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DerekJCanyon
06-06-2011, 09:26 PM
Howdy,


Just joined the boards and I thought I’d provide some data on my own personal efforts at self-publishing my ebooks.


This is just an example of what one newbie author with no previous publishing history accomplished in 8 months. Your results may vary, and your goals might preclude you from starting down this road. But for me, epublishing has been an outstanding success.


I epublished my first ebook back in late September 2010. I now have 4 titles available. I’ve sold over 7500 units and earned over $6300 in 8 months. I’ve had about $4100 in expenses, resulting in about $2000 in profits. If sales continue at their current rate, I should gross about $15000 in my first 15 months as an author.


For those of you who like backup data and nifty charts, here you go:

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-_DytruKnp9o/TeckMOke2yI/AAAAAAAAAI0/Gt5klH9uyFE/s1600/2011_05_May_Royalties.jpg


(I’ve been experimenting with price, which resulted in May’s royalty spike. For full details, see this post on my blog (http://derekjcanyon.blogspot.com/2011/05/pricing-experiment-update-raised-price.html).)


What can you take away from my results? I’m not a wunderkind like Hocking but I’ve managed to make a fair bit of money in a short amount of time.


Am I making more money than I could have in trade publishing? I emphatically believe the answer is yes.


Even if I started looking for an agent last September, I probably wouldn’t have found a publisher yet. My first books are cyberpunk, which are not flying off the shelves right now. It’s very doubtful a publisher would have been interested. And even if I wrote in a popular genre, it would have likely taken months to get a publisher interested. I’d say that if I had gone the trade route, I would still be looking for a publisher.


After I found a publisher, there would be 3-6 months of wrangling over a contract. Then, 12-18 months for my book to hit store shelves. I’d get anywhere from $1500 to $2500 when I turned in the manuscript, and another like amount when the book hit the shelves a year or more later. Then, my book would have to earn out the advance before I saw any more royalties. Who knows how long that would have taken?


But with epublishing, in 8 months I’ve made a net $2000. In 15 months I’ll net around $10,000. Ten grand is a LOT more than I could have gotten from a trade publisher as an unknown author.


For me, epublishing has been a great success. I hope it continues to be.

But is it a good idea for you to epublish? Well, if you can afford to spend up to $1500 on cover art and an editor, and you can wait 8 months or more to break even, than I so go for it. Your story isn’t earning you any money languishing on your hard drive while you hunt for a publisher.


I’d say that the chances that you’ll earn a profit in a year are just as likely, if not more so, than finding an agent and a publisher.


Hope this helps any folks out there debating whether they should self-publish ebooks.


Over on my blog, Adventures in ePublishing (http://derekjcanyon.blogspot.com/), I post monthly sales reports like those above. I also talk about advertising, marketing, pricing, and other epublishing topics. I’ve also just started POD on CreateSpace. So if you want to learn from my experience, hop on over!

Wayne K
06-06-2011, 09:29 PM
:welcome:

MacAllister
06-06-2011, 09:34 PM
Let's please be clear that epublishing and self-publishing aren't actually synonyms.

mscelina
06-06-2011, 09:40 PM
Amen. You are self-published in electronic format, not e-published. And I would be willing to bet, after seven years' experience in epublishing, that your royalties won't be multiplying at the rate you project.

DerekJCanyon
06-06-2011, 09:40 PM
MacAllister, oops! Sorry. Is there a way to move this thread to the e-publishing forum?

mscelina
06-06-2011, 09:41 PM
You aren't e-published. You're self-published. Why would you want to move?

kaitie
06-06-2011, 09:41 PM
I find it interesting that your best title (Dead Dwarves Don't Dance) is the one that sells the most. It's one of those that makes me want to read a summary just because it's funny. Congrats. :)

Cyia
06-06-2011, 09:42 PM
Let's please be clear that epublishing and self-publishing aren't actually synonyms.


Exactly. And it's "sucess" stories that put out blogs with titles like the OP's that confuse things for those who don't know any better. The way things are going right now, with people flooding boards and forums to wave their "e-published" banner, that term might end up synonymous with self-published the same way "indie" has when neither are actual synonyms.

The first step in ANY publishing venture should be research. That way, at the very least, you don't end up spewing out misinformation to those who come after.

DerekJCanyon
06-06-2011, 09:53 PM
Kaitie, yes, Dead Dwarves Don't Dance is my favorite title, too. I've had many comments from fans that the title piqued their interest to check it out. Title is a very important marketing aspect for ebooks.

Well, I wasn't aware that my use of the term epublishing would cause such a firestorm. I apologize that my definition of epublishing is different from yours. Cyia, my blog subtitle clear states "self-publishing".

I was not trying to start an argument about terminology. I was trying to give this board some hard data about one author's success in selling ebooks.

Sheryl Nantus
06-06-2011, 10:02 PM
Kaitie, yes, Dead Dwarves Don't Dance is my favorite title, too. I've had many comments from fans that the title piqued their interest to check it out. Title is a very important marketing aspect for ebooks.

Well, I wasn't aware that my use of the term epublishing would cause such a firestorm. I apologize that my definition of epublishing is different from yours. Cyia, my blog subtitle clear states "self-publishing".

I was not trying to start an argument about terminology. I was trying to give this board some hard data about one author's success in selling ebooks.

Hi Derek - LOVE the title! Although it gets me humming AC/DC now under my breath...

:D

It's not so much a "firestorm" as just keeping things cleared - as you can see below, I've been published, both in epub format and in print. Now if I say I've been epublished and YOU say you've been epublished, it's obviously not the same thing. I have a publisher and you do not. If I say I've been commercially published and you say you've self-published, it's clearly different.

The definition of epublishing has been pretty well established to mean the many digital publishers that exist out there - and have for years. With self-pubbing hitting a high note because of Amazon's open-door policy it may seem easy to confuse the two. But they're not the same and haven't been for years.

Again, love the title!

TheMindKiller
06-06-2011, 10:20 PM
Well, I wasn't aware that my use of the term epublishing would cause such a firestorm. I apologize that my definition of epublishing is different from yours. Cyia, my blog subtitle clear states "self-publishing".

To be fair, the difference between the two could be extremely important for some authors. Plus, as writers, what's more important than semantics? :D

Very interesting information you have there, I'll definitely have to take a closer look at your blog as I'm interested in this method of publishing, whatever it might be called. ;)

DerekJCanyon
06-06-2011, 10:28 PM
Sheryl,Mindkiller, thanks for the definitions. I will be more precise about the differences between epublishing and self-publishing in my future posts.

Mr Flibble
06-06-2011, 10:42 PM
Thanks for posting - seeing hard data rather than a bit of handwavium and hyperbole is always good :D

What sort of promo ar eyou doing (sorry, I've been hit with a nasty virus just lately, so am wary of clicking links I don't know)

DerekJCanyon
06-06-2011, 11:00 PM
IdiotsRUs,


In December/January, I spent $240 on paid online advertising. It had no discernable impact, so I stopped.


Here is the extent of my other marketing efforts thus far:
my blog (http://derekjcanyon.blogspot.com/)
Facebook
Twitter
my author website
commenting on other author blogs
posting on forums

I haven't done any giveaways or anything like that.

Mr Flibble
06-06-2011, 11:10 PM
Any discernible way of figuring which impacted best? Which forums etc. (kindle boards I assume for starters. Just posting in the here is my book forum, or general interaction etc? I got a bit uncomfortable there after inferences of if .I didn't self pub it was cos I didn't love my work enough...etcetc I might try again)

ResearchGuy
06-06-2011, 11:25 PM
You aren't e-published. You're self-published. . . .
Self-published in e-book format.

E-books, like print books, can be self-published. And self-published books can be in e-book form, printed book form, or both.

--Ken

ResearchGuy
06-06-2011, 11:26 PM
Sheryl,Mindkiller, thanks for the definitions. I will be more precise about the differences between epublishing and self-publishing in my future posts.
No need. You self-published e-books. Perfectly clear.

-Ken

DerekJCanyon
06-06-2011, 11:45 PM
IdiotsRUs,

No, I have no concrete data on what had the best impact on my sales. I did an exercise of comparing daily sales numbers to blog posts, forum posts, etc. I saw no correlation.

