Sunday, March 13, 2011

1846 and 1762

One thousand eight hundred and forty-six. That's how many self-pubbed books I'm selling daily.

This is an average of the 12 days and nine hours (March 13, 9am) my books have been for sale this month.

For those who are interested in numbers, here is how the 22848 books sold breaks down:

CreateSpace
603 books
$1457 earned

Nook
648 ebooks
$1047 earned

Kindle
14485 ebooks @ 99¢ (14 titles)
$5070 earned

7014 ebooks @ $2.99 (14 titles)
$14,238 earned

Which means that so far this month I've earned $21,812.

In other words, I'm making $1762 a day, or $73.44 an hour, or $1.22 a minute, or about 2¢ a second.

If this rate stays steady, in a 365 day period I'll earn $643,130.

Of course, I don't expect this rate to stay steady. I expect it to go up. Just like it has consistently for the last two years.

Ereaders will keep coming down in price. Many more will be sold. Plus I'm going to put ten new ebook titles up by Xmas.

Certainly I can't be the only one blown away by these numbers. Especially considering the route it took to get here.

In April 2009, I made $607 self-pubbing.

In April 2010, I made $4041 self-pubbing.

For April 2011, I'll likely make $52,860.

Now, let's see how I analyzed my data last year in June.

I guessed that if I could sell 5000 ebooks a month (which I thought was doable), I'd be able to earn $120,000 a year.

I also predicted there would be more indie writers in the Top 100 (at the time, I believe I was the only one), and some would wind up do better than I'm doing.

Turns out I underestimated both how many I'd sell, and how many other writers would sell. (And it really tickles me to see my reaction 12 months ago.)

Now there seems to be a lot of worry on the world wide web about ebook prices "racing to the bottom." I'm pretty sure my latest figures contradict that, and I think the worry is based on a skewed sample.

You can't study the Top 100 ebook bestsellers on Kindle and apply those ratios to the other 900,000 Kindle ebooks for sale on Amazon. Data always falls into a bell curve. The Top 100 won't apply to the rest of the ebooks that are for sale.

I've sold over 14k ebooks for 99 cents so far this month, and have made $5k. The majority of these sales (11781) are from The List, which is currently #17 on the Top 100.

But my $2.99 backlist, while not as high profile as the Top 100 books and not selling as well, has earned me almost three times as much money as my 99 cent ebooks.

I think that's a pretty good argument for $2.99 still being a viable price point overall. It just doesn't seem to be a viable price point for cracking the Top 100.

But even then, there are a few $2.99 indie ebooks in the Top 100. And soon I'm going to raise the price of The List back to $2.99, to see what happens.

Should be interesting...

175 comments:

Judy Croome said...

Everytime I read your blog, I'm more and more pleased that I've taken the leap and decided to go on my own. The smell of creative freedom (and all those possible sales!) is simply thrilling!
Judy (South Africa)

Andrew said...

I hope Amazon invites you and other successful authors to come visit the team there and give feedback as to how they could do better. It would be a smart move on their part I believe.

Robert Bruce Thompson said...

Joe,

Based on your results with The List at $0.99 bumping sales up by a factor of 25, wouldn't it make more sense to price all your other titles at $0.99 as well? You need a 6X volume increase to break even at 35% and you got a 25X bump on The List. Even if you don't get a 25X bump on all of your other titles, I suspect if you give it a while you'd get significantly more than an average of 6X across the board.

Robin Sullivan said...

Congratz Joe - I'm very happy you are achieving your goals and then some.

As someone who opposess the "race to the bottom" I'd just like to say that its working for you and several others - but I'm not sure it is a "recipe fo success". The real reason this works is that you get on the lists that get a lot of proomotion from Amazon - again a good thing. But there are only 14 indie authors who are on the Top 100 and even if ALL of the spots were filled with indies that only leaves 100 spots and there are thousands of authors out there.

You found a strategy that works for you - which is great. But I know others who are making hundrends of thosands a year at the $4.95 and above price point. I bring this up just to mention that $0.99 and $2.99 is not the ONLY game in town.

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

Jeff Kay said...

Joe, Your success is an inspiration, and I appreciate you doing what you do. I'll be self-publishing my first novel in early April, and I'm looking forward to being in the game. thanks! -Jeff

Daryl Sedore said...

You have now hit the 5% mark of your potential sales.

In two years, you will be making triple this.

In five years, at least a million dollars every month will be the norm or the low end.

Eoghann Irving said...

One of the things I'm wondering is if the 99cent price point will allow novellas and short novels to make a resurgence.

There's been a move in recent years towards longer and longer novels. But as a consumer I can see the appeal for 40,000 word fiction that won't take me forever to read.

For an author shorter works is a great way to be able to issue regular new works and keep your name out there.

And 99 cents seems like an economic price point for something like that.

Joe Flynn said...

Congratulations, Joe. More power to you and all of us hard-working, dedicated-writing self-pubbers. February was the first month I passed the 1,000+ cumulative sales mark for my ten titles. As of March 12, I sold as many books as I did in the first 21 days of February. My best-selling title,The Hangman's Companion, is on pace to sell 600-700 copies this month and should be my first title to sell 1,000 copies in a month in April. I look forward to bigger things for me personally and all of us who work hard and smart enough to get "lucky."

Shelia A. Huggins said...

I've been following this blog for over two years now, and it's been very interesting to see the numbers change as much as they have. I remember when Joe blogged about making $120,000. Of course that figure doesn't even compare to what he's making now. Big congrats!!

To Jeff Kay: I just published my novel last month. I'm trying the follow Joe's lead and keep a good record of not only the sales but also the type of marketing I'm doing so that I can see what works and what doesn't work. I've told myself no changes for six months...meaning price, cover, writing, etc. That should give me sufficient time to evaluate where things are going. At least with digital publishing, you can make changes relatively easily.

I think with so many writers self-pubbing now (and it took me awhile to get on the bandwagon too), it will be interesting to see where we are five years from now, I mean those of us starting to publish now.

Joe Konrath said...

Even if you don't get a 25X bump on all of your other titles, I suspect if you give it a while you'd get significantly more than an average of 6X across the board.

I've thought about it, but I have 13 other 99 cent titles who aren't selling a fraction of waht The List is selling, so there's no guarantee that dropping prices would increase sales.

I dropped Shot of Tequila to 99 cents for two weeks, and sold around 5x as many. My earning was diminished, so I switched it back. Then I recently dropped Disturb to 99 cents, and that looks like it might have a run at the Top 100. We'll see.

I like the $2.99 price point, partially because it can get lower. At 99 cents, there isn't a way to put the title "on sale" for a time.

Todd said...

Joe, I plan on taking the plunge in the middle of May. I have a middle grade/young adult adventure book. You are the pied piper, my friend.

Joe Konrath said...

but I'm not sure it is a "recipe for success".

There is no such thing as a recipe for success, Robin. There is only talent, hard work, experimentation, and a whole lot of luck.

But I know others who are making hundrends of thosands a year at the $4.95 and above price point. I bring this up just to mention that $0.99 and $2.99 is not the ONLY game in town.

More experimentation is needed, no doubt. But I've had a $5.99 ebook available for over 12 months, and it doesn't earn as much as my weakest selling $2.99 title.

I'm going to experiment with the $3.99 and $4.99 price points this year, to see if I'm wrong about the sweet spot. But right now I'm pretty sure it is $2.99.

Joe Konrath said...

One of the things I'm wondering is if the 99cent price point will allow novellas and short novels to make a resurgence.

I've been discussing this with my peers. It might start to make sense to release four 20k word novellas at $2.99 each instead of a 80k novel.

While novels outsell novellas and short stories, I'm starting to thing that shorter works earn more money per word.

Gisele said...

These figures are astounding! Congratulations Joe.

Tom Stedham said...

Joe,

Because of your blog, I bought a Kindle and BAD GIRL; SERIAL (uncut); The List; KILLERS; and The Newbie's Guide to Publishing.

Your constant praise of indy writers is fuel to my writing fire. Thank you very much for the motivation.

It is definitely helping me write, and I dream of one day having a fraction of the success you have.

The hard facts and actual sales numbers are very helpful and motivating. Please keep it up!

wannabuy said...

Congrats Joe!

Man will it be tough for the AAP14 to gain authors once ebooks break 20%. 2011 is an exciting year. 2012 even more so.

Daryl is right in that ebooks have far more earning potential ahead. I know oodles of people who 'sneak a read' on their Android phones now. Just think what would happen if Amazon made an e-ink Kindle/Android phone? ;)

Exciting possibilities ahead...

Neil

Michael Allen said...

I don't suppose it affects the argument much, but...

"Data always falls into a bell curve" ?

Not always, imho, though I'm not an expert in statistics.

In my understanding many collections of data do form a bell curve. Eg if you plot human height, this will reflect the fact that a small number of people are very short, a small number are very tall, and most of us are average. Hence a bell curve.

But the main characteristic of book sales is that you don't get that. What you get is a small number of huge sales and a very large number of small sales, forming what is known (I believe) as a Zipf curve. Which will include the famous long tail.

Joe is at the top of the ski slope, with huge sales. Most of his readers, including me, are in the long tail, with very small sales.

Joshua James said...

Joe, do you have any news for how ebooks might be published outside of the US?

In other words, have you gotten offers for your works in the UK, etc?

I'm also told that there are epublishers now specifically looking to capitalize on what you're doing, publishing books strictly for ereaders, tho' the royalty is, I think, fifty percent.

Robert Bruce Thompson said...

I'm going to experiment with the $3.99 and $4.99 price points this year, to see if I'm wrong about the sweet spot. But right now I'm pretty sure it is $2.99.

Right now, you may well be right, but I think long-term and even medium-term, $0.99 is going to be the new $2.99 and $0.00 is going to be the new $0.99.

Right now, ebook pricing is getting some top cover from paperbacks. A lot of readers, including me, think the price of an ebook should be the price of the story, which is to say half the price of a used paperback. (You can sell a used paperback for half what you paid for it or trade it two for one.)

I think this "race to the bottom" is crap. Right now, authors get paid nothing on used book sales. In future, they're going to get paid on all sales, which is a very good thing for authors, even at the $0.99 price point. I posted this on my journal page yesterday:

A big part of the reason that ebook owners buy more books is availability. I'll use Barbara and me as examples. In the past, we might browse the shelves at the library or a bookstore, new or used, and notice a book we thought might be interesting. So we buy it and take it home. I read it and like it, and tell Barbara I think she'd like it. What's the next thing we want? The rest of the titles in the series. I just read, say, #8, but Barbara really, really prefers to read a series in order. Of the eight titles in the series, only two others, #6 and #7, are still in print. The library has #2 and #4. The only way to get #1, #3, and #5 is to look at used book stores or on-line used book sellers. So we track down those titles, order the ones the library doesn't have, and wait for them to arrive. When they arrive, we both read #1. We try to get #2 and #4 from the library, but it owns only one copy of each, and that copy hasn't been returned. It may come back tomorrow, in six months, or never. (That's why, in reality, we wouldn't have ordered just #1, #3, and #5; we'd have ordered all of the titles.)

