Friday, September 21, 2012

Konrath's Sales

So I'm working with an incredible woman who is an MS Office tutor. She knows Excel like she wrote it herself.

Over the past few weeks she's been compiling my sales data. ALL of my sales data.

For the very first time, I have total counts of all my sales from every platform. My legacy titles, Amazon published titles, and everything I have on KDP, Nook, Smashwords, Overdrive, Createspace, Kobo, Sony, and Apple.

And now I'm going to share those numbers with you.

These are based on my 8 legacy titles (the Jack Daniels books, Afraid, Timecaster) and my 40+ self-pubbed titles (which include 6 solo novels, 3 collaborative novels--Flee, Draculas, and Serial Killers Uncut, and the rest shorts and compilations and collaborations).

So what are these numbers? (For fun, compare them to my numbers from 2009.)

EBOOKS

Since 2004, I've sold 126,366 legacy ebooks, earning me $130,916 (prior to 15% to my agent.)

Since 2009, I've sold 632,501 self-pubbed ebooks, earning me $912,138. Some of that is shared with my collaborators, but not the lion's share by a longshot.

The majority of the money I've made on ebooks are on six of my novels, The List, Origin, Disturb, Shot of Tequila, Endurance, and Trapped. These six novels--all rejected by legacy publishers, have sold 362,783 copies, earning me $600,501.

I'm not at liberty to discuss the sales of my Amazon published books, Shaken and Stirred, because Amazon prefers I don't. But I'll say that I've sold more ebook copies of Shaken and Stirred in less than three years than my eight legacy titles of sold in ebooks in eight years.

PAPER

My eight legacy titles have sold 60,993 hardcovers, 190,213 paperbacks, and 9828 trade paper since 2004, earning me a total of $264,527.

I've used Createspace to make my self-pubbed books available in print. Since 2010 I've sold 12,711 self-pubbed paper books and made $37,519.

Again, can't talk about Shaken and Stirred. Shaken, released first, did pretty well in print, as this was when Borders and B&N carried copies. Now Borders is gone, and no brick and mortar bookstore will touch Amazon pubbed paper books, so Stirred didn't do as well.

TOTALS

Since 2004, I've sold a combined ebook/paper total of 387,400 legacy books, earning $395,443, or $336,126 after my agent's commission. This includes all advances. That's $42,015 per year. Not bad, but anyone who is a longtime reader of this blog knows how much I busted my ass to sell that many, and how much I spent on promotion and travel. If I took home $30k any given year, I'd be very surprised. It was usually less than that.

Since 2009, I've sold a combined ebook.paper total of 645,212 self-pubbed legacy books, earning $949,657. That's $730,282 on my own, and another $109,687 for my share of my collaborations, for a total of  $839,969. That's $210,000 a year, average.

Stirred has made a little more money than Shaken, due to Blake Crouch's brand, but I had to split that money with him. Again, I'm not disclosing how much I've made, but I've made more on Shaken than I have on any one of my legacy titles. This is the reason I continue to sign with Amazon publishing, and why at the end of this year I'll release three books with them, co-written with Ann Voss Peterson, Flee, Spree, and Three.

However...

Some of my self-pubbed novels have made more money than Shaken.

Now my calculations don't take certain things into account, including:

1. I don't have 2012 legacy sales figures yet, thanks to publishing's reporting system being back-asswards and archaic.
2. I'm counting 2012 as a full year, even though it is only September.
3. My averages aren't fully accurate. For my first year of legacy pubbing I only had one book out, and my first year of self-pubbing I had less than ten. Obviously I didn't sell many legacy ebooks before 2007, when the Kindle was invented.
4. The vast majority of my sales have been in the last 22 months, as ebooks have really taken off, so averaging out over four years isn't accurate. In 2011 and the first months of 2012 I've made $791k, or an average of $37,000 a month. To put this in perspective, I got a $33,000 advance for Whiskey Sour, and a $20k advance for Afraid.
5. My legacy paper sales have dwindled dramatically, partially because of bookstores closing, partly because bookstores hate me and won't carry me, partly because I haven't had a new legacy book in years. So again, averages aren't the best way to view the data.

Because this isn't a true science experiment with a control, any conclusions I draw will be speculative. But my data is solid, and I'm confident enough to make a few observations.

1. Ebooks are the future.

I've been saying this for years, but my data bears it out. I'm betting, when I get my next legacy royalty statement, my ebooks will have outsold my mass market paperbacks. Paper sales are dwindling, ebooks are taking over, in a big way.

2. Amazon is the big dog.

Not only is Amazon Publishing (Encore, Thomas & Mercer, etc.) a smart and lucrative way to diversify from self-pubbing, but Amazon is where most of the money is made.

I hear some of you asking: Joe, can you break down the numbers?

Absolutely. One of the wonderful things about my new spreadsheet is it uses pivot tables. In other words, I can sort my data however I wish. If I want to know how many $2.99 titles I sold on Nook in June 2011, I can sort it. If I want to know how many Kindle Owner Lends I've had, I can to it in a few clicks.

And yes, in an upcoming blog I will be interviewing the woman who did this for me. So if you're like me, and have too much data to compile into one spreadsheet, let alone analyze, you'll be able to hire her.

Let's look at my numbers broken down by platform:

Apple (via Smashwords) 6356 sold, $10,446 earned
Kobo (via Smashwords) 2229 sold, $3040 earned. But I recently signed on with Kobo directly, and in August 2012 made $1033. So Kobo is shaping up to be a player.
Sony (via Smashwords) 3882 sold, $6047 earned.
Nook (via Smashwords) 5769 sold, $7524 earned
Nook Pubit 16,727 sold $29,300 earned
Amazon KOLL 20,179 shared, $35,015 earned

According to my numbers, my Amazon titles have earned $885,452 and other platforms combined have earned just $64,204. Amazon is the clear winner by almost 14 to 1 against its competition.

But what interests me most is KOLL. I made $35,015 KOLL on select titles, for a three month period. I currently have a handful of titles in KOLL for another three months, but I'd opted out the majority of my work in order to make it available on other platforms.

Granted, the majority of my KOLL profits came around the holidays, and I had to opt out of the other platforms to do so. Perhaps I could have made good money on Apple and Nook during the holidays if I'd been live, but would it have been comparable to what I made via KOLL? It doesn't seem likely.

I've been urging Amazon at every opportunity to make KDP Select non-exclusive. I've also been urging them to sell epub format, something I've been urging since 2009.

Amazon still demands KDP Select be exclusive, and recently offered a 70% royalty in India for KDP Select titles. They seem to like the exclusivity of it, even though their customers get fewer titles, and Amazon scares away many authors from the Select program.

Kobo is on the rise. Nook seems to be holding steady. The same with Apple.

So what is an author to do? Pull all titles and go all-in with Amazon, to hopefully make more money? Or self-publish on multiple platforms, encouraging competition, and perhaps earning less?

I want to hear from writers on this issue. Do you go with Amazon Select or not, and why?

I'm going to remain on multiple platforms for the time being. But come the holidays, I'm not sure what I'll do. A lot of my KOLL earnings, and KDP earnings, were the result of the Select freebie program and resulting bounceback to the paid bestseller lists. But all signs point to the bounceback being not as effective as it once was. I want to hear from writers on this issue as well.

3. Amazon and Createspace have impressed me.

I've made over $37k on my self pubbed paper books. Since 2010, that's $12,500 a year. My legacy books have averaged $33,065 a year.

In other words, even with major publishers behind me, four book tours where I went to 42 states, and signing at over 1200 bookstores, I only made $33k a year selling legacy-pubbed paper. Doing absolutely nothing, with a minimal investment per title (cover art, formatting) I'm making $12,500 a year selling self-pubbed paper.

Obviously, as with all of my numbers, your mileage may vary. But this shows me what an utter failure legacy publishers have been with me, and I bet my data can be extrapolated to dozens, if not hundreds, of other midlist authors. I may be among the better selling indie writers, but as more and more midlist authors leave legacy, more and more of them will have success that mirrors mine.

Paper isn't going away. But it isn't going to be the preferred method of reading in the future. For millions of people, it is already passe.

I just got a blurb request from a Big 6 author whose novel is being released ebook-only.

WTF?!? Publishers are actually signing authors and not even putting out a paper version? Why would any author take 14.9% of a legacy pubbed ebook that sells for $9.99 (hint: by "sells" I mean "won't sell") instead of 70% (or 80% via Kobo) of a self-pubbed ebook where they control the price and the rights?

Publishing can survive using this strategy, if authors are gullible enough to keep signing these one-sided contracts. Here's how.

On a $6.99 paperback, the author makes about 56 cents. That's close to what the publisher makes, after all expenses. While it is possible for publishers to get into the black before an author earns out her advance, earning out the advance is usually a good indicator the book is making money.

On a $6.99 legacy ebook, the author makes $1.04 after agent commission. The publisher makes $3.67. So let's play the advance game.

A publisher pays an author $20,000 advance. Author keeps $17,000 after the agent is paid. There is no paper version. The ebook, priced at $6.99, sells 12,000 ebooks in five years, which is what my legacy ebook Dirty Martini has sold.

The author would still owe $7520 on the advance before earning another nickel. In the meantime, the publisher has made $44,000. Minus the $20k advance, the publisher has pocketed $24,000, and still will make money for a few more years without paying the author any more.

If the author self-pubbed his own book at $6.99, and sold 12,000 copies, he would have made $58,880.

If publishers keep signing authors for ebook-only deals, at the current royalty rates, they'll get richer than they ever have, at the expense of authors. Authors will still be living advance to advance, never earning out, and publishers will be printing money by doing nothing more than providing cover art, proofreading, and editing services--all jobs that can be freelanced for fixed costs.

If you are thinking about signing an ebook-only deal with a publisher, crunch the numbers first.

CONCLUSION

As I've said ad nauseum, ebooks are forever. And they are going global. We're going to be able to reach readers worldwide, with a combination of POD, ebook retailers, and libraries. But in order to exploit this market, we need to hold onto our rights and get the highest royalties possible.

As always, I encourage authors to figure out what they want out of their career, and set appropriate goals. Experiment, share your results with others, and keep trying new things. Before you sign any contract, understand what it means, what you're getting, and what you're giving up.