And, yes, this is disheartening. It would be great to see a spike in sales when I post on KindleBoards, or a spike in sales when I get mentioned in the Huffington Post. But I don't.

I'll be talking about marketing on my blog tonight, if you want to learn more.

efkelley
06-06-2011, 11:46 PM
Welcome, and thanks for the data. :)

mscelina
06-06-2011, 11:49 PM
Self-published in e-book format.

E-books, like print books, can be self-published. And self-published books can be in e-book form, printed book form, or both.

--Ken

Yes, which I had said in my earlier post. See?


You are self-published in electronic format, not e-published.

Point still remains; the OP is self published, not epublished. Period.

kaitie
06-07-2011, 12:03 AM
I'm not sure I see why the self/e-publishing thing really needs to be said more than once. It's that kind of harping that scares people away.

I wondered if you'd mind linking your covers? One of the things we always hear is that a good cover sells more than anything else. I definitely think title has influenced your sales, but have you noticed similar things with cover art?

It's interesting that you don't see sales spikes related to marketing. I'd love to see an author set up a similar situation and put the books for sale with no marketing aside from a simple website and see what happens. I've still never seen any data whatsoever that has found that people buy books based on media. The Huffington Post thing is surprising, though. I'd really think that would have more influence.

Adam
06-07-2011, 12:18 AM
Thanks for the stats, Derek, and welcome to AW. :)

ResearchGuy
06-07-2011, 12:19 AM
. . . Point still remains; the OP is self published, not epublished. Period.
Ok, color me totally confused, then. Apparently I misconstrued this: "I epublished my first ebook back in late September 2010."

Perhaps the issue is a hair-splitting distinction between "publishing" and "being published."

--Ken

Medievalist
06-07-2011, 12:22 AM
Ok, color me totally confused, then. Apparently I misconstrued this: "I epublished my first ebook back in late September 2010."

Perhaps the issue is a hair-splitting distinction between "publishing" and "being published."

--Ken

She's making a distinction between commercial epublishing and self publishing an ebook.

mscelina
06-07-2011, 12:23 AM
He self-published his first book in ebook format in late September, 2010. The OP is using the terms 'self published' and 'e published' interchangably. He's not incorrect--He did e-publish his first book, but as a publisher himself.

See what I mean?

An epublished book is released by a publishing house, like Samhain or Ellora's Cave, gets edited and formatted by professionals and uploaded to multiple third party sites in multiple formats through multiple vendors. A self-published book is released by the author, who may or may not pay for editing and formatting and cover art, and isn't supported by the marketing/promotions and the established readerships already in existence for an epublishing company.

DerekJCanyon
06-07-2011, 12:25 AM
Kaitie,

Cover is paramount. Here are the top four marketing tools, IMO:

Cover art
Title
Description
Price
You should not skimp on cover. I found a great artist in Igor Kieryluk. I love his work, and I get many compliments on it. If you self-pub your own ebook, spend the money and get a great artist for your cover! Also, make sure that the cover looks good in thumbnail size.

Here's the cover to my best-selling book:

http://www.derekjcanyon.com/dancecover300.jpg
Amazon book page for Dead Dwarves Don't Dance. (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004DCB3HU?ie=UTF8&tag=derjcan-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B004DCB3HU)

mscelina
06-07-2011, 12:27 AM
She's making a distinction between commercial epublishing and self publishing an ebook.

Yes. Exactly. In my PM response to a now-banned member who sent me a fairly snippy commentary last night because I dared to disagree with her in public--a PM that couldn't be delivered because--hey! she's not here anymore--I pointed out that part of the problem with interchanging the terms 'epublished' and 'self-published' is the application of the self-publishing stigma to genuinely e-published books. No offense to the OP, whose sales statistics are impressive, but eventually the consumer is going to get fed up with inferior electronic products and the sales for all electronic fiction will drop unless we make a concerted effort to be as precise as possible with our terminology.

An epublished book is a far different thing than a self-published book. They shouldn't be compared or equated; they are two totally different beasts.

DerekJCanyon
06-07-2011, 12:33 AM
mscelina, no offense taken. I was unaware of how this forum used the terms.

Kaitie, I also found it strange that I didn't get any obvious bumps in sales from mentions of my blog in big-circulation online periodicals (Huffington Post online and Spiegel online).

At this point, I think people are buying my books by just finding them on Amazon in the subcategory lists. Being in the top 20 of SciFi HighTech, or any other category list, is very important, IMO.

shadowwalker
06-07-2011, 12:40 AM
From someone who hasn't yet published, let alone sold anything, I find the whole "why do readers buy this and not that?" fascinating and intimidating, frankly. There seem to be so many variables, and what works for one (in terms of marketing) doesn't work for another.

Cyia
06-07-2011, 01:27 AM
Kaitie,

Cover is paramount. Here are the top four marketing tools, IMO:

Cover art
Title
Description
Price
You should not skimp on cover. I found a great artist in Igor Kieryluk. I love his work, and I get many compliments on it. If you self-pub your own ebook, spend the money and get a great artist for your cover! Also, make sure that the cover looks good in thumbnail size.

Here's the cover to my best-selling book:



V v nice. It looks comparable to some of the trade books I've seen (is it sci-fi?)

I'm curious, did your artist draw this from scratch, or is it a clip-art composite? Cover art composition is something I tend to obsess over when giving a book serious consideration (The reviews I used to have on my blog all started with impressions of the book based on the construction of the cover art.)

Mr Flibble
06-07-2011, 01:36 AM
That is a great cover - it'd make me take a closer look.

Thing is, while I know what makes ME pick up a book, I'm not representative, and it's knowing what will make the most people take another look...another reason I'm happy to leave that to someone else! But you done good there Derek. *fist bump*

areteus
06-07-2011, 01:39 AM
A question: When you are saying you could easily make $10,000, are you talking about from the same books by extrapolating this data or do you intend to release more in order to keep the income steady? Cos, speaking as a statistician, I know for a fact that you can rarely extrapolate trends like this (an error many futurologists make) and if things stay the same you are as likely to get a decline in sales than continuation of the same trend. Always better to assume the worst case scenario with possible outcomes :)

Someone once told me that it is actually better in some ways to establish your own publishing company to self publish your own work because it gives you greater tax breaks and other benefits than a single author might have. No idea if this is true or not but, as you have a successful model already for sales, you may consider it a possibility.

movieman
06-07-2011, 01:39 AM
It's interesting that you don't see sales spikes related to marketing.

I'm not really surprised.

I've bought books because posters on writing forums who seem to know what they're talking about link to them in their signature, I've bought books because I read a good review, I've bought books because someone told me they were good, I've bought books because I'm scanning through new releases on Amazon or Smashwords and they look interesting, I've bought books because I happened to see the author on TV and they had some interesting things to say. But book ads?

The only kind of advertising proven to work in my anecdotal experience as a reader is getting an interesting blurb about your book in the back of another book that I liked in a similar genre. I've bought numerous books on that basis, but I've never bought a book because of an ad in a magazine, on TV or on the Internet.

Maybe it works if you can plaster the book all over the media, but most of us can't afford to spend millions of dollars to do so. Similarly, ads aimed at getting the book into bookstores make sense because they're a small market, but they're irrelevant if you're putting your ebooks on Amazon yourself.

Otherwise put together a good book with a good description and a decent cover and you'll be ahead of 95% of the ebook market. That's about the best advertising most people can do.

kaitie
06-07-2011, 01:42 AM
Your cover is amazing. Love it.

scope
06-07-2011, 02:14 AM
I wish you the best of luck, but I don't see what the big deal is. Hey, it's your life and if you want to do everything yourself, more power to you. But don't delude yourself, you don't know whether or not you could have gotten an agent. And you don't know whether or not your book would have sold (ebook and/or paper) to a trade house. You've built a case for what you are doing, and that's fine, but I think it will serve you best to keep things in perspective.

