. I've certainly never been paid so small an advance for a novel.

And yet, I'm 100% sure ebook sales are going to go up. I've signed deals with Smashwords to sell ebooks through Barnes and Noble, Apple to sell ebooks as iTunes apps for the Iphone and iPod Touch, and Sony to sell ebooks on their reader. Kindle was just released in 100 more countries. I predict more ebook sales in the near future.

Let's say by the end of 2010 I can make $5000 per year per ebook title by self publishing. I can easily write four books per year.

Again, $20,000 per year isn't enough to live on. But things begin to accumulate.

$20k per year for 4 new books, plus $20k per year for the books I'm already selling, is $40k per year.

But I'm selling more than novels on Kindle. I also have 6 collaborations and short story collections. This year I'm also going to put The Newbie's Guide to Publishing ebook on Kindle.

So now we're looking at 14 ebooks, each making $5k per year. That's $70,000 a year.

And as more people buy ereaders and ebooks, that number can go up. Plus, I publish on my schedule, I keep the profits, and best of all, the rights are 100% mine. So if I want to do a limited print edition, I can. If I want to sell the mass market paperback rights, I can.

Ebook rights began as gravy. I can picture a day when the print rights are the gravy, and authors make their living with ebooks.

Yes, it's still far off. And yes, print publishing is in no danger of going away anytime soon.

But I don't think I'll ever take a print contract for less than $30,000 per book, because I'm confident I could make more money on it over the course of six years than I could with a publisher over six years.

Isn't that bizarre?

For the bestselling author, this is all still very trivial. These numbers are chump change compared to the advances they get.

But for the midlist author, I'm beginning to think it's possible to make a living without print contracts.

I've struggled mightily to break into print. And I've made a nice chunk of change on my print novels.

Now I'm hoping those novels go out of print, so I can get my rights back.

I never would have guessed my mindset would change so dramatically in so short a time.

DISCLAIMER: YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY

If you're a new author, reading this and thinking about the fame and fortune you'll make on ebooks, I urge you to try the traditional route first. Find an agent. Land a deal with a big NY house. Ebooks aren't there yet.

I'd hate to think some writer gave up on their print aspirations because of something I've said on my blog. I suggest you keep up the agent search, and hold out for that major deal. While I have no doubt others will be able to sell as many ebooks as I have, and probably many more, I still haven't made anywhere near the money I've made by being in print. Plus, everyone's situation is unique, and no writer should compare themselves to any other writer.

Most of all, don't change the future of your career based on one man's ideas. Learn as much as you can about all of your options, do research, get other opinions.

115 comments:

Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

Thanks for sharing all this information. It's unusual for an author to be so forthright about their sales and income.

I don't have a publishing contract with anyone-- but my feeling is that maybe the traditional contract really helped you gain a foothold-- and now you have a following, so you can keep writing and making money on your own.

I would even consider putting together an anthology collection-- you could easily put this out using CreateSpace (POD) for less than $100 (just the cost of the ISBN and the proof) and make money that way too. If you don't mind doing order fullfillment, you could sell signed copies on your website that would do well.

I don't sell e-books. But here are some of my sales figures on CreateSpace:

Freelance Bookkeeping Book:
List Price $39.95,
YTD Unit Sales: 265 units,
Earned: $5,334.85

I have 8 active titles right now.

On the subject of your own books, I'm sure you have fans that buy everything you put out.

Poppak said...

Joe, great information, appreciate you sharing.

For clarification: you are currently only using Kindle as your eBook channel thus far? No publication or sales with Sony, epub, iPhone, B&N, etc that you can compare to Kindle sales (though I assume the numbers would be low because the sales quantity of hardware platforms is low)?

Larry

Joe Konrath said...

@Christy - I've edited an anthology. They're nightmares. :( But Createspace is something I'll try for my Kindle titles.

@Larry - The other platforms aren't live yet, so I have no sales from them. I'll have some numbers next month...

ruzkin said...

Excellent info, thanks so much for sharing. But an important piece of info lacking is whether these sales will continue - what the drop-off in sales is for e-books, per book per annum.

Also, what were the differences in promotional tactics between your self-pub'd ebooks and the Hyperion published books?

Thanks again, I guess we'll wait for your next 6-monthly report to see how things are progressing!

Venus de Hilo said...

Your ebook sales for sure will go up, because I just bought a Kindle. And several of your $1.99 books, 'cause they're so close to free. I'll be getting some Jack Daniels titles, too, just as soon as I figure out for sure which ones I've already read.

Stacey Cochran said...

My novels CLAWS and The Colorado Sequence have sold an average of 2,000 copies each in four months. I suspect they'll be around 4,000-5,000 copies per book sold by year's end.

I think it's very interesting to hear you genuinely questioning giving away your e-book rights to your publisher.

It seems like the thing to do is negotiate in your next deal that you get the e-book rights, the publisher gets the hardcover and paperback rights.

____________

Stacey Cochran
Author of CLAWS for $1.00
The Colorado Sequence for $1.00

Thacher said...

It does seem like this success comes from having built up as a mid-list print author with a strong blog following. How realistic is it to expect this a new writer starting out, even with a strong e-marketing push?

Plus, would having strong online eBook sales be something that could entice print publishing for the eBook author that wants to get into the print market for wider visibility, or would a publisher not want anything to do with something that's been available online for however long at a cheap price?

KatieO said...

Thanks so much for sharing so openly. I just had my first ebook published this month by Cerridwen Press, an ebook publisher, and have no idea what to expect. But I know that the percentages are higher for ebook than for print.

I think, though, that the success of your Jacq Daniels ebooks also lies with name recognition, which comes from having hardcovers in the library and paper books at B&N. You've already built your brand.

Great post!
Katie O'Sullivan
Unfolding the Shadows, available now from Cerridwen Press

Karen from Mentor said...

Joe I'd hate it if your books go out of print. But since I own them all I could set up a lending library of sorts for us dinosaur folks who still like to hold a book in our hands...

I love that you're making money from various forms of self publishing and are generous enough to share your ideas publicly like this.

Have any publisher's thrown a rock through that big picture window you have in your den yet?

PS....those scooby doo boxers you have? You either need to replace them or buy some better curtains...

Karen :0)

Jan said...

