Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ebook Sales Down?

I've been asked to speculate about the future in several emails, mostly from panicked authors whose Kindle sales have gone down in June. My sales have also dropped off about 15%, pretty much across the board. I was averaging 831 daily sales in May. So far in June, I'm at 725 a day. On Nook, I was averaging 50 a day. This month, I'm averaging 40.

In the print world, it's normal for sales to slow down. But this is the first time I've noticed a downward trend in ebook sales.

Here are a few reasons this might be happening. Again, this is speculation.

1. June is usually slow. Kids are getting out of school, lots of graduations, people planning vacations, spending more time doing outdoor activities. Buying ebooks isn't their priority.

This may be true, because this seems to be happening across the board for all authors.

2. Amazon had their summer sale and dropped the prices on 600 ebooks to under $2.99, which hurt a lot of authors' rankings.

While that could explain Amazon sales, mine haven't rebounded since their promotion ended. It also doesn't explain my 22% drop in Nook sales.

3. More competition from a huge influx of new ebooks, both indie and legacy, is making it harder for ebooks and authors to be discovered.

Possible, but not probable. If this is oversaturation, it happened really fast. To account for a 15% loss in sales, that would mean Amazon had an influx of at least 150,000 new ebooks in June (Assuming they already have a million Kindle titles.) I say "at least" because that would assume all 150,000 of those new titles are selling well enough to hurt my sales by 15%.

That doesn't seem likely.

4. Perhaps there are too many ebooks for too few ereaders.

Possible again, but there are millions of ereaders sold, and hundreds of millions of devices capable of reading ebooks. Plus, ereaders continue to sell well. It seems impossible to ever fully saturate this market.

Hit books like The DaVinci Code or the Millenium Trilogy or Harry Potter are bought by hundreds of millions of readers, but they still haven't reached everyone. An ebook author should be able to sell several million ebooks before this becomes an issue.

5. While ebooks do sell for longer periods, there is a natural decline in sales, just like print books.

I believe ebooks are forever, but what goes up must come down. Neither Locke nor Hocking have also seen slower sales, based on their rankings.

6. People have grown tired of ebooks, and are no longer interested in buying them.

If that's the case, they must have gotten tired of books in general. Both Borders and Barnes & Noble have recently posted big losses. But B&N had a digital sales jump.

Obviously, we need a few more months of data to see if sales continue to drop, if they stabilize, or if they rebound.

That said, here are my thoughts.

Ebooks will continue to rise in popularity and become the dominant form of reading. This hasn't changed.

Obviously there will be more competition as more authors publish ebooks, but a constant influx of new customers buying new ereading devices (and an eventual global market for ereaders) will continue to drive sales.

Summer is slow. But once the holiday season comes around again, there will be another boost in sales across the board. This year should be bigger than last year, as ereader prices come down and move from early adopters into the mainstream.

In other words, no one needs to panic. No business has constant, unstoppable growth. Sales fluctuate. This is normal.

So what should authors be doing?

1. Keep writing. New ebooks will buoy the sales of backlist titles.

2. Cultivate a fanbase. Make sure they know when you have a new ebook released.

3. Experiment with different marketing techniques. Facebook, Twitter, bundling, putting ebooks on sale, using freebies, excerpts, clickable bibliographies, and so on.

4. Cultivate relationships with the epublishers. This is very difficult to do, but getting in good with the people selling your ebooks can only help your sales.

5. Be patient. I've heard from countless authors who are concerned that they aren't rich yet. Building a backlist, and a fanbase, takes time. Don't expect instant success. As I've said, this is a marathon, not a sprint.

I've also said that ebooks are forever. That's a long time to accrue sales.

164 comments:

Guido Henkel said...

Good to know I'm not the only one who's seeing this. While may sales have always been extremely low, some of my books have not sold a single copy this month so far, and that IS unusual.

Marie Force said...

June has been my biggest month to-date. Not sure why when it's been a down month for others. Book 2 in a series hit just before the first of the month, which accounts for a big chunk of my June sales, but overall sales are still going strong.

Bob Mayer said...

Interesting. I've seen steady increases every week, but I'm also loading at least one new title from my backlist a week, particularly my Area 51 series. I average 650 a day on US Kindle, 205 a day on UK Kindle, and 250 a day on PubIt, which puts me over 1,100 a day. UK seems to have flattened out and Pubit swings hugely day by day.
I think the key point you make is to keep writing. More, good content is the best promotion.

Rabid Fox said...

Interesting, as I've been purchasing more e-books in the past two months than I probably have in the past two years. Go figure. I'm always behind the times.

Sarra Cannon said...

I have seen a little bit of growth in sales this month. Last month, I averaged about 127 ebook sales a day and this month, I am at about 186 sales a day even though my next book is not out yet. I attribute this completely to the fact that I recently revamped the covers on my Peachville High Demons series. If I hadn't had a major change in presentation, I doubt I would have seen any growth this month.

As far as an overall trend, I think it's too early to make any judgments. If ebook sales continue to slow through the entire summer and into the fall, then we might have something to be concerned about. I think this is more likely just a slow period and sales will pick up again around July 4th with the holiday weekend.

lkwatts said...

I've only been published online for just over two months, so I can't really say anything of much value. But it's always interesting to read what other authors have been experiencing. Thank you for sharing this post.

Jude Hardin said...

Do you think the plagiarism issue is hurting sales? If someone is selling your books with different titles and covers and author names, then the stolen books are competing with the legit ones just as much as books by other authors are.

Mark Terry said...

When asked what he thought the stock market was going to do, JD Rockefeller once replied, "Fluctuate."

Same applies here.

My sales in June are better than ever, as were May's, but that may have something to do with an overall marketing push for my legacy published novel, The Valley of Shadows.

Or, just, you know ... normal fluctuation.

Amy said...

I haven't actually seen much of a slowdown in sales this month, but I'm small potatoes compared to the rest of you and am still experiencing a slow-but-steady growth rate. Overall, I have nothing to complain about for June. I've already passed my numbers for May by 30%. I'm very satisfied at this point.

I suspect Joe is right and that this is simply normal, seasonal fluctuation. More people spending time outdoors, less time indoors.

You'd need to map out the yearly trends for several years to see if this is simply seasonal (while accounting for the overall increase in e-book sales in your calculations). Otherwise, this is simply anecdotal and speculative.

therealroyfinch said...

I wish my problem was declining sales, as this would predispose a somewhat healthy level of sales to begin with. Lately I have been giving very serious consideration to pulling my title from Amazon and Smashwords to send it out to agents and go legacy. As problem filled as the legacy system might be, it might not be as bad as being lost in the ether as I appear to be now.

E.C. Belikov said...

I've seen my Amazon sales drop by 20% and my Smashwords sales drop by 50%. Of course that only actually means a drop from 5 sales to 4 and 2 sales to 1 respectively so yeah, I'm not ready to grab a picket sign that says "The End Is Nigh!" and screaming that the sky is falling. Not yet :)

Anonymous said...

I've noticed this as well. My sales for this month will be just about equal to last month whereas I was seeing big monthly gains in the past.

My guess is a slowing down of Kindle e-reader sales combined with the start of summer.

Just a minor slowdown in the rate of Kindle sales will affect our sales growth.

I also wonder if Kindle newbies drive a disproportionate amount of book sales, whereas veterans are better adept at downloading PDFs for free at various ebook sites.

Karen Woodward said...

Thanks for the update, Joe. I plan on self-publishing my first book early next month, so I hope -- for all of us -- that sales rebound.

Kristen Lamb said...

Interesting post and THANKS! As a social media expert and a writer, I feel that indie authors always need to be working on both the content (book) and community (platform). Too many writers approach social media like traditional marketing, and that is a formula to wear out and tap out. Once you have exhauseted your own network for sales, that's all there is and the numbers will decrease unless one of two things happen--Fresh Content (new book) or Fresh Faces (new friends).

There are only so many current fans, so what we have to do is forge relationships that help cultivate pockets of new fans.

For instance, on Twitter, I am at this moment holding a twitter party at #DevilColony for James Rollin's new book release (you are welcome to stop by). People all over the world are coming together to celebrate Jim's success for the next 24 hours.

Many of the people attending even today had never read Jim's books until recently. Why? Well, Jim was hanging out on FB, which is great, but everyone on FB is already a fan.

I talked Jim into getting on Twitter with my help. To come and let me introduce him to my pals. There are countless people on Twitter who might have never heard of Jim, or they merely know his name. I harnessed my network in Jim's favor. Because I liked Jim, the members of my network liked Jim. He became part of our #MyWANA twibe :D. This is what I like to call "The Law of the Playground."

Law of the Playground: I don't know you, but I DO know HER. And, since I like her and she likes you, then I like you, too.

This is how social media works best and can always keep us bubbling with fresh fans. Yes, keep writing great books, but also take time to talk to people. They have friends, families and networks that could be full of future fans. These days, we support who we know and who we LIKE. Take time to connect with others and serve them. Use FB and Twitter for more than "marketing." Create a community of support.

In the end, focus on what we control--writing great books and making connections/friendships.

Thanks for yet another great post!

Eloheim and Veronica said...

I've seen a decrease in sales not just for books, but for my audio/video products as well. I attribute it to Graduation, Father's Day, and SUMMER!

I feel people will catch up with what I am producing as soon as real life slows down.

Veronica
The Choice for Consciousness: Tools for Conscious Living, Vol. 1

The Homo Spiritus Sessions, Vol. 1-7

W. Dean said...

While I agree with Jude that content-farmers and plagiarists should be lined up against a wall (that’s my sentiment anyway), his point doesn’t make sense: how could the same book with two different authors, covers and titles subtract from one another’s sales when two different books do not?

