Friday, January 28, 2011

Guest Post by Sam Torode

As I've mentioned many times, I get a lot of email. Though I can't respond to it all, I do read it all. Some of it is fan mail, but an increasing percentage of it is from writers either asking for help on ebooks or telling me how well they're doing.

This email came a few days ago from a writer I don't know.

Dear JA,

My self-pubbed humorous novel, "The Dirty Parts of the Bible," just passed 5,500 Kindle sales for this month and is ranked at #70 in the Kindle store. I'm still in shock, and don't know how long it will take for this to sink in...

How to sum of the years of disappointment and bitterness trying to get traditionally published? I spent 3 years writing and honing the book, and it was the most satisfying creative project I'd ever worked on. The 2 years that followed, trying to sell the manuscript, were like tossing my heart into a meat grinder. It was rejected by over 100 publishers, from every big house in NY to small presses in Texas (where most of the book is set). I did manage to get an excellent NY agent who shopped it for a year, but to no avail. The real killer was when an editor at Penguin said she loved it, but the Penguin *marketing department* shot it down. (Did I mention bitterness?)

I self-published a paperback version, but it never sold more than 10 copies. I work as a professional book designer for small presses. I *love* real books, and I collect antique volumes of my favorite writers. I scoffed at the Kindle. So I just never thought of putting "Dirty Parts" out as an e-book.

More than a year after I had completely given up looking for publishers, I entered Amazon's "breakthrough novel" competition. My book made it to the top 50 last year, but was again shot down by Penguin editors/staffers when they narrowed the crop down to 4 finalists. (No surprise; but more disappointment.) But a few weeks after the contest was over, I noticed that the Kindle excerpt of my novel was being downloaded by more customers than were the finalists. That inspired me to publish the entire book to Kindle for the first time.

Sales were very slow for the first 6 months (about 5 to 20 per month), as Amazon removed the contest entries so I lost all the reader reviews that my excerpt had accumulated. Then, in mid-December, something clicked. By the end of the month, 300 copies had sold. And so far this month (January 2011), it's sold 5,500 copies. All with no promotion on my part (other than giving away some free copies in the Kindle forums after sales started picking up). It's also attracted 20 unsolicited reviews this month.

I followed your blog closely during the 2 years I was trying to sell my book traditionally, but stopped reading after giving up hope. So I had no idea that other unknown authors were finding this kind of success on Kindle. Never heard of Amanda Hocking or Karen McQuestion (greatest author name ever, by the way) until this month.

How to describe the thrill of finally getting *readers* after all these years? It's incredible. All along, I just wanted the chance to get my book past the gatekeepers and into readers' hands. I've gotten some great e-mails this month: one from an 87 year old Texan who said the characters reminded him of the folks he knew back then, another from a high-school English teacher who is recommending it to her students. It's like a commercial for the credit cards I foolishly used to finance my writing dreams before they were squashed: Priceless.

best,
Sam

Joe sez: I love this story, for several reasons. First, because it shows an epic fail by the gatekeepers. Penguin had two shots at this, and failed both times. Now the book is selling hundreds of copies a day. Oops.

Second, because Torode priced it at $2.99. The majority of self-pubbed ebooks that have made the Top 100 have been 99 cents. It's nice to see an indie ebook selling well AND making a lot of money for the author.

Third, because here is yet another example of an unknown author who sells a ton of ebooks without a platform, an agent, or any sort of marketing. It just caught on with readers who liked it. This is the ultimate in "word-of-mouth."

And fourth, I'm a sucker for a the fairy tale ending.

Sam followed the rules for successful ebook authors (which you should all know by heart by now.)

1. Write a good book.
2. Have a good cover.
3. Set a low price.
4. Have a good product description.

Here's his description:

Watch the video trailer at DirtyPartsoftheBible.com

The Dirty Parts of the Bible is a humorous novel set during the Great Depression---a rollicking tale of love and liquor, preachers and prostitutes, trains and treasure, sure to appeal to fans of Water for Elephants, O Brother Where Art Thou?, Mark Twain, and Johnny Cash....

Semifinalist for the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

"While the title suggests a raunchy read, this rich and soulful novel is actually a rather well-done bildungsroman [coming-of-age story] steeped in wanderlust and whimsy that at times recalls The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and at others a tamer On the Road. The story begins in 1936 as 19-year-old Tobias is thumbing his way from Remus, Mich., to his uncle's farm in Glen Rose, Tex., to find a hidden bag of money, after his father, a Baptist pastor, drunkenly slams his car into the church and is removed from the parsonage. The author does an excellent job in making well-charted territory (riding the rails; scavenged campfire meals under the stars) seem vibrant and new. Snippets of scripture, Southern spirituals, and folk ballads lend context and flavor to the text. Most impressive are the jangly dialogue and the characters' distinctive voices, which are authentic and earthy but not remotely hoary. When Tobias finally arrives at his uncle's, the surprises that await him are more than enough to keep his--and readers'--interests piqued." --Publisher's Weekly (ABNA)

"I absolutely loved The Dirty Parts of the Bible.... [It's] a grown-up Mark Twain-type adventure with lots of spirit and humor." --Reader Views

"[It] has lots of laughs and a few tears, and characters that are pure joy." --Front Street Reviews

"A fun read" --The Nashville Scene

"Sweet and funny" --Kirkus Discoveries

From the Back Cover

It's 1936, and Tobias Henry is stuck in the frozen hinterlands of Michigan. Tobias is obsessed with two things: God and girls.

Mostly girls, of course.

But being a Baptist preacher's son, he can't escape God.

When his father is blinded in a bizarre accident (involving hard cider and bird droppings), Tobias must ride the rails to Texas to recover a long-hidden stash of money. Along the way, he's initiated into the hobo brotherhood by Craw, a ribald vagabond-philosopher. Obstacles arise in the form of a saucy prostitute, a flaming boxcar, and a man-eating catfish. But when he meets Sarah, a tough farm girl under a dark curse, he finds out that the greatest challenge of all is love.

------------

Torode did a lot right in this description. He compared it to well known books and movies, explained the type of book it is, listed some rave reviews, mentioned it was a semi-finalist, and went briefly into the plot, setting, and main character.

His cover is professional, his title is perfect, and his web page is well designed.

What he needs to do next is get more writing up on Amazon ASAP, to capitalize on his current popularity.

More guest posts coming. Thanks to Sam for allowing me to share his email with my readers.

171 comments:

Sarah Allen said...

Inspiring story :) Thanks for this! I'm still hoping for the traditional route when I finish my novel, but we'll see what happens.

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

Anonymous said...

1. Write a good book.
2. Have a good cover.
3. Set a low price.
4. Have a good product description.

I'd add #5: Come up with a great title.

I know of one indie book that sells well and has for a long time because it has #'s 2-4, plus a great title.

I doubt it has #1 as it has more one- and two-star ratings on Amazon than four- and five-star ratings.

EC

Steve said...

Way to go Sam. I downloaded my copy and am looking forward to reading it.



Prophecy of the Medallion

Death Mask

gniz said...

Wow. Some of these stories really are mind-blowing. I especially like ones like Sam's where there was a bit of a slow build before the epic explosion of sales.

It's intimidating to read that Amanda Hocking only had one month selling under a thousand copies.

Whereas Sam's story makes me feel like--hey, I might be next!

Thanks for sharing this.

An E-Publisher's Manifesto

Jason W. Chan said...

Another inspiring story. I've finally gotten my act together. I just published Meet Me at Taylor Park, a story similar to Nicholas Sparks' The Notebook. I've been told the description and title and price are all good. Now, I just need to get the word out and solicit some reviews.

dr.cpe said...

beautiful satisfying story...like joe k's and others here... the day the big 6 relinquished gut instinct acquisition and risktaking to marketing people, well that was like, as we say back to home, "the day the roosters convinced the rubes that roosters alone cause the sun to rise every day."

I hate hearing stories about earnest, talented authors being plowed under by once earnest, talented editors who work for counters of legumes. I love hearing stories about authors that outlasted, outfoxed and stepped outside the chalk line and found not doom but destiny.

Too cool. Though I am way remedial re bringing my own ebks to kindleprint and hopefully will be able to some day, It makes me glad to hear about those who say the world is not flat and haul up all the sails and just go.

Tom said...

Another inspirational tale. Thanks Joe for inviting these guest bloggers to talk about their own successes.

A couple of posts back I was of the mind that e-books and e-readers were getting hyped beyond their potential. However, I've just read that e-books are now out selling paperbacks on Amazon. And though combined hardcovers and paperbacks outsell e-books, the margin is pretty small. So, it would appear as if there is plenty to suggest that they're going to take one day take over, after all.

I'm surprised, but can admit when I'm wrong.

James Harden said...

Wow. I can't believe Penguin passed on it twice. Especially with that great title.
Sam's story really does highlight the problems with the publishing business and the gatekeeper 'system'. I mean, I stopped sending out query letters in November last year and I'm still getting rejections come through. It's just a slow, outdated, out of touch business model. Meanwhile I'm selling through the Kindle store. And as Sam said, the thrill of having readers is incredible.

Monique DeVere said...

Thanks for sharing your success story with us, Sam! I'm continually inspired by the number of successful Indie authors out there.

Monique
Author of humorous, feel-good romance

Russell Brooks said...

Great story. I'm happy with your success. You mentioned that in the first 6 months you were selling between 5-20 copies on Kindle and then something clicked in December. Are we correct to assume that it took you 7 months before you hit the bestseller's list?

Russell Brooks
Author of the International Spy Thriller, Pandora's Succession .

Dana Michelle Burnett said...

Thank you so much for sharing this, it's nice to hear that a book can start slow and then take off. I think that gives many of us some hope. Also JA is dead on the money with his list:
1. Write a good book (it may be a wonderful book, but it also has to be a marketable book. I have learned my lesson with that one and how literary fiction sells)
2. Have a good cover (eye catching, able to stand out among all the other books on a page)
3. Set a low price (seems most authors are setting theirs at 2.99 and it seems to be working. Let the publishers try to make money on a 9.99 kindle book)
4. Have a good product description (Check out not only other books, but products in general on Amazon. It's an entirely different way of thinking.)

Thanks again for sharing this!

Sam said...

Thanks for sharing my story, Joe! Glad it's inspiring.

Actually, I did have it priced at 99 cents until yesterday, when (after reading your post on e-book pricing) I decided to raise it to $2.99. My overall sales rank has dropped 10 points, but it is still selling very well. So I'll stick with $2.99 unless it drops out out the top 100, at which point I'll reconsider.

Re: Russell-- I think I fist posted it to Kindle in April last year, and it didn't show up on any Amazon genre bestseller list till the end of December. Somehow, a handful of people still managed to find & buy it each month--I figured they had a way of searching for 99 cent books.

