Friday, August 06, 2010

The Beginning of the End?

Dorchester just announced it is cutting its mass market paperback line and focusing on ebooks.

A few months ago, Medallion announced the same thing.

I've heard, through sources who asked not to be named, that sell-through for paperbacks is as bad as 20%. In other words, out of ten printed, only two sell.

Now what's going to happen if more publishers follow this business model?

Here's a possible scenario.

1. Fewer paperbacks are published. Publishers either eliminate their paperback lines, or begin publishing more selectively, in smaller numbers, to cut costs and losses.

2. Bookstores have fewer books on their shelves, and sell fewer books as a result. Which means less money to the publishers.

3. Publishers downsize, since the ebook market, though growing, doesn't bring in the same money as print does. In order to maintain positive cash flow, they bill their accounts to pay up.

4. Their accounts--bookstores and distributors--can't pay up. They don't have the money to pay for the books they've sold--which they bought on credit. So they begin returning other books on the shelves to get credit for those.

5. Now there are far fewer books on the shelves, which means far fewer sales.

So when publishers stop printing as many books as they are now, the delicate balance will shift.

What does this mean to you, the author?

The main reason we need publishers is for distribution. We can't get into Wal-Mart or Borders on own own. They can. So we accept 8% royalties in order to sell a lot of books. But if publishers are no longer printing books, there is ZERO reason to sign with them, because they no longer have that advantage. Especially when we can earn 70% royalties on our own.

If you do sign with a publisher, make sure it contains a clause that states they MUST release it in print, or revert the rights back to you. Make sure there is specific wording for "out of print" that doesn't include ebook sales.

But, if you do sign with a publisher, do you think you'll ever get your rights back?

Let's say I'm running a publishing company. I see ebooks are the future, and I've got three new authors coming out in print. I gave these authors healthy advances, and there's no way they'll earn out these advances with print sales.

Their contracts state the only way they'll get rights back is if the books go out of print. But if I'm making all of my money on ebooks, and I'm still not close to earning back the advance money I gave the author, I simply can't allow the books to go out of print.

What should I do, as a publisher? If a book is selling very few print copies, but a lot of ebook copies, what are my options?

Now, we all know that publishers are honest, and their accounting is always truthful. But what if, when facing bankruptcy, some unscrupulous publisher (as opposed to all the honest ones) decide to artificially keep a book in print in order to keep earning ebook royalties?

Here's an imaginary example.

Joe Blow gets a $50k book deal with Publisher X. Publisher X cuts the print run because they're having some money trouble, and ships out 30k copies. The book does so-so, and has a 30% sell-though. Of those 9000 copies sold at $6.99 each, Joe Blow earns $5040.

So the publisher is in the red for $45k (probably more, but we'll stick to the advance..)

However, the book is doing well as an ebook, and has sold 5,000 copies. And unlike the print books, which dwindle down to a few hundred per year, the ebook stays strong.

5,000 ebooks sold, at $6.99 each, equals $6,100 in royalties.

Let's look at the royalty numbers for the first few years.

Year 1
Print: $5040
Ebook: $6100

Year 2
Print : $1020
Ebook: $7,200

Year 3
Print: $302
Ebook: $9,000

Year 4
Print: $51
Ebook: $12,500

Now the publisher has a problem. Joe Blow has earned out $41,213 of his $50,000 advance. By year 5, he'll certainly earn it out. But his book is pretty much out of print, which means the publisher has to revert the rights back to the author, on a book that is earning money.

The publisher may be reluctant to do that, for obvious reasons. So what should Publisher X do?

Maybe, incredibly, they sold more print books in Year 4 than they originally thought. Maybe they tell Joe Blow they owe him $1500 for print sales--which is enough to say the book is still in print, and then they still have the rights.

Will Joe Blow ever get his rights back?

Now let's look at what would happen if Joe Blow never sold the book at all. He self-pubs at $2.99, earning $2.04 royalty per book.

Using the same sales figures as above, let's see what he makes.

Year 1: $10,200

Year 2: $12,039

Year 3: $15,049

Year 4: $20,901

Looks like Joe earned $41,213 through his publisher, and $58,189 on his own. Plus he still owes the publisher $8787 on his advance.

Chances are, Joe will earn out his advance in Year 5, and then make a steady $10k per year off of this title, through his publisher.

If he'd kept the rights, he'd be making $20k in Year 5, and every year after that. But my numbers assume he'd sell the same number of books at his publisher's $6.99 price as he would at his own $2.99 price--which is doubtful. The $2.99 price will sell a lot more, based on my experience.

So how much money is Joe Blow losing in the long run by signing with a print publisher? Will Joe ever get his rights back when "creative accounting" comes into play?

Now, I know this scenario takes a lot of liberty with reality. None of us can imagine a future where publishers would knowingly fudge numbers. And we all know that print will remain the dominant force in publishing for years to come, even if publishers are printing fewer books and even dropping their print lines completely.

Right?

247 comments:

1 – 200 of 247   Newer›   Newest»
Lexi said...

Would a publisher consider that a book accessible to order as a POD was still in print?

And the public still like paper books; where there's a market, someone will supply it. It might be self-publishers who step into the gap...

Thom J. said...

"Using the same sales figures as above, let's see what he makes."

A publishing company has a sales force. Marketing force. Design team. Et cetera. An author? Even if you hire a great designer and can put out a good-looking product, who is doing your publicity? Just you? (Instead of a team of publicity pros? And you're trying to do this instead of writing?) And who's doing your marketing? And who will review your book? Who reviews self-published Kindle eBooks? Anyone?

(If Jeff Bezos really wants to sic it to em, he'll pay top literary critics to contribute to a high-profile Kindle book review section ... since after all, all the newspapers cut the book sections.)

I also see the possibility here for good freelance editors, marketers and publicists to help the self-pubbing Kindle authors. But there's also a huge potential for scammers and snake oil.

Sort of new to your blog and I like it. If I sound bitter in this post it's because I've been shafted by the newspapers -- all the good Book sections died long ago and as a let-go editor turned freelancer I was subsequently shafted by my former peers in the Travel section, too (RIP everywhere), and of the 6 or so Travel sections that still exist, one guy (who is a big name) had the gall to steal not only the story ideas I'd pitched him (with all the obscure off-the-map joints I'd found after much research) but actual lines from the pieces themselves describing these places ... the rat. It's that desperate in newspaperland. I have a few non-fiction books in print and the publishers appear equally desperate and degenerate, and I trust them as little as I'd trust a starved rat to keep off my hamburger. Only trouble is these rats are fighting over crumbs, and Big Publishing isn't handing out hamburger anymore, let alone steak.

rex kusler said...

The day will come when Amazon will offer a free kindle with the purchase of $100 in ebooks. What happens then?

Founder said...

I have a few thoughts and questions. 1) How typical is the 50k advance? I ask because I think the advance amount becomes part of the decision of whether to self-pub or not. The 50k versus 10k kind of question. I think some people would probably take the 50k and then self-pub the rest of the books they write. Hope for some publisher marketing, appeal to those who haven't yet moved to ebooks, etc. If it's just a 10k advance, maybe self-pub. 2)You assumed 5k ebooks sold in year one. I wondering how likely that is for a first book, and I've been following how hard you've worked. I just really would like to hear some examples from other ebook self publishers on their numbers. I've checked out Zoe's site. Anyone else with numbers out there?

phantom21 said...

Another potential change is stores with Espresso Book Machines (see youtube on them) where, instead of printing 10,000 books you print on demand at the store.

This solves the problem for publishers.

However, this actually makes it easier for self-publishers as well. So, instead of self-publishing just the ebook, they have this also.

Publishers still go out of business and authors make money.

Best of all possible worlds?

Coolkayaker1 said...

rex kusler said...
The day will come when Amazon will offer a free kindle with the purchase of $100 in ebooks. What happens then?

That day will come this Christmas.

Mary Stella said...

Glad to see that the tongue in your cheek doesn't interfere with your hands on the keyboard. :-)

Thomas Brookside said...

I did a quick survey of blog reaction to the Dorchester story before I came here.

There seems to be universal recognition among authors that Dorchester just created a "minor leagues".

They're going to stick all their authors into ebooks and then print books only for the authors who show strong sales. They're going to throw your book up on Amazon and B&N and Apple, and if it sells well they'll bring the book out in print for you.

I don't see how this can work, because it should be obvious to everyone that if you're the author in this equation you may as well just put the book up on those portals yourself and if Dorchester wants to come knocking to offer you a print deal so be it.

Perry said...

I see a new market rising for book publicity freelancers.

One of the challenges for self epbublishing is getting your book the attention it needs to make the money you have proposed.

And, as Lexi points out, the public still likes paper books - not sure how long that will last - and POD is becoming a much more viable option.

I do think the publishers need to figure out how they add value and earn their cut in the new world. If they do find a way to show value, they will survive.

robert w. walker said...

Thomas Brookside is right here, folks. I know Dorhester well....published my first three or so novels with them. They likely thought long and hard about this AFTER the Wylie Agency made its move. They are HARDLY concerned or interested in their authors' well being or pocketbook but are scrambling to keep themselves from going into another bankruptcy (I went thru one with them in early 80s when they pubbed as Tower Books).

Joe is spot on with this. There is no one more honest and open than Joe Konrath. No one more generous with hard-won facts and experience in this business. I think he gets it from me--hehehe.

David Wisehart said...

If Dorchester wants to stay alive with ebook/POD publishing, they'll have to change their royalty structure. The 70% royalty offered to indie authors through Kindle is just way too attractive.

Erik Williams said...

Just did a blog post on this.

http://erikwilliams.blogspot.com/2010/08/ja-konrath-man-who-killed-dorchester.html

If Dorchester doesn't change their e-royalty rate, there is no reason to publish with them. Plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

Where I live.. no one has ereaders. Few above poverty levels have computers. Yeah, I have a computer but that's it. Not really interested in an ereader. sad

Tuppshar Press said...

There is another issue here: the Espresso book machine and machines like it. These allow a POD book to be printed on the spot in a few minutes, which means that for those who want print books, a bookstore can be quite a small place with far less physical inventory. If we follow your model of shrinking bookstore stock, it doesn't necessarily mean that bookstores or publishers of physical books go under, but it does mean that they have to revise both their business plans and store designs. This means that bookstores become more like ATM stations (and in theory you could automate the whole bookstore process, meaning more layoffs, etc.). Because of the reduced overhead such a system would entail, it might be able to compete where the current bookstore model is having trouble.

As to ebooks, our numbers generally bear out yours: print mass market books are on their way to becoming a niche, which means that today's major print book publishers are fast becoming niche publishers. You can see evidence of this in their desperation as they squeeze authors, price textbooks into the stratosphere (textbooks are a huge market for them, and they're getting quote ugly in how they rip off students), and do everything they can to kill ebooks.

Unless you are a major author who has the clout to dictate terms to them, I'd avoid them if you want to make any money with your writing; do it yourself or find a good small press which looks forward instead of backwards.

John Smith said...

Dear Joe,

Can you do another post involving:

"If you do sign with a publisher, make sure it contains a clause that states they MUST release it in print, or revert the rights back to you. Make sure there is specific wording for "out of print" that doesn't include ebook sales."

I would like to learn more about that. Thank you.

Erik Williams said...

Tuppshar,

B&N already feels like an ATM in many ways. The last few times I've walked in there, they haven't had any of the books I'm looking for. The employees usually direct me to a kiosk or check online for me where I can order the book through the B&N website (gee, why'd I come here for then?). And when I have bought books, they push the Nook and how much nicer it is not to have real books taking up shelf space. Not kidding. It seems to be a corporate mandate to push Nook and ebooks now in the actual stores.

Thomas Brookside said...

Wow, this is really unfortunate. It sounds like Dorchester has really screwed their authors here.

They probably won't even renegotiate the royalty rate!

http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/index.php/weblog/comments/dorchester-does-digital-authors-do-what/

There also seems to be some question as to how long this change has been planned and known, and how long that news was held back from agents and authors.

I am just an outsider here, but is it possible that Dorchester has signed forward-looking contracts with authors for a couple of years' worth of content, spelling out print and ebook royalties, and they now have that content "locked in" and the authors have no recourse if they all of a sudden switch to digital and POD?

And if pulling that kind of switcheroo on authors is possible, can other publishers do it too?

David Wisehart said...

Given the Dorchester bait-and-switch on contracts, authors should be very wary of signing contracts with any traditional publisher. Best to assume that in the near future most of your books will be sold as ebooks, and negotiate accordingly.

Anonymous said...

I thank God every day that I wasn't offered a traditional publishing contract.

I'm a much richer woman for it.

Thanks Dorchester!

Anonymous said...

Based on the information in the Smart Bitches story that Thomas Brookside referenced, I'm not sure this is Dorchester stepping up as a leader into publishing future. There are even odd chances that they are desperately trying to salvage a failing business.

I've seen the Publishers Weekly article and the Smart Bitches article, plus your opinion piece. I'm thinking there's a rat's nest of a story behind the early reports.

The one thing I think all writers should take from this? Know your contract inside and out ... what it says, what it doesn't say, and what the implications of each clause are. And think long and hard about just how much you want that contract and what you are really willing to give up to get it.

Jane W.

Erik Williams said...

As more info comes out, it appears pretty clear Dorchester is trying to avoid an inevitable death. If they're so "far seeing" and "ahead of the curve" you'd think they'd have a phase plan for moving to e-books only rather than starting NEXT MONTH without any warning to their authors. This tells me they are nearly bankrupt and are trying to stay alive by appearing to be "revolutionary".

Robert Christopher said...

@Rex That's a good idea that will come down the line.

But think about how much money they would make if they struck a deal with Stephen King and had a uniquely designed (perhaps a black colored unit with blood red buttons) pre-loaded with all his titles.

Just like Apple did with the U2 Ipod!

Tuppshar Press said...

Erik,

I agree (re. B&N). Borders seems even more kiosk-like. My impression of B&N is that they don't quite know what to do; they're pretty committed to the traditional super-physical bookstore model (which was very successful for them as they largely destroyed the small, independent bookstores), but they know they need to compete with Amazon if they're going to survive. This means they put some effort into their website, but they're not terribly innovative about it the way that Amazon is. We use Smashmouth to make some of our books available on Nook, but it's not nearly as easy to promote titles with them as it is with Amazon.

Just as publishers need to decide on a new business model, so do bookstores. I think there's a place for them, and for physical books, but it's never going to be the way it used to be, and they'd better realize that if they want to survive.

Anonymous said...

Considering small pubs like Samhain and Ellora's cave have been making this business model work for years, I think Dorchester can survive.

However, dumping this on their authors is just bad form. Bad, bad form.

And Samhain/Ellora's Cave are darned successful pubs that give good royalties and get the print books into stores.

Laura said...

Very interesting take. I see more and more publishers changing their submission guidelines to "No fiction," and if they do publish it, a lot focus only on e-books (at a much, much smaller royalty rate than Amazon's). Meanwhile, people are literally begging me to buy my book after I give them the first chapter. Maybe it's time for me to self-publish.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing to me that people will latch onto someting and run with it without ever considering the facts. Why is Dorchester having trouble? Probably poor management. What percentage of all book sales are ebooks? A very small amount. And here's the biggy. How is a new author supposed to market themselves so they break out and sale all these supposed ebooks? The average self-pubbed ebook author sales an average of how many book? These are the questions an author should answer before jumping into the self-pubbed ebook trade.

Jamie Burton

Selena Kitt said...

"They're going to stick all their authors into ebooks and then print books only for the authors who show strong sales."

Duh - indie epubs have been doing this for years and have been quite successful at it. This is just some more re-inventing the wheel.

I predict POD machines in bookstores, malls, kiosks and even chain stores, in 5 years.