Linda Nagata said...

June started as an utter wasteland for me but has gotten better in the past couple weeks, in part due to a very nice review of one of my books. My sales are orders of magnitude smaller than most of those mentioned here, but as long as they're trending slowly up I'm encouraged.

Christopher Wills said...

Great to read your post Joe; but sorry about the sales. I'm learning all the time. I currently only have one title 'Call me Aphrodite' and that is selling steady but not many so I haven't noticed a dip. Hopefully by next June I will have five titles (one on already, three written needing a good edit and one I will write in nanowrimo this year and edit Jan & Feb next year). So I am hoping to be sellng enough in 2012 to notice the June dip.

M.P. McDonald said...

I've been very fortunate that my sales were boosted by my first book being free for a week early in the month. That has driven sales all month and my second book is doing well because it's a sequel to the first. However, I'm seeing a bit of decline the last few days too.

As a reader myself, I've bought less because I just haven't had as much free time to read. Between graduation parties, Memorial Day, Father's day and doing yardwork, time has been at a premium. I'm hoping that that is the case with other readers.

franklin said...

There was a doubling every six months but it could be years before it doubles again. Everyone that buys an ereader or gets one as a gift likely buys several ebooks. That the major bookstores now look like they will survive (in part because of ebooks) might take some of the heat of those who like hard copies. I was surprised to read not long ago that the music cd market is still more than half as big as it was at its peak more than ten years ago. I would have thought it's collapsed more than that by now. It's likely the big publishers will start discounting books that have been out for awhile and that will hurt independents. If you can get a used hardcopy for a penny on amazon why wouldn't they sell you the ebook for $2.99?

Libby Hellmann said...

NIcely put, Joe. Agree with everything you said.

MSM said...

I worked for many years for a company that lived and died by its daily numbers. There are definitely seasonal fluctuations in any market, but you need to have a lot of data to be able to distinguish broad trends from the noise of the data.

I'd expect that if you aggregated a number of author's and publisher's sales together, you'd be able to see seasonal trending in the market as a whole. The guys at O'Reilly (tech books publisher) do this a lot and make it public. It is interesting reading (for some value of "interesting").

For any single author, I would suspect that it is probably harder to distinguish the effects of seasonal trends against the daily/weekly/monthly/one-time-event noise of the marketplace, unless that author has multiple years of data to analyze. As with most statistical methods, the more data you have, the more confidence you can have in finding actual trends vs. chance.

I think authors and publishers should keep track of these longer trends for planning purposes, but they should not let them rule their individual days.

In my previous life, we knew that our particular market was going to take a natural dip post-Memorial Day so we eased up on any additional promotional efforts beyond the baseline efforts. We had years of data that showed the annual trends; the curve was always the same basic shape, just raised or lowered based on the growth of the company. Anything above and beyond during the dip would just be wasted on an unreceptive market -- you couldn't promote your way out of the dip. Instead, we used that time to build up products and infrastructure for the natural rise that came in the autumn, where extra marketing effort was amplified by a more receptive market.

So, my advice: keep doing what you normally do, but don't try to promote yourself out of a natural dip in the market. In my experience, it won't work. Instead, put your extra effort into writing the next book and making it the best book you can, so that it can take advantage of the next rise in the marketplace.

Is there a source of aggregate ebook sales data yet?

J.M.Cornwell said...

I've been seeing a steady climb in my sales, slow but steady, but I imagine you're right on a few counts. It's summer. The kids are out of school. People are going on vacation and they have all the books they can read right now. They'll be back and they'll want more. It's a cycle.

Jonas Saul said...

Based on my June sales so far I've had a 72.5% increase in sales over my May numbers.

When I saw this post I was surprised to see that other people were experiencing a drop in numbers.

Here's hoping everything changes and we all continue to increase in sales numbers.

Jonas Saul

J. E. Medrick said...

This was surprisingly timely for me, thanks! Despite pretty great reviews, sales have been down 71% so far this month. I have a drop tomorrow, so I'm not _entirely_ worried, but I was feeling quite down yesterday.

Thanks for the boost!

YA: Cheat, Liar, Coward, Thief (6-22)
Adult: Shackled

Sarah Woodbury said...

Thanks for getting this out in the open, Joe!

Also--

"In my previous life, we knew that our particular market was going to take a natural dip post-Memorial Day so we eased up on any additional promotional efforts beyond the baseline efforts. We had years of data that showed the annual trends; the curve was always the same basic shape, just raised or lowered based on the growth of the company. Anything above and beyond during the dip would just be wasted on an unreceptive market -- you couldn't promote your way out of the dip. Instead, we used that time to build up products and infrastructure for the natural rise that came in the autumn, where extra marketing effort was amplified by a more receptive market."

This is great and well-reasoned, MSM. Looking forward to September :)

fantasydreamer12 said...

Selling books is like the stock market, a series of ups and downs. You just need to keep promoting and writing.

Edward G. Talbot said...

Something else that occurred in late April or early May is Amazon pretty clearly changed their algorithms for when/how they display book to prospective buyers. Also boughts, customers who viewed this might like, etc.

On a high level, it seems they started weighting more recent sales more heavily than they had previously. Quite a few books that had been pretty steady for 3-6 months started falling suddenly. My take is that with the size of your backlist, it might have taken several weeks for the effects of this to really take hold.

Donnie Light said...

Mine have slowed, but I did some price changing.
I have talked to several readers who have told me that they "stocked up" on ebooks for their vacation/travel time this summer. Maybe that is playing a part?

Donnie Light said...

Mine have slowed, but I did some price changing.
I have talked to several readers who have told me that they "stocked up" on ebooks for their vacation/travel time this summer. Maybe that is playing a part?

Sharon Linnea said...

It's always good to be reminded that the point of being a writer is to write, not to watch your numbers--although it is fun to have numbers to watch. We tried for years to get our traditional publisher to publish CHASING EDEN, BEYOND EDEN, and TREASURE OF EDEN as eBooks, to no avail. My new publisher put them up on Kindle as backlist a week ago, and CHASING EDEN has downloaded 42,000 with BEYOND and TREASURE climbing behind. Then I look at Joe's wide array of books...and realize I've gotta get back to the word processor! Continued success to everyone!

TK Kenyon said...

From a sales/marketing perspective, I'll bet that huge sunshine sale accounts for 90-110% of it (meaning that your sales might have gone down further due to other forces without it.)

So far this month, all the ebooks that I downloaded were off the sunshine list because they were limited time only. Indeed, I didn't download *anything* off Sony (which I usually do for my Reader) because I was so busy looking at the Amazon Sunshine deals.

To sum up: the sunshine deals were that great sucking sound that you heard, sucking up all the clicks out there.

I'll bet that it will take a week or two for readers to come back in search of something new to read.

Receive writing prompts daily by liking on Facebook: Dr. Kenyon’s Writing Apple or by subscribing to the RSS/Atom feed at Blog: Dr. Kenyon’s Writing Apple Blogspot .

TK Kenyon

Anonymous said...

Interesting post. Let me add that living in a four season state, I really have no time to read all summer. Young animals, kids home, endless yardwork and car trips everywhere for the kids-not happening in the reading department until winter, folks.
I agree with Joe, not to mention expecting to be another Patterson or Steele after releasing an ebook is a great little fantasy, just like winning at Powerball someday. Try and get a grip on it. Be happy if you sell any books at all.
.

John G. Hartness said...

I have seen a very slight drop in sales, but I attributed it to a price increase and the summer sale. I've seen a recent rebound since the summer sale ended, but my BN sales are in the absolute toilet.

kathie shoop said...

I feel like I'm daring fate to set me back in my "place," but so far June has been really good for me. I sold 1300 ebooks in May and I've sold 1930 so far in June. I'm grateful for the bump and have had some marketing in place, but I did some marketing/blog ads in May as well.

I agree the best thing to do is focus on the next book and hope that this dip for so many is just that--a small turn in the road. I'm sure I'll have my share of them as well.

tedkrever said...

My sales are up a bit but most of the growth is in the last week and it's a result of recent marketing efforts. Nothing particularly clever or innovative (other than my 'buy a paperback, I buy you a beer' promotion, which started today on my website)-just lowering prices, reviews and mentions. I think I'm just so new to all this that the only way is up (hopefully I don't find the flaw in that logic too soon). Think long-term; it's the only way. And offer beer...

Dustin Scott Wood said...

Just to underline something in the blog with my personal experience, I rarely bought books during the summer months during high school and college. When classes were over, I would buy up the books I wanted to get through before it ended. My summer reading list was bought up and away I went. I've known several people like me, and, like cockroaches, where there's a few there are many. So, perhaps it's a bit of that too.

Gary Ponzo said...

I haven't seen a slow down yet, but I just released the sequel to my Nick Bracco series, so I think it's helping the first book's sales.

Aoife.Troxel said...

Good advice. I just need the one novel to start me off with, of course, but when that happens...

Vincent Zandri said...

I've definitely seen a hit in sales, which were averaging around 3,000 per day over the past three months. But this is also due to my pub raising the prices of all my books. We have one, The Innocent, back to a special $.99. That book was a Top Ten Amazon Kindle for 8 or so weeks, then after we raised the price to $3.99 it settled in the 300-400 range. We ran it at $2.99 for a while and it's not settle in the 500-600 range. Now that it's back at $.99 we're interested to see if it can move back up the charts. So far however it wants to do the doggy paddle. But I expect July to be better....
Vin

Norm Cowie said...