And I don't understand your dollar numbers. In your first post you said that over a period of 8 months you sold 7500 total units of 4 books with a total gross of $6300 and a net of $2000. That's about $250 a month--$62.50 a week. Later on you said something about $10,000?????
Look, I'm not knocking a profit of $62-$63 weekly, that's for you to decide, but if you are into writing for a living, well, that's seems to be a problem I think you will agree that won't do it. Even a profit of $10,000 a year doesn't buy very much. And remember that the sale of ebooks generally peaks early and then declines (at least that's what I've been told -- I'm primarily a trade published guy). Just curious, and there's no need to answer if you don't want to, do you have another job from which you earn a living? And assuming you want to continue epublishing, why?

ResearchGuy
06-07-2011, 02:25 AM
. . . An epublished book is released by a publishing house, like Samhain or Ellora's Cave. . . .
I disagree with how you are using the terminology.

In my lexicon, e-publishing is publishing in digital form, regardless of who is the publisher. Self-publishing is publishing by the author, regardless of whether in print form, digital (e-) form, or both. I do not understand privileging the term "epublishing" exclusively for commercial publishers. Nor, for that matter, privileging the term "publishing" itself for commercial publishers. To publish is to make a work (whether an announcement or an article or a book) available to the public. The dictionary definition (American Heritage 3/e, for example) refers to printed material, but with the rise of the Internet, digital form has become the functional equivalent.

We shall have to agree to disagree. C'est la vie.

Be that as it may, the original poster appears to be doing a very fine job. Kudos.

--Ken

Capital
06-07-2011, 02:40 AM
Love seeing an excellent SP cover. Keep up the good work.

Sydewinder
06-07-2011, 02:45 AM
You aren't e-published. You're self-published. Why would you want to move?





Point still remains; the OP is self published, not epublished. Period.


I pointed out that part of the problem with interchanging the terms 'epublished' and 'self-published' is the application of the self-publishing stigma to genuinely e-published books.

An epublished book is a far different thing than a self-published book. They shouldn't be compared or equated; they are two totally different beasts.


What in the world are you talking about????

e-published = electronically published

as opposed to print published.

You can electronically publish anything you want. The medium is not something tied to the vetting process involved. The op stated his point correctly. Mac correctly pointed that the two were not synonymous, not that he used the term wrong.

DerekJCanyon
06-07-2011, 03:25 AM
All, thanks for the praise for the cover. I did the text layout. The art is all Igor’s work. I just gave him foreground, midground, background requests. He then did a mockup and we iterated from there.

Cyia, Igor draws his art from scratch. Check his stuff out at www.igorkieryluk.com (http://www.igorkieryluk.com/).

Areteus,

My $10,000 net royalties estimate is based on selling my current 4 books at the same rate as they have been selling since January, on average. This estimate is assuming no further growth in sales and no additional books published. If you want the equation here it is:

(Average daily royalty so far this year) x 365.

Yes, you are correct: extrapolation and prediction is hazardous. However, I did say “_IF_ my sales continue at this rate…” It is definitely possible that my sales could peter out. However, if things stay the same I don’t expect a decline in my sales. There are around 10-20 million ebook devices out there and that number continues to grow. I’ve sold to 7500 of them. I don’t think I’ve even scratched the surface of my potential customers.

Scope,

I’m basing my skepticism of finding an agent on the anecdotal evidence of authors, agents, and publishers. From what I have read, escaping the slush pile is a lottery. Plus, I don’ t believe that any agent or publisher would pick up a cyberpunk novel from an unknown author. I just don’t believe it. It’s not a popular genre right now.

I shopped Dead Dwarves Don’t Dance out to agents and publishers in the 90s. No bites. It loitered on my hard drive for more than a decade doing nothing. I published it myself in November and it’s made over $4000 in those 8 months (about $2300 profit). (Two of my books are still in the red, two are in the black.)

My $10,000 estimate is a prediction of my 2011 net royalties. Royalties have increased each month so far. I earned $4 in Oct/2010 and $2900 in May/2011. If my sales remain at my current daily average for the year, I’ll net about $10k on my current 4 books.

I have a day job. I’m a technical writer. That provides enough income so that I can spend money on covers and editing for my fiction. I do not expect to quit my day job any time soon. I’m hoping that in 5 years or so I can do that after I have a dozen or so novels published and earning e-royalties.

I have not seen any evidence that ebooks suffer the same peaking as print books do. But I’ve only been in the ebook game for 8 months. However, print books generally sell the bulk of their numbers in the first 3 months, right? Because of bookstore shelf life and remaindering and all that?

My ebooks will be on the eshelf forever. That’s a long time. 20 years from now, someone who searches for cyberpunk on Amazon will see Dead Dwarves Don’t Dance and they can buy it for $2.99 (or its future equivalent).

My ebook revenue has increased each month for 8 months. Will that continue? I sure hope so. No way for me to know for sure. What I do know is that I’m in control of my career. I’m not sitting on my hands waiting months for some intern to pick my manuscript out of a slush pile. I’m not signing away all my rights. I’m not waiting 18 months for a publisher to get my book on a shelf. And I’m making a profit 8 months into my adventure. From my point of view, that’s a success. How much of a success I’ll eventually achieve is unknown.

Here’s the cover art for my most recent book, a Young Adult action adventure. It’s also done by Igor Kieryluk. I’m also self-publishing this through CreateSpace in paperback form.

http://www.derekjcanyon.com/TEOdjccover.jpg

The Elemental Odyssey Amazon book page. (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004W82OWS/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=derjcan-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B004W82OWS)

Mr Flibble
06-07-2011, 03:34 AM
I disagree with how you are using the terminology.

In my lexicon, e-publishing is publishing in digital form, regardless of who is the publisher.

In your lexicon, I agree

However, as there is a difference between e-self-pub and pub-e-pub ( in exactly the same way that there is a difference between 'published' or 'trade/legacy/whatever we're calling it this week lol) and print self-pubbed it doesn't hurt to make the distinction.

While I have nothing against self-pubbing, and a great respect for those who do it well, there is a difference (in expectation from readers of nowt else) and as writers we should be distinct. Some self-e-pubbers put out some really nice stuff. And they deserve credit for doing it themselves, but if they don't say so, I won't assume they've self pubbed (yes, I know I do try self pubbed stuff, I'll probably try Derek's. But I'm hoping Derek pushes the bar for what came previously.). .

By saying /inferring/leaving out that e-pubbing =/= e-self-pubbing you are doing a lot of people (on both sides) a disfavour. Because if they did all that themselves they need people to know they did it themselves because that id sodding impressive afaic. I couldn't (not without expensive help)

It's like the distinction in my town of 'People from the Needles' and 'Townies'. To the outside, that means nothing, right? They look almost the same. Sound almost the same. To me it's the difference between a bit of hassle and a kick in the teeth.

Words and how you use them matter. If a writer (not Derek, he used it not knowing. But once you know) can't be bothered to be distinct*...

Clarity is king. And now I shall obsess over the post to see if it said what I thought it did....



*I have my indistinct moments. I mean overall, in such a basic thing.

mscelina
06-07-2011, 03:40 AM
In your lexicon, I agree

However, as there is a difference between e-self-pub and pub-e-pub ( in exactly the same way that there is a difference between 'published' or 'trade/legacy/whatever we're calling it this week lol) and print self-pubbed it doesn't hurt to make the distinction.

While I have nothing against self-pubbing, and a great respect for those who do it well, there is a difference (in expectation from readers of nowt else) and as writers we should be distinct. Some self-e-pubbers put out some really nice stuff. And they deserve credit for doing it themselves, but if they don't say so, I won't assume they've self pubbed (yes, I know I do try self pubbed stuff, I'll probably try Derek's. But I'm hoping Derek pushes the bar for what came previously.). .

By saying /inferring/leaving out that e-pubbing =/= e-self-pubbing you are doing a lot of people (on both sides) a disfavour. Because if they did all that themselves they need people to know they did it themselves because that id sodding impressive afaic. I couldn't (not without expensive help)

It's like the distinction in my town of 'People from the Needles' and 'Townies'. To the outside, that means nothing, right? They look almost the same. Sound almost the same. To me it's the difference between a bit of hassle and a kick in the teeth.