Contrast that with ebooks. For the traditional publishers, the situation isn't a lot different, because most of them haven't published all or even most of their backlists and probably never will. We're still stuck finding those on our own. We'd buy them if they were available at a reasonable price, but they either aren't available at all or are priced outrageously high. For self-pubbed authors, it's the difference between night and day. If, for example, Barbara wanted to give Amanda Hocking a try, she could order the first book in each of her series for $0.99. If she liked those, she could with one click each buy each of Hocking's other books for $0.99 to $2.99 each. Total time needed is less than a minute (versus hours old-style); total cost is about $20 (versus $50 to $100 or more old-style); total wait time is literally seconds (versus anything from days to literally months old-style).


And I think that's exactly what's going to happen. Many readers will come across an author they like and then buy every book in the series.

anthony newman said...

Great numbers.Congrats.I was at work this week and had some downtime. A coworker took a look at my kindle and showed me his ipod touch with about ten of your stories on it. I was happy cause we spent time talking about something other that work; your stories. He said that the price was at first a determining factor,but he enjoyed the reading so at 99 cents or 2.99 it didn't matter. He used to buy harcovers and paperbacks, now only purchasing ebooks.The word is definetely getting around about ebooks. Keep up the great work!

Dee DeTarsio said...

Joe--that is awesome! Congratulations--and thanks for being so generous in sharing how this digital revolution is working!

David Cranmer said...

Very impressive, Joe.

Joe Konrath said...

zipf curve

Interesting points.

But are we sure it isn't a bell curve. If the majority of indies sell between a shitload and none at all, that wouldn't indicate a bell, wouldn't it?

Joe Konrath said...

Because of your blog, I bought a Kindle and BAD GIRL; SERIAL (uncut); The List; KILLERS; and The Newbie's Guide to Publishing.

Email me. I'll buy you some free ebooks.

Anyone who buys a Kindle because of my work deserves a few freebies.

Kendall Swan said...

Such amazing numbers! Congrats!! Very inspiring as always.

Kendall Swan

Ty Hutchinson said...

Thanks for laying it all out there Joe. Not many people would do what you're doing.

I hope you're buying a lot toys!

Joe Konrath said...

I hope you're buying a lot toys!

I've now got a full size beer cooler, filled with $6000 worth of rare, expensive beer.

I love my life.

Merrill Heath said...

@Robert Bruce Thompson: Many readers will come across an author they like and then buy every book in the series.

I agree wholeheartedly...especially if the price is reasonable - i.e., 99 cents or $2.99. At the 99 cent price point, if a reader finds an author he likes and there are 5 books in the series, it's a no-brainer. For less than $5 he can get the entire series...in a few minutes...without hunting or shopping or waiting for delivery by snail mail. If it turns out ther reader really likes the series he'll buy the new books as they come out. If he doesn't like them...well...it's only $5 spent and very little effort.

Merrill Heath
Bearing False Witness

Edie Ramer said...

Congratulations! I'm so impressed with your success. I've been experimenting with my prices these past couple months. This month I sold 4 times more books than last month, all because I lowered the price of Dead People, my paranormal romance, to 99 cents. I had lowered Cattitude to 99 cents previously. After about 5 weeks, I raised it. Though I'm selling less, I'm making more with it at the $2.99 price. Not so with Dead People. The lower price is keeping it in the top 10 for "ghosts," which makes the difference.

Two days ago, I lowered the price of Dragon Blues to 99 cents see what will happen there. It's an interesting journey, that's for sure.

Michael said...

I've now got a full size beer cooler, filled with $6000 worth of rare, expensive beer.


Man, have I got a beer for you. I hope some day to clink a bottle of it with you. Not that you need it, but it would be my treat.

My numbers are nowhere near yours, but I have sold 2,557 books so far this month and you are a big reason why. I will, of course, take credit for the 20 years I spent learning how to write a kick-ass story, but I still needed someone to point me in the right direction career-wise.

William said...

Congrats Joe!
Very Impressive to say the least :~)

antares said...

Once upon a time, I was a professional statistician.

J A Konrath said:
"But are we sure it isn't a bell curve. If the majority of indies sell between a shitload and none at all, that wouldn't indicate a bell, wouldn't it?"

No, it would not.

By definition, a normal curve (aka a bell curve, a Gaussian distribution) must be centered at zero and extend infinitely both to the left (negative) and to the right (positive). Some curves, such as binomial distributions of large populations, are approximately normal. 'Normal' is a term of art in statistics; it does not mean what you think it does.

Why is normality a big deal?

Normality is a big deal because it allows statisticians to apply high-powered parametric techniques to the analyses of the data. With normality you get meaningful standard deviations, moments of skewness, derived confidence intervals, and so forth.

Non-normal distributions do not yield meaningful standard deviations, and so forth. But you can still get a lot of information out of them, too.

Total sales figures for eBook authors will form a right-skewed distribution. I know that, because no one call sell less than zero books. Most will sell few (<100). Very few will sell 100,000 (Amanda Hocking, John Locke, J A Konrath). Plot the number of authors (Y axis) by the number of eBooks sold (X axis) and you will see a right-skewed distribution: big hump on the left near 0, long tail on the right.

Income will follow a Lorentz curve (properly, a Lorentzian curve). Well, the distribution of share of total income will. A Lorentz curve looks very much like an exponential curve. Plot the share of total income ($) (Y axis) by population percentiles (X axis). The writers at the left end get nothing; the writers at the right end get 'fyck you' money. You don't break into the latter group until you exceed the 98th percentile.

Steven Levitt, _Freakonomics_, called this Tournament Economics: a few winners take home big paydays but most players get little or nothing.

Robin Sullivan said...

Joe Konrath said...I'm going to experiment with the $3.99 and $4.99 price points this year, to see if I'm wrong about the sweet spot.

Glad to hear it Joe - experimentation is a good thing - I've always thought that you would make it work - and I'd like nothing more than to see you in the top 100 with a $4.99 book. I'll keep watching.

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

antares said...

"[Amanda] Hocking and [J A] Konrath and others like them represent an existential threat to traditional publishers."

Read it all http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2011/03/amanda-hocking-and-99-cent-kindle.html

David Wisehart said...

Interesting that your 14 titles priced at $2.99 make more than twice what your 14 titles at $0.99 make (at half the sales volume).

Looking at aggregate figures like this seems more reliable than trying to extrapolate from a single title.

No doubt your $0.99 titles help to sell your $2.99 titles.

Can't wait to see what happens when you try slightly higher prices. As your name becomes a stronger brand, you should be able to command a higher price.

Love your experiments, Joe, and your candor.

Thanks!

David

Joe Konrath said...

a few winners take home big paydays but most players get little or nothing.

But I don't believe that is the case here.

I believe, given long term studies, most ebooks will sell moderately well. Some will sell exceptionally well. Some won't sell at all.

Just like Hollywood box office.

http://hollywoodandwall.com/category/research/

Nick Sireau said...

Antares, thank you for your explanation about ebook market statistics. I've been reading Joe's excellent blog for some time now and have always been impressed by the success stories he highlights, while often wondering how to get a picture of the wider self-publishing sector.

I was wondering whether you have any statistical insights into key factors that could explain why some ebooks reaching that tipping point that then leads to accelerated sales? I'm looking here for factors that could partially explain the 'luck' that Joe rightly points out as an important component of success.

Tom H said...

Great numbers Joe, and thanks for sharing them. I have a question to you, or anyone else who has a prediction: what will happen to indie authors when the big brand authors and publishers finally do wake up (which they surely will do eventually) and start pricing their books at $4.99, $3.99, $2.99 and so on? When readers can get Lee Child, Harlan Coben and Tess Gerritsen for those prices, will they be so willing to take a punt on an self-published writer? In other words, can indies still be successful when their books are no longer a bargain compared to the mainstream?

wannabuy said...

@Joe: "I believe, given long term studies, most ebooks will sell moderately well. Some will sell exceptionally well. Some won't sell at all."

That is the classic 'long tail distribution. I do not see us going to a very peaky 'long tail.' Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if ebooks go to a 'tail heavy' distribution. :)

Of course some books won't sell well. Too many authors refuse to 'cater to the market' to sell. That might be a refusal to edit properly, create a proper cover, write the compelling summary/1st chapter (sample), etc.

All indications I've seen are that ebooks are spreading the wealth. Everyone is worried about the wealth being concentrated, but the opposite is happening.

Which doesn't mean there won't be 'home run' profit centers. ;)

Neil

Selena Kitt said...

Normality is a big deal because it allows statisticians to apply high-powered parametric techniques to the analyses of the data. With normality you get meaningful standard deviations, moments of skewness, derived confidence intervals, and so forth.

Damn. You're sexy when you talk like that! ;)

Cheryl Corbin said...

@Tom H: what will happen to indie authors when the big brand authors and publishers finally do wake up (which they surely will do eventually) and start pricing their books at $4.99, $3.99, $2.99 and so on? When readers can get Lee Child, Harlan Coben and Tess Gerritsen for those prices, will they be so willing to take a punt on an self-published writer? In other words, can indies still be successful when their books are no longer a bargain compared to the mainstream?

As a reader, I can read a book in 1-2 days. No writer can produce a new novel that frequently, so I'm always searching for new writers and stories. The only thing that limits my buying is my available money. If my favorite mainstream authors are selling ebooks in the 2.99-5.99 range, I can buy them and still have money left over to buy indie writers to fill in the gaps between new books from the big names. A lot of money left over actually, compared to paying hardback prices. There's definitely room for both the big names and the new writers in the ebook market at the lower price points.

Jonah Gibson said...

Joe, thanks for the inspiration. I put a collection of 5 short stories up on Amazon yesterday at 99 cents. It went through review, and should be published by tomorrow (Monday) morning. I'm already working on my next title. I can't say this is going to go anywhere, but I wouldn't have tried it without your encouragement. You are doing a great job of pointing out how the publishing world is changing and where the opportunities lie. This is an invaluable service to writers and readers everywhere.

Netanyahu said...

Joe,

Your insights and your generosity in sharing your results are a great service to other writers. I thank you.

PJ Lincoln said...

Considering your success and growing strength of you as a brand, Joe, have you considered becoming your own publishing house? In other words, you endorse and publish selected authors for a percentage of their sales? Do any e-publishers allow for this scenario?

Sam said...

Great work, Joe!

I agree that $2.99 is the sweet spot. But *please* leave "The List" at 99 cents till we see how high it goes! Once it clearly has peaked, then raise it.