There are no sure things. I've never said there were. No path you take in publishing is a quick-rich scheme. Talent and hard work can help you get lucky, but it still all comes down to luck. Keep at it until luck strikes.

If you want to take a legacy deal, know what it means. I was recently talking with a peer--the first time we ever spoke--who has done just as well as I have with self-pubbing. She told me she was interested in pursuing a legacy contract, and I agreed that for her it made sense. She has a lot of titles, and this could be a chance for her to make a seven figure advance while still controlling the majority of her self-pub empire. She has nothing to lose by trying. But I do want to share part of our conversation, because I think it's telling.

Author: I was recently in a Barnes & Noble, my first time in years, and I saw huge display tables for EL James and Amanda Hocking. Legacy publishers really are good at getting the books they push onto the bookstore shelves.

Joe: For certain titles, yes they are. But how many customers in the bookstore did you see buying those books? How many customers were in the bookstore at all?

Ask yourself that. When was the last time you were in a bookstore? How many customers were there, buying books?

I've heard that 7 out of 10 books shipped get returned. I've seen bookstores close, and I've noticed space within the bookstores increasingly devoted to non-book items. And now publishers aren't even printing books anymore, they're signing ebook-only deals.

Tread lightly. There's a big difference between taking $1,000,000 because a publisher thinks you're the next James or Hocking, and taking $20,000 that you'll never earn out. If you're holding out for that million dollar deal without a track record to back it up, you might as well go buy a bunch of lottery tickets. And if you do have the track record to back it up, you have the power to negotiate a better deal, or to walk away and keep your rights.

A few weeks ago, I declared myself independent of legacy publishers. I'm reposting that here, for newbie authors to read, because whenever I post my numbers I get a whole bunch of new readers, and they need to see this.

The Declaration of Independence for Writers

When in the Course of publishing events, it becomes necessary for writers to sever their ties with the industry that is supposed to have "nurtured" them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that we should declare the causes which impel those writers to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all writers should have an equal chance to find readers. That their successes or failures should be dependent upon their own actions and their own choices. That they should be paid fairly for their work. That they should have control over the works they produce. That they should have immediate and accurate access to their sales data. That they should be paid promptly. That they should not be restricted from reaching those who may enjoy their work. That whenever a publisher becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of Authors to abolish all connections with the offending parties.

The history of the legacy publishing industry is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over writers. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

They have given us take-it-or-leave-it, one-sided, unconscionable contracts.
They have failed to adequately market works they have acquired.
They have artificially inflated the price of ebooks.
They have refused to negotiate better ebook royalties for authors.
They have forced unnecessary editing changes on authors.
They have forced unnecessary title changes on authors.
They have forced crappy covers on authors.
They have refused to exploit rights they own.
They have refused to return rights they aren't properly exploiting.
They take far too long to bring acquired works to market.
They take far too long to pay writers advances and royalties.
Their royalty statements are opaque, out-of-date, and inaccurate.
They orphan authors.
They orphan books.
They refuse to treat authors as equals, let alone with a reasonable measure of fairness.
They make mistakes and take no responsibility for those mistakes.
For every hope they nurture, they unnecessarily neglect and destroy countless others.
They have made accessories of the authors' ostensible representative organization, the quisling Authors Guild, and are served, too, by the misleadingly named Association of Authors' Representatives.
They have failed to honor promises made.
They have failed to honor their own onerous contract terms.
They've failed the vast majority of authors, period.

This blog has documented nearly every stage of these Oppressions, and in many cases offered solutions to publishers, and has been answered with only silence and derision.

But that's okay. Because now authors have a choice.

I don't need legacy publishing, and I will never be taken advantage of again. I declare myself independent of the entire archaic, broken, corrupt system.

And I won't be the last to do so.

114 comments:

J.A. Huss said...

Thanks for the breakdown Joe! Really eye-opening!

Barbra Annino said...

As always, Joe, your fearless transparency is appreciated!

ValdaDeDieu said...

I do use Kindle Select, but I notice that, interestingly, the months I do well on Amazon, I do well on Barnes etc...other platforms too!

My solution to Kindle Select? I put single issues of my books on Kindle, and 'bundle titles' i.e. two or more in one--at a slightly higher price, so readers can find them on other platforms. I fulfill Amazon's requirements, i.e., exclusivity, and I don't disappoint readers who do not have Kindle.

Only one thing has bothered me, and I was just too shy to ask you, through I've been reading your blog on and off--since an article two year ago in HuffPo, where you encouraged self-pubbing; in fact, you got me off the query-send-read-reject roller-coaster! How do I KEEP one title in a series FREE for ever. It seems you're only allowed 5 days per book per period! Am I missing something?

Thanks for the inspiration and your generosity. It's too bad so many writers are addicted to the old model; I see many of my old fave authors struggling, when they'd make a mint simply going it themselves. (And did you read the recent article on how some Mills and Boon/Harlequin/Silhouette authors, arguably some of the most prolific, talented writers around, were treated? SHAME!) I'd buy their out of print titles on e-pub directly from the authors!

Valda DeDieu

Joe Konrath said...

How do I KEEP one title in a series FREE for ever.

You make it free on Smashwords, then hope the Amazon spiders catch it and price match.

I've seen some others do this successfully, and others get very frustrated.

Do you have a link to that article, Valda?

Lee Goldberg said...

Fascinating info, Joe. Thank you so much for sharing it. My wife has been doing the Excel thing for me for a while now ...and my results in general mirror yours as far as KDP & Amazon vs legacy publishing goes (if I don't factor in my new collaboration with Janet Evanovich into the mix).

I have not had your success, or anything close to it, with Pubit or Kobo. While Kobo is increasing month-to-month, it's not enough to off-set what I have lost in KOLL (borrows) from Amazon, so I think I am likely to go back to Select for most of my titles.

Amazon Publishing is amazing...this week they gave author the ability to track their sales daily, monthly, etc. across all platforms in all countries... similar to what we have with KDP. I love working with them and hope to long into the future.

Lee

William Malmborg said...

Very impressive totals. Like yourself, I see most of my sales through the Amazon platform, which I stayed exclusive with for a year. This summer I branched out and had two of my works uploaded to the other ebook platforms. So far, Kobo seems to be the best of them, but even so, the sales are far lower than what I expected. I’m also somewhat frustrated with how long it has been taking Smashwords to have my titles uploaded to sites like Barnes and Nobel, Sony and Apple. Hopefully it won’t be too much longer, because, as you’ve said in the past, everyday it isn’t listed is a day that no money is made.

A part of my reason for ending my exclusivity with Amazon was the lack of bounce-back my titles saw after my latest free promo. Back when we were first able to list books for free the results were amazing, but, as many have noticed, it seems to have lost its effect in recent months. The other reason I ended the exclusivity was so that I could try to get my short story collection listed for free permanently. In order to do that I need to have it listed free on other sites. So far Amazon hasn’t price matched it yet, but I’m sure they will as more and more of my readers keep reporting to them about it. I’m kind of excited to see what the result of that will be once it happens. It’s fun being able to experiment in so many different ways with a few simple clicks.

Barbra Annino said...

To answer your question regarding Select. I have one title still on other platforms. It's an anthology and the proceeds all go to the Kids Need to Read organization. It makes about $30/month at B&N.

I made the transition gradually, but I'm really glad I did. My KOLL numbers are triple what I was making on B&N, which more than makes up for not being there. I couldn't buy a cheeseburger for what I made over at Smashwords. Same with Kobo. Perhaps I didn't market properly to those platforms, but for me, Select is what worked and continues to work. It's where I reach the most readers.

As far as Amazon titles not being sold over at B&N, I've read articles to the contrary and my T&M titles are place-held there right now. (December is the release date.) I have no idea if this will or won't happen, just thought I'd mention it.

But I think this may be a future trend. Exclusive products that can only be purchased from specific companies isn't new. You can't buy a Ford from a Chrysler dealer. This may be where books are headed. You can only such and such title from this publisher. If so, I think it would force publishers to offer better contracts, because authors will really need to weigh the long-term advantages of what that specific house can bring.

What do you think?

http://paidcontent.org/2012/08/29/exclusive-amazon-ny-to-sell-its-ebooks-through-bn-kobo-other-retailers/#comments - "Amazon’s New York-based imprint has signed a deal with Ingram to distribute its ebooks to other retailers.":

Joel Goldman said...

Joe, I got the rights back to seven of my eight paperback originals and began self-publishing them in June 2011. Since then, I've sold over 105,000 copies, all but a handful on Amazon. I'm on track to sell over 100,000 copies in 2012. I also benefited from the KDP Select Freebie boost last winter but I haven't used it since April when it became obvious that the bloom was off the rose. KOLL continues to be worth sticking with the program rather than diversifying to other platforms. Thanks for helping guide my transition from legacy to indie.
Joel Goldman

Tom Stedham said...

I shared this post widely with writer friends.
Please keep up the excellent work!

Joe Konrath said...

As far as Amazon titles not being sold over at B&N

I was talking about their brick and mortar stores. I'll clarify in the post.

Robert Burton Robinson said...

Thanks for the numbers, Joe. Fantastic! Congrats!

I sold 75,000 Kindle books in 2011, but this year has been a much different story. I tried Select for a while, but it didn't seem to help that much. So I got out.

I didn't go back to Smashwords though. I had gotten very frustrated over their slow sales reporting, slow updates, having to list Smashwords as publisher, and having to submit books in the Word format (they promised to switch to ePub, but never did). So I started dealing directly with B&N, Kobo, and Apple.

I'm still selling more books on Amazon than anywhere else, but as you said, Kobo is beginning to come on strong, and I think they will eventually give Amazon major competition, especially outside the U.S. Plus, I do like my books being available for other devices.

I

J. R. Tomlin said...

I had all my novels in Select until last month. I have taken my three highest selling novels, all a historical fiction series, out. I am working to get the first one in the series perma-free. It can be frustrating and it is a good idea not to merely depend on the spiders. You (and all your friends and online acquaintances) can report the lower price to Amazon. It does seem to help at least at times.

If it isn't free by the Christmas sales season, I'll definitely put them BACK in Select forthwith. If not, well--I hope it works well. I've seen it work for other authors.