Maria said...

I'm not certain your example is valid as far as earning potential, but the point is made. I think most publishers would like authors to believe if the book is in POD, that means "in print."

Dave said...

I don't POD machines will succeed. Do you think if there were machines that could produce vinyl or CDs on demand anyone would be using them now? I can do it on my computer, but rarely bother these days. Why bother, when my iPod can fit hundreds of CDs on it? POD machines would depend on a lot of people still clinging to wanting paper versions of everything. There's been more resistance to it than there has been some other things, because of that whole smell and dust thing, but how often do you write letters and mail them these days, compared to the great glory of writing a letter? We all like letters, too, and the lovely paper and the ink and the licking stamps, but we're not so fond of having to go to all the time and effort of doing it unless it's for a birthday card. It's just a whole lot easier to send an email, so we do that. Soon a lot more people are going to realize they can read for a long time on portable devices with no eyestrain. Books will become like letters are today. Everyone will primarily buy ebooks, but occasionally buy physical ones, too, just like we all send emails now, but occasionally also write letters.

Morgan Mandel said...

Sounds like the death of a dream for some authors who had hoped to see their book in print at bookstores and libraries.

It makes common sense these days to only accept print contracts and not give up ebook rights. If a publisher won't do that, the money would have to be spectacular to give up those ebook rights.

I feel sorry for the small bookstores that are tangled up in all this mess. The larger ones who insist on returns and not operating like normal businesses deserve what they get.

Morgan Mandel
http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

Linz said...

this post just scared the living spirit out of me. i...i need my paperbacks.

Linz said...

i vote for espresso book machines at least! i know this sounds greedy, but i truly need print editions of my favorite books!

Anne R. Allen said...

More and more, this blog is the most honest, up-to-the minute source for information on the publishing industry. How awful for all those Dorchester writers...yikes.

evilphilip said...

"How awful for all those Dorchester writers...yikes."

I was thinking the same thing.

This change starts in September! There are authors out there who signed contracts with Dorchester/Leisure expecting to see their book on the self and now there will be no book on the shelf.

How can they earn out their advance when the only copies of the book that will be shipping are the copies for us book club customers?

Those authors are also locked into whatever eBook royalty rate Dorchester promised them when the contract was signed.

In some ways I saw this coming. Dorchester's Horror writers have been out there crafting great dark fiction for years and years (I'm a member of their book club) and recently Dorchester has been allowing those authors to get away with writing 'Gorno' (the literary version of a slasher movie) and I imagine that has contributed to the downfall of one of the best mass market paperback publishers out there.

It seems like a lot of people whose work I love and admire just got boned.

Victorine said...

I'm so glad I went the Indie author route. With all this junk going on, I want no part of traditional publishing right now. Thanks for the blog post. You always keep it real.

Prof. Hex said...

I wonder how this will affect the Hard Case Crime line. They've already moved to every other month from monthly and have nothing announced for November through February.

Those are the kind of book that an ereader is just not a good substitute for - the covers are part of the fun.

I'm fascinated by the Espresso book model. I wish there was one close to me. They can print directly from Google Books and there are 100s of old weird out-of-print books I would love in my library. Espresso books are cheap too.

On a weird publishing side note: I was at my friend's bookstore today and watched him unwrap a package of books from an author they carry (used bookstore but they carry some new small press stuff) and the books were cheaply printed and had all white covers with nothing on them and no author or publishing information. The bookstore paid $2 a piece for them to the author and bought five. My friend said he had sold several hundred of them over the past few years at $5 a piece. The author referred to them in the accompanying letter as "Manifestos." I could only wonder what his cost per book and print run were.

Daniel W. Powell said...

Wow...publishing looks simultaneously like a minefield (your scenario here is pretty chilling) and a perfectly capitalistic free-for-all. Thanks, as always Joe, for the transparency and insight. You do your readership a huge service.

Oh, and five or six novels a year? Man, you might be ill. It's a good kind of ill, but you are the living, breathing writing machine.

Keep up the good work, and please think about doing a more traditional horror tale. I like the splatterpunk stuff, but I'd love to see you chew on something more subtle and supernatural.

An Autumn Harvest

Anonymous said...

@Evilphillip I agree. but I'd go a step further than just the fact that it was "Gorno" or literary torture porn.

I'd say that a good chunk of it was just plain stupid; bad ideas combined with lame execution.

This is what happens when fanboys write books and make movies. Its an overload of B-movie/grindhouse schlock.

Nothing wrong with B movies. But when that's all there is, the whole genre goes down the toilet as we've seen with the torture-porn boom and subsequent bust.

Throw in the mostly awful remakes too.

dafaolta said...

This news about Dorchester is really a slap. My first thought about their writers is to see if they have a class-action lawsuit for breach of contract, or possibly fraud. There's no way they decided this spur of the moment, so I hope they do something to equalize the situation.

The other thing that was mentioned in the other comments about Barnes & Noble. They have made such a hash of their online presence, I have to grind my teeth to keep the rant from breaking into all caps.

To begin: they bought the eReader software from Fictionwise who had bought/rescued it from Motricity. To an extent, Fictionwise kind of started the problem by not melding the two sites and the customers who had bought books from both sites (like moi) had to download each Bookshelf separately. They have allowed us to simplify things by setting up the same login information so we can, as in my case, access either Bookshelf thru the app on my iPod Touch.

When B&N bought the platform, they made, and have still yet to make, any effort to allow Fictionwise/eReader.com customers to user The B&N Version of the eReader with books they already owned or had bought thru the other sites. You can, with some effort, get these other books onto a Nook, but it requires a lot of hashing around and genuflecting.

That would be bad enough, from my point of view as a customer. As a librarian, I have another issue with their website specifically. I was looking to see the release date for a book that is the 3rd of a trilogy, whose 1st book won numerous awards. I typed in 'Mocking jay', which is not *Exactly* the title. Three books came up as the only search results. (Hot Chicks with Douchebags by Jay Louis came up first)

I went to Amazon and entered the same text to discover (because the people who write their search software have imagination as well as brains) it offered me results including Mockingjay.

What kills me is that I have taken the time to complain about this, and all the other instances where this has come up, and the situation persists. I guess the message just goes straight to the circular file with a wave at the autoresponder on its way past.

As a writer considering self-publishing, it's more than a little daunting to have a supposed bookseller essentially hiding books from customers. If nothing else, I am really moving well away from trying B&N as a platform I will focus on. It is insane for them to be pumping the Nook if they don't make a better effort to get their website in working order.

wannabuy said...

JA:
I understand writing is your passion and I'm certainly impressed by the 5 to 6 books per year. But I hope you take a few of those trips in future years

Selena said:
I predict POD machines in bookstores, malls, kiosks and even chain stores, in 5 years.
I wonder it will replace the photo publishing section of Costco? Hey, why not. 'Big box' stores already sell 45% of books...

It sounds like the change is accelerating. For the big box retailers... there will be little impact. Perhaps a shift in shelf space between books and video games (its happened at my local Costco). :( For B&N and Borders... where do they run to?

Best of luck to the indie authors,
Neil

Who, Me? said...

This digital transition reminds me of what happened in photography over the last 15 or so years. Everyone starts out swearing allegiance to analog -- the feel, the smell, the certain-indescribable-something that just will always make it better than digital. Then digital improves and suddenly professionals are dropping their Hasselblads for 6 megapixel DSLRs.

Film isn't a bad product; printed books are not bad products. Neither one is analogous to a horse and buggy, because both can, in many ways, do the job just as well or better than the digital alternatives. But lower cost, greater convenience, and instant gratification are powerful draws.

Check out this article in the Wall Street Journal.

Here's a quote from the article: The country's largest consumer book publisher, Bertelsmann AG's Random House Inc., said it continues to be a strong believer in mass paperbacks.

Kodak and Fujifilm say the same about film, even as they continue to drop product lines due to low demand. Mama, don't take my Kodachrome away...

evilphilip said...

"I'd say that a good chunk of it was just plain stupid; bad ideas combined with lame execution.

This is what happens when fanboys write books and make movies. Its an overload of B-movie/grindhouse schlock."


I think that Leisure's horror authors are hard working people who do their best to put out a quality product that they can be proud of. I've never finished a novel (I do have 10 non-fiction books to my credit. I'm not totally an outsider to traditional publishing.) and I'm impressed by their accomplishments.

Plus, most of the Leisure horror authors are people who bend over backwards to help out other authors.

I don't blame the 'Gorno' authors, I blame a publisher who chased one section of the market -- people who wanted slasher fiction -- and ignored the idea that horror can be more adult and it can verge on literary.

If the publisher had been more demanding, the authors would have had to work harder and I suspect the sales would have been higher on each book.

They tried to fill a niche -- mass market 'grocery story' horror -- instead of becoming THE leader in horror publishing.

This change is going to hit a lot of people very hard. People who were living off their contracts are now going to be looking at getting a full time job.

It is a horrible situation.

We can look at it as the first sign of a change in how people read books or you can spin it the way it really is and say that it is a sign that the industry has slowed and become more about big budget blockbuster AAA novels and ghost-written celebrity fluff and the mid-list is getting squeezed out in the process.

I hope Joe is right and the authors who got screwed here can bounce back and use self-publishing to put themselves back on top.

Zoe Winters said...

I think MMPB going the way of the dinosaurs could be a very good thing for indies. Because then we're left with digital, and hardback and trade paperback. Indies can do a trade paperback and compete with NY on price using POD IF they avoid author services companies.

Most indies can't do a mass market paperback print run.

If all paperbacks were trade paperbacks, it really levels the playing field in the print world. (Aside from the distribution issue. But you addressed distribution dropping considerably.)

E is where the future money is (and for some, where the present money is), but print can still be a strong side income stream. Especially hardcore fans of a work who want to own a print copy.

The lessening of MMPB's though, will most likely influence more and more people to get e-readers and read digital, making ebooks the new MMPB's. Most people don't want to pay $14 for every novel they read.

Zoe Winters said...

Oh, and I'm with Jane W. on this one.

Dorchester is trying to plug the holes in their leaky boat. Their business had been failing. It's this or bankruptcy most likely. So while spin doctors can turn it around and make it look like they are being forward-thinking and are all about the "revolution", in reality, this is their last stop on the road to obscurity and irrelevance.

More will follow on their heels. Joe is right.

The publishing industry has been operating like the game "Jenga" for years now.

Every time you pull out a block, the thing has a chance of toppling over. Every stupid business practice (such as the returns system) has been one more Jenga block. Dorchester's move to this, is another one. Every publisher that moves to this will be yet another one, which will destabilize the bookstore business even more.

I can definitely see a future in which most books are sold online either in print or ebook.

The economics just no longer favor bookstores, or the traditional model. But anybody who wants to hang out on the Titanic deck chairs a little longer, just to see what the band will play on the way down, have at it. ;)

Amanda Hocking said...

Here's a fun story:

I've considering different options to take with my writing career and what I would do if I was offered a publishing deal. As I was thinking about it, I got scared when I began to realize that the only for me to accept a publishing deal would mean that I had to lose money.

It was at the point that I realized I did not have to be published traditionally.


It was pretty much the most liberating moment of my life.

Zoe Winters said...

@Amanda It's like a Damascus Road experience, huh? :)

Freedom!

Traci H said...

So how does a new author on the scene do as well as you do selling ebooks? I do not have an agent or publisher. I plan to retain all my rights and self publish. I have been working on building a platform (Facebook, blog, etc). I have read through your blogs noting that you did have an agent and did a lot of self promoting and travel when first starting out. Did that contribute to your success now as an ebook author? I am working with a professional editor to ensure my novel is ready for publication. I plan to release by end of December. I wonder how well I will do on my own????

Jude Hardin said...

Dorchester releases 25 titles a month. Seems to me the digital playing field just got a lot more competitive.

Anonymous said...

Will Dorchester continue to epublish 25 titles a month?

It depends on the contract they offer. At 70% royalty -- direct from Amazon -- it will be difficult for the best authors to sign away their rights and accept much less . . . especially as loss of control now means your books could end up God-knows-where. These publishers sell off authors (Dorchester just sold some of their best to HC) and consolidate their failing businesses. Signing with these guys is like walking on hot coals right now.

Levi Montgomery said...

"Let's say I'm running a publishing company."

Let's say you are. Where do I submit? 'Cause believe me, I'm in on that one.

wannabuy said...

Zoe,
I agree, as fewer mass market paperbacks are available. But it won't necesarily sell Kindles. I am serious about Android and Iphones being the 'gateway.' Some people will move on and buy Kindles. For many, their existing phone or tablet will be sufficient.

Jude,
I agree with you that signing with failing publishers is far riskier than going solo today.

I expect print to survive. But we could be in a world with airport books stores (POD), a few mall print stores, but mostly books at big box retailers. I hope a few indie book stores survive. I'm sure a few Indie stores will (e.g., Powell's in Portland Or.), but it will take adapting and eventually POD.

Neil

jtplayer said...

Re: "So how does a new author on the scene do as well as you do selling ebooks?"
-------------------

That's just it...chances are you won't.

All this new "revolution" is bringing is unobstructed access, where previously there was none. And when things catch fire like Joe predicts, it will be near impossible for your book, or mine, to stand out in the pack. Especially when that pack has tens of thousands of crappy amateurish books muddling access to the good stuff.

Add to that the average reader's less than discerning taste, coupled with prices less than a cup of coffee that merely encourage impulse purchasing, and you've got a business model that has created the ultimate disposable entertainment. Not saying that's wrong, it's just how I see it.

Look at how hard it is to sell books now.

Nothing about epublishing is going to make it any easier.

In fact, I'd venture to say it'll make it harder, because at least now you've got the gatekeepers, the publishers, filtering out the bullshit and maintaining a certain level of professional expectation from the reader. With Amazon and Kindle any fool can put a "book" up there, right next to your work, which you've spent time and money making as good as you possibly can.

In my mind, Joe's situation is atypical for an independent author. He started out traditionally, achieved some success, and now he's made a business decision to change course and do it another way. We'll never know if this is the real reason he's doing so well with ebooks.

Sure, some true indies will rise to the top and have great success, but I predict they will not be the norm.

Anonymous said...

Word on the street is Dorchester has fallen behind in payments to their authors.

Hmmmm.

Selena Kitt said...

Anyone see this?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shane-snow/e-books-vs-traditional-bo_b_673356.html

Whole different breakdown... with an ebook priced at *gulp* 13.99!

I say that's crazy. I don't know that I'd pay $13.99 for an ebook. Even a newly released one. I wince at paying $7 for a movie ticket and $44 cents for a stamp, for pete's sake!

And this breakdown has the author getting paid more with a traditional print hardback than an ebook.

Also, look at the marketing and editing budget for both. Ouch.

Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

In my mind, Joe's situation is atypical for an independent author.

This is true. Joe's situation is unusual. But he's built a name for himself and I think that he could have done it even as an indie, because he has writing talent and marketing savvy. It might have taken longer, but realistically, in this day and age, you must be a good writer, and a good marketer in order to succeed. This is true even if you publish traditionally (excepting the Jk Rowlings and Stephen Kings of the world).

The New York Times article said that 65% of Dorchester's titles are romance. When I used to work at Waldenbooks, 90% of these paperbacks ended up stripped for credit in a dumpster. The enormous waste of paper was disheartening, even then.

As for the "indie revolution" I agree that crap has flooded the market. Some of the stuff I see on the CreateSpace message boards is worse than dog shit. But I still agree with Joe that the cream will rise to the top. IUniverse, AuthorHouse and Xlibris have been publishing shit and posting it on Amazon for years and years-- I don't see those millions of crappy POD books affecting the sales of the "good" books.

Buyers do know how to find the good stuff.

jtplayer said...