(Why does the book show a 2011 pub. date? When I uploaded a new file to correct some typos and tweak the design a couple weeks ago, I also updated the publication date to see if looking like a brand new release would help at all. Doubt it has mattered.)

Joe Konrath said...

Sam, you might have just answered one of the biggest questions self-pubbed authors have--if a Top 100 book loses sales when you raise the price.

Apparently you haven't lost any sales. That's awesome.

Daryl Sedore said...

Great Job Sam!

Love the cover. Well done.

Another great post.

Daryl Sedore
www.spotlightonindies.com

Sam said...

A couple more tips... I used to have the typical short, plain book description allowed in the confines of the Kindle publishing platform. Then I discovered you can add bold print and italics from the "Amazon Author Central" dashboard, which allows you to mimic the big publishers.

I was frustrated that Amazon wouldn't upload my book trailer to the sales page--they said they only do that for publishers they have arrangements with. So to get around this, I added my website address to the book description (note: they will also not let you put "www" in your description.)

Also, I didn't have a website or book trailer until earlier this month, when the book started selling and, coincidentally, I had just got a new iMac with these great, fairly easy to use website & movie programs. Loooove the iMac.

gniz said...

Joe said: "Apparently you haven't lost any sales" in response to Sam's changing his price from 99 cents to 2.99.

I think you might be speaking a bit soon here, Joe. He only JUST changed the price yesterday, so it will take a little while for him to determine what effect this has over a longer period.

From what I've read about this type of thing, I expect his sales numbers to drop something around the order of 30-50%, but he will make as much if not more money than he was at the lower price point.

That's a guess, and every author is different. Hopefully I am wrong--maybe Sam could give us an update in a few weeks?

An E-Publisher's Manifesto

gniz said...

I realize now that you were specifying a top 100 book. Maybe those are different from the others, but I still think it's too soon to say.

An E-Publisher's Manifesto

Sam said...

Gniz, I will aim to keep you updated on the price experiment.

A couple nights ago, between 10 pm and 6 am, it sold 99 copies at 99 cents.

Last night, between 10 and 6, it sold 80 copies at $2.99.

So, 10 copies less, but much higher revenue.

Readers are more important than revenue, but of course the ideal is both...

gniz said...

Thanks Sam. I hate to come off as a Debbie Downer. I think selling your book at atleast 2.99 is ideal given the royalty shift.

But there likely will be some drop in sales, I would think. One author I know (who has moved nearly 100,000 copies of all her ebooks) suffered a fairly dramatic drop in actual books sold when she shifted to 2.99. However she made the same amount of money as before (not more).

Nobody seems quite sure why. Some readers apparently are quite willing to pay more, and others not--so it may be luck of the draw in terms of which type of audience you have.

But I do hope you come back with a very positive update and maybe you've even gained readership along with your higher royalty.

Best of luck,

Aaron

An E-Publisher's Manifesto

Michael said...

That's great. His story sounds a lot like mine, except that I'm just barely getting my books online and have a total of four sales (and still working on the cover, etc.).

My book actually went to auction and failed and then I was dropped even though my second book was better than my first. Well, I'm going to give it a shot. It might turn into nothing, like everything else I've tried, but who knows.

Edie Ramer said...

Another inspiring story! Keep them coming! We need this.

My sales have more than tripled this last month, though I'm not in the 1000 or more a month category. But I have hope that it will happen this year.

Eliza Gayle said...

I love these stories.

Sam, what a great title and eye catching cover!

Merrill Heath said...

Sam, you said that in mid-December "something clicked" and the sales took off. What do you think that "something" was?

TheSFReader said...

Hi Joe, I'm one of your followers, and I find out that (like most here) I'm quite in line with you on the ebooks subject.

A few months ago, I read you Print is eternal" post and found it great. I'd like to translate it in french the same way I did the other way for an open letter from 5 french authors to the publishing industry : Unequal rights for digital books.
I'd put that translation on my blog too (with back links of course).
Would you be okay with that ?

Suzanne said...

Sam, congrats on your success, and thanks for sharing your story. The title of your book makes me laugh. It definitely helps sell the book.

On her blog, Robin Sullivan makes a case for not pricing at $0.99 (or free). Check out her two most recent posts.

Suzanne Adair

Joseph D'Agnese said...

Anxious to read this. It sounds like the first hard-to-peg, non-genre book I've heard about on this blog. Great story! Thanks, guys!


--Joe

wannabuy said...

Sam,

Congrats! Epic fail by the publishers is right. If this book were in the window of B&N...

I almost purchased this book this week... You just convinced me to do so. $2.99 vs. $0.99... yawn. Personally, a 2nd & 3rd book would make more of a difference. ;) (I'm stating I'm part of the market that isn't price sensitive on books that cheap.)

Do follow Joe's advice on working on the next books. Until you have 3+ books on Amazon you won't keep any momentum. Although, how to follow up on a book that took 3 years of effort...

What's happening this December adnd January with ebooks? Yea... I blog the AAP sales (still my latest post) and saw the jump last year. This year it is as if a switch was flipped and indie authors took off.

I could rattle off K3 sales (from chip purchases) of 5.3m in 4Q2010 and Amazon is buying chips for 4.5m in 1Q2011... But Indie market share seems to be exploding. What 'switch flipped.' Did Amazon change something in the 'people who bought this also bought' algorithm?

Neil

Sam said...

Re: Merrill-- I think what clicked is that somehow, enough people bought my book together with "Water for Elephants" that it showed up in the "customers also bought" section of the Elephants page. (This may have been helped by my tagging my book for association with Elephants, as both are set in the same period.)

PS-- I just did some research on the winners of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, and saw that Penguin prices those books at $12.00 for Kindle, so they're not selling. No doubt, winning that contest is a huge publicity boost for getting hardcopies into bookstores, but it's not good for Kindle sales.

Sam said...

That's another reason why jealousy of other authors is misguided, by the way-- When I first read "Water for Elephants," I was jealous that it had done so well, while its publisher had turned down my book, because I felt my book could appeal to a similar audience. Right now, I'm thrilled for Elephants' success, because it has ended up helping me! The rising tide lifts all books.

Another source of inspiration: when "Water for Elephants" first came out, Publisher's Weekly said that it would have less mass appeal than the author's previous book about horses. (Talk about epic fail... :-)

J. Viser said...

Great story. Would be interesting to know what made things "click." Great title - there's so much to work with!

After having Lie Merchants available as an ebook for just over two months, I've watched sales modestly rise. Month-to-date January sales have exceeded December and November.

More importantly, people who bought the ebook back in November and December are apparently finishing up their read. I just received a second review on Amazon.com, which the reader posted that the book was "entertaining." That's about the highest compliment I could hope to receive!

True validation is having a paying customer post on Amazon: "Lie Merchants is a fun but thought-provoking read with a timely subject manner and well developed characters."

Cheers and best of luck to us all.

www.LieMerchants.com

Gary Ponzo said...

Congrats Sam. We're all rooting for you. Many authors have received similar comments from publishers during the economic slowdown, "Good book, but you don't have a big enough platform to appease our marketing department. Best of luck."
Well in the immortal words of The Heavy, "How Do You Like Me Now."
Go gettem Sam.

Rabid Fox said...

This might be my favorite success story yet, out of all of the guest posts to be included on your blog, Joe.

Congrats to Sam. The book sounds charming as heck, and the back cover summary has me interested as a reader, that's for sure.

Hard to imagine how successful or not this book would have been had it gone through the traditional channels, but I guess that is a moot point now, ain't it? Sam's got a readership--and some income. Very nice.

JL_Bryan said...

I just want to say that book sounds really good!

STH said...

Beautiful post. Congratulations, Sam. Well deserved and so good to hear.

And Joe, adding his book description was perfect. I learned a lot from that. And Sam, thanks for the info laden follow-up comments. Author Central Dashboard. Got it.

And finally, what a title. I've seen such things "passed" before, in fact it's happened to me with a feature screenplay that happens to have an incredible title, but it always boggles my mind when marketing departments, or anybody who is in the business of selling books (or movies) can see something like "The Dirty Parts of the Bible" starring them right in the face and they don't see it. It's just incredible and it apparently happens all the time.

Great to see that it's working out so well for you Sam. Thanks for this post.
- Steve

Cathryn Grant said...

@gniz Nobody seems quite sure why. Some readers apparently are quite willing to pay more, and others not--so it may be luck of the draw in terms of which type of audience you have.

I have a theory about the $.99 vs $2.99 price. It’s based on a vast amount of research among my reader friends … readers who love genre fiction for its conventions, delivered with something fresh, read a lot of books, a book a day in some cases, and are attracted to the $.99 price point. Those who read longer books, not as fast, literary fiction, etc. are not as driven by price and for those readers $2.99 and I think $3.99 and $4.99 are considered very reasonable.

@Joseph D'Agnese
It sounds like the first hard-to-peg, non-genre book I've heard about on this blog.
Since I tend to fall in the genre-bending –blending category – suburban noir aka psychological suspense leaning toward thriller but without some of the conventions ;) -- I’m also inspired by your story, Sam. I like the slow start you describe, and I really appreciate your willingness to put all the ups and down out there. I’ve only been on Kindle etc. for a month with The Demise Of The Soccer Moms, and am trying to keep focused on the next novel rather than obsessively reloading my author central page.

gniz said...

"On her blog, Robin Sullivan makes a case for not pricing at $0.99 (or free)."

Just read those posts, thanks for sharing. Kind of makes me reconsider my previous statements. At the same time, I still have the example of the romance author who lost over 50% of her audience going from 99 cents to 2.99.

I don't know what the truth is, and suspect it's all about audience and also whether you've been able to truly establish "fans" of your work.

An E-Publisher's Manifesto

Karen McQuestion said...

Another great story, and one I could relate to! Congratulations, Sam and thanks for the comment about my name. Your book has an outstanding and memorable title. Now I'm off to buy it. :)

Rick said...

Here's something else Sam did right - this isn't really a genre I usually read in.

I want this book. Desperately.

Patricia Lynne said...

I'm glad I found this blog. With all I've been hearing and reading I am starting to wonder if maybe I should forgo traditional publishing and look more into self publishing. If my story is strong enough why not? I just need a good cover and description (which query letters are a good guide I think.)
Thanks.

Sam said...

Wow, Karen! Now I'm speechless from having heard from one of my new author-heroes.

I was living in southwest Wisconsin when I wrote most of the book by the way... When I saw the snowbound photos on your blog, it brought back pleasant memories--but also made me glad to be in a warmer climate now.

wannabuy said...

@Cathryn:"read a lot of books, a book a day in some cases"

I miss having that time. (To read a book a day.) ;)

I think the price has also to do with the age of the audience. 12 to 25 and 65+ will both watch their pennies. The 26 to 55 age range probably is willing to pay the most, but has the least time to read.

