Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Konrath Self-Pubbed Sales

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not even close.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now let's take a few questions.

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

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

Q: Don't they realize that will happen?

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

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

That won't fly anymore.

Q: How do libraries fit into this future?

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

Q: How about bookstores?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


James Viser said...

Wow! Congratulations on your ebook success.

As a disruptive technology, ebooks are indeed shifting the balance of power to the artist. If we pushed the trend to it's potentially illogical extreme - with the author holding all the cards - could the artist become the brand? If so, then could individual brands (platforms) be effective in aggregating other, similar content?

For example, could a Vince Flynn become an aggregator of political thrillers? Could your site become an aggregator of mystery/thrillers?

Not sure individual artists want to share the spotlight or turn themselves into retailers, but the technology is certainly there.

Thanks again for your postings, they have been very helpful in bringing my ebook to market.


DED said...

Your sales continue to wow me, Joe. Congratulations on your continued success. I'd be psyched if I had your 6-week success spread out over a year.

Krista D. Ball said...

I'm Canadian. Chapters is a really great chain bookstore. You can buy books, obviously, but also get unique gifts, movies, magazines, fancy school supplies, chocolates, exercise equipment (i.e. yoga mats), and order ebooks/print books from various stations throughout the store. And now, you can use their gift cards to purchase Kobo ebooks, so that just makes gift giving all the easier for those with readers.

Mike Fook said...

Hi Joe,

Glad to hear your'e still killing it, and I hope it continues and grows - like you said, pyramid scheme.

I haven't before seen you mention anything related to this - so I'll ask.

I focus on writing books in small niche areas where I have experience. I have 15 books selling in the Kindle store. In November I hit 230 sales just there. To me that's atrocious, and I want to do better. I'd love to focus on fiction thrillers but, I see the competition as huge in that space.

Do you think for those of us that haven't done fiction before, that we can still break into one of the most competitive areas of book writing if we start today and are good?

What I mean is - who will find my book? How will they find my book? My title, cover, description, can all be great - but, realistically - how much does that help?

Compare that to you. You have years of writing fiction. Years of doing book signings and attending conferences and meeting people. You have a base. You write a book now - it will sell. It will sell based on your reputation, primarily. Sure your covers are awesome, titles rock, and descriptions are good. The real push behind you is what you've done before all that.

Just wondering your thoughts on this... is it realistic to think that a new author in the fiction market - any genre - can break into it strictly with ebooks at this point in time - or, what would you recommend as a plan of attack?

Thanks for sharing so much information with us - doesn't seem like anybody else is doing that. Cheers! -MF

Moses Siregar III said...

It's good to see you're still kicking ass, Joe!

Were you saying that your Shaken sales are greater than all of your other Kindle sales combined, or just much better than your other titles on an individual basis?

cetriya said...

curious on how well the graphic novels or illustrative novels do in the e-market. Its all new, but I might make the plunge

Dan McGirt said...

Congrats, Joe. You continue to be an inspiration. I recently published two of my fantasy titles in the Kindle store, with more to follow.

I also just noticed this morning that LinkedIn now lets one list individual publications in your profile. I'm sure you will think of some use for that feature...

Sarah J. MacManus said...

Who was it at the Future of Publishing Conference back in October said he would predict that at least one of the Big 6 would be owned by Google or Amazon by 2015? I forgot.

But aside from Kindle, it doesn't take much to get it in print on Amazon, either, if you know something about desktop pub layout and put it up through CreateSpace.

And if I owned a bookstore, I still say the first thing I'd do is lease an Espresso and buy a fleet of Kindles to keep around the shop for browsing.

Unknown said...

Congrats, Joe!

What an inspiration!

And as always, thanks for having the gigantic guts to spill the numbers!

I sooo agree with you in that the publishing industry has truly reached a point of major longer do we as writers/authors have to stand along the sidelines wondering when and if we're going to be allowed to play in the game.

We've got our own new field to play on now!

And for the first time, we can call our own shots. Plus, we're guaranteed to play the entire game and every game (i.e. our books are now forever on the shelves - Eshelves - no more sitting this one out). And it no longer matters whether we're the starting quarterback (on the co-op tables) or the third-stringer.

All we've got to do is focus on the fans now...we're no longer casualties of athletic budgets or big-team management and owners.

We are free agents!!!

Not a bad analogy for a chick, right?! LOL!!!

Go, Joe, Go!!! --- D. D. Scott

Ian Pattinson said...

The trite comment would be to tell you I'm jealous of your sales, but that would be unfair. You've put in the work to get these numbers, so more power to you. I aspire to make as much as you do from my writing.

I've released some of my back catalogue for the Kindle in recent months, making sure they're properly formatted and designing striking covers. Few sales yet, but I'm only just starting on the bit that I've never been any good at- promoting myself and my work. As I get better at that, and write and release more books, I should get closer to making a living from my writing.

JA Konrath said...

Were you saying that your Shaken sales are greater than all of your other Kindle sales combined


Anonymous said...

Re: who creates the content, how about this quote from Harold McGraw III in USA Today, October 6, 2010:
"Publishers today are in the content business. We develop it; we design it; and we deliver it however our readers want it."

Hmmm... no authors or artists in this guy's business plan. No wait, he does mention them further down, saying that authors are dependent on the pub's genius book-development skills...

That claim may be true for some authors at some publishers even today, but in many cases now the publisher barely interacts with the manuscript or the author, in my experience.

Publishers have not yet grasped that they're going to have to let their fancy Manhattan office spaces go, for starters. Still am waiting for their great marketing strategy to sell blank e-books, since a lot of authors are passing on the laughable ebook royalty rate they're offering.

Article title is Will technology kill book publishing? Not even close

Karen McQuestion said...

Joe, your blog posts keep getting better and better! Thanks for sharing your stats, and for your thoughts on publishing in general. I agree with you 100%, esp. about having to have everything in place--cover, price, formatting, pro-active marketing, etc.--in order to see sales. You can have the best book in the world, but if people aren't drawn to it, you've got nothing.

Derek J. Canyon said...

Wow! Congratulations, Joe! I can only hope to achieve what you've done!

I just published my first full-length ebook, Dead Dwarves Don't Dance, last week. I've sold 13 copies since then,so I've got a looong way to go!

Nicole said...

Yes it's a career!! Good comment :) doesn't happen by itself that's for sure *grin*

BirthRight-The Arrival on Amazon 1.1.11

Burritoclock said...

14 Derek :)

Anyway, one of the things that intrigues me is watching the digital shift first consume music, then movies and now books. Each of the industries blindly dealt with it in almost the same ways! It would be hilarious if it were not so aggravating. At least you can partly excuse the music biz, because they didn't see it coming. The rest of them have no excuse for not adapting and trying to slow progress which is impossible.

If you look around you will find independent musicians and independent movie makers dealing with and doing some of the same things discussed on this blog just adapted to their industries.

There really is a revolution of content that is just emerging. Exciting times to live in... assuming the world doesn't end in 2012.

Rex Kusler said...

With such good results for SHAKEN, why wouldn't you want to go through AmazonEncore for all of your future work?

JA Konrath said...

With such good results for SHAKEN, why wouldn't you want to go through AmazonEncore for all of your future work?

I've found the only drawback to AmazonEncore is they'll have my rights forever.

Forever is a long time.

Short term, I believe I can make more money on a title through Encore.

But over ten years? I dunno. We'll see.

In the meantime, it doesn't hurt to diversify, especially if you have 30 titles for sale like I do. Self pubbing allows me to exploit all of my sub rights, publish on different platforms, and control my own destiny. I find it very liberating to be without deadlines and make all the decisions.

JA Konrath said...

Do you think for those of us that haven't done fiction before, that we can still break into one of the most competitive areas of book writing if we start today and are good?

I'll let Karen McQuestion answer this one. :)

Manley Peterson said...

Thanks for more uplifting comments, Joe, and congratulations on your continued success. I'm very excited about the ebooks market getting bigger and bigger next year, too.

And I absolutely agree with you about how an ebook can start to gain a following all on its own: make a sale and get a review, which helps to make more sales, which produces more reviews and more sales...I love it.

I've seen this happen with my funny adventure book Bloated Goat. I've recently received two great reviews, which almost instantly helped to boost sales.

I love your blog posts. Thanks for keeping us updated.

Manley Peterson
Bloated Goat $.99 on Kindle

Zoe Winters said...

HA! Joe, this is great. You know, people told me over and over... "You can't make money writing fiction. You need something else to make money if you want to write."

Ironically, fiction is the only thing I CAN make money at. And, like you, I see the huge potential in all this.

Derek J. Canyon said...

Thanks, Burritoclock, for being my 14th customer (and I see you're now following my blog, too!)!

And, thanks, Joe, for providing this great platform for us newbies to find new customers!

-Derek J. Canyon
Dead Dwarves Don't Dance for $2.99

chip said...

Another great post Joe. Thank you.
BTW-how does one sign an ebook?

Anonymous said...

I've been reading about your CreateSpace experience with interest. Maybe by next year you can tell me if your paperback sales ever reach 10% of your e-sales?

I'm amazed that Shaken is outselling everything else. Not because it isn't good-- but did Amazon really give it such a promotional push? Another testament to Amazon's incredible marketplace power.

Your numbers are mindboggling. I'm a little speechless.

Unknown said...

What an encouraging post. Yes, of course I'm jealous, but that's only because I know I still have so much more work ahead of me to get near to where you are. Congrats on the great success and thanks for sharing your numbers with all of us self-pubbed authors who are in the trenches with you. ;)

Dave said...

Biggering? ;)

Anonymous said...

I made $7600 last month and $7000 the month before that. I thought I was doing pretty good until I read your blog. Now I'm totally bummed.

Congrats on your success!

JA Konrath said...

Ironically, fiction is the only thing I CAN make money at.

And a lot of money, Zoe, now that you joined the $2.99 club. :)

BTW-how does one sign an ebook?

I've seen a demonstration. It's really cool. Now we just have to wait for it to become adopted and widespread.

Maybe by next year you can tell me if your paperback sales ever reach 10% of your e-sales?