I agree, buyers will ultimately find the good stuff.

They do now in the bookstores.

The thing is, epublishing allows so much more garbage to flood the marketplace that the ante has been upped exponentially.

Traditional publishing has it's faults to be sure, but at least the stuff that gets through is generally of a baseline professional standard, if you will. You may not like the style or the storyline or any number of other things about the book, but at least you know it will be of professional quality.

There's just too much money at stake for it to be otherwise. The book represents a business investment by a company that is fronting you the resources to make it right.

How many indie authors are going to invest what it takes to make their books as good as the big boys turn out?

In my mind, very few. Because they don't have too. And for better or worse, the bandwagon hype surrounding epubbing makes many believe the only reason they are not published is because the Big 6 are evil, controlling dickheads who couldn't spot genius writing if it crapped on their head.

And speaking of that, I've got kindle on my imac and PC and iphone, and I've sampled many independent ebooks, many from authors right here. In a word, I can see why these books are not sitting on a bookstore shelf right now.

They may be making some money (the key word being "some"), but that doesn't make them good. Of course, this is just one guy's opinion.

Richard S. Wheeler said...

Well, let's see. I've published about seventy novels since the 1970s, largely historical and genre fiction, for advances in recent years ranging from ten to fifteen thousand. My publishers continue to earn money, though more now from hardcover than mass market sales. I've made an entire living from fiction for three decades. I've put two reverted titles into the Kindle Store, and have yet to sell one, though I have an established readership and have let people know about them. The notion that one gets fifty grand advances or that one can sell five thousand e-books a year on Kindle seems a little dubious but it will excite dreamers. There's a real world out there that doesn't quite match the hypothetical one posted here. That said, I enjoy Mr. Konrath. If I were to offer advice to new writers, it would be to create stories that captivate readers, which is harder and more important than marketing.

Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

How many indie authors are going to invest what it takes to make their books as good as the big boys turn out?

Not many. But the good ones will learn. I still think that successful publishing is more "Madonna" and less "Maria Callas"-- good marketing can make mediocre writing a huge commercial success, although nothing can make a book an American classic unless it's superb.

Now, I still think that indie publishing gives authors a great opportunity, and most of the realistic earning opportunities are in non-fiction-- NOT fiction. Many authors don't want to hear that.

A few weeks ago, I offered a self-publishing "how to" book to a writer and he declined it-- he said, "no thanks, I only want to write fiction." Fair enough.

There are lot of real earning opportunities out there for someone who is willing to do a little research and write a book on a timely topic. Of course, that's not as glamorous as Joe's story, but why let writing talent go to waste?

Eric Christopherson said...

Sure, some true indies will rise to the top and have great success, but I predict they will not be the norm.

It's never the norm to rise to the top and have great success, whether indie-pubbed or trad-pubbed.

Jared Sandman said...

Richard --

Methinks your issue comes from demographics more than anything else. You're an author of westerns, and I assume most of your readers aren't the e-book/e-reader type (a perfect example being my father: loves westerns, hates technology). Your demographic will probably be one of the last to jump on the e-reader bandwagon, as opposed to sci-fi fans who are typically the first in line for any new tech. Certain genres are doing great (erotica, horror, thrillers), and others will take a little longer to catch on.

-j.s.

jtplayer said...

If you want some quick, fun entertainment, drop into the Kindle discussion boards for a few laughs.

I've been spending some time there as I "research" this ebook thing, and I gotta tell you, it seems to me most of those folks are more fascinated with the device than anything they're reading on it.

I get the feeling they'd buy a dog turd if they could get it on their Kindle, just to see what it looks like.

This is the new "revolution"?

jtplayer said...

Re: "It's never the norm to rise to the top and have great success, whether indie-pubbed or trad-pubbed."
------------------

You are correct Eric, but the collective appeal with epublishing seems to be anyone can do it...and make money at it.

Joe freely opens his books, so to speak, and shares sales figures that look incredibly enticing. And he seems to believe the only direction his sales will go is up. Time will tell about that.

But from what I'm reading here and on other blogs and boards, many people have a false and unrealistic expectation about all of this. IMO.

Richard S. Wheeler said...

Well, Mr. Sandman, how about my mysteries, such as the one set in Wisconsin? Or the contemporary novels? Or the historicals, such as The Exile, set mostly on the East Coast? Or Eclipse, set mostly in St. Louis?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Wheeler,

I looked at your offerings and found that most are priced around 6.99 (or higher - Snowbound is $12.99 on Kindle).

In the case of Snowbound, the paperback price is 6.99 and the Kindle price is 12.99. Kindle readers don't cotten to paying a higher price for the electronic version vs. a paper version of a book. Also, many other books in your list are available used from .01 or .29, while the Kindle version is $6.99 or more. The incentive for a thrifty reader would be to buy the used DTB copy for a penny vs. paying $6.99.

You might also look at your online marketing. Have you participated in the Kindle forums? Any other online marketing?

I think pricing is important to success with ebooks. Mine are priced at $2.99 (with the 70% Amazon royalty), and the books are selling. If you could lower one or two books to $1.99 or $2.99 -- at least temporarily -- you might accelerate your sales.

Just my .02. Good luck (and much of it IS luck).

Richard S. Wheeler said...

Anonymous,

Thank you for the pricing advice, which I largely agree with. All but two of those titles were posted in the Kindle Store by my publishers and I have no control over prices. Some, such as Snowbound, will have lower e-book prices as soon as their hardcover run is over. I believe Macmillan plans to drop the price after six months or so.

evilphilip said...

"Dorchester releases 25 titles a month. Seems to me the digital playing field just got a lot more competitive."

No, it didn't get more competitive. Dorchester titles have been available in eBook form for a while now.

WDGagliani said...

I'm one of those Leisure authors. While the decision announced yesterday took me by surprise, it wasn't a complete shock. I guess I WAS shocked that it happened so soon, and so quickly. But okay, they are trying to stay afloat.

I have a contracted book in production from them, as do many of my friends. I feel as though I'm strapped to the bomb on this one, because what else can I do?

Let's forget about that side, for a second. The problem I have is that the numbers in your scenario don't work for everyone, Joe. An advance of 50K is still a fantasy to most of the writers I know. We are all at the $2K-10K level. So that skews the scenario. Also, it's too much of a leap to project all those ebook sales. I have a fair following for my Leisure published paperbacks -- I get plenty of fanmail, and I've had royalty payments, and I know my sell-through for the first 2 books was pretty darn good. However, I slapped my unsold thriller SAVAGE NIGHTS onto Kindle and other formats and it has barely sold a dozen copies a month. And NOT ONE copy in August. Okay, the cover was an issue, some said, so I changed the cover. No reaction. I got some reviews, all good. No reaction. I used to visit the Kindleboards until I ran out of time, and I actually sold more copies after I stopped (not saying much, it's just a few).

My point is that even though I have some followers, it still hasn't translated into the kinds of huge sales in your example. And not even 10% of it. Just putting up a book doesn't mean it will do well. It sold more at 1.99. When the royalty rate went up, I repriced at 2.99, but Amazon has kept it discounted at 1.99 (what's with that?) and it still doesn't sell. Now there are people who will say I should market more -- and I should -- but there ARE writers pulling in decent sales with little or no marketing.

But because of this, I don't necessarily see how I'm better off on my own. With a day job I need, I can't write that much faster to increase my backlist. And even if I did, I might well end up selling no better. More people buying Kindles should help, but they are already buying more Kindles as prices drop, and still not much of a spur in sales.

So it's hard to determine what to do. Even though all the models say self-pub in e-format is the best route, it's also possible that it isn't for some of us. But we can't all fit into your example of sales, Joe, because those numbers are as unreachable to us as the NYT bestseller list.

For now, I'm sticking with Leisure. We'll have to see what my next contract will look like, if there is one coming. Unlike some of the detractors, I have to say that I HAVE made money with them, if not a fortune. If this hadn't happened right now, I would have seen an increase in that money, based on my sales and sell-through. Now, not so much. I feel the trade paperbacks will sell LESS copies, of course, and the rise in ebook sales won't be great enough to keep the company afloat. And I don't imagine they'll want to raise our royalty rate all that much. Sure, I can set my own at 70% at Amazon, but if no one buys, that's still zero. I know I'll have to change my marketing strategy -- I already have done more online recently than I ever did -- but that still only raised the sales of my print books, NOT my ebooks.

Of course, maybe my product sucks and I don't deserve sales. There's always that possibility! LOL

Joe Konrath said...

Shelf space is still important.

Years ago, when publishers grew and nurtured authors, and bookstores kept titles on shelves, there was a tipping point.

Book after book, year after year, an author's shelf space grew. Once you had ten or twelve titles on the shelf, you were easier to find. More browsers discovered you.

Same thing with Kindle. The more books you have, priced low with great covers, the greater your chances of finding surfers.

I have 17 titles on Kindle. There are a lot of ways for new readers to find me.

If you want to sell more, write more. Get more ebooks on the virtual shelf. Eventually you'll reach that tipping point.

Amanda Borenstadt said...

I just saw the Dorchester article this morning and I was surprised. I showed it to my husband. His reaction- "I told you so."

He's a comuter and he sees people on the train every day reading on their iphones and ereaders.

Yeah, we have to work within the times in which we live. I'm getting ready to publish an enovel. I just published a free estory, just to test the formatting the publisher uses. In one day, it got over fifty downloads.

But I'm sad. I love used book stores! An electronic book just won't exist when a person doesn't want it anymore. The person will simply delete it. :(

Joe Konrath said...

You are correct Eric, but the collective appeal with epublishing seems to be anyone can do it...and make money at it.

More people will be able to make money at it than they currently do with traditional publishing. And some people will make more money than they would have with traditional publishing.

Luck is still a factor. But you have better odds with ebooks than with finding an agent and landing a large print deal. And if you do find an agent and land a big deal, think long and hard about it before you sign.

Anonymous said...

@Evilphillip You might be right on that point. But shame on them. Anyone with a brain knows trends change. And that putting all of your eggs in one basket is just dumb, and incredibly ignorant.

Plus if they released ten gore-porn titles, wouldn't they eventually cancel each other out if one came out right after the other?

I've never read their westerns or romance, but as far as the horror titles go I've given tham a chance on several occassions. Amazon has a 4 for 3 program, and when I had the 3 titles I wanted I'd try and give a new author a chance.

Safe to say it was almost always pure drivel or the musings of a perpetually twelve-year-old mind. Most of it wasn't even horror. I'd call it bad dark fantasy with scatalogical humor. One book had a guy masturbating to a burnt Barbie doll!! SMH

You are right. Horror could be more literary and intellectual, and that's why I say shame on them. The company were their own taste makers. They allowed their brand to go down the drain.

And as far as their Hard Case crime series, they blew it there too. Had a fairly decent conversation with the person running it and I told him that the new acquisitions weren't hardboiled nor were they noir or the patently absurd neo-noir. I told him this was just very bad comedy with over-the-top vulgar language and excessive violence. I knew it was going nowhere when he thought that this particular title was very dark. Tried to explain with an analogy why there was a huge difference between something like "Monk" and CSI. And why a show like Andy Barker P.I. was an epic fail. And why Bored to Death works neither as a comedy or a noir private investigator show; too quirky and the done to death pothead turned whatever concept. But it all fell on deaf ears.

Why the long speech? Becasue they didn't want anything that skewed up. They only wanted something that aimed low. So I don't feel bad for them.

@Christy LOL LOL LOL I think you mean giant steaming piles of dogshit! And you are right marketing can (not always) trump talent and skill. Sometimes you just strike a nerve with an audience who isn't represented in many instances. Is "Maria Callas" Mariah Carey? If that is the case, then yes Mariah lost her old fan base so she could sing songs about youtube and wear skimpy dresses instead of making good music. Madonna will never have to worry about the quality of her singing provided the the "playback" never skips ala Milli Vanilli

@JT You are sooooooo right on the money with that statement. Alot of the tech(ier) types of people are way more enamored with its functionality. But with the price drop I see more casual readers getting into the fray.

Point#2 You are also right about the unrealistic expectations. Joe has openly stated how much woprk it takes. And I agree -- this isn't a get rich quick scheme. The people who treat it as a career with long term plans will be more likely to succeed. And I think that initial success will equate to long term success. Some of the people doing moderatly well on kindle think its becasue of them, and not the fact that people have this new gadget and are buying stuff on it. All the 99.cent theories with hooking and baiting could all be chalked up to people simply seeing the price and buying it.

As for Joe's advice. i'd take it all with a grain of salt. he is in a unique position. Most of it won't apply to the mass of people thinking it will make them 200K. And Joe has openly said to know what you are getting into.

If you can press the flesh like joe has and get to 600 bookstores, I guess it might work for you. But I have a special needs child in the family so I can't be away 5 days let alone 52 days. And my wife and kids would kill me. SO everyone has to set realistic goals and have realistic expectations. Careers aren't built in a day, or with one book, or with 90 blog tours. I just might take you years of work.

Anonymous said...

@Evilphillip You might be right on that point. But shame on them. Anyone with a brain knows trends change. And that putting all of your eggs in one basket is just dumb, and incredibly ignorant.

Plus if they released ten gore-porn titles, wouldn't they eventually cancel each other out if one came out right after the other?

I've never read their westerns or romance, but as far as the horror titles go I've given tham a chance on several occassions. Amazon has a 4 for 3 program, and when I had the 3 titles I wanted I'd try and give a new author a chance.

Safe to say it was almost always pure drivel or the musings of a perpetually twelve-year-old mind. Most of it wasn't even horror. I'd call it bad dark fantasy with scatalogical humor. One book had a guy masturbating to a burnt Barbie doll!! SMH

You are right. Horror could be more literary and intellectual, and that's why I say shame on them. The company were their own taste makers. They allowed their brand to go down the drain.

And as far as their Hard Case crime series, they blew it there too. Had a fairly decent conversation with the person running it and I told him that the new acquisitions weren't hardboiled nor were they noir or the patently absurd neo-noir. I told him this was just very bad comedy with over-the-top vulgar language and excessive violence. I knew it was going nowhere when he thought that this particular title was very dark. Tried to explain with an analogy why there was a huge difference between something like "Monk" and CSI. And why a show like Andy Barker P.I. was an epic fail. And why Bored to Death works neither as a comedy or a noir private investigator show; too quirky and the done to death pothead turned whatever concept. But it all fell on deaf ears.

Why the long speech? Becasue they didn't want anything that skewed up. They only wanted something that aimed low. So I don't feel bad for them.

@Christy LOL LOL LOL I think you mean giant steaming piles of dogshit! And you are right marketing can (not always) trump talent and skill. Sometimes you just strike a nerve with an audience who isn't represented in many instances. Is "Maria Callas" Mariah Carey? If that is the case, then yes Mariah lost her old fan base so she could sing songs about youtube and wear skimpy dresses instead of making good music. Madonna will never have to worry about the quality of her singing provided the the "playback" never skips ala Milli Vanilli

@JT You are sooooooo right on the money with that statement. Alot of the tech(ier) types of people are way more enamored with its functionality. But with the price drop I see more casual readers getting into the fray.

Point#2 You are also right about the unrealistic expectations. Joe has openly stated how much woprk it takes. And I agree -- this isn't a get rich quick scheme. The people who treat it as a career with long term plans will be more likely to succeed. And I think that initial success will equate to long term success. Some of the people doing moderatly well on kindle think its becasue of them, and not the fact that people have this new gadget and are buying stuff on it. All the 99.cent theories with hooking and baiting could all be chalked up to people simply seeing the price and buying it.

As for Joe's advice. i'd take it all with a grain of salt. he is in a unique position. Most of it won't apply to the mass of people thinking it will make them 200K. And Joe has openly said to know what you are getting into.