With B&N and Borders both clearing shelf space to sell books, lattes, and other 'non-book' items, 'midlist' authors really won't have much of a chance in pbooks. :(

Joe,
Thanks for sharing this book/author. It is an uplift.

Neil

Michael said...

It's a great title and a great cover. I don't know how it was eventually "discovered," but it's no surprise that it's selling now that it has been.

telly said...

Sam, how did you make the trailer? You mentioned iMac software. What about the video parts itself, is that all homemade? And since you're a book designer by trade, can I assume you made the cover yourself too? It looks great! Is that a stock photo you bought or did you take it? Sorry for all the questions, but I have much to learn from guys like you!

Jack Badelaire said...

Awesome story!

I also want to point out that this is further evidence that you don't need to be writing about vampires having sex with werewolves to self-publish an eBook and have it sell well - no snubs to the writers of paranormal romance, but people have made the argument before that only certain niche, popular genres will sell well on the eBook market.

While this book might have a little synergy going as was mentioned, it is still by no means a para-romance, crime thriller, or serial mystery novel.

Suzanne said...

gniz wrote:

Just read those posts, thanks for sharing. Kind of makes me reconsider my previous statements. At the same time, I still have the example of the romance author who lost over 50% of her audience going from 99 cents to 2.99.

I don't know what the truth is, and suspect it's all about audience and also whether you've been able to truly establish "fans" of your work.


Spot-on. Which strongly suggests that an author must make the effort to know his/her audience instead of throwing something out there and seeing whether it sticks.

Marketing 101. You cannot escape it, even in the digital age. :-)

Suzanne Adair

Sam said...

Thanks, Telly. My front cover photo was assembled in Photoshop from vintage items I photographed. The video trailer uses images from my collection, and quite a few copyright-free pics I just found through Google image search. (The girl at the end of the video is my grandmother, in the late 1930s. She helped inspire the character a bit.)

iMovie took a little figuring out, especially to get the timing right between the words and pictures (change the timing on one frame, and everything after shifts too). Yep, it gives me an advantage that I'm a designer, but I'm not a techie by any stretch.

Also, I had a nice USB microphone to record the voiceover, and used a 1930s jazz song (public domain, I hope) in the background.

Sam said...

PS-- I'm hope I'm not commenting too much, but-- one thing that annoyed me with the traditional publishing process is that they would only consider my manuscript when it was set in Courier font, plain, double spaced, etc, and they refused to even look at my cover design ideas, or the fun 30s illustrations I'd collected while writing the book.

Why Courier? They're still stuck in the typewriter age...

Kendall Swan said...

Sam,

Great story. And you, the guest blogger, cannot post too much.

I love that you designed the cover and video yourself. Bootstrap authorpreneurers. Woohoo!

@STH King's X Ep1 kept me up way too late last night. Starting Ep2 today. You are a wordsmith!

Cheers!
Kendall

jtplayer said...

Great story Sam.

You'll be happy to know I've purchased your book...in paperback, since I'm such a relic and can't seem to let go of the old ways ;-)

I noticed when I searched for the book on Amazon two different versions came up, one by Sammy Conner with a slightly different cover. I prefer the current cover version btw, much more...something. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it's got a little something extra that really speaks to me.

So good luck to you, and I look forward to reading your book.

Cathryn Grant said...

@wannabuy I think the price has also to do with the age of the audience. 12 to 25 and 65+ will both watch their pennies. The 26 to 55 age range probably is willing to pay the most, but has the least time to read.

Good point. Clearly I missed two segments in my "market research".

Stacey Cochran said...

What a great story. When you read a story like this (and thousands of others like it), you do have to wonder if traditional publishing kind of deserves to go bankrupt.

Kendall Swan said...

@anon/ec

re #5: Good title
I agree. In fact, I think that might even tie with good cover. With lots of tiny thumbnails on tiny screens, sometimes the title is the only frontline marketing going on, regardless of how wonderful the cover is.

Happy Writing!
Kendall

Sam said...

JTP-- thanks much! I put a lot of care into designing the paperback, so glad to hear that. I have it priced at the minimum level required to get it in CreateSpace's advanced distribution program.

The Sammy Conner version was my first attempt at self-publishing, under a pen name. Conner is the name of my Texas relatives, and I thought if my name sounded more southern or "country" it might help sell it. (Didn't help.)

jtplayer said...

So what about all of the books they get right?

Do they deserve to stay in business for that?

jtplayer said...

That's what I figured Sam.

For what it's worth, I think it works better with your real name. And the current cover is beyond perfect in my mind.

I want the book based on that alone.

Again, good luck to you!

J said...

Sam is this a literary fiction book?

There's Anthropology of an American Girl, which was picked up by harper collins (?? someone) this year and pubbed in hard cover, but she marketed the hell out of her self-pubbed work and got a cult-like following.

Just always curious where lit fiction fits into all of this.

Joe Konrath said...

So what about all of the books they get right?

Do they deserve to stay in business for that?


When one huge success pays for two hundred failures, I'd say no. That business model is awful, and they don't deserve to stay in business.

Watching ho the publishers of Potter, Twilight, and Dan Brown all wound up taking huge losses when those books sales slowed down is a big indicator that they aren't managing their money, or their acquisitions, correctly.

Watcher said...


@wannabuy I think the price has also to do with the age of the audience. 12 to 25 and 65+ will both watch their pennies. The 26 to 55 age range probably is willing to pay the most, but has the least time to read.

For what little anecdotal evidence is worth, I'm in that central bracket and it describes me perfectly.

Sam said...

J, it's not literary fiction as it has a nonrealistic, almost "fairy tale" plot.

The 3 books that inspired me most before writing were "Wise Blood" by Flannery O'Connor, "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd, and "Heaven's My Destination" by Thornton Wilder (a long-forgotten classic). All those books are part literary, part humor, part adventure, part southern, part philosophical, etc.

STH said...

@ Kendall Swan - Thank you. That means a lot and feels very good to hear.

J said...

Thanks, Sam. Hybrid literary counts. :) Am off to purchase. Your title alone probably would have gotten me there, fyi. Just an awesome, kick ass title.

Congrats!

jtplayer said...

"That business model is awful"

That may be true Joe, but it's a business model that has brought this reader well over 40 years of reading pleasure and satisfaction.

And I'm certainly not alone in that regard.

The constant bashing of traditional publishing gets tiresome and old, IMO, and the Monday morning quarterbacking and finger pointing based on a "told you so" form of self-righteousness is a drag.

billie said...

Really enjoyed the post and am heading over to check out your book!

Also, just saw this and am very glad my first two are now up on Amazon as e-books:

http://pubrants.blogspot.com/2011/01/great-contract-delay.html

Russell Brooks said...

Sam,

Thanks for the quick answer. 8 months before your book took off on Kindle. And you didn't do any publicity, WOW. Very Impressive.

Russell Brooks
Author of the International Spy Thriller, Pandora's Succession

Michael said...

In spite of the fact that the traditional industry has treated me like an abused spouse, alternatively promising love and then beating me mercilessly, I find myself hoping that it continues to survive. I want to be able to go into a bookstore in thirty years and pick a hunk of paper off a shelf, thumb through it, and know that it has been vetted and edited by professionals.

What I hope is that e-publishing and self-publishing can serve as an alternative in some cases, but that it won't become the only game in town.

And to prove that I'm suffering from schizophrenia, here's a gratuitous link to my book:

The Devil's Deep

Basil Sands said...

"bashing of traditional publishing gets tiresome and old"

I think the key thing is to remember there is a paradigm shift in the works. Where we are now i terms of both traditional and ebook/self-pubbing is not the end state. It is morphing and will continue to do so for a while yet. What shape this whole thing will take in the next year or two or ten is presently unknown.

So ride the rails as best you can now in whatever format you find it. Make money the best you can in whatever method it is available and realize it isn't going to last. There will be other changes that will take us in new directions we can't see now so take advantage of the ripe harvest while it is here.

Oh...and since it's all changing so fast, get out there and buy my ebooks too while I'm giving away free Kindles...cuz that won't last either.

www.basilsands.com

Lundeen Literary said...

@Sam - O_O

Thank you for your story! Congratulations!

I MUST read this book. MUST. It sounds beyond awesome! And fortunately, I have *just* enough Amazon credit to buy it! :D

Thanks also for your transparency on what you've done! We really appreciate the info. :)

@Patricia Lynne - If you really have worked like mad on your MS, vetted the piece, and believe in the story, there is absolutely no reason not to self-publish on Kindle. It can be undone with the click of a button if you change your mind. Keep going for a print deal, too, if you'd like. That's up to you. But now, it looks like not self-pubbing is just leaving cash on the table.

There are tons of folks with good advice here. Personally, I do covers and formatting as a business (in addition to writing), and I love helping other authors out - I want us all to be making money.

I remember reading somewhere that fewer people were making a living writing than were making a living playing professional baseball. I think we're turning that on its ear, and I want to keep going!

@Joe - re: huge blockbuster publishers:

I personally know an author who wrote some award-winning stuff who is getting jerked around by the work's publisher - this person's book is being kept "in print" by cunning use of POD and refusal to reread the contract about when rights revert back to this author. That publisher shouldn't be worrying about these particular book rights, unless they want to negotiate properly for e-rights. After all, they're sitting on Twilight money. Just goes to show that they will make a ton of money, blow it all, and then still screw the little guy. Sad, sad business. I gave this author a little advice, and it includes cunning use of an agent and an attorney... ;) The reverted rights should do quite well on Kindle.

RE: Pricing - I can't get a used book at a used book shop for under $3-4. $2.99 on Kindle works great for me! I'll check out some $.99 books, but I'm not as price-obsessed about it. I don't see the need to be. Paying the author decently still gets me more books to read, and I'm not a cheapskate when it comes to art. I'll pay for good stuff. If it sucks, I'll send it back. Easy enough, right?

Jenna Lundeen
@lundeenliterary
www.lundeenliterary.com

Word Verification: hydra - as in the many-headed publishing beast? XD

no-bull-steve said...

Congrats Sam!!!

We are living in miraculous times for writers. A year ago that lady published on her blog that her NYT Best Seller had earned her a mere $24k after taxes. I think most of us thought we'd never make a living as a writer for a while after that.

Today we're regularly hearing of "unknown" writers being discovered by READERS...and are making $10k a month or more. Will it continue? Who knows. Can it continue? Yep. In fact, we could be seeing just the tip of the iceberg....

My goal is to have 5 books on the market by the time eBooks capture 50% of books sold. I'd say that's 2, maybe 3 years out.

Stephen Prosapio
=================
Author, DREAM WAR

Carson Wilder said...

Very impressive, Sam. Best of luck to you.