Right now they're about 5%, but it's too early to predict anything. I may owe you a bottle of scotch...


By tremendous truckloads.

Selena Kitt said...

Speaking of the $2.99 club - I'm considering it. Maybe. I dropped my short story prices to $0.99 to start and sales of those have tripled. Which is a wash, because my profit margin is the same (went from 70% royalty to 35%) but visibility and rankings increased. That can't be a bad thing.

But anyway, you asked me to put my money where my mouth was a few months ago, Joe, and I finally got around to it, now that the numbers are all in.

Ruth Harris said...

"In 2011 watch how many pros begin to release their backlists, and their shelf-novels, on Kindle. Also watch to see if any write specifically for Kindle, bypassing traditional publishing completely."

Joe, thanks to you, I've begun putting my backlist on Kindle. I've started with my NYTimes bestseller, HUSBANDS AND LOVERS at $2.99.

Over the years, I've been reverting my titles & now control almost all of them. I had the ridiculous idea that, one day, a publisher would see the point in aggregating a bestselling back list and publishing it with some pizazz along with a new novel but nope, didn't happen.

I didn't know (& no one knew) that epublishing would come along but my annoyance with my publishers' lack of interest in selling/promoting backlist led me to reverting the rights and inadvertently setting myself up for epub.

Rob Siders has been wonderful in formatting, I've hired an excellent cover designer named Stewart Williams and, since I worked in publishing for years as an editor and copywriter (among other things), I'm confident about writing come-hither product descriptions and creating salable fiction. In addition, excellent reviews (from back in the day newspapers & magazines actually had review sections!) can add a little extra oomph. I'm beginning to chime in with comments on blogs like yours and have an idea for a blog of my own.

I'll follow HUSBANDS AND LOVERS with DECADES, my first book to make a bit of a stir, and, after that, the rest of my backlist. And you'd better believe that some of my shelf fiction and brand-new, never-before-published work is headed for epub.

Thanks so much, Joe, for the info & the inspiration. I would never have done it without you.

Ruth Harris
NYTimes bestselling author
Husbands & Lovers

Unknown said...

I've always been a bit puzzled by your insistence on low, low ebook prices. With the free sample, readers now have an unprecedented means to try before they buy. But if potential readers truly are so price sensitive, that would imply they're ignoring that opportunity. I have trouble believing that many potential buyers would read the first ten percent of a book, and if wanting to continue, then balk at paying $4.99 rather than $2.99.
So, do you believe a significant percentage of buyers are not bothering to download the free sample first?

Anonymous said...

I'll make this prediction: in the years to come, most (not all, but most) authors will be just as disillusioned with ebooks as they are currently with publishers.

Although people don't want to hear this, Joe is an anomaly.

Yes yes, I've seen the handful of authors selling books, but they are not even close to making a decent living at it. Define it however you like, but let's say $50K per year is an ok living. At $2.99, that's 25,000 books per year, every year. That's 2083 books per month, every month.

I've read the various author forums and selling in the hundreds per month is considered exceptional. I suspect there are very few indeed breaking 2000 per month.

Joe is an anomaly not because he had a fan base or traditionally published or anything like that.

The reason Joe is anomaly is that he has experience working as a full-time author. He earned a living writing before ebooks, so it stands to reason he could do the same after ebooks. He's also a master of marketing and linked in to other authors and players in the industry. He works full time at it. Probably a lot more than full time.

I'm not hating here. Just a dose of reality. If you want to write and sell a few books, great. But expecting to replicate Konrath's success is not realistic for 99% of authors.

Yet most of the posts here sound like cheerleaders for La Revolucion and all want to emulate Konrath.

It just ain't gonna happen for most because they are not full-time experienced and pro writers and marketers.

Hey I love the blog and I'm not trying to infuriate the newbie who dreams of quitting his or her job with ebook riches, just trying to insert some sanity here.

And selling a few books is likely better than no books with a traditional publisher.

Jude Hardin said...

In the meantime, it doesn't hurt to diversify...

I think diversification might be the key. That and actually putting out good product.

Anonymous said...

Publishers are going to end up being marketers basically, yet they want to give a measly 25% of net ebook royalty? Which amounts to about 12.5% of list (for children's books).

What marketer gets that kind of percentage?

Edie Ramer said...

Joe, you give me hope. A lot of hope. Times are changing, and for writers it's changing for the better.

JA Konrath said...

But expecting to replicate Konrath's success is not realistic for 99% of authors.

Trying to replicate the print success of a NYT bestseller eludes 99% of authors, me included.

Trying to replicate anyone's success in any business is pretty damn difficult.

I've never preached communism here.

But do I believe authors can earn more on their own as opposed to going through a publisher. Pretty much all authors.

There's also a factor here that I don't discuss, but should. NY can be a starmaker, and propel a book into the limelight, reaping huge sales. But 99.9999% of the time, they do average, or poorly. And if it does average or poorly, your career is in a death spiral. And NY won't do anything to fix it.

On your own, it is tougher to propel a book into huge sales. But you have a much greater chance of selling more books. You can put out books faster. You can adjust and tweak covers, prices, and descriptions. You can experiment, learn form your successes and failures, and keeping changing in order to sell better.

NY can't do that. It is too expensive and takes too long. You either hit a homerun, or you get traded to another team.

One your own, you can keep hitting infield singles, over and over again, until you make more money than a homerun hitter.

AmazonEncore just gave my career a nice boost with Shaken. That's the power of a big company behind you.

But I was doing $12k a month before Shaken.

If authors want to emulate my success, I think they can. But they would also need to emulate my career, which includes 70 sold short stories, twenty-something novels, and tireless self-promotion for almost a decade.

JoePike said...

Bill said:
"I have trouble believing that many potential buyers would read the first ten percent of a book, and if wanting to continue, then balk at paying $4.99 rather than $2.99.
So, do you believe a significant percentage of buyers are not bothering to download the free sample first?"

The thing is...I won't even sample an unknown author's $4.99 ebook no matter how enticing the cover and description might be. I will sample many $2.99 ebooks though.

With the amount of ebooks I buy and plan to buy in the future...$2.99 and under is my price point. 5 bucks a pop just feels much more expensive, and it's hard for me (and many people I know) to spend that for an author I've never read before.

And there are PLENTY of great ebooks out there for $2.99 or less.

Karen McQuestion said...

"Do you think for those of us that haven't done fiction before, that we can still break into one of the most competitive areas of book writing if we start today and are good?"

Joe said he'd let me answer this one, so I'm jumping back in with a response. :-)

Short answer: yes, yes, and yes!
I was (and still am) a nobody, a woman who wrote novels in her basement and couldn't get them published despite having had agent representation more than once. I had no fiction writing credits of any kind, not even a short story, when I self-published on Kindle.

I've sold over 75,000 e-books on my own just over the course of a year. This is for six titles: four novels, a children's book, and a collection of humorous essays.

Because of the e-book sales, one of my novels was optioned for film, and five of my self-published Kindle books are now being published by AmazonEncore. I just had the first foreign sale for one of my books.

I want to add that none of my books fit the so-called "hot genres"--horror, thrillers, mystery, romance etc. Two are general women's fiction, two are young adult novels, and one is a children's book. Respectively they'd gotten passes from nearly every agent and publishing imprint in existence. I'm not putting down these professionals, in fact, many of them gave me helpful feedback which helped with revisions. But the fact of the matter is that they didn't see themselves profiting from publishing my books. I did.

JA Konrath said...

Thanks, Karen! :)

do you believe a significant percentage of buyers are not bothering to download the free sample first?

I can only go by my buying habits. If it's less than $3, I buy it without sampling. Higher, I sample, but I may not get to it right away.

The power of point-of-purchase sales is eliminating steps between noticing a product and buying it. The fewer steps it takes to own something, the likelier customers are to pull the trigger without thinking too hard.

Downloading a sample is three extra steps.

1. Download.
2. Read.
3. Buy.

Downloading a $2.99 ebook is a single step: Buy.

I believe that the less a customer has to think about a purchase, the easier the sale is.

Lee Child can sell at $9.99 because he has millions of fans who buy at that price without thinking. If his publisher lowered his ebooks to $2.99, he'd sell more--people who haven't read him before would be more tempted to try him.

I could sell ebooks at $9.99 to my fans, but I'd have a tougher time getting new customers to try me.

Burritoclock said...

Nailed it. At $2.99 all it takes for me is a description that hooks me. That's it.

Another point is the recommendations from amazon. When I see a book linked with another book I liked, if it's $2.99, I buy it almost every time. Again, the only thing between you and a sale (with me, anyway) would be a terribly written or short description and/or a horribly bad piece of cover art.

Does this mean I would NEVER pay more than 2.99 for a book? Of course not, but on an unknown it's unlikely. But, give me some anthology of your short stories, or even a novel for 2.99 and I like it, then I would consider spending more.

Another point I'd like to throw out is I have never read anything free on my kindle that wasn't 80 to 100 years old.

All anecdotal of course...

Anonymous said...

Gotta respond here. I also agree that disillusion with ebooks for the average new author is right around the corner, and cries of pain at being left off of the apparent gravy train for seasoned & astute authors like Konrath will soon be ringing from the rafters. BUT, that does not mean it will not work beautifully for people woh have written good books and are willing to work hard at promotion. So goes human affairs.
I also wanted to say that I am one of the readers (& writers) who is always willing to pay a lot more than $2.99 for a book that appeals to me, and I nearly always use the free sample option. I will happily pay HC prices for an ebook by an author whose work I admire,primarily British authors, because of their beautiful, polished writing, from men and women alike,(hold the chick lit and its vaIious bastardizations,) but I will happily pay for American authors who write as well as the above group.
I wait for the dust to settle on prices, but suspect there are many who are quite content to pay for craft, be it Coetzee or Pressfield. I am leery of the growing pressure on writers to price good work so low.

Anonymous said...

There are many authors who are writing like crazy to get on the so-called ebook gravy train.

They'll upload quick and then watch the virtual tumbleweeds roll across the screen.

Then the new authors will say (stealing a line from Dumb and Dumber here) "That Joe Konrath is full of sh#t!"