If you can press the flesh like joe has and get to 600 bookstores, I guess it might work for you. But I have a special needs child in the family so I can't be away 5 days let alone 52 days. And my wife and kids would kill me. SO everyone has to set realistic goals and have realistic expectations. Careers aren't built in a day, or with one book, or with 90 blog tours. I just might take you years of work.

Anonymous said...

@Evilphillip You might be right on that point. But shame on them. Anyone with a brain knows trends change. And that putting all of your eggs in one basket is just dumb, and incredibly ignorant.
Plus if they released ten gore-porn titles, wouldn't they eventually cancel each other out if one came out right after the other?

I've never read their westerns or romance, but as far as the horror titles go I've given tham a chance on several occassions. Amazon has a 4 for 3 program, and when I had the 3 titles I wanted I'd try and give a new author a chance.
Safe to say it was almost always pure drivel or the musings of a perpetually twelve-year-old mind. Most of it wasn't even horror. I'd call it bad dark fantasy with scatalogical humor. One book had a guy masturbating to a burnt Barbie doll!! SMH

You are right. Horror could be more literary and intellectual, and that's why I say shame on them. The company were their own taste makers. They allowed their brand to go down the drain.
And as far as their Hard Case crime series, they blew it there too. Had a fairly decent conversation with the person running it and I told him that the new acquisitions weren't hardboiled nor were they noir or the patently absurd neo-noir. I told him this was just very bad comedy with over-the-top vulgar language and excessive violence. I knew it was going nowhere when he thought that this particular title was very dark. Tried to explain with an analogy why there was a huge difference between something like "Monk" and CSI. And why a show like Andy Barker P.I. was an epic fail. And why Bored to Death works neither as a comedy or a noir private investigator show; too quirky and the done to death pothead turned whatever concept. But it all fell on deaf ears.
Why the long speech? Becasue they didn't want anything that skewed up. They only wanted something that aimed low. So I don't feel bad for them.

Anonymous said...

@Christy LOL LOL LOL I think you mean giant steaming piles of dogshit! And you are right marketing can (not always) trump talent and skill. Sometimes you just strike a nerve with an audience who isn't represented in many instances.

Is "Maria Callas" Mariah Carey? If that is the case, then yes Mariah lost her old fan base so she could sing songs about youtube and wear skimpy dresses instead of making good music. Madonna will never have to worry about the quality of her singing provided the the "playback" never skips ala Milli Vanilli


@JT You are sooooooo right on the money with that statement. Alot of the tech(ier) types of people are way more enamored with its functionality. But with the price drop I see more casual readers getting into the fray.


Point#2 You are also right about the unrealistic expectations. Joe has openly stated how much work it takes. And I agree -- this isn't a get rich quick scheme. The people who treat it as a career with long term plans will be more likely to succeed. And I think that initial success won't always equate to long term success. Some of the people doing moderatly well on kindle think its becasue of them, and not the fact that people have this new gadget and are buying stuff on it. All the 99.cent theories with hooking and baiting could all be chalked up to people being buy happy.

As for Joe's advice. I'd take it with a grain of salt. He is in a very unique position. Most of it won't apply to us, or the blind the mass of people thinking it will make them 200K. And Joe has openly said to know what you are getting into.


If you can press the flesh like joe has and get to 600 bookstores, I guess it might work for you. But I have a special needs child in the family so I can't be away 5 days let alone 52 days. And my wife and kids would kill me.

So everyone has to set realistic goals and have realistic expectations. Careers aren't built in a day, or with one book, or with 90 blog tours. It will probably take you years of work.

Anonymous said...

How come no one ever says that Joe sells so many books because his books are just better? Better meaning the total package of stories, characters, titles, writing, etc. His stories just appeal to more people.

This isn't a linear thing; there's no Hard Work scale where once you score X you sell X.

Anonymous said...

@WDGagliani Don't want to sounds too callous, but life isn't fair. Just because you open a business doesn't mean you are guaranteed success.

If you are only getting a 2k adavance then you have to reassess how valuable your writing truly is.

And with the bad economy and with the mass layoffs, forgive me if I don't have much sympathy for your whining and crying.

You can still write. No one is guaranteed a job for life. And people get laid off and find new jobs everyday.

Chris Bates said...

I'll jump in and agree with the above anon...

"How come no one ever says that Joe sells so many books because his books are just better? Better meaning the total package of stories, characters, titles, writing, etc. His stories just appeal to more people.

Joe is firmly entrenched in genre fiction. He's not writing literary fiction, nor is he making any such pretenses.

Of course, his books aren't going to be everyone's cup of tea but if you look a little closer you will see why he has this current level of success; he's writing what his audience wants to read.

There are also strong genre conventions that Joe is abiding by. He utilises these to make his stories work. It keeps readers happy.

Pushing out several 50-70,000 word works in quick succession also makes them happy. Such a work ethic will only help his cause. Readers want content. They want it fast. Joe is giving them everything they ask for: stories they like; delivered instantly via ebook; and multiple titles.

His success is certainly not just about throwing ebooks up on Amazon, nor is it about this blog.

Marketing will only take an author so far. Eventually it has to come down to the work.

I wouldn't buy Joe's work in hardcover - I mean this as no disrespect since I try not to buy anyone in hardcover when RRP is $45 in Australia! - but I would have a shot at his titles in ebook for a couple of bucks. Hook me at that price point and provide multiple titles instantly and you're on a winner.

Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

Is "Maria Callas" Mariah Carey? If that is the case, then yes Mariah lost her old fan base

I'm not sure if this is a joke, but I'll answer it anyway.

Maria Callas is the most famous Soprano in the history of opera, an one of the most renowned singers in history.

Maria Carey is a hack. Her voice is spectacular enough that she wouldn't have to be a hack, but she's a hack nonetheless. Dreamweaver come and rescue me.

wannabuy said...

Joe,
I agree with shelfspace... but what helps even more is a few books that link to new audiences. I often find e-books via other books I've bought.

If I enjoy one book by an author... I'll keep buying until their $4.99 and under collection is sold out.

Selena,
Wow, great link! What a break down. Why would an author accept a $13.99 e-book for so little marketing and support? Give the publisher $6.48 for $1.28 of support on an e-book?

It shows how much the publisher model is broken.

Christy,
I agree, most of a success will be marketing, but classic must come out of the gate great.

I know 300 'intense readers' among my friends and acquaintances. Of those that would buy 100+ MMPB per year, all 50 of them now have a Kindle. I think we're past the tipping point.

Neil

Jude Hardin said...

No, it didn't get more competitive. Dorchester titles have been available in eBook form for a while now.

So have the titles from every major publisher; but, if ebooks eventually take the place of mass market paperbacks (which I predict they will), then the prices will reflect that perception. The prices will naturally fall. Once the prices fall, self-published authors will lose their single advantage.

The digital playground just got a lot more competitive.

Tuppshar Press said...

Another point to add to the mayhem: niche books.

Here's the thing: in order for a large mass-market publisher to make money with traditional books, and even for a small press to make money with POD books, you have to sell a certain number of books to offset the cost of producing the physical book. This encourages (or requires) editors and publishers to bias heavily towards what they know (or are convinced) will sell a large number of copies. This in turn requires that the author produce a book with maximum demographic appeal, regardless of whether or not that fits in with the author's creative vision. I've dealt with large publishers and agents for years and this is what they all tell me is the primary issue in their decision on whether or not to take on a project.

The trouble is, this has meant that traditional publishing is frequently derivative and risk-averse, meaning that most books they publish are just like most other books. It also means that books oriented toward niche audiences stand no real chance of publication, even by a small press.

Because of the very low cost of publishing an ebook, it is possible to make money (even if not a lot) by publishing niche books, especially if the seller like Amazon does a good job steering potential customers to that book. We've had great success with a novella that is focused on a very small niche market; had we not had the option of publishing it on Kindle first, we never would have invested the time and effort it took to bring it to press.

But we're glad we did. So while I agree that the capacity to publish anything has opened the door to a lot of very bad fiction, it has also opened the door to some very good fiction that never would have stood a chance before. I think the trade-off is worth it.

WDGagliani said...

Ha! Whining and crying? Nowhere in my post did I whine and cry, Anon.

I merely pointed out that not everyone is going to make thousands on a Kindle book. It's potential earnings, not a sure thing. And I used myself as example.

Whining? I've been in the business in one way or another a long time. I never said anyone owed me a thing. My relationship with Leisure has been great and I have made money. There are hundreds of writers who would have loved my slots with Leisure despite the relatively low advances, which were higher than 2K, btw. In any case, other publishers passed on my series, but it has sold quite well. I have other irons in the fire. I plan to publish more on Kindle.

All I said was that it's not a given that e-publishing will automatically earn more than a previous print deal. I'm open to the possibility, but it hasn't happened yet.

Call it whining and crying if you want to, You can read words any way you want. You can be as callous as you want -- free country! But anyone who knows me should know I don't waste my time hating and hiding my greenish tint due to jealousy. And I will ALWAYS post under my own name.

Joe Konrath said...

Once the prices fall, self-published authors will lose their single advantage.

Nope.

First, there are many advantages self-pub has. One is speed. I can finish a book and release it the next week. Try to do that with a publisher. I also have say so in cover art and titles.

As for price, it's silly to assume that anyone will sell fewer copies if all prices drop. There's no comparative model for this. I could just as easily assume, since Kindle owners read and buy more, that once Patterson is $2.99 I'll sell more ebooks than I am now, because there will be more readers, buying more ebooks, and they'll have more pocket money because they aren't wasting it on $12.99 ebooks.

Anonymous said...

@Tuppshar

I concur! The trade off is definitely worth it since you can read a sample with the Kindle amd see if you like it or not. It's not all that big a risk.

Lot's of readers are tired of the same old regugitated stuff.

Fresh voices are welcome.

I wish more people would see the Kindle that way. Especially, the ones heralding the Kindle on their blogs, message boards, and podcasts.

I don't know why the "Kindlers" complain about price. If you are willing to drop $399/289/259/189/ and now finally $139 for the device, what is the big deal with forking over a measly $3 to the people (the writers) who actually entertain you?

If you buy a Lamboghini Diablo for 850K the high price doesn't absolve you from having to pay for gas.

Wasn't the initial hook for the early adopters at $399 that they would get best-sellers for $9.99?

Bring on the fresh voices!

Anonymous said...

"Once the prices fall, self-published authors will lose their single advantage."

It's a mistake to assume all self-published works sell exclusively on price.

Good writing is not the exclusive domain of those who submit to publishers. In fact, as the publisher advantage falls off a cliff (Dorchester is a good example) the best writing will be found among the ranks of independents (self-pubbed) and small press writers.

Sure, there will be a lot of slush, but good writers will gravitate toward the money. 70% is a powerful incentive, especially as traditional publishers begin to fold or migrate to ebook first/ebook only.

Anonymous said...

@WDG -- your words!

"It sold more at 1.99. When the royalty rate went up, I repriced at 2.99, but Amazon has kept it discounted at 1.99 (what's with that?) and it still doesn't sell."

That sure sounds like crying to me.

Now here's the whining:

"However, I slapped my unsold thriller SAVAGE NIGHTS onto Kindle and other formats and it has barely sold a dozen copies a month. And NOT ONE copy in August. Okay, the cover was an issue, some said, so I changed the cover. No reaction. I got some reviews, all good. No reaction."

Again your words: "Of course, maybe my product sucks and I don't deserve sales. There's always that possibility!"

Also,you also were the one who mentioned the 2k figure: "We are all at the $2K-10K level."

Joe mentioned this sense of entitlement in a previous post.

Who promised you big numbers with no effort?

Jude Hardin said...

First, there are many advantages self-pub has. One is speed.

I would count this as a disadvantage. I can't imagine that many people want to read a first draft, and that's what a lot of self-published titles read like. No need for all those pesky rewrites and copy edits. Woohoo!

Jude Hardin said...

As for price, it's silly to assume that anyone will sell fewer copies if all prices drop. There's no comparative model for this. I could just as easily assume, since Kindle owners read and buy more, that once Patterson is $2.99 I'll sell more ebooks than I am now, because there will be more readers, buying more ebooks, and they'll have more pocket money because they aren't wasting it on $12.99 ebooks.

You're omitting time and desire from the equation. I don't know about the general reading population, but I only buy books that I want to read and have time to read. There are plenty of FREE books out there that I'm not interested in for one reason or another. I don't have time to read everything, and given the choice between a self-published title that sounds cool and a title from a real publisher that sounds cool I'm going to pick the title from the publisher every time. For the same price? It's a no-brainer. This after being burned from some really bad self-published books.

Which leads back to the disadvantage of speed. ;)

Every writer's motto should be: we will sell no wine before its time.

Jude Hardin said...

It's a mistake to assume all self-published works sell exclusively on price.

Then why don't they charge more?

$.99 is a ridiculously low price for a new release.

$2.99 is a ridiculously low price for a new release.

Backlist titles? Sure. Discount the hell out of them. But if you want to compete with new releases offered from publishers, and you think you're product is as good as theirs, why not price them comparably?

Why? Because you know the quality is not, and will never be, the same. How could it be? A novel is a collaborative effort, and the differences between one that has been put through the wringer of a traditional publisher and one that has not is strikingly clear.

WDGagliani said...

You know, Anon, you can troll all you want.

I just stated facts.

I gave the range of the average advance in mass market for most folks. Mine were a bit higher. So what?

And I added LOL to my last statement, so whatever point you're making is lost on me. Except you don't like my "sense of entitlement."

But I still have the guts to sign my name, and apparently you never will. So, see ya! I'll be in Las Vegas in two weeks. Come by for a rum and tonic, paid for with royalties. OK? :)

Tuppshar Press said...

@Jude,

There are a number of reasons to price an ebook low. A well-known author with an established fan following can of course charge more (or their publisher can) since they are more likely to get sales out of the gate. An unknown or little-known author has to try other ways to get people to read their work, and pricing it low is one of those.

Also, putting a book through the publishing "wringer" does not guarantee quality, especially in the modern world of publishing. Lots of editing and proofreading is farmed out to overworked freelancers these days, and editors are no longer able to put much effort into any individual title the way they did 50 years ago. This problem of downsizing staff to meet quarterly profits has been going on for decades now, and it's probably going to get worse as the large publishers get squeezed more and more by things like ebooks.

I've seen and rolled my eyes at the incredibly low quality of many books that have been put through the publishers' "wringer". Publishing has become a stripped-down volume-first business at the big houses, and it shows in their product. Even when that product sells well it is still often of inferior quality. Authors are expected to do most editing and proofreading themselves.

The fact that much self-published work is bad does not mean that traditionally published work is good.

Anonymous said...

A novel is a collaborative effort

You mean that for all these years I've been in awe of Hemingway when really it might have been the other guy?

Joe Konrath said...

$2.99 is a ridiculously low price for a new release.

$2.99 is a terrific price for a download, which isn't a tangible object.

I price my ebooks at $2.99 because that's the same amount of money I earn on a $24 hardcover. Why should I gouge my fans? That's uncool. Give them something good, at a fair price.

As for time, 18 months from turned in manuscript to book on the shelf is too damn long. Proofreading shouldn't take more than a few days. If you need a lot of editing help, it's probably because you suck and don't understand storytelling fundamentals.

And again, if some ebooks suck, they'll weed themselves out of the gene pool, assisted by poor sales and bad reviews.

I was modestly successful in the traditional publishing world. In the ebook world, I can excel.

Can everyone? No. But they have a better chance in the ebook world than in the print world.

Chris Bates said...

If you need a lot of editing help, it's probably because you suck and don't understand storytelling fundamentals.

Goddamn it, Konrath, are you looking over my bloody shoulder?