Words and how you use them matter. If a writer (not Derek, he used it not knowing. But once you know) can't be bothered to be distinct*...

Clarity is king. And now I shall obsess over the post to see if it said what I thought it did....



*I have my indistinct moments. I mean overall, in such a basic thing.

Exactly.

You guys can quibble over semantics all you want to. But this "e-published" book was published by the author, and not a publishing company. Therefore, for the purposes of identification within the industry ( as in, for example, review sites that will not review self-published books) e-published is the wrong term to use for self-published books.

DerekJCanyon
06-07-2011, 03:52 AM
For those of you who want to know, here's what I've done to self-publish my own ebooks:

1. Hired a professional editor to do line and dev edits on my books.
2. Hired professional artist to do the cover art.
3. Formatted the interior myself.
4. Did the cover layout myself.
5. Did minimal marketing myself.

So, I've done two things that trade publishers do: professional editing and cover art.

I've done everything else myself. I have no problem with the 'self-published' term being applied to my work. I think my books speak for themselves, and hopefully someone who buys them will enjoy the content.

I do agree that some people have lower regard for self-published books. That is, of course, the reason that I don't advertise on my Amazon page that my books are self-published. ;)

And for people who want to know more about my novels, here are the descriptions:

http://www.derekjcanyon.com/dancecover125.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004DCB3HU?ie=UTF8&tag=derjcan-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B004DCB3HU)

Dead Dwarves Don't Dance (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004DCB3HU?ie=UTF8&tag=derjcan-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B004DCB3HU), ebook $2.99
Gritty, action-packed cyberpunk
74,000 words

Noose, a genetically engineered dwarf mercenary, barely survives a terrorist attack on a neohuman dance club. Injured and alone, he embarks on a brutal quest for vengeance into the squalid underbelly of the Regional Atlanta Metroplex, through the desert wasteland of the not-so-pristine wilderness, and to the peerless towers of elite society.

The year is 2134. The nations of previous centuries are gone, consumed by the United Globe government. Citizens are confined to vast metroplexes while the rest of Earth is restored to wilderness. Neohumans are grown in vats, each type genetically engineered to serve humanity Ė flawless pleasers for gratification and ecstasy, hulking goons for war and violence, accidental psykers wreaking havoc, and more of any shape and size imaginable.

An action-packed, hard-boiled science fiction novel of redemption and revenge.

http://www.derekjcanyon.com/teocover100.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004W82OWS/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=derjcan-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B004W82OWS)
The Elemental Odyssey (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004W82OWS/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=derjcan-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B004W82OWS), ebook, $2.99
Young adult action/adventure/fantasy
Soon available in paperback for $14.99
96,000 words

There are all sorts of fun and exciting things to do in South Dakota: hike the mountains, see the monuments, explore the caves, watch the wildlife. But whatís not on the travel brochures is getting abducted by magical aliens!

While vacationing in the Black Hills, twelve-year-old Kyle Morgan and his new friends, Susie, Veeksha, and Jurgen, are hauled on board a strange alien ship and forced to help the animal-like Zurans!

Whisked around the world on a perilous quest, the children solve riddles to find mystical elements for their fierce captors. Scheming against the aliens, military, powerful elementals, and even each other, the kids must escape before the Zurans can complete their mysterious mission.

Mr Flibble
06-07-2011, 03:55 AM
BTW, if anyone feels looked dopwn on cos they are self pubbed, remeber this

I am not self published - certain Rah Rah self pubbers think I have sold out to the Man, oh and if I really believed in my work I'd self publish, apparently with the money I get from loving my words so much. Also apparently, my name is more noticeable than 'imprint of Harlequin'...possibly not I feel - they got it into places I didn't even know existed. Book reviews form places I'd never heard of. Beacuse they are better at marketing than I . There are many reasons I, personally, choose not to self pub.

My latest book is not in print, not in bookstores. It is not self-pubbed either. (It is a sodding good book though. The only one I'm actually proud of) If it isn't in print, it isn't 'really published'.

I write fantasy - enough to get me funny looks in certain circles. At the least, in many places I get an eyeroll.

I include romantic subplots./some romance in my novels - some SFF readers /writers look down on me. Romance is easy, right? Shit they get so looked down on, they have to find someone to look down on. At least they don't write romance. ( I reiterate, in places, this isn't all/or maybe even a majority. But it's there.)

I'm at the bottom of the 'look downable at' from my POV.

DerekJCanyon
06-07-2011, 04:07 AM
IdiotsRUs,

I actually don't understand the enmity between those who prefer trade publishing to those who prefer self-publishing.

I like self-publishing because Amazon has made it possible to earn a profit and find a fanbase all by myself.

However, if some trade publisher approached me and made me an offer, I certainly wouldn't turn my nose. I'd review the contract and decide if it was worth it.

My goal is to have a career as a novelist. To achieve that goal I will keep my options open for both self- and trade publishing. They are not mutually exclusive.

At this point, though, I have no desire to expend energy in the querying game.

Mr Flibble
06-07-2011, 04:11 AM
I actually don't understand the enmity between those who prefer trade publishing to those who prefer self-publishing.


Neither do I - and here, there are just writers, all looking for info or imparting i, all with their own views.

All that other stuff is just silly. And important too - your words should convey what you want them to. Research what you want to do folks. It's really that simple. And hard.

profen4
06-07-2011, 05:01 AM
Here's the cover to my best-selling book:

http://www.derekjcanyon.com/dancecover300.jpg


Very nice cover! Eye catching!

kaitie
06-07-2011, 05:47 AM
Neither do I - and here, there are just writers, all looking for info or imparting i, all with their own views.

All that other stuff is just silly. And important too - your words should convey what you want them to. Research what you want to do folks. It's really that simple. And hard.

Ditto this.

Cloud Eight
06-07-2011, 06:18 AM
Derek, thanks for posting your numbers and your journey. Well done.

I've been on sub for a long time, didn't sell, and my agent and I decided to take my book to the Kindle. Early days for me, but it's both scary and exciting.

And I agree with everyone here who has said we're all writers, looking for info, hopefully helping one another, and all of us likely want the same thing at the end of the process: readers who connect with our work.

Luck to you in the future!

scope
06-07-2011, 09:44 AM
IdiotsRUs,

I actually don't understand the enmity between those who prefer trade publishing to those who prefer self-publishing.

I like self-publishing because Amazon has made it possible to earn a profit and find a fanbase all by myself.

However, if some trade publisher approached me and made me an offer, I certainly wouldn't turn my nose. I'd review the contract and decide if it was worth it.

My goal is to have a career as a novelist. To achieve that goal I will keep my options open for both self- and trade publishing. They are not mutually exclusive.

At this point, though, I have no desire to expend energy in the querying game.

By enmity I assume you mean hostility. Speaking for myself, which is all I can do, at this point in time I will continue to try and be published (e and paper) by trade houses, although to see what it's all about I may try e-publish one of my out of print books.

SP of paper books has been around for many years in many guises and has been quite unsuccessful, at least not for writers. Today, we see a combinaion of the old and some new (e.g., SP companies, ebook publishing companies, the opportunity to SP ebooks or paper on your own). Yet to me it all seems like one giant mess where nothing has been developed to a point where it's resonable for a writer who engages in same to envision a reasonable degree of success, beyond small ball. And if a writer is conent with small ball, than nothing more needs to be discussed.

Will things ever develop as we would like them to be? I have my doubts, and one of the biggst drawbacks to such developments is the apparent fact that many (not all) who are now folowing this path do so in order to avoid the laboroious and time consumng tasks of trying to find an agent and/or a publishng house for their works, and who don't really want critiques from professionals.

But intrinsicly I don't as yet find fault with these alternate attempts to publish and sell one's work. What I do find fault with are writers who espouse this as the "next coming" and accordingly companies sprouting up without the knowledge, credentials, connections, promotion, marketing capabilities, and more, to capitaize on a writers work for the good of the company and the writer. In time, I believe in a short amount of time, the big boys will alter their position on e-books so that writers will have no true excuse for not trying to publish with them. But we will see.

movieman
06-07-2011, 10:16 AM
SP of paper books has been around for many years in many guises and has been quite unsuccessful, at least not for writers.