Neither Konrath (nor John Denver) are full of sh#t. It is all in the (unrealistic) expectations of the user.

Linda Acaster said...

Great stuff, Joe, and thanks for sharing.

I agree that this Christmas will see a surge of readers enter the ebook stores. Here in the UK we've had the Kindle since September. The UK Amazon Kindle forums were deserted to begin with, with the occasional reader chiming in about inappropriate interaction of writers. The sea change in two months has been dramatic. I intend to be there for the pay-off.


Cathryn Grant said...

@Anonymous at 5:30pm

There are many authors who are writing like crazy to get on the so-called ebook gravy train.

You're likely right about that. However, there are also many writers who have developed their craft for years, put their work out for feedback, sought editorial input and professional cover design.

Thanks to great information provided by authors like Joe and Karen M and others, writers like myself have studied the market and developed a business approach to entering a changing market that's full of new opportunities.

The pricing discussion is interesting ... I hope more people will weigh in on that.

I've gladly paid $2.99 for work by unknown writers (without a sample), I couldn't bring myself to pay $12.99 for my favorite author's latest ebook. I'm not sure whether $2.99 is a sweet spot or is being driven by Amazon's royalty structure.

Cathryn Grant said...

correction anonymous at 5:20 not 5:30

Selena Kitt said...

$12.99 sticks in my craw. I wanted one of Phillippa Gregory's books (Wise Woman) and went looking on Amazon. $12.99! Ack! Just makes me mad.

$5.99 is nothing compared to that. :P

And my poor husband - all the books he wants are non-fiction and start at like $19.99. Crazy.

Anonymous said...

"Neither Konrath (nor John Denver) are full of sh#t."

I'd agree, especially as to John Denver. Ironically, I actually dated one of his old girlfriends for a while, Annie, who was the namesake behind Annie's Song. According to her, he wrote it on her couch. She wasn't reading an ebook at the time. They didn't exist yet.

Author Scott Nicholson said...

No one should expect Joe's success, so why not expect your own success?

I predict there will just as many successful writers making a decent living in the indie era as there were before. I just expect two-thirds of them to be a new set of writers.

And I don't see why Amazon or Google would bother taking on the detritus of a Big 5 house. Amazon can already do everything those can do and better (except distribute to those vanishing bookstores).

I don't say this to brag, because it was my friends and supporters who made it happen, but I just spent a month in the Top 100. If you had told me two years ago that was possible, I would have laughed in your face and warmed up yet another query letter and sent you off to read "conventional writing wisdom" by all those geniuses out there who tell you never to self-publish.

I quit being a "pro writer" and started selling books instead. Today, I'm paying down my house. And my writing is better and more fun than ever.

Scott Nicholson

Anonymous said...

Go Scott!
I am the "gravy train" person. Let me say that I love your attitude and your web site, and fully intend to read all of your books, hey, at high or low prices, as soon as those discounted Kindles hit the market. Proof once again that a writer who engages one's attention, and has an intelligent & appealing web site, along with some neat titles, will haul in prospective readers every time. I don't know this guy at all, live on the other side of the country, but he will be one of my first reads. Consider your train ticket punched, my man. You don't even have to be British.

Jude Hardin said...

If you had told me two years ago that was possible, I would have laughed in your face and warmed up yet another query letter and sent you off to read "conventional writing wisdom" by all those geniuses out there who tell you never to self-publish.

Two years ago Joe was one of those geniuses. We learn, we adapt, and with a little luck we move forward in the appropriate direction.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous at 5:48

"Denver's first marriage was to Annie Martell of St. Peter, Minnesota at the Christ Chapel located at Gustavus Adolphus College. Annie was the subject of his hit "Annie's Song," which he composed in only ten minutes while on a ski lift in 1974.[2]"

I have a recording of Annie's song, preceded by John Denver dedicating it to his wife . . .

Anonymous said...

The reason Joe is anomaly is that he has experience working as a full-time author.

If I had a dollar for every time I read this comment on this blog, I'd be rich.

The real reason why Joe makes money is that he is an aggressive, diligent, creative self-promoter. Lots of authors have talent. Not very many authors understand that this is a business, and like any other, you need to promote and market your work in order to sell. Joe's numbers surpassed mine a few months ago, but he's still promoting his work (albeit with less effort than before).

I promote, too-- a LOT. I spend over $500 a month on Adwords, websites, press releases, etc, etc. Every month I work to promote my non-fiction. The money isn't just going to fall into your lap. You have to work for it. Joe always understood that, and his hard work is paying off.

He's also an example for every midlist author to follow.

Claire Farrell said...

On Kindleboards, we've been comparing sales. Every month, more and more people hit bigger numbers, more are being contacted by agents and foreign publishers. Next year is going to see major growth, without doubt.

Amanda Hocking sold something like 20,000 books last month. It's definitely possible for an unknown. Not for everyone, but most people who are serious about it watch and learn and try to do things the right way.

Zoe Winters said...

LOLOL, Joe! Okay you were right and I was wrong! I should have been pricing higher WAY before I did. I lost tons of money for all the months I kept my prices too low. But I was trying to be generous and build good will/trust with readers.

As time went on I came to understand that that was "not" the perception by some people, but the perception was either that it must suck, or that because it's "short" and so cheap anyway, it should just be "free". That was what ultimately sent me over the edge. Someone whining that I wasn't working for them for free. (It also inspired the last Zoe Who? video I put on Youtube.) I upped all my prices and now 99 cents is pretty anathema to me, for any reason.

JA Konrath said...

The real reason why Joe makes money is that he is an aggressive, diligent, creative self-promoter.

Don't sell me short on the "devastatingly sexy" factor. I may not be Latino, but I got the attitude. :)

JA Konrath said...

Okay you were right

Yeah. Funny how often I hear this. :)

KevinMc said...

I think it's interesting how all of the detractor-type comments here are from Anonymous posters. If you don't believe in your words enough to put a name to them, why do you think anyone else will take them seriously?

That said... There is some truth to it. We're going to see a lot of would-be writers put out a book, and sit back clicking the link over and over to "watch the sales roll in". And these folks are going to be very disappointed, and are going to complain, long and loudly.

I think some people have confused putting your own work out there (which is basically founding your own publishing company) with a "get-rick-quick" scheme. And it just isn't. I'm looking at this and loving it because what it is really saying is your hard work counts! Work hard, and it will reap returns for you. Push hard, learn lots, keep writing, and things add up over time to a decent level of success.

It's like the opposite of a "get-rich-quick", though. And I'm not sure people really get that. And the people who don't really *are* going to be depressed when they figure it out.

Joe, thanks for sharing. It is an inspiration, as usual.

Zoe Winters said...

haha, don't let it go to your head! :P I'm sure you'll be wrong about something, some day!

Chronicles of A Broken Spirit said...

Not sure whether to congratulate you or ask to be one of your children right now, but either way thanks for the inspiration. When I grow up (in the author/publishing world), I want to resemble your success. Just a newbie for now but you give me H.O.P.E! Thanks...

Sarra Cannon said...

Thanks so much for posting this. It's great for us new Indie authors to have something to aspire to. I just blogged today also about my first month's sales numbers. This is my first self-pub book, but I'm proud of the first month and looking forward to getting more content out there. Thanks for the inspiration!!


Todd said...

Those Espresso machines were hideously expensive last time I looked them. When the production goes up and prices go down, that's going to further upset the applecart.

I'm also very curious how much traction the Nook gets with their color debut (and how long before the Kindle goes color). Having a second viable eBook channel is good for everyone, even if Amazon is miles ahead at the moment.

Derek Oscarson said...

I'm thinking publishers aren't going to die off totally, that the ability of an author to create his or her own ebook doesn't mean it's going to be produced well or look professional (or be edited clearly). Just as anyone can make their own webpage or dabble in graphic design but it's never going to look as good or professional. DIY is great but it will never fully replace expertise, which I think still has value and always will.

– Derek Oscarson

Derek Oscarson said...

I am loathe to trash anyone else's design work but I think your cover art is a good example of what I was just commenting on. Yes, it looks fine, but does not look all that professional. We live in a superficial world and if your editing and packaging look amateurish, some are not going to take your hard work as seriously as you hope.

– Derek Oscarson

Liam Campbell said...

Just wanted to leave my 2 cents to the price point debate here.

As an Australian - albeit perhaps one ahead of the eBook curve as an iPad developer - I am finding myself reading more books by US authors.

This is despite my desire to read books by Australian authors.

Why is this? Well Joe is right. I downloaded Shaken without thinking. The price point was exactly the point at which I decided to pay for the book rather than download the sample. I've downloaded books at this price point that I'll probably never get around to reading.

Compare this to my attempts at obtaining two eBooks by an Australian author Adrian Hyland which I would like to read.

I go to Amazon and find out that one of the books is available for the Kindle for less than $10. Great. But, wait. It's not available to me b/c I'm in Australia.

This is despite the fact that it's an Australian author published by an Australian publisher. *sigh*

So, I write to the publisher and wait the two weeks they tell me it will be before I can buy it. But then it's only on the Borders and Kobo stores. So I go there. But the Borders store is down for maintenance... bleh. I come back later and get an outrageous price. Then I go back to Amazon and compare the Borders ebook price to ordering the paperbacks (including delivery) from Amazon and find out I can get the physical books for less than the ebooks.

Something about that just isn't right.

So I think, bugger it... on principle I'm going to go read another book.

I figure this is a common experience for people like me outside the US. Hey, I can only download the first two seasons of 30 Rock on iTunes (despite US peeps being able to watch season 5 online). No wonder so many people use bit torrent in Australia and Canada. So while I try and do the right thing and wait to pay for content, other people I know talk about how they've already seen them.

I understand the industry is in transition, but it does frustrate me that publishers in Australia are trying to sell Australian eBooks for prices that are often more than I can buy the physical book (which if I do I always make a point of giving to a friend, who of course doesn't buy the book).

So the end result of this is that I am reading a lot more US fiction these days and most of it is under $5.

Anonymous said...