Have you no mercy, man?! :)

Jude Hardin said...

I price my ebooks at $2.99 because that's the same amount of money I earn on a $24 hardcover. Why should I gouge my fans?

How does the amount of money you earn per sale have anything to do with gouging your fans? I paid $24 for Whiskey Sour because it was a book I wanted and because that was the going price for hardcovers in 2004. If you had made $23 out of the $24, good for you. What difference would it have made to me? I really didn't consider how much money you were pocketing from the sale, and I seriously doubt that most consumers look at it that way.

If it's a matter of conscience, then it would be just as easy to look at $2.99 as undercutting your peers as it would be to look at $7.99 as gouging your fans.

Joe Konrath said...

How does the amount of money you earn per sale have anything to do with gouging your fans?

As far as artist royalties go, 70% is unheard of. No one, in any other business, makes that much, and a $2 profit on an intangible download seems reasonable and fair.

$7.99 for an ebook is too much. There is no printing, no shipping, no physical object. If I were to charge that much, I'd probably be earning more than I am now, even though I'd be selling fewer copies. But that would be gouging. There is no reason to charge that much, since there are very few costs incurred by publishing an ebook.

Charging whatever I feel like it because I know my fans will pay is gouging.

Joe Konrath said...

as easy to look at $2.99 as undercutting your peers

I don't care what my peers are charging. I believe it's a fair price.

If all ebooks were $2.99, I wouldn't lower my prices in an attempt to undercut anybody. I blogged a while ago about authors needing to attach worth to their ebooks and make a living, and that 99 cents was too low.

Making 2 bucks per sale is fair for both the author and the reader.

wannabuy said...

Joe said:
As for time, 18 months from turned in manuscript to book on the shelf is too damn long. Proofreading shouldn't take more than a few days.
100% agree.

To me, the #1 advantage of the indie author is variety.

Books should be an elastic market. At $139 for an e-reader and $2.99 per book, the cost for a year's books (for me) would be less even if I buy an e-reader per year. Thus, we should expect book volume to grow. :)

It should be. I have friends who travel who were unable to carry enough books to read a whole trip and the LCD screen... killed the eyes. Now they're reading again.

I look forward to every indie author who will excel. I've found a few this year. I'm sure I'll find more.

Neil

Jude Hardin said...

Charging $7.99 would still be undercutting what publishers charge for most new releases. How would that be gouging?

A movie ticket for a new release costs about the same as it did in 2004. A hardcover novel, new release, also costs about the same as it did in 2004. Movies and books are a bargain!

Yet an ebook, with the same content as the newly-released hardcover, is only worth 1/8 of the price?

wannabuy said...

Joe,
I'm going through your short stories. The scary ones are even scarier read by the Kindle... (I've been driving too much.) Please never turn off the 'text to voice' feature. I'll probably consume an extra book of yours this month utilizing that feature.

It makes it so the $13.99 'hardcover e-book' I'm also reading seem like a very poor value...

Neil

Anonymous said...

Because you know the quality is not, and will never be, the same. How could it be? A novel is a collaborative effort, and the differences between one that has been put through the wringer of a traditional publisher and one that has not is strikingly clear.

But why must that come only from a publisher? Self-publishing doesn't mean do-it-yourself isolationism. Joe has talked about his "beta testers" and proofreaders, so clearly he's making his own wringer. Any writer who cares will do the same, and take it more seriously than an employee at a publishing house.

Zoe Winters said...

@Wannabuy People don't have to buy "Kindles" for me to sell ebooks. :P

Zoe Winters said...

@jtplayer

One thing you're overlooking is... in a world where most books are ebooks or POD books, they will all look the same. If a book has a pro cover on it, and good reviews, readers just are not going to know whether or not it's indie.

You think it's going to be harder for indie authors to sell. It's going to be harder for ANY authors to sell. (And that's where the threat and defensiveness comes in from those still seeking trad publishers, IMO.)

It's only in "writer-world" that people care who your publisher is... or even KNOW who your publisher is.

For regular readers who aren't already a part of the publishing industry on a professional level, they don't know and they don't care. Most readers don't check who the publisher is.

A talented indie can much more easily slide under the radar when they look more like everybody else in terms of formats used and overall design.

There isn't going to be some big segregation. Sure, the crappy self-pubbed books will stand out as being crappy, and will be avoided. But the good ones, and the well-designed covers will look like any other traditionally published book out there. i.e. NO STIGMA. (Except among publishing circles. But who cares about that?)

Anonymous said...

@Jude Once again you prove how oblivious you are.

The price of movie tickets has been nickled and dimed (actually.25cents to 50 cents) UP every year since 2004. I paid 9.25 for an adult ticket in 2004. In 2005 it was 9.50. 2006 it was 9.75 2007 it was 10.00 2008 it was 10.50 In 2010its now 11.00 bucks! 12 bucks at some other theaters.

But the bigger question is why are you here? To stir the shit? To convince us to go traditional?

also, since you ONLY read what you like, which is piss poor for a guy who wants to be a writer, you have never experienced the other side of the fence.

If you took chances on trad pubbed books that were outside your comfort zone you would see alot of crap.

I can name edgar award winners who suck real bad. But since they had nothing else to push, those writers won by default and wewre never heard from again.

I can name a ton of completely over rated "classics" too.

Perhaps you think James Frey went through stringent editing.

Or the even more revolting Judith Regan cash in books by Amber Frey and O.J.? I'm sure that was real stringent.

Or Pamela Anderson hiring a ghostwriter to write her fiction debut!

Perhaps you Think Dan Brown went through 20-30 drafts before crafting his masterpiece of baloney that insults the intelligence of anyone with even half a brain. "Think Harrison Ford in tweed." that's complete and total amateur hour! And his only aim was to copy Salmon rushdie minus the fatwa, so he pushed the religion button and got 500k in promotion!

Need I go on about your so-called strigent editing?

dr.cpe said...

@Jude
I think I know what you're saying, and things have changed Jude, not fast, but I'd say since the Newhouse brothers sold Random to Bertalsmann. They ahve been slow slow to grasp that the world is changing. One of the editors at Knopf used to brag he was still using his manual banger typewriter. He was charming as a man can be, and did not see the bus coming. Neither did Mehta, neither did Applebaum. It was mid 1990s before they grabbed all e rights, but didnt know what to do with them. Liekly Jude, the old publishing model is a little bit like building cars before Henry Ford. Serious. Ebooks appear to me to be streamlined assembly work of potentially great quality depending on the mind doing the writing, but having little to do about quality because it is an ebook. I suspect you and I are about the same age, I might be much older than you... what I see is print as special legacy edition and ebooks as food for the hungry. I've friends as you do no doubt who devour several genre fiction books a week. Frankly I want all the young'uns to be successful. I dont want them to have to go through the losses of innocence and inconsistent marketing, editing, proofreading some of us had to go through; there was no building of character because of it and having to fight for your work to remain true to your visiojn is one blessed thing about having help from others as you choose, instead of a gatekeeper.
just my two cent's worth

dr.cpe said...

that got away from me before I corrected the end para:

meant to say 'having to fight for your work to remain true to your vision versus being able to have help from others as you choose, instead of a gatekeeper... is a blessing re ebook publishing.... and as you know, some editors are so fine and one could learn from them for years, and others could care less. As we say in the military, (me a long term usaf wife) they're ROD, retired on duty. Also writers mature to the point their writing needs a touchup for a divot here and there. I'd ever trust the writer to get better and better the longer they write. ebooks are a perfect testing ground for feedback from many (readers) rather than one editor only.

Thomas Brookside said...

Jude covers a lot of old ground here, and I won't bash him on it again because it's getting repetitive.

But one new interesting point he raises is his statement about the price point of new releases.

In bookstore sales prices always went down as a book moved from new release hardcover to remainder hardcover to trade paperback to mass market paperback. It was natural for a book to have its highest price on the first day of its release.

I think the ebook market is different because of the way Amazon sells books. When we talk about the "ebook market", we're essentially talking about Amazon's website, and that means that practical details of the way Amazon runs its own business have an outsized impact on the overall market.

I would submit that, as long as Amazon is the market, it makes a certain amount of sense to price a new release very low and increase its price over time.

Joe talks about fandom a lot, and how every book you sell is an opportunity to sell your other books to that individual fan. I think this is true, but that at Amazon there's another even bigger factor: each book you sell is an opportunity to sell books to people whose browsing history and purchasing history is similar to that first purchaser's. The review system, the recommendations engine, the "people who bought also bought" system, the genre bestseller lists - all of it creates an ecosystem where the key to getting sales is...getting sales.

I think that it needs a lot of study, but a case can definitely be made that a new release should spend some time at 99 cents before being moved up in price steps, even when you have an existing base of readers - unless that base of readers is very large indeed.

My first release has been out for almost a year, and I'm thinking of raising the price from $2.99 to $3.99. Any month when you sell more books than you did the month before, I think you should consider a price increase.

Joe Konrath said...

Charging $7.99 would still be undercutting what publishers charge for most new releases. How would that be gouging?

With a $7.99 paperback, you're getting a tangible item that can be put on a shelf or resold. The cost of that item compensates the artist, the publisher, the distributor, the bookseller, and all the overhead and costs along the way. The artist earns 64 cents on a $7.99 paperback.

On a $2.99 ebook, the item is intangible. It has no resale value. There are no costs for printing or shipping or warehousing.

Yet the artist earns $2.04--more than three times the royalty for a paperback.

I believe this is a healthy, fair profit.

A $7.99 self-pubbed ebook would earn the artist over $5.50. In no other media or art form does the artist earn that much, and I just don't see it being fair. It's one thing if the writer is splitting profits with everyone involved in creating the book. It's gouging if the writer has zero costs and is keeping the price of an intangible download artificially high out of greed. It also encourages piracy.

The status quo is changing. The market is changing. Trying to argue that the future should be like the past is a poor argument. You can see how poor it is by looking at how technology has changed the media in other industries.

The $2.99 ebook is the future.

author Scott Nicholson said...

Bookstores killed themselves with their own corporate disinterest, treating books like hamburgers. Al authors should carefully read their contracts. I am continually stunned by people who have no idea what their e-royalty rate is, what the "out of print" clauses are, or even what the whole thing means. I don't think many agents are astute on these issues because it's all changing so fast and there's such a desperation now that people are happy to sell anything. If you're smart, you're looking closely at ways to get unencumbered, unless you're the type who wants the "legitimacy" of a real publisher.

If you are a writer, this is your business, your job, your cottage industry, your life. If you aren't minding the shop, you won't have it long. And the more people you are entangled with, the worse off you will be. Choose your partners carefully.

I'm really tired of hearing all the great stuff "real publishers" bring to the table. Most of them bring exactly what Amazon already gives the indie--one page on Amazon. That "great design" can be replicated at far lower prices by freelancers., and so can the editing. And I've never believed agents know how to write a book, or they'd be writers. So what is left? They know "what sells."

Well, you can find out yourself, and a lot more easily now. Try it.

Scott Nicholson
http://www.hauntedcomputer.com

Anonymous said...

Hm. Wonder what this is going to do to my submission currently with Dorchester. :(

R

Jude Hardin said...

The $2.99 ebook is the future.

What if Amazon changes it's minimum price point for 70% royalties to $3.99? $4.99? Or, gulp, even $7.99?

What will the future be then?

Everyone wants to earn 70%, so they'll price their books at whatever Amazon dictates.

DS said...

"What if Amazon changes it's minimum price point for 70% royalties to $3.99? $4.99? Or, gulp, even $7.99?"

You are assuming that Amazon's decisions are arbitrary. One thing Amazon has is an incredible amount of information about who buys what. The choice of $2.99, IMO, was based on consideration of a number of factors including their used book market. (As noted a book file lacks the potential resale potential of an actual object)

Buying a penny (lowest amount a seller can charge) book on Amazon means it costs a total of $4.00 with shipping added. Many people buy used books by a new-to-them author before they opt for buying new books. By encouraging authors who price their own ebooks to price at $2.99 I think Amazon has hit what they consider the sweet spot.

A dollar less than the lowest possible used book price? I'll take a chance. Yet, as has been pointed out-- there's profit there for both Amazon and the author/publisher.

The $9.99 price that led to the Agency is another issue entirely.

jtplayer said...

You are exactly right Jude, no one knows what Amazon will do in the future.

Rest assured Bezos has a plan, and it isn't putting more money in the pockets of writers.

Right now he's building market share, trying to become the premier ereader and ebook retailer in the world. To do that he must have a huge inventory of cheap product to sell, and he has to convince everyone that this is the way to go.

Once he's achieved his "tipping point", to borrow Joe's term, how much longer do you think he'll continue to pay the writer more than he's making on ebooks?

The paradigm will change, you can be sure of it, and it will change in Amazon's favor. You can take that to the bank.

Someone said earlier that Amazon is selling Kindles at a loss. I'm not sure that's true, but assuming it is, it means they're making next to nothing when you factor in paying a 70% royalty on the ebooks. How long do you thinks that's gonna continue?

I guess the thing to remember is, this is a company that didn't turn a profit for the first 5 or 6 years, and that was their business plan.

Remember this, the more things change, the more they say the same.

Selena Kitt said...

"what I see is print as special legacy edition and ebooks as food for the hungry."

So the future is that print is like eating at a fine NY restaurant, but ebooks are McDonalds?

Somehow I don't think so. But the future is hard to predict!

I still keep going back to that marketing and editing budget breakdown in the link I shared... the pro-print and pro-traditional publishing folks keep saying "Publishing companies have a sales force, marketing, design team, editors," etc...

Really? Look how much they're spending on all that. How much "shelf space" do you think you'll have? Hasn't anyone listened to Joe talk about the HUGE amount of time he spent marketing his own books - and how the publisher didn't match that by a long shot? Hasn't anyone heard how long it takes (18 months!?) for a book to get from written/proofed/edited to the shelves when you go the traditional route?

What is a traditional publisher doing for you, REALLY? As an unknown, you have, it seems to me, just as much of a chance of being successful in ebooks, doing your own marketing, as you would being published traditionally in print.

But in ebooks, your chance of making more money is exponentially better, if you ARE successful.

It seems like a no-brainer to me, even on a logical level. And I've followed this route fairly intuitively, without having done all the math, and I'm doing pretty well, so far. That could all go away tomorrow. But that's life!

Joe Konrath said...

Once he's achieved his "tipping point", to borrow Joe's term, how much longer do you think he'll continue to pay the writer more than he's making on ebooks?

Free market and capitalism. If Amazon screws authors, someone will be happy to pay authors more to lure them away. Readers will follow the authors.

If Amazon were a monopoly, sure they could get away with price fixing. But it was the publishers, bolstered by Apple, who insisted on price fixing.

As long as there is more than one ereader out there, competition will keep prices low and people honest.

Joe Konrath said...

What if Amazon changes it's minimum price point for 70% royalties to $3.99? $4.99? Or, gulp, even $7.99?

Then I'll make $5.50 per ebook. But it won't be my fault.

Notice how Amazon says "Prices set by the publisher"? on expensive ebooks?

Selena Kitt said...

@ Jude "But if you want to compete with new releases offered from publishers, and you think you're product is as good as theirs, why not price them comparably?"

There's a simple answer to this: because new releases from traditional publishers are PRICED TOO HIGH. Period.

If you know anything about the ebook market, you know that independent publishers have been very successful for years in the ebook market using a pricing structure that is far below what traditional publishing wants to shove down our throats.

Granted, their price points are higher than Joe's - they still have to pay for editing and marketing, etc. But before the advent of Kindle, it was the only way to go E, and it worked. And ebooks weren't priced, ever, above $9.99. Where do you think Kindle got that magic number? They didn't pull it out of thin air.

