For those who follow the trends in publishing, you may have seen the latest statistics on the trends from our last holiday season (Dec 2010/Jan 2011) in Publishers Weekly ( http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/financial-reporting/article/46510-january-e-book-sales-soar-top-hardcover-mass-market-paperback.html ).
To summarize the article: predictions about ebook sales taking off were well-founded. Sales of e-readers during the holidays exploded, resulting in equally high sales of ebooks. Some estimates from the Association of American Publishers show that ebook sales went up almost 116% ($69.9 million in January). (Of course $1 million of that went to Amanda Hocking, but that’s another story. LOL)
Sales of mass market paperbacks, on the other hand, slipped nearly 31% lower. In fact, mass market paperbacks sold $30 million LESS than ebook sales. Sales of other “physical” books also fell.
Over the last few weeks, I know a lot of authors have seen similar information because there has been an explosion of “indie,” i.e. independent authors, publishing their backlists on the Kindle and in other epublishing arenas. For an established author, the question isn’t “should I accept the stigma of being an indie author?” but how “fast can I get my backlist shaped up and available?”.
If you’re not a NY-published (i.e. traditionally published) author, then there’s still something to consider. If you’ve been published by small press and have been unhappy with lackluster sales, and you think you might be suffering from a poor cover, uneven editing, or just a slightly too high price, you might want to consider getting your rights back and republishing the book on your own.
Are you insane?
No. I don’t think so. But then again…crazy people are the last ones to know that they’re crazy.
But the thing is this: you can re-edit your book, create (or buy) a better cover, and control the price. Looking at Konrath’s experiences with changing prices and going from $.99 to $2.99 and then back up to $.99, and the differences the various prices have on sales, well… I suggest that you may want to seriously consider this.
Small press are caught in a bit of a pickle at the moment. They have to charge more than the $2.99 price because they have to pay cover artists, editors, and generally pay for their publishing operation. An indie author doesn’t have this overhead and therefore can set whatever price their little heart desires. Astute authors will note I’m completely disregarding the fact that indie authors do have costs, i.e. overhead, in the form of computers, software, Internet connection costs, marketing, and any artistic (cover art) and editorial (hiring an editor) assistance they need. But they may have more leeway in deciding the price they wish to set because they may be paying for these things out of other pots of money.
The Vital Principle seems to be supporting this theory. I elected to independently publish this historical mystery and while it hasn’t broken into any of the “top 100” lists yet, it is doing much better than all of my small press books. There are consistent sales. Right now, I have it priced at $.99, and we’ll see how well it continues to sell at that price.
I’d love to hear from readers and authors on their experiences and thoughts about this “brave new world” of epublishing.