Until recently I thought big publishing was headed for the dust bin of history too, but don't think so now. I think that within five years the Big Six won't have a midlist anymore, simply because midlisters will all recognize they have better options. So the big publishers will focus only on big books. An apt comparison, I think, is the way the big movie studios only make big movies. The Big Six will have a competitive advantage here because there's a "barrier to entry," to use an econ term, preventing others from competing on that level. It takes a conglomerate overlord.

At the same time the Big Six will cherry pick from among the midlisters, who will mostly be indies or in some small publishing arrangement. That's something the major film studios do too, they'll distribute indie movies with real promise of a break-out.


M. Louisa Locke said...

Dear Joe,

More than a year ago, after reading your first posts on what you had discovered in selling on Kindle, I decided to go the self-published route as a complete Newbie. No other published work (well some academic articles 30 years ago), no platform (my fb list is still under 100). But I have a well written book that has gotten good reviews, I have a great cover, a title that was searchable, and I took the advice that you, and April Hamilton, and Zoe Winters, and Steven Windwalker were all giving out for free and I published on Smashwords, Kindle, and through CreateSpace one year ago.

This month I sold 468 copies of Maids of Misfortune on Kindle, 59 print, (and probably more through smashwords but this info isn't posted yet), and made over $1000. If I compare this to your average number of books sold I actually did better than you this month!!!

My point being that for all those naysayers out there who keep saying you are an outlier, not true. Obviously I couldn't support myself on this-but that is because I only have one book. But for a young author-the message should be that if you are willing to go through a number of years building your content, finding your market, making a living at this is a real possibility-a greater one than ever existed under the old model.

Will it last forever? who knows? But the number of books I have been selling has gone up steadily in the last five months-and it hasn't been because I have done any new promotions. I think is is simply that the number of people reading on the Kindle and other ereaders are going up, so the total market is going up. This means that even if I don't increase my share in that market-my numbers will not only hold steady, but keep going up.

And, this means I can concentrate on getting the next book done.

So once again, thanks Joe, for being willing to be honest about the numbers, for revealing your experiments with price points and promotions, and for giving me the confidence to have self-published.

Rex Kusler said...

Here is what can happen if you're an unknown and price your book cheap enough to get it up in the rankings:

Unknown said...

Congratulations on your numbers. I've been self-pubbing for 3 months and just broke 500 sales, so I consider that a victory.

I would be really interested in hearing your current take on what circumstances should induce writers to sign with a publisher. I've seen your opinion change throughout the blog and wonder what it is in the current book market. You know, in case you need a blog topic. Heh.


Mary Vensel White said...

As always, inspirational and informative. I think your most salient point is that writing and selling your own books is a full-time job. In fact, I'd guess you put in much more than 40 hours a week. Congrats on your hard-earned success and thanks for sharing your approach.

G Galway said...

This is all enough to keep a writer up at night with visions of making a living. Better than sugarplums.

Congratulations to all of you having such success.

Right after I read this blog last night, I saw the headlines about the iPad taking over market share from Kindle (the device). Here's an example from Wired:

What do you think, Joe? What does the future hold for self-pub on Amazon if the Apple store takes off?

JA Konrath said...

Awesome, Rex. I'm thrilled for you. I think it will be a great match.

Rex Kusler said...

Thanks, Joe. I agree. There's a lot they can bring to the table that I'm no good at.

KevinMc said...

Joe, I'm wondering what your take on Google Editions is? Word is they plan to launch before the end of December. They're only offering authors/publishers 52.5%, which isn't that hot compared to Amazon or even B&N. But they've got the economic muscle to maybe bull their way into the market anyway.

What are your thoughts?

Watcher said...

G Galway - Amazon and iPad are not exclusive. I own an iPad, and most of my eBooks are on the kindle application on that device. I actually prefer Apple's built in reader a little, but the selection is so small that I always go to kindle. And the defects are easily fixable with minimal programming effort.

Anonymous said...

From Joe:

"If authors want to emulate my success, I think they can. But they would also need to emulate my career, which includes 70 sold short stories, twenty-something novels, and tireless self-promotion for almost a decade."

EXACTLY! The problem is many of the people who read your blog think they can put up a couple of medicore ebooks for 2.99 on Kindle and in a few months, they'll be rolling in the money.

Zoe Winters said...

Chiming in on sales for a newbie... there are folks like Amanda Hocking who are freaks of nature (which I mean in the BEST way, cause I heart her!), who end up making over $10k a month in their first 6 months. But Amanda seems to have a very strong intuitive sense of the market (evidenced not only by what she wrote, but by her covers which seem very compelling to her demographic), and she also started with several books out there which makes a huge difference, especially in Amazon and B&N's recommendation based system. Sales of one book really feed sales of the others.

Karen McQuestion released a lot of books all at once, too. Joe has a ton of books out there.

When I started, I released 1 novella. And that was the only thing I had out for almost a year and a half. During that time I was making $200 or usually less a month. Partly because I was priced so low at 99 cents, but I wasn't moving giant amounts because I had just the one title. It was enough to stay generally in the top 4k of the Kindle store, and later better, but still. It wasn't money to write home about. But I knew over time and over several books it would add up.

It wasn't until I released more titles that my sales stats started to really climb. Then when I raised my prices to $2.99, while sales went down a little at Amazon, the money went up because of the big royalty difference. Back in June I sold 6,500 ebooks that month, but many naysayers and hecklers were saying it was because I was selling at 99 cents and that if I was selling for more I couldn't do that.

But in November, I sold 7,400 ebooks, (most of them at Barnes and Noble) and everywhere my prices are at least 2.99. I could kick myself for all the time I was practically giving it away.

But anyway, all this blah blah is basically to say... even though I started when there were only 300,000 books in the Kindle store and practically everyone was looking down their nose at me telling me not to do it, it STILL took a long time to start really building platform. And I'm still far from where I want to end up.

What tends to happen is your sales start out fairly lackluster, but you keep going and keep pushing and keep releasing more work, and if people like and connect with what you're writing, you start seeing quick growth all at once. But it might take awhile to get there. For me it was a year and a half to start getting there. And then you'll have sales cycles where sales will be high for a bit after a new release, then drop off some until your next release. This is all normal stuff. Just roll with it and keep working.

Anonymous said...

Interesting comments from everyone. As I said, when the dust settles on prices....
I agree a very low price will help new authors to better sales, but after many years in the writing business I still want to see the writers at the top of their game (and talented newbies) paid decently for their work. Why else would anyone write at this level? How would you earn any free time to write the next books?
Writing well at all takes most of the time that would (should) otherwise be spent with family and friends and in most cases, at least one job that will actually pay the bills.
I'm thinking that SP will work best for popular genre novels that can be written quickly, not for people writing at the level of Cornwell and McCarthy and Coetzee.
There's nothing wrong with that at all, but I would like to see the best of the genre writers be paid enough to write the next book, and the next.
I will wait to see if a 99 cent new author can somehow climb through the ranks to sell later books at something approaching HC prices. As said, I love the idea of paying a writer directly for fine work, as it were, and I am very willing to do that. I certainly agree that the Big Seven will ruthlessly cherry pick and woo their top choices with monster advances, as in Justin Cronin, and I wish someone in the industry would tell us how much of that 5.5 million advance for the trilogy they have already received. Did you see the publicity tour they mounted for him? May as well have been the pope! Nothing like being the Annointed Son of the year.
Being snarky here, I also read that Stephanie Meyer received only fifty thousand as an advance for Twilight. Should have spent a couple years getting that MFA degree. Definitely raises your value in the eyes of the big seven. Wrong gender?

KevinMc said...

Er, @ Anon 2:51

Joe makes $2 per ebook he sells at $2.99.

Traditionally publisher writer makes about 80 cents per $7.99 novel sold at B&N.

So you need to sell at least 2.5 times as many books at the higher price to earn as much as you do self-publishing at the lower price. Ebooks are a little better, but the self-pub author still earns more per $2.99 book than the traditionally published author earns from a $9.99 ebook.

It is not a matter of authors earning less from a $2.99 book. They're still earning *more*.

As for an MFA, about the only thing it seems to set one up for is being taken advantage of by Frey or similarly unscrupulous people. I think most would-be writers would be better off spending the $50,000 on lottery tickets than an MFA degree.

Anonymous said...

Ps. I regret bringing gender into this. Cronin is a faculty member, and had at least one book of short stories, and I believe, a novella that had been published. That is likely more than enough to account for the difference. No point in going down the male/female road. He was a known quantity, and she was not. It is quite funny the way it turned out, however.

Anonymous said...

That is awesome, Rex, and must go a long way in making up for them getting your name wrong for so long! (P.S. - triple check the cover art! You don't want Rex Kulser getting all the credit!"

Rex Kusler said...

Definitely. It's good to know somebody other than me now has a vested interest in spelling my name right.

Mark Asher said...

I used to think Joe was an outlier, but there are indie writers who have never had a traditional publishing contract who are outselling him, at least on a per book basis (except for Shaken).

It's more likely that he's just up there at the top and there's room for others up there.

I also think the market is going to get more crowded and it will be harder for indie writers to make the kind of money that Konrath is making, but others writers may still make more through self-publishing than they ever would have otherwise. Heck, if a writer can manage to sell 80-90 copies a month at $2.99, that's $2000 in profit a year. If sales are sustained, that's $20,000 over ten years.

Of course in ten years there may be ten million ebooks for sale. Probably more.

Lundeen Literary said...


Dang, Joe. Just WOW. Congratulations!

Also, to Rex: Congrats!

I just formatted a book for my writing teacher.

(For that person who requested some weeks ago for each poster to post their book, here ya go:
The 90-Day Novel by Alan Watt, $9.99
:) )

I'm very interested to see how his sales play out. I've only had the file up for 6 weeks or so, and with zero promotion, it's doing OK. It got up above 8k in Amazon ranking without breaking a sweat. I've not done any forum posting or marketing yet, but we did do something similar to Joe for Draculas: we sent out an eArc, and garnered some 21 reviews so far on Amazon. Not bad! The paperback just went up as well.