Because you can't get self-published novels into bookstores; at least not in the numbers required to make any money. Nor can you get self-published novels reviewed in dead tree media.

So far publishers have no such lock on ebook sales and I don't really see how they could get one; Amazon don't care whether a book is trade published or self published so long as they make money from it. Nor do publishers have a monopoly on online reviews, as Joe Horror-Fan's blog may well be more important to ebook readers than the New York Times.

Terie
06-07-2011, 11:13 AM
Derek, thanks for the information you're providing here.

It's interesting to see the disconnect (which I'm hearing about from other self-publishers, too) between promotion efforts and actual sales. This very closely mimics commercial publishing, in that an author's own promotional efforts historically seem to have lilttle to no effect on sales.

It also shows (again, as seen for many others) that a catchy title and cover are fairly key to success for previously unknown self-e-pubbers. However, I daresay that the contents of your books live up to the catchy titles and covers, or else you wouldn't be having the success you obviously are. :)

DerekJCanyon
06-07-2011, 12:20 PM
Terie, thanks.

I certainly like my stories, and my Dead Dwarves Don't Dance (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004DCB3HU?ie=UTF8&tag=derjcan-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B004DCB3HU) book has gotten some good reviews. I think of it as an action-packed popcorn movie story. I wrote Dance back in the 90s during the days of Stallone and Arnold action movies. I wanted to write a novel in the vein of cinematic uber action. I think I succeeded. Plus, I threw in some disguised SF social commentary along the way with the neohuman situation.


The Elemental Odyssey (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004W82OWS/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=derjcan-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B004W82OWS) is a young adult modern day action/adventure/fantasy/scifi. My 12-year-old neighbor beta reader said he read it in 3 days, and he doesn't read too much. It's a good sign when a kid can read 390 pages in 3 days. So, I'm hoping it does well eventually. It hasn't found an audience on Amazon yet, but I have done zero marketing for it because I was waiting on my POD paperback version. That's now available, so I'm going to start trying to get some reviews and so on. Paperback is selling for $14.99 here (https://www.createspace.com/3599974).

Hopefully, readers will get a few hours of entertainment from each of them.

Alitriona
06-07-2011, 12:24 PM
Derek, welcome to AW.

I love your covers. The artist has done beautiful work. Dead Dwarves Don't Dance reminds me of Blade Runner/Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. I can see it appealing to that audience as soon as the image pops up on Amazon or anywhere else.

DerekJCanyon
06-07-2011, 06:51 PM
Alitriona, thanks! Dance is in the vein of Blade Runner. I'd say if you liked BR atmosphere, you'll probably like DDDD.

movieman
06-07-2011, 06:55 PM
This very closely mimics commercial publishing, in that an author's own promotional efforts historically seem to have lilttle to no effect on sales.

From what I remember, before he became the grand prophet of self-published ebooks, Konrath said that of all the promotion he did the only thing that made much difference to sales was going to bookstores, signing the stock and meeting the staff; that got his books on the shelves, often in the best places, and that got them sold. And from reading his blog he seems to have tried just about everything he could think of to promote them.

ios
06-07-2011, 07:56 PM
For those of you who want to know, here's what I've done to self-publish my own ebooks:

1. Hired a professional editor to do line and dev edits on my books.
2. Hired professional artist to do the cover art.
3. Formatted the interior myself.
4. Did the cover layout myself.
5. Did minimal marketing myself.

So, I've done two things that trade publishers do: professional editing and cover art.

I've done everything else myself. I have no problem with the 'self-published' term being applied to my work. I think my books speak for themselves, and hopefully someone who buys them will enjoy the content.

Congratulations on your success and thank you for sharing your data with us. It is much appreciated.

Jodi

Uncarved
06-07-2011, 08:13 PM
I just want to say, for me there is one main distinction between trade publishing and self-publishing, whether in print or in ebook form....

....no one EVER gets rejected because their work doesn't meet the publishers level of standards in self-publishing. I could post 300 pages of "All work and no play make Jack a dull boy" and selfpub it. I can't get away with that crap in trade publishing. It is this distinction that self-pubbing will never overcome.

That said, I've been trade pubbed and self-e-pubbed. As of the moment, I've three trade publishers interested in four manuscripts. I could selfpub them, but I would rather they be on store shelves nationwide if possible, if they are good enough.

movieman
06-07-2011, 08:59 PM
....no one EVER gets rejected because their work doesn't meet the publishers level of standards in self-publishing.

But they get rejected because their work doesn't meet the reader's standards. Which is what matters, if you want to be read... who cares whether publishers like your book if readers do?


I could post 300 pages of "All work and no play make Jack a dull boy" and selfpub it.

And you wouldn't sell any. Probably. Though if you were imaginative enough in how you wrote those words...


I can't get away with that crap in trade publishing. It is this distinction that self-pubbing will never overcome.

As a reader I don't care whether a novel is trade published or self-published, I just want a good story competently told. I'd certainly agree that a random novel from a trade publisher is likely to be better than a random self-published novel (I'd even agree that a randomly chosen self-published novel is likely to be unreadable), but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't self-publish if the novel is at least competent and particularly if it's something that trade publishers won't touch.

For example, I've been reading a book on horror writing with articles from various people in the business and much of it is very interesting, but one particular article stood out; the writer (an editor, AFAIR) was talking about all the things that make a publisher or agent rapidly turn down a horror novel.

While I agreed with some of their points, by the end of it I was thinking: 'Hang on. I'd like to read some of those books that you're instantly rejecting.' Clearly there's a market of some kind for them, but agents and publishers are refusing to even try to fill that market because they're fixated on sparkly vampires. If you write those kind of novels and self-publish I might well buy them, but you won't get anywhere with a publisher.

Ultimately trade publishing is a middleman, and one thing technology has proven again and again is that it tends to eliminate inefficient middlemen who don't have some kind of monopoly position. Particularly with Amazon becoming a publisher as well as a retailer, with better deals for authors and without the baggage that the traditional publishers carry around with them, I think publishers are going to be living in interesting times for the next few years.

Now, if Big Name Publisher called me tomorrow and said 'hey, we'll give you a million dollars for your next novel' my response would be 'hell yeah!' But the idea that no-one should put a novel up for sale until agents and publishers have beaten them with sticks for years just seems too S&M for my tastes. Most self-published novels will be crap, some will be good, some will be OK; some of the OK writers will learn from their mistakes and become good. Over time we'll all be better off with more good novels on the market.

AmsterdamAssassin
06-07-2011, 09:56 PM
From what I read on Konrath's blog, he's not fond of advertising, since most people didn't buy books because they saw an ad.

I think most books are sold from reviews. Either independent reviews in newspapers, or bookblogs, or on Amazon. And, of course, readers raving to other readers about your book.

scope
06-07-2011, 10:34 PM
But they get rejected because their work doesn't meet the reader's standards. Which is what matters, if you want to be read... who cares whether publishers like your book if readers do?

I do, since in most cases I respect the opinions of agents and editors. And when a publishing house puts their money, time, and personnel where their mouth is, I'd say that's a pretty positive beginning. However, I do agree that the success of a book will ultimately be determined by readers, but this can only happen if the book is bought and read by readers, and this is faaaaar more likely to happen when trade houses use their promotion and marketing abilities -- something which SP'ers don't have. But as I've said many times before, my hope for all writers (me included) is that somehow this problem will be solved. I want all of us to have as many viable options as is possible.

And you wouldn't sell any. Probably. Though if you were imaginative enough in how you wrote those words...

True, but I don't think that's the point tina was trying to make.

...but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't self-publish if the novel is at least competent and particularly if it's something that trade publishers won't touch.

Hey, if an individual wants to SP after knowing all the facts, who am I to say no. Certainly niche books are perfect for SP'ing. However, since a minute few have the ability which Derek has, for 99% it will mean an enormous outlay of time and money, to say nothing of a knowledge of how to promote and market. And even then, you have to be content with the possibility of selling only a few books and making very limited income.

