Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Konrath Ebooks Sales Top 100k

I haven't posted my sales numbers in a while, and was going to hold off on this until I got my latest royalty statements. But I've reached a milestone, and decided it is worth sharing.

As of today, Sept 21, 2010, I've sold 103,864 ebooks.

Here's how it breaks down:

My six Hyperion ebooks, from June 2004 until December 2009: 7865

Afraid from Grand Central, from May 2009 until December 2009: 13,973

Self-pubbed titles on Kobo from May 2010 until July 2010: 132

Self-pubbed titles on Smashwords since July 2009: 372

Self-pubbed titles on iPad from May 2010 until August 2010: 390

Self-pubbed titles on iTunes from Jan 2010 until July 2010: 508

Self-pubbed titles on Barnes & Noble from June 2010 until August 2010: 2212

Self pubbed titles on Amazon from April 2009 until Sept 20, 2010: 78,412

So what does all of this mean to the home viewer?

Currently, I'm selling an average of 7000 self-pubbed ebooks a month on Kindle. Those numbers are for 19 self-pubbed titles, though the top 6 account for more than 75% of my sales, roughly 5000 per month.

That means those six are averaging 833 sales, or $1700, per month, each. That equals $20,400 per year, per ebook, for my top sellers.

Those six are my top sellers because they're novels. My other 13 ebooks are novellas and short story collections, which don't sell as well.

Considering the average advance for a new novel is still $5,000, each of these ebook novels is quadrupling that, annually. And these numbers are rising, not falling.

Compare that to the ebook novels my print publishers are controlling. (These numbers are going to be low, because I haven't gotten my latest royalty statements for Jan-June 2010 yet.)

My best selling Hyperion ebook, Whiskey Sour, has sold 2631 ebooks since 2004. That's earned me about $2200, or $34 a month since it was released.

$34 a month per ebook is a far cry from the $1700 a month per ebook I'm making on my own.

Why are my self-pubbed ebooks earning more than Whiskey Sour, which remains my bestselling print title with over 80,000 books sold in various formats?

Because Hyperion has priced Whiskey Sour at $4.69 on Amazon, and I price my ebooks at $2.99.

For each $4.69 ebook they sell, I earn $1.17.

For each $2.99 ebook I sell, I earn $2.04.

So I'm basically losing money hand over fist because Hyperion is pricing my ebooks too high, and giving me too low a royalty rate.

Even the print sales (Whiskey Sour just went into a fifth printing) don't come close to making up the money I'm losing.

If we assume I could sell 833 copies per month of Whiskey Sour, I'd be earning $17,000 per year on it, rather than $5616 per year. (I'm guessing my numbers have gone up recently, and am estimating 400 Whiskey Sour sales per month.)

Let's multiply that times the six books Hyperion controls.

I'm estimating I currently earn $33,696 annually in ebook royalties on those six.

If I had the rights, I estimate I'd earn $102,000.

Do I want my books to go out of print?

Hell yeah.

Now allow me to address the other ebook venues, on a case-by-case basis.

Through Smashwords.com, I've sold 3106 ebooks, but the majority of these have been within the last three months or so.

Smashwords allows authors to sell ebooks through their site, and also supplies ebooks to Kobo, iPad, B&N, Sony, and Diesel. (I haven't gotten Sony or Diesel numbers yet.)

My Kobo numbers are low, because I opted out of Kobo. They discounted my ebooks, which isn't fair to other retailers. But I'm currently working on a deal with Kobo to have my ebooks back up very soon. Kobo supplies books to Borders.com, so I anticipate a bump this holiday season.

iPad has proven disappointing, and I blame the iBookstore interface, which is very user unfriendly. I assume it will get the kinks worked out eventually, but it is currently torture to navigate and browse the iBookstore. Still, almost 400 sales in just a few months is better than nothing.

Of course, compared Kindle sales, I'm selling 70 to 1 on Amazon over iPad.

Barnes and Noble fares a bit better. I'm averaging 663 ebooks per month, which is substantial. It's still about 10.5 to 1 compared to Kindle, but I'm pleased with it.

For iTunes, I use IndianNIC. The 508 sales figure is incomplete, and doesn't count the last 2 and a half months, because their user interface isn't the best. But they're now supplying ebooks to Android, so I'm hoping to get a piece of that growing market.

Actually, I'm hoping to get a piece of all the growing markets, and every market seems to be growing. By the end of the year, my self pubbed books will be on all the major ebook platforms, including:

Amazon
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
Borders
Kobo
iTunes
iPad
Android
Kobo
Diesel
Sony

Do you know what that is? That's distribution. The very thing print publishers have had a lock on for a hundred years. Except now, authors control their own distribution.

By comparison, the ebook rights my print publishers control are missing from many of these key markets. On a daily basis I get emails from fans who want Whiskey Sour or Afraid for their device or in their country, but my publishers aren't exploiting these rights.

Am I angry?

Hell yeah.

And to add insult to injury, Hyperion recently packaged my six Jack Daniels ebooks together as a compendium. At first, I was thrilled with this, thinking they finally understood what I've been saying for months. Then they told me the price.

$36.00.

Even with Amazon's discount, that comes to $28.80, for ebooks that are several years old.

That's insane. And yet, a few poor souls are buying it, because it's still cheaper than buying the books separately.

I sent Hyperion several emails, explaining my reasoning for wanting this price lowered.

They haven't responded.

Now the anomaly here is Grand Central. They've sold 13,973 ebooks. Isn't that odd, compared to Hyperion?

Not when you realize that 10,253 of those ebooks were sold during the first month of Afraid's release, at the intro price of $1.99.

Consider that. In one month we sold 10,253 ebooks, just because it was cheap.

Now try to contemplate why publishers continue to charge $5 to $13 for ebooks.

Are you scratching your head like I am, wondering why they don't sell ebooks at lower prices?

Since that promo (and probably because of it), Afraid has been averaging around 465 ebook sales a month. Respectable, but still below my average, and only earning me $1.75 per ebook instead of $2.05.

But that's not a big deal, right?

Let's look at it over a three year period.

If I had the rights to Afraid and priced it at $2.99, I'd earn $51,000.

With Grand Central, pricing it at $6.99, I'll earn $29,295.

Ouch.

Do I want my rights back?

Hell yeah.

I wrote Afraid under the name Jack Kilborn, and received a $20,000 advance. It was released in the US, the UK, and Australia simultaneously. In nine months, combining the ebooks, trade paper, hardcover, and two paperback versions, Afraid sold 53,623 copies and earned $26,839.

On June 18, I self-published Endurance and Trapped, two more novels by Jack Kilborn. I released them in ebook format only, for $2.99 each.

In three months, Endurance and Trapped have each earned $11,424.

So, in other words, I'm earning $35,785 per year on Afraid, in all formats.

Endurance is on its way to earn $45,696 per year, in ebook only. So is Trapped.

And unlike Afraid, where I made the majority of my royalties on the print versions, which will sell fewer and fewer copies, Endurance and Trapped will continue to sell well for years as ebooks.

With Afraid, I went on tour and signed at 200 bookstores. I did a blog tour the month before, appearing on 100 blogs in 31 days. I worked my ass off promoting that book.

With Endurance and Trapped, I announced them on Kindleboards.com and did a few tweets on Twitter. That's it.

Does anyone else see this as a wake-up call?

When I began this ebook odyssey, back in April 2009, I had no idea the market would get so big so fast, or that I'd make so much money.

Since then, a lot of folks have done their best to dismiss what I've been preaching. They say I'm an outlier. An exception.

But I'm not an exception anymore.

New writers like Zoe Winters, Rex Kusler, Vicki Tyley, Karen McQuestion, John Rector, Aaron Patterson, B.V. Larson, Stacey Cochran, Amanda Hocking, D.B. Henson, Eric Christopherson, Debbi Mack, Karen Cantwell, Jonny Tangerine, Stephen Davison, Charles Shea, Joe Humphrey, Gary Hansen, M.H. Sargent, R.J. Keller, David McAfee, David Derrico, David Dalglish, Brendan Carroll, Alan Hutcheson, Paul Clayton, Imogen Rose, Tonya Plank, David H. Burton, Tina Folsom, Maria Rachel Hooley, Maria E. Schneider, Anna Murray, Ellen O'Connell, Edward C. Patterson, Caroyln Kephart, Lynda Hillburn, Robert Burton Robinson, Joseph Rhea, C.S. Marks, K.A. Thompson, J.R. Rain, John Pearson, Tonya Plank, Linda Welch, Ruth Francisco, Sibel Hodge, T.C. Beacham, Ricky Sides, Chance Valentine, Nancy C. Johnson, and many, many others are selling thousands of ebooks and getting on the bestseller lists. Many of them have even cracked the Top 100.

Then there are established pros like Robert W. Walker, Scott Nicholson, William Meikle, James Swain, Paul Levine, Selena Kitt, Richard S. Wheeler, Jon Merz, Simon Wood, F. Paul Wilson, Libby Fischer Hellman, Lee Goldberg, Casey Moreton, Raymond Benson, Blake Crouch, David Morrell, Mark Terry, Marcus Sakey, Ellen Fisher, Christine Merrill, Dean Wesley Smith, Kathryn Rusch, Joe Nassise, Gordon Ryan, Harry Shannon, and me, among others, who are releasing their backlists themselves, along with putting original works directly on Kindle.

I'm not the exception anymore. New writers and seasoned veterans are seeing the future and acting on it.

Publishers, however, are not.

Now allow me to draw some conclusions, make some predictions, and offer a bit of advice.

1. Think twice, and think again, before allowing anyone to buy your erights. I doubt I'll ever have another traditional print deal. I can earn more on my own, especially in the long run. With print losing ground to ebooks on a day-to-day basis, I'd hate to sign with a big house, and then 18 months from now they'll go bankrupt before releasing my book, taking my rights with them.

2. Amazon Kindle is where you want to be, but you should also check out Smashwords.com and IndiaNIC.com. That extra bit of income can turn out to be pretty substantial, and I expect some of these platforms to begin picking up speed.

3. Writing good books is essential. Having a bunch of them is a plus. The more ebooks you have available, the easier you'll be to find, the more you'll sell. By the end of this year, I'll have 28 ebooks available on Amazon. By the end of next year, I'll have at least 34.

4. I've been very lucky. I have a popular blog, and have gotten some good press. The scads of promotion I've done in the past certainly helps. But others are doing just as well, without my platform. And let me tell you, ebooks and Kindle are a much easier route than getting 500 rejections, mailing out 7000 letters to libraries, and visiting 1200 bookstores.

The ebook market hasn't even hit its stride yet. Here are some things I'm looking forward to in the upcoming months and years:

Selling my Kindle ebooks on international Amazon websites (with translations in German, French, Chinese, and Japanese)
Selling my ebooks on Kobo and Borders
Selling my ebooks on Android
Google Editions
$99 Ereaders
Kindle being sold at Best Buy
Getting my numbers from Sony and Diesel
Releasing DRACULAS on October 19
Releasing SHAKEN on October 26

This ride has only just begun. I'll end 2010 having earned over $100k on my self-pubbed ebooks, and that's nothing compared to what I expect to make in 2011. And I'm doing it without touring, without promoting non-stop, without spending a lot of money, and without relying on anyone.

I don't expect the publishing industry to acknowledge this post. You won't read about my ebook sales in Publisher's Weekly. Agents won't mention it on their blogs. If you go to conferences and ask the editors you meet about J.A. Konrath and ebooks, you'll get blank stares, dismissals, or outright hostility.

I'll be at the Novels Inc. Conference in Florida, October 7-10, and that will be the last time I speak in public for at least a year. In the past few months I've turned down dozens of speaking engagements and interviews, and I will continue to turn them down. The amount of email I get from folks wanting ebook advice is daunting and impossible to wade through, so I'm not even bothering to try.

I spent 12 years trying to break into publishing, and 8 years doing everything I could to succeed. Now I'm finally able to write full time, which is what I've wanted to do all along. No more tours. No more appearances. No more accessibility to the entire world.

I'm not a motivational speaker. I'm not a teacher. I'm not a salesman. I'm not a dog and pony show. I'm not an outlier.

I'm a just a writer, dammit. And that's all I'm gonna be.

Don't you want to be just a writer, too?

222 comments:

1 – 200 of 222   Newer›   Newest»
Jamie D. said...

Yes, yes I do. Thanks for the extra motivation to keep working on revisions just a little longer tonight. :-)

A.P. Fuchs said...

Thanks for the great post, Joe, and the tip about IndiaNIC. Heading over there right now, in fact.

Peace.

Willow said...

You are exactly where I envision myself very soon. As it happens, I uploaded my book files to CreateSpace today, and I'll be formatting for Kindle tomorrow morning. I already have a Facebook page, a Twitter for my characters, and a website for the "import company" my characters run. This article proves that I'm doing the right thing. Check it out:

http://www.facebook.com/TriuneBook

A.P. Fuchs said...

To return the "tip":

Why haven't you yet published at Fictionwise.com?

RSVP

Peace.

http://www.canisterx.com

BLOOD OF THE DEAD and ZOMBIE FIGHT NIGHT just $2.99 for the Amazon Kindle. Grab your copy here: http://amzn.to/bLCBty Thanks!

David Derrico said...

Very inspiring numbers as usual, Joe. Congratulations on all your success, and for being able to concentrate on what we'd all like to focus on: writing.