Thanks for sharing.
However, since you are talking about profits here, maybe you should share your costs as well, to paint a complete picture. I mean figures like editing costs (unless you are editing them yourself), cover costs, maybe even the programs you used for design, and even your website? Self-publishing involves some investment, and to speak of pure profit these costs should be included I think.

Joe Konrath said...

@ruzkin - I don't foresee a drop-off in ebook sales for many years, if ever. I've sold 10,000 Kindle books. There are over 10 million Kindle owners, including iPod and iPhone Kindlers. And this number will keep going up. Ditto other platforms. It will take a very long time to saturate this market, if ever.

As for promotion, I've done very little for my ebooks, other than make some announcements. It's a much easier format to promote.

@Venus - Thanks!

@Stacey - I could negotiate for e-rights, but most publishers will refuse to give them up. And I believe that if a publisher is taking the financial risk of publishing a book, they should get the e-rights. But this will be a point of negotiation next contract I sign.

@Thatcher - I'm not sure I agree. Branding and name-recognition and a fanbase all help, for sure. But authors like Stacey, Boyd Morrison, and John Rector are all selling just as well, and they don't have my print sales. My self-pubbed titles are outselling the books I'm known for. I think the biggest factors are price and topic--I have zero idea why The List is so outselling my other books, but it's smoking them.

As for ebook sales enticing print publishers, this has already happened with Boyd--he's sold all three of his Kindle books to a big house.

But I'd be wary of selling any of mine, because I'd probably lose the e-rights in the deal. Why sell the cow when you're doing well selling its milk?

Joe Konrath said...

@Karen - I rock these Scooby Doo boxers.

@Jan - The only costs my ebooks have incurred is cover art - I paid $200 per cover for the newest editions.

Kindle does the formatting, and it's free. I do my own editing, though my peers also read my manuscripts and offer their input, and a genius named Sue spots my typos for me.

@ Katie - My buddy Lee Goldberg echoed this in in a recent blog post:

http://leegoldberg.typepad.com/a_writers_life/2009/10/you-can-become-a-kindle-millionaire-part-joe.html

Lee mentioned that my success is largely a result of my already established platform.

Maybe. It certainly doesn't hurt to have some hard-earned name recognition.

But if we look at my sales from SHOT OF TEQUILA, which features the character I'm known for, Jack Daniels, and we look at sales from THE LIST, which is a technothriller about cloning, THE LIST is outselling TEQUILA 5 to 1.

If people are flocking to my Kindle books because of Jack Daniels, wouldn't Jack Daniels be the top seller?

I think it's difficult to predict what people will buy in the ebook world, same as it is in the print world.

This blog post is hardly conclusive. I still have many questions.

Will my new cover art boost sales?

Will I do well on other platforms?

Will Kindle sales rise with its release worldwide?

Will sales go up after the holidays, when more people get ereaders?

What will happen when I release a Jack Daniels novel exclusively as an ebook, which I plan on doing in 2010?

There are lots of things to watch for, and to consider. This isn't a way to earn a living yet. I still need print sales and royalties in order to be a fulltime writer.

But I'm very optimistic about what the future holds.

PV Lundqvist said...

Welcome to the party, JA!

I think its unbelievably valuable this information you're sharing. This is why I keep coming back, week after week.

Eva Gale said...

Hey, first time posting here.

What about the sales from places such as fictionwise that you're not making as much $ on? Are those #s sold from your publisher's website?

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Yup. That's why I have no qualms about making the choices I've made.

P.A.Brown said...

You've got me thinking now. I was going to start the whole process of trying to find an agent and get a bigger publisher than what I've got right now, but if I can make money like that by keeping the rights and doing it myself, maybe I need to rethink this.

I do believe ebooks are going to explode in the next few years beyond what most publishers imagine. While I like holding my books in my hand, the money from ebooks is looking more and more attractive.

Thanks for the insightful article, Joe.

Joe Konrath said...

@Eva - At this point, my ebook sales other than Amazon only number in the dozens. We'll see what the future holds.

@P.A. - I should have posted a big disclaimer on this post that said YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY. I do not think that ebooks are able to replace the exposure, or money, you'd get with a print publisher.

To All New Authors: JA says try the traditional route first. Find an agent. Land a deal with a big NY house. Ebooks aren't there yet.

I'd hate to think some writer gave up on their print aspirations because of something I've said on my blog. I suggest you keep up the agent search. While I have no doubt others will be able to sell as many ebooks as I have, and probably many more, I still haven't made anywhere near the money I've made by being in print. Plus, everyone's situation is unique, and no writer should compare themselves to any other writer.

Most of all, don't change the future of your career base don one man's ideas. Learns as much as you can, do research, get other opinions.

Yes, I fully admit I'm one of the smartest people on the planet. :) That doesn't mean I'm always right.

Trish said...

Thanks for this, Mr. Konrath. Your forthrightness about the numbers is encouraging to this minimally pubbed author (I'm working to change that). I appreciate your blog posts and because of them, am now headed over to buy some books from you! Keep it up!

mlouisalocke said...

Thanks so much for this post. I have an historical mystery I am about to launch on smashwords and Kindle, and I am at the point of deciding price. I was going to go for the high end-based on the idea that I didn't want to undervalue myself and my faith in the quality of the book. But your post is making me rethink this, and the fact that I do tend to take a chance on buying unknown authors when they are less expensive when I do my own Kindle purchases. Again, thanks for great thought-provoking post!

Jenna said...

Thanks, Joe! I really appreciate your being so forthright. I have been considering going "straight to Kindle" with one of my nonfiction books. I've been so curious how the numbers would add up on a reference book, but I'm just a little too timid to push the button and lose the probability of selling to a publisher. Still ruminating. ;)

Theresa de Valence said...

Joe,

Thanks muchly for this post :)

Theresa

Liz Kreger said...

Very interesting, Joe. Thanx for the insight and for your frank information.

Didn't know there was such a big difference between what is now "traditional" epub and going straight to Kindle.

E's said...

This has to be the best blog in the universe for the unpublished, and we have it here on earth. Thanks for beating me with information by blunt force. LOL

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Now that's an eye-opener!

Susan Cross said...

I've wavered between a small press, looking for an agent, which I think is a waste of time, and e-publishing. I contacted Smashwords and have more questions about using them. So many people told me DO NOT SELF PUBLISH because I would lose all credibility in the as a writer. I feel that I have nothing to lose.