Ultimately trade publishing is a middleman, and one thing technology has proven again and again is that it tends to eliminate inefficient middlemen who don't have some kind of monopoly position.

I don't get this. Certainly in the overall scheme of things trade houses have proven themselves to be efficient middlemen, who, given paper books, do have a monopoly. If you're talking about ebooks, the demand for same is extremely new and everyone is in the midst of adapting. Lets wait and see what develops in the next couple of years.

Particularly with Amazon becoming a publisher as well as a retailer, with better deals for authors and without the baggage that the traditional publishers carry around with them, I think publishers are going to be living in interesting times for the next few years.

I agree, and that's why I think we have to wait a while before drawing any conclusions. Amazon is a giant, but trade publishers are right there as well. It will be interesting and hopefully to the benefit of writers.

Now, if Big Name Publisher called me tomorrow and said 'hey, we'll give you a million dollars for your next novel' my response would be 'hell yeah!' But the idea that no-one should put a novel up for sale until agents and publishers have beaten them with sticks for years just seems too S&M for my tastes. Most self-published novels will be crap, some will be good, some will be OK; some of the OK writers will learn from their mistakes and become good. Over time we'll all be better off with more good novels on the market.

Well, I don't agree with you. I do think that writers should at least take a couple of years attempting to be published by a trade house-getting an agent first would help.


ss

movieman
06-07-2011, 11:17 PM
I don't get this. Certainly in the overall scheme of things trade houses have proven themselves to be efficient middlemen, who, given paper books, do have a monopoly.

In terms of printing books, I'd agree, they seem pretty efficient at getting words onto paper and into stores. But I can't imagine any non-media industry accepting a business model that is in no rush to get products to market and is content to throw away a large fraction of said products after stores return them; in the non-media industries where I've worked the business plan has generally been 'get new products out yesterday and cut costs wherever possible'.

I can understand the historical reasons why it's like that, but I'm far from convinced that they can turn around and fight off competition from newcomers like Amazon who don't have to pay for New York offices, have little incentive to delay book releases and don't have to deal as much with returns if they're selling the print books primarily through their own store.

And if a writer looks at a trade publisher as an employee putting their books out into the world, I'm not sure they'd get good performance reviews.

Uncarved
06-07-2011, 11:24 PM
alas one big distinction too is that when I pay for a trade pub book, I may not LIKE it, but at least I can read it -few if any typos, grammar errors, etc....
With a self pub book I may pay for it and never get through page three without chucking it.
I read both, I buy both. But I am less likely to get a bad one through a publisher than a self-publisher, at least in my one-to-two-book a day buying habit. Your mileage, of course, may vary.

scope
06-08-2011, 12:55 AM
In terms of printing books, I'd agree, they seem pretty efficient at getting words onto paper and into stores. But I can't imagine any non-media industry accepting a business model that is in no rush to get products to market and is content to throw away a large fraction of said products after stores return them; in the non-media industries where I've worked the business plan has generally been 'get new products out yesterday and cut costs wherever possible'.

For good or bad, publishing is a media oriented business. Therefore, to compare media and non-media business models doesn't make sense to me, and doesn't warrant a long comparative discussion.

And if a writer looks at a trade publisher as an employee putting their books out into the world, I'm not sure they'd get good performance reviews.

If the trade publisher's editing, cover design, formatting, promotion, marketing, and more, helps to sell a lot of books, and consequently the author realizes a very nice profit (plus an advance), I don't think the author would complain.



ss

James D. Macdonald
06-08-2011, 01:14 AM
I think most books are sold from reviews.

Most books are sold because the reader read and liked another work by the same author.

The next greatest source of sales is that the book was recommended by a trusted friend. (That's why Oprah is so powerful: She counts as "trusted friend" to millions of people.)

All other reasons fade into single-digit percentages.

AmsterdamAssassin
06-08-2011, 01:25 AM
Most books are sold because the reader read and liked another work by the same author.

The next greatest source of sales is that the book was recommended by a trusted friend. (That's why Oprah is so powerful: She counts as "trusted friend" to millions of people.)

All other reasons fade into single-digit percentages.

That's why I said, readers raving to others about the book. Also, the book reviews in trusted newspaper by trusted reviewers will have reader look for a certain book.

I do look for books by writers I'm familiar with, but there was an instance where I wasn't familiar with them. So what made me pick up the books from these unfamiliar writers? Because readers/reviewers I trust told me their work was the same level/quality as the writers I was reading already.

James D. Macdonald
06-08-2011, 01:40 AM
That's why I said, readers raving to others about the book. Also, the book reviews in trusted newspaper by trusted reviewers will have reader look for a certain book.


No, that isn't what you said.

You set up as the chief reason what is, in fact, an order of magnitude less than that chief reason.

The only reason that reviews count at all is because they're better than nothing, not because they're the best means of getting readers.

scope
06-08-2011, 02:18 AM
Most books are sold because the reader read and liked another work by the same author.

The next greatest source of sales is that the book was recommended by a trusted friend. (That's why Oprah is so powerful: She counts as "trusted friend" to millions of people.)

All other reasons fade into single-digit percentages.

This.

Carradee
06-08-2011, 03:23 AM
James, AmsterdamAssassin was talking about how readers discover authors they don't already know.

Ergo,


I think most books are sold from reviews. Either independent reviews in newspapers, or bookblogs, or on Amazon. And, of course, readers raving to other readers about your book.

and


The next greatest source of sales is that the book was recommended by a trusted friend. (That's why Oprah is so powerful: She counts as "trusted friend" to millions of people.)

are saying the same thing.


Most books are sold because the reader read and liked another work by the same author.
Is just another point demonstrating that an author's best marketing tool can be to write more books to sell.

But for myself, as a reader, there are some writers I snap up on release week. Others, I remember every so often and think "Hey, it's been a year. I wonder if they have any new releases?" And go wandering in—and then there are some whose names I don't remember until I see 'em mentioned somewhere else, and I snap my fingers and say "Oh, yeah! I enjoyed that other book by them. I should check this one out."

Most authors I've read fall in to that last category. Some fall into the second. I think I can count the number in the first group on one hand.

Thanks for sharing those numbers with us, Derek.

scope
06-08-2011, 04:11 AM
[QUOTE=Carradee;6224943]

Is just another point demonstrating that an author's best marketing tool can be to write more books to sell.
QUOTE]

With all respect I don't agree. I don't think the answer is quantity, but rather to write terrific books that people buy, that sell extremely well, that readers like and remember, and which they recomend to others -- with the name of the author, of course. I'll use Neal Bascomb as an example, the author of THE PERFECT MILE a 2005 book I really, really liked and which apparently millions of others did as well. I never heard of him before someone recommended the book to me. In total, since 2004 he's only published 4 other books.

shadowwalker
06-08-2011, 04:36 AM
I agree with Scope here - with any creative endeavor, it's quality versus quantity. I'd rather produce one Renoir than a hundred 'dogs playing poker'.

Carradee
06-08-2011, 05:04 AM
Is just another point demonstrating that an author's best marketing tool can be to write more books to sell.

*points to bold*

I did pick that verb structure for a reason. :)

If an author's providing quality, increasing quantity lets those good quality books act as mutual marketing tools. But if an author isn't providing quality, increasing quantity won't do any good.

leigh78
06-08-2011, 05:10 AM
*points to bold*

I did pick that verb structure for a reason. :)

If an author's providing quality, increasing quantity lets those good quality books act as mutual marketing tools. But if an author isn't providing quality, increasing quantity won't do any good.

Agreed. If I read a book that's trash, I won't pick up anymore by that author regardless how many that author has written.

scope
06-08-2011, 08:52 AM
Well, we seem to agree. Writers should aim to produce quality material and not concern themselves with quantity. It would be wonderful if we could write books of the highest quality while also cranking out consisent quantity, but I don't think that's likely, and I'm not even sure they are compatable virtues. In theory yes, but practically, probably not.

Terie
06-08-2011, 09:25 AM
James, AmsterdamAssassin was talking about how readers discover authors they don't already know.

Ergo,


I think most books are sold from reviews. Either independent reviews in newspapers, or bookblogs, or on Amazon. And, of course, readers raving to other readers about your book.