Panic!

I haven't sold a single copy of my humor book, Bonk & Hedz, a caveman ... and woman ... story.

Oh, wait, I just released it last night. Maybe I should be patient.

Norm

http://www.normcowie.com

JD said...

What are we, chickens? The sky is not falling. Buck up, or cluck, cluck.

--Joe

Margo Lerwill said...

I just recently put out my first title, not knowing that many authors find the summer to be slow for sales. My title was out just long enough to come out of the gate strong, catch its stride, and hit the brick wall that was the Sunshine Deals. As soon as the Amazon sale ended, however, my sales started to pick up again. (caveat: I's still a small-timer, of course.)

Christina Garner said...

My ranking has taken quite a hit this month, too. I've thought about doing a .99 cent sale in order to bump things up.

I do think that the Sunshine sale has had some effect. I personally bought several books from that promotion, which meant I didn't buy too many other books during that time. Though, as you said, that doesn't explain your drop off on Nook. I think your assessment about summer being full of other distractions is spot on.

Layton Green said...

My sales have also been increasing, for what it's worth

Thomas Brookside said...

Barnes and Noble says that Pubit titles are leading the way in unit and revenue growth at BN.com, and that ebooks are outselling print 3 to 1 for them now, so I don't think that the slowdown you're seeing is general.

Lynnette Phillips said...

Thanks for the calming intelligent 'speculations'

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen much of a slow down because I was never really speeding to begin with. I think sales are slow because people are busy. Things should rebound because, as Joe said, there are more people that are going to buy ereaders. I also think there are markets not yet tapped (See YA) that will see a big jump. At least that's what I am hoping for.

Sean McCartney

The Treasure Hunters Club

Anonymous said...

I almost forgot. I did a signing about a month ago at Borders. One that survived the closings and is very profitable in our area. The manager thanked me and said seh didn't think they would be there next year. Not because they are not moving product but they can't afford the rent on the buildings based on the bankruptcy case. Interesting to see in B&N steps in and buys them.


Sean McCartney
The Treasure Hunters Club

Anonymous said...

It's fascinating to read how many people are relly not selling very many copies at all. You just hear about the handful of lucky ones, and it's easy to forget that the vast majority are just wallowing in a sea of indy books.

JAMES BRUNO said...

The sales of my two books are off by about a third, June over May. I had assumed it was due to the natural decline of any book over time, but now I see that I'm in good company.

I'm about to launch my latest novel, hoping to catch a resurgence in buying by the summer beach/resort crowd, who'd be finished with graduations, etc. That will also be interesting to study after summer is through.

This ebook phenomenon is very new, so there really aren't past trends and patterns to analyze reliably. We should be able to discern trends in a couple of years, or so.

JAMES BRUNO said...

"Something else that occurred in late April or early May is Amazon pretty clearly changed their algorithms for when/how they display book to prospective buyers. Also boughts, customers who viewed this might like, etc."

Excellent point. Up until recently, my books would turn up in the "Also Bought" listing along with the biggie Big-6 authors of my genre. Then, almost overnight, I noticed that I'm keeping company with other unknown indie authors like myself. My suspicion was that Amazon has decided to ghetto-ize us and that this contributed to my sales decline. (BTW, I write political thrillers, which feeds my natural paranoia and conspiracy beliefs.) Any other observations?

Mark said...

Even though the number of people with e-readers grows each month, it's possible that many of the newer owners are not avid readers.

At some point, and we're probably far from it now, most people who read will have some kind of e-reading device, and then as more and more ebooks are published, it may be harder to make sales.

The assumption would be that there's only so much that will be spent on books each year, but there will be more and more books available so the average sales per title will go down.

It's possible that if new ebooks are outpacing the growth of the e-reader market right now we could be seeing a bit of this.

I do know that Harlequin is going to publish hundreds of romance titles from the 1990's in ebook form very soon.

Mister Snitch! said...

I'm a bit surprised by this, and I wonder if tablet (iPad & Kindle) sales might be leveling off? That's not at all what I'm hearing, but it's the most obvious explanation.

The second-most obvious explanation would be that most of the folks reporting drops here are the victim of a change in Amazon's algorithms, as another commenter pointed out.

I lean heavily toward the second explanation, since the drop seems to have been sudden and steep. Not only that, but a few commenters are reporting strong UP months for the very same period. That strongly suggests this has to do with a change at Amazon.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

I'm clearly riding the median hump of the bell curve so far with my one book pubbed April 1. Aside from my close and very tiny social media network, I've done no promoting for my historical fiction/romance novel (Spoil of War) and can only assume Amazon's internal promos are buoying it. I keep a running public count of sales on my site, so don't mind sharing my monthly stats, middle-of-the-road though they be:

Apr = 68
May = 77
June = 101

I can really only attribute the slow but steady rise to whatever bump Amazon seems to be giving it through its internal "also bought," etc. features as my own promo efforts won't kick in until next month.

As others have intimated, an anomaly doesn't equal a trend until it becomes one.

Coscom Entertainment said...

The opposite is happening this month for us, with all our eBook sales up quite a bit across the board.

But this is publishing and it can be a rollercoaster ride at times, with hills and valleys. Thinking big picture is the recipe for success.

Always.

Melissa said...

I've been freelancing for a long time, and June, July and August are typically my slowest times for work -- according to my clients, readership drops off because as you mentioned, Joe, people have children at home, spend more time outdoors, go on vacation, etc. I wouldn't worry about it too much, authors. Summer affects all writers. :)

I.J.Parker said...

This is only my second month, and sales for my 4 titles at 4.99 have been very good for both months. I write mysteries for a niche market (historical/Japan), and there is always the fear that I will run out of enough people who are interested in the subject.
This week I'm putting the first book of a historical trilogy on Kindle at 2.99. This will be an introductory price. The other two books will be 3.99. I have the greatest hope for this undertaking, especially since Amazon will follow up with print publication.
Joe knows best!

Andy said...

I'm one of those that experienced a rise in sales. My June figures were all set to DOUBLE May's, but in the past few days there's been a sudden drop off that suggests it won't quite be double by the end of the month.

I think I'm a new indie publisher experiencing a fairly typical steady rise after my third month selling online and having recently added my third title.

It will be interesting to see how I fare this summer as I'm releasing another five titles over the next 8 weeks, and two of them are targetted at highly specific internet communities where I'd expect to see huge sales. I was kind of hoping the 'summer read' angle would make it easier, not harder!

Andy Conway
Publishing 11 titles before 11.11.11 on Amazon and Smashwords : 3 down, 8 to go
The Very Thought of You, a timeslip ghost story, out now...

Barbara Morgenroth said...

I can't even go to look at Amazon this month my sales have dropped so much--I'm bad with math but I think about 30%, and I was doing "well". Thank you for sharing this with me! Now I don't feel so horrible.

Anonymous said...

My self-pubbed book has had no sales outside my friends this month. Even among them, few have dedicated ereaders and don't want to read a novel on their laptops.


And to continue on in this killjoy mode . . . An earlier commenter said she might pull her self-pubbed book and start to query publishers. She should be prepared to be schooled.

I had my ebook up for 2 weeks before panicking and trying to reach out to small publishers (my agent couldn't get the deal done w/ the big guys). My very first human contact with a publisher was the worst I could have imagined. Not only was I unable to charm her and persuade her to ask for a partial, she was MEAN to me. Very. Hostile. "Why would we want to publish something that's already been published.... You've ruined it. . . We would never accept a book that's already been published. . . I have a friend who can't get published now because her ebook went viral."

Yes, that last sentence is authentic. I thought, "and why would she want to put up with this BS if she went viral," but stayed cool. And vowed never, ever, ever to deal w/ these people again. The condescension, the "why are you darkening my door"-stance, the insensitivity, the power-tripping.

Do so at your own risk.

I guess I'll just write "my little books" and have a good life despite everything.

Jude Hardin said...

how could the same book with two different authors, covers and titles subtract from one another’s sales when two different books do not?

A finite number of people are going to buy a finite number of books each day. If you're a water molecule waiting to be poured, your chances of making it into the cup on any given day diminish greatly if you go from being in a a half-gallon pitcher to a five-gallon jug.

Robert Carraher said...

I have to agree that it is just a "flat spot" in the road. June is notorious for drop off's in numerous entertainment business and for the most part that's what books are. As a reviewer, I am over joyed because suddenly I am getting invites to review books and a lot of those requests are coming from main stream Publishers.

I bet they pick back up by mid august when a lot of 'summer reads' will be released and indies and trad authors will ride that same wave.

Douglas Dorow said...

All I can say is, June's my top month. But that's because it's the first since I just published last week.

I'm curious to see the fluctuations and to see if I can tie any of my efforts to reach readers via Goodreads, Kindle boards, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. to sales increases.

Now back to the second book since that's the best bet to double my sales.

David Gaughran said...

I'm selling individual short stories for 99c each. The Sunshine deals just killed me. Sales were down a third in the first week of June, and half in the second week of June. As soon as the sale ended, I started rising and now I am nearly back to May levels, but not quite.

I'm sure the disappearance of tags was a factor too - same time period.

All that sunshine doesn't help either!

Jude Hardin said...

Will being in a group like this help readers find quality authors as the market becomes saturated?

Will carrying a seal of approval help maintain sales, even during slow periods like the one some authors are experiencing now?

My guess is that it will.

Mary Anne said...

June has been an up and down month for me. The Amazon promotion was definitely a down month.

I think the downturn is mainly due to the economy. I think even the people well off enough to own ereaders aren't buying a bunch of ebooks to read over vacation b/c there are so many free reads. In areas where people can economize, they have to.