Sometimes you just have to take risks. Going into Select last year was a risk. Pulling out is also a risk, but this is a volatile industry and risk taking comes with the territory.

Thanks for the sales numbers. They're much appreciated.

Robert Gray said...

Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe many of us did pretty with with KOLL when it first came out because of a glitch (if you can call it that) in Amazon's system. If your ebook landed at, say, #1 for free Thrillers, it moved to that position in the paid category when the free promotion expired. It only stayed there for about an hour, but the exposure was enough to drive up sales. A few months later, Amazon did away with that system (or fixed it), so when the free promotion expired, the ebook went back to the position it started at prior to the free promotion.

sabrina said...

I have five books out currently, two standalone fantasies and a SF trilogy. The fantasies were published first, using Select, and I saw a definite boost with the freebies and lending. When I put the first book in the trilogy in Select the effect was not nearly as strong.

I wonder if Select helps the earlier books more than later? By the time the trilogy started out I had plenty of reviews for the other books and people seemed to make up their minds based on that. Plenty of free downloads but very few borrows (and lots of sales when it *wasn't* free).

Pubit still is 10% or less of my Amazon sales, but it improved dramatically when I put more books up. Again, being a "known quantity" appears to help more than freebies, strangely enough.
(YMMV, professional driver on a closed course, some restrictions apply, not available in CA on Tuesdays after 4pm)

Mark Terry said...

What are your thoughts on the fact that two of your bestsellers are standalone tech thrillers?

Stella Baker said...

Joe, nothing speaks like good, hard numbers. I can't tell you how much I appreciate the detail and depth; it gives my thoughts traction. Thanks.

Andy Gavin said...

I love the snarky (but true enough) Declaration :-)

And congrats!

MJ Ware said...

I'm hedging my bets by splitting my titles. My best selling title earns about $400 a month on KOLL (kidlit books actually tend do better than adult books on KOLL), so it's hard not to be pulled in.

On the other hand, their requirements are strict and only getting worse. They recently bumped one of my titles because I also have a Graphic Novel version of the book out and they felt the titles were too similar.

I do think I keep most of my books in until after the holidays. Even on Apple, where my sales were once good (think if all the kids with Iphones) they just keep falling a little every month.

Steven W. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven W. said...

Joe - You must hear this a million times but you are an inspiration. Today I posted my first book on Amazon and it feels great. I grew up in a poor family, been poor most my life but I've always had imagination, creativity and determination to never give up when I wanted to.

You are one of the reasons I haven't given up and your success inspires me that we all can succeed.

Thank you so much,
Steven Wolff
amazon.com/author/stevenwolff

Robert Michael said...

I feel that one thing that Kobo has done right is the ability to read cross-platform. It may not be perfect (formatting snafu's, font recognition, text flow, etc.), but the ability is there.

The biggest deterrent to exclusivity to me is the inability to sell cross-platform in terms of ereading devices. Fine, I have to buy it from a particular retailer, but shouldn't my READER be sufficient to read it, regardless of where I purchased it? More specifically, I feel compelled to distribute my novels widely because that feels more natural and "fair" to the audience, my readers.

The situation is similar in my mind to the concern over DRM. I want to the reader to have the experience of reading my book--as many readers as possible. Why would I want to limit my audience just to those on Amazon, even though they have the widest, most global audience? Why would I want to punish my potential fans who read their books on Apple, or in Canada using Kobo, or in Conneticut using a Nook?

For some, the risk/reward is a no-brainer. To me, I think it is a decision to be made on a title-by-title basis. I think some of the series and short story collections I write would be better on KOLL. I think that some of the stand alone novels would be better distributed more widely.

Julie said...

I still sell more books through Pubit than Amazon - way more. Why? I don't know. I wish I could bolster the numbers at Amazon, though. Yes, they are "The Man" and the place to be for versatility and visibility. No rhyme or reason why Nook beats Kindle in this neck of the the woods.

Julie

Shayne Parkinson said...

Joe, thanks as ever for sharing your knowledge and experience so generously.

The more people share, the more it becomes clear that every writer's experience is different. For me it's been an easy decision to keep my books available on a range of platforms, as a substantial portion of my readers are on those other platforms. Until this year most of my sales were on B&N. This year Amazon's become my largest market, especially Amazon UK, but my 2012 year-to-date sales on B&N are still around 35,000. I want it to be as easy as possible for those readers, and the people they recommend books to, to find and load my books.

Sarah Woodbury said...

I can't speak to KDP select, since my books have never been in it. Last December, not ready to give up what (little) gains I'd made on other platforms, I made one of my books perma-free via Smashwords. On December 28th, Amazon price-matched free. Since then, I've given away over a 100,000 books, and sold over 75,000 books across all channels. Amazon is the big seller still, but the other channels have been picking up steam all year such that in August they comprised 1/4 of my total sales.

Sales for September are down compared to other channels, in large part (I think) because of the volatility of Amazon's ranking system and recent algorithm changes. I do look longingly at KDP select sometimes (especially now with India added into the mix). For now, however, I'm watching and waiting ...

Kay said...

My solution to Kindle Select? I put single issues of my books on Kindle, and 'bundle titles' i.e. two or more in one--at a slightly higher price, so readers can find them on other platforms. I fulfill Amazon's requirements, i.e., exclusivity, and I don't disappoint readers who do not have Kindle.

So your solution is to cheat the system and violate Select's TOS. You're not fulfilling Amazon's requirements for exclusivity if you're making the stories available on other platforms while they're in Select. You can't bundle them into a collection and sell them elsewhere. Or I guess you can, until you get caught.

Joe Konrath said...

What are your thoughts on the fact that two of your bestsellers are standalone tech thrillers?

Those aren't stand alones, Mark. I'm now writing sequels to both. :)

It's funny. For 12 years out of college, I was writing books and getting rejections and feeling like a loser. Now those rejected books are earning me more than I've ever made as part of the system.

Simply put, the system sucks.

Selena Kitt said...

What was interesting about KOLL at the beginning (a little glitch) was that if you signed your book up, you could set it free for that first 24-48 hours, and then opt out if you wanted. So you'd get the benefit of being free for a few days, but then you didn't have to stay in Select. They plugged up that hole pretty quick too, along with the cross-transfer of a free book to the paid list at the same ranking. After those advantages disappeared, KOLL didn't really seem worth it in my genre.

Jeffy D said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeffy D said...

You asked to hear from writers and KDP select. I published my first book in July of 11 and my second in June of 12. If you are a new author I think the exclusivity clause isn't a problem. It isn't going to matter if you are on all platforms if nobody notices you.

For the first 6 months I only sold books to friends and family and was discouraged. I put my book free for 2 days in February and it was downloaded 2200+ times. I finally made it into "also bought" lists and started selling, slowly. I did it for 1 day in June and only had 600+ downloads but after I released my second book I did 2 days in July and it was downloaded over 11,000 times.

I think what happened after is most telling. One day I sold 74 copies and the very next 100 on the nose....then it dropped like a rock. Clearly it's all about exposure. I didn't have a write up in USA Today or was on the NYT bestseller list or had John Grisham say how wonderful I was...it was all positioning. There are diminishing returns though as I did 2 days last week and it was only downloaded 600+ times.

I know my books are good. Between Amazon and Goodreads I have received 42 reviews and 36 are positive but if nobody finds them, it doesn't matter. KDP select allows the new author that exposure. If I get to the point where people are finding me outside of Amazon then absolutely I will opt out and offer my books everywhere but while I am still a severely unknown author, being part of KDP select is invaluable.

I hope to put a 3rd book out in 4-8 weeks and at that time I'll put my first book free again and see if the numbers jump again but for the "unfound" author I think it's a huge tool.

Patrice Fitzgerald said...

Thanks for the facts, Joe. So helpful.

I have one novel, three short stories, and a pseudonymous series of shorts (three out so far). I know, I know... I have to write more! And I am.

Nothing sells significantly except the novel. The novel was invisible until KDP Select and the big Christmas 2011 bounce. I had one fantastic week where I made $6,000+. Of course I thought that was the new normal! Alas... after December sales slowly dropped, with KOLL helping keep the profits up. Two 90-day Select periods, with judicious free dates, meant that I gave away more than 50,000 copies.

Summer sales were abysmal. I've been out of Select since about June (results after free days got less and less dramatic) for all titles. Now I'm also available on Nook, Kobo, and in print. None of those make a lot of money yet, but sales are slowly rising overall. I hope that the new Kindles will bring in new readers. I'm working on a sequel and a new mystery series.

Back to writing!

Thanks for what you do.

R.E. McDermott said...

Hey Joe,

Terrific numbers and thanks for sharing. You asked for numbers. Mine are nothing like yours but here they are FWIW.

I only had one book out when Select came into being, and for some strange reason I've always done fairly well on Nook, so Select never seemed attractive to me. I've sold +40K copies of the my first book (Deadly Straits), about 35% of those via B&N. I launched the second book Deadly Coast, about 3 weeks ago and it's selling well across all platforms, again with +35% on B&N. I'm just ramping up on Kobo now.

Robert said...

I made a few titles available via Kindle Select in January, made them free for a few days, and saw great results afterward. In fact, in January I made nearly $8,000. But after that, Amazon did something different with the system and yeah, you don't nearly get the bounce you once did. Since then, I haven't placed any titles in the program. I don't think it's currently worth it.

I like the idea of KOLL, but the constant free ebook thing ... I'm one of those who's beginning to believe free isn't necessarily a good thing for us authors. It conditions many readers to keep an eye out for free and not pay for anything, even if the books are priced as low as $2.99. However, I do have a short story that was an inspiration to my zombie novel (and which includes some chapters of said novel), and I made that free by price matching it via Smashwords and Kobo and iTunes, but a month or so back Amazon reverted it back to 99 cents, which is odd. I've actually heard from some other writers who had free short story ebooks price matched that reverted too.

(Also, anyone else notice that Amazon changed how the bestseller lists are viewed, at least in the US? Paid and free aren't side by side anymore. Instead you have a sort of tab system. Makes you wonder ...)