For what it's worth, my numbers pretty much back yours up as far as the breakdown between retailers (just take off a zero ;-) ). Amazon is still the undisputed e-book heavyweight, B&N is a solid 2nd place, and the rest are way behind. Apple has been a disappointment, for all the hype.

- David Derrico

Linda Pendleton said...

That's really looking good, Joe.

David Wisehart said...

Excellent post, as always. I both envy and cheer your success. Your willingness to spill the beans and call it like you see it is greatly appreciated. Thanks again.

David

bowerbird said...

joe said:
> Does anyone else see this
> as a wake-up call?

well, joe, if they don't,
they just ain't listening...


> I'm not the
> exception anymore.
> New writers and
> seasoned veterans
> are seeing the future
> and acting on it.
>
> Publishers, however,
> are not.

the publishers are trying to
stall the revolution, because
they realize that they are
being disintermediated...

their yachts are at stake, so
it's very easy to know how to
relate to them -- ignore 'em
until they go away. (soon.)

but there is another group
which is a threatening one,
primarily because they are
supporters of e-books, but
are out to "save" publishing.

they've made a solid network
using twitter as their mutual
back-scratching tool, and
are doing their darndest to
ensure publishers remain in
the cash-register money-loop.
(mostly so these guys will still
continue to collect paychecks.)

so watch who you fall in with...

-bowerbird

Tim Myers said...

I've put my backlist on Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, etc, and the results so far are very encouraging. In fact, along with the 15 traditionally published books I've made available, I've taken the plunge and published 18 original novels myself. What I love is not being typecast with ebooks. I'm able to write traditional mysteries, suspense, science fiction and fantasy, and even young adult, all under my own name.
Those numbers are starting to really pick up as well. I'm not selling thousands, but I am selling hundreds every month, and I've just been doing this since July.
Thanks for the inspiration, Joe!

Tim Myers
www.timmyers.net

CJ West said...

Congratulations Joe!

I'm moderating an ebooks panel at BCON. Do you mind if I use some of your numbers?

CJ

Mark Terry said...

Congratulations on your success. My own e-books sales are picking up significantly as well, although you and I aren't playing on the same tennis court.

Although I like the actual reading interface on the iPad, I agree with you that their iBookstore interface sucks big time. I prefer the Kindle store on Amazon.

PV Lundqvist said...

Inspiring post.

I've had good luck with Kobo, but I'm concerned that their discounting will affect my Kindle pricing. As in, Amazon will pull it from the shelf because it's cheaper there.

Like yourself, I don't care about the price war.

Karen Cantwell said...

Thanks Joe for mentioning my name, but mostly I want to tell everyone out there that I first learned about Kindle publishing from YOUR blog only a few months ago, so if I can do it, my feeling is that ANYONE can.

author Scott Nicholson said...

Joe, do you have non-US/Canada rights for your Hyperion books? I hope you at least offer them in UK and round up translators (People looking for a job or industry: There will be a big need for translators in the self-pub era, and a multi-lingual person to match them up. If this interests you, get there before unemployed agents do.)

I quit trying to "save" the publishing industry in June or so, when I realized it wasn't my industry and hadn't been for about three years. I wish the "value-added nonsense" would add the value at about a buck a book instead of hiding the army of directors, shareholders, lawyers and other people the author's words must support.

As fast as I embraced the "indie movement," I am easing out from under the umbrella, because it's also not going to be the place to be soon. There will be a few thousand exceptions who end up making it in five years. They won't be in the middle, in the crowd. They will be the outliers.

This is an era where you get to invent yourself. Awesome.

Scott Nicholson

Daryl Sedore said...

Great Post!

Love how you describe everything in such detail.

Thanks for holding the flashlight in this often darkened tunnel.

We all LOVE your enthusiasm and tips for the future.

Take care and have a great week.

Brenda Sedore said...

Thanks for being such a great advocate of self-epublishing. Those numbers are difficult to argue with, but I can see why publishers would like to ignore them. As an author soon to launch on the ebook scene, I'm encouraged. I'm also excited about the future. I think we're going to see some interesting things happening in the industry.

Thanks again, your blog is invaluable to newbies in the industry.

I wrote about the publishing industry in my blog post today.

John Platt said...

Wow.

Douglas Dorow said...

Congrats on the milestone. That's HUGE!

I wish I had more time to write because it is apparent that the number of offerings of good work is still important, if not more so for the ebook author.

I firmly believe that this next Christmas will be another spike of kindle sales with readers looking to load up on good, inexpensive reads as they try out their new devices and kindle outlets expand beyond Amazon and Target.

Thanks for sharing.

Lyn Cote said...

Right on, JA!

witch said...

5th Witch of zandor is giving discount if all 3 books of 5th Witch of Zandor are bought at the same time http://www.booksbymagpie.com.au/easyweb3/WEBID-716501-ep_code-product-grp_id-94579

Leigh Ellwood said...

OmniLit.com has been good to me. If you don't have your works placed there you should consider it.

Scott Marlowe said...

Great info, Joe. Thanks.

Regarding speaking, touring, etc., have you considered setting a rather high bar in terms of how much you charge for those engagements? Then, if someone really wants you, it's worth your time. Consider Neil Gaiman, who charges quite a lot for speaking engagements b/c he knows he has to spend his time writing. The high fee makes it both prohibitive (to ppl wanting to hire him) and beneficial (to Gaiman).

Scott Marlowe said...

What is Grand Central?

Joe Konrath said...

Thanks all for the kind words. But I miss the nameless naysayers, and I'd also love some industry professionals to chime in, so as of right now I'm allowing for anonymous posting again.

@ A.P. - Fictionwise wants exclusivity, last time I checked. I've also tried Scribd, but sold less that a dozen in a year.

@ David Derrico - Sorry I didn't include you on the success list. I'll fix that right now.

@CJ - Feel free. I'll be at B'Con. I just haven't signed up for any panels. As I said: I'm Done.

@ Mark - Congrata on the rising sales. Sorry I left you out. I'll add you to the success list of pros giving it a try.

@ Leigh - I'll check out Omnilit. Thanks for the tip.

@ Scott - Grand Central is Hachette, the publisher of Afraid.

Joe Konrath said...

I also added some sentences to the post, because it didn't hit me between the eyes until I looked at it this morning.

After listing the websites and platforms that are selling my ebooks, I added:

Do you know what that is? That's distribution. The very thing print publishers have had a lock on for a hundred years. Except now, authors control their own distribution.

The one thing that has made publishers the gatekeepers for this industry is their ability to get the books into stores.

Not anymore!

Joe Konrath said...

If anyone else is an old pro who is self-pubbing on Kindle, or a newbie who has sold several thousand books, post here in the comment thread and I'll add you to the list of names.

I've grown tired of being told I'm the only one doing this. So far I've named 39 authors doing the same. I'm sure that number is much higher, and I'd love to be able to rattle off that list when people give me shit.

Anonymous said...

Joe,

This is great. Congrats.

I do notice that your list of ebook newcomers & pros are all writers of thrillers, mysteries, romance, horror, scifi, erotica -- ie, genre writers.

Why is literary fiction not represented at all, not by a single author?

Also, the authors who have been successful at ebook self-publishing, like yourself, already had a start in traditional publishing. Do you have examples of authors who have avoided the traditional route from the beginning, and have been self-publishing from the start, and are now successful?

Thanks.

Joe Konrath said...

Why is literary fiction not represented at all, not by a single author?

These are folks I know and/or are aware of, either having met them, seen them on the Amazon lists, or on Kindleboards, or on my blog. I'm sure there are many other writers in other genres doing well. If you know any, post their names.

Do you have examples of authors who have avoided the traditional route from the beginning

That's the first list of names, beginning with Zoe. AFAIK, they're all indies.

Sam Goldfarb said...

Great post from a real person. I wrote "facebook for business" and decided like u to sell on digital platforms because publishers use an old style way to sell books.

I come from the online marketing world and ebooks can generate tons of money. But now it's easier to do it by using huge platforms like Kindle.

I believe u will hit the $1M mark soon! All the best!

Sam Goldfarb, MBA
General Manager
http://www.tradimax.com

AvDB said...

Your last four paragraphs sum up every dream I've ever had about being a writer. No major signings, no crowds of people, no one ever recognizing me on the street. Just a writer. What a great dream! My sincerest congratulations.

msthriller said...

Joe,
Congrats! I have to wonder though...you say no more tours, appearances, etc. Isn't that what help boost your sales in the first place? Traci

Joe Konrath said...

Publishers Lunch just mentioned this blog post.

Rock on, PL. I shouldn't have grouped you in with the rest of them.

Jared Sandman said...

I didn't know about the NINC conference until you said something. That one almost slipped under the radar. Since it's an hour drive for me, I'll see you there.

Joe Konrath said...

Since it's an hour drive for me, I'll see you there.

Bring a camera. It may be the last time I'm seen in public for a while. :)

Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

This is a great milestone, Joe. I'm really, really happy for you. No one can say that you didn't work your ass off to get here.

And it's too bad you won't be doing any more speaking engagements. You've become a standard-bearer for the e-book movement (unwillingly). I would have loved to hear you speak in person.

I think it's odd that the agents are ignoring you, but they are. I've only seen your name mentioned on Nathan Brandsford's blog. I like him, even though I'll probably never use an agent. He seems to take the "Jack Johnson" approach to publishing-- he's just going with the flow.

That's what I'm trying to do, too. The rest of the publishing industry, (editors, agents, and authors) can come along, either kicking and screaming, or enjoying the ride.

Everything's changed.

By the way, I just set up my LSI account last night. I plan to publish with LSI and CS. We'll see how it affects my sales numbers.

Rebecca White said...

Congrats on that awesome milestone! It is so inspiring to see your numbers and know that there is hope to make it without publishers if you have the talent. Thanks for the great advice and helping to encourage writers to actually write.

Anonymous said...

Joe, I've been following your journey ever since we met years ago. I started off as a doubter, and now I'm one of the converted. You saw the future before anyone else. And you know what? That future looks darn good for writers. A future in which we can write what we want, at our own pace, without a contract that demands we stick with one genre, or even one set of characters.

I'm one of those who needs to post anonymously so I don't make my agent and editor nervous. I wish I owned my ebook rights -- but they'll never give them up.

I also wish I could write faster so that I could keep a foot in both worlds.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Congratulations, Joe. This is quite a feat.

Joe Konrath said...

@ Lauren - You might have been my very last interview, unless Time Magazine calls me.

LC Glazebrook said...

It's wonderful that we can just put up our books and reach readers so easily! Thanks for sharing.

LC

Ellen Fisher said...

I guess I'm sort of an old pro. So far all my Kindle books are backlist, anyway. I've sold at least 7000 books on Kindle thus far, though I haven't tallied it up lately, so it's probably a bit more. That only includes my indie numbers; I still have a few Samhain titles available, too.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Joe, I'm thrilled to have been your (possibly) last interview. I kind of feel like the last hooker on the eve of the groom's wedding. I intend to do an Oprah with the interview and will attempt to ride your coattails to fame and glory as she did with Jonathan Franzen.

Joe Konrath said...

Just added you, Ellen.

46 writers and counting, proving I'm not an exception.

Jack Orion said...

Nicely done.

David Dalglish said...

Thanks for the mention, Joe. I'm certainly having a ball e-publishing. When I first started researching this whole thing, your blog was one of the very few places giving honest information, and I'm very much appreciative.

I've actually had quite a successful run on the iBookstore, but I lucked out and managed to get a free book at #3 on the Science Fiction and Fantasy list. If that wasn't the case, my sales there would probably be in the double digits.

Daryl Sedore said...

I've published an e-book two weeks ago and saw great numbers so far, but not thousands yet.

I've got two other e-books coming out in the next 6 weeks.

But the most important book is the picture to the left of this post. A book called;

"Publishing Exposed: The Sedore Report"

It covers a lot of what you're discussing here regarding e-books and how the publishing industry itself has driven this into the future.

How literary agents fuel the current of agent hatred and how The Big Six will soon be The Big Two: Amazon and Apple.

All fact based and researched intensively.

It'll be out by the end of October. I'm going to have to send you a copy...

Great post!!!

Maria Elizabeth Romana said...

Thanks for all the great detailed info about the prices & sales, but I do have some question about the validity of your price analysis. You have 19 books for sale, so if a shopper is specifically looking for another great Konrath/Kilborn book to read, it stands to reason that they would be more inclined to choose the lower-priced ones, as they would likely see them all as having similar value. But that doesn't mean that ebooks in general are that price sensitive. A simple look at the Kindle bestseller list tells us they're not--there's no correlation between sales and price whatsoever there.

How I would love to get my hands on some of Amazon's data and really study this issue in depth!

--Maria Romana

Ansh said...

Thank you!

L.C. Evans said...

Thank you, Joe, for a great post and congratulations on your success. After placing the first book of my mystery series with a small publisher, I decided to go indie with my other novels. I don't regret it for a minute. I've sold more than 1500 books and sales keep coming. I was still going to submit the second book of my series to the same publisher, though. Now you've convinced me to epublish it myself.

Tonya Plank said...

Wow! Thank you for sharing your numbers! And thank you for the IndiaNIC suggestion - I hadn't heard of them.

