My adventure into e-books got off to a stuttering start, to say the least. Sice Feb 3rd, 4 copies of Dogs Chase Cars, 3 in the UK. One in the U.S. Although, I have had a five star review.
Keep crankin.' LOL.
I do not know any firm numbers, however, in the last six months or so, I've been approached by five or six authors seeking marketing help who are self-published on Amazon and other electronic platforms. None of them had more than 30 or 40 total sales.
I think self-publishing in any form is a very hard road, and it seems those that are doing well have some manner of name recognition, however, I have no firm numbers to confirm that hunch.
There are a lot of success stories by now. Many have outdone me, but I've sold about 12,000 ebooks over the last year without any name recognition.
Of course there are more examples of authors not selling, but that's the nature of the biz, whether in regard to traditional publishing or self-publishing.
It will all wash out in the end. Too many people think they're going to make a ton by just writing anything genre specific and throw it out there. Then they get on Twitter and spam the bejesus out of it and when it all results in 3 sales they get discouraged. Paying the bills with writing is a hard task. Information overload is what the Internet is all about. Now, putting useful information and product out there that people want, that's the hard part.
I've been doing a lot of research (sifting all the Internet crap) about ebooks and the like, but in the end writers write. J.A. Konrath even says this and he's the most mercenary voice out there I know of. What the Internet needs is better reviewers of all the "indie" stuff out there, that's where the action is if you ask me (I hate reviewing, but admit that I do look at them, and they DO matter). If you're any good at writing, you love it, it will shine through because you will care about perfecting your craft and your stories will improve.
Publishing is certainly going through a change, but the fact that in ANY market making it to the top is an outlier event. Hell, ebooks count for less than 15% of the total market right now. The growth is fast, but in there Amazon is also reporting FREE ebooks as sales. Are you writing or producing something to simply market? Too many are. Ebooks are becoming a public slush pile and noise elevates a few pieces that get picked up. In essence, ebook readers are slush readers that cut costs for the publishing houses. Most indie authors aren't going to stay "indie" once a contract is thrown at them.
Would you keep writing if you knew you wouldn't make a dime off it your entire life? (this is different than writing for free, mind you) Mortgages, insurance, car payments, kids probably take out more writers these days than drugs or guns. Hell, you know how much Chuck Palahniuk's advance for Fight Club was? 6K. The only thing that made that book was the movie. That 6K, if like most advances, was probably spread over a year or more too. Back to that writing question, few will answer yes, and that's why there are so few writers. The world is full of marketers though.
All true, and as for needing more online reviewers (and print reviewers), that's true also.
As for Amazon, they have stopped counting free books as sales.
There's another thread around here at Crimespace where I copied down Amazon's latest press release on its sales, and the press release explicitly states that Amazon is not counting free ebooks as sales.
As for indies taking a traditional pub offer if offered, I would say that today a majority would, but I'm not at all sure that will be true two or three years down the road.
Thanks for mentioning my blog, Tony! Gives me the kick in the pants I need to reactivate my account here.
I think it's a mistake to think this is about indies and slush piles. It isn't. It's about how authors can best get their work published when many publishers are rapidly losing confidence in their ability to sell books. It's true that self-publishing is hard. But you could equally say that publishing is hard. If publishing was easy, then 9 out of 10 books wouldn't make a loss. It's actually pretty hard to make a loss by e-publishing your own book.
As for the market share of 15 percent, that's a number which is a) on the generous side and b) skewed enormously by the fact that only half a dozen or so publishers report their ebook sales figures, and most of them are trying to protect their profit margins so they're not exactly overeager to help ebooks gain market dominance. Take the following as an example: I sold 3,500 ebooks last week. None of those are reported. I've sold 44 print books (I have seven books traditionally published) since November. Those are reported to Bookscan. Ergo, statistically, I've expanded the print market's share. It's worth noting also that Amazon are selling 115 Kindle books for every 100 paper books. Those are sales, not freebies.
Clay -- I had cause to check Bookscan the other day find out how many copies of a paperback fiction title a large London publisher had sold since July. It was the author's third novel. The answer was 55.
55 for a third novel with a large publisher is an eye opener. Suddenly, I feel like an apprentice best seller ;-)
3,500 e-books in a week is incredible, Allan. However, as I am more than sure you already know, that rate of sales hardly comes as a result of groundless hype, big money promotion or fluke. Your books are quality, or they wouldn't get the reviews and word of mouth/media attention that they get.
When large publishers 'sponsor' exposure, I rarely take it is a stamp of quality. It just means that a publisher is (rightly) protecting their investment. When the process has been as organic (current buzz word around the media) as self publishing and it STILL sells to those rates, then you are doing something bang on the button.
My hat is off to you. Take care.
I agree as far as people who have never heard of us finding us. Once word of mouth kicks in, I still believe it is the quality of the item that encourages it and the enthusiasm of the people who like it. I think that is less flukey. Still, personal taste, right place at the right time... etc I take your point.
I know there are a lot of great writers who never sell and conversely some hugely popular novels that are not always the best reads but again that is down to personal taste.