Also, in my genre (romance) summer is when the big-list authors put out books. In recent days Johanna Lindsey and Julia Quinn came out with books and I believe Janet Evanovich has one due.

When budgets stretch to fewer books, I think people will spend their dollars first for the authors they know.

The e-revolution is in its infancy still. I expect that we will soon start seeing the economy turn around. Whichever party is in control, I think eventually they'll realize that government has to get out of the way. And then business will grow. One of 'em will be the ebook business.

If we can all hang on and do as Joe says and keep writing - I think the boom is coming. In the meantime, I still get a naughty little tingle when I see a sale register!

Robert Carraher said...

Jude, I find almost all my reading material through authors I already enjoy. An I am a voracious reader, and now write reviews. Whether it be other authors that you may join in a collection (I got to 8 authors I had never read in the Top Suspense group because I knew Paul Levines work and figured if he was doing a collection with them I'd probably like them. Even before the advent of FB and blogs, I counted on author Websites and confessions of who your influences were, or if you had a "What I Am Reading" page. I trust other authors more than I trust most traditional book reviewers.

Jude Hardin said...

It's always interesting to hear how people choose what to read, Robert!

Anonymous said...

"Will being in a group like this help readers find quality authors as the market becomes saturated?"

Lee gives you a blurb for unforn, you link to his website, and on and on and on.

Writers are a scared lot and have a natural tendency to flock together like sheep.

In the end though readers don't care. They want a good book and IMO have come to believe that most authors who vouhe for other authors are simply scratching each others' backs.

Jude Hardin said...

Writers are a scared lot and have a natural tendency to flock together like sheep.

Human beings are a scared lot and have a natural tendency to flock together like sheep. BFD.

In the end though readers don't care. They want a good book and IMO have come to believe that most authors who vouhe for other authors are simply scratching each others' backs.

But how do readers FIND those good books in an ever-swelling puddle of pus?

Belonging to a group like TSG might help an author stand out from the crowd a bit. That's all I'm saying.

W. Dean said...

Like I said, Jude, there’s no complaint from me over the plagiarists and content-farmers. I’m in favor of the scaffold, and I’ll continue to do my bit to expose the ones I can through reviews on Amazon (I encourage others to do the same). But plagiarists are a small minority next to the massive influx of books from all other sources. Using your analogy to put things in perspective: the plagiarists don’t change things from a half-gallon to five gallons, but from the Pacific Ocean to the Pacific Ocean plus the puddle in your back yard (you’re still the water droplet by the way).

The bigger problem I see is content-farming, because the potential dump from this source is already perfectly obvious.

Robert Carraher said...

I hardly ever pay attention to the blurbs on book covers. After years of buying books based on the blurbs, I came not to trust them But,when I read on say Lawrence Blocks site or in an interview that he is reading Dennis Lehane, then I read on Dennis Lehanes site that he is reading Walter Mosely, and then Walter Mosely is reaidng Ed McBain who just did a collection of short stories with etc....then I have found I can pretty much trust I am going to like that "new" authors book. Actually, I found Jude and Joe that way although I couldn't tell you from which other author. I read in the neighborhood of 1500 pages a week (I am medically retired and obviously have way too much time on my hands)and that is the only reliable way I can be 80% sure I'll enjoy the book.

Mark Asher said...

"Will being in a group like this help readers find quality authors as the market becomes saturated?"

I dunno. It looks like a group of writers have banded together. Of course they are going to say that their own books are topnotch.

I looked at crime, though, and thought: Where are links to Elmore Leonard's books? Why don't they recommend books from the top writers who aren't in their group?

Anyway, I'm not going to lean on a site that's essentially writers recommending their own books.

Mark Asher said...

I want to elaborate on my previous comment about the site Jude linked to.

The problem is those writers are not a trusted source. I might as well go to a publisher's website and read all the glowing praise for the books they publish.

Consumers are all about using trusted sources these days, and the most popular trusted source is other consumers and not the makers of the products.

Give me a good blog by a fan of crime novels and I'm much more likely to check out what he recommends.

Jude Hardin said...

But plagiarists are a small minority next to the massive influx of books from all other sources.

Probably. But how do we really know how many of those $.99 books out there are bootlegs? tomorrow you might download a book titled BUB and discover the content to be J.A. Konrath's ORIGIN word-for-word. Now Joe's not only competing with all the legit techno-thrillers out there, he's also competing with the stolen version(s) of his own.

Anonymous said...

"ever-swelling puddle of pus"

Congratulation, that's a really good twist on Lee's "tusnami of swill."

Question: Do you think readers are actually attracted to authors who talk about others in that tone?

Anonymous said...

A little hint from the readers... I personally have over 300 Kindle books and a large number of us are upset about the new pricing models where we are being asked to pay $14.99 for a new ebook. Some authors have claimed that we are being greedy, but the customers are seeing it the other way around. We realize there are costs for editing, but for publishers to be claiming it costs almost the same to distribute ebooks is a bit ridiculous (no inventory, no store lease, no transportation costs or sales personnel).

Moreover, we do not own an ebook in the same manner as a conventional book (i.e. it cannot be resold, or loaned w/o loaning out your e-reader). Many of us actually try to be legal and are not out to pirate off of anyone.

Before you go crazy on dropping your price to $0.99 (as some of you have mentioned), you might ask yourself what your ebook is priced at compared to the hard cover or paperback if it is out, esp. if you are over $10. Also, if you're marketing old books for $8-10, same deal. I saw a 2002 book that I own in paperback going for $9.99 the other day. Be nice to add to my electronic library, but not at that price when the paperback is in the basement.

If you scan around the reader forums you will likely discover that many of us are boycotting new releases until they drop to $9.99. The lower the price goes, the more of us give in. I've personally been holding on Charlaine Harris, Dead Reckoning, but need to reconsider since the price is now down to $12.99 instead of $14.99. Jim Butcher's Ghost Story, I've not pre-ordered for same reason. That will be a hard one to hold out on.

Most of us readers are blaming the publishers, not the authors, especially Penguin. However, we do think the authors have some responsibility to keep them in line. So, this is another perspective to consider for you. If you disagree then post some actual details on costs going into a new hard cover vs ebook and you may sway a lot of the readers out there. Right now a lot of them feel taken advantage of.

Hope that helps...

Jude Hardin said...

The problem is those writers are not a trusted source.

They all have strong backgrounds and track records with traditional publishers. That's the point. If the website were a group of self-published authors with no history of validation beyond each others' praise, I would totally agree with you.

Jude Hardin said...

Do you think readers are actually attracted to authors who talk about others in that tone?

When I find an author I like, I pimp them by name all over the place. I only write five-star reviews.

The ever-swelling puddle of pus I simply ignore.

J. E. Medrick said...

@Mark: If you're looking for a good crime/thriller review site, try Man Eating Bookworm.

He's doing some posts about my superhero series this week (sorry about the accidental plug) but if you check his previous posts, he reviews a lot of thrillers, crime noir and the like. I was surprised he likes my series so much, given what he normally reviews!

He's done reviews and/or interviews with Blake Crouch, David Zelsterman, Brendan DuBois, Lee Goldberg... lots of authors. You might like his blog :)

YA: Cheat, Liar, Coward, Thief (6-22)
Adult: Shackled

W. Dean said...

I can see why you and other writers would be more pissed about competing against your own plagiarist, but (to keep the analogies going) it’s a hangnail next to malignant skin cancer. I also think getting together with other authors to promote one another’s books (like the website you cited proposes) is a misdirected effort.

Mark these words: the bigger fish for you and everyone else who sells e-books is the content farmers, which will turn out to be for e-books what spammers and malware makers are for the internet and PCs.

W. Dean said...

That last post was addressed to Jude, in case it wasn't obvious...

author Scott Nicholson said...

I've always had up and down months but as long as the plateaus keep moving up, I don't worry about it. I think we have at least three more good years before the bubble bursts, and still a lot of writers will sell books after that.

If you're in this just to get rich, boy, did you pick the wrong career. Not many realize how truly incredibly lucky we are to have this fleeting moment in publishing history--and it will be fleeting.

Scott

Terrance Foxxe said...

Seasonal dips in sales is what it is, and I’m not worried. I used to get them when I led the Dilbert life, and they usually lasted until the end of August, when all the kiddies went back to school. The summer lull just gives me time to think, try new things, get past projects out, and ready myself for the holiday push. Joe’s right. Relax, do what you can and enjoy the ride. Where will you be in five years? Me, I actually do have a five year plan, much like a five year business plan. This . . . is my business.

Terrance Foxxe’s eBooks on Kindle

Joe Konrath said...

the bigger fish for you and everyone else who sells e-books is the content farmers

I dunno. I think Amazon will put the hurt on that shit pretty quick. Remember a few years ago when they began regulating public domain content? It won't be hard to kill content farmers. Algorithms will do the work, and they'll manually outsource the rest.

Mark Asher said...

"They all have strong backgrounds and track records with traditional publishers. That's the point. If the website were a group of self-published authors with no history of validation beyond each others' praise, I would totally agree with you."

I've read too many mediocre books from the big publishers to be impressed by a site that's a collection of those writers. How is their site any different from an author's site? It's a bunch of them at one site, sure, but it's just a bunch of writers recommending their own books.

And it's a handful of writers. A handful. Why shouldn't I simply go to whatever sites the Hatchette Group maintains so I can the books from the authors they signed if my criteria is writers who have published with the NY publishers?