Is e-publishing with Smashwords considered self-publishing? If so, that's going to be my first choice. I've done a lot of marketing already and it's just a matter of steering my audience in one direction or another. Still, I may have to print 500 copies with the small press for older people who are resistent to new tech. I will retain all rights, buy the books and keep the profits.

Thanks for the insight. I know there is little money to be made using traditional publishing and the small press would give me better earning potential. Looks like e-books are even more likely to pay off.

Karen from Mentor said...

so you won't mind if I post the pictures. Cool.

:0)

AstonWest said...

I'm with many others...part of this is because of the following you built up prior to the experiment.

My e-book, with a $6 price tag (discounts varied that anywhere between $3 and $6), sold approximately half the number your $6 title (Dirty Martini) did in the same time period. This is my first novel, so I don't have near the following you do.

I guess we'll see what happens with the second one...

JFBookman said...

Great data, Joe, really interesting break down. You have to know something different is happening when published authors start hoping their books will go out of print!

I agree ebooks aren't quite there yet, and a lot of it has to do with the hardware. But low price is going to be where the entrepreneurial self-publishers like yourself break with the traditional publishers. I just can't see them selling books for $.99 or $1.99, it seems to be too far outside their frame of reference.

Best,

Clifton said...

Very informative. Thanks for sharing. Seems like any print publisher not considering changing their business model may want to very very soon.

Who knows, maybe one day they may just act as the marketing end of the equation.

Anonymous said...

Awesome post.

Now if you sell those 1.99 ebooks directly to your readers in PDF or RTF format, you'd make 1.93 gross per sale.

If you sold as many copies as on amazon (a BIG if as they have a great distribution channel), you'd make *3* times as much.

I have web sites for my books. If someone is randomly googling my book and stumbles on it and buys the ebook from me, I get several dollars more per copy then if it was only available on amazon. It really adds up in a year to thousands of dollars

Morgan Mandel said...

I don't suppose you could just release the print rights and keep the electronic publishing rights, could you? That would be the best of both worlds.

I'll have to look into the other markets you mention for e-books and figure out how to submit.

Also, I'm still trying to figure out what's the best pricing for a new book on kindle. I've got Killer Career at $5.77 now because it's new, but I'm wondering if I lowered the price I'd get more sales. Everyone likes a bargain.

Morgan Mandel
http://morganmandel.blogspot.com
http://www.morganmandel.com

Mark Barrett said...

I can't thank you enough for posting this information, and I think your analysis is excellent.

My own take here: http://www.ditchwalk.com/2009/10/14/control-your-copyrights/

I agree that e-books "aren't there yet". I also think publishers are going to become more aggressive about retaining exactly the rights you wish you could fully exploit yourself, which means a publishing deal may still not be to every author's advantage. If being published means giving up your e-book rights in perpetuity, I think that would be a big mistake.

Anonymous said...

excellent information.

thanks for sharing...

as more and more writers
get a clue about e-books,
we'll fracture the old guard
into a pale image of itself...

your next step is to severe
your relationship with the
greedy amazon middleman.

-bowerbird

ingemarwrites said...

This is a very fascinating concept to consider. Thanks for sharing!

Heather S. Ingemar
http://ingemarwrites.wordpress.com/

chillyspoon said...

Hi Joe and everyone!

I have a follow on question from this informative blog post.

I have a deal with a publisher for the first short story of a collection that I'm working and after that it's up to me what I do - deciding between the traditional and self-publishing routes is proving difficult so this blog post has really opened my eyes.

There appear to be so many self-publishing options out there these days; any recommendations for the "best of breed"?

(I want to release what I'm working on to Kindle, epub and print)

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing, this is really interesting information but I think the reason you are so successful is due to name recognition. Have a backlist etc.

The vast majority of self-pubbed authors or ebook authors for that matter are not this successful. Any newbie's considering this route should actually research the sales figures of the not so well known authors on this route. I know from my researching of specialist ebook publishers that unless you're with a top tier house and writing a certain genre you are not going to see a lot of sales. Of course there are exceptions to this but this is what I've found in general.

People need to look at the negatives as well before they set out on any road otherwise they are setting themselves up for a big disappointment.

Rae

Laura Resnick said...

Thanks for posting this. Definitely food for thought.

Ann Vremont said...

Another important element is the time value of money benefit to self-publishing. You said your "bi-annual royalty statement" - meaning you get royalties 2x a year from Hyperion, correct? Provided you meet the Kindle monthly payouot minimums (and you are, quite obviously), you get your first Kindle royalty check in 2-3 months (can't remember which) and then every month thereafter (for sales from the month before last) provided you are still meeting your monthly minimum payouts (which you are). Whether you are investing, meeting expenses in cash, paying off loans, etc., there is a definite, often significant, value to getting your money that much sooner and with monthly frequency.

Mike Cane said...

Hats off to you, Konrath, for delivering real numbers for people to think about.

I don't know. Would you WANT to write 4 books a year? Would you feel the need to do so, for the sake of bills? What about saturating your own market? ("Oh, another book from him. Well, I'll just get that later..." -- and they forget!)

Much to think about. Thanks again for divulging.

Karen McQ. said...

Once again, an excellent and informative post on e-book publishing and the Kindle. Thanks, Joe!

I'm an excellent example of someone who has/had NO name recognition who is doing well with three books self-released for the Kindle. At the time I started out, I only knew one person who owned a Kindle, so clearly my sales had to come from outside my circle.

I first released a collection of 30humorous essays, titled LIES I TOLD MY CHILDREN, and a romantic comedy, a novel, EASILY AMUSED, and then I did some online promotion on message boards and my own blog, and the sales have been steady and increasing ever since. Early this month I put out another novel, A SCATTERED LIFE, and am seeing similar results.

I've gotten emails and reviews and blog comments from readers who say they loved my books. My Amazon rankings have consistently been as high as traditionally published authors. I'm in writer heaven. None of this was possible until recently.

The novels are outselling the non-fiction two to one--I'm not sure if that's indicative of Kindle readers' preference for fiction of if it's just unique to my books.

I credit my success (luck?) to good cover images, setting the price at less than two dollars and also to the fact that Kindle owners are agreeable to new authors. If they like the sample and genre, they're very open-minded. And these are my kind of people--they LOVE reading.