And even before the Kindle - there were authors paying their mortgages with their royalties from those indie pubs (only 35-50% - no 70% in sight!) from their sales, even then.

Ebooks aren't new. They're just starting to move mainstream, that's all. There is already a model out there that works. Amazon knows that. It's the big boys fighting against losing money by setting the price point WAY too high that's the issue here.

Joe has priced his books, as he says, fairly. He isn't a publisher - he has little overhead. He pays for his own editing and design. If he priced them where traditional pubs are, he'd be crazy, and gouging consumers, which is what traditional pubs are doing.

He definitely isn't undercutting self-pubbing authors. (He's pretty much set the price point himself for self-pubbing authors everywhere at this point...)

Yes, he's undercutting indie pubs, but so what? He can. That's his advantage.

wannabuy said...

Zoe said:
People don't have to buy "Kindles" for me to sell ebooks. :P

So true. I consider smartphones and tablets the main gateway to the Kindle. Perhaps I haven't posted my thoughts on that enough. ;)

Zoe said:
It's only in "writer-world" that people care who your publisher is... or even KNOW who your publisher is.
So true. As long as a novel is proof-read and 'beta tested,' few (if any) customers care who the publisher is.

Salena posed the cost breakdown link. $1.28 in publisher support on a $13.99 e-book. Good authors will do better on their own.

JT,
Amazon's competitive advantage is 'economy of scale.' Why would they need to raise book prices when their advantage is the low cost per book? Ok, 5 of the big six forced them to stop subsidizing hardcover e-books. Yawn. There is your big change. One that ironically drives authors to indie publishing in its various forms.

Neil

Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

I think that the $2.99 kindle book is designed to kill a single market-- the third party used booksellers. As a nonfiction writer, I see these used book sales killing my new book sales in increased percentages until they go out of print and the new edition comes out. By December, my new book sales have been cut in half. Now, I know my problem might seem unique because I sell expensive textbooks, but the truth is that every author eventually sees used copies cannibalizing new book sales.

I hope the Kindle will help prevent that to some degree.

Robert Burton Robinson said...

Christy said: I think that the $2.99 kindle book is designed to kill a single market-- the third party used booksellers.

As an author I like this because it allows me to earn a fair royalty. As a book consumer, I love the price. And at that price it's a read-once-and-toss-it book. Except that I don't have to toss it. I can read it as many times as I want. And I don't have to go to the trouble of reselling it to justify the price.

The only loser is the used book seller. Oh yeah, and the publisher. ;)

Thomas Brookside said...

Amazon's obviously not running a charity, but once they establish partnership terms they tend to stick with them.

They haven't changed the terms of being a marketplace seller over there in about a decade, as far as I know.

rex kusler said...

Richard S. Wheeler,

I bought your memoir AN ACCIDENTAL NOVELIST, mostly because I wanted to find out what became of an agent who repped me for awhile during the late-80's. I found it entertaining and enlightening. It's one of the few books I keep in my small bookshelf.

Too bad we can't go back and correct the mistakes we made.

Linda Pendleton said...

I was sorry to hear today from Charles Ardai that Dorchester's pub changes will be affecting Hard Case Crime, as they were the company that printed and distributed Ardai's paperback line. Hopefully it will work out for Hard Case Crime--as he's had a good thing going with his imprint.

Karly Kirkpatrick said...

I'm jumping on the bandwagon Joe and throwing in my book into the ebook arena. Thanks for keeping us up-to-date and for all the fantastic advice!

dr.cpe said...

@selena
"'what I see is print as special legacy edition and ebooks as food for the hungry."'

"So the future is that print is like eating at a fine NY restaurant, but ebooks are McDonalds?

Somehow I don't think so."

I'd prefer neither, I like home cooking. lol. My comment about reader's hunger is sincere. I think ebooks will easily feed people's need/ desire to read many books of a certain genre. That is, if they can afford the hardware. If many writers are as prolific as JoeK the readers will be happy and... be able to expect the equiv of three squares a day.

I think far more menacing is the idea that Bezos will somehow undercut 2.99 authors. If one follows his trajectory, when he first undercut authors with used books showing right next to new (at the time the used books were often priced far below the new even with 3.99 shipping. Now they are often about the same price used or new, though I dont understand the affiliates thoughts on that), it may be that competition will come in to drive prices down further for ebooks. One thing I've heard in the grapevine is bringing in hoards of writers from other countries who already publish in English, I believe there are more than 11 nations in which English is the dominant language. Some who are 'bezos' watchers, say also if he cant win his various lawsuits against states re taxing over state lines, he'll tack part of that on as deduction from authors' royalties in order to 'save' and give customer what they've been used to for many years: tax free ordering. Just my .02

Zoe Winters said...

@Thomas GMTA! That's what I've been planning to do! Price each new release at 99 cents for the first week. Let people who jump on the opportunity get in on the sale and move sales ranks up, then ease the price up to it's final price point.

Zoe Winters said...

@Scott, "my" validation is finally hearing traditionally published authors say things like you said:

"If you're smart, you're looking closely at ways to get unencumbered, unless you're the type who wants the "legitimacy" of a real publisher."

Joe Konrath said...

Price each new release at 99 cents for the first week.

Not smart. The first week is when all the fans will buy it, and they'll pay $2.99. You could easily screw yourself out of several thousand dollars.

Incidentally, I priced one of my novellas at 99 cents. Its sales have remained the same as they were at $2.99, a month later.

I'm really starting to beleive that anything under three bucks is an impulse buy, and people really don't see a difference.

Zoe Winters said...

@wannabuy Only like a million times. :P I can’t imagine reading off a phone personally, I love my kindle. But, if other people love reading off their smart phones and they have kindle apps, I’m happy to sell ebooks to them!

@Christy, good point re: used book sales cannibalizing. It seems that ebooks simultaneously can become the “new MMPB” as well as the “new used book” except without quality degradation.

Zoe Winters said...

@Joe,

If the fans buy at 99 cents and they are the kind of fans who want print release, they'll also buy print. They'll buy 99 cents to help it now and boost sales rank, and buy print to have on their shelf. Then they won't feel like they are buying it twice.

And yes, fans would pay $2.99 so you may see me as screwing myself out of money... but think about this:

If the price starts out at $2.99 then fans may or may not buy "right now". There is no sense of urgency behind it. Sure they may be uber fans, but I'm a big fan of a lot of authors and having to wait so long in between books, what's another few weeks if I don't "get around to buying it?"

So that spreads out the fan sales along with other random sales, maybe not creating any particular spike in sales.

If there is a limited time "special sale" for the first week, fans will move on it. Everybody likes a deal. Even if it's just 2 dollars, people like to save money.

If all the fans buy at once, instead of some of them trickling in later, it boosts sales rank. I can also run a book blitz during that time so those who haven't tried me yet have an opportunity in the first week to jump on board.

I don't really care about the short term here, I care about the long term. I don't think I have some capped number of fans and once those people buy, that's it.

I'll develop and gain new fans, many of whom will buy at $2.99, but until I get a few books in, I will most likely do a 99 cent sale first. And I might always do it. I don't know yet.

You may think it's stupid, but I don't. Maybe you're right. Maybe I'm right. You and I both know that the only way to find out is to experiment. And if it proves to be a bad move? I don't have to do it with the next book.

Anonymous said...

interesting post here with a different POV on the situation...

http://www.jimchines.com/2010/08/death-of-print

most of the discussion is over at his LJ link, but...

just saying...

Joe Konrath said...

If the price starts out at $2.99 then fans may or may not buy "right now".

Zoe, if they're fans, they buy at $25.99.

Of course they'll buy at $2.99.

If you sell 3000 ebooks your first week, you can make $1000 at 99 cents, or $6000 at $2.99.

People aren't going to buy print instead. Especially if they originally discovered you as an ebook.

Methinks you fear a higher price point, and are making excuses for not doing it.

While that's an honest fear, it runs counter to your argument that you're building a fanbase.

Fans have paid upwards of fifty bucks for some of my books. Three bucks is nothing.

Zoe Winters said...

@Anon Re: Jim C. Hines' post: I thought the cartoon was very funny!

@Joe I didn't say they WOULDN'T buy at $2.99, I said they might not buy at $2.99 the exact instant it's on sale. They might wait a week. Or two weeks. People have other crap going on in their lives than sitting around salivating for another Zoe Winters book. Even if they're fans. I'm a fan of a lot of authors and I'm months and years behind on their work. It's lovely to have rabid frothing at the mouth fans to buy things the second they are available, but most of us don't have that giant of a number of those kind of fans starting out.

So an incentive to "buy now" to boost sales rankings, hopefully to help boost overall exposure and backlist, IMO is smarter than pricing at the full price from the beginning. YMMV or I could be wrong. I don't know. That's why I'm doing the experiment. But I'm not going to NOT do it just because you think I'll lose money. I'm not losing YOUR money. :P

I'm not afraid of a higher price point. I upped my other two novellas to $1.99 And the only reason I won't charge more than that is because they're novellas. They're short. I don't want readers to feel cheated.

I don't think I'll sell 3,000 copies in the first week. Definitely not unless there is actual incentive to "buy now" rather than, but when someone gets around to it.

We're talking about a single week of sales here. It's just not that epic. The world probably won't end over it, whether it's the right choice or not.

When I released Claimed and Mated, all three of the novellas got up into and stayed in the top 200 in the Kindle store for over a month.

I want major sales ranking boost. I want to get into the top 100 and then to see how long I can hold onto that. It's not about how much I'm making per unit this early in the game to me.

Zoe Winters said...

Also... when a bigger publisher releases a book on kindle for free for a week or two, the higher sales ranking tends to translate into greater sales than if they hadn't given it away temporarily because of the exposure. But is all that lost money? No, it's positioning a book to make better money over a longer stretch of time than it would have. 99 cents is the "indie free" since we don't have the option of running free promos.

If I had the option of doing free, I'd do free for a week, probably.

Joe Konrath said...

I said they might not buy at $2.99 the exact instant it's on sale.

Then they aren't fans.

Fan = instant purchase. That's why they're called "fans."

I'm a fan of a lot of authors and I'm months and years behind on their work.

Then you "were" a fan. Not "are" a fan.

I want major sales ranking boost. I want to get into the top 100 and then to see how long I can hold onto that.

Awards, reviews, and bestseller lists DO NOT MATTER.

Money matters.

Who cares about bragging rights?

ENDURANCE was in the top 100 for about a week. I sold several thousand copies. Now it's holding steady in the top 1000.

I probably could have priced it lower and been in the top 100 longer, but why? Making the money is so much more fulfilling.

If you undervalue your work, especially to fans, how can you ever hope to make a living at this?

If this is a hobby, ignore me. Do whatever makes you happy.

If this is a career, 99 cents, or $1.99, is wasting money you could be earning.

Thomas Brookside said...

Fan = instant purchase.

If that's true then I've never been a fan of anything in my entire life. And I would find that difficult to believe.

I reliably read every John Maddox Roberts SPQR book that comes out. But I've never once bought it the first week. I buy lots of Harry Turtledove series books. Never once bought it the first week.

I think your fans will reliably get around to buying your book eventually, but that eventuality may occur in the second or third month of release. And that a "fan" is a customer you don't have to do anything to reacquire - but not necessarily an incredibly motivated, "camping out outside the door the week before release" customer.

Robert Burton Robinson said...

Joe & Zoe, one of the tricky things about changing your prices is the lag time between Amazon and your Smashwords stores.

If you raise the price of a book from $0.99 to $2.99 on Amazon and Smashwords today, the price will be updated on Amazon in 24 hours.

But it may take several weeks for the price to be changed on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Sony, and Diesel.

Anonymous said...

Awards, reviews, and bestseller lists DO NOT MATTER.

Money matters.

Who cares about bragging rights?


Have I told you how much I love you yet today?

Yup. The only review that matters is the review of my checkbook every month. If I'm in the black I've won a big award.

AnneMarie Novark said...

Delurking here to say that I've been following Joe's blog since last March, and I just put my first indie novel up on Kindle over the weekend. I'm published with a small press, but I wanted on the Indie Bandwagon. Ah, the freedom!!! and control!!!

So, I'm interested in this pricing discussion going on. I thought I was going to go with the .99 at first, but then went ahead and put it at 2.99 right out of the starting gate. My thinking is that I could put it "on sale" at .99 later and even 1.99 to experiment with sales numbers.

I'm working on putting the novel on Smashwords and I'm wondering if I should just go ahead and stick with 2.99 there, taking into consideration the lag time and all.

From what I can gather from these discussions is that most of my sales will be through Kindle anyway and if those other distributors discount my book, then Amazon will follow suit.

My question is: Can I switch prices on the Kindle and just leave the books on Smashwords alone?

And Joe--I read the article in Newsweek where they quoted you. WTG!!!

AnneMarie Novark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zoe Winters said...

@Joe

Bestseller lists DO matter when they're on Amazon, because more sales begets more sales and more exposure. The more you sell, the higher you are in the sales ranks, the more people find your book.

Being in the top 100 and STAYING there for awhile is important to me. It's not about bragging rights. I have never "self-referred" as a bestselling author just cause I hit a few secondary lists on Amazon.

I wouldn't consider myself a bestselling author until and unless I was in the overall top 20. My goals aren't about "bragging rights" They're about exposure and longer-term sustainable sales. And if I did get to the point where I could legitimately call myself a bestseller, THAT would be a marketing decision as well. "Bestselling author" when it's an honest moniker, helps sales by playing on the human bandwagon mentality... i.e. all these people bought it... so what am I missing out on?

I want to do whatever I can to push my rankings way up with every release and ride out that momentum as long as I can each time. Because it's just overall smart. IMO.

Insisting every single one of my fans pay full price, isn't big picture thinking to me.

I don't judge "fans" quite as narrowly as you do. I can love someone's work but my entire existence doesn't revolve around that author and getting their work the very instant it's available. I don't consider fans of my work "less of a fan" cause they have lives outside of me or other things to do besides read.

Also, some readers are poor and can only go to the library. Someone who reads your book at the library and can't afford to buy it, is still your fan.

I'm going to run my experiment. Because it's my business decision to make. I'm okay with the possibility of failure. It might be wrong and it might be right, but I'll determine if it was the right choice after I do it and measure the results.

Two years ago a whole bunch of people told me not to self-pub too. But I didn't listen to them. :)

They could have been right. And if they had been I would have tweaked my plan and started again.

Zoe Winters said...

Robert, that's a good point. But I probably won't do premium distribution with Smashwords until after sale week is over. And anyway it takes longer than a week for it to ship to all those places and list. Price changes happen instantly on Smashwords (when you're selling direct on Smashwords.)

And B&N when PubIt comes out, will probably be about the same time for a price change as Amazon. So I don't see it as a major logistical issue.

Zoe Winters said...

@AnneMarie You can't have your kindle price higher than your price anywhere else. I'm not sure if Smashwords has that policy or not. But I don't think they do.

Anonymous said...

My question: What happens to agents when they run out of viable traditional publisher options for their authors? Some would argue this market has been shrinking for the past couple years already -- fewer submissions are making it to "the show".

Now Dorchester is dead as a print publisher. Who's next next to go "digital first/digital only" is anybody's guess.

An author can get 70% by going direct to Amazon, sans agent, and sans a Dorchester contract.

I think Andrew Wylie saw the writing on the wall, and he's trying to get ahead of this (and create value for his agency) by going straight to Amazon ebooks with his authors' works, cutting a deal that eliminates one middleman (the print publisher).

The valuable agent will be the one who can make a bestseller -- through marketing, internet presence, etc. I don't see any "kingmaker" types out there. Bransford has a nice blog, but Konrath has a bigger following (yes, Konrath could morph into an online marketing agent for some authors -- he's already promoting a few).