Al is working on The 90-Day Rewrite and The 90-Day Screenplay. All 3 books are based on his workshops, which are pure gold. He has a platform, I suppose, because he has a bestselling and award-winning novel, but that came out 10 years ago. I fail to see how it could help him very much at the moment.

Now when the movie for Diamond Dogs comes out in 3-5 years, maybe it will help him, but it's not helping his Kindle sales right now. I think selling at the $9.99 price point with no promotion at all is great!

Perhaps I'm missing them, but I haven't seen too many how-to books listed here by blog readers. I see mainly novels. How are you non-fic, how-to folks doing?

Personally, I am planning to re-start my current novel (got derailed by a layoff and cross-country move) using Al's book in eBook format. I've never *used* a writing guide in eformat before on a day-to-day basis. I'll be very interested in the result there as well.

I'm working on an anthology to release on Kindle, and am going to blog the process thoroughly. I truly appreciate how open and honest Joe has been with us, and I want to pay that forward. If it's my project, then you can expect 100% transparency in my posts.

I'm hoping to have my novella available in January. *crosses fingers*

Congrats again!

lundeenliterary at gmail dot com said...

Thanks Joe for this post. Great information and I really love that line about how all careers mean hard true...

Zoe, I loved your comments here too. I must admit also that a few weeks ago I replayed your YouTube video several times in a row and couldn't stop laughing...well done! Thanks for sharing your numbers and tips.

Jools Sinclair
The Vampire of Franklin Academy

Linda Mooney said...

Thank you for being an inspiration, Joe! If NY publishers are facing difficult times, how much longer do you think literary agents will survive?


Moses Siregar III said...

A question for those who know a thing or two about AmazonEncore: Do you know the main criteria they use to decide which books they want to pick up?

One reason I'm asking is because I wonder if they're looking at things like total sales and Amazon rankings vs. money earned. For example, a $0.99 book might sell a lot more copies, while a $3.99 might make more money.

With AmazonEncore, are you really better off just trying to sell as many copies as possible or is it a more holistic evaluation? Maybe no one knows, but I'm curious.

archangel said...

like KevinMc, also Joe, what do you make of this?

Google, stepping up competition with, will open an online store for electronic versions of books in the United States this year and internationally in 2011, according to a person familiar with the company's plans.

The Mountain View company is working with book publishers to sell hundreds of thousands of e-books, said the person, who asked not to be identified because details of the project haven't been made public.

Google intends to use its position as the world's most popular search engine to erode Amazon's dominance of e-books, while Apple harnesses the iPad tablet and iTunes online store to make its own inroads. The competition means Amazon's share of digital books will decline to 35 percent over the next five years from 90 percent in early 2010, Credit Suisse Group AG estimated in February.

With Google's effort, each publisher is negotiating different revenue-sharing arrangements, though all of them will keep the majority of the money from each sale, the person said.

Michael Kirkland, a spokesman for Google, confirmed the company's plan to start an online bookstore this year. He declined to comment further about the project.

Google Books, a separate initiative to scan books and offer publishers ways to sell them online, has been held up in court until a settlement with publishers is approved.

An accord between Google, the Authors Guild, and other authors and publishers would resolve a 2005 lawsuit that claimed Google infringed copyrights by making digital copies of books without permission. In February, the U.S. Justice Department recommended altering the agreement. The agency argues that Google will gain an advantage over competitors., Microsoft Corp., AT&T Inc., and the governments of Germany and France also objected to the agreement, saying it would give Google unfair control over digitized works.

The Wall Street Journal reported on the e-book store Tuesday.


Gary Ponzo said...

I'll bet Joe has inspired hundreds of writers to publish their work online. If not for seeing his results I would never had taken the leap.
Thanks Joe.

Zoe Winters said...

Hey Jools, thanks! I need to make some more Zoe Who? videos. I've gotten lazy. :(

Karly Kirkpatrick said...

Congrats Joe! It's amazing to see what you've been able to do. I was excited to see so many ereaders on sale for under $100 on Black Friday. Amazing!

I just finished my first month of sales ever, and while I didn't post the kind of numbers you did (I wouldn't expect to!), I was pleased with it. I've followed all the Konrath Rules, and I'm confident over time, and by adding more books, I'll see an increase in sales. I'm a little nervous to see what sales will be this month, as most of the people who know me have bought their copies. But I'm out there, so I think it's just going to take a bit of time for everything to catch up.

My sales are here:

Thanks again for all your guidance!


Karly Kirkpatrick said...

@Zoe...thanks for sharing...I'm thinking I'll have a slow time of it until I release more material. If only I could release a bunch at once like Amanda and Karen! :D Damn day job!

Anonymous said...

Goddamn Amazon, just when you think they aren't corporate monsters they go and boot Wikileaks off their servers.

A publisher and bookseller with no care for free speech.

Sad days indeed.

Anonymous said...

I could kick myself for all the time I was practically giving it away.

You know, Zoe, you shouldn't knock your initial sales strategy. I think that your prices probably got people to download your books on a whim, and you built your initial readership that way.

It sounds like it worked-- now you have a legion of fans that will buy everything you put out-- which is what every author wants, right?

If only there were more hours in the day to write! We would all be rich.

That's the thing I really need more of-- TIME. Just time.

Rex Kusler said...


They're a secretive bunch, so your guess is as good as mine. But I'm pretty sure they don't publish anything they aren't overwhelmingly enthusiastic about. And that isn't based on sales or reviews so much as it is their subjective view of your book.

Faith Bicknell said...

Hi Joe! I hope all has been going well with you and the fam and that you have a great holiday season.

Thank you for sharing your info with writers! As always, you're awesome!

Lundeen Literary said...

Good job, Karly! This is only month one, so I'm SURE your sales will go up!

And don't worry, that day job will go away eventually...

lundeenliterary at gmail dot com

Stardrag said...

IDK, I want to jump into self publishing, but I'd feel more comfortable in the traditional sense. Because they can correct my errors and give me advice that I would never know if I went at it on my own.

The figures are impressive should I try to get my first book published traditionally, then go through self published means?

Karly Kirkpatrick said...

@Jenna...thanks! I kinda feel like I'm throwing the baby bird out of the nest this month...but I hope you're right. It may take a little longer, but I'm willing to stick it out! :D

Robert Burton Robinson said...

@Zoe - Wow, your books are ranking very high on B&N. Congratulations!

You must have a lot of fans using the Nook. Did you do anything special to promote your NookBooks?

Jake said...

I can't tell you how uplifting it is to read your sales figures, Joe. It gives hope to all us aspiring writer types!

I'm blogging about my attempts at self-publishing at I'm doing every step of the process myself - printing, cutting, binding, distribution, and marketing.

Dennis R. Thompson said...

JA Konrath is a benevolent minor publishing god!

I have worked for the last year and a half with a traditional publisher to produce my novel, only to have the contract rescinded at the eleventh hour. After reading JA's newbie guide, I had too much knowledge at the negotiation table and the publisher simply couldn't meet my requests.

Now I want to epub, but am worried about all the copyright issues in my novel that the publisher had been working so diligently to attain for me (e.g. National Football League references, author quotes, other pop culture references). Yanking all the potential copyright issues would hamstring my book. How is this issue dealt with or are many first-time ebook authors just sending their stuff out and hoping not to get sued?

Jude Hardin said...

You have to get permission from the copyright owner before using copyrighted material. The easiest solution is to not use copyrighted material.

Ruth Harris bestselling author of HUSBANDS & LOVERS said...

@ Dennis...I'm no lawyer but I use many, many pop/contemporary references in my fiction which has been published by S&S, Random House and others. No one has ever brought up a problem in connection with the use of these references.

It's important to me to set my fiction in time so I refer to things like (for example): Billy Martin managing the Yankees, the specific name of a TV show (the characters are watching Mad Men), someone's perfume (Miss Dior), what some celebrity said about such & such and on and on from almost any area of contemporary culture. And don't forget the the title, The Devil Wears Prada...there's a brand name right in the title & I've heard of no legal objections to that usage.

I would think (and it's only my opinion) that if you refer to a specific Superbowl, a specific team or quarterback or receiver, you'd have no problem. OTOH, since the lawyers at your publisher were tracking down permissions, you might be using these references in ways I don't. In that case, I would suggest you consult a lawyer and find out what your liabilities (if any) are.


Ruth Harris
author of NYTimes bestseller
Husbands & Lovers

Zoe Winters said...

@Karly, Yeah watching what Amanda did with all those books out, really inspired me to get a lot more serious about building back list. (Right now I'm being bad commenting on blogs, but normally I try to stay off the Interwebz as much as possible to work!)

@Christy, You’re probably right. It’s insane for me to knock a strategy that seemed to have worked for me starting out just because I’ve gotten to a stage where it’s not as good an idea now. If I hadn’t been at 99 cents for so long I might not have done as well.

Though at the same time, I’m not sure how strong the strategy is for folks just starting out because now everybody and their brother is selling a 99 cent ebook and because a lot of those 99 cent ebooks aren’t that great, people seem to be becoming a little more wary of that price point. I think people need to just experiment different ways and see what works best for them. For some it may be 99 cents, for others, something else. I write under another pen name and I don't have near the platform I have as Zoe and I'm doing well at $2.99 there, too.

And I’m far from the fan legion I want! :P But I’m grateful for the fan legion I have. :)

@Robert, thanks! My Amazon numbers are fairly crappy right now, hoping those move up again when I release my next book in a few weeks, so I've been really thankful for the good B&N numbers. I used good keywords and SEO’d my page. Also, H.P. Mallory, a fellow indie and friend who was doing really well on B&N... graciously agreed to do some cross promo on the site: “If you like H.P. Mallory you may also like Zoe Winters” on the sales page, and I did the same for her. But I didn’t do any special promos, I just ranked well in the B&N engines so people found me, then it becomes a self-perpetuating system as B&N’s recommendation machine kicks in.

If you go to B&N and search “Romance” my three novellas come up as number 2, 3, and 4 in the search results. I had the top three but someone zoomed past me. It happens!

Dennis R. Thompson said...

Thank you, Ruth. Your comment was very helpful.