Fran Yoakum Veal said...

$.99 vs. $2.99

I'm in the middle age category and while I buy at both price points, I'm more likely to read the $2.99 one first. I've got loads of $.99 ebooks I've not read yet.

Kendall Swan said...

Re: Google Books

Has anyone put their stuff on Google Books yet? I was thinking about setting that up soon but wanted to get some feedback first from any selfpubbers. Thoughts?

Kendall

Basil Sands said...

I put mine on Google Books at the beginning of the month and thus far have had 2 sales total, and about 150 "views" I don't know though if the site logs sales from people who click the link to go to my site, or amazon, B&N, etc.

So far I'm not impressed with it. But every outlet helps.

Rebecca Stroud said...

Sam - What an inspiration for those of us whose books aren't exploding with sales but are, instead, doing a slow burn.

Within a week or so, I'll have my fourth book uploaded. Then I'm going to go gangbusters on a marketing blitz using many of the tips I've so gratefully received on this blog (especially how to get reviews as I think that's one of my downfalls).

In any case, I'm very happy to be a small part of this indie revolution.

Devil's Moon
The Animal Advocate
Zellwood

Selena Kitt said...

@Sam - OMG that title! That title is perfection! Except that I was hoping it might actually be about the dirty parts of the bible, but that's where my mind goes, my bad! :)

------

One author I know (who has moved nearly 100,000 copies of all her ebooks) suffered a fairly dramatic drop in actual books sold when she shifted to 2.99. However she made the same amount of money as before (not more).


It works the opposite direction as well. I dropped the price of my $2.99 stories to $0.99 and I'm selling WAY more but making the same amount of money, due to the royalty percentage change.

That may be true Joe, but it's a business model that has brought this reader well over 40 years of reading pleasure and satisfaction.

Thank you, big publishing, may I have another?

This is like saying, "Oh Mr. Prison Guard, thank you so much for that bologna sandwich, I was so hungry and this just hits the spot!"

Who knew you could have been eating prime rib and lobster?

They've done a HORRIBLE job over the years, and you want to thank them for it? They've kept readers AND writers hostage.

I guess there is such a thing as Stockholm syndrome after all.

Re: Google Books - yep, we've got our books there. They discount, so be careful about your pricing. Once Amazon's spiders find those prices they will price-match.

So far, very minimal sales over there. But you never know when it will pick up. B&N is finally taking off. Maybe GB will too

jtplayer said...

"They've done a HORRIBLE job over the years, and you want to thank them for it? They've kept readers AND writers hostage"

Speak for yourself.

I have definitely not been held hostage by anyone, and have enjoyed a lifetime of excellent books that have entertained and enlightened and inspired me.

And for that, yes, I do thank them.

No Stockholm syndrome here. But keep trying to paint that picture, if that's what turns you on ;-)

Sam said...

Re: "That title is perfection! Except that I was hoping it might actually be about the dirty parts of the bible, but that's where my mind goes, my bad! :)"


Thanks, but what do you mean by that? Maybe you missed a word... (I've got to head out for a few hours, so might not see your reply soon.)

wannabuy said...

@JT"That may be true Joe, but it's a business model that has brought this reader well over 40 years of reading pleasure and satisfaction."

In general, those that read over 30 books per year were the ones frustrated by the 'lack of variety.' I hadn't realized how much I craved more variety until I started buying Indie on my Kindle.

Of course authors denied an audience (or publicity) wouldn't be happy. I've read 8 small pub/Indie ebooks that never would have made it into Borders this month. I hope to finish 4 more. I would have read a big6 novel... Alas, my pre-order from May 2010 is now expected in April despite being in Hardcover a year ago! (grr... I'm not lugging around an 800 page book.)

Another point: I never would have paid $13.99+ for the book being illustrated in this thread. For $2.99, I'm going to give it and the genre a try. Low cost ebooks have driven me to 'buy and try' quite a bit more than I would have otherwise.

@No Bull Steve:"My goal is to have 5 books on the market by the time eBooks capture 50% of books sold. I'd say that's 2, maybe 3 years out."
3 years at a minimum. It will take a sub $80 ereader and hordes of tablets to reach 50%.

There simply isn't the 'factory space' for the devices much before then. :( Until Samsung, TSMC, and TI ramp up ARM CPU production, we have little growth room for ereaders and tablets. All three companies will grow tremendously in 2011 and 2012 though... Note: TI supplies both Kindle and Nook CPUs. Samsung is trying to get into the market as well as Marvell, Via, and other TSMC customers.

We also have to wait for those new screen factories in Taiwan, Wuhan, and Chungdu to ramp up. Ereaders, tablets, and cell phones will all drive growth (in declining order). It takes time to ramp up production...

To others: Amanda Hocking is now #2 on Kindle! Wow... Behind 'The Executioners Daughter' which is a fun read. (I'm 1/2 way through it.)

Neil

The Russell Family said...

What a great post and success story!

jtplayer said...

This is like saying, "Oh Mr. Prison Guard, thank you so much for that bologna sandwich, I was so hungry and this just hits the spot!"

Who knew you could have been eating prime rib and lobster?



Well gosh...I had no idea it was like that.

Let me put down this James Lee Burke I was about to start and instead download the latest paranormal romance by Suzy Homemaker.

You know, the one with the bitchin' cover of some ripped stud and half naked vampire chick?

Damn, that prime rib sure is tasty.

Selena Kitt said...

Well gosh...I had no idea it was like that.

*yawn*

Bothered you so much you had to respond twice, huh?

Truth hurts. *shrug*

jtplayer said...

"Another point: I never would have paid $13.99+ for the book being illustrated in this thread. For $2.99, I'm going to give it and the genre a try. Low cost ebooks have driven me to 'buy and try' quite a bit more than I would have otherwise"

That's where we differ. I have no problem paying that much for a book that piques my interest.

Btw...Sam's book is $10.99. It looks to be a beautifully made paperback, and I look forward to reading it.

As far as variety goes, or lack of it, you've made that point here repeatedly, and I've never quite understood where you're coming from.

Maybe it's a genre thing, and the ones you prefer have no variety. For me, it has honestly never been an issue.

jtplayer said...

Yawn indeed.

As for truth...clearly you speak only for yourself. As do the rest of us.

But keep trying with the humor.

Selena Kitt said...

As far as variety goes, or lack of it, you've made that point here repeatedly, and I've never quite understood where you're coming from.

Maybe it's a genre thing, and the ones you prefer have no variety. For me, it has honestly never been an issue.



Then you are big publishing's perfect audience and utterly myopic in your viewpoint.

But you won't see that. Go figure.

Kendall Swan said...

re: price

I read more books and spend less for said books than I did 3 years ago.

re: variety

Even if you don't notice a difference, think about who the power lies with:

then: a very few overworked editor's assistants

now: millions of readers.

There is no more 'tastemaker' class. It is democratic now.
Everything can be available now for a reader to choose from. There will always be bestsellers and categories but the reader can dig deep and keep digging and searching if they want. It's a beautiful thing, imho.

Kendall

jtplayer said...

"Then you are big publishing's perfect audience and utterly myopic in your viewpoint"

Well I guess I missed the part where it says Selena's viewpoint is the only valid one.

If it turns you on to label me myopic, go for it lady.

Selena Kitt said...

Even if you don't notice a difference, think about who the power lies with...

Exactly.

Well I guess I missed the part where it says Selena's viewpoint is the only valid one.

It's not. But your lack of ability to see someone else's POV makes you myopic. JT: "I've never understood where you're coming from."

I completely see and understand your POV - as I said, you're big publishing's perfect audience. You've clearly stated that you're perfectly happy with the job they've done for you so far.

I also know that my own POV is actually just a POV. I'm wearing a pair of glasses I see the world through, just like everyone else.

But I know I'm wearing them.

Jeanne Tomlin said...

That is a great blurb! It just sold a book. :)

Basil Sands said...

Through my glasses the world looks pretty spiffy all around. So I'll make my dough from where I sit and have fun soaking in the pleasant rays of toast and inhaling the delicious scent of the colour nine.

Take the path you think is right, and enjoy the journey because that's where the pleasure is. Whichever direction you head doesn't matter, cuz there's a sniper laid up a thousand meters away with his cross hairs on you...just waiting for his time in the sun.

Jeanne Tomlin said...

jtplater said: Let me put down this James Lee Burke I was about to start and instead download the latest paranormal romance by Suzy Homemaker.

You know, the one with the bitchin' cover of some ripped stud and half naked vampire chick?

Damn, that prime rib sure is tasty.


Now other than the fact that I don't consider sexism to be an attractive trait, maybe I am in the mood for fish and chips.

I don't have to take what some prison guard hands me. I can make my own choices. And whether Burke is prime rib or an overcooked filet mignon topped with a lot of purple flowers.

Stick with the Big Six if that lights your fire or feeds your tummy. I, personally, am happy with being able to choose and offer from more diversity.

jtplayer said...

This is what I said:

"I've never quite understood where you're coming from."

And I don't, because my life experience purchasing books has been different than his.

And for this you say I'm myopic?

Talk about *shrug*

I never said Neil was wrong in his viewpoint, or that there absolutely is variety for everyone, and I conceded that maybe it has to do with the genres we like to read.

I was merely speaking for myself, and there was nothing "myopic" in what I wrote.

Ellen Fisher said...

"instead download the latest paranormal romance by Suzy Homemaker."

Stereotype much? The "all romance writers are sexually frustrated housewives" cliche has been around since the seventies. It hasn't grown any less insulting, or less sexist, with use. (You'll notice thriller writers are never described as sexually frustrated househusbands.)

bowerbird said...

sam said:
> How to sum of the years of
> disappointment and bitterness
> trying to get
> traditionally published?
> I spent 3 years writing and
> honing the book, and it was
> the most satisfying creative
> project I'd ever worked on.
> The 2 years that followed,
> trying to sell the manuscript,
> were like tossing my heart
> into a meat grinder.

now, now, that pain is over.
best to put it behind you...

