Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Konrath Self-Pubbed Sales

I haven't posted my numbers in a while, so here they are.

In the past six weeks, my twenty self-pubbed titles on Amazon Kindle have earned over $26,000.

In November, I sold over 9000 ebooks on Kindle. That averages out to 300 a day.

In November, I also sold 266 print copies of nine self-published titles, earning royalties of $1000. This number is skewed, since most of the titles weren't available until the middle of the month.

I'm not allowed to disclose sales of Shaken, which was published by Amazon Encore. But I'll say that it puts my self-pubbed sales for November to shame.

I attribute the boost I've gotten on my self-pubbed titles to Shaken's success. It hung out in the Amazon Top 100 for a month, and is now ranked at #148.

So is this as good as it gets? is the ebook bubble about to burst?

Not even close.

Amazon put their Kindle 2 on sale for $89 on Black Friday. It sold out in four seconds.

I predict in 2011, the Kindle 3 will be under $99. The market will begin to shift from early adopters to mainstream consumers. Millions of ereaders will be sold this holiday season, and next season will be even bigger.

In 2010, my January sales had a nice bump, from new Kindle owners trying out their new gadgets. 2011 will begin the same way.

I've also noted before how ebooks are like a pyramid scheme. Once they're live, they keep earning money, and more people review them and tell others about them, growing their fanbase. As an author, I add fuel to this fire by writing even more titles, biggering my potential for discovery and for new readers.

In 2011 my two Timecaster sci-fi books will be released. So will Stirred, the last Jack Daniels thriller, that I'm writing with Blake Crouch. I'm also doing a follow up to Serial Uncut called Killers Uncut with Crouch, and a spy thriller with another writer friend. Plus I'm still working on that secret project that will land me on the NYT list for the first time.

All of this new material will keep my backlist viable. In the past 20 months, I've sold over 100,000 self-pubbed ebooks. I bet I can sell more in 2011.

Now lots of folks are quick to point out that I'm an anomaly, an outlier. I believe this label is premature. With every new trend, someone has to be first. But others will follow.

I've mentioned many authors, newbies and seasoned pros, who are self-publishing with some success. In 2011 watch how many pros begin to release their backlists, and their shelf-novels, on Kindle. Also watch to see if any write specifically for Kindle, bypassing traditional publishing completely.

Right now, the profit margin for traditional publishing is slim. If enough authors strike out on their own, it will cause an industry-wide collapse. Fewer books published means fewer sales, which means bookstores close, which means publishers close.

Now let's take a few questions.

Q: You really believe gigantic publishing companies won't survive?

A: Hardcovers sales are down 40% from last year. Ebook sales are up 158%. But publishers are screwing authors on ebook royalties, and charging too much for ebooks. If they change tactics, they'll survive. If they don't, more and more authors will leave tradtitional publishers to make more money on their own.

Q: Don't they realize that will happen?

A: Some of the smartest people I know work in the publishing business. These are motivated, savvy people who love books. But it is notoriously difficult to change a business plan in a large corporation, and history shows that new technology leaves massive casualties. I'm sure the average NY editor has ideas on how to fix things, but their hands may be tied.

Part of the problem is precedent. For over a hundred years, authors had no choice but to deal with publishers. Publishers had all of the power, and they've taken it for granted that they always will. Now the balance of power has truly shifted, but rather than realize their ENTIRE product line comes from artists, publishers instead continue to treat them in the same old way, and expect them to be grateful for the attention.

That won't fly anymore.

Q: How do libraries fit into this future?

A: Libraries are adapting better than bookstores are. Many already have ebook lending available, and more will follow.

Q: How about bookstores?

A: Chapters in Canada is a bookstore chain doing well while others are struggling. If I ran a bookstore, I'd diversify by not only selling non-book items, but by selling used books, POD books (with an Espresso Book Machine on site), and figure out how to sell ebooks in-store and host ebook authors for signings.

Bookstores should also be selling online, both print and ebooks. But their online presence should be community-oriented with lots of user-aggregated content. BN.com and Borders.com are places to shop. Amazon.com is a place to hang out.

Q: I'm an author with ebooks for sale, and I'm hardly selling any.

A: What are you doing to sell your ebooks? Do you participate in any ebook forums online? Have you tried changing your cover/price/product description? Do you actively promote your ebooks? Are you sure they're properly formatted? Is everything you have available for sale? And, finally, are the books any good?

I know authors who are sitting on books, holding out hope for a print deal. I know authors who insist their covers are good when they are really sub par. I know authors who charge too much, and authors who have formatting errors on the first page, and authors who haven't updated their website in two years.

Ebooks aren't a Hail Mary pass that win the ball game at the last second. Ebooks are a career. All careers mean hard work.

Q: You're really making $620 a day?

A: That's just on Kindle. If we include other ebook venues, Createspace, my print deals, and royalties and subsidiary rights, I'm probably one of the better-paid authors working today. Who woulda thunk that you can actually make decent money writing?