Glancing again at my ten-page list of over 250 pop culture references in my novel, I see that (based on your assessment) I might only have to seek copyright permissions from a scant few.

For example, I quote William Butler Yeats, Dwight Eisenhower, Glenn "Pop" Warner, and utilize direct quotes from a handful of NFL players. I also use author Jon Krakauer's name a few times and reference his books Into the Wild and Into Thin Air (I've tried to contact his publicist for permissions and get no response).

I also use direct quotes in the book from Wikipedia and the Urban Dictionary. It makes me wonder how I would approach permission on those. . .

When I went to the Kindle site to start researching DTP and the whole epub process, I noticed right away they were concerned with copyright. Have you heard if they have editors who look for such things? Makes me wonder if Amazon could get sued for copyright infringements "accidentally" perpetrated by e-authors. If so, then by downloading my book, I could skirt the expensive step of hiring a copyright lawyer to analyze my book heh heh.

I also have a non-fiction manual I want to publish and noticed that indexes were discouraged since "Kindle books don't have page numbers." That seems to be a glaring issue to me right away.

Thanks for your detailed input. I'm going to go read Husbands and Lovers right away.

(I'm chagrined to say that my own two latest print anthologies available at my website are going for $16.99 and $18.99 plus shipping and why in the world would anyone want to buy them? Sheesh--I gotta get my $2.99 clue on!)

KevinMc said...

Don't need permission to quote from Wikipedia, although it's considered good form to cite the source.

Amazon is protected from copyright action by the DMCA. They are obligated to take down a work if they get a takedown notice about a copyright infringement in order to avoid liability, so they'll "take down first, figure it out later". But the DMCA is pretty good about protecting the aggregator from penalty.

You, however, would not be so protected. ;)

Mike Fook said...

Thanks Karen for your reply to my question to Joe! Awesome that you're doing so well!

Mike Fook

Diane said...

@Liam Campbell 10:00am comment on difficulties purchasing ebooks in Australia.

I noticed Smashwords does not exclude Australia from purchasing ebooks in all formats. I suggest you ask authors to get their ebooks onto Smashwords as well as other sites, allowing us Aussies to purchase them at a reasonable price.

I chose Smashwords to distribute my novels, and they are on all sites except Amazon, because Smashwords are still working on converting word docs to mobi, but the problem should be fixed soon.

Anonymous said...

Smashwords announced this week they've finally stopped discounting and increased royalties.


wannabuy said...

To all the authors who share their sales information: Thank you. It helps blunt the FUD against good authors going indie.

My main interest is to see authors make a living sans the 'day job' so that more works see the light of day! Good luck to all.

I'll give my two cents on price: Any e-book is now competing with sixty unread books on my Kindle (down from 80 a month ago... I stopped buying to clear the backlog). $2.99 is an impulse buy. If the first book is good, I'll 'go back for seconds.'

I've had three of my favorite authors publish duds. Judging from Amazon reviews, many Torr and Baen authors have lost their mojo. Or is it poor editing? Any way you slice it, elevated prices make the buyer check twice before clicking.

I feel like I'm the only one not in the publishing industry who visits this blog. ;) I'm purely a customer... 86 e-books in 2010. :) Plus about 16 'dead tree' books. (Only DTB puchases in 2010 were for the kids.)


bowerbird said...

joe said:
> If enough authors strike out
> on their own, it will cause
> an industry-wide collapse.
> Fewer books published means
> fewer sales, which means
> bookstores close, which
> means publishers close.

i'm not sure you've got all the
dynamics in the right order, but
all your predictions are correct,
so i won't quibble about which
of the dominos will fall first...


> how does one sign an ebook?

do something new... instead of
signing a book, write your fan a
unique note... (personalized?)

or give them a little present, a
knick-knack or something, that
creates a special personal bond,
unique between you and them.

or just look deeply in their eyes,
while grasping their hands gently,
in a way to honestly convey that
you will remember them forever.

fans today want something real.
they want something _personal_.


ruth said:
> I didn't know (no one knew)
> epublishing would come along

some of us knew, ruth, and we
also worked very hard to actually
make it happen. for you. and us.


bill said:
> I have trouble believing that
> many potential buyers would
> read the first ten percent of a
> book, and wanting to continue,
> then balk at paying $4.99
> rather than $2.99.

with so many $2.99 e-books to
sample, why even try a $4.99?


"anonymous" said:
> most (not all, but most) authors
> will be just as disillusioned
> with ebooks as they are
> currently with publishers.

no, because they got a shot in,
maybe even obtained fans; they
weren't turned away at the gate.

besides, most writers know well
they ain't gonna make a living...
they just wanna tell a story and
know that somebody heard it and
took it to heart. that's satisfying.
as long as you have fun, it's great!


> Do you think for those of us that
> haven't done fiction before,
> that we can still break into
> one of the most competitive
> areas of book writing if we
> start today and are good?

how will you know
if you don't try?

and how will you
live with yourself
if you don't even
make an attempt?

oh, and there's too much
emphasis on hype here...
if your work is really good,
your fans will do your hype.

and if your work ain't no good,
then you won't be able to do
enough hype to make much of
any difference at all... really...

people think hype works because
it brings the rewards faster, but
long-term, you will not sell more.

we also wanna think hype works
because it is something that we
can control, and we wanna feel
our time and energy is justified.

but you'll get a better payoff by
concentrating on improving the
overall quality of your product,
and also by creating more of it...


Jude Hardin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KevinMc said...

There's a correlary to what bowerbird said about "if it's bad, hype won't help", and that is... If it's bad, NO ONE WILL CARE.

No one will read it.
No one will remember it.
It will not hurt sales of your next book, or your next (although if it's really bad, taking it down when you DO have good books up might be smart).

No one will care. So why not try?

Oh, and regarding ebook signings, USE GOOGLE, guys! =) I just did, second link in was this video telling you how. I'd imagine you could probably do something similar on-site at a con almost as easily too - just bring a laptop!

Anonymous said...

"I've found the only drawback to AmazonEncore is they'll have my rights forever.

Forever is a long time."

Anyone else find this obscene?

I have no idea why/how your agent/you would agree to such a deal. It's almost as bad as the screenplay debacle Amazon is offering...

What was your reasoning for signing away something that would usually be found in a PublishAmerica/worse contract?

evilphilip said...

"BTW-how does one sign an ebook?"

Print up 5 x 7 glossies of the book cover and sign those.

KevinMc said...

@Anon 5:26

It's only obscene if the quantity you are being paid is insanely low. :) It's pretty common practice, for instance, for authors to give a publisher all rights for a work-for-hire.

It's all about the money. ;) Would I give all rights for a novel for $250? Heck no. Would I do it for $50,000? Oh, probably.

Marie Simas said...

Anyone else find this obscene?

Nope. It might be your writing, but it's still just work product.

Everything has a price, and it's the author's job to decide what that is-- and the agent's job to negotiate the best deal for the author.

You can always walk away. But lots of money can be a liberating thing. For example, a nice advance can enable you to quit a shitty day job and write full time.

Freedom to write is great. Just write another manuscript. No one has a monopoly on ideas.

JA Konrath said...

I have no idea why/how your agent/you would agree to such a deal.

LOL. Of course I didn't sign a deal for forever. I signed a deal where the rights would revert back to me if I don't sell a certain number of books per quarter. And my agent was actually able to increase this number.

But my belief is that ebook sales are going to become dominant, and as such, I'll never sell fewer than the contract stipulates, meaning Amazon will always have my rights. Which is fine, considering I'm going to keep earning a lot of money from them.

Jared Sandman said...

As for signing an e-book, I prefer the option someone else already mentioned: postcards. I can buy 1000 of them for 50 bucks. They look great and include the book's synopsis and sales information. I signed those at a recent booksigning and it went over very well. I also slipped them in my Christmas cards this year and have seen sales from that too.

evilphilip said...

"I also read that Stephanie Meyer received only fifty thousand as an advance for Twilight."

It was $750,000.00 advance and it was for the first three books in the series.

evilphilip said...

I sold the 500th copy of my Kindle short story, Z is for Zombie, yesterday afternoon.

That is 500 copies sold in 3 months with virtually zero promotion.

Susie McCray said...

I think I want to be you when I grow up.

Tara Maya said...

Thanks for the update, Joe. I really appreciate it. I'm very eager to read the sf books. Since I write sf, I'm hoping if you have another promotion fest, as you did with Draculas, that I can be part of it. Are you still selling space for an excerpt in the back of your books?

Lundeen Literary said...


Congratulations! That's awesome! Any thoughts on how long it will take to sell your second 500? I'm betting that it will be less than 3 months.

lundeenliterary at gmail dot com

james moushon said...

eBook Author Blog Notice

I have just added your blog to my blogroll at

Also I have added your blog link to my website under the title "The Blogs I Follow:"
My website address is:

If you prefer your website link to be added, email me at:

My blog is eBook Author and self-publishing oriented.

James Moushon

D.J.Kirkby said...

Thank you for this post. My debut novel is now available as an e-book and it is not selling (not even one copy so far) even though it has sold well as a paperback. Now that I have read this post I understand more about it all.

Melissa Romo said...

Congrats on your sales, Joe. As a reformed MBA and corporate cube-dweller, I have to admit to liking all the numbers in your posts. I'm working on a thriller novel now, and your posts help me to understand the publishing industry I am daring to compete in. I always come away feeling cautiously optimistic, and then itching to open a spreadsheet.

wannabuy said...

D.J. Kirkby,

'Unknown' authors have trouble selling e-books above $2.99. Unknown being any author the reader hasn't tried before or that a friend isn't pushing them to try.

Your topic is interesting... but off the beaten path. I hate to say it, you must discount further to build up a readership base. Read Zoe Winters' blog or Karen McQuestion's too.

As a reader, I'm seeing a huge value to every author keeping one good book cheap to 'pull in' readers. 'Cheap' being $0.72 to $2.99 with the more unknown (fewer sales) the lower the price.

It reduces the resistance to trying a new author. Over a dozen authors have 'snagged me as a customer' this way in 2010. Your $5.99 is above the threshold to try unless you have dozens of positive reviews. I strongly suggest contacting one or two of your 'pbook fans' write a review in the e-book to start things off.