I actually keep a spreadsheet of my sales month to month, and like the majority of people, the bulk of my sales come from Amazon. I sell okay over at B&N, and Kobo and iTunes is starting to pick up, but even if they don't, I don't like the idea of potentially limiting my readership (I know a lot of readers who own Nooks). Anyway, so far this year I've sold over 30k ebooks, but trade paperbacks through CreateSpace? About 120.

One thing Amazon excels at is discoverability. Those search keywords are essential. B&N allows keyword searches, but Kobo and iTunes don't, so that might explain with many writers have fewer sales on those platforms. Still, I think Kobo is doing some exciting things, and I look forward to seeing what they come up with in the next year.

On a side note, as one who now believes $2.99 for a novel is the new 99 cents, I've raised the prices of my novels to $3.99, with my most recent novel being $4.99 (it's almost my longest, nearly 120k words). You plan on raising your prices any time soon, Joe?

Karennina said...

Thank you for sharing the numbers. Your transparency is what makes you and your blog so helpful to other writers. It's hard to find such data elsewhere, so what you do here is well appreciated. I have to wonder, though, how well these trends will be reflected in other markets (particularly the children's ebook market). Any thoughts on that?

Joe Konrath said...

Keep sharing your experiences, folks. It's helpful to everyone, me included.

Jim Self said...

I haven't used Select, and I'm not planning to. I got my first title out earlier this year. About that time was the talk about Kobo pushing out internationally, and B&N considering thinking about planning something international. It didn't seem like the right time to go exclusive. Kobo was a disaster in Japan but they'll make it, and there are a lot of other markets to go after.

Hugh Howey said...

Another author chiming in, since you asked.

I made the decision to take less money and have my books available elsewhere due to the demand of my readers. Sure, it hurts to give up the earnings, but I had a hard time telling people they couldn't get my books because they owned the wrong device.

I would love for Amazon to open the KOLL to everyone, but I don't see it happening anytime soon. I raised this with a few Kindle team members at an event recently, and their responses didn't give me much hope. :(

Great blog post. Brave and awesome of you.

Ty Johnston said...

Joe, since your'e looking for our experiences ...

I've made use of Select on at half a dozen of my novels. It's not done much for me. I've given away a few thousand e-books here and there, but it's not turned into many sales, maybe a few dozen here and there.

On the other hand, I've done better making a semi-permanent freebie through Smashwords. Takes a while to get through all of Smashwords' hoopla, and then a while for Amazon to pay attention, but I've had much better luck with this.

Just my experience. Mileage will vary.

Ramon said...

I chose against Select. Next month will be one year for me and I've published five books. I sell on kindle and nook, mostly, with the odd sale on smashwords and my first kobo book yesterday. Sometimes kindle outsells nook, and vice versa. I usually sell 5 to 10 books, total, counting all platforms. I've been told it's a good start for a first year. Maybe, maybe not, but I don't want to cut out any potential readers, since they're buying my books, few that they are.

I dropped my books in price as an experiment. My fantasy trilogy: first book is 125k words (roughly) I dropped it to .99. The other two are over 200k words and I dropped book 2 to 2.99 and 3 to 3.99.

My vampire books (85k and 90k words respectively) are both 2.99. I'm thinking of raising my first fantasy book to 2.99 and the other two to 5.99, and the vampire books to 4.99.

I've been told by an author (not going to name him because his pricing model tends to start wild fires) who has been published for almost as many years as I've been alive that I should raise the price of my fantasy books to 6.99 or 7.99 because they are so long, and because the print books are 27.99, (cheapest I could go, really) and that readers would question value because of the huge price gap from print to ebook. I respect his opinion, but still thinking about it.

Any opinions?

Claire Farrell said...

I don't use Select because I sell almost as much through Smashwords as I do on Amazon US and more than I sell on Amazon UK. I would lose out if I chose Select for this name. (For comparison sakes, I have tried it with a pen name, but I was underwhelmed in comparison).

And as Amazon recently temporarily removed one of my books due to a mistaken copyright infringement claim by a publishing house, it's kind of a relief to have had that option.

Maybe it's just the genres I write in, but more people seem to contact me who have bought my books on Apple and B&N than Amazon. My books appear to get a better response on those stores.

Veronica - Eloheim said...

I have 18 titles. Loading them to all the different platforms was time consuming and frustrating as there were few sales outside of Amazon.

I won't use Smashwords until they take epubs as my heavily formatted books get eaten by their meat grinder thing.

Since I decided to be Amazon exclusive, I went with Select on all titles and have made way more with KOLL than I ever did on the other platforms.

Plus, I don't have to have an Amazon version and a non-Amazon version (with links to my AZ store changed, etc.)

I do sometimes wonder if any of the other markets are big enough to bother with. Then I stop wondering and work on my next book.

I love making KOLL $$ on my lower priced titles and getting paid way more than I would if they had been purchased.

T.L.S Clarke said...

Hey Joe

I am literally days away from releasing my first novel on KDP. I have been lurking on your site for some time, learning from your past experiences and from the wisdom of your other contributors. Your logic is sound, your reasoning is clear and now you have provided figures to back up your claims.

To me, the path seems clear for a newbie author faced with the decision of legacy vs. indie. Perhaps you need to think about a change to the title of your blog.

Ironically it is the legacy that keeps me away from the 'legacy' publishers. If eBooks are forever, then I want to give my children a legacy forever. I read somewhere that selling eBooks is likened to a marathon. Marathon runners are slow and steady; they don't need to sprint to the 'finish line' of summer release dates and limited time on bricks and mortar shelf space. They plod along because they know that the race is long. You don't have to hurry. Success is slower, but it accumulates over time and is built on the strong foundation of practiced craft and an ever increasing potential fan base.

Perhaps in the future, there will be one of us out here that will make it big. We will stand tall, and refuse the legacy deal with brass balls. When asked why, we'll just give them the link to your site.

You see, I think you're right. In fact, I'm betting everything on it.

Tell you what. If I win. I'll owe you a beer ... or three.

Mike Dennis said...

Joe sez:
I want to hear from writers on this issue. Do you go with Amazon Select or not, and why?

To which Mike replies:
I'm all in with Select, Joe.

I tried Nook and got nowhere fast. B&N apparently won't promote anyone whose books don't appear in their brick & mortar stores, meaning, they don't promote anyone who is self-pubbed.

I tried Apple, but who can figure it out? They make it nearly impossible to do business on iBooks, and they make you deal with the monster of iTunes most of the time. Plus, their bookstore actually CLOSES from time to time. They were closed for eight days back in December!!!

Kobo? Who owns those things? Anyone who wants an e-reader is buying a Kindle. Or maybe an iPad, for which they can get a free Kindle app.

I totally get why you're in all the media. Your sales are very high and people will seek you out, no matter what e-reader they own. Plus, you've even sold a boatload of print! But for struggling writers like myself, Select offers the potential for visibility in front of Amazon's audience, which is a big as it gets.

Nadia Lee said...

A publisher pays an author $20,000 advance. Author keeps $17,000 after the agent is paid. There is no paper version. The ebook, priced at $6.99, sells 12,000 ebooks in five years, which is what my legacy ebook Dirty Martini has sold.

That is way too generous, Joe.

I don't know any legacy pubs that pay $20k advance for e-only deals. The money is much lower, and in many cases, there is no advance.

Griffin Hayes said...

When I first heard about Select it scared the crap out of me. "What, thousands of books for free?!?". Then I enrolled, give a few freebies and watched the sales roll in. I was suddenly a believer.

Now after diminishing returns after free days and dwindling borrows I decided to pull all my titles and make them available through B&N, Apple, Kobo etc. (I will say I've been extremely impressed with Kobo's ease of use and consolidated dashboard. All sales go into one pot).

My plan now is to enroll new titles with Select for the three months, use the freebies to bring eyes to my other books and then remove it about the time my next book is being released. Then rinse and repeat. Who knows, maybe it's a mistake, but I won't know until I give it a shot.

Ramon said...

od@Mike Dennis,

You may be cutting your legs short. Who owns Kobos? Tons of readers outside the US. Kobo is bigger than Amazon outside the US. They have a HUGE market share, and when amazon announced the new Kindle, people outside the states that can't get one, are buying one of the many new kobo devices on the market. You might want to take another look at it. :)

Klawzie said...

re: Kindle Select
I have no interest in going into Kindle Select right now because of the exclusivity clause. I (well, my pen name) earn(s) roughly 50% of their sales from Amazon - but that means roughly 50% at other venues (okay, primarily a single other venue). I can't afford to cut my profits in half on the possibility of getting a minor signal boost.

For that matter, the customers who purchase me on the other site are more likely to buy me in PDF or EPUB than MOBI format (it's roughly in that order of sales. I don't think I've sold in any other format yet.) I'm not sure what the preferred platform on the (very few) Smashwords sales I've made, but they were direct through the site, so they could have downloaded any or all of the formats. I like being able to provide my stories to those people who don't know how to convert and then sideload and are happier just buying in their format and reading on whatever device they want.

It doesn't make sense for me to go exclusive. Maybe not even if most of my sales were through Amazon.

I also don't like the idea of putting all my eggs in one basket. I don't want Amazon getting complacent that I'll smile and nod kindly at any changes they make. I'm already annoyed at getting only 35% of my profits when people buy from other countries (including India). Not even if those sales would have been 70% if I joined Select would I be tempted into it, but the fact that they're offering 70% to India sales if you join Select makes me wary and distrustful of what they may do later. And I've always felt favorably towards Amazon. I'm not one of those people who regards them as a Necessary Evil at all. I just want the freedom to back off of Amazon immediately if they change things to something I refuse to tolerate.

That all said - if there were no exclusivity, I would certainly consider Select. I would be happy to let people borrow my titles, even if I ultimately earned a lesser royalty off of the borrows. It would likely mean that if they did do something I felt was wrong I wouldn't be able to pull my titles off Amazon immediately in protest, but to give people the ability to sample my works in full and then decide whether or not they'd like to make the purchase would be worth the small risk.

Just a few rambling thoughts.

Lucy Francis said...

Nadia makes a good point. Except that none of the legacy publishers I've checked who are doing an ebook-only or digital-first imprint are offering any advance. So writers are really shooting themselves in the foot taking those contracts.