I think one of the main reasons Amazon sells so many more books is AuthorCentral. They allow you to add info about your awards and any reviews you may have received from important bloggers and websites. None of the other bookstores, that I know of anyway, allow you to do this. And I'm positive that a Vanity Fair.com recommendation I received, great reviews from bloggers, and the several indie awards I've won, along with a low price of course, have all helped me to sell books on Amazon that I'm not selling elsewhere. I've now sold 2,600 almost all in the Kindle store, where my book, Swallow, has been on the legal fiction top seller list for 10 weeks. My numbers are extremely modest in comparison to others' but I'm thrilled since this is my first book and thus far I only have one out.

Anyway, thank you so much for all of your invaluable insights! I never would have had the success I'm having now if I hadn't heard you speak at the DIY day of BEA in New York and learned through you about pricing and other ingredients of success, and about the Kindleboards!

Silverwing said...

Oh... *some* in the publishing industry *are* listening to what you are saying - the small companies like mine. ^^ I'm reading your blog, because I'm fascinated with the possibilities out there. Can't say yet how we're going to put your knowledge into something viable for us, but... We're listening. And learning. And looking at what the future is holding in store for us...

Thank you for sharing your experiences for us to learn from.

Christine Merrill said...

I suppose you can put me in the old pros column.

The sales on my one self-published ebook are nowhere near a thousand, yet. But they are increasing at a rate that makes me think I will hit the mark eventually.

And every sale I make makes me smile because I'm getting money for a book that I loved, but that was deemed 'unmarketable.'

If we really believe in a project, we don't have to take no for an answer any more.

Zoe Winters said...

Wow Joe, that is SO awesome! Congrats!! And thank you for the shout out! :)

rex kusler said...

No matter the level of my success, I will always be available to speak in public. As in the past, I'll be saying things like: "EIGHT! SIX! C'mon FIVE!" and "Goddammit!"

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

This might be in the thread, but LUNCH just linked your post this morning. But they said you whined a bit. :)

Tonya Plank said...

Hi again - I posted above, but I also want to add that my success is largely due to a sponsorship on Kindle Nation Daily, which is awesome! The editor gave me a wonderful recommendation along with my sponsorship. And on my KND sponsorship appeared all of my awards and outside reviews, which only Amazon allows you to add. Amazon just provides so many more ways for you to promote your books. I think the other online bookstores should take their example if they want to sell as well as Amazon. Amazon currently owns the market for a reason.

David H. Burton said...

Through Smashwords, Amazon, etc, I'm now at 2000 ebooks for one novel in about 7 months. I'm certainly not complaining. :)

Tina Folsom said...

Wow, what a success!

I've sold over 3000 e-books so far: 9 different titles, so not quite as impressive as you, but I'm working hard to catch up.
And I'm making a living - still small, but it has allowed me to quit one of my jobs. Now I spend about 30 hours a week writing and 10 hours working in a regular job.

Tina Folsom, Romance Author
- feel free to add me to your list of authors who are doing well with self-pubbed ebooks.

Joe Konrath said...

A simple look at the Kindle bestseller list tells us they're not--there's no correlation between sales and price whatsoever there.

Actually, there is. A lot of the ebooks bestseller lists run parallel to the print bestsellers--a famous book is a famous book. But on the ebook lists, there are also indie authors who are competing with the big names. I'd say price is a factor.

@ Tonya - Added you to the list.

@ L.C. - I'll add you when you reach 2000.

@ sexscenes - What did PL say I was whining about? I only get the free version. Personally, I think the post is eye-opening and empowering--I don't see any whining. Though I am annoyed with my publishers, I feel I'm justified in being so.

Joe Konrath said...

Added Christine, Tina, and David.

Grassroots movement, anyone?

Debbi said...

Thanks for mentioning my name, Joe. Your sales numbers make my own nearly 10,000 (less than 800 to go!!) downloads sold (albeit on one book) look pretty puny.

And thanks for being an inspiration to all of us. (Yes, corny but true. :))

Finally, about your statement: "You won't read about my ebook sales in Publisher's Weekly." FWIW, they did make Publishers Lunch Deluxe today. :)

Anonymous said...

Joe-What are your thoughts about the YA market in regards to ebooks?

Sean McCartney
The Treasure Hunters Club
Secrets of the Magical Medallions

Livia said...

Joe,

I noticed that you sell your shorter work for less than $3 on Amazon. Did you ever consider selling them also at the $3 price point? I guess it doesn't make sense in terms of price the reader pays per word, but I'm curious if you ever were tempted to do that, since dropping below $3 drops you from 70% royalties to 30% on Kindle. Did you experiment with prices on the shorter works to see what was optimal or just price them lower because they're shorter?

Wendy said...

I've never been motivated to comment on anyone's blog...until now. Thank you, Joe, for taking the time to share your journey and provide tools and facts to help other writers. From your success, I see that both writer and reader win - the reader can afford the product, and the writer can make a decent living from his art. You have inspired me to make my backlist titles available in e-format. Thank you.

Victorine said...

I'm 3 sales away from my 1,000th sale on one book. But you don't have to add me. I'm pretty slow selling compared to some. But I'm SO stoked that I'm about to reach this huge milestone! 1,900 books sold! Yeah! :)

Daniel Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniel Smith said...

Congratulations on the milestone!

I'm just getting into writing - been percolating and formulating my novel for 3 years - and more and more I think I'm just going to self-publish, though there are disadvantages for an unknown.

I have two chapters done and am mentally preparing for the third. This being my first foray into actual novel writing, I find each chapter challenging yet rewarding too.

Given my plans for self-publishing, what do you recommend with regards to editing and beta readings? What do you do or recommend? Do you do your own, have a set of trusted friends, have a set of trusted writer friends, outsource it (and if so to whom) or what?

Thanks for sharing on your blog!

Aaron Patterson said...

I talk to bookstores all the time and they are the ones that are really worried. Publishers will find a way to set the hooks into the big sellers but poor bookstores may not have much to stand on. eBooks are like you said not even hitting their stride, this is so exciting as a writer to be able to have some control.

Here is some of my predictions.

1. The next big business is eBook converting and hosting. Not publishers but the ones to to the technical stuff and get authors the distribution they need in the e-world. In fact I see that that is why I am a part of one myself... "Green eBooks"

2. Bookstores all over will launch their own e Bookstores on their websites and the library's will have free "Rent a eBook" This will not work very well for bookstores because trying to go against Amazon is like kicking a bull and hoping you don't get gored.

3. New marketing like eBook sets three in one and buy a hard copy and get a free eBook kind of thing will happen in stores. The only thing to save the stores will be author signings, events and getting people in to see a real author. You can sign a book and meet fans, B&N is already doing this more and went from local author haters to friends overnight...

The next thing is to see how the public decides to weed out the junk from the diamonds. Will it be reviews? Will it be a new wave of NYT type of places that say what is quality and not? How will the readers know if the book is good or something uploaded by a crackhead? Author reviews will be more important than ever.

Great blog... and gratz!

Joe Konrath said...

@ Sean - I have no figures on YA books. But my 12 year old loves his Kindle. It'll happen eventually, methinks.

I noticed that you sell your shorter work for less than $3 on Amazon.

I have two 99 cent ebooks. One is a book of bad poetry, the other is a short story, TRUCK STOP, that I expanded into SERIAL UNCUT.

In the case of the poetry, that's a labor of love. With TRUCK STOP, it isn't fair to charge 3 bucks for it.

BTW, the anon post @ 10:29 AM was from a NYT bestselling author, who just saw their ebook sales pass their hardcover sales. This has happened to several bestsellers I know. The times are a'changin'.

Ellen O'Connell said...

Thanks for the mention, Joe.

One thing I wonder about. You say you are dealing separately with Kobo to get around their discounting your books. What about B&N? I am out of distribution to both of these sellers through Smashwords right now because their discounts were costing me when Amazon matched them. If there were a way to distribute to them and stop the discount, I'd opt back in.

Karly Kirkpatrick said...

You are killing me Joe. I am, and will forever be a Joe Konrath minion. I tell everyone about you. Keep doing what you're doing, it's so motivating!

Joe Konrath said...

You say you are dealing separately with Kobo to get around their discounting your books. What about B&N?

Just heard Kobo is working with Smashwords for higher royalties/no discounting.

B&N hasn't discounted me, because I whined.

Robert Burton Robinson said...

Joe said: But on the ebook lists, there are also indie authors who are competing with the big names. I'd say price is a factor.

Agreed. That's why one of my books has been sitting on the Kindle Store Top-100 Romantic Suspense list for weeks, between the likes of Tess Gerritsen and J.D. Robb.

Although, I'll be glad when Amazon quits discounting it to $0.99. I believe this is because the Sony ebookstore has it listed for that price (even though they should not). I may have to opt out of Sony if they don't fix it soon.

Also, Joe, you might want to add my name to your list. I've sold over 2,000 Kindle books, and am currently selling them at a rate of more than 1,000 per month.

I wrote my first novel in 2006, and never made any serious attempt to find an agent. I sent out two query letters and decided I didn't have the patience for it.

CONGRATULATIONS JOE! And, as always, thanks so much for the inspiration.

paul levine said...

Thanks for the mention. If not for you, I never would have thought about putting my Jake Lassiter backlist on Kindle et al. I do find it necessary to promote each time I upload a new title, but it works. Both "To Speak for the Dead" and "Night Vision" hit number one on the Kindle hard-boiled mystery list. "False Dawn"-- which I priced at $3.99 instead of $2.99 -- did not. Because of the increased royalty, however, I believe the $3.99 price may result in a greater return in the long run. I'd be interested in others' opinions on price.

Vivi Anna said...

Once again, great post Joe.

It is the kick in the ass I needed today to finish my original UF and get it out on the kindle.

Anonymous said...

It's almost scary how Kindle is taking off. In July 2010, the first 70% month, my royalty payment was $5118. In August, it was $5,500. This month, September, it is on track to be $6700. Like you, I've given up book signings, interviews (except ITW), etc., and am using my time to write.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Joe. You worked your ass off to make that money.

Here's my prediction:

ebooks continue to grow over the next year before tapering off. People get bored of the gadget (because that's all it is, a new gadget), the ereaders are adapted into the existing model as just another format, and things keep moving along without much of a blink.

The big changes and benefits are going to be for self publishers. The 99.9% of self published writers who don't have what it takes will continue to upload their "books" to kindle, see a few hundred to a few thousand "sales" at $.99-$2.99 and be happy with their place in the world. The 0.1% of self published writers who actually have talent, and who have been passed over by real publishers for whatever reason, will float to the top and get picked up by a publisher.

Maybe the chain bookstores will close, maybe they won't.

I've had a kindle for two years and while I loved it at first, I barely touch it these days after going back to paper six months ago. If the chain bookstores close, I'll be buying all my books from used stores who should see a huge uptick in business.

There are so many books out there that even if NY shuts down and never publishes another novel, I'll have more than enough to read to last me three lifetimes.

Interesting times, definitely, and it'll be interesting to see where it goes. No one knows for sure, not even you, but it'll be fun to watch.

Helen Hanson said...

Apparently you don’t need a crowded convention hall to provide that motivational speaker experience . . .

I went to the IndiaNIC site. They appear to be a developer of websites, apps, et cetera. Perhaps I missed it, but what is the significance to ebooks? Are you developing your own store?

Congratulations to both Joe and Jack on your sales milestone. All the best! Thanks!

David Thyssen said...

You are absolutely right about self-publishing, except on the point of pricing. I believe the market is being ruined by people publishing their books for as little as $.99 or a few bucks. If you are a serious author and spend a lot of time crafting your novel, then you should be able to ask a reasonable price for your work.

I believe $9.99 is a correct price for a full length quality eNovel, but already this is an almost impossible price to ask for an eBook today. Because of the low pricing of others, I forced myself to price lower at $6.99

Is $6.99 really that much for something you can enjoy for a very long time? You go to Starbucks and spent that kind of money on a Latte you gobble down in a blink of an eye, and then it's gone. Temporary pleasure. But a good EBook can last forever (without DRM), right?

So why do you advocate pricing books under $3 ? I believe this is a mistake. If the price gets lower and lower, people aren't going to expect ever having to pay more, even if they will be able to enjoy their purchase a lot longer than their Lattes.

As serious authors and providers of eContent, we should try to keep up a standard, not only of content, but also the rewards.


Painting by numbers

All that you can leave behind

Anonymous said...

Paul, since you're one of my competitors on a few different top 20 lists, may I suggest that you reprice your books at $19.95?

rjkeller said...

Anon 9:34 AM: "Why is literary fiction not represented at all, not by a single author? Also, the authors who have been successful at ebook self-publishing, like yourself, already had a start in traditional publishing. Do you have examples of authors who have avoided the traditional route from the beginning, and have been self-publishing from the start, and are now successful?"

I was mentioned, and I'm both a lit fiction writer and a start-from-scratch indie writer. (Thanks for the mention, Joe!)

David Thyssen said...

You are absolutely right about self-publishing, except on the point of pricing. I believe the market is being ruined by people publishing their books for as little as $.99 or a few bucks. If you are a serious author and spend a lot of time crafting your novel, then you should be able to ask a reasonable price for your work.

I believe $9.99 is a correct price for a full length quality eNovel, but already this is an almost impossible price to ask for an eBook today. Because of the low pricing of others, I forced myself to price lower at $6.99

Is $6.99 really that much for something you can enjoy for a very long time? You go to Starbucks and spent that kind of money on a Latte you gobble down in a blink of an eye, and then it's gone. Temporary pleasure. But a good EBook can last forever (without DRM), right?