BTW, my own Dirty Parts of the Bible tumbled in sales rank because Amazon deleted the Kindle edition of "Water for Elephants." Being the #1 book "customers also bought" with Elephants was previously my main source of free advertising.

A couple days later, Amazon posted a new edition of Elephants (movie tie-in cover) and started the customers also bought section over from scratch. I've lowered my price back to 99 cents, trying to climb back to #1 on that list.

With all the talk about luck, I'll offer this up as an example of *bad* luck :-)

Michael said...

"With all the talk about luck, I'll offer this up as an example of *bad* luck :-)"

That seems bizarre and arbitrary, but I guess that's how the world works in so many ways. I noticed that your rankings are already quite respectable again, though. The non-arbitrary part is that you've got great writing, paired with a catchy title and a strong cover. That's the sort of thing that makes its own luck.

LT said...

Joe I only discoverednyour blog about a month ago, and now it has become a daily read as I approach the release of my first ebook.

And after all your hawking, today I will buy The List. Here comes 0.35.

Thanks for an inspiring daily read.

Michelle Muto said...

Sam - sorry to hear about having to start from scratch. Your book really is good!

Joe - I've only been up for a week, but you're making me rethink the midway price point of $1.99.

It seems it's $2.99 or .99. Any thoughts about $1.99?

wannabuy said...

Antares,

Thanks for the link. You had some interesting references. So thank you for properly referencing your blog.

Neil

Stephen T. Harper said...

I just read that Nathan Bransford article linked by Antares about the mortal threat posed to publishers by ebooks.

It's a good article, but I think NB is missing one point.

NB said...

"Will publishers be able to maintain their prices or will they have to come down? And if they have to come down, how far will they have to go?

As always, the answer will be determined by consumers and their individual choices.

Stephenie Meyer's TWILIGHT for $8.99 or Amanda Hocking's SWITCHED for $0.99?
Harlan Coben's LIVE WIRE for $14.99 or J.A Konrath's SHAKEN FOR $2.99?"


That missing point - it's not a competition between Meyers' 8.99 book and Hocking's $0.99 book. Because Twilight is an established brand that fans already know they love and will pay "extra" for. The real competition is between Hocking's book and a debuting author at 8.99.

How hard does it become for publishers to find/create a new hit of "Twilight" proportions from scratch in this new environment? I think that's a tough question. The old methods (basically spending money to make money) will still work, but probably not as well.

"Twilight" is a fairly recent phenomenon. Would it have happened the same way if it was released as a debut today? Maybe... But how about next year? Or 2013? It gets tougher and tougher to picture an unknown property taking off like that one did while hampered by that high price.

Selena Kitt said...

With all the talk about luck, I'll offer this up as an example of *bad* luck :-)

Yep. Seems two steps forward, one step back sometimes. I lost my rankings on Kindle when they switched me from Mobi to DTP. That was killer. Then of course there was the banning of taboo topics on Amazon. (Although while hurting my sales on Kindle for a month or so, B&N picked up the slack big time!) Most recently, it was B&N deciding to remove the "download sample" buttons from erotic/adult titles on their site for a few days. That cut my income in half with them and it still hasn't recovered. Ouchie.

You can certainly have bad luck as easily as you can have good luck. *sigh*

Nick said...

Impressive figures there! I hope to duplicate your success one day.

Sanguine said...

I'm curious Joe how have your short stories done? I don't have a full length novel, yet. But I do have a nice stash of short stories. Right now I'm editing an 6k short-story to get started. The plan is to proof-read, copy-edit, and polish 1-6k short story per month.

I'd be really interested to hear if any Authors have had ok response to Short Story sales?

Sam said...

Michelle, don't forget your book link-- The Book of Lost Souls

This is one everybody should check out...

John said...

Joe,

Excellent as always. One area that no one mentions is Google ebooks. Google has the muscle to compete with Amazon, and have a more generic approach. But I have seen no comments so far from you or your interviewees about this outlet.

Are you tapping into Google ebooks - or is anyone else?

John West
Broken Glass - coming in May.

Selena Kitt said...

Are you tapping into Google ebooks - or is anyone else?

So far sales there have been slow. Only about $100 a month.

Leonard D. Hilley II said...

Congrats! It's great to see someone doing this the self-pub way!
Best,
Leonard

Kathleen Dienne said...

So... are you going to do a column on tax advice Kindle authors?

I'm mostly kidding. Mostly ;)

Kathleen Dienne said...

FOR Kindle authors, sigh. I blame the beagle on my lap for any typos.

Lee Goldberg said...

Very impressive and informative numbers, as usual. Your Kindle numbers have always been extraordinary, so that's not new...but this caught my eye:

CreateSpace
603 books
$1457 earned

Nook
648 ebooks
$1047 earned


What's interesting to me is that you are earning slightly more from your paperbacks on CreateSpace than you are from your ebooks on the Nook. So paper isn't entirely dead yet :-)

How are you doing on Kindle UK?

Lee

LT said...

I would love Joe to do a tax advice article for Kindle authors.

As an Australian who is about to publish to Kindle I am trying to figure out all the hoops I have to jump through.

And it looks as thought B&N only allow US citizens to publish with them.

Susan said...

Joe, congratulations! I love to see your success stories plus those of your guest authors!

For writers and readers the world is getting better and better for those taking the plunge.

ezbeanz said...

That's freaking awesome! :)

Douglas Dorow said...

Joe, as always, thanks for sharing and being so open and giving the rest of us a glance behind the curtain. You are the Wizard.

In a small way I'm promoting ebooks, kindle, indies, cross promotion and raising money for scholarships at my kids' school.

If you're an ebook author and have a book to donate you can find the details at Thrillers R Us

Thanks for sharing. I keep learning from all of your posts and the great discussion here.

Douglas Dorow said...

Well, that link didn't work. You can find the details at www.thrillersRus.blogspot.com

Thanks

Tara Maya said...

Joe, when I read your post to members of my family who brunched with us today, they thought it was an email from somebody in Nigeria. That's how unbelievable the numbers were to them.

Tara Maya
Initiate
Conmergence

Ellen O'Connell said...

"* * * what will happen to indie authors when the big brand authors and publishers finally do wake up (which they surely will do eventually) and start pricing their books at $4.99, $3.99, $2.99 and so on?"

I don't know about others here, but depending on what else is going on in my life, I read from 1 to 5 books a week. Finding enough books I want to read to satisfy that desire has always been a problem and my book budget is limited. Before Kindle, I used to handle this by doing a lot of rereading of favorite authors. Since Kindle I've done very little rereading because it's so much easier to find and get new books.

All of which is to say I suspect even if the big pubs start to price reasonably, there will continue to be avid readers who will also give us indies a chance.

J. E. Medrick said...

Two cents a second, huh Joe? So how long did it take you to write that blog post? You're giving us more than your two cents ;)

Shackled
Cheat

Anonymous said...

Joe,
Those are some sweet numbers. I raise my bottle to you.
Enjoy your success and your toys.

Josie Wade

JD Rhoades said...

Congratulations, Joe!

It occurs to me that the concentration on who's in the Top 100 may be a vestige of old publishing thinking. The top of the list measures a spike in sales, when what you're really looking for is steady sales over a long period.

kmfields said...

Joe,

Like so many others, I appreciate these updates, which I find informative and inspirational. I discovered your blog towards the end of last year, when I was still trying to go the legacy route. I've since seen the light and look forward to having my first book up next month.

Sarah Woodbury said...

What is there to say but . . . wow.

Sarah Woodbury said...

I guess there is . . . LT, I believe non US citizens can publish through Smashwords? You then get distribution to Barnes and Noble.

Archangel said...

what an outstanding multi-fecta Joe. I liked that you broke it down by the minute/ second. It makes many of us happy to see your exuberant happiness.

@tara maya, 'letter from Nigeria' that was truly funny. I get about ten of those a day and am amazed at the different stories told. You sound like you have a cool family. 'Cept Joe hasnt yet claimed he has 17M to give to each of us if only we go deposit x number of $$ in some stranger's bank account in Lemoy. But... it's got book possibilities, no? lol

dr.cpe

LT said...

@sarah.woodbury, ahh thanks for that. I had planned Smashwords, but was also looking at PubIt. Good to know that SW will handle B&N for me also.

Thanks again.

LT.

wannabuy said...

@Ellen:"I don't know about others here, but depending on what else is going on in my life, I read from 1 to 5 books a week. Finding enough books I want to read to satisfy that desire has always been a problem and my book budget is limited."

Rock on! So there... I cut my reading and went to other activities. Now... I'm reading more!

I really doubt the big6 could price low for an extended time. I hope everyone that suggests that strategy realizes that a prolonged ebook discounting by all of the AAP14 would nuke the legacy book industry. It would be unlikely to hurt indie authors due to the flood of new customers.

I double dog dare the big6/AAP14 to start a price war.

Neil

Kendall Swan said...

@Sanguine Short stories have been very good for me. I have 19 up under a few names and have done very well. I am working on my first (short) novel now, tho, bc that is still the primary reading length by far and therefore much more marketable.

@John I'm curious about this route as well. However, a quick search on Kindleboarsds turned up some recent horror stories re their system. I still want to give it a try but I think i won't make it high priority just yet. I think the return on my effort is better spent writing right now.

Kendall Swan

Thomas Finan Promotions said...

@Sanguine:

I'll second what Kendall said. My short story collection, The Other Side, has been selling and gaining new readers. It hasn't gotten a Konrath-sized mob yet, but its audience is growing. Like Joe (and many others), I've found the $0.99 price helpful for expanding the readership.

Anna Elliott said...

@John

I agree with Kendall. Google's eBook system isn't ready for prime time yet. Shockingly poor navigation on their upload/management site (it is quite difficult to even find the login page) coupled with excruciating wait times for things to get approved (weeks maybe even months). I think it will be great someday, but it's not worth the trouble for now. Unless you are really motivated to have the contents of your book indexed by Google's search engine. Then I guess it could be useful. (Maybe that is mainly goof for non-fiction?)

Anna Elliott said...

Sigh. goof = good

Preview schmeview.

Shaun said...

For anyone who's interested, I just found this article, 6 days old [Mar 7, 2011], by Blake Crouch, on the economics of self-publishing an eBook... Posted on TheNextWeb.

Thought people might find this interesting. Some people, anyway.

I don't know how the hell I can put this link here without it looking like I'm spamming this link, but I swear I have no vested interest in it :) I actually am genuinely posting it here because I think some of you will find it interesting, and that's all.

Enh, screw what you all think ;) Here it is.

http://thenextweb.com/media/2011/03/07/the-economics-of-self-publishing-an-ebook/

Enjoy. Shaun.

Jeff Kay said...