I had a fantastic experience in Select, including great success with the KOLL. I withdrew my titles to publish everywhere in June and I've really felt the loss of the KOLL payments, if nothing else. I'm seeing a little movement at B&N and a whole lot of nothing everywhere else. I've heard many times that B&N takes a while to grow. The initial plan was to give it six months to see if I can establish a decent presence on B&N. I hope it doesn't turn out to be a very expensive failed experiment, but so far that looks like where I'm headed.

Stephen Parrish said...

I've been urging Amazon at every opportunity to make KDP Select non-exclusive. I've also been urging them to sell epub format, something I've been urging since 2009.

Please continue urging. For all of us.

P.S. Power said...

I currently have 20 titles up, all on Amazon and enrolled in KDP Select.

I only bother with free giveaways rarely, normally as an experiment to see if anything has changed in the algorithms. (Nothing yet since the last big change.)

What I have noticed though is that being in KDP Select not only gets borrows for the books, but tends to keep all the titles about ten percent higher in the rankings, which most likely means more sales.

I don't think it's anything that special, just the fact that getting borrows boosts your placement numbers, which leads to extra sales and so on.

I haven't been doing this very long over all, my first title having gone up for sale in Jan. 2012.

All of my books are full length novels, which may make a difference to sales figures. Most are parts of series, which so far are far bigger sellers than the stand alone titles.

It seems to me that the summer, especially September is a bit slow for sales, but I lack the personal history to know if that's really the case. My sales figures are up, but that's due to increased number of titles I think. (I can't prove that, but it seems likely.)

What I can't predict at all is what will happen in the future. Will Christmas be a good thing for me personally? Will 2012 be on the same kind of high as 2011 that way?

I'm hopeful, but for the most part am focusing my strategy on writing more and helping my current books find new readers.

I keep most of my titles at $3.99, with the first books in a given series at .99 cents. So far this seems to be a high return strategy for me.

I've found very little benefit to giving things away for free over all. (But then, I think that there is very little overlap between people that collect free books and people willing to pay for them. Again, I can't prove this, and I doubt it's a hundred percent.)

Remembering that I'm new to this, I think I can share that I've been averaging over ten thousand dollars per month on all my books, for the past five months. (possibly more than that.)

As expected, when I first started I didn't have that many books up and didn't have an audience at all, so sales were low.

I do think that August will prove to be my first month with over $15,000 in sales. (All e-book)This month looks on track for about the same.

Oh! Just to clarify, I'm not coming from a legacy background. I haven't had a top one hundred hit. (Though I did have a book go all the way to 500 or so for nearly two weeks! Yay!)

I haven't had any extensive advertising, don't bug people on Twitter or Facebook about my books or anything like that.

That means all my sales are coming from within the Amazon system "naturally".

The only thing "special" about my works 9other than that I like them and others seems to as well, though that's pretty much everyone here too...) is that I tend to write one or two books a month.

(Which means I don't do a lot else, because of all the editing time needed, as well as shear hours of writing per day. If I get a girlfriend I expect that number to drop way the heck down...)

:)

Michael J. Sullivan said...

I totally agree with your stance on the "ebook only" publishing contracts. Harper-Voyager (fantasy imprint of Harper Collins) is doing a 2-week "open submission" period for digital only...I see authors getting positively giddy over this prospect and I'm going WTF?

The playing field is very level in the ebook space and traditional isn't bringing anything to the table that you can't have on your own. This is NOT the case for brick and mortar.

As to your question on Select - I've stayed out of it because I don't want to shut out nook and kobo people from access to my books. Yes I agree Amazon is where the majority of money is made but I owe it to my readers to let them read on whatever device they want to so I won't do the exclusive thing.

Dana Michelle Burnett said...

I did Kindle Select and loved it! I signed up and have almost stayed in 180 days. I put the first novel in my series in the program and ran a free promo with it when the second one came out and will be doing the same thing in Oct. when the last book in the series comes out. I see a spike in sales after the free days that generally triples my sales for about two months.

I still find though that blogs, Facebook, and Twitter are most effective. I sell more books on days that I am more active on social media and while not as impressive as the after effects of Kindle Select, it is more easily sustainable.

adan said...

definitely want to hear what you'll be doing for the holidays with your titles -

wasn't sure if i just missed it, but you do sell much via your site also?

big congrats joe, best wishes ;-)

Alan Spade said...

@ adan : joe said he sol like 4 or 5 ebooks by his website a month, I think.

@ Joe : Thank you very much for sharing your numbers, Joe. You know I do not always agree with you, but this blog post rocks !

I'm a damned idealist. I did not go with KDP Select and won't. I think exclusivity is the kind of thing unfair to the competition and the readers. It may hurt my sales, but I stick with that.

I also would not work with platforms who do only DRM. I think Pubit does that, so even if B&N would come in France I would not work with them. DRM hurt the reader, so I reject it.

I'm wary of Smashwords because it does not disclose very clearly if the channels it distibute your ebooks use DRM or no.

Besides, I prefer to work directly with platforms : Kobo, Apple, Amazon, Google books.

Sales figures : I'm a very little fish. I have sold less than 2000 books in paper in all my career (I began writing in 2001), mostly handselling them (I began handselling them in 2009 with a publisher, than in 2010 from my own).

Since october, I have sold more than 650 ebooks. I sell 3 to 4 more in Amazon.fr than on the iTunes Store and Kobo Store (Apple and Kobo are roughly at he same level for me). Almost nothing with Google ebooks.

One of the first ereading device was build back in 2000 by Bookeen, so you would think that french company has a lead. But they do not work with self-pubbed authors, so I don't sell anything with them.

I have zero sale with Smashwords (all my ebooks are on Smashwords).

Since June 02, 2010 with Smashwords and october 10, 2011, with Amazon.com I have tried an experiment : pay 400 bucks a pro (Brian Stableford) to translate my short story Marinopolis (12000 words) in english and see if it sells.

Overall result : 0 sale. Yes, the cover sucks. Risky business. ( http://www.amazon.com/Marinopolis-ebook/dp/B005US9UDA/ )

And, for the paper, I recently put my books on Createspace.

Admin said...

Great stats and sales figures, Joe. Amazon will always be the top dog. No matter how anyone disses them and thinks they're unfair and rebels against them, they better get off their high horse and remember without Amazon, we wouldn't be making the amount of money we're making even with all the other Internet storefronts. I'll be sure to tweet your post this morning, nice to see how someone works their butt off and reaps rewards. ;o)

David de Pedro said...

Hi Joe,

I'm David from Catalonia (Spain)and I'm a self-published in Amazon, and now I'm trying in Createspace. Today I discober your blog and I think your post is very interesting. I write in spanish, my level of english is very bad. Can you give some piece of advice for to do show my novel in the latin market? What is KOLL? I don't understand...

I'm agree of your answer. My e-mail is info@daviddepedro.com.

Thanks!

TK Kenyon said...

Hi Joe,

Thank you so much this. It's personally inspiring, and I appreciate your honesty and transparency.

TK Kenyon


MySpace is still around, right? My Amazon profile. Tweet with me! I tweet links to free e-fiction on the web and happy thoughts! A great place to see what I’m up to, writing-wise. All my reviews on Amazon:

dawn said...

Joe,
Thanks as always, great post.
KDP Select has been good to me, though I know this will vary among writers. It boosted one of my romance books and I sell basically 90 percent of my books on Amazon, so because of that, the exclusivity for me made sense...
I don't have enough out that I am seeing the numbers like you have, but I can definitely see how that could be coming up. Right now I'm taking your number one marketing advice....write more books!

adan said...

@ alan spade, thanks for the info re joe' s onsite sales

regarding drm on pubit, on my u.s. site, it says this :

Do you want DRM encryption for your NOOK Book?* Yes No What is DRM?

hope that helps alan, best wishes ;-)

Rick Gualtieri said...

Thanks for the breakdown, Joe, and congrats on some truly drool worthy numbers.

Right now I have six books out, with a seventh coming soon. 1 is on select, and 2 are former select titles. The new one, well I'm still debating it. I'm ambivalent to select right now. Amazon is definitely the big dog in the room, and I find my sales with them are on the order of 30:1 compared to Pubit, Kobo, and Apple combined. That being said, I haven't found my free promotions to be all that effective and I sell just enough on those other platforms to offset any borrows I get. Likewise on that last part, I get just enough requests from Nook or Kobo owners to make me want to make sure I don't disappoint or alienate anyone.

Still, most of my efforts are pointed towards Amazon because they seem to work there. I'm still small potatoes, but one of my books crossed that threshold into the top 10k eBooks for the first time this week, which is more awesome than words can express. As far as I'm concerned, Amazon is the only place that would be possible for me right now. They're the only major seller that offers the tools to make our books stand out more as well as the only place that seems to seriously give self-publishers a push.

Veronica - Eloheim said...

I'm wondering if anyone else experiences selling more books in the second half of the month than in the first half?

Month after month I see an uptick after the 15th or so.

Also, September has been the slowest month of the year so far for me. Hopefully the end of the month flurry will get it in line with the other "slow" months.

Alan Spade said...

@adan : thanks for the info, exactly what I wanted to know about pubit (even if their website state for the moment : "PubIt! is currently for U.S. publishers. PubIt! requires a U.S. Bank Account, U.S. Credit Card, and a U.S. Tax ID, that are ALL tied to a U.S. address. The content will be offered for sale in the U.S." http://pubit.barnesandnoble.com/pubit_app/bn?t=support). So, we'll see when (and if) they cross atlantic.

A post very useful about Amazon KDP Select on Kris Rusch's blog : http://kriswrites.com/2012/09/19/the-business-rusch-content-is-king/

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Thanks for the breakdown, Joe.

At the beginning of September, I took all of my books off KDP Select but put only one book, Trial Junkies, up on Nook and Kobo to see what would happen.

When I saw that I was only selling a handful of copies on those platforms, I immediately re-upped all of my other books with KDP Select. Those KOLL numbers are strong, and more than offset any losses I'd have on Nook and Kobo.

I'm keeping Trial Junkies on the new platform until the end of the month. If it doesn't perform better, I'll return it to KDP Select where it performed QUITE nicely and also gave me several thousand in KOLL money.

I don't see a lot of promise in Nook and Kobo. At least not for me. And my books are all DRM free, so they can be read on any platform anyway.

I.J.Parker said...