So why do you advocate pricing books under $3 ? I believe this is a mistake. If the price gets lower and lower, people aren't going to expect ever having to pay more, even if they will be able to enjoy their purchase a lot longer than their Lattes.

As serious authors and providers of eContent, we should try to keep up a standard, not only of content, but also the rewards.


Painting by numbers

All that you can leave behind

Lynda Hilburn said...

Hi, Joe. Great post. Thanks for mentioning me. Putting the e-versions of my books on Amazon/Kindle (and Smashwords) was the best publishing decision I ever made. And it's thanks to you, of course! I look forward to seeing you at the NINC con next month.
Lynda
http://www.lyndahilburnauthor.com

David Thyssen said...

You are absolutely right about self-publishing, except on the point of pricing. I believe the market is being ruined by people publishing their books for as little as $.99 or a few bucks. If you are a serious author and spend a lot of time crafting your novel, then you should be able to ask a reasonable price for your work.

I believe $9.99 is a correct price for a full length quality eNovel, but already this is an almost impossible price to ask for an eBook today. Because of the low pricing of others, I forced myself to price lower at $6.99

Is $6.99 really that much for something you can enjoy for a very long time? You go to Starbucks and spent that kind of money on a Latte you gobble down in a blink of an eye, and then it's gone. Temporary pleasure. But a good EBook can last forever (without DRM), right?

So why do you advocate pricing books under $3 ? I believe this is a mistake. If the price gets lower and lower, people aren't going to expect ever having to pay more, even if they will be able to enjoy their purchase a lot longer than their Lattes.

As serious authors and providers of eContent, we should try to keep up a standard, not only of content, but also the rewards.

Anonymous said...

I really wish people would stop comparing ebook prices to Starbucks lattes.

The two have noting in common, and consumers never make a decision or comparison between an ebook and a latte.

It's all about value. I suspect many consumers do not see the value of an ebook at $9.99, no matter how hard the author worked at it, and no matter how many hours it takes to read.

Most consumers obviously see the value in a $3 cup of coffee given the success of Starbucks.

Joe Konrath said...

Is $6.99 really that much for something you can enjoy for a very long time?

Do the math. I sell 465 ebooks per month at $6.99 (Afraid.) If it were self-pubbed, that would be $1627 a month.

I sell an average of 833 ebooks per month at $2.99. That's $1700 per month.

Lower prices equal bigger profits. And I believe the reason my $6.99 ebook sells as well as it does is because people are hooked on the $2.99 ebooks.

The worth of an ebook isn't the cover price. It's how much it earns.

Lee Goldberg said...

Another eye-opening and thought-provoking post, as usual.

You've given me, and I'm sure a lot of other published authors, plenty to think think about. ((And I owe you a bunch of drinks at Bouchercon!)

But I have a small quibble with one of your points. Being a "Kindle bestseller" doesn't necessarily mean the authors are making a fraction of what you are...or even that.

You write: New writers like Zoe Winters, Rex Kusler, Vicki Tyley, Karen McQuestion, John Rector, Aaron Patterson, B.V. Larson, Stacey Cochran, Amanda Hocking, D.B. Henson, Eric Christopherson, Debbi Mack, Karen Cantwell, Jonny Tangerine, Stephen Davison, Charles Shea, Joe Humphrey, Gary Hansen, M.H. Sargent, R.J. Keller, David McAfee, David Derrico, David Dalglish, Brendan Carroll, Alan Hutcheson, Paul Clayton, Imogen Rose, Tonya Plank, David H. Burton, Tina Folsom, Maria Rachel Hooley, Maria E. Schneider, Anna Murray, Ellen O'Connell, Edward C. Patterson, Caroyln Kephart, Lynda Hillburn, Robert Burton Robinson, and many, many others are selling thousands of ebooks and getting on the bestseller lists. Many of them have even cracked the Top 100.

Yes, but what you don't mention is how many of those authors -- like Debbi Mack, Karen Cantwell, Stacey Cochran, Johnny Tangerine, B.V. Larson, Robert Burton Robinson to name just a few -- are selling their books at 99 cents, essentially giving them away, trading dollars for ranking (or were, in some cases, until very recently). Would those books be selling anywhere near as well at $2.99? It will be interesting to see.

Pricing your book under a buck is an easy way to boost your rankings.
As a test, I marked down my book DEAD SPACE for the month of September to 99 cents and my sales tripled...and the book immediately cracked a bunch of Kindle bestseller lists (today, though, it has slowed and it's in the 7000s). But I'm not earning nearly as much as I was when the book was priced at $2.99 and selling fewer copies. So I'll gladly switch back to the higher price and lower ranking on Oct. 1.

Lee

A.P. Fuchs said...

Joe,

For Fictionwise, all I know is that exclusivety wasn't the case when I signed up 5 years ago.

If that's changed, I'm none the wiser and I'm sorry to hear it (might) have gone that way.

Peace.

www.canisterx.com

BLOOD OF THE DEAD and ZOMBIE FIGHT NIGHT just $2.99 for the Amazon Kindle. Grab your copy here!

David Thyssen said...

Joe: True, but remember how not so long ago people had no problem paying $14.99 or more for a simple paperback. Of course a printed book and an eBook are two different things, but the words inside are still the same. So do you really believe people aren't willing to pay up to 10 bucks for a book they can enjoy?

Joe Konrath said...

are selling their books at 99 cents, essentially giving them away, trading dollars for ranking (or were, in some cases, until very recently). Would those books be selling anywhere near as well at $2.99? It will be interesting to see.

True. But these authors have all sold thousands of copies, which equal thousands of dollars, even at the 99 cent price point.

Many small presses, and even some major ones, offer advances in this same range. By that measure, these authors are achieving the same level of success as a new author signing with Harlequin, or Leisure (before they stopped their print line), or Five Star, or even some of the heavyweights.

I was paid a very tiny amount for my Berkley/Ace contract. Many of the authors on this list have earned more than I have on that deal.

Is anyone getting as rich as I am? Not to my knowledge, though some are coming close. But that's not the real point. Print authors don't get rich either.

Joe Konrath said...

So do you really believe people aren't willing to pay up to 10 bucks for a book they can enjoy?

I believe I could sell books for $50 and find fans to buy them.

But in the long run, cheaper makes more money.

Ann Voss Peterson said...

Actually Joe, you and I are giving a writing workshop at a library November 6th. You committed, babe.

Robert Burton Robinson said...

Yes, but what you don't mention is how many of those authors -- like Debbi Mack, Karen Cantwell, Stacey Cochran, Johnny Tangerine, B.V. Larson, Robert Burton Robinson to name just a few -- are selling their books at 99 cents, essentially giving them away, trading dollars for ranking (or were, in some cases, until very recently). Would those books be selling anywhere near as well at $2.99? It will be interesting to see.

Actually, one of my books is selling quite well at $2.99. Two of my other books are priced at $2.99, but Amazon has them discounted to $0.99. This is probably because Sony is still selling those books at $0.99, event though they should not be. For some reason they have not updated to the prices I set via Smashwords weeks ago.

Has anybody else had this problem with Smashwords/Sony?

Joe Konrath said...

Actually Joe, you and I are giving a writing workshop at a library November 6th. You committed, babe.

That doesn't count, Ann. I don't consider hanging out with you to be work.

Selena Kitt said...

David, I'm with you. I posted on "The Self Publishing Revolution" recently about ebook pricing based on length:

http://theselfpublishingrevolution.blogspot.com/2010/09/ebook-price-war-solution.html

I think authors are short-selling themselves at $2.99. And they're short-selling other indie authors as well. The indie publishing price model has been the standard in ebooks for 10 years - it's Amazon who is trying to bottom-basement prices here. Should we really let them?

Joe, you made me curious, so I decided to look at my own numbers. I've sold 50,000ish ebooks from Jan-June 2010 with 14 vendors / distributors. (We don't have third quarter royalties reported yet through the end of September)

The lion's share of that has been through Amazon.

Lee Goldberg said...

Has anybody else had this problem with Smashwords/Sony?
Yes, and it's very frustrating.

Lee

Selena Kitt said...

Dangit, I knew I forgot something - Fictionwise!

I posted about this, too:

http://theselfpublishingrevolution.blogspot.com/2010/09/selling-out.html

But apparently no one's listening to me :)

Fictionwise has closed applications for accounts with them. They refer everyone to B&N. I know publishers who have had applications waiting to be approved for 6 months or more - I have a feeling it isn't going to happen. FW may be going the way of the dodo... :x

Scott W. Clark said...

Congratulations Joe and thanks for all the good info. It's been real helpful.

Scott Clark
I Am Legion

Sarah J. Bradley said...

God Bless you Joe! I don't know if you recall, but I had the table next to yours at the WisRWA conference this past spring. I was pimping my first book, "dream in Color." You were hilarious and inspiring. I'm done with rejections, and as we speak, I'm formatting my next novel, "Lies in Chance," for Amazon and Smashwords. Thanks for getting the good word out there! Sarah J. Bradley

Debbi said...

Yes, but what you don't mention is how many of those authors -- like Debbi Mack, Karen Cantwell, Stacey Cochran, Johnny Tangerine, B.V. Larson, Robert Burton Robinson to name just a few -- are selling their books at 99 cents, essentially giving them away, trading dollars for ranking (or were, in some cases, until very recently). Would those books be selling anywhere near as well at $2.99? It will be interesting to see.

You can see right now, Lee. I've raised my price to $2.99. It's been marked down due to Sony distribution, but I've removed myself from that distribution channel. At some point, we'll see if my high rank continues to hold at the full $2.99 price.

Up until recently, my book was pretty consistently ranked at #1 in hardboiled mystery on Amazon even at the $1.99 level. It held there for about two weeks. It's only recently ceded rank to the likes of Robert Parker and Stephen King, so not too shabby really. :)

Dean Wesley Smith said...

Joe,

Kristine Kathryn Rusch and I are getting our huge backlist up slowly. We started with some short stories and have about 60 of them up plus a few collections and just going into novels. Just since June and we're doing great. Also heard that Mike Resnick is getting his large backlist of novels up as well. Those of us who have been writing for over 20 years and have large backlists are finding this pure gold. Thanks!

Jude Hardin said...

Awesome numbers. Not only inspiring for the self-published crowd, but empowering for those negotiating for ebook royalties with traditional publishers. I think eventually a standard will be reached (say 35% of the list price) where it will still make good career sense for a newbie to sign with a publisher; but, for out-of-print backlist titles from established authors, indie is definitely the way to go.

Bob Mayer said...

What I would like for backlist that traditional publishers are clinging to, but doing nothing with, is at least the option to negotiate a reverse royalty. Random House own rights to a series of books by me that have sold over a million copies. But because the numbers have tailed off, the print sales are tiny now. eBook sales are low too, because there is no promotion. And honestly, I DON'T want to promote those books, because I want to get the rights back. A class Catch-22. But if Random House would give me the rights back, I'd be willing to pay THEM a royalty on each book I sell and I guarantee they will make more money on those books than they are now and I will make significantly more. I've proven this with my Atlantis series which is now earning well into four figures each month with eBook sales.
Traditional publishers can't both keep rights and punish us for keeping the rights. I would do a much better job promoting these books if I got the 70% royalty and paid RH 25% of that in reverse.
It makes sense. Thus I know it will never happen.

S.L. Naeole said...

Aloha from Hawai'i!

I've been selling ebooks for a little more than half a year after having been directed to it by an agent I had queried. The idea of doing this by myself frightened me but with her encouragement and some research, I dipped my toes into the water.

As of right now I have three books out, the first in a series of four. I've managed to break through the top 10k Kindle books and my first book remains in the top 2k; all without the benefit of being a previously published author.

If not for that initial push by that wonderful agent, or indie/self-publishing blogs such as yours, I would have never even imagined that such a thing were possible.

I extend a sincere mahalo to you and to everyone like you who've proven that we can succeed in this business.

bowerbird said...

joe said:
> Thanks all for the kind words.
> But
> I miss the nameless naysayers,
> and I'd also love some industry
> professionals to chime in,
> so as of right now I'm allowing
> for anonymous posting again.

yay! that's the spirit!

let the stupid people
speak freely, the better
to reveal their stupidity!

***

lee said:
> selling their books at 99 cents,
> essentially giving them away,
> trading dollars for ranking

ok, first of all, even at 99 cents,
these author make some money.
so it's _not_ "giving them away",
not even "essentially". adds up.

second, it's not the case that
"ranking" is some trivial thing.
it is _visibility_, which is quite
vital in an attention economy.
of course, lee has his visibility
_already,_ so he might not be
willing to trade cash for more.
but don't let him try to tell you
it's an unimportant commodity.

third, and most importantly,
these authors with low prices
are maximizing future fans...
and that is what artists _do_
when we believe in ourselves.
we sacrifice immediate cash
for a larger future readership.

these writers apparently believe
that if people read their book,
they will come back for more...

and the more people you have
coming back for more... well...
i think you can figure that out.

which leads to my final point:
once you have active fans,
there are lots of ways that
you can do 'em favors that
they will _happily_ pay more
(and give love) to obtain...

pay $200 to buy you lunch.
let you use their condo in
hawaii for a week for free.
give you a cocaine handshake.
hire you to sing "happy birthday"
to the leader of their book club.
the list goes on and on and on...

but first you need to _grow_
these fans, and the best way
to do that nowadays is to
price your books very low...

-bowerbird

Zoe Winters said...

Hey Selena, you think we're short selling even at $2.99? For me the challenge is... where is that point where I can sell enough to keep growing my platform, but... charge enough to feel like I'm being paid what I feel my work is worth.