Thank you, Shelia. I understand that once the book is written, re-written, edited, formatted, and a cover is created...it's time to get to the hard part. Testing will be a big part of the promotion and marketing phase, and I'm excited to get into it.

I hope your novel is a big success!

bowerbird said...

lee goldberg said:
> So paper isn't
> entirely dead yet :-)

paper-books will never die...

but hearing you say that, lee,
reminds me of that funny scene
in monty python's "holy grail"
where the townspeople are
told to "bring out your dead!",
and this one guy carries out
his grandfather slung over his
shoulder, and the grandfather
emits an "i'm not dead yet...",
whereupon the guy clunks him
over the head, thus killing him.

but no, lee, print will not die...

when _your_ grandchildren have
greatgrandchildren of their own,
_they_ will use print-on-demand
for hard-copy of beloved books.

-bowerbird

John said...

Selena, Kendall and Anna -

Thanks for your replies [Anna - I think 'goof' worked']

Google may take a while to sort out - however, I suspect that it will provide momentum and competition, both for Amazon and Apple, at east as an ebook reseller. They seem to have a major investment in digital books overall.

Maybe we can get Joe to pioneer a Google ebooks study... :-)

John
Broken Glass - coming in May

Felicity Heaton said...

I'm like you, and tried to take into account current sales figures last year, their steady rise, and factor in new releases. That brought me to thinking that I could be potentially selling maybe 5000 ebooks a month on Amazon by the end of 2011. What I didn't factor in was the incredible increase in sales that occurred post Christmas week, an increase which is yet to drop. I'm now having to refactor my sales targets as I'm currently selling around 10,000 ebooks a month, with a few books in the top 500 on Amazon UK, and another 6 releases planned for this year. At the moment, I'm making around $12000 a month just from Kindle sales, but with new releases I have planned all being either $2.99 or $3.99, I'm expecting to be earning more than that by the end of the year, possibly closer to $20000 a month purely from Amazon. I'm amazed by the doubling / tripling of sales since Christmas. I just wish I could get onto B&N Pubit directly as I don't believe my books are reaching their potential market by being on B&N via Smashwords. The downside to being a UK author--country discrimination. I had to wait until 2010 to get my books on Amazon, and now I'll probably have to wait until 2012 to get directly onto B&N and get the best exposure. Grr. Good luck with your sales! Hope they continue to rise.

chris said...

Maybe a calendar next, Joe... you got some seriously hot figures for it!

Essay Writer said...

The topic that your blog deals with demands lots of research. Thanks to you who has provided the intricate information in simple words.

Gregory said...

I think to play with other price points, you have to have established yourself a little as a writer going it alone. Right now I average about 2-3 a day, which for me is great since I have about an hour or two a day to market and promote. I plan on releasing three other books this year and hopefully can increase my sales. I'm staying with the $2.99 price point when they are released, but will probably hit the $.99 price on my first title once the second on is out.

www.nightcrynovel.com

JD Rhoades said...

In April 2009, I made $607 self-pubbing.

In April 2010, I made $4041 self-pubbing.

For April 2011, I'll likely make $52,860


This is what I find most intriguing about this mode of publishing: the way sales build over time, sometimes fast, sometimes slow, but always in more time than the "hit big in six weeks or you're done" mentality of trad publishing. In February, I sold less than a book a day. In March, I'm averaging 4.8 a day, as of this morning. Next month, who knows? But it seems the trend is up more often than not. But in trad publishing, LAWYERS GUNS AND MONEY would already be getting packed up to send back to the distributor, and STORM SURGE would be in remainders.

Marcia Colette said...

I started Bittersweet at $2.99 and thought about lowering the price to $0.99 when I release my second book next month. But after talking with other authors who are self-publishing at more than double my price and are making some serious money, I'm thinking about having my April release at $2.99 and upping the price of Bittersweet to $3.99 to see what happens. I can't go too high because teens don't have a lot of money and Bittersweet is a YA.

Come December, all bets are off. If this past Christmas is any indication (more people buying cheaper ereaders), I wouldn't put it past boxing up everything for $9.99. ;-)

Joe Konrath said...

The List is holding steady at #17, and selling 1500 copies a day.

That's $525 daily, for those keeping score.

Cindi Lee said...

Wow, talk about impressive numbers. This wouldn't have been at all possible a few years ago. It's nice to see where self-publishing has gone now. I debuted my first novel March 1st and I hope that with hard work, determination, and experimentation I can continue to build upon the numbers I'm already getting.

Savannah Chase said...

Wow those are some fantastic numbers....congrats

J.A. Marlow said...

Very interesting numbers. Thank you,Joe, for keeping us updated on how the pricing experiment is going. Also for the added tidbit on how the month of April is going for you across three years.

I don't have much up yet, only 4 titles, but it's been fun to watch what happens with them. It's definitely a slow build. Right now, for me, a VERY slow build. But at least I have my work out now, rather than 6-18 months from now if I went traditional. That is, if any publishing company would even bother looking at me.

It's definitely a marathon, not a quick race. If I were to look at my numbers right now, I would be depressed. Instead, I'm trying to limit myself on looking at them to much and concentrate on finishing more 'product' and getting it up. Two more are planned inthe next 2 months. Whee!

Your blogs always lift my spirits. Thanks for writing them, even though you are so busy writing new novels yourself.

J.A. Marlow
Into the Forest Shadows: A planet-wide conspiracy is waiting at Grandmother's House...

David A. Todd said...

Congrats Joe on your astounding success. My short story, "Mom's Letter," has sold only two copies in the month it's been live on Kindle. But life got real busy right then and I haven't had time to promote it.

Robert Bruce Thompson said...

The List is holding steady at #17, and selling 1500 copies a day.

I suspect those 1,500 copies a day are going to pay off hugely in the coming weeks and months.

You mentioned that you'd not seen much of a halo effect on your other titles, but again I think it's much too soon to expect that. For example, I purchased The List on 15 March, the first day you'd reduced the price from $2.99 to $0.99. I finally got around to reading it last week. I liked it, and I'm going to order more of your titles.

But I currently have more than 80 new-to-me authors on my Kindle, all of them free or $0.99 downloads. I'm still churning through those to figure out which ones I want to read more of. If I ordered all your other titles now, I wouldn't be able to help myself. I'm a serial reader, so I'd go through every one of those before I got back to sampling the others.

So, the upshot is that I'll probably buy copies of every one of your other titles, as well as future titles, but that's not going to start happening for a while.

People who are "testing" the $0.99 price point aren't giving it nearly long enough to kick in. A month certainly isn't long enough to judge effect on companion title sales. I'd encourage anyone who's doing this to keep the price at $0.99 for six months or longer.

Robert Bruce Thompson said...

That should have been "15 February", of course.

bowerbird said...

shaun said:
> I just found this article,
> 6 days old [Mar 7, 2011],
> by Blake Crouch, on the
> economics of self-publishing
> an eBook...
> http://thenextweb.com/media/2011/03/07/the-economics-of-self-publishing-an-ebook/

thanks for the pointer, shaun.

i was quite amused that blake
is reported there to think that
"the 99 cent authors are not
only devaluing their own work,
but other ebooks as well."

it's almost as if blake fails to
recognize that the big6 and
the other corporate publishers
make the same charge about
_blake_ and the other authors
who charge $2.99 for e-books,
instead of $9.99 or $12.99...

***

robin wants authors to price
e-books at $4.99 or $5.99,
because she knows that she can
kick your ass at that price...

john locke wants you to price
your e-books at just $.99,
because he knows he can
kick your ass at that price...

the corporate houses want you
to price e-books at $9.99 up,
because they know they can
kick your ass at that price...

and yes, blake wants you to
price your e-books at $2.99,
because he knows that he can
kick your ass at that price...

i suggest you find the price
where your audience ends up
providing the best possible
support for you, in artistic
and creative and psychological
_and_ financial terms, and
you price your e-books there,
so you can kick ass as yourself.

-bowerbird

Joe said...

This is really encouraging for those of us looking at indie publishing. Obviously, there's a lot of work that goes into getting the kind of sales numbers you're talking about, and you gotta write good books, but having that avenue open without the hordes of middlemen is fantastic.

Anonymous said...

I thought that the article was interesting. I was a little disturbed to find out that an romance/erotica author couldn't find an agent to sell foreign rights. I'm not sure where they saw the downside. For a few hours of their time they had a proven author that sells thousands here in the states. Unlike a manuscript that they can spend months if not years pushing only to have it sit on the shelf.

Also, erotica is a bit of a gimme in the market. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but it sells. I'm not sure where the downside for the agent is, however, I haven't read this author nor do I know how she wrote her query letters so it's difficult to say what the problem is exactly.

@bowerbird
I agree with what you said about the pricing. I'm not sure there is a magic price point for all writing. I think it might be finding what your specific readers want to pay for your specific writing. I don't think Amanda Hocking would have sold as well at a high price point mainly because her books although good aren't meaty enough for a larger price. Just as an example. I'd feel ripped off if some authors charged more because there just isn't enough story to justify it.

Josie Wade

bowerbird said...

joe said:
> The List is holding steady
> at #17, and selling
> 1500 copies a day.
> That's $525 daily,
> for those keeping score.

and to do the comparison
once again against the price
when it was $2.99, and the
book sold 40 copies every day,
which was a mere month ago,
that's over _36_times_ the sales
and _6_ times as much profit,
even with the lower (and unfair,
as i've discussed) 35% royalty...
(imagine if the royalty was 70%,
or even just 50%... staggering!)

such is the immense power
which the $.99 price-point
_can_ bring to your book...

there are no _guarantees_,
of course, but this is still
one strikingly vivid example.

36 times as many sales...
_6_ times as much profit...

-bowerbird

wannabuy said...

@Joe:"The List is holding steady at #17, and selling 1500 copies a day."

Top 20?!? Do you really want to increase the price and risk pushing it off the 1st page? If it has half a chance of making it into the top 10... Its worth a fortune getting to get onto the Amazon sidebar. :)

Neil

Blake Crouch said...

"it's almost as if blake fails to
recognize that the big6 and
the other corporate publishers
make the same charge about
_blake_ and the other authors
who charge $2.99 for e-books,
instead of $9.99 or $12.99..."

I don't fail to understand it BB, I just don't care. I like the $2.99 pricepoint because I think with the 70% royalty rate, it gives WRITERS the best chance at selling and being paid fairly for their work. That's all I care about. Unless you're like John Locke and Konrath and have numerous novels to sell, most writers are not going to make a living with a single book (or even 2 or 3) priced at $.99 cents. After all, there's only 100 slots in the top 100. Try earning a living with a $.99 book ranked around 2000. That's $14/day per book.

Gisele said...

Hey guys, there is an app for that!

Someone has created an app that allows authors to autograph eBooks.