I've had my titles on KDP since the summer of 2011. The first books were signed up for 1-year exclusives. I have regretted this since Amazon promotion made a difference only for the first few months. I later opted for Select December 2011. That exclusivity lasts only 90 days. My results were nowhere near as spectacular as those cited here in blogs and comments. Since Spring 2012, I use Select, but offer fewer freebies. For a series, you really only need to do this with one title. Lately, I'm experimenting with taking titles off Select for a month to give them some exposure on B&N. After a month, I return to Kindle Exclusive status. At the moment, that seems to me the way to handle things. I should add, by the way, that I have raised all my prices to between 5.90 and 7.90 for novels, though I'm still well below those charged by my legacy publishers.

Thanks, Joe, for this blog. It's good to know that things haven't changed very much. Kindle is still the best bet. Smashwords has never performed for me.

All Adither said...

Thank you for this. I love your willingness to share. I don't think I'm going to work with Smashwords any more because their customer service blows. I tried to get my novel off B&N so I could go with KDP Select again. I unpubbed it two weeks before signing up with KDP Select and it's still on B&N. When I emailed B&N about this, they responded promptly confirming that my book was still on their site via Smashwords. When I tried to email Smashwords, they said they were backlogged 1 to 2 weeks on getting back to folks about their inquiries. I moderate for a website and taking 1 to 2 weeks to get back to members is unacceptable. So, once I can get them to take it down (even though my Smashwords dashboard says unpublished), I'll never put it up there again.

Robert said...

I find it fascinating the number of writers here who took their books off Select to try them on Nook, Kobo, etc. for a month, didn't get great immediate results, and immediately placed those titles back in the Select program.

It's a marathon, people, not a sprint.

Jacob Chastain said...

"Do you go with Amazon Select or not, and why?"

Currently, I have two shorts published, a dark supernatural novel releasing on 10/3, a dark comedy releasing in November, and a novella before the end of the year.

With all of this going on, I have gone back and forth with using KDP. Currently, my two shorts ARE in KDP and I had a good go at my free promos.

However, with those freebies, I had a small bounce back to actual dollars. Real small. But, the traffic to my site has gone up tenfold since then and it keeps going up. How do I know it’s connected? Because the sources of where people come to me from I haven't touched, but those stories did. Why is it good that my site is getting so many hits? Because it is my marketing center. As I get more products, they will have more to choose and buy.

Now, I am a new, unheard of author. I have had some name recognition via YouTube and Social Networks, but nothing to really drive sells.

This means though, for a newbie, like myself, KDP seems like the chance of a lifetime. I gave out several thousand shorts when they were free. That is Advertisement. What happens when I give a way a novel with a great cover, good description, and ina genre that sells? Hopefully sells, but more importantly, more places my name goes. The more people see me, the better off I am going to be in the future when my virtual shelf space is 5, 10, 20, and 30.

For my first novel release, I am using KDP and KOLL. It's just too good of an advertisement and chance to get more fans and readers of my blog not to.

For you JK, and other big money authors, I would say that there is a good chance you can really sky rocket your presence on kindle. If you sell that well across the board, what happens when you go free or get borrowed so many times over and over again?

You could lose money, but exposure, at your level in the game, is that not wanted as much? You're already making great money. Why not gamble and really do a huge push to get you name even bigger out there through KDP?

Jacob Chastain said...

*repost because of typos... lol*
*Caffeine is needed*

"Do you go with Amazon Select or not, and why?"

Currently, I have two shorts published, a dark supernatural novel releasing on 10/3, a dark comedy releasing in November, and a novella before the end of the year.

With all of this going on, I have gone back and forth with using KDP. Currently, my two shorts ARE in KDP and I had a good go at my free promos.

However, with those freebies, I had a small bounce back to actual dollars. Real small. But, the traffic to my site has gone up tenfold since then and it keeps going up. How do I know it’s connected? Because the sources of where people come to me from I haven't touched, but those stories did. Why is it good that my site is getting so many hits? Because it is my marketing center. As I get more products, they will have more to choose and buy.

Now, I am a new, unheard of author. I have had some name recognition via YouTube and Social Networks, but nothing to really drive sales.

This means though, for a newbie, like myself, KDP seems like the chance of a lifetime. I gave out several thousand shorts when they were free. That is Advertisement. What happens when I give a way a novel with a great cover, good description, and in a genre that sales? Hopefully sales, but more importantly, more places my name goes. The more people see me, the better off I am going to be in the future when my virtual shelf space is 5, 10, 20, and 30.

For my first novel release, I am using KDP and KOLL. It's just too good of an advertisement and chance to get more fans and readers of my blog not to.

For you JK, and other big money authors, I would say that there is a good chance you can really sky rocket your presence on kindle. If you sell that well across the board, what happens when you go free or get borrowed so many times over and over again?

You could lose money, but exposure, at your level in the game, is that not wanted as much? You're already making great money. Why not gamble and really do a huge push to get you name even bigger out there through KDP?

Anonymous said...

Yes, publishing houses are now starting to solicit unagented manuscripts for digital-only publishing. Harper Voyager (HarperCollins' scir-fi/fantasy imprint) is here http://www.thebookseller.com/news/harper-voyager-opens-doors-unagented-submissions.html

"...the publisher says that it are looking for enough projects to launch a new e-book each month. Each contract will cover world English language distribution, with Harper Voyager reserving the right to also publish the books in physical form."

So there's yer answer. The publisher sounds quite proud of itself, and the fool's line forms at the left.

I read another article about a young adult imprint doing this for only three months, but can't seem to locate that one. But the point is multiple publishers are now doing it. So the profit is in e-books as you say, and it appears they wanna grab the money from naive writers in an effort to save their antiquated system.

Traci Hohenstein said...

My Thomas and Mercer books are in some Books A Million stores.Have had decent luck with Select.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

It's a marathon, people, not a sprint.

This may be true, but in my case I'm losing thousands of dollars and I can't afford to wait for BN & Kobo to catch up. KDP Select's KOLL is FAR more valuable to me than what they're offering at this point.

Lee Goldberg said...

My friend Robert Gregory Browne wrote: "This may be true, but in my case I'm losing thousands of dollars and I can't afford to wait for BN & Kobo to catch up. KDP Select's KOLL is FAR more valuable to me than what they're offering at this point."

The same is true for me. I am losing way too much money waiting for sales to pick up on Kobo and B&N. So today I took all of my books, except THE WALK, off of those platforms and put them back into KDP Select.

I am still losing money on THE WALK compared to what I was earning from borrows...but the sales are growing for that book on both Kobo and B&N so i am will to gamble another month or so and see what happens. But if sales haven't picked up considerably by Christmas, I will be back on KDP Select to take advantage of the sales from all of those new Kindle owners.

Traci Hohenstein said...

Blogger keeps eating my words so I'll try again...

My Thomas & Mercer books are in some Books A Million stores. BAM has been great to deal with and are always welcoming for those that still like to do book signings.

I'm finding that being a hybrid author means looking outside of the box for promo opportunities and also experimenting with different types of promo. Of course, I come from a sales and marketing background so I'm always tweaking my marketing plan.

As far as Select, I withdrew my books from other venues a long time ago due to low sales and put them all up on Select. I'm learning and experimenting as I go along but each time I do a promo, I get better results than the last time. Last month, over Labor Day weekend, I put up my lowest ranking romantic comedies. This time around I got over 15K downloads over five days. I got as high as 104 & 109 in the top free list - not bad for chick lit novellas. The best part - after going back to $2.99 (I also raised from 99cents), my ranking improved considerably, my borrows skyrocketed, and I believe it increased the sales in my other books as well. There are many components to doing a successful promo. Here are some examples:
1. Do all 5 days at once. More exposure=more downloads.
2. Prepare for promo a month in advance. (I have a huge list of book bloggers, FB pages, and ebook sites that I send notification of my promo to starting a month in advance).
3. Take a look at your book's description on Amazon and adjust it to include announcements of any new releases coming out (great to do a freebie promo prior to new release).

I hope this helps!

Ken Lindsey said...

I have my first title in KDP Select right now, but the 90 days ends on October 7th. I won't be going back.

As an unknown author, my sales were small all over, so I've been testing and trying new things. I hopped onto KDP Select because of some encouraging things I heard right here on your comments. It turned out to be the wrong move for me, because I had higher sales at Barnes and Noble, before the switch, and my sales at Amazon haven't jumped to meet the loss from B&N.

I think if I had gone with Select when I first published, things would have turned out much differently. With things as they are right now, though, I wouldn't recommend it for someone with little to no previous exposure.

However, that's just my experience, and I'm not done learning yet. Everything could change tomorrow with the way the publishing world is shifting around.

Thanks for all your great posts and information, Joe!

Anonymous said...

Only Joe Konrath would publish details like this. Amazing!

Really helpful to authors all over the world. Thanks Joe. The blog is back on track.

J S said...

Joe, When you said "The majority of the money I've made on ebooks are on six of my novels, The List, Origin, Disturb, Shot of Tequila, Endurance, and Trapped." Why do you think these are doing so much better? I see a mix of standalone plus series and both ebooks and paper. All but one is on your combined K&K author platform. Curious if your dig into pivot tables has teased anything out?

Anonymous said...

Anyone looking for ebook stats should take a look at this collection. Incredible:

http://pinterest.com/bwmbooks/ebook-ereader-stats-and-charts/

Joe Konrath said...

All but one is on your combined K&K author platform.

I don't know what you mean. What's K&K?

Novels sell better than shorts or collections.

Russell Blake said...

Interesting. Confirms what I have seen in my own short career, such as it is.

In 2011, I sold about 2000 books, total. Most of those were in December.

In 2012, so far, I've sold over 70,000, and should exceed 100,000 by year end.

That is a mindblowing number. And since I've set most of my pricing at $4.99 or so, you can do the math.

I remember reading your blog when I first made the decision to work at this like a maniac for one year. I published my first book June, 2011. I sold about 7 the first month. Second month I think I hit $30 in sales. A giddy high.

December I saw $1400. Whoohoo. After releasing almost a dozen novels, I earned less than if I had a cup in front of me on the sidewalk and was doing a bad Dylan impression. But I kept writing, releasing novels at a breakneck pace, as though my work was in desperate demand. I spent most of my time writing. Not blogging, not marketing, not chatting on twitter or forums. Writing the next one. And the next.