A reader recently complained that they had to pay 89 cents for Kept instead of getting it free because it was "short". My response to this was to raise all my prices. Because I'm tired of dealing with that segment of people.

Kept is now 1.99, Claimed and Mated are 2.99, and Blood Lust (the compilation) is $3.49, though later it might end up $3.99. I'm not sure.

Am I still short selling myself and helping bring down everybody's ability to charge a decent amount? I'm really not sure. I might be. Sometimes I think it would be awesome if everybody banded together and decided on the lowest we're all charging but... even if that could happen, if readers didn't like it, they could just go pirate our work. It seems we have very little power in the grand scheme over a lot of this in a digital world.

Will my sales slow down some because of raising prices? Possibly, but I think that's more to do with so many cheap people wanting everything for free, and less to do with quality. Plenty of people have said they would have paid up to $5 for one of my novellas.

But I do share your concern. I'm just not sure where all the lines in the sand are. i.e. What is fair to both me and the reader? And what will the market bear?

jtplayer said...

Re: "let the stupid people
speak freely, the better
to reveal their stupidity!"
---------------------

So if you're a naysayer you're stupid?

Nice attitude dude.

jtplayer said...

In my opinion a book...any book, is worth more than a cup of Starbucks coffee.

bowerbird said...

bob mayer said:
> It makes sense. Thus
> I know it will never happen.

actually, bob, that's a _great_ idea.

and one i have not heard before.
(which is really saying something!)

and it just _might_ work. really.

because the one thing that the
corporate publishers understand is
cold-hard-cash money-for-nothing.

so, joe, what do you think?

your publishers know exactly
how much money they're making
by doing your e-books themselves.

you have a very good idea about
how much money you could make
if _you_ were to do it instead...

so how about you make them
an offer that they cannot refuse?

even if you don't make as much
money as you maybe possibly can,
you will regain complete control
of your material, and your career.

plus you'd stop whining... ;+)

-bowerbird

Selena Kitt said...

@Zoe: "Sometimes I think it would be awesome if everybody banded together and decided on the lowest we're all charging but... even if that could happen, if readers didn't like it, they could just go pirate our work."

1) The indie publishing market has pretty much already done the former for the past ten years. Prices for ebooks have been based mostly on length across the board. When I started excessica, that's why I priced them as I did. Joe's full length novels could be (and should be) priced a dollar or two higher than they are now. I'm tired of Kindle-ites saying $2.99 is too much for a short story. It isn't, hasn't been for years, and it shouldn't be allowed to become the standard.

2) Pirates will be pirates. Good news, though, rumor has it that the RIAA and Author's Guild cracked down pretty hard last week and actually got a few of the pirate sites to close down. At least for the moment. I think that's just the beginning, frankly... lawsuits ala Napster may start popping up.

Tuppshar Press said...

Selena: "But apparently no one's listening to me :)"

Not even me? ;)

Actually, folks, you should go over to Selena's blog and have a look at her post regarding length and pricing. It's quite interesting and good food for thought.

Joe Konrath said...

So if you're a naysayer you're stupid?

Of course not. A lot of smart people disagree with me. That makes them wrong, not stupid.

The people I have problems with are the trolls and the snipers, who take cheap shots anonymously.

I love intelligent discourse. If people have opposite opinions, and can back them up with logic and examples, it makes this blog a lot more fun.

Joe Konrath said...

Actually, folks, you should go over to Selena's blog and have a look at her post regarding length and pricing.

In an ebook world, where the product is intangible and requires no cost to produce or distribute (I'm talking about the physical object, not the work of the author), there is no longer supply and demand.

Instead, it comes down to what the reader is willing to pay.

In the case of bestselling authors, readers are willing to pay $9.99, and sometimes more.

But I can't help but feel, based on my own experiments, that the $9.99 price is artificially inflated by the publisher. Look at Afraid, and the how many it sold at $1.99 vs. $6.99.

It's no surprise that people prefer to pay less. But the sheer number of people who prefer it means the author makes more. In fact, all authors make more.

If I have a $40 monthly budget for books, and I can buy 4 of them or 13 of them, the 13 is a much better deal. It also means 9 more authors sold books.

Tuppshar Press said...

Joe: "In an ebook world, where the product is intangible and requires no cost to produce or distribute (I'm talking about the physical object, not the work of the author), there is no longer supply and demand."

I think there's still supply and demand, but it's different when the thing being supplied is information alone, as in an ebook, rather than information plus delivery system, as with a paper book. But what matters most with any book is the information, but that's still a commodity, subject to the rules of supply and demand.

With an ebook, though, production costs come down, and so it is possible to pass along savings to the customer and still make a good profit. A point that Selena made was that this dynamic can change if you go from a 70% royalty to a 60% or 50%. We're happy to price books at $2.99 if we earn 70%; if this goes lower, then we might rethink things.

Joseph said...

Joe,

Thanks for your post.

You can add me to your list of writers making their backlist available via Amazon. Several years ago Pocket Books bought the first book of my Templar Chronicles trilogy, but didn't pick up books two and three, despite the series hitting bestseller lists overseas. A few months back I released all three books in English for the first time for the Kindle and sales have been pretty good. I'm hoping they continue to pick up steam as the months pass.

-Joe Nassise
www.josephnassise.com

Zoe Winters said...

Hey Selena,

I agree about people whining about $2.99 pricing. It makes me wonder if a bunch of readers live under an underpass, reading from their kindles out of a cardboard box. :P

And I heard about the pirate sites thing. It's about time. I think the second anybody starts cracking down... really... things will improve some. It doesn't even have to be a "big" punishment. If people realize it's going to be far more trouble, hassle and consequence to steal it than to just pay for it, things would improve.

Yeah, people still might not buy that book, but IMO it's not a far step from... "I pirated this book, now I'm going to buy the other books to support the author" to, "I pirated this book and it was so easy and I didn't get in trouble, money is a little tight... I gotta go buy my fancy coffee... maybe I'll just keep pirating til my financial situation improves." to... "Oh screw it, I'm just going to pirate, it's not like I'm taking anything away from anyone. I wouldn't have bought it anyway probably."

And I'm off to check out your post about length and pricing.

Joe Konrath said...

I think there's still supply and demand

The supply is unlimited. That, coupled with zero production and distribution costs, means the price is pretty much arbitrary.

Free would be best. I've given away hundreds of thousands of ebooks.

But cheap is the next best thing, because people buy more, and you make the profit in quantity.

Cheap also promotes impulse buys--any purchase that doesn't require thought.

Going into a bookstore and picking up a $27.95 hardcover involves thought.

Picking up a candy bar in the checkout line at the grocery store slips in under the decision-making process.

It's stupid-easy to be reading on a Kindle, click a button, and buy a book. But $9.99 is still a mental hurdle for most people to overcome.

$2.99, however, is a bargain. And the definition of a bargain is, "Something you don't need at a price you can't pass up."

I'm all for authors being paid fairly for their hard work.

Earning $3 on a $25 dollar hardcover isn't fair.

Earning $2 on a $3 ebook is very fair.

Selena Kitt said...

@ Joe: "In an ebook world, where the product is intangible and requires no cost to produce or distribute (I'm talking about the physical object, not the work of the author), there is no longer supply and demand.

Instead, it comes down to what the reader is willing to pay."


Sure - but readers have been willing to pay, based on length, for the past ten+ years, what I posted on my blog. $2.99 has been average for a short-story - not a full-length novel.

In the Kindle age, it's Kindle (i.e. Amazon) setting the price points - NOT the readers. They are, in fact, grooming readers, shaping their idea of what they should or shouldn't be paying.

If you're an author pricing your full-length book at $2.99, you're undercutting other indie publishers and authors, you're short-selling yourself, and you're supporting Amazon's master plan ;)

I've made $165,000 so far this year in sales. When third quarter figures come in, that will probably top $200,000. And most of my books are actually ranked lower than yours in the overall Kindle paid list. So if we're comparing figures, and you've claimed over $100,000 in profit this year - I'm making almost double the money you are, with fewer sales, with my books set at higher price points.

And people keep buying my books, even though my full-length work isn't priced in the $2.99 range.

Tuppshar Press said...

Joe: "The supply is unlimited."

I think this is true once the book is written, edited, proofread, and prepared for publication, and that's the new dynamic; ebook production costs at that point become nearly zero. Where supply still exists in the unwritten books an author might produce, and the books they are currently writing.

So I agree with you for the most part, Joe, at the backlist level, and at the level of building up a readership, since the more books people but the more people are likely to become fans, and the more future sales you get.

Which is why the smartest thing authors can do is to keep writing, as you are doing.

Joe Konrath said...

In the Kindle age, it's Kindle (i.e. Amazon) setting the price points - NOT the readers.

Actually, it's the publishers setting the prices, thanks to agency model. And they're setting them too high, IMO.

If you're an author pricing your full-length book at $2.99, you're undercutting other indie publishers and authors, you're short-selling yourself, and you're supporting Amazon's master plan

This isn't a zero sum game. Undercutting doesn't mean they'll buy me over you. If we're both reasonably priced, they buy both.

This blog post compares my higher priced ebooks (done by my publishers) to my lower priced ones, and I've neatly laid out the profit comparisons. Higher prices don't make more money for the author.

Selena Kitt said...

"Actually, it's the publishers setting the prices, thanks to agency model. And they're setting them too high, IMO."

The big-six are, yes. I agree. But they aren't setting prices for the indie author or publisher. The indie publishers out there have been setting reasonable price points for years.

"Higher prices don't make more money for the author."

They actually do - if you're comparing apples to apples (indie priced book to indie priced book, rather than indie priced book to traditionally published book).

Apples to apples, unless you've under-reported your numbers, I've sold half as many books as you have and I've made twice the profit. And my prices are in no way unreasonable or close to agency-price-gouging.

Jude Hardin said...

If I have a $40 monthly budget for books, and I can buy 4 of them or 13 of them, the 13 is a much better deal.

It all depends on quality. I would rather have 4 ribeyes than 13 cans of Alpo.

The hardcover and Kindle editions of my Oceanview title will be released simultaneously next May. I'm going to try to get Oceanview to price the ebook at $0.00 for a month or so, just for promotion. After that, the price they're setting it at ($9.99) is fair, I think, for a new release from a legitimate press. It's less than half the price for the hardcover, and I'm planning to add some bonus material to make it even more attractive. Will anyone buy it at that price? I don't know, but I believe in my work enough to let it to jump on in there with the big boys and take its chances.

I noticed David Morrell isn't pricing his ebooks at $2.99.

Joe Konrath said...

@ Selena - I'd love for you to break down your sales and numbers so we can compare. I'm sure others would love that to, if you're game. Maybe a blog entry on your site?

It's a real pain to sort it all out, though.

Joe Konrath said...

I noticed David Morrell isn't pricing his ebooks at $2.99.

We'll see what the future holds.

Selena Kitt said...

@ Joe: "I'd love for you to break down your sales and numbers so we can compare. I'm sure others would love that to, if you're game."

Sure I'm game. What would you like to see? How would you like to break it down?

bowerbird said...

jtplayer said:
> So if you're a naysayer
> you're stupid?

actually, i would try to explain
to you that i think naysayers
are _less_ likely to be stupid
than the sheep who spout the
prevailing opinion...

however, given what you have
just revealed about yourself,
i think i'll just pass...

***

zoe said:
> Sometimes I think
> it would be awesome if
> everybody banded together
> and decided on the lowest
> we're all charging but...

it's amazing how quickly that
collusion occurs to producers.

even those who have only just
recently escaped from the yoke
of a collusion by other entities.

there's something compelling
about the power of a monopoly.

but let's be perfectly clear, ok?

the price "war"
has only just begun.

behind you are _thousands_ of
mid-level authors, all of whom
have backlist they would love
to turn into "found money"...

and behind them are _millions_
of new authors, all of whom
have new product they would
love to spin into "new money".

all of these authors will find
that low pricing is the _best_
way to attract new attention...

in fact, before too long at all,
it'll be the _only_ way to get it.

and there's no way you can
stop this deluge... no way...

so you'd better get used to
the idea of very low prices.
since that's the only kind of
prices the future will support.

find a way for your _fans_
to (voluntarily and happily)
give you _more_ money...

because your e-books are
gonna have to be very cheap,
or else nobody will buy them.

-bowerbird

L B said...

Go get 'em Joe!
LB Gschwandtner
Indie Kindle/Print author of
The Naked Gardener

Joe Konrath said...

Sure I'm game. What would you like to see? How would you like to break it down?

Like I did. Platform, royalty rate, sales numbers, and profit.

It's obnoxious to do, but revealing.

Moses Siregar III said...

This blog post compares my higher priced ebooks (done by my publishers) to my lower priced ones, and I've neatly laid out the profit comparisons. Higher prices don't make more money for the author.

Joe, I still think you're hurting yourself with the rock bottom price. This experiment is skewed because people may be choosing your $2.99 ebooks over your $6.99 ebooks if those are the two options. But that doesn't prove that if all your books were at, let's say $4 or $5, that they wouldn't buy about as many copies or that you wouldn't make more money that way.