But wait there's more! Authors can do it from the comfort of their own homes. Check it out:

http://www.baynews9.com/article/news/2011/march/214393/Locals-invent-place-for-authors-signature-on-eBooks

Hey Joe, will you do a virtual book signing? I'd love to have your autograph on my eBooks.

Anonymous said...

I'm ashamed to say that last month, you made $3,000 less than I make in an entire year at my full time city job. I found your blog recently and have been following your advice. Thank you for sharing your "secrets".

Thrilling Covers said...

Unfortunately, not every indie is doing as well as JA. Lots of people are finding that simply cutting the price to .99 isn't enough. Your cover is the visual hook to pull the reader in. An improvement in your cover will almost certainly improve sales and help separate you from the ever-growing pack.

bowerbird said...

blake said:
> I like the $2.99 pricepoint
> because I think with
> the 70% royalty rate,
> it gives WRITERS
> the best chance at
> selling and being paid fairly
> for their work.

so you believe those publishers
who say that you're "devaluing"
the worth of your own products
-- and their products as well --
with your $2.99 price are wrong?

but meanwhile you are levying
the exact same charge toward
people using the $.99 price?

that is very curious, if not
downright inconsistent and
maybe even hypocritical...

and it surely seems to indicate
to me that you have a whole
_lot_ of confidence that your
position is the correct one...

but i don't see your evidence...

joe has made _6_times_ the
_profit_ by lowering his price
on "this list"... not to mention
moving 36 times as many copies.

a "royalty" rate, in and of itself,
doesn't mean fairness or profit,
nor does any particular price...

you must determine the sum of
price-point times "royalty" times
number of units moved to get to
the true bottom line. any focus
on one of the things in isolation
is bound to mislead you badly...

you are your own boss, boss,
free to make your own mistakes,
so i'm not _criticizing_ you here.
just saying i don't see your logic,
especially on the finger-pointing.

-bowerbird

Leon Ardkin said...

Congrats Joe. I've been following your blog for some 6 months and you've made a believer out of me. So, here, I'm making the jump by publishing my first title next week. The hard work is done and I'm hoping for that "luck" you keep mentioning.

Anonymous said...

Most self published enovelists doing really well appear to be be in the crime, romance and supernatural (read vampires) categories. Are there many successes in chicklit, 'non-buffy' young adult, science fiction, high fantasy, cerebral detective etc genres?

bowerbird said...

blake said:
> most writers are
> not going to make a living
> with a single book
> (or even 2 or 3)
> priced at $.99 cents.

i think the notion that you could
"make a living" off a single book,
or even 2 or 3, borders on silly.

nobody in the world of "legacy"
publishing could count on that,
certainly, and i don't think that
we should create false hopes...

we don't know how this k-game
will play out, not now, not yet,
so let's keep things realistic, ok?

the average book will likely sell
a modest number of copies...

but what the data also tells us
is that you're gonna sell _more_
copies at $.99 than at $2.99,
and it might well be the case
that you will actually sell more
than _6_ times as many copies,
and thus make _more_money_
at the lower price-point despite
the fact the royalty is lower too.

a dime is more than a nickel
-- double! -- even though it
is smaller and weighs far less.

focus on the correct variable.

-bowerbird

bowerbird said...

neil said:
> Top 20?!? Do you really
> want to increase the price
> and risk pushing it off
> the 1st page? If it has
> half a chance of making it
> into the top 10... Its worth
> a fortune getting to get onto
> the Amazon sidebar. :)

it would be tough for "the list"
to make it into the top-10...

there are two upcoming films
in front of it, not to mention
the john locke juggernaut,
a big handful of big6 books,
including a patterson and one
of the "hunger games" books,
a game, two newspapers, an
amanda book, and "killer" too
(which is a very fast riser now),
and of course one good ol' stieg.

i'm not saying it's _impossible_
for "the list" to move into that,
but it would be very difficult...

besides, this experiment has
now answered the question that
stimulated it in the first place.
the hope was for the top-100,
let alone the top-20 (or top-10).

and a _price-raise_ experiment
would be very informative now.

but i do believe that joe will
keep the $.99 price anyway...

he might think he'll change it
(or he might just be bluffing),
but a close look at the freefall
of "shot of tequila" now that he
switched the tag back to $2.99
should be very illuminating...

after climbing from down under
up to the #500 mark, the book
has _fallen_back_ to its original
starting point, in just four days.
it now stands at #2345. rough.

here's the story, and the data...

***

"shot of tequila" shot up fast,
from way down in the rankings
(#2523 or #1405, reports vary)
steadily up to the #700s, when
it started wobbling a little bit...

$.99 and moving wrong:
2011/03/01, 07:30pm, #0773
2011/03/02, 06:00pm, #0794
2011/03/02, 06:30pm, #0886
2011/03/03, 02:00am, #1003

$.99 and moving right:
2011/03/03, 01:00pm, #0825
2011/03/03, 10:30pm, #0918
(and then a big jump overnight)
2011/03/04, 11:30am, #0507
2011/03/04, 02:00pm, #0467

$.99 and moving wrong:
2011/03/04, 04:00pm, #0514
2011/03/05, 02:00am, #0693
2011/03/06, 05:30am, #0810

$.99 and moving right:
2011/03/06, 03:00pm, #0770
2011/03/08, 01:00pm, #0720

...and then, back to $2.99...

$2.99, and moving wrong, fast:
2011/03/10, 04:00pm, #0793
2011/03/10, 05:30pm, #0849
2011/03/10, 08:00pm, #0970
2011/03/11, 08:30am, #1264
2011/03/11, 02:00pm, #1348
2011/03/12, 05:00pm, #2069
2011/03/13, 01:00pm, #1998
2011/03/14, 01:00am, #2704
2011/03/14, 11:30am, #2345

so that experiment did no good.

-bowerbird

Karly Kirkpatrick said...

Such an inspiring post and just more evidence that I'm on the right track. I've been selling my first book since November 2010 and went from selling 1 ebook every other day, to one a day to now 3-4 a day. My fellow author Megg Jensen, who I work with on the DarkSide Publishing group has started at 4 ebooks a day right out of the gate. I can only imagine our next release, The Soulkeepers by GP Ching will have even greater success. And that's not counting paperbacks!

The sky seems to be the limit and I'm excited to see you keep going higher! Great job and congrats Joe!

Karly
www.karlykirkpatrick.com
www.darksidepublishing.com

Karly Kirkpatrick said...

Oh and we're selling at $2.99 as well. I did a 99 cent experiment for 17 days in Feb/Mar and sold modest numbers (about 5-6 a day) but after that 99 cent sale, I went from 1 a day at $2.99 to 3-4 a day at $2.99. So it helped!

K

bowerbird said...

tom said:
> what will happen to
> indie authors when
> the big brand authors
> and publishers finally
> do wake up (which
> they surely will do
> eventually) and start
> pricing their books at
> $4.99, $3.99, $2.99
> and so on?

the old publishers cannot
do e-books at those prices.

with a price that low, they
couldn't pay their overhead
-- not without rearranging
their accounting structure,
which is far too "creative"
even as it currently stands.

and further, even if that one
achilles’ heel wasn't enough,
there's a second one as well.

if they cut their price in half,
their sales would quadruple...

but they don't _want_ that...

"why wouldn't they?", you ask.

think it through, and you will
find the answer very quickly...

at present, the royalties which
they pay for e-book sales are
_puny_, "because e-books are
just a tiny part of the market".

ok, that will make sense to the
authors whom they say that to.

but if e-book sales rocketed,
the royalties would _remain_
puny, because the royalty is
25% of net, or 17.5% of gross,
on the _cut-in-half_ new price.

the author will see that the
publisher is making money,
lots more, on increased sales,
while the author is standing
outside, with hat in hand,
receiving an unfair share on
a now-lower-priced product.

once the e-book numbers get
big, authors will be stunned
that their pay is still _small_.

and authors will then start to
compare the 17.5% they get
from the old house with the
70% they'd get from amazon,
and the exodus will accelerate.
it'll be the end for old houses.

if a house gives amazon 30%,
and 50% (say) to the author,
as the barest of minimums,
they'd have to settle for 20%.
greedy traditional publishers
ain't gonna settle for just 20%.

the only way the old houses
can keep their authors, and
keep signing new authors to
their horrendous royalties, is
to pretend the revolution still
has not yet begun to happen.

because once authors sense
that the tide has fully turned,
they will turn their backs on
the greedy traditional houses.

-bowerbird

Tara Maya said...

But bowerbird, what about Joe's other $.99 books? I think Joe has a point about not having anywhere to go for a sale price if the normal price is $.99. I bought The List when it $.99 because it was on sale, but I haven't read it yet, because I have other books in front. It was on my TBR list even before I bought it, and if I had reached the point where I was ready to read it, I would have paid $5 bucks for it. In fact, I still pay anything under $10 for books I really want, and I read the more expensive books first, I must admit.

I think that's what people mean when they worry $.99 devalues books. I just don't read those first. Now if all books were $.99, then there would be no difference, but there would also be no advantage to indies. I'm not necessarily adverse to that, but I think price does shape how customers perceive a book.

Tara Maya
The Unfinished Song: Initiate
Conmergence: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction

Walter Knight said...

Let's see if I got this right. Joe is at the head of the curve (top of the slope). Most of us are on the bunny slopes.

I crashed off the slope in the trees with Sonny.

The ZIPF Curve tracks a large number of small sales at the tail or butt of the slope, and a small mumber of large sales at the head or kisser. Or is that kill my butt? No, that is a different curve on the slope.

Sorry, my butt is a slippery slope where I hope we don't go. You are an inspiration, Joe. Happy skiing. See you in Aspin.

T.J. Dotson said...

The .99 Price level doesn't bother me. For one key reason: e-publishing is very similar to the iPphone "APP" model. I'd even argue that as independent authors we have more in common with APP developers than we do with traditional publishing business.

When you purchase an APP for .99 or use a free text editor..do you feel that your copy of Microsoft Word is any less valuable? My guess is probably not. Also, a lot of work goes into developing software (creation, beta testing, editing...) kind of like writing Novel. And many developers are making quite a reasonable living wage distributing low-priced APPs. Its time to take a step back from the old model. Don't aim to emulate the large publishers. Take a look at successful APP developers for a much better business model. At least for someone working alone.

Robert Bidinotto said...

I wish we'd stop equating book "value" with book price.

I drive a half mile to the local 7/11 and rent (not buy) the latest Hollywood blockbuster, or even a superb artistic film, for just a buck. A BUCK, for films that each cost millions, often tens of millions, to produce -- plus the time, knowledge, and effort of scores or hundreds of people.

I get all that for a dollar.