They are not a trusted source. They can't be, anymore than Joe Konrath is a trusted source vouching for the excellence of books by Joe Konrath.

And I find this desire to come up with some kind of label of excellence annoying. I'll find my own books to read, thank you. I don't need a group of writers getting together and sticking gold stars on their own books and the books of friends.

Anyway, good luck to their venture. I'll rely on blogs, user reviews, the bestseller lists on Amazon, recommendations from friends, etc.

Joe Konrath said...

I think we have at least three more good years before the bubble bursts

Ebooks aren't a classic bubble, Scott.

A bubble is defined as an artificially inflated investment in something that people hope will pay off. Real estate, stocks, mutual funds, dotcom domains, etc.

Ebooks are about sales, not expectations of sales.

That said, ebooks are forever. There may be a period where some so-so writers sneak in and make fortunes, but eventually the cream will rise to the top.

When the Big 6 can't sustain hardcover sales anymore, and continue to overprice ebooks, current bestseller faves will become absorbed into the masses and fade away, their advantage (widespread distribution and print discounting) gone.

The Big 6 won't be able to sustain their NY offices selling ebooks by Patterson, for $2.99. Patterson will fall out of favor with new ereader owners simply because he costs too much, and his fans will only follow so long at inflated prices.

We'll sell forever.

Joe Konrath said...

They can't be, anymore than Joe Konrath is a trusted source vouching for the excellence of books by Joe Konrath.

I've got several hundred thousand fans who can vouch for me. :)

The Confused Dad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jude Hardin said...

Remember a few years ago when they began regulating public domain content?

I still see people selling public domain books on Amazon all the time. How are they regulating it?

John Y. Jones said...

You wrote: "It seems impossible to ever fully saturate this market."

Didn't pundits make that claim about the housing market and dot-coms?

This is a... I won't say "foolish," but a very surprising thing to read coming from you, Joe. Every market is capable of saturation.

I'll agree that the e-reader saturation point is a very long way off but it could still happen, either as a result of new technology in the book market or a broader new technology in communication that alters how we access and process information.

E-readers are merely the delivery vehicle. The product - to wit, the story - stays the same. And on *that* score, I'll agree: there's no end to the demand for a well-told tale.

Jude Hardin said...

They are not a trusted source.

It's just another tool for writers to try to sell their books. Maybe it will help, maybe not. My guess is that it will, in the same way that readers pay more attention to a blurb from a name author than a review from rockpanda94 on Amazon.

Joe Konrath said...

How are they regulating it?

The cut down bigtime on the number of PD sellers per title. They also restricted royalties on PD titles.

Joe Konrath said...

Didn't pundits make that claim about the housing market and dot-coms?

Those are speculation markets. I explained this. A bubble is based on hope. This is about actual sales, not the promise of money.

This is a... I won't say "foolish," but a very surprising thing to read coming from you, Joe. Every market is capable of saturation.

The world will never be saturated.

I have the potential to sell ebooks to someone in India who hasn't been born yet. That's pretty much unlimited.

I keep referencing Dark Side of the Moon, which sells over 1000 copies a day, and has been since 1974. In other words, it has never saturated the market, which grows faster than it can sell. Same thing with ebooks. A popular ebook can indeed sell forever. My grandchildren will some day be getting my royalties.

That ain't foolish. It's fact.

Joe Konrath said...

Blurbs help, and authors putting each others' excerpts in their ebooks is a smart idea.

The goal of this new era is to somehow be seen. The more ways you can be discovered, the better.

Ty Johnston said...

Dark Side of the Moon?

Hell, over the years I've owned at least three copies myself. One on cassette and two on CD.

Karly Kirkpatrick said...

Phew! Glad to know I'm not the only one with sales on the slow road to nowhere this month. I'll probably end the month with a 25% downturn in sales after months of nothing but growth. Ah well, like you said Joe, these books are forever, so we'll have those short months.

James said...

As others have said, there are ups and downs in all industries. A one or two month dip is not really that significant, in the long term, particularly given the various potential factors everyone has listed.

There are millions of ereaders that have been purchased, but when you look at the mass of readers out there it is still a very small percentage of them out there that own a dedicated ereader. Many, many more own cell phones that they COULD use as ereaders, but screen size is still an issue for most people.

Purchase figures for ereaders can be misleading, too. They were a popular gift over the last couple of years, but there is no guarantee that the recipient will ever buy more than a handful of ebooks. It's not uncommon for people to tire of a new gadget quickly.

Though ereader sales continue, I don't think we are going to see widespread adoption by readers until the price is well below the $50 range. At that point, you will see people making the decision to skip the Saturday night dinner out and buy an ereader instead.

Consumers are also painfully aware of the bloated pricing on popular fiction ebooks, the lack of resale value, the inability to lend it over and over to friends, etc. Why pay $15 for an ebook when you can buy it for less than $10 at a used bookstore (in hardback) a few months later, and then sell it back or give it to someone? In today's economy, people are paying much more attention to that sort of thing than they used to.

Despite the hype, the ereader owners who regularly buy ebooks are still early adopters of this technology. When the prices for everything reach more reasonable levels, we will be able to get a better idea of how things will settle out. Until then, though, it will be hard to predict much. I don't think ebooks are going away or anything like that, but I would be hesitant to guess at how things will look a decade from now.

N. L. Earnshaw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
N. L. Earnshaw said...

I wonder whether John Locke has had a downswing?

@Bob Mayer
Sounds like you are doing well :)
Good to hear.

indieebooks.blogspot.com

Mark Asher said...

"I keep referencing Dark Side of the Moon, which sells over 1000 copies a day, and has been since 1974. In other words, it has never saturated the market, which grows faster than it can sell. Same thing with ebooks. A popular ebook can indeed sell forever. My grandchildren will some day be getting my royalties."

If you cherry-pick you can always come up with an amazing example.

What we really don't know is if the level of sales will be maintained over the years. If you have a title selling 300 copies a month now, is it likely to be selling that many, or more, or fewer in two years? We have no idea.

We've also swapped gatekeepers, not gotten rid of them. Now it's Amazon, B&N, and the others. As some have noted in this thread, it appears Amazon tuned their algorithms and that has had a negative effect on sales for some.

Amazon may decide, for example, that it's better to have more fluidity in the top 3000 and tune the algorithms so it's harder for a book to stay in that range for more than a few months.

The thing is, we just don't know what is going to happen so speculation that ebooks are forever and the current level of sales will be sustained forever is only speculation.

Heck, for all we know libraries may become the hot place to get ebooks in a couple of years. Amazon may start a Netflix-like business for ebooks and make participation in that business a requirement of going through KDP.

I think the only thing we can count on is that things will change rather than stay the same.

Just my two cents.

Mark Asher said...

"The cut down bigtime on the number of PD sellers per title. They also restricted royalties on PD titles."

They also insist that some kind of value be added to the book now.

I think there are still tons of PD books going up each month, but there are no more copies of Pride and Prejudice going up. You might slip one by if you had original illustrations or something like that.

This is one area where Amazon could hire more staff and go after the PD crap. I've downloaded samples that were terribly formatted, had captions for illustrations that were no longer there, etc.

One PD publisher has over 3000 titles up. Even at $0.99 a book, that guy is probably making a lot of money each month. I wouldn't be surprised if he's close to $5000 in royalties every month.

Jude Hardin said...

I think the only thing we can count on is that things will change rather than stay the same.

THAT'S the smartest thing anyone has said all day.

Dark Side of the Moon will probably sell well forever. The current top 100 ebooks on Amazon probably will not.

A book called Life Sentences by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey was #14 on the NYT bestseller list January 2, 1983.

Where is it now? #2,064,117 in books on Amazon. Used. Not even available as an ebook.

Time is a bitch, and it's moving exponentially faster than it was in 1983.

Frank Martin said...

Jude said:
When I find an author I like, I pimp them by name all over the place. I only write five-star reviews.

The ever-swelling puddle of pus I simply ignore.


I am glad I wasn't taking a drink when I read this. Wow.

I think you have the right idea: sites for author recommendations, sites wherein established writers vouch for one another. Also, the classic methods of peer reviews; browsing favorite categories; looking at covers, blurbs, and reading a few pages.

Kiana Davenport said...

Why the panic? Ebooks are products. Like everything for sale, they fluctuate. As Joe says, they have low seasons, high seasons, in-between. Just like print books did. And print books did pretty well for about 500 years.

Ebooks are not a trend, they're HERE. So maybe we should lighten up, and concentrate on writing in this down time. I'm behind most of you with only one ebook up and one on the way. But I do know the rush of a good day of writing well.

Does anyone remember that? No one seems to mention it. Can I suggest you take your eyeball off the sales charts and use the time for research for a new book, or a new cast of characters. Or, resurrect old characters. Experiment. Try other forms, maybe other genres. Or just RELAX. Get drunk with your lover/spouse and talk about whatever happened to apostrophes.

Mark Asher said...

A book called Life Sentences by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey was #14 on the NYT bestseller list January 2, 1983.

Where is it now? #2,064,117 in books on Amazon. Used. Not even available as an ebook.

Time is a bitch, and it's moving exponentially faster than it was in 1983.


I looked her up. She's 73 and hasn't published since 1991.

At some point she or her heirs will publish her books as ebooks or they will cut a deal with a publisher who will put them up as ebooks. It's inevitable. There's money to be made.

She's one author. There are thousands of other writers with backlist that is out of print, perhaps tens of thousands.

In the next ten years we will see a flood of backlist published. Harlequin is publishing hundreds of their books from the '90's in the next month or so.