Joe has his system down... he has 'given away' ebooks to have the reviews at launch.


Lundeen Literary said...

@D.J. Kirkby - I agree with wannabuy in that you need to drop your price to $2.99 at least. The next thing you need to do is get some reviews. The 2 versions of your book are linked properly, so a review for the kindle version will appear for the paperback, and vice versa. I would email out some PDF copies to some reviewers (REAL reviews, not just family madly extolling the virtues of you), and I know that will help.

I just finished formatting a book going for $9.99 on the Kindle, but we got the author 22 5-star reviews in the first month. The sales numbers are very good for a first-month release of a kindle book at that high of a price.

lundeenliterary at gmail dot com

KevinMc said...

I think there's a bit more to it than being an "unknown author", wannabuy. Last month I showed the data from my little survey of top 50/top 100 books. I only checked the top 50 in a couple of genres for brand new (first book) authors, but the average seemed to be about 20% of each Top 50 bestseller list (for genre ebooks) was by a first author - none of them at a price lower than $4.99, and most in the $6.99-9.99 range.

So it's pretty clearly not just the "new writer" thing. There's more to it. Those books were all traditionally published, of course, so there is the extra marketing advantage from that status. It's that marketing edge you have to overcome - whether by creating a burst of initial sales, by getting some fast reviews on Amazon by readers, by getting the word out to reviewers, or whatever - it helps to build some level of buzz around the book.

Alternately, other writers suggest you just put it out there, and then write the next book, and the next, and the next - continue publishing at a rate of 4-6 or more books a year, and in a couple of years the body of work itself will have generated enough sales to begin gathering more audience to itself.

S. J. Reisner || Audrey Brice || S. Connolly said...

J A - I have a few books that I've gone indie with! I absolutely agree with your line of thinking. My own e-Book sales last month totaled $12,000.00 (both Kindle and Nook) and I'm virtually unknown compared to you! Love your blog!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information, evilphilip. I am so sure I saw the other figure on her site. It said that she submitted to the agency on her own-Cronin said he used an agent and a pen name. [perhaps you also know how much of Cronin's addvance has been made up in sales?
Meanwhile, I am still leery of the very low ebook pricing. Do we not want writers to be paid well? Who can spend years on one book, and make so little back, on one book, and lkeep writing? Is not that writer making the same dead-end wage at the DDJ as the rest of us? Why would we not want to pay him more?
It's fine if you honestly "just want readers," but I doubt that is the end motivation for most.

Glenn G. Thater said...


Congrats on your success and thanks for sharing the numbers with us.

My best month so far was October -- about 6,000 ebook sales across all markets (I have three titles out there).

glenn g. thater

KevinMc said...

"Meanwhile, I am still leery of the very low ebook pricing. Do we not want writers to be paid well? Who can spend years on one book, and make so little back, on one book, and lkeep writing?"

Of course we want writers to be paid well. But the bottom line is easy here: a sale at $2.99 self-pub more money than a sale at $9.99 through a traditional publisher.

But - the reader is spending under 1/3 the money on the book. Now, I think most readers are like me. They budget some amount of money for books, and would *happily* double the number of books they bought if the price was half as much.

So, you earn more per $2.99 self pub book than you do per $9.99 trad pub book, AND by pricing lower, you're setting that reader up to be able to buy 3 times as many books. Maybe yours, maybe someone elses'. Doesn't matter. In the long run, the $2.99 self pub book ends up making the people doing it about four times as much money. Simple math. ;)

Robert Burton Robinson said...

@D.J. Kirby,
@Lundeen Literary, &
@KevinMc - I have been using one of my books as a loss leader (actually, a low-royalty leader) to get those impulse buys that lead people to my other three books in the series, three of which are priced at $2.99. It's been working well. I'm selling 1,500-2,000 books per month. So, yes, the low prices help---as long as you don't start getting too many one/two-star reviews.

And, speaking of reviews...I've noticed that most people won't make the effort to write a review, unless...
(1) They're a good friend or family member.
(2) They love your book.
(3) They like your book and want to give it a fair and honest appraisal.
(4) Your book is not their "cup of tea," and therefore, is terrible.
(5) They are offended or disgusted by your book.
(6) They just enjoy bashing authors.

My new mystery book, NAKED FRAME, has received review types 2, 3, & 4, and I have received #5 in an email.

#5 disturbs me the most, because it not my intention to disgust my readers. But I know if I filter myself, there will be nothing left but the bland. So, my writing will inevitably offend someone occasionally.

How about you? Do the #4, #5, and #6 type reviews get under your skin?

Marie Simas said...

How about you? Do the #4, #5, and #6 type reviews get under your skin?

No negative reviews yet, although I've gotten a few that were critical of the use of profanity.

Negative reviews are just part of the game-- the best authors get them, and authors even get them from fans who will still continue to buy everything the author puts out.

As long as you aren't getting a critical review for typos, grammar, or some other serious "book quality issue" I wouldn't worry too much.

You can never please everyone.

Ruth Harris bestselling author of HUSBANDS & LOVERS said...

@ Robert re #5: A friend got a scalding letter from a reader (Mrs. Johnson, I'll never forget the name), reprimanding him for his use of profanity. He would burn in hell, Satan would see than he paid etc. etc.

His response? An annual "Mrs. Johnson party." The invitations went out on Xeroxes of The Letter. You could put email to the same creative use.

We all had a good laugh & a great time. Just remember: Partying Well Is The Best Revenge.

@ Marie: re: Negative Reviews. A few years ago, I was at an author lunch for Mary Higgins Clark. I was seated at a table of women who spent the entire time complaining that her books "weren't as good as they used to be."

When the lunch was over, every single one of them bought the new MHC book the lunch was celebrating. Moral: Sometimes there's just no connection between what people say and what they do.

Ruth Harris
author of NYTimes bestseller
Husbands & Lovers

Anonymous said...

Man, Google books is awesome.

I wonder if the Kindle gravy train for bad writers just lost the first wheel.

We'll see.

JA Konrath said...

Man, Google books is awesome.

I'm not impressed. Perhaps it will grow to become awesome, but right now there are some issues.

First, they discount, which means I won't be dealing with them. I'll wait until Smashwords works out an agreement.

Second, the Adobe ebook platform they support is not user friendly.

Third, browsing their books pales in comparison to Amazon, or even Sony, B&N, and Smashwords.

I'll be watching to see how well this does, but there's a lot of room fro improvement.

Not having a dedicated ereader tied to the store will confuse some people, and the prices are the same as the other platforms, but require more hoops to jump through to read the ebook.

Anonymous said...

Re: "Man, Google books is awesome.

I wonder if the Kindle gravy train for bad writers just lost the first wheel.

We'll see."

Assuming this person is just taking a swipe at independent writers... I still don't get his point.

Google Books seems to just optimize searches to find books. It should help authors with marketing skills, whether traditionally published or independent.

Am I missing something? Anybody have constructive thoughts on Google books?

The part I don't really understand is Google's claim that it will help independent booksellers. I guess they mean that if you see a small bookseller listed next to Amazon, you might choose t make an online purchase from the underdog? Can anyone explain that?

- A Different Anonymous.

Tuppshar Press said...

Joe: "Have you tried changing your cover/price/product description?"

Our graphic arts guy just spent a few days fiddling with the covers to some of our books. Sales have improved since they went live.

The beauty of ebooks is that you can make these sorts of changes easily and cheaply, something not possible with print books.

A Slave Girl for the Emperor with its new and spiffy cover

Anonymous said...

I signed up for Google books. I'm excited about it-- I want to increase organic searches for my website and my books as much as possible. I have buy links to Amazon on my own website (affiliate links that earn revenue, in fact).

If anything, the buy links will help increase my website traffic. It certainly couldn't hurt.

bowerbird said...

s.j. reisner said:
> J A - I have a few books
> that I've gone indie with!
> I absolutely agree with
> your line of thinking.
> My own e-Book sales
> last month totaled $12,000.00
> (both Kindle and Nook) and
> I'm virtually unknown
> compared to you!
> Love your blog!

i wish i'd been keeping track
of all the writers who have
come here with similar tales
of their new-found success...

$12,000 a month works out
to $144,000 a year. i wonder
how many writers published
under the traditional system
pull down that kind of income
on a year-over-year basis...

i hope everyone here recalls
that the world-at-large is still
under the mistaken impression
that self-publishing doesn't pay.

(cue laughter about the general
stupidity of the world-at-large.)


Anonymous said...

"First, they discount, which means I won't be dealing with them."

Exactly. They day they opened, I found all my books on sale by 30% off. I immediately doubled the prices so Kindle didn't start "matching." At the increased prices, they probably won't sell but at least they'll show up in search engines.

I also downloaded a sample of one of my books, which had to be submitted to Goodle as a PDF. As usual, the conversion got messed up and looks terrible, much like what B&N does to PDFS. Smashwords too, for that matter. Kindle is the only e-site that really allows a clean formatting that is within the control of the publisher/author

KevinMc said...

Thanks for the warning about the discounting! Good to know.

Honestly, the Google eBooks store is about the most pathetic ebook platform on the internet right now. I was *very* underwhelmed. I'm sure they'll make some strides to fix it, but seriously - you'd think that "THE search engine" company would maybe understand that adding as many tools to search for books as possible might be a good thing.

Instead? We get a broken button to search by pub date, and a choice to search by "all" or "free". Gah. Kobo's site is better, and they're pretty bad.

I'm finding myself repeatedly annoyed by 'articles' all over the web touting the "in the cloud" stuff (which every major seller was already doing) and the "use on every device" stuff (which most sellers were already doing, too). I wonder if they're actually fooling anyone by telling people about all this new stuff that all their competitors have been doing right along?

It's going to take ages for Google eBooks to recover from this. Disastrous launches are not a good thing, and this is going to be a mess.

JA Konrath said...

It's going to take ages for Google eBooks to recover from this.

I dunno. They're Google. If they implement it correctly, everyone searching for any book will be taken to choices that allow Google to make money. And people do search for books on Google--I do all the time.