Now, do we hear Stephen Spielberg or Russell Crowe howling, "I GAVE YOU MY SWEAT, BLOOD, AND MONTHS OF EFFORT FOR THIS FILM -- AND YOU HAVE DEVALUED IT BY SPENDING ONLY A DOLLAR"?

No. They don't. They are thrilled that you're interested enough in their work to be spending money on them. Only a certain number of people will purchase a theater ticket at $10+. Others will wait for the DVD and buy it at an even higher price. Others, though, probably many more, will rent it, via a subscriber service like DirecTV or Netflix, paying far less. Then there's RedBox, drawing in many, many more renting viewers, at a lower price still.

Question: Does the availability of the same film in even the low-priced formats "devalue" it? And do you think the film's production team believe this? For them, all those paying viewers add up to a big total income and widespread circulation of their work.

The various formats of film distribution are analogous to the various formats of book distribution. We have premium hardcover print books; trade paperbacks; mass-market paperbacks; ebooks; audiobooks; MP3 downloads; etc. Customers pick what they are willing to pay for the format they like best. But does availability of the work in a low-priced ebook format "devalue" it?

Or is it just another new and valuable consumer option, which authors who want to earn a living should be eager and grateful to embrace?

--Robert Bidinotto
RobertTheWriter.com

Tara Maya said...

I wish we'd stop equating book "value" with book price.

There's no such thing as price in a vacuum. The issue of whether a book is devalued or valued at a low price is always in comparison to the normal price of that book and other books. If you get an expensive book at a low price, you might value it more. If you buy a book that is cheap compared to other books, you may suspect it is cheaper for a reason (i.e. it's not as good).

There is also the point that price may not the limiting factor for many readers. (Genre probably plays a role here too.) For some readers, time to read is the limiting factor, so pricing the book cheaper is not necessarily a huge advantage. In fact, the reader may be willing to pay more to assure high quality rather than waste time (which is more important to some readers than money) on what may be (or be perceived to be) a substandard book.

This is hardly a new concept. Lots of items are priced higher based on brand name. Whether this makes sense for books remains to be seen.

Tara Maya
The Unfinished Song: Initiate

Joe Konrath said...

The value of a book is how much it earns.

Donna Ball said...

And wouldn't you know? I just lowered the price on my romance backlist from 2.99 to 99 cents. Arrgggh (the sound of her beating her head against the wall). I'm more confused than ever.

chris said...

@Joe:

The value of a book is how much it earns.

'Value' is obviously a very subjective notion. The 'value' in your eyes is rooted to fiscal return.

Tara, however, hints at a very different 'value' when she says: "I read the more expensive books first...".

'The List' might make the top of her TBR if it was priced at $9.99!!

bowerbird said...

tara said:
> bowerbird, what about
> Joe's other $.99 books?

i dunno... what about 'em?
(is there a question there?)


> I think Joe has a point
> about not having anywhere
> to go for a sale price if
> the normal price is $.99.

you don't need a "sale" when
your "normal" price is $.99...


> I bought The List when it was
> $.99 because it was on sale,
> but I haven't read it yet,
> because I have other books
> in front. It was on my TBR list
> even before I bought it, and
> if I had reached the point
> where I was ready to read it,
> I would have paid $5 for it. In
> fact, I still pay anything under
> $10 for books I really want,
> and I read the more expensive
> books first, I must admit.

oh dear, my poor dear tara...

you sound thoroughly confused,
and totally unable to evaluate
the worth of a book these days.

but i can help you. just do this:

1. via paypal, send joe $13.95
-- the cost of the p-book -- so
you know it's important to you.

2. get the book at your library.
you _might_ have to request it
via interlibrary loan. if so, do.

3. take that library p-book and
place it gently on a nightstand.

4. then read your digital copy.

5. once you are done reading,
return the p-book to the library.

6. enter your review at amazon.
be honest; tell the whole truth.

7. have friends read the review,
so they can tell you how much
you like the book. if you like it,
then it was worth all you paid...
if not, then complain to joe and
never buy a book of his again...

-bowerbird

Tara Maya said...

Sorry if I wasn't clear. It's not the fact a book costs a lot that makes me value it. (Though a book costing too little can indeed make me distrust it.) It's that if I value it, and I want to read it, I will pay more for it-if I can get it on sale, I will, but I tend to read the expensive books first because those are the ones I can't wait to read and will pay any price for.

Libraries are only good for buying used books. I hate borrowing books. I want to own.

Tara Maya
Initiate
Conmergence

Tara Maya said...

I'm not sure my definition of the value of a book is different than Joe's, I was just coming at it from the reader's point of view. The more I want to read a book, the more I'll pay for it, although the more it costs, the longer I may have to wait before I can afford it. A lower price means I'll expand to unknown writers and books outside my normal genre and buy faster.

So another question is the money value of time. Is better for the author to charge $5 but wait two more months for a sale, or charge $1 and sell now?

Tara Maya
Initiate
Conmergence

Ellen O'Connell said...

<"* * * I was just coming at it from the reader's point of view. The more I want to read a book, the more I'll pay for it * * *"

I think you're only coming at it from your own point of view as a reader. I'm a reader too and have a very different approach - if it's expensive and I want to read it, I'll put a hold on it at the library because there's a maximum price I'll pay for an ebook and for me that maximum is below what the big pubs want to charge.

One of the problems we all have in trying to decide our own approach as indies is that we really don't know out of every 100 readers how many are like you, how many are like me, and how many have other ideas.

S.E. Gordon said...

"And soon I'm going to raise the price of The List back to $2.99, to see what happens."

No, no, no! Don't fix it if it isn't broken! Not enough time has elapsed yet to see if these new readers will purchase your back list.

Bad idea. Don't do it!

S.E. Gordon

http://segordon.blogspot.com/
http://www.segordon.com

bowerbird said...

tara said:
> Is better for the author
> to charge $5 but wait
> two more months for a sale,
> or charge $1 and sell now?

well, if you're the only buyer,
it's better to wait, of course...

(but -- practically speaking --
sometimes "two more months"
never ever actually _arrives_,
for one reason or another, and
you end up with _zilch..._ but
let us pretend that we _know_
that it will indeed come then.)

still, if you're the only buyer,
it won't matter much, will it?

the questions really should be:

is it good to give my real fans
a _gift_, by offering them a $5
e-book for the bargain of $1,
and in the process catch many
buyers i wouldn't get otherwise?

or should i just _soak_ my "fans"
and charge whatever they'll pay,
without ever expanding my base?

-bowerbird

Robert Bidinotto said...

The issue I put on the table is whether selling an ebook for 99 cents is "devaluing" books. Many authors (and publishers) seem to equate "value" and price: low price, low value. So they want to prop up prices in order to underscore the "value" of books.

But that's silly. Just because something has a low price, doesn't mean it has little "value." And vice-versa.

Water is objectively valuable to sustain human life. So, what is it "worth"? Right now, with abundant running water in my house, I wouldn't pay even a buck for a bottle of water. However, dying of thirst in the desert, I would be willing to pay pretty much ANY price for the same bottle.

The price I'm willing to pay changes depending on circumstances, even though the personal value of the product remains constant to me.

Same thing with books. Pricing a book at 99 cents, $2.99, or $300 is no indicator of some kind of universal "value." I bought Shakespeare -- ALL of him -- for free on my Kindle. Does that mean he's worthless? Does it mean the bard's work has less "value" than books by contemporary authors that cost a lot more than "free"? Not at all. It's just supply and demand: Shakespeare's work is freely accessible in the public domain, so it can be copied and made available online at virtually no cost.

Similarly, at this moment, I wouldn't pay a nickel for a bottle of water. Why? Because I have abundant running water in my house. If I were dying of thirst in a desert, though, there's no price I wouldn't pay for that same bottle. The VALUE of water to my life and survival hasn't changed at all; but my circumstances and priorities have, and thus, so did the price tag.

Let's get over the idea that a 99 cent book is of "less value" than a $14.99 book. Price has no relationship to the objective merits of one over the other. Once we get over that hangup, we can charge whatever makes the most sense for our work.

--Robert Bidinotto

Tara Maya said...

I think you're only coming at it from your own point of view as a reader.

Of course. I know I am odd in many ways. I hate borrowing books from libraries; I never give away books; I've paid over a hundred bucks for a single book (nonfiction, though); and I have a regular monthly book budget, which I have often priortized above food; I own over 10,000 books. If only all readers/buyers were like me, all writers would be rich. :)

I'm a reader too and have a very different approach - if it's expensive and I want to read it, I'll put a hold on it at the library because there's a maximum price I'll pay for an ebook and for me that maximum is below what the big pubs want to charge.

But maybe we're not so different as that. I have a maximum I will pay too, and it's lower for an ebook, not just for the usual reasons but because I don't trust a medium where someone can take away something after I've bought it.

I think you are right that readers have different methods. My husband used to only buy 2-5 books a year, but always bought new, hardcover. My grandmother only ever bought books at garage sales, huge bags of mysteries and romances and random titles for a $1 for a grocery bag.Totally different approaches....and ebooks will probably change how both of those kinds of readers choose books.

Tara Maya
Initiate
Conmergence

Tara Maya said...

Let's get over the idea that a 99 cent book is of "less value" than a $14.99 book. Price has no relationship to the objective merits of one over the other. Once we get over that hangup, we can charge whatever makes the most sense for our work.

I don't disagree with this at all. The confusion is from the two different meanings of the word "value." One is monetary, one is sentimental.

Tara Maya
Initiate
Conmergence

shana said...

@Sanguine said:
"I'd be really interested to hear if any Authors have had ok response to Short Story sales?"

Sounds like you and I have the same business plan!

I began the year with a short thriller series Twelve Terrifying Tales for 2011 . I publish a new short each month, and in December I will gather them all into a collection, add a bonus story and sell the lot for $2.99.

I'm no Konrath--at least not yet!--but February's sales quadrupled January's and March's look like they'll do the same to February.

Shana Hammaker

Blake Crouch said...

Dear Bowerbird...
somehow_I will survive
the knowledge_that you_
don't accept my logic.
It will be tough_but_I
will soldier on.
Meanwhile, why don't_you
post_a link to your_
performance_poetry_
and get some_skin_in_
the game. Your first_name
would_be_appreciated_too.
Absent_your_compliance_
with_this_request_I_will
_never respond to any post
you make again.

Jude Hardin said...

In a previous post, Joe said: It's best to ignore bowerbird. He's in love with the sound of his own voice. Which he wouldn't be, if he listened to it.

I think that sums it up perfectly.

Jason said...

Bowerbird, I often
wonder if you have
something
worthwhile_to_say.
But the posts are

just way_too_long
and the way they
are written is just
too annoying.

Makes them rather
indecipherable. I'm
sure you often have
some good_insight,
but I'll never know
because I can only_ever
read the 1st few lines

before I must
quickly_scroll
to the next
post...