Also, once the books reach a certain rank, Amazon starts to include them in their lists, which gives more visibility.

It's a low/no cost proposition for writers. I know this is a scary time for the publishing business, but for writers, there are all kinds of opportunities cropping up.

Natasha Fondren said...

I'm in. I have to write faster, but I'm in, LOL.

Marion Gropen said...

You'd do better using LSI than CreateSpace, if you do decide to add print editions of your ebook-only titles.

Why? Because CreateSpace doesn't get you listed in Ingram, and printing through LSI does. If you're only expecting sales on-line, then you might still do better with LSI because you can set a wider range of discounts than you can with CreateSpace, and because many CS options have a higher per copy printing cost.

Oh, and if you're a numbers person, I did a series of posts on my own blog on techniques for estimating sales. That's a crucial part of making these sorts of decisions.

FWIW

Kristan said...

An aspiring writer here, just signing in to say THANK YOU for your transparency, and your advice, and your disclaimer. I agree with all of it (i.e., I'm still going to aim for print for now) but it's nice to see the numbers and think about the future. :D

Anna Murray said...

Joe

I'm an author who went directly to Kindle without previous publication or name branding. I'd gone through the rounds of queries and rejections, gave up for a while, tried again and got more rejections, and then found the miracle of Amazon Kindle Store.

My first book is selling very well, and I just lowered the price on the sequel (warning -- per Amazon, it won't be available for 24 hours). Both are western romances.

I'll sell 2,000+ books via Kindle this year, and I'm very pleased, as this has greatly exceeded my expectations. It beats having two books growing mold in the back of my refrigerator.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

Anna Murray

Anonymous said...

another quick comment here
to say that the advice for _new_
writers to "go the traditional route"
and seek a hard-copy publisher
is questionable.

sure, it's great if you get one
-- a partner with deep pockets
is a good thing -- but it can be
terribly time-consuming at best,
and a complete waste at worst...

i'd say it's far better to spend
time and energy self-publishing,
because that's an investment in
building your future fan-base...

you won't get the big jumpstart
that a publisher _can_ give you
(not that all of 'em give you that),
but the steady approach is good.

in this regard, joe, i think _you_
can probably set a higher price
and still get the same sales now,
since your "brand" is established.

but it's smarter for you to keep
the low price and go for volume,
to keep your current fans happy
and get more fans for the future.

it's all about the _relationship_...

(amanda palmer wrote this up
in a recent blog post, and i can
recommend that highly to all...)

-bowerbird

p.s. and it is precisely because
you have that _relationship_ with
your fans that they'll come to you
_directly_ to buy books from you,
since they want to disintermediate
the greedy amazon middleman too,
and have all of the money they pay
go directly to _you_...

Hunchermuncher said...

I'm interested in whether the sales of ebooks have affected your physical print sales. I have a self-published title which is doing very well in paperback and am thinking of publishing a Kindle version. Will it affect sales of my paperback?

Savanna Kougar said...

Thanks for the info. Currently, I'm a smallprint/ebook author. However, I have a few manuscripts I doubt will fit with any publisher, small print or the big boys, because they would be considered too unique to take a chance on.
So, Kindle could be the right venue for them.
Plus, as far as print, I haven't used them, but Lulu seems to work for a lot of folks.
Couldn't you do the Kindle thing, then use Lulu or CreateSpace? I'm not familar with LSI.

Jillian said...

This blog post is a wealth of incredibly useful and surprising information.
I had quite high hopes for myself after reading this, only to find out that Kindle does not operate in Canada. Needless to say, my hopes are more than dashed.

Are there any other platforms similar to Kindle that are operating in Canada?

Better yet, does anyone know if Kindle will be available in Canada any time soon?

Jillian
Knickles and Dimes
http://www.eloquentbooks.com/KnicklesAndDimes.html

Sybir St. John said...

eBook, print book? My authors are on my Kindle now because I can have them with me everywhere.....airport, car, and even the damn drs office.

Olga said...

A very thought-provoking post. Thanks for sharing!

Thomas Edgar said...

Joe

Thank you for releasing this type of information; it is really useful for everyone.

However, I think you are drawing too many conclusions from your data without taking into account the numerous other variables involved. For instance, your analysis assumes that the current Kindle population represents the greater reader population. I would make the claim that the Kindle population is comprised mostly of more technical people whom are generally the early adopters of expensive tech. This would explain why The List is selling so well because it is a genre that lends well to the technical crowd.

Jude Hardin said...

Very interesting. I'm still working on the traditional route, but I won't rule out eventually putting something up on the Kindle store. Thanks for posting this and letting us see some of the possibilities.

Marion Gropen said...

FWIW,

The cost breakdowns on Lulu vs. LSI suggest you should use Lulu if you want fewer than 2 dozen copies, and LSI if you're looking at fewer than 500. If you're expecting more than 500, you need to look for a short-run offset printer, and so on.

ALWAYS crunch your numbers before committing to a course of action.

LSI is the printer most POD-vanity presses, including Lulu, use. NB: POD was invented to keep backlist books in print longer and to allow niche non-fiction to be published more economically, and those are still two of the most common uses.

It's very important for all of the readers here to differentiate between POD printers like LSI, Fidlar and McNaughton-Gunn, and so-called POD publishers like Lulu, Infinity, and XLibris.

Marion Gropen said...

As for who has a Kindle, the stats I've seen on buyers strongly suggest that they are over 40, generally affluent, and unusually literate.

And, as I'm sure we're all aware, romance sells far better on ebooks up til now, than anything else. That is probably fading though, as Amazon has been saying recently that Kindle sales are usually about 35 to 45% of print sales for any title that offers both via Amazon.

Tania Shipman said...

It's very interesting to see how mid-level authors are thinking. Thanks for sharing that information.

It's great to see authors being able to make income from something that makes their books readily available. It's every readers nightmare to find a great author and find out that most of their books are 'out of print' and therefore hard to find.

I've been buying ebooks for over 10 years now, the majority from Baen because they had the right philosophy, selling books at a low price with multiple formats available.

Why on earth would I pay Hardback prices for ebooks that can only be read on one device with DRM restrictions.

Most other publishers are just now realising that electronic books will sell more if sold for less equalling more profit for something that can be read on multiple devices.