You haven't proved that $2.99 makes more money than $3.99 or $4.99 (and maybe not even $6.99) because from all I've read from you, you haven't given a higher price a fair chance. To do that, you would have to raise *all* of your novel-length works to that higher price for a month or so to see what happened. If half of them go to $3.99 or $4.99 and the other half are still at $2.99, then we can't draw firm conclusions. If the $2.99 ebooks still outsell the newly higher priced ebooks, it could be because people wanted to pay less for essentially the same thing (a Konrath or Kilborn book).

And for so many reasons, I cannot believe that there is a line between $2.99 and $4.99 (or even $9.99 for that matter) at which point the author is "gouging" customers. $4 - $7 for a good novel has always been a good deal.

I would shocked if you raised all of your ebook novels to $3.99 and actually lost money in the process.

If you were selling 7,000 ebooks at $2.99, that's $14,651. To make the same amount at $3.99, you'd have to sell 5,245 ebooks. Would you sell 1,750 less ebooks at $3.99 vs $2.99? I doubt it, but I don't know.

I have nothing against cheaper prices from newbies who are trying to get their work out there, but you're not a newbie and I think you're leaving a lot of money on the table at $2.99. Your books are definitely worth more than that.

C'mon, Joe. How about a good old-fashioned dare. Everything at $3.99 for just one month? After that, I promise to leave you alone about it LOL.

jtplayer said...

Re: "however, given what you have
just revealed about yourself,
i think i'll just pass..."
-----------------------

Do you have some kind of problem with me?

Or are you merely trying to be clever...or cute perhaps?

Either way I don't get the response.

jtplayer said...

Re: "Of course not. A lot of smart people disagree with me. That makes them wrong, not stupid."
------------------

You're a funny guy Joe.

Erica Manfred said...

Has anyone checked out J.R. Rain who has also been a big Kindle success and is #1 on Kindle in a bunch of categories. He also makes his books available POD through Lulu. Does anyone else do this?

Selena Kitt said...

"He also makes his books available POD through Lulu."

I use CreateSpace, but yes, my books are also available in POD.

Christopher said...

Selena, do you find CreateSpace worthwhile?

Donnell said...

Do I love this blog? Hell, yeah!
Thanks for running the numbers, Joe.

Selena Kitt said...

I make about an estimated $3,000 a month with CreateSpace, give or take. I like them because they provide ISBNs (which can be cost prohibitive) and you're immediately listed on Amazon. So yeah, for me it's worthwhile. But I have 20+ books available in print, so having a backlist helps in terms of sales. I have some books printed under another (non-erotic) pseudonym that don't do anywhere near as well, because it's not a name/brand I've built up as well as this one. So be forewarned, YMMV! :)

Mister Teacher said...

Hey Joe,

Great post! I'd like to throw my hat (book) into the ring as one that has sold thousands of e-copies through Amazon as well.

Learn Me Good has gotten great word of mouth, and that's what's kept me going.

Thanks!

John Pearson

HL Arledge said...

I'm tired of Kindle-ites saying $2.99 is too much for a short story. It isn't, hasn't been for years, and it shouldn't be allowed to become the standard.

@Selena - Thanks for saying so. I'm still polishing my novel, but I wanted to give readers a taste of my style, so I published some of my shorts at 2.99. I've sold a few in a brief period, but I was starting to wonder if I would have be wiser to go with a smaller fee.

Selena Kitt said...

I can understand pricing something at $0.99 or $1.99 or $2.99 if you're a brand new author and want to garner name recognition and a following. But if you're an established writer with a big backlist putting your work out there and you're listing your full-length novels at $2.99, I think you're doing yourself a disservice.

MCPlanck said...

I just wanted to say Kristin Nelson also linked to this post.

Fabulous work, Joe. I congratulate your success. People need to remember that you built a presence first; this represents 20 years of mastering the craft, so us newbie writers might keep that in mind.

However, the traditional publishers could muscle in on your territory with a single phone call. All they have to do is cut the prices of their e-books to something reasonable, and they'll be back in command of the territory.

So how long will it take them to realize this? Right now e-books aren't enough money for them to care. When it is, then they'll act; but by then you should have sold a million books, and you won't care. :D

bowerbird said...

jtplayer said:
> Do you have some kind
> of problem with me?

nope. don't even know you.


> I don't get the response.

right. that's why i will pass.

***

mcplanck said:
> the traditional publishers
> could muscle in on
> your territory with
> a single phone call.
> All they have to do is
> cut the prices
> of their e-books to
> something reasonable,
> and they'll be back in
> command of the territory.

first of all, there is _nothing_
that is _traditional_ about the
current corporate publishers.

multinationals bought out
the "traditional" publishers
back in the heady m&a days
of the late 1900s, once they
learned they could use their
mass media to cram their ads
down our throats to entice us
into buying whatever they put
on the shelves of their stores.

they ran it into the ground, so
da formula don't work no more.
(it ends up that the accountants
_don't_ know how to pick books!)

but they _got_rich_ when it did.

in the meantime, they've grown
bloated, to soak up all profit so
they wouldn't have to pay taxes,
which means that, at this time,
their overhead is so high that
they can't "make a phone call"
to magically lower their prices,
not without losing lots of money.
which they hate, so immensely.

besides, these publishers _know_
there is zero future for them, as
they eventually must _compete_
against writers who'll give away
the work for peanuts. believe me,
if there's anyone who knows just
how cheaply writers will work for,
it is these publishers, since they
have exploited this weakness and
_taken_advantage_ of writers for
so long. but the well is dry now,
so they'll fold their tents and go.

-bowerbird

p.s. sorry to post so much, joe...

jtplayer said...

well
aren't we the clever
one
thanks for playing
and have
a great day
blowebird

Sandy Williams said...

Hi, Joe:

I hopped on over here from Kristin Nelson's blog. I've read some of your numbers posts before, and they always intrigue me. This one is no exception. One thing I'm wondering, though, is: could publishers could make more money by pricing ebooks lower? I like publishers and want them to stay in business. Is there a scenario where the publishers, the author, AND the readers can all win?

Sandy

Joe Konrath said...

could publishers could make more money by pricing ebooks lower?

They'd have to downsize, restructure, and approach this as an entirely new kind of business.

It could happen. But I don't believe it will happen.

Mark Asher said...

@moses: "If you were selling 7,000 ebooks at $2.99, that's $14,651. To make the same amount at $3.99, you'd have to sell 5,245 ebooks. Would you sell 1,750 less ebooks at $3.99 vs $2.99? I doubt it, but I don't know."

It's basic economics that as prices rise consumption falls.

I am interested in how these things are priced. I know some established authors are selling short stories at $0.99 each, which seems too high to me. And I see novellas priced at $2.99 which seems a bit high also -- I do the math in my head that a novella is about one-third of a novel so then I'm looking at $9 for an ebook and I won't pay that.

But hey, I have nothing personal against those prices. I probably won't pay them. I hope Joe's $2.99 pricing becomes the norm.

Joe Konrath said...

But if you're an established writer with a big backlist putting your work out there and you're listing your full-length novels at $2.99, I think you're doing yourself a disservice.

There are a few factors at work here.

1. A download is intangible, and not worth the same as a print book, which actually exists in the physical world, with all the associated costs that go along with printing and shipping.

2. Customers have historically considered downloads worth less than tangible objects, and are more willing to buy them if they are cheaper.

3. A $2 profit on a $3 ebook is much better than the 60 cent profit writers have been earning on a $8 paperback.

Value and worth aren't about the cover price. It's about how much a book earns.

The only reason the world has dictated that 8 bucks is a good price for a novel is because that's how much it cost to produce. Lots of people got paid along the way. Printer, shipper, distributor, publisher, bookstore, writer.

Now the only two parties being paid are the writer and the retailer. There's no reason the product--especially an intangible one--should cost the same.

4. My own experiments show I earn more money with smaller prices. My higher priced ebooks sold by my publisher, and the one I've published myself at $4.99, don't earn nearly as much as the $2.99 ebooks.

I'm curious to see your figures, Selena. They might coincide with mine. Looking at you sales rankings on Amazon, most of your ebooks over $5 are in the 100,000s. But most of your titles under $4 are ranked much lower and selling better.

Again, we'd need a breakdown by price vs. sales to know for sure which is more profitable.

Moses's post, urging me to up my prices to $3.99, is food for thought.

When I went from $1.99 to $2.99, my unit sales did take a momentary dip, which I more than made up for in profit. But that's because the royalty rate doubled. You also may noticed that there aren't many $1.99 ebooks anymore. People either went with 99 cents or $2.99.

If Amazon upped the 70% rate to $3.99, that would make it the norm, and readers would accept that. But having spent years in this biz, I truly feel that a $2 profit per book is fair compensation to the author. It's much better than anything I've gotten in the past.

Getting $2.70 per book, when I'm already making a comfortable living, feels like price gouging to

Mark Asher said...

"I'm curious to see your figures, Selena. They might coincide with mine. Looking at you sales rankings on Amazon, most of your ebooks over $5 are in the 100,000s. But most of your titles under $4 are ranked much lower and selling better."

My guess is she's competing with herself. Readers look at her works and price compare and go for the cheaper titles. That probably happens with your books too. The $4.69 book really isn't that much more expensive, but it doesn't sell nearly as well.

And yes, I expect to pay substantially less for ebooks. I'm not happy with publishers strong-arming Amazon and getting their ebooks priced higher. You can thank Apple for giving the publishers the leverage they needed to get that done.

Joe Konrath said...

You can thank Apple for giving the publishers the leverage they needed to get that done.

The agency model is one of the biggest mistakes publishers have made. Prior to it, Amazon was losing money on every sale, and publishers and authors we earning more money on every sale.

Selena Kitt said...

"Prior to it, Amazon was losing money on every sale, and publishers and authors we earning more money on every sale."


You can still get that "deal" if you want it. Choose 35% instead of 70%. Then Amazon can deep discount your book all they want, but you still get paid 35% of the original list price.

Selena Kitt said...

"My guess is she's competing with herself. Readers look at her works and price compare and go for the cheaper titles."

My cheapest books are my worst sellers. The $0.99, $1.99 and $2.99 books sell the least amount of books.

My highest seller is 50,000 words and priced at $5.99. It's still on the 35% option (it's a long story why - actually it's listed twice on Amazon, at both the 35% and 70% option) and earns 35% of list price, so although Amazon has it discounted to $3.99, I'm getting paid based on list price. Sony, B&N, et al, have it at $3.99 as well, so I imagine they're price matching. So with 35% of list price, I'm making $2.09 per book.

If I priced my book at $3.99 and it was at the 70% option, I'd be making $2.70 per title. Which is about seventy cents more than I'm making at 35%... but who knows what Amazon would discount it to from $3.99? And then I'd only get 70% of the discounted price ($2.99? $1.99? - so $2? $1.40?)

Interesting, though, isn't it... that at 35% of a list price of $5.99, I'm making the same as if I'd priced my book at $2.99 on the 70% royalty plan.

I think Amazon really did the math on this one before they offered the new "amazing" royalty option to authors. ;)

Speaking of math, Joe, I honestly AM game, but doing all this math makes my head hurt. There's a reason I'm a writer and not the nurse-midwife I once thought about becoming... :) If you'd like to see my numbers and compare, email me and I'll let you have them.

One more thing about pricing books at $2.99. There are self-pubbed authors out there making it work. But there are many, many, many more who only sell a few copies here or there. These latter folks might do better opting with an e-publishing company, someone who will work with them, help them edit, do promotion, offer them more marketing than they could do on their own, etc.

The idea that $2.99 is "THE" price for a full-length novel may not only collapse the big-six... it may also put those little independent publishers, who have more overhead cost than the self-pubbed author and who do, indeed, pay for things like editing and formatting and uploading and data entry and accounting and business costs etc, completely out of business too.

Which leaves less choice for authors in the long run. Just a thought.

Selena Kitt said...

"My guess is she's competing with herself. Readers look at her works and price compare and go for the cheaper titles."

My cheapest books are my worst sellers. The $0.99, $1.99 and $2.99 books sell the least amount of books.

My highest seller is 50,000 words and priced at $5.99. It's still on the 35% option (it's a long story why - actually it's listed twice on Amazon, at both the 35% and 70% option) and earns 35% of list price, so although Amazon has it discounted to $3.99, I'm getting paid based on list price. Sony, B&N, et al, have it at $3.99 as well, so I imagine they're price matching. So with 35% of list price, I'm making $2.09 per book.

If I priced my book at $3.99 and it was at the 70% option, I'd be making $2.70 per title. Which is about seventy cents more than I'm making at 35%... but who knows what Amazon would discount it to from $3.99? And then I'd only get 70% of the discounted price ($2.99? $1.99? - so $2? $1.40?)

Interesting, though, isn't it... that at 35% of a list price of $5.99, I'm making the same as if I'd priced my book at $2.99 on the 70% royalty plan.

I think Amazon really did the math on this one before they offered the new "amazing" royalty option to authors. ;)

Speaking of math, Joe, I honestly AM game, but doing all this math makes my head hurt. There's a reason I'm a writer and not the nurse-midwife I once thought about becoming... :) If you'd like to see my numbers and compare, email me and I'll let you have them.

One more thing about pricing books at $2.99. There are self-pubbed authors out there making it work. But there are many, many, many more who only sell a few copies here or there. These latter folks might do better opting with an e-publishing company, someone who will work with them, help them edit, do promotion, offer them more marketing than they could do on their own, etc.

The idea that $2.99 is "THE" price for a full-length novel may not only collapse the big-six... it may also put those little independent publishers, who have more overhead cost than the self-pubbed author and who do, indeed, pay for things like editing and formatting and uploading and data entry and accounting and business costs etc, completely out of business too.