No, AmsterdamAssassin didn't say anything at all about how readers discover authors they don't already know.

What he said, and what you quoted, was, 'I think most books are sold from reviews.' Where, in that phrasing, is there any hint of 'how readers discover authors they don't already know'? All it says is, 'most books are sold from reviews', and Uncle Jim very clearly said something entirely different, that is,


Most books are sold because the reader read and liked another work by the same author.

The next greatest source of sales is that the book was recommended by a trusted friend. (That's why Oprah is so powerful: She counts as "trusted friend" to millions of people.)

All other reasons fade into single-digit percentages.

To compare the two statements more clearly, AmsterdamAssassin said, 'most books are sold from reviews,' whereas Uncle Jim said, 'Most books are sold because the reader read and liked another work by the same author.' Furthermore, as regards reviews, Uncle Jim included that in the statement, 'All other reasons fade into single-digit percentages.'

These two statements are not saying the same thing at all. Indeed, they're almost opposite.

AmsterdamAssassin
06-08-2011, 11:33 AM
No, AmsterdamAssassin didn't say anything at all about how readers discover authors they don't already know.

You're right, I didn't formulate my message correctly, but it is what I meant. New authors are discovered by word of mouth from reader to reader. And from reviews in book supplements to newspapers and other reviews. Or because books are supported by someone trusted to the reader [Oprah, or your favorite librarian, whatever].

As to James McDonalds comment on how readers will buy books from authors they know, that is true. However, you have to get to know these authors, and how do you do that? Because someone told you about their books? Because you looked for an author you know, and someone offered you a similar book by another author? Probably not from advertisements, which was the point of the conversation -- do ads help you sell more books? Konrath doesn't think so, and if you ask around, it's rare that people buy a book because they saw an ad.
Reviews, especially reviews trusted by the general public, will probably be better promotion than an ad announcing your book. And even if there's an ad announcing your book, it's almost always accompanied by a 'blurb' from an author or authority claiming the book is excellent or 'in the vein of [famous author]'.

Which is why I think that a self-publishing author would do better pursuing reviews and blurbs than buying ads.

DerekJCanyon
09-02-2011, 08:57 AM
Itís been 3 months since I posted my sales here. Since that time my sales have declined, as the charts below show. But, Iím still making some pretty good money.

For those of you who are interested in what a newbie self-publishing authorís sales might look like, here are my up to date sales numbers for my self-publishing efforts over the last 11 months. In this time Iíve sold 11,023 copies of 4 e-titles, earning about $9,700 in gross royalties and about $4,500 in profit.

First, here are the monthly sales charts:

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Ze-5fK4xSY0/Tl_c0Ahda0I/AAAAAAAAAKM/0pJedCa9CMI/s1600/2011_08_AugSales.jpg

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-JiY0lEsAP0Y/Tl_c4NAmLzI/AAAAAAAAAKQ/HBXUjdbhV-I/s1600/2011_08_Aug_Royalties.jpg




And for those of you interested in daily data:
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-kFNANEMtKcs/Tl_dD095O4I/AAAAAAAAAKU/iyAnqGBRuOQ/s1600/2011_08_AugDaily.jpg



As you can see, Iíve had a significant downturn in sales over the summer.


Iíve discussed this on my blog and various commenters have suggested the following causes:


1. Summer slump in reading. This would seem logical if the sale of other books also slumped. But, my Amazon sales rank has slid down into the 6000-7000 range, which means other books are still selling. I donít think I can attribute the downturn to this.


2. Amazon sales on other ebooks. Amazon has had two sales this summer, dropping ebook prices down to 99 cents on many titles. This could be enough to knock my best-selling book, Dead Dwarves Donít Dance, out of the few top 20 lists it was in.


3. New Amazon sales rank algorithm. Someone said that Amazon changes how they calculate sales rank from time to time. I did not know this, but if true it certainly seems like it could alter my sales. A new algorithm that drops me out of the top 20 lists could result in my slow slide.


4. My pricing experiment. You can see the spike in sales in the daily $ chart. Thatís when I experimented with raising the price of Dead Dwarves Donít Dance to $2.99. It was quite successful profit wise, earning me nearly $3000 in one month. However, when I lowered the price again to 99 cents, unit sales never quite recovered. Could this have set me on my downward slide?


5. Audience saturation. Having sold about 6,800 copies of Dead Dwarves Donít Dance, have I reached the majority of my audience? How many fans of genetically engineered dwarf assassin stories of redemption are there? Surely with the millions of ereaders out there my potential audience is more than a few thousand.


However, even though Iíve seen a decline in sales, Iím still making some good money. If things continue at the slow pace of August, I should still earn about $12,500 in gross royalties for 2011. Not too shabby for my first full year as an author.


Thatís my report. I hope your sales are doing at least as well as mine or better!


Notes:


Iím looking forward to what happens in my second year of publishing. Will summer always show a slump in sales? Or will next summer be different? Iíll have 2 more books released by then, so maybe theyíll help sell my current titles.


My young adult action/adventure, The Elemental Odyssey (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004W82OWS/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=derjcan-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B004W82OWS), is not shooting off the shelves despite very good reviews so far. Obviously, the SF readership from my Dead Dwarves Don't Dance (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004DCB3HU?ie=UTF8&tag=derjcan-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B004DCB3HU) book are not crossing over to buy my YA novel. Conclusion: not all genres promote each other. Iíll be releasing the sequel to The Elemental Odyssey (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004W82OWS/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=derjcan-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B004W82OWS)in time for the holidays. Hopefully, all those Harry Potter fans and their new ereaders will check out my magical adventure stories.


My how-to book, How to Format Your eBook for Kindle in One Hour (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004HZX7W2?ie=UTF8&tag=derjcan-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B004HZX7W2), is still selling about 5 to 16 copies a day. Itís also my best-selling book in England. The success of this book really makes me think I should put out another how to book, but they just arenít as fun to write as fiction. J

annetpfeffer
09-02-2011, 10:23 AM
Thank you a million times over for sharing your data. I was particularly interested by your pricing experiment. Is it correct to say that your unit sales were going up steadily at a lower price (99 cents?), then dropped precipitously when you raised the price to $2.99 (although your profits increased nonetheless), but that the unit sales didn't pick up again when you lowered the price back down?

It seems you did well initially at both prices (rapidly growing sales volume at 99 cents; high profits at $2.99), but that the second price change threw people off. Maybe too much price changing is a bad thing -- it confuses people.

Your experience is a little different from other stories I've read. Two self-pubbers I read about said when they cut the price from $2.99 to 99 cents their unit sales increased twenty fold, so their profitability skyrocketed just due to selliing more books. But not everyone has that experience.

Hmm... what to do?

Terie
09-02-2011, 11:00 AM
To the OP: If you want people to read your posts, you might want to use a font size that people can actually read. Like, yanno, the default one.

AP7
09-02-2011, 05:18 PM
To the OP: If you want people to read your posts, you might want to use a font size that people can actually read. Like, yanno, the default one.

When you cut and paste it doesnt default to the same font.

AP7
09-02-2011, 05:18 PM
Derek,

Congratulations. Looks impressive. I'm curious. Why did you lower your price when you were making more profit at the higher price?

Terie
09-02-2011, 05:27 PM
When you cut and paste it doesnt default to the same font.

So what? It's still the poster's responsibility to ensure readability if they want the widest possible pool of respondents. ESPECIALLY if someone is self-publishing, knowing how to present information in a readable form is a key skill.

RemusShepherd
09-02-2011, 05:45 PM
For those of you who are interested in what a newbie self-publishing authors sales might look like, here are my up to date sales numbers for my self-publishing efforts over the last 11 months. In this time Ive sold 11,023 copies of 4 e-titles, earning about $9,700 in gross royalties and about $4,500 in profit.

Hmmn. So most of the time you sold at $0.99, yes? I've been hearing that it's best to start at $2.99 and then drop in stages. You started at 0.99 and raised it briefly then dropped it again. Interesting.