Would you consider changing your format so I can get past the method and get to the content?

If not I'll just continue to scroll past, wondering if I missed something amazing...

Merrill Heath said...

Donna Ball said: And wouldn't you know? I just lowered the price on my romance backlist from 2.99 to 99 cents. Arrgggh (the sound of her beating her head against the wall). I'm more confused than ever.

Donna, leave the price and 99 cents and quit worrying about it. Why not sell all your books for 99 cents? It's worked very well for John Locke. It's worked well for Joe on "The List." It's worked well for many other authors on many other books.

Or price everything at $2.99 and quit worrying about it.

Pick a price, wait six months, and see where you are? Unless you need the money now, there's no issue with giving it some time. After six months, if your books aren't selling at that price, change it. Eventually you'll find the right price for your books. That right price is what your readers will pay for your books. Not what Joe's readers pay for his books. Not what John's readers will pay for his books. What your readers will pay for your books.

Merrill Heath
Consequences

bowerbird said...

blake said:
> Dear Bowerbird...
> somehow_I will survive
> the knowledge_that you_
> don't accept my logic.

it's not that i don't "accept" it.
i simply don't understand it...

but there's no need for you
to try to explain it any more.

konrath will do my work
on you, and be effective.


> It will be tough_but_I
> will soldier on.

i'm quite sure that you will.

what's with the bizarre use
of the underscores, anyway?

i use them for _emphasis_,
in accordance with the rules
of light markup. you do not.
you seem to think it's arbitrary.


> Meanwhile, why don't_you
> post_a link to your_
> performance_poetry_

everything ain't on the web.
i perform on a regular basis,
roughly weekly for the past
25 years, putting my work
in front of live audiences...

let me know when you are
coming through los angeles,
and i'll be sure to invite you.


> and get some_skin_in_
> the game.

"skin" is the very reason
why i like to perform live.


> Your first_name
> would_be_appreciated_too.

that would be "bowerbird"...


> Absent_your_compliance_
> with_this_request_I_will
> _never respond to any post
> you make again.

_somehow,_ i will survive...
it might be _tough_, but
i _will_ soldier on... :+)

***

jason said:
> Would you consider
> changing your format

i might "consider" it, but
i won't _change_ it, jason.


> If not I'll just continue
> to scroll past

so be it, jason, so be it.
scroll with my blessing...

-bowerbird

Blake Crouch said...

jtplayer...godbless_you

jtplayer said...

No prob Blake.

That bowerbird, he's quite the cool cat...ain't he?

Btw...I bought Run, finished it last weekend.

Good job my man!

S.K.P said...

Great news and much appreciated by this soon to be self-published author!

Steph Poscente

twosocksonawindowsill.blogspot.com
skposcente.blogspot.com

wannabuy said...

@Tara:"But bowerbird, what about Joe's other $.99 books? I think Joe has a point about not having anywhere to go for a sale price if the normal price is $.99."

100% agree. But my point is that as long as the 'sale is working,' keep it on sale. If The List starts to drop, raise the price and blame the ranking drop on the ebook going off sale. ;)

I agree with Browerbird that it has little chance of making the top 10. But a small chance is worth trying as the reward of making it into the top ten would be well worth it!

Right now The List is at #17! Wow. The experiment was a success. :) Its only 7 notches from the top ten. Sorry, I'm unable to help its rank (I already bought it). ;)

Neil

Joe Konrath said...

As for the Top 20, both Locke and Gardner have new books up there, but everone else has been hanging out in the Top 100 longer than I have.

Gardner and Locke had Top 10 prior to me, so it makes sense that their latest peaked quickly.

The List went live in April 2009. It has sold over 30,000 ebooks since then.

Can it hit the Top 10?

Dunno. Duncare.

But it's a fun ride. And it's something I'm pretty sure I can repeat.

Joe Konrath said...

I deleted the "Bowerbird Performs" link.

Let's attack the argument, not the person.

Out-of-context videos aren't cool. Are we going to start showing bathroom vids next?

Having done live poetry, I know how hard it is. I spent five full minutes being booed in front of a decent-sized crowd.

You want to test how big your balls are? Get booed for five minutes and take it.

Once I did that, I knew I was bulletproof.

I don't agree with everyone who posts here.

I don't like everyone who posts here.

But I don't ever want to alienate anyone who posts here.

Gabriella said...

Konrath..today I received a beautiful gift from my sister, I started my first blog because of you, and it is in the cards...you have been chosen... to be my first.

bowerbird said...

i never authorized internet video
of any of my performances, but
(unless the audio stinks, which is
the flaw with most poetry video)
i certainly don't care if it exists.

even if someone says it made me
"look bad"; i can take it... i have
oodles of good press, thick skin,
and a very big sense of humor...

and i can do live poetry. and do.
regularly. and my fans love me.

so if there is a link to my stuff,
i would certainly like to see it...
and i don't care if anyone else
sees it too... take it or leave it.
i get paid the same either way.

(but off-topic stuff does get old;
why can't we just stay on-topic?)

-bowerbird

chris said...

Seriously guys posting all that bullshit plus the video link was a fucking low dog act.

JT I thought you worked construction?

Running with crap like that is akin to playing boss in the air-con rather than shit-slinging outside with the boys.

Bowerbird says stuff some of us wanna hear, he says stuff some of us don't wanna hear. No different to the rest of us soft-cock author types pretending we're comment ganstas.

In the words of author/murderer Chopper Read: Harden the fuck up, boys.

Robin Sullivan said...

Anonymous said...
Most self published enovelists doing really well appear to be be in the crime, romance and supernatural (read vampires) categories. Are there many successes in chicklit, 'non-buffy' young adult, science fiction, high fantasy, cerebral detective etc genres?


Successful Fantasy / Sci fi indies:

Michael J. Sullivan
Nathan Lowell
B.V. Larson
Vaughn Hephner
David Dalglish
Richard Phillips

A few others that have some paranormal romance aspects:
J. R. Rain
H. P. Mallory
Heather Killough-Walden

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

Robin Sullivan said...

I track this quite a bit and today is the first time I've seen the indies and the traditionals sharing the top 20...

8 - each with 4 spots taken by games/newspapers

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

Robin Sullivan said...

Bowerbird said...the old publishers cannot do e-books at those prices. with a price that low, they couldn't pay their overhead -- not without rearranging
their accounting structure, which is far too "creative" even as it currently stands.


I don't see the logic. They, just like Joe, care about overall profit if they make 36x the profit at $0.99 then then can make at $9.99 then they will.

The only reason they don't know is they feel (mistakenly in my opinion) that they will canibalize their print sales which they invested a lot of capital $'s in. When ebooks are 90% of the sales and print 10% (the opposite of today) then they will want to maximize the income on the ebooks and if they can get that at $0.99 of course they'll put it at $0.99

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

jtplayer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jtplayer said...

First off, I didn't link the video as an "attack" on anyone. And it certainly wasn't "out of context" either.

It's a legitimate video on a legitimate website that can be found by doing a simple internet search.

But whatever Joe, it's your blog, moderate it as you will. But sorry pal, there was nothing "uncool" about posting that link.

Is bowerbird a dick? Hell yeah he is.

Does he position himself as a know-it-all? Obviously he does.

Does he suck at performance poetry? I wouldn't know, as it's not really my thing.

I posted that link in response to the back and forth between Blake and bird. I thought it might bring a different _perspective_ to the discussion.

Yes, I too have performed live, so I know how difficult it can be. Fortunately, I've never been booed, so I guess I don't suck as much as some others do.

antares said...

Joe said
I don't agree with everyone who posts here.

I don't like everyone who posts here.

But I don't ever want to alienate anyone who posts here.


Good on you. My compliments.

+++
I have given some thought to Nathan Bransford's essay on the Kindle Millionaires. (I posted the link earlier in this thread.) I think the publishers' economic structure as detailed in his essay is faulty, but I have not looked at it in detail.

In a nutshell, I do not understand why an editor should receive royalties on a writer's work. If you look at Mr Bransford's numbers, that is what he says is happening. Not that the editor receives those royalties. The publisher does. But it amounts to paying royalties on the editing work.

How many editors are willing to work for a share of the royalties?

How many artists are willing to create covers for a share of the royalties?

As I understand it, they get salaries or flat fees and their de jure and de facto agent--the publisher--pockets the royalty money above that.

Like I said, I have not looked at this in detail, but that is how far I've got. I appreciate any help or insights you can give. If you just wanna sit in the bleachers and cheer, that's fine, too.

Critiques are welcome. Criticism is not.

Oh, and this:
Nick Sireau said...
Antares, thank you for your explanation about ebook market statistics.
You are welcome.

I was wondering whether you have any statistical insights into key factors that could explain why some ebooks reaching that tipping point that then leads to accelerated sales?
No. Sorry. Statistics cannot determine causation. They can only show correlations. The correlations may point to causations but not always.

I have some thoughts about bestselling authors and their strategies, too, but it is late here, so I shall save those thoughts for another day. But here's a hint: Amway.

Joe Konrath said...

But sorry pal, there was nothing "uncool" about posting that link.

Can you post a video of you then, please?

No?

Hmm.

jtplayer said...

You're a funny guy Joe.

Keep up the good work dude!

Sheri Leigh said...

If not I'll just continue to scroll past, wondering if I missed something amazing...

No worries there, mate! ;)

Sheri Leigh said...

How many editors are willing to work for a share of the royalties?

How many artists are willing to create covers for a share of the royalties?


I don't know about legacy publishing, never been in it. But most ebook publishers pay their editors and cover artists this way. They get a percentage of royalties of book sales.

Which is great if the book sells well, not-so-great if it doesn't. Kind of a crap shoot for the cover artist and editor, because a cover can help sell a book but it can't do it all on its own, and a good editor can help polish a book, but if it sucks already, well...

So I guess the editor or cover artist taking that job under those conditions would have to really trust the publisher's judgment about the books they're selling.

Jon F. Merz said...

In April 2009, I made $607 self-pubbing.

In April 2010, I made $4041 self-pubbing.

For April 2011, I'll likely make $52,860


This is great, because I'm on track to earn this month what you earned last April - now I've got something to look forward to next year! :)

Seriously, thanks for sharing the numbers.

I actually did a little 99 experiment of my own with The Fixer, the first book in my Lawson Vampire series, this past weekend. I put it on sale for three days at that price, sold 224 copies on the Kindle and 52 copies on the Nook during the sale, earning me about $90 total. It also got me further up some lists, which has resulted in some good visibility. That's where I think the 99 cent price point for novels could be good - as a tool to increase visibility, but maybe not a long-term thing.

We're doing a photoshoot this week with the actor playing Lawson in the TV series so I can bank a LOT of images for future ebook covers.

The times continue to be interesting.

Thanks Joe!

-Jon

Blake Crouch said...