Electronic rights will be something interesting to see in the future for authors contracts as social media spreads the names of authors much faster then the old "wait to see if a bookstore stocks it".

Eric Flint's book Mother of Demons was out of print until he released it as a free ebook in the Baen Free Library. He's been getting income from it for the last 10 years - that's right - income from a book that's free.

Brian Crawford said...

Joe, thanks for sharing so much about your financials -- something too many authors keep close to the vest.

BTW, congrats to you -- and Jack! -- for making it into the hint fiction anthology. It's an honor for me to be on a list with the likes of JA Konrath and Joyce Carol Oates.

Kim Rossi Stagliano said...

Wow - this is like seeing the sausage in production. Thanks for the rare glimpse. I've sold non-fiction - but I have a novel that didn't sell (don't we all!) that I know has an audience. I am going to look at an ebook version. Thanks, J.A., for your great books and this blog.

Kim

Stuart Aken said...

Joe, thanks for an invaluable post and the many comments it's generated. I'm a newly published author in print but retaining the e-rights, so I'm going to seriously investigate this route now. Being a Brit, I don't have the vast US market on my doorstep but with ebooks I hope I can expand my sales more effectively. I shall continue to watch this space and learn what I can from your experiences. Thanks again.

ruzkin said...

Hi Joe,
Thanks for the reply, but I was speaking more of your personal book-per-book sales. Your older books won't keep selling forever unless you have a constant influx of new readers from your new books... I assume the sales life of each ebook is a nice, slow curve continuing on for many years.

Although maybe I'm going in the completely wrong direction here, as ebooks will never go out of print... your back catalogue will keep selling indefinitely, albeit slowly. Which is a great lifetime earner!

strikefast2002 said...

What's not mentioned is the cost and time publishers invest in bringing a book to print. Cover design is in the thousands of dollars (we know how pathetic almost all self published book jackets look), an ISBN# is expensive, editing, copy editing, proofing, sales distribution, are all brought to bare. Most writers want to write and not become business people (publishers) on the side, nor do they have the skills to do so.

For years I have read pure junk by "authors" who thought they wrote a masterpiece. The content on the internet and eBooks cannot be trusted for excellence in style or substance, therefore, I believe the role of the publisher in the future will be one of a gatekeeper of content and a safe haven for readers who have been burned with below average eBooks.

Jane Rutherford said...

I have to admit, this was one interesting post. Certainly putting some things in perspective. And (this will sound wrong) I really do wish your books went out of print.

Though, I'm not planning on stopping until I can fill the entire shelve with my books

Theresa M. Moore said...

After many years of trying to get an agent to even notice me I chose the self-publishing route. Now I have ten books published, with the attendant e-books on Kindle, with Smashwords, and now embarking on the venture of getting them stocked on DriveThruStuff. I price my e-books at roughly 1/2 to 1/3 the price of the print books, and I consider charging $9.99 for a 350 page book quite acceptable. For that book I used to charge half as much and still never got any sales. I sell my nonfiction books faster than my fiction ones, especially my book A BOOK OF FIVE RINGS: A Practical Guide to Strategy by Miyamoto Musashi. That it is topical brings the issue into focus. You could give away your books for free and feed into the expectation from consumers that everything on the internet is free, or you can charge an acceptable rate for a download which will help you pay the rent. No one in this discussion talks about the cost of doing business. I have to pay for the bandwidth to host my site, the cost of my time and energy to design and produce the ebooks in whatever format they come in, and I also have to publicize and brand my line just like any other publisher. Why is everyone talking about "free" or 99 cent ebooks, when we should be establishing a standard pricing model for the ebooks just as we do the print books? Bookstores don't give books away for free, so why should we?

Anonymous said...

My one reservation around the idea of ever-expanding ebook sales is simply that I suspect you sold a lot of $2 books because there still aren't that many promising-looking $2 ebooks out there. As more and more frustrated would-be authors try publishing their books direct to consumers as ebooks, I'm concerned that what we'll wind up with is an online slush pile.

Most people who've never had a job reading slush don't really realize 1) how much of there is and 2) how bad most of it is. My fear is that readers will eventually become so discouraged that they'll stop giving these books a chance. $2 is cheap for a good thriller, but it's expensive for badly-written, boring claptrap, and sooner or later people won't be willing to pay it.

I think it's great that more authors are getting the chance to publish their work, but suspect that over time, the sales numbers will dwindle to the same level as print books or worse as more books flood the market. More books may sell overall, but not as many of each individual title, making it just as hard to make a living off of them as it is to make a living off of print.

Rob Walker said...

Joe, you are an original, man. Listen, I have put up Ten ebooks on Kindle, one on Smashbooks, one on Wordclay...three Original titles, the rest aside from a collection of shorts and a how to out of print titles. I priced them mostly at 1.99 with a few higher and at less than half price my newest title, Dead On. My HarperCollins titles were placed on ebook by the publisher, and they priced the books at same price as the paperbacks, so I know they are not selling well. My books....tell me, advise me, HOW do you DRIVE people to the ebooks--where are the outlets to let folks know they exists other than my blog, on FB, Twitter, etc? I mean where do you go to announce your ebooks? Amazon discussions seem staatic at best and useless for this; got some interest from kindlekorner but where else??? Any ideas, any help appreciated. And hey, son, you're kickin everyone's ass for sheer marketing. Bestselling authors don't have to do a damn thing but they could all take a lesson from JA.

Marion Gropen said...

Maybe I'm oversimplifying, but it seems that driving people to ebooks is done the same way you market any book, with perhaps more of an emphasis on net-based media. There are dozens of books on marketing books or publicity for publishers and authors.

Jackie Deval's book is a couple of years out of date, but still solid. Steve Weber has a good one. Fern Reiss's Publishing Game series has one. Dan Poynter's books have hefty sections on it (and his newest is mostly about net-based stuff).

Fiction, you might think, can't be marketed like non-fiction, but the principles are the same.

Denny S. Bryce said...

This is a great post. Thank you for sharing so much information. Excellent!. I'm also pleased with the responses which also have been quite helpful. It's exciting that there are so many options for writers these days, but I agree, having a following certainly helps authors sell in places like Kindle and the other products that are joining the fray. I'm unpublished, but as I continue to sit on my hands, waiting to hear back from editors, I'll keep these options in mind. Thanks.