***

sam said:
> A couple nights ago,
> between 10 pm and 6 am,
> it sold 99 copies at 99 cents.
>
> Last night, between 10 and 6,
> it sold 80 copies at $2.99.
>
> So, 10 copies less, but
> much higher revenue.

you can't judge the numbers on
such a constricted time-frame...

you won't even be able to
judge the effect of your
price-raise until _march_,
by which time the rising tide
will wash out the effect anyway.
(at least, let's _hope_ that's so.)

some e-book buyers have to
return to a book many times
before they'll make the buy...

and that's not unusual...
marketeers tell us that it
can take as many as 6-8
exposures to sell a product.

the first time they might just
come because they hear about
the book and have curiosity...
they'll read the description
and look at the star-ratings.

the next time they might
actually read all the blurbs.

the next time, the reviews...

the next time they'll actually
grab the sample. then later,
after they've read the sample,
which might be much later,
they might come back again,
just to review everything...

and then, after all of these
visits, and perhaps more
word-of-mouth, or maybe
encountering the book as
an amazon recommendation,
they'll actually come and buy.

if, when they come to buy,
they find the price has been
raised from $.99 to $2.99,
it probably won't make that
much of a difference, since
they were already reeled in
by the $.99 price on their
earlier visits, and they had
already decided. but if that
$2.99 price had been there
from the start, maybe they
would _not_ get reeled in...

right now, your customers
were reeled in by the $.99.
and $2.99 is not so much
more that they will balk...

so let's see how many
customers you reel in
with the $2.99 price...

but you're lucky, because
you got your big jump to
5,500+ per month, which
means you have momentum.

let's just hope that you
didn't stilt that momentum
too much with the raise...

you need to understand
that i think you _should_
have a $2.99 price-tag.
eventually. because the
35% royalty on everything
under $2.99 is a _joke_...
amazon takes too much.
it's not fair. so i do think
you should have raised
your prices from $.99...

but i don't think you
did it at the right time.

either you shoulda had it
priced at $2.99 all along,
in which case we can all
be pretty sure that you
would _not_ have gotten
that fantastic jump from
300 buyers in december
to 5,500+ in january...

or you should have left
the price at $.99, until
your sales started to
level off, or got up to
25,000-monthly levels,
where the difference in
the royalty rates starts
to mean big differences
in the cash you receive.

but to raise the price
when your sales-curve
is experiencing a surge
in its acceleration is,
i think, a big mistake,
because it will probably
hurt your momentum...

when you are having
a momentum period,
just ride the thing out.

-bowerbird

Selena Kitt said...

(You'll notice thriller writers are never described as sexually frustrated househusbands.)

Or thriller readers for that matter.

Basil Sands said...

You'll notice thriller writers are never described as sexually frustrated househusbands.

Well....my wife has mentioned that she prefers me to write late into the night...that way I "bother" her often...

jtplayer said...

"Stick with the Big Six if that lights your fire or feeds your tummy. I, personally, am happy with being able to choose and offer from more diversity"

I'm not "sticking" with anyone. I go where my interests lead me. If it's an indie pubbed ebook, terrific.

Likewise, if it's a traditionally published book that turns me on, I'll buy it.

I didn't hesitate to buy Sam's book once I read about it and sampled some of the writing. It doesn't matter to me who publishes the thing.

I chose paperback because that's the format I prefer. Likewise, if an ebook was the only choice available, I would have purchased it anyway and read it on my imac or iphone.

Basil Sands said...

Uh...less often....

She prefers less often....

jtplayer said...

"Stereotype much?"

No, I don't.

But in the context of my exchange with Selena that was the way I chose to frame my comments.

Btw...the cliche you refer to wasn't in my mind when I wrote my comments. I wasn't even aware it existed. But now I know.

wannabuy said...

@JT"As far as variety goes, or lack of it, you've made that point here repeatedly, and I've never quite understood where you're coming from. "

How many books do you read a year? Survey after survey shows that half of those that read 30 or more books per year were dissatisfied with the selection in book stores. Hence, how Amazon started their business (variety not found locally). Which means half of the 'intense readers' are happy at the selection in bookstores.

Some readers are happy with the 800 book selection at Target. Since I read only 2 or 3 best sellers a year, Target *rarely* stock a book that interests me. When Borders stocked 150k titles per store, I was happy with the selection. But the local Borders dropped below 75k titles over a decade ago. Much of the cutting was in the book variety geared towards younger men and women. SF&F was cut by 2/3rds :( History by 2/3rds... Romance by half. I like the larger coffee shop and childrens books section, but it was at the expense of age 25 to 55 reading selection.

Part of how Borders and B&N killed off Crown books was by offering more tiles. In their 'Hayday', the titles per store:
Borders: 100k to 150k
B&N: 35k to 50k
Crown: 15k to 25k
Indie: < 10k

Today:
Borders: 45k to 100k (there are still a few 'flagship' stores)
B&N: 15k to 35k
Indie: < 10k

Readers craving variety drove the chain bookstore growth. Readers craving variety are driving ebook growth.

For the record, I'll spend $20 for a book (heck, I've spent over $100). I just won't spend $10 for a book I'm not certain I'll love or a book outside of my favorite genres anymore. Today I have a $19 ebook on pre-order.

It doesn't matter if you get where I'm coming from. What matters is that half of the 'intense readers' want more variety. That's 35% of the book market... :) I wonder how those surveys will look as B&N and Borders dedicate more and more floor space to toys and other junk.

Neil

Selena Kitt said...

Well....my wife has mentioned that she prefers me to write late into the night...that way I "bother" her often...

see, I don't mind if my husband bothers me often in the middle of the night...

But he's not writing.

*grin*

(Sorry, couldn't resist the lure of the typo.) :D

Selena Kitt said...

Uh...less often....

She prefers less often....


No. No. Biting tongue.
Must resist.
Must. Resist.

Ellen Fisher said...

"Btw...the cliche you refer to wasn't in my mind when I wrote my comments. I wasn't even aware it existed. But now I know."

Put it this way... why suggest a woman writing and uploading indie romances (or any book) is a homemaker? Would you ever describe a male thriller writer as "Tom Homemaker"?

'Nuff said, and I'll shut up now lest I derail the thread. Just something to think about:-).

Sam, I never said thanks for your guest post. Thank you. These are always fascinating post to read:-).

Basil Sands said...

When I'm not writing, performing audiobooks, scouting with my kids or "bothering" my wife I am reading.

Lucky for her, ebooks have made a way for me to read more than I ever have because I can afford more books, and always have them with me in my Android.

Me sekshooly frutraytid thrilr ritr cayv man, eezily pleezd, eezily intrtaynd, cheepskayt...dunno hoo Burke iz...me lyk eebookz

STH said...

"Even if you don't notice a difference, think about who the power lies with:

then: a very few overworked editor's assistants

now: millions of readers."

@ Kendall, Selena, and others in the "suddenly variety" conversation,

I have a recent blog post about this very notion. It's about the inevitable homogenization of art as an effect of big corporate commerce, and the sudden blast of variety we are seeing in publishing. If anyone is interested it is right here... ­ Got Books?/...

Kendall Swan said...

@basil
audiobook performance? Just your own or others.

re: Suzy Homemaker

Really?

You may not have been consciously aware of any sexism going on, but it's there. In your brain. Affecting your word choice.

Kendall

jtplayer said...

I read on average maybe 80-100 books a year, divided between both fiction and non-fiction.

I understand what you're saying about the selection found at places like Target and Walmart, and to a lesser degree Borders and B&N.

But when I factor in purchasing over the Internet at places like Amazon and Alibris, and the used bookstores in my area, I have never experienced a problem finding something that turns me on.

I will admit that the genres I like are the ones more fully stocked at the brick & mortars. I'm sure that's where the difference lies.

Basil Sands said...

@Kendall
audiobook performance? Just your own or others.

---
Both...

mine are podcasted as well as a series of shorts for the authors at killzone.blogspot.com. Recently got hired to do for others as well, a trend I expect to continue.

Anyone here who is interested in hiring a narrator lemme know!

jeroen ten berge said...

Very inspiring story Sam - I absolutely love your cover! Just bought the paperbacks on Amazon, and look forward to reading your novel. And Joe - thanks for being so diligent with your blog. It must take mountains of time and it shows - I love it.

jtplayer said...

re: Suzy Homemaker

Really?



Yeah...really.

Selena Kitt said...

Anyone here who is interested in hiring a narrator lemme know!

Email me.

Seriously.

wannabuy said...

@JT"I will admit that the genres I like are the ones more fully stocked at the brick & mortars. I'm sure that's where the difference lies."

Lucky you. My favorite genres hit their 'hayday' between 1955 and 1975. Since then, established authors have served as an 'old guard' ensuring that the new authors are 'up to snuff.' Well... I hapen to like the new stuff that didn't make it through.

I also like to read stuff that is tough to find in used book stores. Some are now 'collectors items' that cost far too much to actually read. As a father, I can no longer justify spending $100 on a novel as I did in the past...

I also want to read out of print MMPBs. Sadly, since those books only last 7 to 12 years (due to the acid in the paper), there is no way to buy them used.

One last thing, as was discussed here, SF&F (as well as romance) have covers many readers don't want to show in public. (Why those covers?!?) Ereaders are nice there.

Also, 70% of the population do not consider reading 'doing something.' On a plane, having an electronic device keeps the bored saleman from bothering me. :) I used to be disturbed far too much when reading on mass transit/planes. Now if someone bothers me it is to ask about the Kindle... or hit on me. ;)

@Basil:"Lucky for her, ebooks have made a way for me to read more than I ever have because I can afford more books,"
Lucky for me, ebooks stopped the 'book clutter.' My wife didn't understand the *need* for 20 books 'in process.'

There are a dozen other reasons I prefer an ereader (e.g., no longer lugging around a 800+ page Robert Jordan novel). Since I usually have multiple books I'm reading, it is nice to carry them all around. :)

Neil

Kendall Swan said...

@wannabuy

It is so nice to not have to carry diff books around or commit to one if you don't.

I tell people who ask about my kindle that is changes the way you read the way the ipod/mp3 player changed the way we listen to music.

Kendall

bowerbird said...

gniz said:
> One author I know
> ...
> suffered a fairly dramatic
> drop in actual books sold
> when she shifted to 2.99.
> However she made the same
> amount of money as before
> (not more).
>
> Nobody seems quite sure why.

nobody seems quite sure why?

oh please... there are a million
economists who can tell us why.

it's called a price-demand curve.
find it in any econ 101 textbook.
or, you know, it's on wikipedia...

indeed, it's such a strong effect
that it's also known by the name
"the law of demand"... yes sir,
they actually call this _a_law_...

i'm surprised many people here
seem never to have heard of it.