I don't think it was an attack to post Bowerbird's performance. And I'm glad I saw it. I love performance poetry and he's good. More importantly, now I have at least a face to associate with BB. He's a person, not just a poster of strangely-formatted blog comments. Makes a difference...still waiting on that first name tho.

J.A. Marlow said...

Thank you for posting updated numbers in the pricing experiment. It was interesting to see the numbers across all Aprils of different, emphasizing that this is a long-haul game. That one really should be patient for the books to find their readers and build.

And it's fabulous that by going Indie that the books have that precious time. Woohoo!

And mine seem to be taking that time. For some reason Smashword's Ebook Reading Month promotion stopped what few sales I was getting… including in Amazon and B&N. Now that it's over, hopefully the sales will start coming in again. If I don't keep reminding myself that this is a long-haul game, I get panicky that I lost what little momentum I had! ;)

J.A. Marlow
Into the Forest Shadows - A planet-wide conspiracy is waiting at Grandmother's house...

bowerbird said...

jtplayer said:
> It's a legitimate video
> on a legitimate website
> that can be found by doing
> a simple internet search.

as far as i know, there is
no video of me on the net.

i could be wrong, but i think
you might well be mistaken...

-bowerbird

Merrill Heath said...

Jon F. Merz said: This is great, because I'm on track to earn this month what you earned last April - now I've got something to look forward to next year! :)

Congrats, Jon. Looks like sales are picking up a bit for you. BTW, I've got my copy of The Fixer. Just haven't gotten around to it yet. It's next on my list.

Merrill Heath
Bearing False Witness

bowerbird said...

jon f. merz said:
> I put it on sale for three days
> at that price, sold 224 copies
> on the Kindle and 52 copies
> on the Nook during the sale,
> earning me about $90 total.

as per joe's "tequila" escapade,
3 days isn't nearly enough time
for the real effects to kick in...


> It also got me further up some
> lists, which has resulted
> in some good visibility.

again, that's a superficial effect.

if it works for your purposes,
fine. but it's not the real deal.


> That's where I think
> the 99 cent price point
> for novels could be good -
> as a tool to increase visibility,
> but maybe not
> a long-term thing.

gee, i would say the opposite.

maybe even the exact opposite.

if you're not going to _commit_
to the low price-point, then you
probably shouldn't even use it,
especially not for a few _days_,
because you're only converting
the fence-sitters who might've
bit eventually at a higher price.

-bowerbird

Joe Konrath said...

I don't think it was an attack to post Bowerbird's performance.

I said "attack the argument, not the person."

By that, I meant keep people out of it.

Posting a video of someone has nothing to do with the discussion.

bowerbird said...

robin said:
> They, just like Joe,
> care about overall profit
> if they make 36x the profit
> at $0.99 then then can make
> at $9.99 then they will.

the point is, their existing
financial structure means
they cannot "make a profit"
by selling at the low prices.

if you are compelled to pay
$3 to your "overhead" for
every unit sold, then you
cannot make a profit when
you sell an e-book for $4.

+$4.00 -- retail price
-$1.20 -- amazon cut
-------
=$2.80 -- publisher cut
-$0.70 -- author royalty
-------
=$2.10 -- insufficient to
cover $3/book overhead,
let alone have an "profit".

the "creative accounting"
they would have to change
is to restructure overhead
so that it's a _percentage_
of the cost of each unit,
and not a _fixed_ amount.

it made sense to compute
"overhead" on a per-unit
basis for _physical_ books,
because most "overhead"
there is in _fixed_costs_,
such as printing&binding,
storage, transportation,
editing, proof-reading,
and other physical tasks.
so they'd have to rewrite
many of those contracts.

but rewriting contracts is
_not_ something that they
want to do at this time,
since that opens the door
for authors wanting more.

-bowerbird

Nicholas La Salla said...

Bravo, Joe!

My own sales are picking up. Within the first 2 1/2 weeks of release I've sold 16 copies of my novel length modern ghost story One More Day, which I don't think anyone would or could complain about. I'm pretty thrilled to have already connected with so many readers.

And I know from your blog that this is a very, very humble beginning compared to what could be if I play my cards right and I score that sweet stroke of luck.

Once again Joe, well done. Thank you for keeping this blog up and for keeping it relevant.

And thanks to all of you out there who keep this blog a thriving community for indies such as ourselves.

I think I'll go buy a few books now . . .

Nick
One More Day

Robin Sullivan said...

Whoa - the top 20 went crazy!! The "games" have completely taken it over....

#1, #2, #3, #5, #8, #13

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

Robin Sullivan said...

@bowerbird - Your math is screwed up if they make 6x more profit (36x as many sales) they have more income to cover their expenses. The expenses do not increase the more books are sold - it is the same whether they sell 1 book or 100,000.

If they normally make $5,000 a month on a title and lowering the price increaes the income to $30,000 then they hae $25,000 more income to pay their costs. Their "out of pocket does not go up (well except they do have pay a bit more royalty so let's calculate that in...

Normal profit...$5,000 of which they keep $3,750 and give the author $1,250. Now they reduce to $.99 and sales incrase 36x fold and profits 6 fold (as per Joe's numbers) so they now make a profit of $30,000 of which they keep $22,500 and give the author $7,500. So they increased their income by $18,750. And their "other costs" are just the same as the per book cost does not change in ebook if they sell 1 or 10,000.

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

Kelly McMichael said...

Taxes, Joe? How are you handling taxes on all this???

bowerbird said...

robin said:
> bowerbird -
> Your math
> is screwed up

[heavy sigh] ;+)

it's not "my" math, robin.

it's the accounting used
by the corporate houses.

but first, let me say that
the accounting that _you_
gave was straightforward
and makes perfect sense.

now if only the publishers
operated the same way...

but there are "reasons"
why they do not...

to wit...

> if they make
> 6x more profit

ok, the very first thing
you need to know is that
you _never_ start at the
"profit" end of the beast.

indeed, the goal of the
corporate accountant
is to never let "profit"
be generated at all,
except if it's needed
for a quarterly report.

the main reason is that
profits get _taxed_ and
the aim is to avoid taxes.

but also, all kinds of
ugly escalator clauses
get kicked in as well
if there are "profits",
so you try to avoid 'em
until they are too big to
pretend they don't exist.
as in harry-potter big...
or twilight-big... got it?

that's why _most_ books
"fail" to earn out...

the accountants stacked
the deck to hide profits...


> if they make
> 6x more profit
> (36x as many sales)
> they have more income
> to cover their expenses.

yes, it makes perfect sense.

at least it would, in a world
that wasn't _intentionally_
transformed to be bizarre...
(i.e., the world of publishing.)


> The expenses
> do not increase
> the more books are sold
> - it is the same
> whether they sell
> 1 book or 100,000.

here's where you start to
reveal a few cracks, robin.

what you've just said there
is absolutely true, yes, but
_only_ for a digital product.

the variable cost for each
additional unit of a digital
product is absolutely zip...

and if the corporations had
built their business model
for _digital_ products, then
that model would reflect it.

but their business model is
geared to _physical_ products.

and physical products have
a cost-structure that's almost
_the_complete_opposite_...

the fixed-cost for a physical
product typically makes up
a good chunk of its costs,
but their _variable-costs_
are often just as significant,
and at times even more so.

publishing is one such case.

each copy has to be handled.
it has to be printed&bound,
and trucked to a bookstore,
and placed on a shelf, and
rung up on a cash-register.
and all of this costs money.

so, if we are in the world of
physical books, it makes a
_huge_ difference whether
we sell 1 book or 100,000.

due to those variable costs.

so the publishers created
a business model that can
absorb such variable costs,
a model where each copy
dedicates a portion of its
income to the "overhead",
even if all the "overhead"
has already been paid for.

so that's how corporations
structured their business,
and wrote their contracts,
and trained their minds...

so it's close to impossible
for them to turn it around
and restructure and rewrite
and think now in a way that
is _completely_ different...

-bowerbird

Sariah S. Wilson said...

Is that just your take, or what your books are doing total? I know you have books where you have partners, so are your sales your share or just how the books are doing overall?

Not that it matters in the least, I'm just intensely curious and a bit boggled by it all. ;)

boros1124 said...

This book is available in Hungarian translation? I did not find a store or the neighborhood, but not even the biggest online bookstores (www.konyv-konyvek.hu).

bruceblake said...

Mr. Konrath,
It is with the utmost respect I say: I hate you. Up until I began reading your blog, I was content with my lot in life of sending out three paragraph query letters to agents who may or may not have read them so they could reject me on the basis of how my 320 page novel distilled down into said paragraphs. But now you've thrown my life into upheavel. Without gatekeepers, what happens to the world? Where do we go without the status quo? You've lit a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel and the more I read your posts (and those of your guests), the more I realize that small light is a train roaring toward me. Query letters be damned. Gatekeepers be damned. Self-pubbing, here I come. Make room for me on the train.
And, Mr. Konrath, thank you for making me hate you.

Lundeen Literary said...

Joe Said:
"I hope you're buying a lot toys!



I've now got a full size beer cooler, filled with $6000 worth of rare, expensive beer."


Hehheh... Well done! You and my husband would get along very, vey well…


Michael said:
"My numbers are nowhere near yours, but I have sold 2,557 books so far this month and you are a big reason why."

Michael that's WONDERFUL! Congratulations!!! :D I'm proud to have worked with you, that's for sure. And WHEN is the sequel to Mighty and Strong, please? I'm dying here…


Sam said:
"Amazon deleted the Kindle edition of Water for Elephants."

Ah, crapola. I'm sorry, Sam! But that ranking will go back up, hopefully as the movie release gets closer, and more people buy the new version. Robert Pattinson has to be good for SOMETHING here. But this is an example of how NY doesn't make sense. I mean, keep the rankings and reviews and just CHANGE THE COVER!!?!?!? Of course, it is also possible that the small press that the author previously went with ran out of contract length on the title, and the tale went to a new publisher. Or something like that. But WfE was from a very small press, and this success was unprecedented for them. It's also possible that they didn't have the rights to use a tie-in cover, and some other poo happened with that. Anyhow, keep us posted, Sam!


@Selena - you certainly have had a run of crap with your books, haven't you? But I hope that your sales are still good across the board.
As for your Google ebooks, do you have the titles available for download from your own site and linked to Google? That seems to be working for some… I'd be interested to hear your thoughts (and you can email them to me if you'd rather not reply here lundeenliterary@gmail.com ).


Jenna
@lundeenliterary
www.lundeenliterary.com

Jesse said...

You make it look so easy. I hope my coming adventure is as profitable. I'm learning my your example.

Lev Raphael said...

Joe, are you seeing numbers like these for other genres than thrillers? Thrillers were outselling other types of books even before ebooks and starring on best seller lists.