Maryann Miller said...

Thanks for a really helpful post about e-books and revenue. I hope all new writers read the whole thing, including your disclaimer at the end. So glad you included that as your numbers are so attractive an eager new writer could make an ill-advised decision.

You have to have some name-recognition and fan base before you can start selling that many e-books. That can't be stressed enough, so I will join you in pointing that out.

Anonymous said...

"But for the midlist author, I'm beginning to think it's possible to make a living without print contracts."

Please post when you've been doing that for 2 years. Until then, you're just wishing, like everyone else! Well, you're doing better than most, since you are actually making $ writing iction, which is no small feat, but you're not making a full living at it yet. Best of luck.

Mike Chelen said...

A chart or graph can be helpful to examine the figures, thanks for sharing this data :)

Joe Konrath said...

but you're not making a full living at it yet.

I'm making a living writing fiction. I'm just not making a living writing ebooks. Yet.

Nicki Greenwood said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I am an author about to be E-published by The Wild Rose Press in the romance genre, and awareness and popularity of E just keeps on growing. This company's fairly new, but it's getting bigger all the time, and I think as they gain a bigger foothold, their marketing "reach" is going to get even broader. It's good to get in on the ground floor, as it were. I really appreciate your sharing the numbers with us!

Nicki Greenwood - Romance Author
EARTH, coming 4/2/09 from The Wild Rose Press
http://www.nickigreenwood.com

Anonymous said...

I agree with previous comments regarding the quality (or lack thereof) of most self-published books. It seems as though everyone feels that they can write a book worthy of publishing. I liken it to the music industry, in which many garage bands record cds. If you listen to them, you're quickly aware that a) they are no threat to any band in the Billboard top 100 and b) they are usually unsigned for a reason. The same with the publishing industry.

I spoke with an agent about this recently. I was considering self publishing due to the higher potential for income. But, aside from self promoting your butt off on websites and message boards, there aren't many ways for a self published author to market his/her book. And the proliferation of file sharing sites, where even newly released e-books can be downloaded for free, makes it less attractive.

In the agent's opinion, if you have a truly outstanding book, going with a traditional publisher makes better sense both financially (you will make less per book, but your book will be distributed to large book chains as well as online retailers) and professionally (having your name on hardcopy print can help in getting public book signings, seminars, etc).

There are certainly cons to going the traditional publishing route, but it is still yards ahead of the e-book route for the time being.

anil said...

interesting information

Rebecca Ryals Russell said...

I've been really torn as to which direction to pursue with my first MS. I've done the traditional submission thing w/o success so far and was considering self-pub eBooks. But I can see the point of getting your name on a printed version first.

Kimberly Rose Carolan said...

Very cool info, thx!

Kim
http://walkingthroughthevalleyoftheshadow.blogspot.com

Joe Flood said...

Congratulations on your success. With all the doom and gloom around publishing, it's great to hear some good news.

E-publishing is definitely my Plan B when it comes to my own book. But even from the start, I've wondered if it should be my first step. Seems old-fashioned to look for agents and publishers and then have books printed on paper and trucked around the country.

E-books have come a long way in just a few years. I'm really excited about the Nook - that's the first e-reader I could see myself owning.

Steven said...

Mr. Konrath, I really enjoyed this post and plan to use your figures as I recruit writers to the company I'm working for. This is a start up company that is set up to help artist self publish. The web site is SimplieIndie.com. If you had your ebooks on our site you would have earned $13,651.40 instead of $6860 with the same sales numbers. Of course we don't have the same visibility as Amazon, but in time we hope to be one of the places to go.

Some of those that commented seemed to have a problem with the lack of printed books. For a new writer they could take their profits from their ebook and then pay to have the booked printed also. Then they could sell it side by side with the ebook.

Thanks again for your Post sincerely Steven St. Sure

Alessia Brio said...

I'd happily do your ebook covers for half what you paid.

http://www.slide.com/r/XJftkru62z-FpWmPdq6MZJrowMEH6OUo

Joe Flood said...

Reading this post and all the comments inspired me to write about the future of the publishing business. I think it's reached a "disintermediation moment" where writers and readers will decide to cut out the middlemen and embrace e-books.

http://joeflood.com/2009/11/02/disintermediation/

Carsten Bergner said...

Lucky you. i'm a writer from germany and here's nothing like amazon to sell self-published e-books. ao all i can try, is to establish my own e-shop, wich means much extra work for an author. hopefully it changes in the near future.

greetings from germany
carsten

Mohammad said...

Thank you for the article. I just created an account with kindle and added my blog. It is under pending for now, but I hope they approve it soon.

Anonymous said...

I would advise unpublished authors to seek professional editing first, or try and place a few titles with a recognized e-publisher before venturing into self publishing. A publisher/editor will more than often guide a new author who then learns enough to be able to self edit, or at least many of them will. I wouldn't look at dollar figures just yet. Many of us have written books, been told by friends and relatives they are absolutely great. Only to discover if picked up by a publisher that they need mega editing and rewrites.

alphasun said...

Thanks Joe for such a useful contribution to the research being done by so many writers on this subject.
On the claim by Anonymous (or rather by the agent he/she spoke to) that the traditional route is still worthwhile, I would suggest that it may well be if you break through in a reasonable time (say 2 years max), but I have rather a pile of rejections at this stage -- complimentary in many cases but still rejections -- and this new electronic avenue seems so much less time-consuming. As it happens, as an Irish resident I can't publish on Kindle store because you need a US bank account. In a way I welcome this as I think Kindle looks like the best route and would probably go for it now if it were open, whereas I am currently forced to continue researching it and doing traditional query/submissions.
I also have extensive experience of self-publishing music online and I don't think very much money is made by unknowns in that field -- you need to do a lot of promotion and preferably perform live, whereas I am a songwriter. Online music may represent a foretaste of a future, saturated e-book market -- I hope not.

smartechie said...

Certainly thats more than true, as some one put it precisely "Everyone has a book inside"
upto now there was a long procedure to get the book to bookstore, but with self publishing, things will change in big way.
Biggest change for time being is Amazon Kindle, the way we read books.
More can be read from
http://www.ginibiz.com/kindle

Don447 said...