***

wannabuy said:
> $2.99 vs. $0.99... yawn. P
> (I'm stating I'm part of
> the market that isn't
> price sensitive on
> books that cheap.)

yes, but you "wanna buy"... :+)

other people might be more
reluctant to part with the cash.

seriously, i totally understand
the difference between $.99
and $2.99 is small for a book
you know you want to buy...

but what about, say, 10 books,
which you _might_ want to buy.

at $.99 each, that's 10 bucks.
probably still an impulse buy.

but at $2.99 each, 10 are $30,
and you're gonna stop to think.

now how 'bout, oh, _100_ books.

at $.99 for each, that's $100.
ok, that might be your budget
for books for a couple months.

but at $2.99 each, it's $300,
so you'd blow your budget...

so if your budget is just $100,
that means you can only buy
_33_ of those $2.99 books,
not the whole batch of 100...

now if you're an author who
is selling one of the lucky 33,
you're ok with that, i'm sure.

but what if you're one of the
authors of the unlucky 67?
you just made a pricing error.

and even more to the point,
i think the person with that
$100 budget will decide to
buy 100 books at $.99 each,
instead of 33 at $2.99 each.
especially the heavy readers.
(and kindle owners _are_.)

the 100 cheapies require no
sorting or selection. just buy.
if you've decided that it'll be
worth your time to read it,
it's obviously worth a buck.
no more analysis necessary.

but if you decide to go with
33 books at $2.99, you have
to do research to pick which.
they're all pretty good, or you
wouldn't have decided to pay
$2.99 for them, but now you
have to decide which of them
is worth more than 2 others.
and that's a pain in the butt.

it's not as if your budget will
_grow_ just because you want
to purchase more costly books.

$.99 e-books are _impulse_
buys... knee-jerk purchases...
but when a person has shot
their wad on $.99 e-books,
they have nothing left to buy
any of your $2.99 e-books...

if it boils down to one book,
$2.99 vs. $.99, machts nicht.

but it rarely boils down to
one book for kindle people.
kindle people buy _lots_ of
books. lots and lots and lots.

and commenters here are
_counting_ on that tendency
when they recommend that
you upload several books,
because of repeat-purchases.
if you find an author you like,
are you more willing to pay
$10 for their 10 books or
$30 for their 10 books?
maybe they'll have to decide
just how much they like you.
and if they just spent $30
for the 10 books from some
_other_ author, are they
gonna have any money
left over to buy _yours_?

again, i will repeat, because
it seems i cannot repeat it
enough times for people to
have it sink into their skulls,
but i do indeed recommend
that authors price their books
at $2.99, so they can get the
70% royalty instead of 35%...

but you're gonna sell more
copies of your book at $.99.
probably 5 times as many...
that's why they call it a law.

-bowerbird

jtplayer said...

"e.g., no longer lugging around a 800+ page Robert Jordan novel"

I hear that.

As much as I love my paper books, at over 1,000 pages my hardcover copy of Under The Dome was a bitch to carry around, and near impossible to hold while lying down to read.

Luckily, most books I read are in the 300-450 page range.

I've teetered on the verge of purchasing a Kindle many times in the last few months. I'm sure one of these days I'll go through with it ;-)

wannabuy said...

@Kendall:"I tell people who ask about my kindle that is changes the way you read the way the ipod/mp3 player changed the way we listen to music. "

I'm going to borrow that line. :)

@JT:"I've teetered on the verge of purchasing a Kindle many times in the last few months. I'm sure one of these days I'll go through with it ;-)"

Come over to the dark side. The water is warm. ;)

Seriously, what pushed me to a Kindle was a series of business trips where I was just 'done' lugging books to a town where the book stores closed before I was off work. (long shifts) :( The 'variety thing' didn't happen until a half year later. :)

Supposidly Kindle owners typically do half their reading on paper. That was true for me Kindle year #1(2009).

For Kindle Year #2(2010): 20 pbooks out of 126 (call it 20%).

In Kindle year #3(2011), one pbook to 8 ebooks so far.

I expect that 10% to 20% pbooks of total reads will hold true for a few years (for me). Longer books are now all ebook for reasons already noted. I'm given ~20/year that interest me. :)

Neil

Shana Lynn said...

Sam, this is an amazing success story!

I'm so happy for you.

What an exciting age we indie authors are living (and writing) in!

And now I'm off to buy your book...

Shana Hammaker
CHARLIE, Book One
Twelve Terrifying Tales for 2011

Lundeen Literary said...

@Neil - Kudos to you for being so patient with your wife. ;) I wouldn't tolerate someone who doesn't like me reading lots of books. Been there once, not going back. Great thing about the Kindle is the lack of new book "clutter" isn't it? I love books, but my allergies, wallet, and lack of storage space decidedly do NOT.

@Variety/price conversation in general

The ebook revolution has given me so much more book access that I ever had. I've always been, well, poor. I became an avid re-reader early in life because I never could get enough books. I credit Anne McCaffrey with single-handedly preventing my suicide as a pre-teen, mainly because I found 2 of her books and I reread them the entire summer. (that was the worst year of my life, hands down. At least things have looked up since I was 11.)

I can buy all sorts of books now, and for inexpensive prices. Free books abound as promos from the NY publishers and from individual authors. I do not hurt for reading material, especially when you add my librarian husband on top of it all.

Best thing: SO much lighter to carry. I now no longer need an inconveniently large bookcase in which to carry around Harry Potter...


@Selena - I have a writing exercise I do daily to warm up. I have 2 characters I've known and loved for years, and I write their first time together in a different way. It might take 3 days to write a whole new scene, then I start another. I use it to stretch my brain, to think of the exact same 2 people in different ways and situations for the exact same point in their lives together. These won't ever be published or read by anyone, but these vignettes do their job to get the writing juices flowing. They do, however, get other things flowing, too, and my hubby gets the benefit! XD


Jenna
@LundeenLiterary
www.lundeenliterary.com

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

First, thanks to everybody on here--I think you helped boost my sales today. So these results are perhaps skewed, but here are totals for the first 27 hours after (and before) raising the price:

530 copies sold in 27 hours at $2.99

680 copies sold in previous 27 hours at $0.99.

I'm not good enough at math to tell you the percentage decrease in copies offhand. But the royalties earned have gone up fivefold. As somebody said, will take some time to see if it hold up, but--whew.

Thanks again... and to Joe, for all the advice on this blog.

Jill James said...

Off to buy Sam's book. Amazing story.

-Suzy Homemaker, the romance author

Michael said...

Wow, that's a lot of books. I sold two today. :)

On the other hand, I got my first review, and it wasn't even my mother.

The Devil's Deep

Tara Maya said...

It's great to get your first review, isn't it?

Tara Maya
500 Words

Eric said...

Sam, thank you. Your story is priceless.

Joe, thank you for giving away so much information. I'm inspired by the success stories you are sharing. I bought your publishing guide on Amazon, rather than download the free version, to try and repay you in some small way. I'm working on a self-help book. Any examples of authors in that or other nonfiction genres that have taken your path?

Best regards, Eric Mosley

Tara Maya said...

Honestly, I would think nonficiton is a wide open market. Readers buy more nonfiction than fiction, and nonficiton books are even more overpriced than fiction. It's a field ripe for plucking, I'd wager.

Tara Maya
500 Words

Basil Sands said...

I need to figure out how to grab these consistent numbers like you guys are getting.

I had a hundred a day for a few days two weeks ago then stumbled back down to 10 a day since.Got good reviews, but just not slamming those sales at the moment...frustrating. I keep waiting to see it pick up and stay picked up.

Any advice Sam or Joe...or others?

Maybe I'm holding my mouth wrong. Or maybe the naked rain dance is scaring people away.

www.basilsands.com

Debbi said...

Sam, that is the most awesome story. Ever.

wannabuy said...

Sam,
Thanks for the revenue numbers. I'm glad to see the 5X income rise! (Well, pre-tax...)

We readers want affordable books; we also want our authors well paid (so they crank out more!).

@Lundeen:"Great thing about the Kindle is the lack of new book "clutter" isn't it?

Yep! As to the wife... let's say it's a good think I had a Kindle shortly after child #1. ;)

Further you said:
"Best thing: SO much lighter to carry. I now no longer need an inconveniently large bookcase in which to carry around Harry Potter..."

Lol. I had to donate my entire Harry Potter collection prior to a move. Well, that and *dozens* of other boxes full of books. It wasn't worth the cost of transport. That hurt though (it was pre-Kindle).

As to Anne McCaffrey, that is a good choice of 'hero.'

@Tara:"It's great to get your first review, isn't it?"

:) :) :) :) ;)

(Ok, only one one of your books...)

Neil

wannabuy said...

@Tara:"Readers buy more nonfiction than fiction"

I want to comment that nonfiction on Kindle has... catching up to do. Some is the Amazon search just isn't as 'efficient' for me finding history or economics books (unless I already know the title, of course).

Or, as you point out, prices are *crazy*. I'm not paying $85+ for an unrated naval history ebook!

The detailed analysis of pre-WW1 German navy strategy sounds interesting. Alas, I'll put my $144 somewhere else... ;)

And because I couldn't believe my own eyes when I saw this $144 history ebook, the link:
http://www.amazon.com/German-Naval-Strategy-1856-1888-ebook/dp/B000OT7WVW/ref=sr_1_39?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1296283132&sr=1-39

I note few ebooks priced above $50 have reviews...

Neil

peter said...

Congrats on your success!

Your process sounds all too familiar. I spent four years writing and honing my novel The Warhol Gang and then going through the submission process. I was lucky enough to score a deal with HarperCollins, but trust me when I say it's just as much of a meat grinder on the other side. No complaints about my editors -- they were top-notch -- but the business…. ye gods, the insanity of it all. No one cares about your book like you do. If you can make a go of it on your own, then power to you! That's why I just self-pubbed a backlist book on Kindle rather than try to shop it around once more. I just couldn't go through that madness again.

I'm off to check out your book now! How could people pass on a title like that…?

Peter Darbyshire on Kindle

Tara Maya said...

Neil,

About reviews.... :D

About overpriced nonfiction: Grrrrrrrrr!

I know, are you fkm? $90 for a 60,000 word book? Dude, I respect your research, but I'm an academic too and it really ain't worth that. Sorry. Besides, maybe the author, despite being an academic, might actually like to SELL a few books, to someone besides those three subscribing libraries in London, Tuscany and Liechenstein. STOP SELLING TO LIBRARIES AND SELL TO PEOPLE!

Sorry. Rant mode. This is a sore tooth in my mouth right now. There are so many books -- and journal articles -- I would buy for my kindle right now if they were even REMOTELY reasonably priced.

For instance, I would pay $10-$19 for an academic nonficion ebook whereas I would not for a novel. Over $20 and I am heading to the library. And $50 to $150? You must be a raving lunatic. Or conducting a psych experiement to see if I am one.

But academics can't defect from the university presses like indie novelists. Unlike with fiction, the validation of an acedemic press actually *matters* to whether the book can be cited. So I don't know what to do about that, especially since university presses are really doing poorly now.

Tara Maya
The Unfinished Song: Initiate

Sam said...

To Peter:

Why isn't HarperCollinsCanada selling "Warhol Gang" on Amazon US? Yikes, I can guess that's part of your frustration. (They did design a great cover.)

"Please" looks like it has a lot of potential for Kindle (one drawback--the title alone doesn't tell much about the book).

I noticed the first edition of "Please" has great reader reviews. You can e-mail Amazon and get them to link your Kindle version, so that both sales pages will include the same reviews.