2012 I will have released 9 novels by Xmas, unless I drop first.

But my sales are growing steadily, and my new series, about to launch Oct. 5, should blow it wide open. If not, I will be eking out a nice living doing what I love, and hearing from satisfied readers on a regular basis - which makes it all very much worthwhile.

Throughout all of this, I've checked in regularly to see what your thoughts are, and it appears that your trajectory is much like what I've seen. Obviously I hope my 2013 can be another quantum leap over 2012, but if it just stays flat, I'm ecstatic.

This from a guy who sold his first book 15 months ago.

Lot of it is luck. But it's also amazing how, with 15 hour days, you can nudge luck in your favor.

Nicely done blog. I always enjoy the sales number blogs. I know from my own perspective, while it can seem braggy, it also gave me the drive to continue. Seeing other authors doing it via their own efforts has proved a huge incentive. Hopefully my little story will convince someone sitting on the fence that they can do it too.

Russell Blake
Suspense Author
http://www.amazon.com/Russell-Blake/e/B005OKCOLE/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
http://RussellBlake.com

Steven Ramirez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven Ramirez said...

Joe, this is an amazing post—thank you! After publishing exclusively for the Kindle and the Nook, I was strongly considering trying Smashwords to get access to the other platforms you mention. Now I’m not so sure. Great information.

Walter Knight said...

I went all in with KDP Select because the other venues just don't measure up to Amazon, and Amazon is growing. Not only am I also gettting UK sales, but now Italy and Germany, and I think Spain.

Cheryl Tardif said...

Hi Joe,

You asked for feedback from authors about KDP Select, so here's mine:

I'm a Canadian author and wasn't able to get on board with KDP as it wasn't open to us until 2012. I was skeptical and hesitant at first, and hated the exclusivity clause. But I'm never one to back down from a challenge, so I jumped on board, enrolling 2 of my titles, and then 2 more, and then more. So far this year I've earned over $150,000 with my Kindle ebooks, and should reach over $200K by the end of this year, if my average continues.

I did not enroll 2 of my titles because they didn't qualify--a novelette titled REMOTE CONTROL, which sells fr $0.99, and a collection of shorts, SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET & OTHER CREEPY STORIES, which sells for $1.99. Both of these titles are sold on other platforms and in various formats--Apple, Kobo, Sony, Diesel, Smashwords, etc. My sales for both are quite low.

Prior to Select, my titles sold only a few copies each a month on these other platforms, so I can safely say that Select has dramatically increased my income.

I began my career as a self-published author, was signed by a small publishing company in 2006 that re-published my most popular title at the time, made a tiny advance, signed with a NY agent shortly after but he was unable to do anything for me other than give me great verbal support. The publisher folded after about 2 years, I cut my ties with my agent and went back to self-publishing in 2010.

Since my success with KDP Select, I have been contacted by agents, a senior editor with Penguin (she came to ME!), Amazon for special promos, foreign rights agents and more. This NEVER happened prior to Select.

I've signed with Trident Media Group, will be represented for the first time at Frankfurt Book Fair, have an audio deal possibly in the works (fingers are crossed!), foreign rights deals in the works, and have a Big 6 publisher waiting for my next novel. This only happened AFTER Select.

So will I pull all my ebooks from KDP Select? Not bloody likely! LOL. The other platforms aren't paying me like this, and until I see that Select is no longer bringing me in the big checks, I will remain right where I am. :-)

P.S. One of my Select titles is: HOW I MADE OVER $42,000 IN 1 MONTH SELLING MY KINDLE eBOOKS, where I talk about all the strategies/techniques I use every time I have a Kindle Select free promo on--and I still use them. Over $32,000 of that total came from just 1 title.

Cheryl Kaye Tardif
www.cherylktardif.com

Nancy said...

Hi Joe –

No figures to report (I’m about to epublish a novel that I self-published in print twelve years ago and a second in the series that no agent would ever deign even to read), but I thought this article was worth noting. http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2012/09/literary-agent-jason-ashlock-big-book-publishers-not-innovating-fast-enough264.html

It’s an interview with literary agent Jason Ashlock, who says, among other things: “The author's all that matters now -- the author and the reader. Everybody in the middle is in a period of redefinition.”

His response is to try to lure (I suppose that “attract” would be a more neutral verb) authors into epublishing with his company, because they will “curate” the “very best new voices” in suspense. I don’t know his terms, so I can’t speak to whether this would ultimately help or hinder an author, but it sounds like traditional publisher speak to me. He touts it as a helpful service to readers: “We believe that there is exceptional value in a highly curated channel that helps readers determine what to read in their favored categories.”

He also talks about how he published (using “one of our authors”) a digital short about Jeremy Lin in six days while Lin was a hot item, while several biographies by traditional publishing houses were not published until after Lin’s injury, when he was much less newsworthy.

Thanks for sharing your numbers. I’d be interested in your thoughts on Mr. Ashlock and his company.

Nancy McKibben
www.leader.com/nancymckibben

David L. Shutter said...

Nancy

Meh, not much to say about Mr. Ashlock's operation. My biggest takeaway was this:

The dozens and dozens of new startups focused on publishing and the wealth of venture capital being poured into them...

These "agent as publisher" operations are sprouting up everywhere. Big money is starting to roll into indie publishing and, no surprise, a new cottage industry is being created to try and collect.

Just speaking for myself here, but before I contracted with anyone for a service for a fee (or royalites!!) I would need two questions answered:

1) What do they know that I don't?

2) What can they do that I can't?

Honestly, I didn't read anything from Mr. Ashlock about the current publishing landscape, indie or print, that I haven't already read in an author blog in the last month or so. Several times. Soo..where's the keen business insight and subject matter expetise that only someone like him can deliver? I don't see any.

I see the Jeremy Lin biography book. Looks great. What else has his company done? What author was languising in e-obscurity before being elevated to big sales by Ashlock? What author benefited from a foreign market push, with all that goes into it, that was unfeasible for the author to do themselves? That's just a few of many questions I would ask before signing over royalties or incurring fees.

When publishing all your works on on all platforms, in all markets and constantly marketing everything on the web becomes a full time career in itself, I see a potential value in operations like this. But not right now, not if you're just starting out with one or two books and honestly, not with Mr. Ashlock based on what I've read from him.

Just my $.02

Nancy said...

David -

Thanks for your comments, which is about what I thought. I wasn't planning to contact Mr. Ashlock - I just enjoyed the combination of "the author is everything" and "but he still needs us."

Nope, I'm over that.

-Nancy

Ishta Mercurio said...

This is very interesting for a writer on the verge of deciding whether to query or self-epub. Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences!

David L. Shutter said...

Nancy

I figured you thought as much, was just adding my thoughts on agent-publishers.

Ironically enough, Mike Shatzkin just wrote about Ashlock in his latest as he discusses publishers adjusting their scale. Good stuff. Sorry, couldn't get link to work.

http://www.idealog.com/blog/new-publishing-companies-are-starting-that-are-much-leaner-than-their-established-competitors/

The Diller/Rudin initiative sounds interesting, and call me cynical, but all I see are indie hopefuls signing away e-royalties to two producers over the prospect of film deals.

Though, that may very well end up being the case for some talented folks, I'd just prefer to see it happen first.

Author Scott Nicholson said...

Joe, you know I disagree with about half of all you say, but that half is constantly shifting and always worth considering the other half. And I am out of the writer babble business because I don't know that much, but because you've been helpful to so many (including me), I will toss in a few nuggets if anyone finds them helpful.

I've given away more than a million books through Select, but now most of my titles are out. I knew I would take a short-term loss in the loans but I felt it was time to jump, just as I felt January was the time to go all-in on Select. My concerns with Select aren't the philosophical ones others seem to suffer from (after all, you can put a Kindle app on almost anything if you really want a Kindle book, or read it in the cloud--few are truly deprived).

Besides the dramatic lessening of the freebie impact in the algorithms, it's the sheer volume of competition--180,000 books now in Select, while the financial pot remains the same. Additionally, having 4,000 free books available every single day means even more competition for both sales and other free titles. Because so many books are now free, it actually lessens the "natural" benefit of giving something away--because people are less likely to actually read your book and go on to others. Or they may read it, like it, and simply wait for the next free one. So it's possible my personal experience is that I have saturated my own market with freebies. But I don't care. It was the thing to do at that time, and at no future point in history will a "free book" be automatically appealing to anyone, unless it is a rare wonder by a big name. Genie's out of the bottle and is never going back in.

But I also anticipate major changes--that free books (supported by ads) and the subscription services will be the "new normal." Maybe in as soon as three years. Just look at the dramatic arcs and changes of the past three years--is there any reason to suspect the digital future won't change just as rapidly? So I can hardly call it it a "marathon"--more like a 440-meter run. I don't see people commonly buying $3.99 ebooks in 2020.

At any rate, this is much larger than just U.S. Amazon. As worldwide markets evolve, Amazon will have a tougher time. I am already seeing it in the UK, where my Kobo sales are at least on the map with my Amazon sales--but suppose Amazon adds KOLL there, and in other countries? Game changes again.

And Kobo has altered the 70 percent royalty structure down to $1.99--and temporarily up to 80 percent. Game changes again.

What if major sponsors began subsidizing free ebooks? In that case, you would need a massive pool, where Amazon surges to near monopoly--yet legacy publishers can also regain some relevancy. Game changes again.

What if Amazon splits royalties for all Select titles, as they just did with India--and non-Select titles only get 35 percent? I'd be rolling back into Select so fast the Internet would burn. Game changes again.

Author Scott Nicholson said...

Part 2


Yes, Amazon is likely to change policies that benefit them to the detriment of indie writers. And they absolutely should, because they have a job to do. They clearly want to be the go-to content aggregator and digital delivery system for the world. That won't make them any less awesome. A lot of us were thrilled back when they "only" gave us 35 percent. There will always be a way to monetize for the creators who have content that people want.

So what happens next really doesn't bother me. I'll just keep jumping like crazy--and currently I think the emerging foreign markets are where the greatest rate of growth will be. I originally thought having multiple small trickles was the way to max out this indie gig, and after a delirious Select detour, that's where I am back around to again. But if my handful of titles in Select show a kick in the pulse rate, I am ready to go back.

