Friday, June 18, 2010

The Time Is Now

I'm releasing two original novels on Kindle next week.

I was thinking about the perfect time to release these novels. After all, print novels have release dates. Shouldn't ebooks?

During my reverie, I realized something pretty important: The term "release date" is now archaic and no longer applies.

Print books traditionally have a coop period--which is a length of time the publisher pays the bookstores to keep them on the shelves. Then, once the period ends, most or all of the unsold books get returned.

If you're lucky and have sold enough copies, or your publisher made a deal with the bookstore, a few books will stay on the shelf for a while. But most of the time, they won't.

This meant release dates were important. Both competition, and timing, played a role in when a book came out. So did pre-publication buzz. Galley copies needed to be sent to blurbers and reviewers. There needed to be a press release, and perhaps a laydown date for the book launch.

But with ebooks, none of this matters.

As I mentioned, I'm releasing two original novels on Kindle next week. They're Jack Kilborn horror books, called TRAPPED and ENDURANCE.

This is a big deal for me, because both of these books had traditional print offers. The big boys in NY offered me $$$ to publish these. But I turned them down, and I believe I'm the very first author to do that and self-publish as ebooks instead.

I was considering waiting until the 70% royalty rate comes into play before releasing these books. Amazon is switching from 35% to 70% on July 1. On the surface it makes sense: wait until I can get more money per copy.

But beneath the surface, it makes no sense at all to wait.

I've really struggled with wrapping my head around this concept, so let me try to explain.

My ebooks have been steadily selling more copies each month, since April 2009. This is not how it works in print publishing. In print, you sell a lot the first two months, then sales drop off. In a print model, it would make sense to wait, because I'd make more money if I waited until the royalty rate got better in July.

But in the case of ebooks, if I can count on each month outperforming the previous month, then the longer I wait, the more money I lose.

This is no longer a case of only X number of books being sold. Ebooks don't go out of print. They can technically keep selling forever.

The sooner "forever" begins, the more money the author can earn.

Get it?

If I wait until next month to publish these, I'll miss two full weeks of sales. Money that could be in my pocket.

Why would I defer that until later?

Yeah, I'm still struggling with the logic here myself. My head is so stuck in the old ways, that these new ways still don't make much sense.

Except that they do make sense.

Here's an analogy, to help better explain it.

Let's say you want to get some free electricity, so you build a windmill. Next month is when the high wind season begins, and once that happens, you'll be getting twice as much electricity as you would if you built it now.

Does that mean you should wait a month to build the windmill? No, because you're missing out on all the wind--and electricity--that you could be getting right away.

In this scenario, strange as it seems, waiting is a loss.

So when should you list your book?

A soon as it's perfect and ready. Waiting for a future date means losing sales.

As the walrus said, the time has come. Each day you wait, is a day you could have made some money.

So what exactly are you waiting for?