With Amazon reporting 40,000 new Kindle books each month, it's not hard to imagine that in a few years Amazon will go from 900,000 titles available to 3,000,000 or more.

When we talk about ebooks being forever, and we look at things ten years from now, doesn't that mean that there might be ten million ebooks for sale? Or more?

Won't most of those ebooks be invisible to customers? The average customer might spend 10-20 minutes browsing online for a new book to read, and in that time Amazon or other retailers will be able to show that customer a few dozen books.

Isn't it going to be harder and harder to be one of those 40-50 books that a customer sees during an average browsing session?

Anonymous said...

Sales fluctuate, and it is the sunshine months as others have said.

But people will continue to buy enovels. And as long as authors keep providing the novels - then I guess the fan-base is retained.

Joe keeps his fanbase hot by producing regular books. He also co-writes with other authors which allows him to produce work more often AND widen his fanbase.

Joint venture writing is something all authors could do to be more prolific and widen their fanbase.

It's easy for two popular authors to work together. As I've mentioned in an earlier post I think journeyman euthors (selling 50-100-200-500 novels a month) could help themselves and Newbie authors by taking on the Newbie author novel for a good cut of the royalties (but little actual work). The journeyman gets more product, the newbie gets marketing oxygen.

There have been many newbies struggling with the marketing, growing sales very slowly. Imagine an Estributor model where the journeymen eauthors give a leg-up the newbies (with similar work to their own) in exchange for free product?

In a sense, the journeymen authors would replace current publishers for first time authors. Independent Estributors could arise who match Newbie submissions to journeymen authors, and these new Estributors would replace agents for first time authors.

The estributors would get a small cut, the journeymen would get new product and a cut - and the first time enovels would get a marketing leg-up in the industry instead of becoming lost in the aether (as many, not all, do).





I'm a newbie with a great young adult novel, but wanting a strong marketing plan before I publish. My novel is suitable for matching up with an existing selling eauthor (in the genres of young adult or science fiction, and perhaps adventure).

Journeyman authors - Interested in adding to your product range and getting a great royalty cut for doing very little? Offer to take on a similar genre novel from a first time enovelist - listing the novel under your joint names.

email me: realgoodbookstoread@gmail.com

type 'joint publishing' in the subject header.

I can send intro chapters ... and we can go from there.

Mike

Anonymous said...

Nice article 'self-puglished' enovel article on the BBC website

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-13853728

Mike

Anonymous said...

It's possible that once best-selling authors from traditional publishing houses have their works automatically available as ebooks, the 'indie' author who wasn't good enough to impress those same publishers is going to see a slow in sales. After all those authors not only have the benefit of proven sales, huge fan bases and offline advertising but their books have been through the editorial process. Like it or not they are probably better writers than the writer of your average serial killer techno thriller that sells for 99 cents on Amazon.

On the plus side it will raise the game of the indie author. There are too many bad authors in the ebook world compared to traditional publishing. While they might only be charging 99 cents a book you can spend a lot of 99 cents before you find a book that was written by someone who can actually write.

Worse still, these 99 cent bargain basement authors are flooding the market with terrible books. Even Stephen King only turns out a book every year or so. The bargain basement author seems to be genius enough to turn out one every few months. Are these good books? Of course not. They are cheap books. Sooner or later the bargain basement price will just be a warning sign to readers. 99 cents. Terrible book. Buy if you have no taste and possibly poor reading skills but love stories about serial killing zombie techno CIA conspiracies.

Ebooks offered a publishing opportunity to the overlooked author. It would be a shame if the bargain basement writer killed that market. People who have spent a hundred dollars or more on an ereader aren't necessarily looking for a 99 cent book. They are looking for a great book.

Sibel Hodge said...

Great post - I think you're right about the Kindle Summer Sunshine deals affecting a lot of authors. And the summer seems to see declines anyway in book sales. I'm down about 20%on my sales this month! There also seems to have been a few hiccups this month with KDP reporting going haywire - hopefully that's been fixed now. And tags disappeared for quite a while, also, which might have had some impact on visibility of books.

Mel Comley said...

great observations as usual, Joe.

Stephen Prosapio said...

Interesting! First PHEW! Glad to know I'm not the only one. In the spirit of Joe's sharing #s (and since this is appropriate to this blog) here are my Amazon numbers:

Dream War
Feb - 162
March - 411
April - 704
May - 351
June (thus far) - 115

I noticed the slowdown; have a book release this month, and decided to lower the price from $2.99 to $0.99....so imagine my surprise when the sales numbers continued to fall.

I'll be interested to see how this pans out. On a related note: I purchased *my* Kindle last Sept. I've got at least two dozen unread downloads on it....the last 7 novels I've read were paper books from the library (Harry Potter series). The current book I'm reading is a paper book (Band of Brothers). I've put myself on a purchasing restriction....both online as well as paper. Maybe I'm indicative of what's going on more globally...

David Gaughran said...

NL Earnshaw said: I wonder whether John Locke has had a downswing?

Robin Sullivan ran some numbers on the Sunshine Deals yesterday. All of Locke's books were pushed out of the Top 100. Hocking lost ranking too. I think it's safe to assume they had a dip in sales to accompany that.

It makes sense. There are customers out there who will only purchase or are far more likely to purchase 99c at and/or $2.99. If 600 popular products are reduced to that price-range, and the customers are well-informed that it is time-limited and a one-off, which they were, OF COURSE it will affect all existing vendors in that price bracket.

Knowing that Joe, Locke & Hocking are down a little makes me feel slightly better about my slump. Misery loves company...

Oh, and I agree with the above sentiments about using summer for retooling and readying new projects etc. I'm dialling back on promo until the fall.

tmsouders.com said...

For someone who is going to be publishing their first e-book in the next few weeks, the idea that ebook sales are down makes me nervous. I too have wondered about saturation, whether it would eventually occur. I think it may, but I agree with Joe, it's too early and happened too fast for it to be likely saturation has played a role here. I also find it hard to believe that a downtrend in ereaders has started, that doesn't make sense. Whatever it is though, I can't help but wring my hands as a I approach publishing.

I wonder about the future of epublishing. I think eventually amazon and the like may not allow everyone to epublish. Eventually, they'll have some weeding out process. I'm not sure what that will be, but I can't imagine as the number of people epublishing increases, they'll continue to allow anyone and everyone to publish. What do you think?

Shaina Richmond said...

I think you hit the nail on the head with two things: the influx of new self-publishers, and the big sale at Amazon. I'm actually surprised the influx didn't cause sales to dip in April or May.

Supply and demand have both changed and are continuing to change rapidly, meaning it's hard to make predictions of any kind. But there's definitely no reason for anyone to be discouraged.

My sales have increased this month and the only correlation I see is that I've pushed my free books harder than ever. I'm still nowhere near the sales levels of most of the people who have commented here. But an increase is still an increase, nonetheless.

Sean Thomas Fisher said...

What's the first rule of ebook club? Don't panic. What's the second rule? Start panicking. Just kidding. Selling ebooks is like the NBA... It's a game of runs.

David Gaughran said...

Guys,

I really think there is no reason to panic.

As the e-book market matured, it was natural that some seasonal factors would come into play.

To put it another way, if you have a big surge of sales in the run up to the holidays as people purchase new e-readers, and after the holidays as people load up the new e-readers they received as gifts, it is only natural that there would be a dip in the summer.

Here's one advantage with e-books: print books only really boom October to December. With e-books, our boom goes both sides of the holidays.

It can't boom all the time!

Here's what you have to look forward to in the fall: 2 new Amazon e-readers, one tablet and possibly a phone. 1 new iPad. And I'm sure B&N, Sony, and Kobo will bring something out too.

September is when all the new e-reader models come out. The companies picked that time for a reason. There will be another surge starting then which will carry right through to February.

If people were loading up their Kindles with tons of books in January and February, it's only natural that it would take them some time to read them all. But they will. And then they will be back for more.

People don't read as much in the summer, especially e-books. Use this time to work on new stuff.

Don't panic!

Dave

Shawn Reed said...

As a reader, I learned after the first couple of months that I need to be very careful about giving in to impulse buys. It's so very easy to buy on a Kindle (or a Nook, or what have you). Plus, you don't experience the payment transaction in real time. At the bookstore, I have to give them my card, a check, cash, & I see the total. With the Kindle, it's billed to my account. If I don't write it down in my checkbook immediately (which I usually don't), I don't realize what I've spent until possibly days later. And each book is an individual purchase - rather than taking 3 books to the cash register, I buy 3 separate books. You don't see the total all at once.

So now, I tend to sample stuff a lot more -- both to check quality and also to have a reminder of books I'm interested in but can't buy right now. I've set a budget of how much I'm allowed to spend per pay period. This has slowed my purchasing down. It has by no means stopped my purchasing. It's just leveling it out to an amount I can afford.

I wonder how much of the slowdown authors are seeing is a function of readers adjusting to their new ereaders, imposing some discipline into their buying habits, etc.

David Gaughran said...

@Shawn

I think that is only natural. When you have 5 books in your TBR pile, it's okay to buy some more.

But when you have 50, that's a different story.

At Christmas, many people I know were giving Kindles as gifts but pre-loading them with tons of books.

Many others gave gift cards so the recipient could load it up themselves.

It's only natural to feel little guilt when you only have a small TBR pile, but to feel like your wasting money if you purchase a book when you already have scores of unread titles on your e-reader.

This, I believe, amplifies the seasonality of e-books.