I think this guy is awesome and has a great series. But I will tell you you can make a career with e-books and small press novels online and match these figures. V. Alexander created a following among Raymond Chandler fans before hitting the internet with TROUBLE IS HER BUSINESS and BLACK MARKET PRINCESS. The niche marketing is really paying off for her. You can do it, too.

Alexandra said...

JAK, I haven't always agreed with all of your conclusions in the past, and I certainly wouldn't change my career direction because of one blog post, but I am extremely grateful for your honesty about your personal experiences here with ebooks.

As a freelancer looking at an ever-changing landscape, sometimes I wonder if I should approach the writing world from three separate directions: the freelancer/hack writer, the contracted/agented author, and the author with creative control (for those projects I don't want anyone else screwing up but me). You've certainly given me a lot to think about. Thank you.

Charlie said...

I'd like to comment on the role of the editor in this process as I've seen many comments as their usefulness.
I've found literacy to be degrading constantly with the advent of the internet, I get the feeling that "no one cares" and that many don't appreciate what they call "spelling nazis". So, my take on this is that though an editor can be helpful, those who know and appreciate what good prose is are rapidly being displaced by those who flat don't care about good grammar and spelling or story plot. It is also my opinion that those of us who actually read are fast becoming a minority. Since I'm not a writer or editor, I'm sure I got that all messed up but my point is that traditional publishing/editing may be wasted money in the near future.
I will say that it hurts my eyes to read incorrect usage of words and spelling and am occasionally turned completely off by improper use of words; but keep hearing "it is only a typo, why are you making it such a big deal?" When does a typo become poor grammar or misuse of words? When it is repeated throughout an article?
Just my $1.99 worth.

Anonymous said...

I just want to make my book available. I have a litttle website following. It has started to grow fast but a huge plurality of the growth are Russians from the Russian federation. Heaven knows why. You mention in the article publishing in different countries. Do they like translate? It is all so confusing to me. my email is fdearmond@dc.rr.com

Mark Williams said...

It is great to learn the great success in self publishing ebooks. I am a newbie in this area. Still searching around in the web for more information. Recently learned that the ebook market in iPhone is expanding. I found a site http://www.publishebook123.com about self publishing on iPhone platform. Anyone has any suggestion to me? I am looking forward to learn from you all.

marypcb said...

as per everyone else, thanks for sharing; it's a fascinating demonstration of the issues Amazon and Macmillan are fighting over. Also, the obvious conclusion is how little readers value ebooks (and how little we value the work that goes into them). As someone who works both as a writer and an editor (not in books though), I think it's easy to undervalue editors and publishers: the cut they take is for being more than just a middleman and negotiator - a good editor transforms a good book into a great one and the low low costs on ebooks (if you don't price your own time and don't care so much about getting formatting right etc) is going to lead to a vast amount of bad books. Looking through some of the ebooks on online bookshops there is already a great deal of bad writing; if it makes it harder to find the good stuff in the online slush pile, dumping publishers may be a false economy.

2KoP said...

Thanks for your generosity in sharing this. I was wondering all through the post (until the end) if you felt that it was important to your e-book sales that you were a published print author first. I'm still having trouble with the writing of the books, let alone figuring out the business end. Thanks for the help.

Martyn van Halm said...

As an unpublished author looking for representation, I will look closely at the subsidiary/electronic rights of my manuscripts.
Thanks, JAK, for providing this insight in the finance/business aspect of being an author.

Term Paper said...

I just had my first ebook published this month by Cerridwen Press, an ebook publisher, and have no idea what to expect. But I know that the percentages are higher for ebook than for print.

Brandon Connell said...

It's very cool to see an author post these statistics because I have been searching for that kind of information. I just published my first Kindle book titled "Step by Step Guide to Making One Million Dollars" which essentially teaches the reader how to create and market their ebooks.

The fact is that the math for such a venture is amazing, but it still requires marketing on your part to make the big bucks. Kindle sales went up for Christmas, and will continue to rise. This only makes thing that much better for authors. Self publishing is definitely the way to go though. At first, I was researching major publishers, but the fact is that authors can market themselves in ways that bring in the necessary traffic and brand recognition. They can keep those royalties that they so deserve.

I wish you luck with your sales and may they increase substantially. Don't forget to write some articles on Associated Content and other sites to assist in that brand recognition. Oh, and pick up my book ;)

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Timothy C. Phillips said...

Great informative post, thanks for the info, you and I are at very similar points in our writing careers. My first six Roland Longville novels are currently selling well on Fictionwise, and because I didn't self-publish through them I can't get sales figures until they send them to my publisher. You and I are of a mind concerning the future of the ebook industry, also. The Kindle, Nook and the iPad are going to be the saviors of many an author.

Term Papers said...

On the subject of your own books, I'm sure you have fans that buy everything you put out.

Rudy said...

Has the recent 70% royalty rate led to a marked increase in the number of indie authors submitting their works to amazon? And has this led to far more people asking for 2.99, instead of less?

I'm planning on publishing something on amazon very soon, and want to keep a blog of how this goes, at http://kerkhoven.wordpress.com/

Generalissimo said...

Does self-publishing via Kindle in any way blackball you with traditional print publishers? Would a new writer be shooting herself in the foot by self-publishing via Kindle if her higher goal is to be published by one of the big houses?
Thank you.

Nashira said...

I have the same question as the person above. I currently have a book being considered by an agent but would like to self publish a different, unrelated book on kindle. Will this impact me negatively in any way with agents or publishing houses?

Marion Gropen said...

The question is: will self-publishing harm your chances of landing a deal with mainstream publishing houses later?

The answer is usually yes, if it's done in print, maybe not if you release it only as an ebook. You see, they're going to find the fact that you had a book out, and then they're going to hit Bookscan and pull up your sales numbers.

No allowances will be made for your self-publishing status, by acquisitions editors, because when they release any other books by you, the bookstore buyers will be ordering based on those earlier sales. And they're unlikely to make allowances for anything.

On the other hand, we don't yet have a resource like Bookscan for ebooks. Because of that, you may well be safe on the Kindle. For now.

Does that make sense?

E-Publishing said...

Thanks to share your knowledge with us.

quotes said...