Anyhoo, this is an exciting time to observe changes in this industry.

rex kusler said...

There will always be a place for the literary agent who has drive:

http://www.driving-truck-school.com/free_truck_driving_school.html

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't consider myself a bestselling author until and unless I was in the overall top 20.

Selling a novella for .99 to gain exposure in order to move up on a list to an overall top 20 spot equates a bestseller?

Anonymous said...

$.99 says crap. It says begging. It's like the indie bands that give away their music -- call me when you're good enough to charge for the damn stuff.

Joe Konrath said...

They're about exposure and longer-term sustainable sales.

If you're looking for long term exposure vs. long term financial gain than I'd suggest reevaluation your goals.

All the exposure in the world doesn't mean anything if you're living check to check.

And having a 99 cent bestseller that falls out of the ranks as soon as the price moves to $2.99 is, IMO, more about vanity than finance.

Joe Konrath said...

Konrath could morph into an online marketing agent for some authors

Konrath is writing, and occasionally blogging, and that's it. Except for this weekend, when I'll be in Florida at a writer conference.

Anonymous said...

Personally I think $2.99 is pushing it. If you don't have the backlist or -- gulp! -- 4-books+-per-year speed Joe has, and if it costs you more to produce than Joe's do, then $2.99 will yield much less than $2 in profit. Especially if you sell fewer copies -- your fixed costs are spread over fewer sales.

Joe Konrath said...

Especially if you sell fewer copies -- your fixed costs are spread over fewer sales.

Over what amount of time?

Assuming ebooks keep growing in popularity--and this is a safe assumption, if you can put out a book or two a year for ten years then you will have a big backlist.

If you don't want to invest ten years in this biz, I understand. But I've invested 20 years. This stuff doesn't happen overnight.

Anonymous said...

Over what amount of time?

Joe, in finance it's called present value -- a dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow.

If you're a great but slow writer, there is nothing at all wrong charging, say, $5.99 for a new release, and dropping that price over time.

Anonymous said...

Hell, there's nothing wrong with it for a great and fast writer, either. It's called business, and it hasn't got a damn thing to do with price gouging.

Anonymous said...

"It's called"... condescension. Sorry for that.

Prof. Hex said...

breckeI will soon be putting up a short-ish short story collection that I plan on offering for 99 cents. That seems to be a reasonable price to me in that several of the stories are only slightly longer than flash fiction and I'm a nobody. My novel, which will up around Halloween, will be $2.99.

Prof. Hex said...

I'm not sure why my post starts with "brecke." Weird.

Henry said...

Author Norman Spinrad has a three part post on his blog about this issue of publisher difficulty and the rise of ebooks and self-publishing.

http://normanspinradatlarge.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Any way, you've definitely got points, Joe, and experience to back them up. While I think $2.99 is in many cases too low, it's not a hardcore belief; I can easily see where $2.99 might work out just as well or better. The only way to find out is to try it.

Thanks for responding to my comment, and thanks for one heck of a good blog!

Selena Kitt said...

Zoe's right about ranking - exposure is key on Amazon. But while a few $0.99 throwaways to get a reader interested in your work might be a good idea, I don't know that it's smart to offer everything at that price to start and then raise the price (sort of reverse agency model?)

@Jude "I think far more menacing is the idea that Bezos will somehow undercut 2.99 authors."

He will. He already is, with the alluring 70% royalty rate - with the caveat that, if the book is discounted somewhere else, they can match the price and pay the author the royalty rate on that discounted price.

In the old 35% model, if Amazon discounted your book, they paid you based on the original list price.

I had one of my $5.99 books drop to $1.78 on DTP/Kindle - B&N had dropped the price. So I switched to the 35% royalty option for that book. Magically, the discount disappeared two days later. So I switched back to 70%.

Of course, I have a few dozen books of my own to keep an eye on - it's a lot harder for a big publisher or even an indie pub to pay attention to how little they're getting paid because of price matching. :x

wannabuy said...

Authors,

To those that suggest indie authors should price at 'big6' prices. I ask why? You'll lose the support of your readers. $2.99 was a wise floor for Amazon to set. It sets a value. JA has it right... why gouge?

Right now I'm buying 2 to 3 indie author books per big6 book purchase. I expect that ratio to be 5 to 10 per big6 book by start of 2011.

Sigh... among my Kindle owning friends the ratio of indie to big6 books is far less... but they're trying indie author books.

Neil

Robin said...

@Richard S Wheeler,

I'm not interested in your fiction (not my genre), but your memoir sounds interesting. Do you have the e-rights? I would have bought it five minutes ago if it had been available on kindle and reasonably priced.

@Anne Marie

I'll try to remember to look up your indie-pubbed book again after the product description posts. Right now I can't tell whether it's something I'd like or not. The cover's pretty, but not informative enough on its own.

I am what was termed an "intense reader" by someone in these comments. I bought 143 books on line from b&n in 2007, and over 50 others at brick & mortar stores that year. I regret delaying ordering my kindle as long as I did (I dithered for a day or two, which put me on the waiting list) since it took me five weeks to get it, but get it I did, on January 10, 2008 and I haven't looked back.

Unless it's a book by an author of whom I'm a fan, I will only buy ebooks and only if the ebook is less than the DTB. I paid $15 this week for the e-ARC of Bujold's Cryoburn from Baen. I am a fan of LMB. I have refused to buy Ender's Game because it's priced the same as the paperback at $5.99. I already have the paperback... and the the hardcover. Ebooks don't have to support the printing, shipping, storage, and returns of paperbacks, and I expect to have at least part of that savings passed on to me as the consumer. If I thought it was going to the author, I'd probably go ahead and pay that price.

Concerning price points, I'm just as likely to one-click a $2.99 book as a ninety-nine cent book, if I think I'll enjoy the book. Knowing the royalty structure, I'd prefer the author getting 70% (less delivery charges) of $2.99 than 35% of $1.

I don't shop by the bestseller lists. I sort my genres by publication date, and check out the last thirty days. This is where the covers come in handy. I scroll through the "also bought" lists of my new purchases. I click on authors' names to see if they have backlist I've missed because they've been listed by their original publication date. I search names of the composers of blogposts that let it be known they've got kindle content. I found JL Wilson that way after she posted on this blog back in May. I bought one book at a $5.70 price point, and after reading it and loving it, went back and bought six others. I check out what other people found interesting enough to pricewatch on kindleiq.com. I check my amazon rec list. I use mysteria for non-kindled books and wonder why publishers are kindlizing some authors and not others. There are series I bought in 2007 that I haven't picked up since, because the publisher hasn't e-published the latest titles, at all. Those series numbers are dropping, not because of lack of interest, but because they refuse to publish in the format I want to buy.

Robin
http://www.librarything.com/profile/pagerd

Zoe Winters said...

@Joe

Long-term exposure IS about long-term financial gain. You can think my marketing plan is vanity if you wish.

I'm done arguing/debating this point. I'm going to make the business decisions that I feel are right for me, and others can make the business decisions that are right for them.

If my decisions are wrong, or do not net me the type of exposure and financial gain that I want, then I will continue experimenting with other methods until I find the method that will net me the balance of exposure and financial gain that I want.

@anon Stating a 99 cent novella in the top overall 20 isn't really a bestseller or a "success" is just one opinion. Plenty of 99 cent ebooks don't sell at all. So where is the line? What if I charge $1.99 or $2.99 like Joe?

Is a $2.99 ebook that gets in the top 20 a "real" bestseller? How high does the price have to be before you don't think someone is just a desperate indie with no redeeming talent?

This is a silly argument, IMO.

My prices are on parity with Joe's. I'm charging based on length. The only thing I have out there that is 99 cents is ONE of my novellas. It's the introduction to the series and is a teaser. It's 20,000 words. I'm pretty sure Joe's $2.99 novels are 60,000 words or above. My other 2 novellas are 1.99 and 35,000 words each. My novels will be $2.99, AFTER a one-week 99 cent introductory sale.

Joe also used to sell at $1.99. Was he devaluing his work then?

I'm running a business here, and the only opinions that matter in my business are those of my actual consumers.

@Selena, that's why I'm experimenting. :) I know many think it's not a good idea. And I can respect that. If it doesn't give me the kind of results I want, then I will do something different with the next release.

I realize it's a risky proposition. But I'm okay with risk-taking, and even failure. And if I'm wrong, everybody here can say neener neener. And I'll say: "Yes, you all were right. I'm a big moron." :)

Jon VanZile said...

For the record, I never say "neener neener."

I prefer "nanny nanny boo boo!"

AnneMarie Novark said...

Zoe, thanks for the info. So, I'm assuming I can have my Kindle price lower than the others offered elsewhere.

Robin, thanks for the insight on how you as an "intense reader" go about buying books. Fascinating.

And thanks of the compliment on my cover.

Joe Konrath said...

I'm going to make the business decisions that I feel are right for me, and others can make the business decisions that are right for them.

You're not making business decisions. You're guessing without any objective factual evidence.

When I got started on Kindle, I tried a variety of prices. $1.99 sold the most for me (meaning it made the most money, not most unit sales).

Put all three novellas together in one ebook, price it at $2.99, watch it for a month, and compare it to the others. That's an experiment.

Releasing a new novel at 99 cents isn't an experiment, because there is nothing to compare it to. You're shooting too low.

Long-term exposure IS about long-term financial gain.

Tell that to Kato Kaelin.

Show me your facts that support exposure=financial gain. You haven't had either, so how are you drawing this conclusion?

But I'm okay with risk-taking, and even failure.

In your case, risk-taking would mean selling at a price where you could make serious money. I don't see you taking risks. I see you--and hundreds of other newbies--playing it safe with 99 cents.

Playing it safe is fine. Selling 30,000 copies of a 99 cent ebook is a nice chunk of change. It'll pay some bills.

But selling 30,000 copies of a $2.99 ebook is an annual salary. It'll pay all the bills, plus extra left over.

You're worried you'll lose sales by raising your price, without having any data to support that.

I raised my prices. I lost a few sales. But I went from $5k a month to $15k a month.

That's risk-taking. That's also a very nice living.

If you had ten ebooks, and priced one or two at 99 cents, that's a shrewd business move (which I'm currently trying and doesn't seem to work at all).

If you price your first novel at 99 cents, you're pissing away money.

Alastair Mayer said...

Regarding whether a publisher considers a book available through print-on-demand is in print, the answer is yes.

Last summer a fairly senior editor at [major genre publisher] told me that yes, in new contracts POD is considered in print, unless you had enough negotiating clout (not a new author) to stipulate some minimum number of POD copies printed in a six month time frame.

I had no reason to doubt this, although it's possible in a real contract negotiation (vs just a discussion) they wouldn't be quite so hard-line about it.

Anonymous said...

@Zoe Sorry to be so callous, but you reek of newbie. From asking readers to find typos and tell you about them to having message board hissy fits that lead to a metldown to living in 99 cent land.

And for having rose colored glasses on about why people buy romance. Go to an RWA meeting and find out why they get such low advances and low royalties. And ask them why they pump out 6-7-8 titles a year.

I don't know how you can make any conclusions based off of having three novellas. Put up a full length work and price it 2.99 and then you can make conclusions.

Moses Siregar III said...

Joe, my friend, I respectfully disagree with you here:

$7.99 for an ebook is too much. There is no printing, no shipping, no physical object. If I were to charge that much, I'd probably be earning more than I am now, even though I'd be selling fewer copies. But that would be gouging. There is no reason to charge that much, since there are very few costs incurred by publishing an ebook.

Whether ebooks are worth more or less than paper books is subjective. For me, I'd rather have an ebook for $7.99 than a paperback of the same title for $7.99. Heck, I'd rather have an $8 ebook than an $8 hardcover.

Why? The reading experience, for me, is so much better on my Kindle. And there's no eco-guilt over a dead tree or knowing that a UPS truck has to drive it to my house. And it's much more portable, and it takes up less space, and I can use the instant dictionary feature with an ebook, and I can enlarge the font size, and I can get it right away, and, and, and ...

Granted, most people seem to feel than an ebook should cost less than a paper book, but I'd actually pay more for an ebook, and I must not be alone on that.

And I have to say, I really don't get the gouging argument. If I want to pay $5 or $7 or $9 or $11 for an ebook, the author isn't gouging me. He's setting a price, and I can choose whether or not I want to buy at that price. It's just commerce. And the more the author makes from the sale, the happier I am for him.

I want to see you make as much money as possible from your hard work and your efforts. If you can make more money at higher prices, as you suggested above, then count my vote as saying: Do it.

$4 or $5 is still a ridiculously good price for a purchase that provides many hours of entertainment. Your work is worth that and then some. Fair price is SO subjective anyway.

As for the argument that that we shouldn't charge more because there are very few costs incurred by publishing an ebook, what about the cost of your time? How many hours of planning, writing, editing, promoting, etc.? How much is an hour of your life worth? And how many years have you put into this craft and business?

Forget $200,000 a year. I want to see you make a million in a year. Then you'd really raise the bar for the rest of us.

p.s. Thanks to you more than anyone else (though Zoe also gets a shout out), my novella goes live on Amazon and Smashwords probably either today or tomorrow. Thanks Joe.

Robert Christopher said...

@Moses Unfortunately, a majority of people probably wont feel the way you do.

I've met some people who buy what they like regardless of price. But I can't say that about everyone.

3 bucks is a fair starting price point compared to the cost of a movie ticket, or dvd rental, or just about anything else worthwhile.

I've bought many 6-8 dollar paperbacks and thrown them across the room.

But I didn't make a big deal about it. I donated them, gave them to friends, etc etc etc.

You can't sweat the small stuff. And what's three bucks in the grand scheme of things? It's not a huge financial risk.

And with the kindle price coming down now, I don't see price being that much of an issue when it comes to something you really enjoy.

@Joe It's only price gouging when the end product is inferior. Free isn't going to make me like something. Low price isn't going to make me like something. I know what like. And if it costs 3-4-5-6 bucks, so be it! I'd rather pay for something good, then get something I don't enjoy for free.

Moses Siregar III said...

Just to be clear, Robert, I'm not suggesting that I'll pay any price for an ebook. I bought an ebook for $10 the other day, but it was a book I really wanted. If it was an unknown author that I was just gambling on, I wouldn't pay that much unless it came strongly recommended--but then it's not an unknown author anymore. And Joe is not an unknown author.

Like you I don't think it's price gouging to raise prices above $3 and make 70% royalties on sales.

I was just saying that an author can set the price and then people can vote with their dollars. It's capitalism, and if people are willing to pay more, and you can make more money that way, then why not do it? We're talking about small potatoes anyway. No one's going bankrupt off of $5 ebooks.

Price gouging comes more into play when there are no other options. Like raising the cost of break or milk before a hurricane. Needless to say, there's no shortage of other books to buy for cheaper prices. If people want your quality works, then they won't feel gouged if they need to pay $5 or $7.

Michael Shatzkin has said on his blog that publishers have found agency model pricing to work surprisingly well, so there are many people willing to pay over $10 for an ebook, not to mention $5 or $7.

Wikipedia: "Price gouging is a pejorative term referring to a situation in which a seller prices goods or commodities much higher than is considered reasonable or fair."

And we know that consumers were pretty content with $9.99 ebooks not long ago, so I'd say there's no chance that anything under $10 for a novel is price gouging. Once the price goes over $15, then maybe we're getting into that territory, but even then the reader has plenty of other options and can vote with his wallet.

Robert Christopher said...

@Moses I agree. I wouldn't pay 10 bucks for just any e-book either. But nothing could compell me to read something I don't like regardless of price.

But, lets take that unknown scenario. Haven't you been both burned and rewarded by taking a chance on a 7.99 paperback?