W. Dean said...

Joe & Jude,

Content-farming is bigger than reformatted public domain books. Over the last few weeks, for example, a “publisher” has uploaded several hundred 4,000 word high school essays with fancy covers on topics from law to history to science. They’ve made two series of books with identical content, complete with a corny Dr. know-it–all-type mascot. The books started out free to boost their sales, then went up to $3.99. Not surprisingly, they received some positive reviews from the people who cannot resist seeing themselves in print.

Eventually these two series of books will be weeded out, but not before they’ve made enough money to reissue the whole shebang under different covers with different titles and start all over again.

Why will they get away with this type of thing? The user review process works but slowly and unevenly. At the same time, no software filter is going to pick them out because they’re not straightforward public domain or complete gibberish. Only content experts can gate-keep this sort of thing and they usually don’t come as cheap as software.

The problem is analogous to the problem with web content. Jude seems to think it’s all the Bobs and Judys with their personal websites and blogs that clutter things up; but it’s really the SEO optimized spammers and junk sellers that clog up internet searches with crap.

Bjorn Karger said...

For once I disagree completely with Konrath.

If summer is slow, then rankings don't necessarily go down. This is math 101: you have MiniAmazon.com with 3 books, say, and when biz is booming Book A sells 1000, Book B sells 500, Book C sells 250. That gives them ranks of 1, 2, 3. Now biz is slow, Book A sells 500, Book B sells 250, Book C sells 100. Ranks are still 1, 2, 3. In other words, you still need the 1, 2, 3 ranks if you're going to have a 4, 5, 6 etc.

What could be happening is much more troublesome than the points mentioned here. Haven't you heard of the content-farm spam and pirated books on Kindle now? Your books are on there in various forms, retitled, or excerpts of them rehashed w/ others, I'm sure -- read Laura Miller's "Spamazon" essay in Salon -- you'll find that spammers (esp Chinese) are putting out hundreds, thousands of faked books, many of them are poorly hacked versions of our own, all for 99c.

Because so much of this is now out there, you've got a number of buyers going for these other copies, hence our rankings are down. I've found my own material pirated in many places, many ways. What can I do about it? And what about the lost royalties from pirated books that Amazon has sold?

We indie authors are being exploited again.

Kannan said...

Sales down in June eh?....good to know. I have sold just one ebook so far since it's release three days ago! Although I don't have a big platform or anything, I was expecting to sell at least a few copies for the moderate amount of marketing effort that I have put in. I did get really good response from the folks who read the book for free. But am yet to make any sales (outside of the one copy that my sister bought :) Just I agree with you Joe, "forever is a long time" and since the ebooks are going to be there forever, I am confident that things will pick up.

Joe Konrath said...

If you cherry-pick you can always come up with an amazing example.

True. But my point wasn't to say that all media will sell forever, it was to show that it is possible for something to sell forever.

DSotM is saddled with production costs--manufacturing, packaging, shipping. It also needs brick and mortar retailers (at least it did before iTunes) in order to reach consumers.

A book like Carrie has also sold steadily for as long as DSotM has.

But those are two of MANY examples. You can still buy tens of thousands of albums, books, and movies, that have been selling for decades.

Now that the middleman is gone, and there are no production costs, ebooks can sell forever.

Whether they will sell forever obviously is based on continued, sustained popularity. But the used book market shows us that even out of print authors continue to sell, decades after their books have been dumped by publishers.

Joe Konrath said...

When we talk about ebooks being forever, and we look at things ten years from now, doesn't that mean that there might be ten million ebooks for sale?

I've heard this argument many times, and it's pretty east to counter.

There are tens of millions of websites. Yet you found this blog.

There are already millions of books available. Yet you still are able to find things you want to read. Why will things change when it is millions of ebooks instead of millions of print books?

People are pretty good at finding content. When content becomes unwieldy, others step in to make it easier to navigate (Google) or offer recommendations.

Joe Konrath said...

If summer is slow, then rankings don't necessarily go down. This is math 101:

This assumes you understand Amazon's algorithms. Rankings don't have a direct correlation with recent sales. There are a lot of factors involved and weighted.

But as I said, this is speculation. It could be that some genres don't sell as well in summer. Or that the Sunshine Sale displaced ebooks from bestseller lists, which lowered their views, which caused rankings to drop much further than expected.

you've got a number of buyers going for these other copies, hence our rankings are down.

You've got to show me some examples, or else I'll simply dismiss it as paranoia. I'm not saying it isn't happening. I'm saying I'd like to see it.

Melissa F. Miller said...

I am inclined to believe it was the sunshine deals. I released my book on April 20 and have had at least some sales every day (with ups and downs, to be sure). But during the sunshine deals, there were several days that I sold no books and others that I sold one.

I was delighted when that deal ended, and my sales did rebound somewhat.

Now, nook is a different animal entirely. My sales there have been unpredictable, to say the least!

Robin Sullivan said...

Hmmm...I'm seeing just the opposite May was a great month but June is even better. Marshall Thomas moved 17,000 kindle books in May and should do 20,000 this month. Nathan Lowell sold 5,800 books in May and already has sold more 6,600 in June and could hit 10,000.

Of course a lot of this has to do with me being able to devote full time to Ridan authors now (I quit my day job in April) but all in all I'm very pleased with what is going on. The Sunshine deals hit the rankings hard but the sales continued to grow.

Robin Sullivan | Write2Publish | Ridan Publishing

Steve said...

The issue of plagiarism seems more interesting than the attention it (currently) warrants might suggest. I think it could become a far bigger problem than data-mining, because the flood of spam-a-like books aren't as much harmful to authors/readers as they are a distraction.

If I - for example - took one of Joe's books and submitted the text to the Kindle store under a different title and name, it probably wouldn't be picked up straight away; I could make some cash. If I did it with all his books, I could make a bit more. It would be picked up eventually, of course. But imagine if a hundred people were doing it. And then a thousand. And they were all in different legal jurisdictions.

Because Amazon is a company, not a legal entity capable of deciding copyright. If someone posts a copy of one of Joe's novels, Amazon shouldn't pull that book and leave Joe's standing: it should pull both until the matter is legally resolved. Which is a minefield. And Joe is well-known. Wait until spammers are harvesting anything and everything.

What can Amazon do? Algorithms can't help, as they presume copyright is first come, first served. My guess would be a publication fee. Starts to get interesting, doesn't it?

Robin Sullivan said...

David Gaughran said...
Robin Sullivan ran some numbers on the Sunshine Deals yesterday. All of Locke's books were pushed out of the Top 100. Hocking lost ranking too. I think it's safe to assume they had a dip in sales to accompany that.


I wouldn't say that a drop in ranking automatically = less sales - it just means others are selling more than you at that moment. All the Ridan authors took a hit on ranking during Sunshine but they still sold more sales then before Sunshine.

So I have no idea if John saw a decrese or not - the ranking change doesn't give the whole equation.

Robin Sullivan | Write2Publish | Ridan Publishing

Robin Sullivan said...

tmsouders.com said...
the idea that ebook sales are down makes me nervous. I too have wondered about saturation, whether it would eventually occur. Whatever it is though, I can't help but wring my hands as a I approach publishing.

I wonder about the future of epublishing. I think eventually amazon and the like may not allow everyone to epublish. Eventually, they'll have some weeding out process. I'm not sure what that will be, but I can't imagine as the number of people epublishing increases, they'll continue to allow anyone and everyone to publish. What do you think?


I think if your stories are good then you have no reason for concern. There will always be "a lot of books" but those that are good will get word of mouth advertising and will thrive.

As for Amazon limiting people from publishing - I don't see this happening. They might have a small service fee ($50 or less per title) but they won't keep a book off the shelf because of some form of literary standard.

Robin Sullivan | Write2Publish | Ridan Publishing

Wayne Borean said...

Joe,

I think that part of the problem is the continuing recession. A lot of people just don't have the money to spend on books, no matter how much they want to.

Get rid of the recession, and you should see sales increase. The problem is that you and I can't control the recession, and those that can, like President Obama and Prime Minister Harper, don't appear to have the willingness to do anything.

Wayne

Robert Burton Robinson said...

@Steve said: ...the flood of spam-a-like books aren't as much harmful to authors/readers as they are a distraction.

Yes, they are a distraction. And there's another issue: Somebody illegally uploaded some of my short stories for $4.00-$5.00 each in the Kindle Store. I'm concerned that someone might buy one, not realizing it is a short story (because why would a short story be priced at four bucks?) and then be angry at me, since the only name listed on it is mine.

I've asked Amazon to remove them, but it could take a while. I just discovered them. They've been there for a few weeks already. (Be sure to do regular searches on your name and book titles).

Writing Fiction in The Matrix: There is No Spoon

Robert Burton Robinson said...

By the way, my short stories that were illegally uploaded to the Kindle Store, as well as fifteen more, are available in this free ebook from Smashwords:
22 Short Stories

ToniD said...

My first ebook went up on Amazon in early June. Sold some(thank you, Mom). So far there has been a slow climb, with a few precipitous drops.

Tracking sales is like eating popcorn.

Should really get off the emocoaster and onto the marathon track.

Sam said...

For my book, sales dropped suddenly by 50% when Amazon dropped the "tags" feature in May. The tags went back up after a week or two, but sales still haven't recovered. It has to do with the search algorithm, as someone mentioned.

For those whose book sales rose in May in June (congrats!), it shows that book sales are not necessarily down across the board-- it's just that those of us who were benefitting from searchable tags had that advantage taken away, and then fell out of the "customers also bought lists." (At least, that's what happened in my case.)

Sam
The Dirty Parts of the Bible

Layton Green said...

Kiana: I loved your comment. Word.

SL Clark said...