Which leaves less choice for authors in the long run. Just a thought.

Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

A download is intangible, and not worth the same as a print book, which actually exists in the physical world, with all the associated costs that go along with printing and shipping.

Yes, and considering that even at the cheapest shipping for a physical book (Media Mail), you are still looking at $2.38 shipping charge. Not to mention labor, the cost of the box, etc, etc. That's huge, considering that many authors make less than this amount on the sale of a book.

Ebooks have almost zero distribution costs. So it's better for the author and better for seller.

I think that Amazon sees the big picture-- the long-term benefit of e-books. The traditional publishers haven't really come around yet.

Eliza Gayle said...

In theory I agree with Selena that pricing a full length ebook at $2.99 is too low.

Selena is trying to set aside comparisons between indie publishing and traditional publishing where they are pricing ebooks the same or near their print prices and discuss where is the right price point for books in general.

Someone could argue to me all night long and no way no how would they ever convince me that ebooks should be priced the same as print books.

But when I self published my first book recently after 4 years of small press publishing it wasn't too hard to accept the 2.99 price point for my 40k novella even though at a small press it would have been slightly higher at 3.50 or 3.99.

But it sounds like for an indie book readers would have expected that length at a lower price.

I want my books to be reasonably priced so that readers will buy them but also not short change myself as the author or set perceptions with readers who are used to different pricing that my book is less because its not priced comparatively.

Kind of like that store brand cereal at the store that is exactly the same cereal as what comes in the General Mills box but consumers buy the higher priced GM cereal because they perceive the brand name as a better product.

As a reader I don't read many books from NY publishers unless it's from an author I love or comes HIGHLY recommended because the prices piss me off.

So I read small press and occasionally indie if I happen to find it. (I don't buy the majority of my ebooks from Amazon)

Like Selena mentioned, small press has been utilizing lower tiered pricing based on length for many years and it's a model that works well. So when I self publish a full length I don't want to be forced to price it at 2.99 just because everyone's jumped on that price bandwagon.

Of course the beauty of self publishing is that I can do whatever I want. But realistically if the readers are coming to expect the 2.99 price point as a max for indie books and we want sales, we are losing our choice.

Ok this comment is getting way to long, which tells me I just need to write a blog post.

Mark Asher said...

@Selena: "The idea that $2.99 is "THE" price for a full-length novel may not only collapse the big-six... it may also put those little independent publishers, who have more overhead cost than the self-pubbed author and who do, indeed, pay for things like editing and formatting and uploading and data entry and accounting and business costs etc, completely out of business too."

Consumers are heartless. It's not our job to support an industry.

I'm willing to pay more than $2.99 for a novel -- I do it all the time. The $2.99 price is certainly attractive and gets my attention, however. I'm more willing to at least look at a sample chapter. And if I like it I may buy, and then the $5.99 book doesn't even get looked at.

And while I appreciate the value that the traditional editorial process adds, there's still a lot drek published under the banner of publishing houses, although even the worst of traditional publishing can't compare to the horror that can be found on Smashwords.

The short of it is that pricing is a good way to get my attention.

Selena Kitt said...

"But realistically if the readers are coming to expect the 2.99 price point as a max for indie books and we want sales, we are losing our choice."


Exactly. Thank you, Eliza.

Shelley said...

Wow, the tone and the data here really seem trustworthy.

I'm totally new and have an odd property. I'm afraid of getting an agent who doesn't really "get" what you're saying.

Would you suggest some agents who get it? I'm lost.

Thanks!

bksrmgc said...

Congratulations on your success. I don't disagree with anything you've said but I do wonder whether having your books published by Hyperion lead to your work being recognized and, thus, the success of other outlets. In other words, do you think you'd have achieved the same level of recognition and success without them? I'm just curious.

Mark Asher said...

"Of course the beauty of self publishing is that I can do whatever I want. But realistically if the readers are coming to expect the 2.99 price point as a max for indie books and we want sales, we are losing our choice."

Ok so most indie writers decide to publish at $3.99 instead. Do you have more choice? No. It's just a different price. You're stuck with $3.99.

It's not really about choice. What you're really trying to say is you'd like to be able to self-publish and sell novels at a higher price and have them sell. I wonder how consumers feel about that?

rex kusler said...

Publishing at a different price, like $3.50, might fool some customers into thinking it's not self-published. They don't always look to see who the publisher is.

Selena Kitt said...

"It's not really about choice. What you're really trying to say is you'd like to be able to self-publish and sell novels at a higher price and have them sell. I wonder how consumers feel about that?"


They DO sell. They've been selling at higher prices for 10+ years. Ebooks and the ebook market didn't suddenly magically appear with the Kindle. ;)

Joe doesn't have personal experience with the ebook market before he moved from print to self-pubbing. But the ebook market, while small, was still a growing and thriving place before he and Kindle and the supposed $2.99 set-price-point came along.

If you think consumers actually set price-points, you're mistaken. Amazon is setting them. And on the other end of the scale (much to Amazon's chagrin) publishers with agency pricing are setting them. Consumers (mostly Kindle owners :) are complaining that $2.99 is "too much" to pay for a shorter work, because that's what Amazon has led them to believe.

A five dollar full-length e-book is hardly unreasonable, tangible or not. We go to movies for double that, and don't even get to keep the thing. It's just an intangible experience, two hours of entertainment. (Not counting the 3-D glasses ;)

Is it too much to charge a reader half that, for something they can actually experience again and again? No, it isn't. It's more than reasonable. Pricing that experience at $2.99 is minimizing the worth of books in general, and the effort of the author as well.

I think we may find in the future that the $2.99 price point will end up being the set point for the newbies, and authors who have a fan-base will raise their prices accordingly.

But only the future will tell!

Derek J. Canyon said...

I'm an impending Kindle writer and I'll be releasing a free short story trilogy alongside my $2.99 cyberpunk novel. As a new writer, I agree that I have to provide a price incentive for people to buy my book.

However, I also think that established writers should consider charging more for their work.

A writer who makes more money has more time to write since they can quit their day jobs. Greater revenue encourages writers to provide more content for their readers. Readers like more content. So, readers who pay more for an ebook are giving the writer more ability to increase their output.

Up to a point, of course. When you're making a few hundred grand a year with your ebooks, you should have all the time in the world to write. Then, you can "afford" to drop your prices if you want.

Mark Asher said...

I guess I'm not seeing what the problem is with selling an ebook for $2.99? What is the worry again? That readers may come to expect to pay that? And that's a bad thing because...?

"Pricing that experience at $2.99 is minimizing the worth of books in general, and the effort of the author as well."

I disagree. We are looking at a new way of distributing books and consumers are savvy enough to know that costs are considerably reduced, especially for authors self-publishing, and expect those savings to be passed on.

If you're a writer and you're making more per $2.99 self-pubbing than you did per sale at $7.99 with a traditional contract, how can you feel that your work is being devalued? Everyone's winning except the middlemen being cut out.

Selena Kitt said...

We are looking at a new way of distributing books and consumers are savvy enough to know that costs are considerably reduced, especially for authors self-publishing, and expect those savings to be passed on.

Am I talking to walls? Am I being unclear?

Ebook distribution IS NOT NEW! :)

Ebook distribution has been around for more than ten years before Kindle came along.

You're comparing ebooks to traditional book publishing. That's great. But why aren't you comparing the current Amazon model to the model that was ALREADY IN PLACE when Amazon came along?

That's what I'm doing.

If you're a writer and you're making more per $2.99 self-pubbing than you did per sale at $7.99 with a traditional contract, how can you feel that your work is being devalued? Everyone's winning except the middlemen being cut out.

I never went the traditional book publishing route, never had an agent or a print-book contract. I went from e-publishing to self-publishing (in a co-op). And there are lots of authors who got their start in ebooks BEFORE Kindle was invented and Amazon started their $2.99 deal.

Consumers are savvy enough to know that ebooks should cost less than traditionally published books, yes, as a matter of fact, they've been buying those books for years from distributors like Fictionwise with price points set on length, which were far below their print counterparts, if there were any (mostly via POD).

This is the model we are talking about developing, as a self-pubbing author base... but in reality, this is not new territory. It's already been mapped out.

Scott William Carter said...

Lee wrote: "Pricing your book under a buck is an easy way to boost your rankings."

It's also a great way to attract new readers and build an audience. It's not just about the money. For those of us farther down the chain in our publishing careers, there might be times when the size of the readership is more important than the royalty rate -- at least if you're in this for the long haul, like I am.

It's also why I still think, for all that I believe in this great new world of publishing, that for writers like me, with only a couple of book sales under his belt to major publishers, that working *all* the angles is the best way to build a career.

Going the NY route and doing it yourself are not mutually exclusive, though lots of people seem to think they are. Either is pricing some books at 99 cents and some books at 4.99.

Those readers taking a flyer on you now at 99 cents could very well turn into your fans willing to pay $4.99 down the road. But how do you get those readers? Going with a major press is one way. Pricing cheap is another.

BTW, thanks for doing this Joe. First time posting here, but I really appreciate the wealth of info you share with us.

jtplayer said...

IMO, establishing the fair market value for ebooks too low ultimately hurts authors in ways that cannot be seen right now.

And simply focusing on making your book an “impulse” purchase feels wrong to me.

The paradigm in publishing is changing rapidly, and what looks good today may not look so great a year from now.

Amazon’s royalty set-up is very advantageous to the author, making lower priced ebooks very attractive on a per-unit profit basis. The impulse pricing to sales to money in your pocket equation is in the writer’s favor.

Terrific.

But what happens when equation changes, away from the writer’s favor and more to Amazon’s, and you’ve got a buying public conditioned to think anything over $2.99 is too much?

Moses Siregar III said...

I disagree. We are looking at a new way of distributing books and consumers are savvy enough to know that costs are considerably reduced, especially for authors self-publishing, and expect those savings to be passed on.

If you're a writer and you're making more per $2.99 self-pubbing than you did per sale at $7.99 with a traditional contract, how can you feel that your work is being devalued? Everyone's winning except the middlemen being cut out.


For one, you're not as likely to sell as many books as an indie versus if you had been traditionally published. So if you're normal, you need to make more money per sale to stay in business as a writer. Plus, if you're an indie you probably had to pay for some things like cover design, editing, advertising, and layout. Costs are actually increased for indies.

You didn't get an advance. You had to work your tail off wearing ten hats at once as both author and publisher. If you wrote the book while keeping your day job, then you lost most of the free time you used to have.

And as an indie, you may or may not get great sales numbers. If you sell 100 or 200 ebooks a month per novel, you're not a fat pig rolling around in dollar bills.

Let's say you take a year to write a good novel. Averaging 200 sales a month for five years at 70% of $2.99 earns you $25K for that single year's work (paid over the course of five years). With the same amount of sales at $3.99 you'd earn $33.5K on that year's work. $25K vs $33K could be the difference for some people between being able to make a living as a writer or not.

Of course, it comes down to sales. If you're selling 300, 400, or 500 copies a month even at $2.99, then depending on where you live and your overhead, you can do all right. But from what I've gathered, most indies don't sell that much. Bottom line for me, $3.99 or $4.99 is quite reasonable and I personally don't see those prices as gouging anyone. Not many things can give you that many hours of entertainment for $4 or $5.

Joe Konrath said...

But why aren't you comparing the current Amazon model to the model that was ALREADY IN PLACE when Amazon came along?

The same reason you're not comparing the new scheme to traditional publishing; we're both basing our prices on where we came from, you from ebooks, me from print.

But neither of these matter. Kindle readers think ebooks are new. They don't care about the old ebook pricing structure. They don't care that they've been around for ten years.

They compare ebooks to print, and they want cheaper.

I compare ebooks to print, and see how much more money I'm making, at lower prices.

Moses Siregar III said...

M.R. Mathias has a big epic fantasy novel that he sells for $8.88 as a Kindle book. He says, "My $8.88 title sells at about 10 to 1 over all of my $1 titles put together."

Mileage varies.

Selena Kitt said...

Kindle readers think ebooks are new. They don't care about the old ebook pricing structure...They compare ebooks to print, and they want cheaper.

$3.99, $4.99, $5.99... all still cheaper than print. Especially for a new release. But often even for a backlist title. Your "Cherry Bomb" is $7.99 at Borders in paperback. Any of the above prices is still less than that.

And what's more important is the point JT makes below:

But what happens when equation changes, away from the writer’s favor and more to Amazon’s, and you’ve got a buying public conditioned to think anything over $2.99 is too much?

Then what?

bowerbird said...

selena said:
> A five dollar full-length
> e-book is hardly
> unreasonable,
> tangible or not.
> We go to movies
> for double that, and
> don't even get to
> keep the thing.

or we pay that much
for a month of netflix,
and get more movies
than we have time for,
streamed on-demand.

these notions about
what is "reasonable"
and how much an
e-book is "worth" are
discussions of angels
dancing on pinheads.

a book is worth what
people will pay for it,
just like a piece of art
hanging on the wall,
a shark in formaldehyde,
a piece of pie in a diner,
or a year of cable t.v.

but the findings are clear.

for most e-books today,
if you cut the price in half,
you'll sell 3 times as many.