If anyone from Google reads my blog, here's my advice.

1. Sell a dedicated e-ink ereader that links to Google, and sell it everywhere.

2. Buy Alibris and ABEbooks and get a big piece of the online used book market, then incorporate those searches in the engine.

3. Encourage as much user aggregated content as possible.

4. Get exclusive ebook content by signing big deals with big authors.

Personally, I think it's impossible for anyone to topple Amazon anytime soon. Amazon is doing too much that's right, plus they're leading the market in innovation. Kindle, and, are the best reading and shopping experience for consumers. And when they lower the Kindle price to under $100, it'll become widely adopted by the masses.

Kindle is close to becoming Kleenex or Xerox--brands that become generic names for products.

Tony said...

$12,000 a month works out
to $144,000 a year --- i wish i'd been keeping track of all the writers who have come here with similar tales of their new-found success...


These are the ones who've claimed to make six figures. This one assumes that $12k a month will continue, of course.

So, perventage wise, people who make a lot of money self publishing are a lot fewer than people who make a lot of money traditionally publishing.

I do admire how you keep the bitterness going, though. Keep it up, bowerbird, and you might convince yourself that the grapes were probably sour, and you never really wanted to be a real published author anyway.

Damn, all those rejections. They sting for a while, apparently.

Anonymous said...

You know, I'll be impressed with for ebooks when they sell ebooks that can be read on any ereader device. And I'm not talking about their stupid Kindle App. I don't have an iPad or smartphone and wouldn't even want to read my ebooks on it if I did. I have a Sony Ereader and I want to read my ebooks on that, not on my computer. I bet would sell a lot more ebooks and really blow the marketplace if they opened it up like that. Not everyone wants or even like the damn Kindle.

bowerbird said...

tony said:
> Three.

no, i'm quite sure there
were more than three...

but maybe you haven't
been here that long...

> These are the ones
> who've claimed to
> make six figures.

the word "claimed"
makes it sound like
you don't believe them.
they might be lying, but
i find it hard to see why.
but you are correct that
i have no solid evidence.
still, i believe them, and
yes, maybe i'm gullible.

> This one assumes that
> $12k a month will
> continue, of course.

the person who reported that
didn't make any assumption.
i did. and i stand behind it...
at least for the coming year...
i see all sales trending upward,
what with the low price of the
hardware creating new buyers.

> So, perventage wise, people
> who make a lot of money
> self publishing are a lot fewer
> than people who make a lot of
> money traditionally publishing.

it used to be that detractors said
that nobody made any money in
self-publishing. now it's "only a
small percentage get big money."
who knows what they'll say next?

> I do admire how you keep
> the bitterness going, though.

bitterness? i have no bitterness...

if you sense any "bitterness" in my
posts, it's because you inject it...

> Keep it up, bowerbird, and you
> might convince yourself the
> grapes were probably sour, and
> you never really wanted to be a
> real published author anyway.

sour grapes? bitterness? oy vey!

i've had success in the world of
ink-on-paper, all aspects of it...
the old world _and_ the new one.
outside and inside... _seen_ the
crooks stealing the money, and
marveled at how it was all "legal".
(ya gotta hire the right attorney.)

i never stole that money myself,
but i drank a lot of champagne
-- and snorted a little cocaine --
that was bought and paid with it.
and they can't make champagne
out of sour grapes, you know...

now i see the middleman being
disintermediated, and laugh as
his hand is lifted out of the till.

bitter? or sour? yeah, right...
i'm having the time of my life.

> Damn, all those rejections.
> They sting for a while,
> apparently.

i grew up in a d.i.y. attitude.

you don't get rejection letters
when you do it yourself...

i have never needed validation
from anyone other than myself.


D.J.Kirkby said...

@wannabuy Hi Neil, thanks for your comment. My publisher has reduced the price of the e-version of my novel on both Amazon UK and Amazon US and there have been some sales since then. As for my paperback version, I don’t think my publisher will be so keen to drop the price. He is an Indie publisher and the cost of printing paperbacks is a huge issue for him. I go to as many events as possible where I may be able to engage with future readers and hope in the future to be able to have a less pricey novel published.

@Lundeen Hi Jenna, Thank you for your advice. My publisher has now dropped the price of the e-version of my novel. I have nine 5 star and 2two 4 star reviews on the Amazon UK site from readers only (none are from family or friends).

@KevinMc, I work full time and have 3 children so that has a limiting impact on my writing output. I write from 5am – 7am each day to compensate for this because I agree with you about the need for an author to get a few books out in order to build a readership (is there such a word?). In the meantime I’m trying to do al I can through real life events and through using social networking like Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, blogs and so on. I am really glad to have found your site and look forward to reading future posts.

@Robert, I haven’t had a bad review yet though I suspect they are inevitable (that is just the way of the world). I have already had rude feedback about the fact that I dare to presume I can write novels when I am autistic which I tried to respond to in a professional manner. I feel that everyone is entitled to their opinion and I plan to keep that in mind when I find bad reviews about my writing. No author can please every reader, I just hope that prospective readers will have come across favourable responses to my writing as well so that they can make an informed decision about whether they want to read my writing.

Anonymous said...

Why don't more authors print their books, ship them to a warehouse like Amazon, pay the minimal fees and let the warehouse deal with shipping and details?

That is what I did. I printed in Shanghai with PrintHouseInternational .com and LOVE LOVE LOVE it!

My friend used Lulu and loved that too...

Good luck and keep up the success!

Lundeen Literary said...

@Robert Burton Robinson

you forgot #7 - you changed their lives.

The book I just formatted is by an award-winning author who has been teaching this amazing workshop called The 90-Day Novel.(book is here: ) He has serious fans because he completely revolutionized how these people wrote. As he gains more students, he gains more converts. Those are the people we enlisted to give reviews of the book. All of the reviews ended up being 5 stars.

Now, another publisher didn't bother to Google (or wanted to capitalize on someone else's work), and they tried to release a book with the same title in the same month as Al's book. The other publisher's book got renamed and pushed back. I imagine that at some point, there will be a review type #8 - they think you destroyed their / their friend's livelihood and intentionally interfered with someone they cared about.

then there's also type #9 - they think your price should be different.

You can't do much about the negative / offended / bashing /pricing reviews. You got their attention, which is good. I'm sure that you can sniff out the reviewers with an agenda when you read Amazon reviews. Those reviews that have an obvious axe to grind? Most people filter those out mentally. There's also those little "did you find this review helpful?" votes, which work wonders.

But yeah, they get under your skin. HATE those. Hate to see them for other authors, not just me. And yes, good writing will offend, which is as it should be. Just remember that if you're getting those reviews, you're doing something right. Allow yourself to think on it for a minute, then go reread a good review and have a nice cup of tea or glass of wine. Rub some money on it, since you're earning some. XD Don't let it ruin your day.

@Ruth Harris - LOVE the Mrs. Johnson party idea!!!

@Tuppshar Press - the new cover is much improved!

A thought, though: I am not the most avid reader of this type of book, but I probably wouldn't purchase yours personally. the covers, while well-done, don't quite entice me. Please don't be offended, I'm not trying to slam you. Just trying to explain my POV as a buyer.

I expect erotica titles to be either mostly arty text with smallish, iconic images of blindfolds or whips, or else more artistic, mysterious renditions of people. I find these renditions less mysterious, more World of Warcraft. (I don't buy the animated-style cover books from Ellora's Cave, either.) Also, when I see "emperor" in the title, I expect to see something rich and posh. Not seeing that on this cover. In short, while it's good, it just doesn't quite tell me all I need to know, nor does it make me want to buy right now.

When you look at the top 100 bestselling erotica titles, your cover doesn't look like those, for the most part. Have you tried locating good stock photography and doing more fuzzy-edged photoshop work? Again, I don't mean offense - I honestly don't know what all you've tried. I'd be curious to hear your response.

@LundeenLiterary on Twitter

Lundeen Literary said...

@D.J. Kirkby - Yay for dropping the price!

I just wanted to note that, while you have reviews on the U.K. site, those do not move to the U.S. site, and you have no reviews that Americans can see. May I suggest offering a PDF or similar reader's copy to some readers stateside and get a few reviews? I'm sure some of the lovely commenters here would help you out.

Oh, and whoever told you that you couldn't write due to the Autism is a jerk. That's just rude. Never mind them - they're just nutters.

@Anonymous Jessica - I imagine the price of printing a lot of books at once, paying to ship them to Amazon, and the extra fees have something to do with that. But what you are suggesting will become more available as authors make more money. I imagine that high ebook sales will give authors the money to do what they couldn't do before, which is print books like you've said.

A lot of folks here do print books through Lulu, Createspace, and Lightning Source.

@LundeenLiterary on Twitter

Dodge Winston said...

Joe said - "Kindle is close to becoming Kleenex or Xerox--brands that become generic names for products."

It couldn't be stated better than that.

Anonymous said...

"Why don't more authors print their books, ship them to a warehouse like Amazon, pay the minimal fees and let the warehouse deal with shipping and details?"

I just realized that this is spam. I got the same exact post on my blog. The truth is that Amazon Advantage is a terrible way to make money selling books, starting with the postage, shipping, book costs, and 55% mandatory discount. I can't even go into how much money I Iost my first year because I decided to sell books that way. No thanks.

Also, Hey Joe! Check out Amazon's new Author Central Sales info-- author Kevin Silvis just e-mailed me this morning to tell me about it-- now you can log into you Author Central account and see your sales figures, including where in the country your books are selling. Very cool beans.

Maryann Guberman said...

I've shared this post with a number of friends; I have it as one of my top "must read" blogs on my own blog. And, for Christmas, I'll be giving some of your titles as gifts. (I guess I'm just trying to say thanks.)

Tuppshar Press said...


Somehow I missed your comments regarding the cover to our book, so my apologies for not answering. Thank you for your constructive feedback; we chose the cover we did as a balance between erotica and romance, since the series is both. We are discovering that good covers are harder to produce than one might first think, but fortunately with ebooks they can be updated easily.

Again, many thanks!