Sam said...

PS to Peter: maybe just adding a descriptive subtitle for "Please" would help...something like a movie tagline.

It's hard to beat what Booklist said-- "A Novel of Dark Brilliance"

Ruth Harris said...

@wannabuy

re: non-fiction
Neil, I hope I'm not being out of line but my DH, Michael Harris has made THE ATOMIC TIMES -- http://amzn.to/TheAtomicTimes --
available on Kindle. As a young soldier, Michael was sent to "observe" the US H-bomb tests at the Pacific Proving Ground and TAT is his story about that experience. Sad, tragic, raunchy, hilarious at times and deadly, the book has been praised by Henry Kissinger and Robert Parker & lots of readers in between.

Since you mention "military," I thought you might be interested.

Ruth Harris said...

@ wannabuy

PS: Duh, I forgot to mention that THE ATOMIC TIMES was originally published in hard cover by Presidio/Ballantine, a division of Random House. Now $2.99 in e-version.

Too early! Need some caffeine...

wannabuy said...

Sam,
I just made good my promise to buy your book! (Too much blogging...) ;)

Ruth,
Interesting book! Sold! (Or should I say bought...)

I have no idea why, but finding good history on Amazon is far tougher (for me) than finding good novels... grrr...

@Tara,
I'm with you on buying non-fic and journal articles at *reasonable* prices. To 'satisfy' my interests would cost $3k to $5k per year! I'd have to give up coffee and eating out for that! Neither of those would make a happy Neil...

@Ruth: "Need some caffeine..."

On cup #4. :) And I recently finished my yearly 'two weeks without caffeine' to pretend to appease my doctor... ;)

Neil

peter said...

Sam:

I've got no real complaints about HarperCollins. I was lucky enough to work with some really great people there, and they did a lot for me. Although my publicist did quit the week the book came out. I like to think it had nothing to do with me or the book….

It's more the whole archaic nature of the business that drives me nuts. You can't buy The Warhol Gang in the U.S. yet because my agent is working on selling the U.S. rights. Which means sending it someone to look at for six months, and then they ask for changes, which is another three months, and then if they buy it, it's another 18 months before publication…. (I know another writer who sold rights all over internationally, but he had to produce different editions for each country. He went a little mad.) And giving up control of your work, that's tough. There's got to be a better way. (A familiar complaint, I know.)

I just didn't want to go through that again with Please, not while I'm still going through it with TWG. That's why the whole Kindle revolution, and communities like this, are so encouraging.

I hope you continue to kick ass. Success like yours is a great thing for readers and writers alike!

Thanks for the tip re adding reader reviews to the Kindle edition. I'm off to request that now.

Keep on writing!

Peter Darbyshire on Kindle

noothergods said...

That is really cool, I love the title. Anyone have any suggestions on the best ways to get professional reviews for an unknown book from an unknown writer? I've been looking around at some book review blogs but most of them talk about taking months, or years, to get around to reading a novel.

Shelia Huggins said...

Sam said:
First, thanks to everybody on here--I think you helped boost my sales today. So these results are perhaps skewed, but here are totals for the first 27 hours after (and before) raising the price:

530 copies sold in 27 hours at $2.99

680 copies sold in previous 27 hours at $0.99.

I'm not good enough at math to tell you the percentage decrease in copies offhand. But the royalties earned have gone up fivefold. As somebody said, will take some time to see if it hold up, but--whew.
--------

Sam, it's a drop of 150 books, equal to about 22.06%. But whose counting the books when you can count the money. It just depends on what you want.

Shelia Huggins
www.peelingcheek.wordpress.com

Lundeen Literary said...

@Neil

I feel you on the pain of losing books for a move - I moved from Atlanta to Los Angeles about 4.5 years ago, and we cut heavily. We still moved about 400 pounds of books, though! When we got our kindles, we sold 80% of our books at a yard sale 2 weeks later. We just moved back to Atlanta, and sold even more books off. Somehow still managed to move with 500 pounds of books, though.. But the move was much lighter with the Kindles! XD

Jenna
@lundeenliterary

bowerbird said...

shelia said:
> whose counting the books

no, hu is the president of china.

(doncha hate it when _writers_
screw up the language? i mean,
screwing up on math is kind of
_expected_, but _language_?
that's supposedly their forte.)


> whose counting
> the books
> when you can
> count the money.

hu is counting the money...
hu is the president of china.

do you know how china
_got_ all of the money?

low prices.

from "the gambler", sung by
kenny rogers, by don schlitz:
> You got to know
> when to hold'em,
> know when to
> fold'em,
> Know when to
> walk away,
> and know
> when to run.
> You never
> count your money,
> when you're
> sitting at the table.
> There'll be time
> enough for counting,
> when the
> dealing's done.

time enough for counting...

-bowerbird

bowerbird said...

but, seriously, sam, if you went
from 300 sales in december to
_five_thousand_plus_ this month,
i'd image you were keeping track
every single day of this month,
if only out of sheer amazement...

so how about sharing the rise?

if you gave us the number for
every day, we could chart your
path and project into the future.

that would be far more useful
than sampling a chunk from
every now and then to view...

what say you?

-bowerbird

Basil Sands said...

if you gave us the number for
every day, we could chart your
path and project into the future.


Or, make a link that sends every buyer of your book instantly buys mine too...then I can just keep track of the details from there...

yeah...that'd work jsut fine


In seriousness though, you seem to have hit upon what I imagine is a primary manner by which indie-ebooks grow. Slowly at first with little or no public knowledge of the author, then a few buy it and start talking about it, then a few more take a look and leave comments, and then it exponentially grows from there. This month's 10 sales tell five friends each, next months 30 sales do the same, the following months 150 sales do the same then suddenly you're at 5000, then 10k, 20k etc until saturation. By that time make sure to have another book on the market and you'll start off a lot higher out of the gate as long as they like your stuff.

I started a couple months behind you, and this month have hit 600 books sold, therefore if all things hold to this concept hope to hit 3000 plus next month. God willing it will. We'll see what happens.

Basil
www.basilsands.com

bowerbird said...

the best set of numbers,
because he hasn't diddled
with his prices, except his
increase to $2.99 for 70%,
are joe's totals, either daily
(if he has them) or monthly.

but really, anyone's figures,
provided they are complete
or at the very least regular,
would be very informative...

i mean, seriously, if you
are going to be obsessive,
do it in a way that will
help you to be smarter,
not in a way that only
increases your neuroses...

-bowerbird

evilphilip said...

"A year ago that lady published on her blog that her NYT Best Seller had earned her a mere $24k after taxes."

I would like to add that the entire story about a NYT Best Seller who earned only $24k is a pile of horse manure stacked up as high as your eyeballs.

That author got a $50k+ advance for that book and her only real "expense" was the 15% that she had to give to her agent. Everything else was stuff she stacked up attempting to prove that the $50k+ advance wasn't that much.

Yes, it isn't that much, but you can't go traveling to a bunch of conventions and then claim it as an expense (you can to the IRS... heh) because you didn't HAVE to go to those conventions.

She stacked that article so that everything fell in one direction when the truth was that she got around $42,500 for that novel in advance which is a pretty fair chunk of change when you think about it.

johndouglas said...

I appreciate the concern which is been rose.This is a wonderful opinion. The things mentioned are unanimous and needs to be appreciated by everyone.

============
johndouglas
Ebooks

bowerbird said...

evilphilip said:
> when the truth was that
> she got around $42,500
> for that novel in advance
> which is a pretty fair
> chunk of change

it sure is a chunk of change.

heck, it's as much as joe
made during the whole
month of january, 2011!

of course, that was for
work he'd already done,
instead of an "advance"
which obligated him to
do work to earn it back.

-bowerbird

Walter Knight said...

If you set the Kindle price of your book at 99 cents, doesn't Amazon take 70 percent of the royalties. The threshold price is $2.99 before Amazon pays a 70 percent royalty. Right?

Or, are there exceptions to that rule in the fine print?

Russell Brooks said...

I'm so happy to see these success stories of self-publishing. I happen to stumble on this self-publishing success story this morning I thought I'd share with all of you.

99-year-old Japanese Poet self-publishes her book--sells 1.5 Million copies. Now that's the "Holy Freakin' Crap!" Moment of the year!

Russell Brooks
Author of Pandora's Succession

Stephen said...

Bravo, Sam! [Morning cup of coffee raised in high salute.] You've inspired me to enhance a few descriptions.

Why waste time and effort submitting stuff to Amazon's annual contests? Penguin judges those books, employing the same exclusionary standards that have sent Big 6 publishing into its death spiral.

Over time Big 6 went from selecting books folks might like to read to being the arbiters of what should be read. They priced their books too high for many to afford while releasing annual surveys showing us we're too dim to read. (The one that lives in memory is that Americans "read only one book a year and that borrowed from a friend." What patronizing twaddle.)

And all the while producing less and less that was a good read while constantly increasing prices, as sales strangely were plummeting. That they also treated most of their writers as though Kleenex was but another facet of a self-destructive hubris masquerading as a business model.

Well, I feel better now. Another cup to Sam and then to tweaking those descriptions.

Cheers.

Steve
http://www.stephenamesberry.com/

Verilees said...

"I would like to add that the entire story about a NYT Best Seller who earned only $24k is a pile of horse manure stacked up as high as your eyeballs.

"That author got a $50k+ advance for that book and her only real "expense" was the 15% that she had to give to her agent. Everything else was stuff she stacked up attempting to prove that the $50k+ advance wasn't that much."

That sounds like Lynn Veihl's post on The Reality of a New York Times Bestseller-- you can find it here: http://www.genreality.net/the-reality-of-a-times-bestseller

She used to write sf with a romantic slant but I think her last book was urban fantasy.

She took a lot of heat for that post especially on romance author blogs because very few authors gave any numbers. However, she explicitly said she had not attended any conventions so it might not be the same author, but the numbers are about the same.

Kindle authors are incredibly open about what they sell compared to a few years ago. She was also just explaining about her first royalty statement. It's rather an interesting read.

She concluded

In Publishing telling the truth about earnings smashes the illusions publishers and writers want you to believe and, like breaking mirrors, it never brings you good luck. Thing is, when I was a rookie I wanted to know exactly what it took to have a top twenty Times bestselling novel, because that was such a big deal to writers. Everyone I asked gave me a different answer, told me a bunch of nonsense, or couldn’t/wouldn’t tell me at all. For that reason I want you to see the hard figures, and know the reality, and the next time someone asks you what it takes, you can tell them the truth.

Sam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wannabuy said...

Sam,
Thank you for the numbers again.

When is your 2nd novel due out?

@Steve:"They priced their books too high for many to afford"

I read this morning that 40% of US households only have $100 to spend on 'entertainment' each month. That includes cell phones.