The same principle here. I agree that an unknown to compete should be priced at 2.99

But my point is if you take a gamble at 3 buck or you take a gamble at 4 bucks, what's the difference? Is a dollar really going to break someone's heart? Or make that much of a difference? It's only one dollar! LOL

Now if someone takes a chance on a 2.99-3.99 e-book compared to a $25 hardcover, then I can understand the price being an issue.

Good luck with your novella!

Joe Konrath said...

Granted, most people seem to feel than an ebook should cost less than a paper book,

So we should price against what most people want? :)

Moses Siregar III said...

So we should price against what most people want? :)

Well, I didn't say that. Your paperbacks would still be priced higher than your ebooks even if you tripled the price of your ebooks to $9. Still, I'd pay more for your ebooks than your paperbacks because I like ebooks so much more and I think they're a better value--but most people seem to think the ebook should be cheaper. Luckily, you've still got plenty of room to increase your ebook prices if you ever want to :D

Robert, I totally agree with you on $3 vs $4. Then again, these ideas have to be tested, and Joe has been able to watch his sales numbers at different price points. I'd be curious to find out what would happen if he experimented and moved all of his ebooks from $2.99 to $3.99 for one month. Since he's not an unknown, I'd guess he'd make more money that way and he also mentioned that he thinks he'd make more money at higher prices.

Stitch said...

In the case of an ebook, you're selling an intangible digital file that is available in an infinite number of copies. Infinity. That's a big number. And the cost to make two copies and to make a million copies are almost the same, i.e. almost none at all. The costs of distribution and storage are so close to zero, they're hardly worth mentioning.

And digital files come with a whole host of restrictions. Some are due to the media itself. You can't read, watch or listen to a digital file, or even hold it in your hand without some form of special device. Some restrictions are artificial, set by the publisher, like it may be locked to a certain device or at least an account.

There are certain advantages to ebooks, of course, like the ones that Moses mentions. But for me, and I think for a growing number of people, the restrictions together with the availability, will usually mean a lower perceived value for the ebook than the physical book.

Now, some people value the experience higher than the actual product, and that means there will always be a niche market for certain items and services. I hardly ever go to the cinema, mostly because of time constraints, but when I do, I'm not paying to see the movie. I can do that for free at home. I'm paying for the experience of watching the movie in that particular environment. The perceived value of the cinema experience is much higher than that of the actual movie.

When I bought the Babylon 5 Complete Universe Box Set, I didn't buy it just so I could see the contents. I could do that for free. I bought it because I enjoy the nice packaging, and I like seeing it on the shelf. When I buy a DVD, it's either because I like the added value of the special packaging and bonuses, or because it's so cheap it's more convenient than downloading it.

As something gets easier and cheaper to reproduce, its monetary value will go down. Games Workshop produces some of the best toy soldiers in the world, and are pricing them accordingly. The only reason they can keep these prices is because they are selling a product that is not easy to reproduce. GW will have to face similar challenges as the publishing, movie and music industries, when low cost, high resolution, 3D printers become as common in the average home as the ordinary inkjet printers, broadband connections and high volume digital storage. Granted, that's still a few years off, but it will happen. And when it happens, they will have to adapt or go under.

Anonymous said...

"Michael Shatzkin has said on his blog that publishers have found agency model pricing to work surprisingly well"

Like they'd admit it if it didn't? Using KindleIQ to track prices, it is interesting to note how quickly the price is lowered on many bestsellers. If those high price points were all that successful, the prices wouldn't need to come down so fast.

Moses Siregar III said...


Like they'd admit it if it didn't? Using KindleIQ to track prices, it is interesting to note how quickly the price is lowered on many bestsellers. If those high price points were all that successful, the prices wouldn't need to come down so fast.


Fwiw, he gave me the impression that this was from private conversations he had with people who knew what they're talking about. I didn't sense that he was talking with spin doctors about it. I don't know, but that's what he said. He mentioned that they weren't finding a significant loss of sales until a certain point, and it was something high IIRC, around $13.99 or $14.99.

But again, I don't really know.

Moses Siregar III said...

I found one of those quotes from Shatkin. This was from at least a month ago, but I forget exactly when it was:

The anecdotal evidence is that the increase from about $9.99 for a branded ebook to about $12.99 hasn't hurt sales. One publisher reported to me that raising a bestseller further from $12.99 to $14.99 did, so the publisher put it back to $12.99.

Selena Kitt said...

FWIW, most indie epubs - you know, the folks who have been doing this 10+ years or more - set their prices based on length. Most $0.99 works from indie epubs are short-short stories. $2.99 works are often your average short story length, not novella-length. And most indie epubs haven't pushed past that $9.99 price point, ever.

Robert Christopher said...

@Moses I meant that as a personal preference. Not as a test study on selling copies.

If one book/dvd/whatever is $25 and the other is $24, the one dollar is going to stop me from buying the $25 dollar item if that's what I want.

Robert Christopher said...

I meant "isn't" going to stop me.

Moses Siregar III said...

I understood--thanks Robert. And as of a couple hours ago, my work is now live on Amazon. Pretty cool, and I'm glad my cover seems to look all right there. No description or author page yet.

Moses Siregar III said...

Here's a new one. Is Amazon working on a smart phone or music player?

Selena Kitt said...

Hey Moses, I saw it last night, looks great! :)

The description on Amazon takes a day or so to show up, for some weird reason. Hang in there, it'll appear! :)

Romantic Words Publishing, LLC said...

I just went to the RWA national convention and was shocked (ok maybe not shocked but disturbed, at least) to find outright animosity from published authors (understandable--change is hard) AND UnPubbed writers regarding self publishing.

There is sort of a sorority thing going on in RWA where you are in the cool pub sorority or you're not. Being published is like having gone through hazing and being chosen.

From that perspective, I kind of expected the negative attitudes when I'm going around preaching about the downfall of traditional publishing--from the pubbed writers.

But unpubbed?? Here is an opportunity for them to make some money, get some readers and finally, truly, start their writing careers. That's a good thing, right??

Apparently not. RWA looks down on self publishing-- that is the official line I got from many, many women. Publish america, or any self pub where you pay money-- yes, I get that. Uploading on amazon is free. The math seems so obvious to me as it clearly is to JA.

Why is this concept so difficult for people to wrap their brains and hearts around?

I even had a William Morris Endeavor agent become downright hostile to me when I asked if her agency would look at self pubbed authors now or in the future.

JA- you are so wise! I refer people almost daily to your blog and books. Thanks for being a defacto leader in our little, but oh so powerful movement.

Ciao,
Kendall Swan

rex kusler said...

It looks like these people have advanced to the second stage of dealing with grief:

Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance

Jack H. H. King said...

Joe,

Your $1.99 Kindle pricing helped you get a foothold in the Amazon recommendation system. Now that you’re entrenched, you owe it to yourself to experiment with $6.99 pricing, with your 7 bestselling self-published novels.

You need this data, to speak with authority. You can prove that $2.99 is good for you. But you can’t prove that $2.99 is the best. You lecture about maximizing profit. You should take your own advice.

You pointed out Zoe’s fear. What about your fear? Do you think if you raise your prices for three months your success will collapse? You’ll never get momentum back?

Your books rank high all over Amazon. Lists. Also bought. 90% of the novels connected to yours are priced $6.99 - $9.99. Can you compete with them, at the same price? Is your argument that your novels are of a lower quality? You price cheap to compete?

Who are these Kindle readers?

25% of the US population has a household income above $75,000.

Are Kindle readers wealthy / book fanatics?

25% of Americans don't read books.

30% read 1-5 books per year.

25% read 6-15 books per year.

20% read 15+ books per year.

20 books per year x $6.99 = $140 per year. That’s less than Netflix, less than Gamefly.

New York publishes 300,000 books per year. 50,000 novels. 80% of all books sell less than 5000 copies. If every book was priced $2.99, would that benefit 100% of authors?

Is the Konrath business plan best for everyone?

Is the Konrath business plan best for Konrath?

- Jack

Tuppshar Press said...

Kendall--

The same animosity towards self-published writers exists in the science fiction and fantasy community. I think it's partly a result of writers who also want to be celebrities, who write as much for the adulation from fans as they do for the joy of writing (sometimes more).

"There is sort of a sorority thing going on in RWA where you are in the cool pub sorority or you're not. Being published is like having gone through hazing and being chosen."

This is exactly true (except in science fiction and fantasy, it's also a fraternity). As a small press we experience a similar stigma, for the same reason.

I've been thinking that the one genre where I've encountered this the least is in erotica (which happens to be what we publish), since so many authors use pseudonyms and often aren't as public with what they write as are the authors in other genres.

And I say it's okay that the big publishers and agents have this attitude, since to be honest, our authors and us are making good money every month with ebooks that larger publishers turned their noses up at, and which even if they had bought, would have paid a pittance for. The gouging isn't happening with Joe and self-publishers taking advantage of readers, but large publishers taking advantage of authors.

70% of a book that is published is a lot better than 5% of a book that some agent or editor thought they couldn't sell thousands of copies of...

Anonymous said...

The irony here is this: Konrath thinks more like a big publisher than most big publishers.

He's constantly looking after the bottom line (profits, marketability of the product, branding), not his own ego or some intangible such as fame or celebrity.

His blog focus has always been on making writing a profitable and sustainable career for an individual writer.

Frankly, I never see industry or industry trade groups (such as RWA) so completely focused on the health and well-being of the author. They talk about craft and writing queries and finding your voice, but they never offer a clear and concise formula for marketing success -- actually selling the books -- the way Joe does. He's been razor focused on this angle all his career (visiting 600 libraries? the guy is a maniac about marketing).

We can argue about stigma and sororities and what "real" publishing is until the cows come home, but the question most authors want answered is "can I hope to make a living at this?"

Joe shows one viable path (not the only path) to success and profitability. Some will choose to follow this model, and others will not. It's not for everybody, as it requires an entrepreneurial bent and more aggressive social networking.

His voice is refreshing.

Joe Konrath said...

Do you think if you raise your prices for three months your success will collapse?

I'm making 15k a month. I should experiment with prices and gouge the consumer because there is a chance I can earn more?

That doesn't make sense.

I have had a $4.99 title for several months, and it is one of my lowest-profit titles.

Conversely, for a month now I've had a 99 cent title, and its sales have remained flat compared to it being priced at $2.99.

I have no need to experiment with $6.99. I believe I have enough data to support the $2.99 price point.

Moses Siregar III said...

If *you* feel like it would be gouging to charge more, then obviously that's the right call.

The previous $4.99 experiment is tricky, though. When you had a $4.99 work, you also had a lot of less expensive works, so it's possible that $4.99 didn't do as well for you because your other titles "cannibalized" its sales. That's why I'm curious what would happen if you moved _everything_ to $3.99 for a time.

But it's your thing, man. I'm just pulling for you.

rex kusler said...

I like $3.50--you're not trying to fool anybody with that penny-off. And it doesn't brand you a $2.99 indie.

Robert Burton Robinson said...

So, I did it. I raised the prices of all my books from $0.99 to $2.99 and $1.99 (for the novella-length books).

I also changed my prices at Smashwords. So, in about three months my prices should be updated on Barnes & Noble. I think Apple is a bit faster. Not sure about the others.

In the meantime, I imagine that Amazon will be discounting my books big-time because of the lower prices their spiders find at the other stores.

Sure wish the prices at all of the stores could be changed simultaneously.

Anonymous said...

I'm making 15k a month.


Somebody's getting audited this year.

Moses Siregar III said...

There's a good discussion going on at KindleBoards' Writers' Cafe about the best price for an ebook. Count me among those who think that we should get together somehow and make $3.99 or $4.99 the new $2.99.

Joe Konrath, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

Anonymous said...

Speaking as only an occasional book buyer, anything under $10 is fine. Under $5 is an impulse buy -- to the extent I get that impulse in the first place. The true cost, as Thoreau wrote, is how much life you pay. It takes me a while to read a book. Before I read this blog, $2.99 was a turn off -- if it's that low, I thought, it must not be good.

Felicity Heaton said...

I wasn't too surprised to see the Dorchester we having to do something dramatic to save themselves. Their option to go with ebook is sensible, as the market is growing at an incredible rate and you don't have to worry about having stock, warehouses, etc, so cut a lot of costs. I was surprised that they were going POD with paperbacks though. I wonder if they'll still do the option of printing a thousand paperbacks and distributing themselves, or going for a book by book approach.

In terms of the prices we indie authors can sell at on Amazon, I agree with the readers posting that indie authors can't really expect to sell at the same prices as the big publishing houses, or the big names that are trying their hand at self-publishing. I think $0.99 is fine for a short and to get your name out there, and that $1.99 to $2.99 is good for a novella or short novel, but I do think that you can easily ask $3.99 up to around $4.99 for a longer novel without a loss in sales. At least that's what I've experienced in my time as an indie author.

I wouldn't be afraid to do an introductory price either, and then raise it a week later. A lot of places do this and it's quite effective for initially boosting sales.

DS said...

"Count me among those who think that we should get together somehow and make $3.99 or $4.99 the new $2.99."

Price fixing. Both the Texas and the Connecticut Attorney General are investigating Amazon and/or Apple. That really means they are looking at the Agency plan. Price fixing is not totally illegal but it looks like a lot of states want to narrow the exceptions carved out by the S.Ct. in Leegin Creative Leather Prods., Inc. v. PSKS, Inc.

http://www.dailyfinance.com/story/media/amazon-apple-ebook-antitrust-pricing-connecticut/19578924/

Ty Johnston said...

Robert, while it does take months upon months for ebooks from Smashwords to load to the retail sites, it has been my experience that price changes usually take effect in a matter of days. But maybe I've just been lucky.

Thom J. said...

"Using the same sales figures as above, let's see what he makes."

A publishing company has a sales force. Marketing force. Design team. Et cetera. An author? Even if you hire a great designer and can put out a good-looking product, who is doing your publicity? Just you? (Instead of a team of publicity pros? And you're trying to do this instead of writing?) And who's doing your marketing? And who will review your book? Who reviews self-published Kindle eBooks? Anyone?

(If Jeff Bezos really wants to sic it to em, he'll pay top literary critics to contribute to a high-profile Kindle book review section ... since after all, all the newspapers cut the book sections.)

I also see the possibility here for good freelance editors, marketers and publicists to help the self-pubbing Kindle authors. But there's also a huge potential for scammers and snake oil.

Sort of new to your blog and I like it. If I sound bitter in this post it's because I've been shafted by the newspapers -- all the good Book sections died long ago and as a let-go editor turned freelancer I was subsequently shafted by my former peers in the Travel section, too (RIP everywhere), and of the 6 or so Travel sections that still exist, one guy (who is a big name) had the gall to steal not only the story ideas I'd pitched him (with all the obscure off-the-map joints I'd found after much research) but actual lines from the pieces themselves describing these places ... the rat. It's that desperate in newspaperland. I have a few non-fiction books in print and the publishers appear equally desperate and degenerate, and I trust them as little as I'd trust a starved rat to keep off my hamburger. Only trouble is these rats are fighting over crumbs, and Big Publishing isn't handing out hamburger anymore, let alone steak.

Robert Burton Robinson said...

In the meantime, I imagine that Amazon will be discounting my books big-time because of the lower prices their spiders find at the other stores.

That is what I said in a comment here last night. Well, it didn't take long. By this morning most of my ebooks have been discounted to $0.99.

Good thing I went with the 35% of list price instead of 70% of sales price. On a $2.99 book my royalty is $1.04 instead of $0.64. Amazon is losing money on every sale.

Once all my Smashwords stores (B&N, Apple, Sony, Kobo, Diesel) have updated my book prices, Amazon will remove or greatly reduce the discounts. At that point I will change my royalty from 35% of list to 70% of sales price.

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