Thanks for sharing your experiences, everyone. It helps us all, because nobody is right all the time. And thanks, Joe, for all you've done for us. Now go write us some fake reviews.

B.R.A.G. Medallion said...

We are the Book Readers Appreciation Group (B.R.A.G.) and it is our goal to shine a light on self-published book. We have a global reading team that has considered nearly 500 books at this time and honored 50+ with our medallion. Industry estimates that only 5% of those books self-published are worth a readers time and money - so you see our work is never ending!

We do not do reviews - there are no tricks and no gimmicks. To qualify for our honor, a book is read by a reading team and the decision must be unanimous that it is a book they would recommend to their best friend. What better recommendations could there be? I am sure you would agree that a unanimous decision by any group is significant. Once chosen, we then set out to shine a light on this deserving book. There is no charge to the author and our readers are kept anonymous . Our readers have no contact with the author and have no pressure for their decision by us, the author or any other source. This protects the readers and maintains our integrity.

It is our intent to honor good books and to side step the pitfalls that reviews often fall into.
We would love to have you visit us and see what we are doing-
www.bragmedallion.com

Nancy said...

(I've tried to post this once before, so forgive me if it ends up posted twice.)

How about this pricing model? (see article here: http://www.copyblogger.com/pay-what-you-want-pricing/ from Linda Formicelli at Copyblogger)

A writer with a blog about writing also offers ecourses about writing. You can take the premium course with email support, or just order the materials, the basic course. An 8 week premium course costs $240 and the basic course $120.

Inspired by a Kickstarter idea, and because she typically sold out the premium course and only sold three spots in the basic course, she dropped the price of the basic course to $30 and told people they could pay what they wanted for it – i.e. it had to be at least $30, but they could pay more if they valued it more than that.

She sent that information to her email list of several thousand, and sold 128 basic spots instead of the typical 3, making ten times the usual money. Repeating the experiment several times gave her the same results, and the average price that her customers paid was about $44 - $14 over the basic price she charged.

Her caveats are that she offers a really good course and has a good mailing list of readers who trust her.

Note that she did have a minimum price: “I just made an intelligent guess at what price would attract students based on the market, while simultaneously not making me not feel resentful over charging too little.”

So, of course, I wondered – Has anyone has tried that model with ebooks?

-Nancy McKibben

Tracy Sharp said...

Me too!

Amber Dane said...

Thanks for posting this. Some things I had been thinking about you addressed here including how to keep a book free past the 5 days on kdpselect. There are so many questions, decisions, and not knowing what to do in this world of writing. I wrote a business plan and will be making changes to it. I posted my first novel up in June 2012 and was blown away when it hit the top 100. I want to experiment with kdpselect for an upcoming release. The comments here were interesting and very helpful.Congrats, Joe on your terrific success and thanks for always being so open and sharing,means a lot to this new writer.

Anonymous said...

If I am up against all this competition, who is going to read my book? If I am up against Konrath then I have already lost. I am an amateur the only thing I can hold a candle to is good fanfiction. I have alot of followers but... I give up on writing. I don't want to even think about self publishing because I am up against people that are better than me. I feel defeated looking at Konrath's numbers I swear. I know that's depressing but it's true.

Tim Tresslar said...

Awesome, I just clicked on my Amazon home page. Since I looked at your review for SEP (Stop Eating Poop) Amazon also has offered up four or five other alternatives for my consideration, including a product dubbed Potty Mouth.
My days of cruising the backyard, eating shit are over. I only have Joe Konrath to thank for this.

Nick Rose said...

Re Select: I've stayed away, because the exclusivity bothers me quite a lot. However, I've just read ValdaDeDieu's comment and that's set me thinking...

Katharine said...

Hey Joe,
I have a question, but I would be happy with answer from anyone who knows . . .
About textbooks, sometime the teacher or student prefers a paperback, and sometimes the electronic versionis better. May I publish my textbooks in both versions without upsetting anyone's sense of fairness?
Thanks!

Steven W. said...

Question for you guys... you mentioned you made your books free but Amazon doesn't let authors drop below 2.99 ...so is there another site you use to sell it free ? I look forward to your answers.

Steven Wolff

John Kaden said...

Thanks for the great info, very inspiring

Coach said...

I agree - excellent info. just a word if I may make so bold as to correct your Latin - it should be 'ad nauseam'

Jacob Chastain said...

Steven,

Amazon does let you go below 2.99 if you do a 30% royalty rate.

And to make copies free you have to join the Kindle Select program (can be found on the KDP dashboard) and they give you five days every 3 months to do so as a promotion.

But you have to be exclusive on the kindle platform for those 3 months...

hope that answered your question.

K.B. Owen said...

Hi, Joe, congrats on the sales numbers! I sent you an email a while back with a question, but it probably got buried (perhaps along with this comment, but hey, it's worth a shot). Jane Dystel is also my agent, and she has proposed that I epublish my first book with them after legacy publishers turned it down (after reading this post, I'm thinking maybe that wasn't a bad thing). We haven't gotten into nitty-gritty details about it yet, but she really believes in my book and wants to see it out there. I was wondering about your impressions of the process and the result, now that your latest book has been put out through this e-stributor method. Were you happy with doing it this way? Would you do it again?

Many thanks,
Kathy

Nicola Marsh said...

Congrats on the sensational figures, Joe. And thanks for sharing. If more authors did this, writers could make informed decisions about publishing.

I've just indie-pubbed my first contemporary romance (after traditionally publishing 35 novels with several publishers.)

I used KDP exclusively because I wanted to see the traction those 5 free days at the start could give me.
The result?

CRAZY LOVE hit #1 in the kindle store on day 1 and stayed there for 5 days.
And the carryover sales have continued.
The borrows are significant too so I think I'll be sticking with KDP for follow up novels.

Once I have more than 2 weeks sales figures to go on, I plan on sharing my publishing journey too.

It's an exciting time for writers!

A.M. Schultz said...

Very cool breakdown. I think a lot of authors -- both those just starting out and those who have struggled for years -- appreciate the honesty and the glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel.

-A.M.

Annie Seaton said...

A very interesting read...thanks for sharing,Joe. Nicola,I look forward to reading more about your self publishing.

Soraya Lane - Romance Author said...

Joe, reading your posts has really inspired me. I love your honesty, and I'm happy to say that I finally went ahead and self-published my first book in July this year. The results have been fantastic, and I'm sticking with Select for now - I'm too scared to leave it because KOLL has been fantastic, and I'm really happy with the sales too. I've just put up my second book, and I have to say it's nice to be in control of my work - from price point to marketing and everything in between!

Right now I'm happy writing for my publisher and self-publishing too, and I really appreciate successful authors like you being honest and open about your choices, and the opportunities available.

Soraya Lane

Linda Hawley said...

Joe, I've been reading this blog since I published my first book, one year ago this month. This particular article was so good that (1) I read it twice, and (2) I shared it with my small (i.e. trusted) writing group to come and read it too. It answers several questions that I've been pondering for the past few months. I published my third book last month, and after the last series being received so well, I'm working on my next trilogy. You've encouraged me along the way by the information you've so passionately shared here, and I thank you for it.
Linda Hawley

Rosemary said...

Joe, I heard back in December that KDP Select was only going to run for 12 months and then it was going to finish. Do you know if Select will still end in November 2012?

p.s. I started on Amazon, however have moved out of Select and onto other platforms in order to increase visibility for my books. Being only on Amazon means that I'm just a very small fish in a big pond chock-full of other similar sized fish. Smashwords has been great in that I can list the first book of each of my two trilogies for free for a determined length of time, increase the visibility of my books, and then eventually I'll get flow on as readers move onto the other (pay-for) books of my trilogies.

Lisa Olsen said...

Hi Joe,

I just started self publishing in June 2011 and now have 9 titles out. I do Kindle Select, rotating my titles out and I've been very pleased with the success. Amazon does constitute the majority of my sales (we're talking $10,000 from Amazon last month and $150 from B&N), so the exclusivity doesn't bother me a whole lot. I sell very few print books (maybe $50 last month) but with the strong ebook sales that doesn't bother me much.

Thanks for starting the frank discussion on earnings, it's great to compare notes with other authors!

Brian Keelan said...

Very good and very useful information here Joe. My original idea was to put my books on my own website and do the marketing to drive traffic to the webwsite rather than to the on-line bookstores. That way you can keep all the money but it appears that most of the money being made is being made at Amazon.Anyway, what do you think about the idea of selling from your won website?
Brian Keelan

Obsidian Poet said...

I was thinking that they put one book in KDP and then say book 2 and 3 together on another platform which is not a violation. If they put the same books in select and then bundle them it is a violation.

Elizabeth Lang said...

From their track record, I have no confidence Amazon won't screw authors in the end. I refuse to go with KSP and help Amazon destroy the competition by going exclusive and thus reducing competition.

While I do sell on Amazon, it is very reluctantly but I refuse to buy from them, and I'm not alone in that. I think more and more people are getting pissed off at Amazon's bullying and heavy-handed behaviour and refuse to sell themselves just to get some bucks.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for articulating the reasons I left the publishing world after 20 years. For the last 8 years I have been publishing my own work as printed books and surviving just as modestly as I did before, but I haven't done e-books. I am inspired and it will be my 2013 project to produce not another print book but to learn how to put some of my 30 out-of-print books, which enjoyed such a short in-print life, back in the world. My biggest obstacle has been getting the permission of illustrators, some of whom are impossible to contact.

S.D. Skye said...

Boy I need this post today. Fortunately, I knew where to turn for consolation. I turned down a book deal with a Big Six publisher for the first book in my new series today. And even though I know I made the right business decision for so many reasons you've stated in your blog over the years, I still had that momentary "What if..." pang of uncertainty. LOL I'll get over it soon enough.

I just couldn't see signing anymore of my books away without the proper support to make them successful and pricing models that set new authors up for failure. I did better on my own when I initially self published...before my first two books were acquired. Wish I could get the rights back.

So, now I'm back on my own with a new series on tap and we'll see how it goes. You couldn't have posted a more appropriate post for me than this. Thank you for your voice of reason.