At $1.99 you could turn out quite a few e-books. I have seen e-books that are based on one short story line. To be honest if I am paying $1.99 I would not be expecting much and probably can pay $2.99 as well for the same e-book. $1 should not really effect my decision of buying or not. That is something for you to think about your pricing. Another idea is that if you are going to sell them cheap, then you could make two books out of an idea and sell two books. That is 2x$1.99=$3.98.

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Katri Mattrix said...

This is enlightening research for me.

Seeing as I've lost my last fast food job; YES, A FAST FOOD JOB, I've been wanting to investigate a means to try and get into publishing.

I don't expect fame in months, nor should I expect it, but I would still like to present my work. Get it out there and sell it, and create my own niche in the authoring beeswax.

I consider myself both a lover and a killer of art. Inspired by parody artists, pop idols, and the occasional person who writes for a pre-existing universe (Star Wars novels, Forgotten Realms, name your game/movie-inspired stuff). I also adore how strong J.K. Rowling came into the field.

I don't ever think that I could attain that level of fame, but I'd still like to try and get my bills paid, and what ramshackle trailer that I'm in fixed and cleaned, so that it feels moderately livable--Eep, I'm off-tangent denigrating again.

Still, as much as I would like to know about self e-publishing, I've yet to think of a functioning first book, let alone plot series that can be carried across multiple books.

--

Anyway, I just wanted to say, tl;dr version: Good info to know for if I were to ever get started into publishing. It'd make a nice side-job, on top of whatever part-time work that I manage to get my hands on.

Dawn said...

JA-- I confess, the last two graphs there kind of threw me... I agree that the traditional publishing does have a lot of muscle, but I've just known so many talented and gifted writers who did everything "right" got snubbed by New York and heard of too many reality stars/ celebrity wannabes that land fat contracts. (Sorry, I threw up a little in my mouth when I wrote that.)But of course, that's life.

It makes me wonder if all literary logic has just gone out the window or if I was just under the false impression it was there to begin with...

My first two novels were pubbed by small presses. I have the rights back now, and last month thanks to the KDP program, I got 27,000 downloads for "Leaving the Comfort Cafe"---and 3,000 of those were PAID.

I realize that was an aberration, but I didn't even shop novel #3--I sent it to Kindle---I was wondering if it would stand a better chance by doing well on Kindle and getting traditional publishers attention that way instead of being sucked into the slush pile on someone's desk?

Of course, I realize small presses don't have the marketing muscle that the Big Six do...maybe this is me comparing apples and oranges?
...I'm a bit sleep-deprived.

Oh--and a THANK YOU to JA for all your transparency and information, etc. You rock my socks.

(Though I'm still waiting for the boogie part of the Kindle boogie.)

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Anne said...

The maths are interesting, yes, but the bald fact for this particular ebook reader - ie me - is that I generally avoid self published books like the plague because so many of them badly need the editorial input which a publisher provides. It's a shame to perpetuate the myth that an author writes a book and then the big bad publisher takes a huge cut at the author's expense. What about the editing & marketing? You are a successful and established author, so are probably aware of the necessity for these things, and will know they need factoring in even if you self publish in future. But many novice writers don't take these important elements into account. I have just given up on a book in a genre I love to read, with a good plot and characterisation, because it read like a first draft manuscript and the actual reading got in the way of the story to a frustrating degree.
I'm not saying self publishing is bad, but many publishers work hard for their authors. They do not just take the money and run!
(In the spirit of full disclosure, I confess to working for a publisher.)

Pete said...

I'm writing my first book that I plan to sell through Amazon/kindle. Your post gave me some useful ideas and encouragement :)

Christopher Smith said...

Thank you for your candidness, as well as a nice caution to new writers like myself. I could see how tempting it is - sometimes self-publishing sounds like a shortcut for those of us (myself included) who want to bypass the insane world of publishers and agents.

I still feel an inclination to self-publish shorter stories online though, while fighting to break through the tradition print ceiling. Do you think that's a good idea? To use e-publishing as a means to pay the bills until my (hopeful) big break? I'm simply talking about getting enough money to pay minimum bills and afford myself the time to write, while eating out of a can of beans. Or do you think I should abandon e-publishing altogether until I get signed (god willing) with a publisher?

Anonymous said...

Nice results. It took me a while to get started as I didn't know anything about using images and the right file types. I bought a Kindle publishing book at makekindlebooks.com to help overcome the problems.

I'm still working on getting my sales up, but yours looks pretty decent.. wouldn't mind the extra income at all.

khairul044 said...

Wow - this is like seeing the sausage in production. Thanks for the rare glimpse. I've sold non-fiction - but I have a novel that didn't sell (don't we all!) that I know has an audience. I am going to look at an ebook version. Thanks, J.A., for your great books and this blog.

Andy Lim said...

I've got 5 photography ebooks on sale on www.simpleslr.info using the E-junkie platform. Most of my revenue is from limited-time promotions run by my affiliates via email marketing to their huge lists.
My beginners photography ebook is also sold on Kindle, but the numbers are nowhere near my other ebooks. I blame it on the black and white format. Photography guides need diagrams for effective delivery, and the EPub format is quite clunky for this purpose.

Marion Gropen said...

Selling a book to acquiring editors is actually easier than selling it to readers, IMNHO.

AEs are actively looking for books that they don't yet know about, by writers without reputations.

All you need to do is find the couple of hundred imprints and editors (or agents) who are most active in doing books in your market segment and send them queries which show them (don't tell, show) that you are easy to work with, write books that deliver what a substantial number of readers are already looking for, and that you know how to find large groups of those readers and get information about your book in front of them without spamming them.

But to self-publish successfully, you not only be able to deliver a similar marketing message (showing not telling readers that you have what they're already looking for, in those same large groups), you also need to be able to find and manage a good content editor (if you want to sell as well as possible, and if you already have reason to believe that your book is commercially viable), a good copyeditor, layout artist, cover designer, and do or get done file conversion to the pdf for the printer, and the epub and mobi for ebooks, and set up your own distribution channels, as well as all the marketing duties that any author must handle.

As for "bad bestsellers," consider this: they're a really wonderful teaching tool. No book ever becomes a bestseller unless it delivers some benefit that its readers want. If the writing is dreadful, then it should be MUCH easier to figure out what the author is doing right! And that should make it much easier to identify analogous benefits in your own books and sharpen your delivery of them.

Or so I would think, having been in book publishing for decades, but not being a writer . . .