The big news from Huffington Post's Book page this week was this article: Self-Published E-Books Dominate Best Seller List. All the authors I know have been talking about it. Mostly what they are saying is “how can I get my book there?” We'd all like the answers to that. But from my perspective this is exciting as a vindication of those of us who choose to publish independently. SPAs (Self-Published Authors) and indie authors have taken a beating in recent years—not all of the criticism is undeserved. Far too many people see the stats on self-published success stories and decide to cash in. They crank out a story they think their friends will like, format it, upload it, and wait. The vast majority of them are lucky if they sell 4-5 books a month.
Then there are the authors like H.M. Ward, Rachel Van Dyken, Abbi Glines, Katy Evans, and Barbara Freethy who all have books in Amazon's Top Ten Bestsellers in the Kindle Store. Damaged by H.M. Ward and Real by Katy Evans have been there for quite awhile. In order to be in the Top Ten it is safe to assume those books are selling around 1000 copies a day. With Kindle Desktop Publishing's 70% royalty on books priced under $9.99, that means a .99 book like Damaged is earning $350/day and a $3.99 book like Real is earning around $3000/day. That's some serious cash and, whether or not you like the style of the writing of these books, you have to admire the authors for having the independence and the savvy to market their books all by themselves and attracting such a wide readership.
I've been publishing independently since 2006 and I've seen my sales go from 2-3 books a month, to close to 250 books a day, and now settling into around 1000 books a month. My books are priced from .99 for the shorts, to 8.99 for a boxed set of my three novels. Most of my books are around $2.99-$3.99. It seems this lower price point does give us indie authors an advantage. Most ebooks published by the big publishers are priced between $7.99 and $14.99 and the author doesn't get a very big chunk of that.
So why do authors need big publishers? For one thing, a lot of authors want what they see as “legitimacy” by getting that big contract. They are also afraid of the rigours of marketing and, trust me, marketing is rigorous! Most of the indie auhors I know who are doing well spend hours every day marketing online. Some indies whoa re sufficiently successful to attract a traditional publisher rtain their digital rights and only sell the print rights. If they are doing well enough to attract a traditional publisher who can blame them?
So where is all this going? Nobody knows but it is interesting and it proves one thing for sure: Indie novels are here to stay and they are kicking some serious butt. All of us aspire to those top rankings and some of us will get there. We just have to remind ourselves, it's a marathon, not a sprint.
Thanks for reading.