Summer doldrums, June in particular - THE question for Joe, how are your Year over Year sales, last June, the June before that - now chart your growth and see what you have.

Long term business plans use this as a guide, not the Wall Street quarter by quarter mindset. Cheers, -Steve

Jude Hardin said...

I haven't sold a single book in two days. :(

Buy my horror novella UNBORN for $.99, get the entire novel JOURNEY INTO DARKNESS by S.J. Harris ABSOLUTELY FREE

Jon Olson said...

Thanks, Joe. I feel better now.

Jon Olson
The Petoskey Stone
The Ride Home

SlingWords aka Joan Reeves said...

I don't know why, but I'm like Marie Force. June has been a spectacular month for me. Yes, I had sales drop slightly when the Sunshine thing started, and my book Just One Look on the Top 100 Paid slid off, but it went back on the list almost as soon as the Sunshine sale ended.

I have 4 ebooks out and I'm publishing another tomorrow--my first nonfiction Written Wisdom, compiled from my long-running blog.

Of my existing ebooks, I think the last published may be on the Top 100 Paid list next week, and the others are all moving up too.

So no complaints on June from me. Every day is better than the day before. Should hit 40,000 total sales by the time my first ebook is 3 months old. Bring on the champagne!

Anonymous said...

@Robert Burton Robinson: Can't you file a DMCA takedown notice. You own the copyright. Protecting your copyright is what the takedown notice is for.

Robert Burton Robinson said...

@Anonymous: Can't you file a DMCA takedown notice. You own the copyright. Protecting your copyright is what the takedown notice is for.

This has happened to me before with one of my books. It didn't take long for Amazon to remove it once I informed them. I just wish they had a way to catch these before they go into the Kindle Store.

Kiana Davenport said...

@Layton Green...Thanks, Layton. By the way I read THE SUMMONER months back. It was astonishing. Really literate, provocative writing. Congratulations! Keep at it.

wannabuy said...

This has been a fascinating thread to just read the post and comments. I personally have bought less in June: Father's day, birthdays, outdoor activities...

I also was sucked into a few of the 'sunshine promotions.' Those promotions, as Robin noted on her blog, permanently improved the ranking of pretty much all 600 books in the promotion.

I wouldn't worry about promotions, backlists, or such. They will only serve to suck in far more e-readers! :) Now think how your holiday ebook sales will be as Amazon, per Digitimes, has started buying the parts for more ereaders!

Neil

S.L. Naeole said...

Sales have been slower for me as well. I expected it and have been working on writing more and increasing my offerings.

Here's to everyone's holiday sales being phenomenal.

JustRR said...

So I'm a reader.

I've spent $100-$300 on an ereader.

I've gotten used to instantly accessing books I want to buy.

I've gotten used to prices below hardcover rates.

Then...suddenly, I magically decide I don't like these and go back to hardcovers?

Or I just up and go...reading is too hard!

Say it with me, "this is not a bubble, this is a technological change."

I suppose we could blame X-Men, Thor, and Green Lantern...

Mark Yarwood said...

Some great advice here. I'll never give up. Writing is my life.

http://www.markyarwood.co.uk/

Kim said...

Everything has been down for me this month except one title, which took off in the past week and a half. It has currently sold a few over last month's Amazon total with the month not over, yet.

David Gaughran said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Gaughran said...

This should give the e-book market a shot in the arm in October.

JK Rowling is self-publishing the Harry Potter books and selling them exclusively through her own website.

While her announcement says that she is "publishing in partnership" with her international publishers, a closer look at the details suggests that she is just giving them a percentage in exchange for "marketing and promotion support".

JK Rowling To Self-Publish Harry Potter eBooks

Pale Rambler said...

Keep in mind the ebook market is too young to have developed a pattern of predictable trends. Numbers were unnaturally strong due to the novelty of the technology. That novelty might simply be wearing off and the market will now settle into predictable trends that ebb and flow. If so, this is a very good thing. Unsustainable growth leads to very poor planning -- just ask the real estate market.

Lou Shalako said...

It is a long term process, painful at times, but ultimately worth it. Sales should slow down in general in early summer, with gardening, outdoor activities, and vacations, etc. As a newbie/indie author/publisher, building relationships with readers can be pretty intimidating. Another person may see it differently, but that's my perspective. The process might take years, which requires compelling motivation, and some other forms of income! The title I'm working on now could conceivably be ready in a few months, and I want it to be the best that I can possibly produce. This is a game which demands unusual patience.

SBJones said...

Unfortunately I do not have any past data to go on with this trend. I published my first book on the 20th of June to Amazon and B&N. I have sold a total of 5 books from B&N, and 6 from Amazon.

One thing I find curious is that most people push amazon over B&N. I know the obvious reasons and there is data to back it up. But my sister works at a B&N. I get to hear some stories more behind the scenes than the average person.

A year ago her store had a daily sales quota of 5 nooks a day. It was all they could do to beg borrow and steal to get that many sold. Today they have a sales quota of 120 a day and they are breaking it. Their eSales for last quarter was $250k. According to her, the store shattered it with $425k in eSales. That's WALK IN eSales. Nooks, eBooks, and accessories.

My gut feeling says that while trends and market data are vitally important. Keep your eye on the Nook because that is where your growth will come from.

Terrance Foxxe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

When I lowered the price of my kindle ebook, sales of my print book via createspace/amazon channel started rising and ebook sales fell. I suspect amazon now gives the paperback better placement in searches because they probably make more money off each paperback now that the ebook price is lower. Anyone else experience this?

Pump Up Your Book said...

You know, I wondered about oversatuation before you brought it up. I've been telling people GET YOUR BOOK AT THE KINDLE STORE NOW, but I wonder if the bottom is going to fall out a bit. I still see successful sales depending on how you price your ebook, but now everyone is doing it. Heck, I'm even getting ready to do it because it's so easy to do.

TRX said...

Publishers are telling readers that the physical book isn't worth anything and that the entire value is in the story.Except when a writer's cut of a book's cover price is determined. Then the value of the story is minimal.As you said, that's another matter.While the view that the story is the entire value of a book is flattering to the writer,that's not the way that readers see it.To readers, e-book cost nothing to produce. Publishers know that isn't true.Writers know it too. But try to convince the general public of that. As far as readers are concerned,the incremental cost to produce more copies of an e-book is zero.So the readers expect an eBook to be priced less than a physical book. The real costs have nothing to do with it. Design and Graphics

TRX said...

To the last point on people giving up paperbacks for ebooks faster than giving up hardbacks for ebooks I think that makes perfect sense. I still want to have hardback copies of certain books, particularly non-fiction, religion and biographies on my shelves. But I have no desire to fill my shelves and take up space with random fiction paperbacks that I would probably have given away when I finished anyway.Miscellaneous

SlingWords aka Joan Reeves said...

TRX: I see your comments a lot on various indie author blogs.

The website you always link to in the comments I've read from you seems to be a site that posts books and offers free downloads of those same books.

Could you answer this question?

Are you legally offering free downloads?

HeartBrokenPost+LovelornPost Paranormal Romance Series said...

I say amen to those observations. Once again, you are right

Regina Russell said...

Great post. I enjoyed seeing all the different perspectives. I've seen a decline in sales also, although the fact I was making some changes (cover and price) on three of my books probably had something to do with it.
But the sales of my paperbacks has helped to even out the declining sales in my ebooks. And since many of these posts and many of my readers have suggested sequels are the way to go, I am thinking about writing one for Heartstorms.
I do wonder about the fluctuations differing for certain genres and what they are. Anyone have any information on that?

Regina Russell said...

Great post. I enjoyed seeing all the different perspectives. I've seen a decline in sales also, although the fact I was making some changes (cover and price) on three of my books probably had something to do with it.
But the sales of my paperbacks has helped to even out the declining sales in my ebooks. And since many of these posts and many of my readers have suggested sequels are the way to go, I am thinking about writing one for Heartstorms.
I do wonder about the fluctuations differing for certain genres and what they are. Anyone have any information on that?

Grand Mal Press said...

This post was written in June? (or am I wrong? I just woke up so excuse me if so). Anyway, it's now Jan 2013. I help run a small press imprint with over 20 authors. I also am published with 3 other reputable imprints.

Our sales are down more than 50% since six months ago. I've watched our titles go from selling 300 copies a month to 60, and in some cases as far down as only 6 copies. One of the other presses I write for is actually shutting down now due to this. Another is seeing such major declines in sales their advances got cut in half.

So what gives? It obviously wasn't just the summer season. I assume it's amazon's open door policy for every self pubber to upload their content to kindle. You're saying 15,000 self published books uploaded per month seems crazy? Not to me. You should see my twitter feed full of people uploading their latest 5,000 word unedited vampire story every day. (Complete with that cool photoshopped cover containing an image they pulled from google image search. wow.)

I think there's this sudden idea that anyone who reads should also write, and now it's just bibliophiles trying to be authors. Hey, honestly, I'm not knocking it, but I'm not cheering for it either.

Bottom line is there is a MASSIVE dump of ebooks in the ether that are being priced at 99 cents or free. Publishers are now stuck competing not just for visibility but for the buck. I mean, I'd rather have 5 books for 5 bucks too...if only they were good. But quality books cost money to produce, so, for instance, our prices have to stay above $4...which may or may not mean we're losing business to the 99 centers.
Sadly, I feel that if it keeps up then publishers and authors are going to spend more time marketing than producing. And what will be left is nothing but bad books written by kids who run around the school halls claiming to be authors. And the only one making money is Amazon.com and the like. It's scary to depend on this industry for a living right now.