For those with $100/month 'disposable' income, ereaders will have to go down to $49. It puts into perspective those surveys that show ereader/ebook demand going up with price.

Neil

Sam said...

Thanks, Neil. I may delete that message later if I get cold feet about being so public :-)

No 2nd novel in the works yet. Right now my main artistic outlet (aside from book design) is portrait painting. I'd actually love to do a graphic novel and children's book (I'm a dad) in the near future, before writing another novel.

jtplayer said...

"I read this morning that 40% of US households only have $100 to spend on 'entertainment' each month. That includes cell phones"

Includes cell phones?

I find that hard to believe. Even an average phone plan wouldn't leave much left to spend on entertainment. Besides that, how can a cell phone be classified as "entertainment"?

Can you put up a link to that story?

bowerbird said...

sam said:
> Then I calculated that
> it only takes 97 sales at $2.99
> to make the same revenue
> as 600 books at $0.99.

that's right, percentage-wise.

but how many actual buyers
do those price-points attract
for any specific book? _that_
is the important information.

if you get _10_times_ as many
sales at the lower price-point,
you've obtained more readers
_and_ more profit as well...

and it's also vital to consider
"revenue" in a manner that is
more long-term in nature...

the 600 (or 400, or 800, or
_whatever_ the number is)
readers who you garnered
at the $.99 price-point are
that many readers primed
to purchase your next book.

(provided they liked your
first one, an assumption
that i am happy to grant.)

this is better than having
97 people primed at $2.99.

it's more word-of-mouth,
more reviews, more ratings,
more suggestions in the
people-who-bought-this
recommendation engine,
more real-world presence.

again, i hasten to repeat
-- because it seems that i
can't repeat it enough --
that _i_recommend_ the
$2.99 price-point, since
the 35% royalty is unfair.

but one needs to consider
the entire equation here,
and not just part of it...


> So, I'm not inclined
> to post sales figures.

i'm confused.

you already posted the figure:
5,500 books as of january 28.

as a lump sum, it's not useful,
because it doesn't tell us trend.

a day-by-day specific number
would give us information on
trend, but the "sales figure" of
5,500 would total up the same.


> But, I will try to post
> what's helpful to others.

what you posted is not helpful.
and what i asked for would be.

but whatever. if you'd rather
not give the information, fine.

really! :+)

your story on the whole remains
uplifting. our questions, about
what caused the sudden jump,
and how the price might have
affected your momentum, are
also interesting, perhaps even
more so, and you have given us
little information about them...
however -- as i said -- the main
story that a slow-moving book
_can_ catch on is one that will
give hope to the many authors
who are stuck with such books.

best of luck with your next book.

-bowerbird

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

I find this talk of Sam posting specific sales figures amusing. Back in December such an idea was considered akin to releasing tax return information.

Ebook sales slowing? Yes and No

The Daring Novelist said...

Sam: It appears that most returns actually happen within seconds of purchase, and were probably due to somebody meaning to hit "sample" rather than the 1-click. If they didn't have returns, they'd have a lot more people complaining about not being able to opt-out of one-click.

JT: re disposable income. A lot of stats are thrown off by the difference between "average" and "median." Most people make well below "average" income. A lot of us don't use cellphone plans. We use pay-as-you-go phones which cost less than $10 a month. Why do you think every grocery store and convenience store has the cards for those?

bowerbird said...

jtplayer said:
> I find this talk of Sam posting
> specific sales figures amusing.

you do, do you? pray tell...


> Back in December
> such an idea
> was considered
> akin to releasing
> tax return information.

it _is_ akin to that.

which is why you shouldn't
expect any author to react
to such a _demand_ from
anyone with anything but
"mind your own business".

which, if you would have
actually, you know, linked
to a _specific_comment_,
instead of throwing out a
vague "back in december",
anyone could have seen,
and judged for themselves.

but sam already _released_
that information, so there
is no reason not to give it
a more specific breakdown.

the i.r.s. is interested in
the monthly _total_, and
not the daily _specifics_.

we, on the other hand,
would be more interested
in those _daily_ specifics
than a _monthly_ total...

***

it's also the case that
i _requested_ the info.
i didn't _demand_ it...

and when sam said that
he'd rather not give it,
i was confused, and i
said so, but i also said
that if he didn't want to
give the info, it's _fine_.

i didn't _demand_ info.

***

you also fail to point out
that the earlier _demand_
was from a perspective of
"i don't believe the number".

it was a demand for _proof_.

it was an accusation that
somebody was _lying_...

that's totally not the case
in this thread. i believe sam.
i'm not demanding _proof_...

don't twist things, player.

unless you are simply unable
to understand the distinction.

in which case, go ahead and
be "humored" by all of this...

my cat used to love playing
with an empty box. it gave
him no end of amusement...

evidently you can do likewise
with an empty thought...

-bowerbird

jtplayer said...

Yawn.

I provided a direct link to the 12/10 blog posting with the string of comments below. Feel free to peruse at your leisure.

And to "twist" it how you wish.

bowerbird said...

you linked to the general post
instead of a specific comment
because you knew that no one
would read through _all_ of the
comments trying to find _one_
that supported your argument.

and even if they _did_ try that,
tough, they would not succeed.

since they _could_not_ succeed.

because there _is_ no comment
that supports your argument...

which is precisely why i told you
to link to a _specific_comment,_
because i know you cannot do it.

and don't bother posting another
"reply" where you stonewall and
fail to link to anything specific...

since it just stinks up the place
for the people who want to have
_actual_honest_ discussion here.

-bowerbird

jtplayer said...

OK...I'll play along.

At 9:35 P.M. Tuppshar Press said:

"We don't release specific numbers, but it's interesting that October was our best month ever for ebooks..."

The next day, at 9:30 A.M. jtplayer said:

"Why won't anyone release specific numbers?"

That same day, at 2:58 P.M. bowerbird quoted jtplayer and said:

"post your income tax return, and then we can talk. ok?"

Later that day, at 4:29 P.M. jtplayer said:

"bowerbird...I know you fancy yourself a clever dude and all, but c'mon man, releasing specific sales figures for ebooks or the Kindle is in no way equivalent to releasing tax returns"

The next day, at 2:42 P.M., bowerbird quoted jtplayer and and came back with:

"on reflection, i think you're right. it's more like releasing your monthly pay-stub. so let's see you do _that_, and then we can talk, ok?"

I guess that's enough for now. You guys can read the rest on the link that I provided. There are more posts throughout discussing the subject of $89 Kindles sold at xmas and the issue of individuals and publishers posting specific sales figures.

wannabuy said...

Sam,

Again, thank you for the numbers. respect you are a private person. So I'm not going to link or otherwise repost the numbers, even though I find them fascinating.


JT, I'm unable to find the link again.

As the daring novelist notes, 'pay as you go' cell phone plans are popular. I know almost as many people who pay less than $20/month (including myself, but I'm a cheapskate) for their cell phone as those who have Iphones/Androids with their $65+/month plans.

On sales: I will say I can understand and respect any author who choses not to report sales and instead just reports sales rank. To end the 'small publisher/indie authors have little market share' we need the data, but it is up to the authors to share.

I'm floored and excited on how well several indie authors are doing this January. I thought December was amazing! I'm bummed to see Amanda down in the rankings at #5, but if Lisa Garner is willing to sell a book for a buck...

And I'm happy to have boosted Sam, if even by one puny $2.99 sale. ;)

Neil

Tara Maya said...

Amanda Hocking has sold half a million books. :)

Tara Maya
The Unfinished Song: Initiate

jtplayer said...

And I'm happy to have boosted Sam, if even by one puny $2.99 sale. ;)

As am I with my $10.99 purchase.

No worries Neil on the link. I don't doubt the story is true, and I agree many people take advantage of the pay as you go plans.

I was only questioning the idea of including cell phones in a person's entertainment budget. For most, I wouldn't even consider the cell phone as a discretionary budget item. I know many people who have eliminated their land line altogether, in favor of using a cell phone because it is more affordable.

Nancy Beck said...

@noothergods, if you're an indie, try this:

http://www.simon-royle.com/indie-reviewers/

It has a listing of people who will do reviews, and I'm pretty sure it's not a long, drawn out process.

@Michael Wallace - I see you've got 6 excellent reviews on Amazon now...good for you! :-)

@Sam - Thanks for your story. I don't have a Kindle as yet, but I did dl (a while ago) the Kindle app, and can read ebooks on my desktop at home. (I currently have only 1 at this moment.) But I'm keenly interested in all things 1930s/1940s, LOVED O Brother, Where Art Thou, and will pick up your ebook sometime soon (already in my Wish List).

Good luck and continued success to all you indies! :-)

Laura Resnick said...

Speaking as a writer who (by way of disclosure) has a very happy professional relationship with DAW Books, a division of Penguin... I find Sam's story very inspiring!

I am electronically self-publishing my backlist, and I have zero interest in ending my relationship with Penguin to self-publish my frontlist. I'm walking both sides of the street, so to speak.

And I think Sam's experience shows that the great benefit of the electronic self-publishing era is that there are MORE AVENUES for writers than there used to be. E-pubbing has opened a door to success for him that didn't exist five years go, while the traditional door remained closed to him despite his many perseverant attempts to get into it.

Good on him! And this is great news all around for everyone. For writers, at long last, there really IS more than one way to skin a cat now. (So to speak.)

Congratulations, Sam!

Robin Sullivan said...

I've been busy editing so missed this blog post completely. I'l make my few comments late in the game.

1 - Thanks Joe for continuing to showcase indie authors - you do us all a great service.

2 - Sam - congrats on a great start I'm sure you're going to continue to grow in sales.

3 - Thanks to both Suzanne and gniz for telling me you find my blog helpful - it will make me keep doing them and I hope they continue to give valuable information.

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

Robin Sullivan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bowerbird said...

ok, how about an update...

it is now mid-february,
and in another thread,
sam relates the situation:
> http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/02/guest-post-by-victorine-lieske.html?showComment=1297799452494#c1720996373000152915

sure enough, the raise
in his price _did_ affect
his momentum adversely.

after having risen to #50,
in a steep climb that might
have continued otherwise,
the book's ranking instead
starting _dropping,_ until
-- when it fell to #200 --
sam felt the need to step in
and price it back at $.99...

so, to review, with a book
that sold just 300 copies
in december (after selling
5-20 in months before),
january sales were 5,500.
momentum was palpable.

sam raised the price and
boom, lost his momentum.

now he has to climb back.

but he will never recover
momentum he had then.

i don't recommend $.99.
because the "royalty" that
amazon pays for it is unfair.

i recommend $2.99 instead.
even if you make fewer sales,
and make less money, as a
protest against amazon's rate.

but kids, don't raise a price
in the middle of momentum.
that babe can be very fickle.

-bowerbird