3 times as many.

since the cost of each sale
is virtually zero, that means
you will make more money
at the low price. 50% more.

many of you seem to have a
model implicit in your head
that charging a higher price
will give you more money...

but you are wrong.

it'll give you more money
_per_sale_, by definition,
but you'll have fewer sales.
and end up with less money.

selena, those books you
are selling at $5.99 now?

you would probably sell
3 times as many at $3...

and not only would you
have more money, but
you'd have 3 times as
many fans, and they'd be
more willing to buy more
from you, since you would
have proven yourself to be
"definitely a good value"...

it's ok if you don't learn this,
as there will be other authors
-- younger, faster, smarter --
who _will_ learn it, and they
will pass you in the charts and
have more money in their pocket.

-bowerbird

Never Say Never said...

"They compare ebooks to print, and they want cheaper."

I think this statement is a bit too broad.

Personally I don't believe that too many kindle buyers are busy comparing the price of a book in kindle version to the price of that same book in paper version.

At this point in the Kindle history, what they're comparing is the price of one kindle book to the price of another kindle book, particular when the books appear on the same bestselling lists. It's more like a reader scrolls down the current bestselling hard-boiled list and says, "Do I want this Patterson for $8.95 or this Konrath for $2.99?"

All things being equal, the lower price will win. That said, all things are not always equal, hence you will see many good/proven authors selling very well at high prices as well as many poor/unproven authors selling poorly even at $.99.

Mark Asher said...

"But what happens when equation changes, away from the writer’s favor and more to Amazon’s, and you’ve got a buying public conditioned to think anything over $2.99 is too much?"

If writers can't make money at the $2.99 price point, they will raise prices. It's that simple. What else would you expect to happen?

Anyway, all of this is somewhat moot. The idea that readers expect indie novels to be no higher than $2.99 is something we're all imagining. Maybe they do. Maybe they don't. I doubt there's any hard data yet to prove or disprove this.

My guess is that a lot of writers will price their books at $2.99. Quite a few may price a book at $0.99 -- especially if it's the first in a series. Indie writers need to build readership more than anything else.

jtplayer said...

Re: "If writers can't make money at the $2.99 price point, they will raise prices. It's that simple. What else would you expect to happen?"
-----------------

Well duh...of course they'll raise their prices.

But the downside may be resistance from a buying public accustomed to cheaper books.

So what? You may say.

Agreed...so what.

It was merely an observation. It seems to me the bandwagon jumpers are only seeing the short-term gains and not taking any kind of long view at all.

Apparently for some, the desire to show "the man" that they don't need him or his stinking publishing firm, has blinded them to some of the harder realities of this new "revolution".

Eliza Gayle said...

Does anyone else's head hurt yet?

It's so easy to get swept into these conversations and then want to bang your head against the wall. :)

I had a whole other comment written and changed my mind. I think all sides have been fairly well argued and lots have had some great points.

I'm still concerned that Indie's are letting Amazon drive their maximum price points because the 2.99 has nothing to do with what consumers have said and everything to do with what it takes to get the new Amazon terms.

Ebook prices must be lower than print prices. I will argue that for as long as I can. How much lower is still up for debate.

Steve said...

Now that I'm retired, I buy fewer books than before. Most I check out of the local library when they come in. I don't know what I will do when fewer books are available in print from the authors I like. Some day I may go the Ebook route, but for now I'll read and hold the hard copy when I wonder off to bed. How will the librarys deal with the change?

Joe Konrath said...

M.R. Mathias has a big epic fantasy novel that he sells for $8.88 as a Kindle book.

It's ranked at 10,000.

Perhaps if he sold it for $2.99, it would be ranked in the top 1000, selling eight times as many, making a lot more money.

The reason it outsells his $1 ebooks, I'd guess, if that novels sell better than shorts. That's been my experience.

Mark Asher said...

"But the downside may be resistance from a buying public accustomed to cheaper books."

And this is different from what print publishers have faced in what way? I remember when paperbacks were $2.99.

Mark Asher said...

"Now that I'm retired, I buy fewer books than before. Most I check out of the local library when they come in. I don't know what I will do when fewer books are available in print from the authors I like. Some day I may go the Ebook route, but for now I'll read and hold the hard copy when I wonder off to bed. How will the librarys deal with the change?"

Some libraries now allow you to check out ebooks. I imagine more and more will go this route. And they treat the ebook like a physical book -- if it's checked out, it's not available for anyone else.

Ebooks are here to stay. The only question is how much of the market they will represent eventually. In the music world, CDs still account for 60% of sales.

jtplayer said...

Re: "Ebook prices must be lower than print prices."
-------------------

Agreed.

But speaking strictly theoretically, if every single author priced their ebooks at say, half the price of print (paperback?), then consumers would pay.

Granted, they may not blindly gobble up handfuls of .99 and $1.99books, but they will purchase the ones that catch their eyes or imagination.

The comparison was made earlier to movies, and the ever increasing prices people are willing to pay.

Admittedly, many do it grudgingly. But the fact remains they pay up.

IMO, ebooks should be priced similarly.

Now I guess if you’re like Joe and you’re pumping out a book every 6 weeks, and you’ve established a good fan base, well then have at it and price your work at impulse levels, flood the market with product and watch the cash roll in.

But I’d venture to say many more authors aren’t as prolific, and their published work reflects a much larger investment of time and effort, perhaps even warranting a higher price tag.

Either way, they’re probably not gonna sell like Joe anyway

Joe Konrath said...

In the music world, CDs still account for 60% of sales.

But 60% wasn't enough to support chain record stores. They all closed. I'm sure the industry had to downsize as well, and I'm sure some labels folded.

And I'm curious how many of those CD sales are from the recording industry, and how many are bands selling their burned CDs at gigs. Perhaps none, but it would be good to know...

jtplayer said...

Re: "I remember when paperbacks were $2.99."
-----------------

Well I turn 50 this year and can recall lots of things being cheaper back in the day.

But we all made a helluva lot less money back then too.

It's all relative, no?

It'll be interesting to see where this all goes.

jtplayer said...

Burned CD's sold at gigs would not be accounted for in that 60% number.

And speaking of that, you'd be hard pressed to find a band or artist around selling their self-produced discs for less than $15 a pop, or two for $20.

Sometimes they'll go as low as ten bucks for a disc, but that's about it for anyone doing it seriously.

So when I can purchase mainstream CD's (new releases) on Amazon for $12.99-14.99, and often times as low as $9.99, it would appear the indies aren't undercutting that at all.

Mark Asher said...

It's hard to tell if the record stores went under because of digital downloads or because of increasing competition from the discount chains -- Target, Wal-Mart, etc. Probably a combination of both. And maybe of our culture changing in general. Tower Records were usually in malls, and malls themselves have been struggling.

jtplayer said...

Re: "Tower Records were usually in malls, and malls themselves have been struggling."
-------------------

In So. Cal. Tower Record stores were standalone.

And I miss the hell out of those guys too.

I sure hope bookstores don't go the same way.

As far as what killed them, I agree it was a combo of digital downloads and discount retailers.

Thanks Apple & Amazon.

Walter Knight said...

I would like to sell my science fiction paperbacks, but only my Kindle books sell. That success snuck up on me, but now I embrace Kindle sales as the savior of new authors.

Jude Hardin said...

...a year from now I will hold a printed, beautiful bound book in my hands that has been worked on and thought about and edited and been cared about not just by me, but by a team of people who still care very much about creating something special. The book didn't flow from my fingers and get loaded to a Kindle 30 days later.
--My friend Erica Orloff, in a post about why having a publisher is still a good thing. http://ericaorloff.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

'...a year from now I will hold a printed, beautiful bound book in my hands that has been worked on and thought about and edited and been cared about not just by me, but by a team of people who still care very much about creating something special. The book didn't flow from my fingers and get loaded to a Kindle 30 days later."

Take that, you indie hacks! The real authors have spoken!

Mark Asher said...

"...a year from now I will hold a printed, beautiful bound book in my hands that has been worked on and thought about and edited and been cared about not just by me, but by a team of people who still care very much about creating something special. The book didn't flow from my fingers and get loaded to a Kindle 30 days later."

I know nothing about this person's book, so it's not a commentary on it, but I have read traditionally published books that made me think if someone had really cared about good writing and readers the book never would have been published in the first place.

And it's not that indie publishing will solve that problem -- it will multiply it. It's that the traditional gatekeepers do a half-assed job a lot of the time, and they are willing to lower their standards for drek if they are convinced it's drek that will sell.

Anonymous said...

Man, I am tired of the published/self-published author stand-off.

Once upon a time I was an unproduced scriptwriter.

I sold the option on a tv series and lucked into work on another show. Thus I became a 'produced' scriptwriter.

Yay, big worthless back pat for me.

Produced/unproduced - I was still the same fella. Same ego, same insecurities. My writing had some strengths and more than a few weaknesses. I certainly wasn't a better writer after being 'produced'. Just a different one.

These days I'm a budding novelist. One day I'll be a published one. No big deal. I'll just write the story I want, the way I feel it works.

At the end of the day authors are just people who write stories.
Being traditionally or self-published will not make you a better writer. More reading and writing is the only thing that will help you there.

And a reminder to all: it ain't a competition about which author is more legit.

We're talking about throw-away words on a screen or paper for god's sake. Not practitioner hierarchy in an ICU.

Joe Konrath said...

but by a team of people who still care very much about creating something special.

I know Erica, and have done some book signings with her. Cool lady.

But the team of people she speaks of care about money, and that's all. They aren't your friends, your family, or your partners. They work on books in order to make money from them, not because it is a labor of love.

And their "caring very much" comes with a price tag: 92% of the cover price of a paperback, leaving Erica with 8%.

I'd rather have 70% royalties, no bound books to fondle, and no love from anyone.

Jude Hardin said...

But the team of people she speaks of care about money, and that's all. They aren't your friends, your family, or your partners. They work on books in order to make money from them, not because it is a labor of love.

You're so damn cynical these days, Joe. :)

I absolutely believe that books are a labor of love for many people. In fact, the vast majority of folks involved in publishing don't make much money at all.

Bob and Pat Gussin (my publishers) left executive positions at Johnson and Johnson to start Oceanview. Do you really think it was for the money? No, they did it because they love books.

Believe it or not, there are people in the world who don't eat, sleep, and breathe dollar signs. There are people who are actually passionate about the written word, regardless of monetary gain.

Gareth-Michael Skarka said...

I'm not sure what's worse: Print publishers who absolutely do not get the new realities of delivery and distribution...

Or self-publishing authors who base their opinions and plan of action around how ePublishing used to operate over the past decade.... before the advent of mass-marketed consumer-priced eReader devices.

Both are having the same problem: A denial of how things have changed. One is just lagging a bit closer behind than the other.

evilphilip said...

Congrats on the huge landmark, Joe!

I'm jazzed that I sold 100 copies of my short story on the Kindle.

---
Buy Z is for Zombie on the Kindle!

Joe Konrath said...

There are people who are actually passionate about the written word, regardless of monetary gain.

Which is why so many authors are nursed for years by their publishers even though their books lose money.

Not.

I'd like to live in your world, Jude, with rootbeer rivers and gumdrop trees and magic elves who bind books with fairy dust and love.

But instead I live in a world where I've worked my butt off for two decades trying to break into an industry that I realized was beyond repair. I tried to make changes from within, and worked harder than any single living author in order to succeed.

Rather than being nurtured, I was ignored. So I figured out a way to succeed in spite of publishing, rather than because of publishing.

I'll still be around in ten years. They won't.

evilphilip said...

My friend Erica Orloff, in a post about why having a publisher is still a good thing.

Except the Kindle author will see their first check in 90 days. It may take Erica as long as 2 years to see any check at all.

Perspective is a wonderful thing.

Douglas Dorow said...

Jude. I'm happy for you. But don't think that just because I choose to publish on kindle that it isn't a labor of love.

I've been writing my thriller for years. Been part of a writers critique group. I'm going to pay for an edit and a cover. And then I'm going to upload it and start to get reader feedback and money very quickly, I hope.

It's a labor of love (or stubbornness) and in the end it's the story, the words on the pages be they paper or electronic that have to connect with the reader.

I wish you luck and hope you'll return the favor. I look forward to reading your story.
Doug

ThrillersRus.blogspot.com

Jude Hardin said...

Rather than being nurtured, I was ignored.

Six hardcovers over six years, with over a quarter mil in advances. I want to be ignored like you were ignored.

Hey, I know you worked your ass off, and I know you didn't get the results you expected. Hyperion definitely should have given the JD series a boost with better co-op placement and larger print runs around the Rusty Nail/ Dirty Martini period. Epic fail on their part. But I don't think it's fair to spew such venom toward the entire industry because the bean counters at Hachette didn't blow enough candy your way.

Living well is the best revenge, and I'm very happy that you've found (HUGE!) success in the indie arena. But don't dump on everyone in traditional publishing just because of a few sour experiences. There are a lot of good people working on a lot of good books, and since we're all readers too that has to be a good thing.

Jude Hardin said...

But don't think that just because I choose to publish on kindle that it isn't a labor of love.

No! I didn't mean to imply that at all. But, in my experience as a reader and writer, the team experience that traditional publishing provides results in a superior product overall. That might eventually change, as the indie movement evolves, but as of now traditional publishing still rules where quality is concerned.

author Scott Nicholson said...

I fully believe there will be no more authors "making it" in the new era as they were in the old era. They will just be different writers.

Scott

Mark Asher said...

"I fully believe there will be no more authors "making it" in the new era as they were in the old era. They will just be different writers."

I don't really understand this. Maybe my brain is tired. Sorry.

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