Sunday, October 03, 2010

You Aren't J.A. Konrath

"Sure, J.A. Konrath is selling a lot of ebooks. But you aren't J.A. Konrath."

I hear that a lot. Not directed toward me, since I am, in fact, J.A. Konrath. But I hear other authors being told this. And to my face I hear that I'm an anomaly and no other self-pubbed author will ever do as well.

In a previous post, I listed almost 100 self-pubbed ebook authors by name. Some of those I mentioned are doing as well as I am. All are selling in the thousands.

But then I hear that a hundred names, out of the hundreds of thousands of ebooks being released, still don't mean anything.

So I got to thinking. Am I wrong to believe that a lot of self-published folks are doing well on Kindle? Or am I blinded by my own success, and oblivious to what is really happening in the ebook world?

Surely, if I'm the only ebook success, the only other ebook bestsellers are those being released by major publishers.


So, on a whim, I began to check Kindle Bestseller lists. Kindle has many such lists, for every subgenre you can think of.

I began on Kindle Store > Kindle Books > Fiction > Horror. I perused the entire Top 100 Bestsellers on that list, and counted how many were self-published books.

I found that 29 out of a 100 were self-pubbed.

Hmm. Seems like almost one third of that list is from indie authors. That sort of spits right in the face of doubters and critics, doesn't it?

"But J.A." you might be saying. "That's only one list."

Indeed. So let's look at a few more.

Kindle Store > Kindle Books > Fiction > Horror > Occult
50 out of 100 are self-pubbed.

Kindle Store > Kindle Books > Mystery & Thrillers > Police Procedurals

15 out of 100 are self-pubbed.

Kindle Store > Kindle Books > Mystery & Thrillers > Thrillers > Technothrillers

36 out of 100 are self-pubbed.

Now, I'm not a guy to jump to conclusions, but it seems to me that some indie authors who aren't named J.A. Konrath are doing pretty well on Amazon.

I could spend the next two hours counting more books on more bestseller lists to prove my point, but I'm not going to. You're more that welcome to do that on your own. I encourage those jumping on the "You Aren't J.A. Konrath" bandwagon to do so. You'll find, as I have, that indies make up a good percentage of most bestseller lists. In fact, I urge all folks with opinions to do a bit of research before spouting those opinions, lest you look foolish.

Oh, and those who say, "The only reason these indie books are able to compete with traditionally published books is because of their low price" should take a look at some of the prices of traditionally published books on these lists.

Some of the Big 6 are pricing ebooks at $2.99 or less.

I wonder where they could have gotten that idea?

(One of these publishers is Grand Central, who is now offering my first Jack Kilborn novel, AFRAID, for $1.99.)

And yet, even at these low prices, indies are still able to compete.

"But we need gatekeepers, J.A.! We need people to bring order to this untamed ebook landscape!"

I agree. Those gatekeepers are essential.

But they don't have to be the Big 6. Readers seem to be doing a fine gatekeeping job all on their own. And Amazon, with its bestseller lists, and genre categories, and reviews, and "explore similar items" tags, and "customers who bought this also bought" lists, are doing a terrific job helping these readers find stuff that interests them.

No, you aren't J.A. Konrath.

But you don't have to be.