Audience saturation. Having sold about 6,800 copies of Dead Dwarves Dont Dance, have I reached the majority of my audience? How many fans of genetically engineered dwarf assassin stories of redemption are there? Surely with the millions of ereaders out there my potential audience is more than a few thousand.

6,800 isn't bad, but it isn't stellar. The good news is that sales of your other books haven't hit that ceiling so they might still creep up there.

Tell me, what advertising did you do? Did you have any help in getting the word out about your novels?

kaitie
09-02-2011, 07:08 PM
So were most of the sales you received after you jumped into the bestseller list? I'm just trying to determine if that might have been the biggest factor in your huge sales for that month. It makes sense as it puts your book up front and center but is also a pretty good guarantee of "other people liked this book, you should check it out, too!"

Is your book linked to any others on Amazon? Also, do you sell on other sites and have those sales matched the trends at Amazon, or have they followed their own sets of highs and lows?

Thank you so much for sharing this data.

pengwinz
09-02-2011, 07:48 PM
To the OP: If you want people to read your posts, you might want to use a font size that people can actually read. Like, yanno, the default one.

I didn't have any trouble with it. Sure, a bit small, but not enough to make me stop reading.

TY, DJC, for posting this. Always great to see what other people are trying. Quick question, as I'm not self-pubbing (though keeping my eyes peeled and ears tuned to the trends): Are these analytics provided by Amazon? Just curious.

For anyone interested, my writing partner is starting a new self-pub experiment focusing on selling several short stories to garner interest in his upcoming novel. He'll be writing about it next week on our blog. I'll have him repost here and elewhere when it goes live.

Maryn
09-02-2011, 08:22 PM
I literally can't read it. Pretty pictures with jagged lines is all I can make out.

Please, take the time to read the guide for posts and edit to make your font no smaller than AW's default. Yes, I know how to enlarge the display for the whole site in order to read your post, but I shouldn't have to.

Maryn, squinting through her glasses

Sheryl Nantus
09-02-2011, 08:34 PM
Excellent data, Derek - I hate to ask for fear of being accused of being a downer again but what did you spend on covers, editing and publicity up to this point?

I'm sure you're well into a profit but I think it's important to point out your initial investment and how looking professional really makes a difference.

Thanks!

juniper
09-02-2011, 08:39 PM
Great analysis, probably something that many people would like to really study and think about for their own self-pub efforts - thanks for taking the time to post it.

I echo the request that it be edited to a larger font size.

DerekJCanyon
09-02-2011, 10:06 PM
Annetpfeffer,

Sales at 99 cents were going steadily up until a week before I raised the price. I saw my sales rank reach #333 on Amazon, but then start to get worse. After about a week of declining sales, I decided to raise the price while I was still in the top #20 in some genre lists. Unit sales then continued to decline, but $ revenue increased dramatically.

I kept the price at $2.99 for a while. When I set it back to 99 cents, the sales continued to decline, possibly for the reasons mentioned in my OP. I canít be sure, though, because there are too many variables to make a clear cut call. I do think that falling out of the #20 made it difficult to recover.

Iím not sure if people are confused by price changes. For low-priced ebooks Iím guessing that most people donít do a lot of price comparison or waiting. Itís an impulse buy.

As for differences in pricing changes between books, other factors include genre, time of year, fan base, and so on. Were the self-pubbers you mention in a popuplar genre? Did they have many books already out? A huge fan base?

Terie,

Iíve increased the font size.

AP7,

Why did I lower my price when I was making more money profit at the higher price? I had dropped out of the top #20 in the genre lists. Also, profit at $2.99 had declined to around the level of profit I had previously made at 99 cents. So, I decided to drop the price back down to 99 cents, hoping to build sales back up to their previous 99 cent levels. Unfortunately, that hasnít happened yet.

RemusShepard,

I have spent about $250 on paid advertising on Bing, Google, and Kindle Boards. No discernable increase in sales from this.

As for non-paid, I have my blog, facebook, and twitter accounts. I post on a few other other blogs, cyberpunk forums, etc.

Related blog posts:
Is it worth spending $$ to advertise a self-pubbed ebook? (http://derekjcanyon.blogspot.com/2010/12/is-it-worth-spending-to-advertise-self.html)
Kindleboards advertising results (http://derekjcanyon.blogspot.com/2011/01/kindleboards-advertising-results.html)
Do paid ads cause more sales? (http://derekjcanyon.blogspot.com/2011/01/do-paid-ads-cause-more-sales.html)
Do author blogs cause book sales? (http://derekjcanyon.blogspot.com/2011/01/do-author-blogs-cause-book-sales.html)
Other unpaid advertising results (http://derekjcanyon.blogspot.com/2011/02/other-unpaid-advertising-results.html)

Kaitie,

When I started hitting the top #20 lists for a few genres I did see an increase in sales. Like you, I believe that being in any top #20 list is incredibly powerful advertising. It puts you on the front page of a list of books.

My books are on other booksí Also bought lists.

I sell on Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble. In the same time that Iíve sold 11,000 books on Amazon, Iíve sold 11 on Smashwords and 24 on Barnes and Noble.

pengwinz,

Amazon provides month-to-date numbers only. I have to monitor those reports and manually record the changes per day to catch the daily data. I do all the analysis myself in an Excel spreadsheet.

Sheryl Nantus,

Total expenses on covers, editing, and publicity so far is about $5,000, leaving me with about $4,500 profit.

Juniper,

Your avatar picture looks just like our long-haired Chihuahua! Does your dog have caramel spots?

efkelley
09-02-2011, 11:55 PM
Thank you for sharing the data, and congratulations on the success. :)

Mr Flibble
09-03-2011, 03:46 AM
Excellent data, cheers Derek.

Sage
09-03-2011, 04:23 AM
One thing that's affecting ebook sales this summer is Borders going out of business. A lot of people are taking their book-buying money to the sales at Borders.

I've seen it with hardcopy books too. The new releases aren't part of the Borders sale. So I have friends who complained about sales when the first round of Borders closed because they weren't getting the expected sales in their first month of publication. But then the 2nd round of Borders closed and they were in those stores, and they saw a surge of sales. But I suspect that ebooks suffer from those sales all around.

ColoradoMom
09-07-2011, 05:53 AM
I wish I could help you figure it out, but since my busy season is apparently the opposite of yours, the only constructive criticism I have is that your busy season is probably right around the corner (holiday shoppers).

I publish non-fiction educational stuff, so for me the summer has been beyond fantastic in sales - about $12,000 in the last three months. But my sales take a series dump from February-April, right before it gets busy again. The other months are all pretty average.

I have three years of data now and this is my pattern - it is very consistent even though my sales have increased every month of every year. The ratio of high, low, and average sales months has remained the same with very little deviation. It is nice to know what to expect from month to month as far as income goes.

Your second year will tell you exactly what's going on, so if next summer you have the same pattern, you'll know this is normal. If not, you should begin to figure out where you went wrong. Maybe the pricing test was a mistake, but it will be hard to know until next year.


Also, your data presentation is fantastic! :)

Old Hack
09-07-2011, 10:15 AM
I publish non-fiction educational stuff, so for me the summer has been beyond fantastic in sales - about $12,000 in the last three months.

That's great, ColoradoMom--well done. Even though you know this is your high season you've still sold a shedload.

ColoradoMom
09-08-2011, 03:18 AM
That's great, ColoradoMom--well done. Even though you know this is your high season you've still sold a shedload.

Yeah, it is easy to get used to it, unfortunately! Too bad everything is cyclic! ;)

ios
09-08-2011, 03:50 AM
Thanks for sharing this, and I love your graphs--how did you do them?

I have heard on the Kindleboards that summer doldrums had hit quite a few people, so I don't think it can be author saturation. I think Sage mentioned Borders as a possible reason. I would think it would have to be something broad sweeping like that to affect so many people at once.

Anyway, thanks again. And I bet things will look up for you soon, especially once the Christmas season rolls around.

Jodi

valeriec80
09-08-2011, 04:27 AM
So were most of the sales you received after you jumped into the bestseller list? I'm just trying to determine if that might have been the biggest factor in your huge sales for that month. It makes sense as it puts your book up front and center but is also a pretty good guarantee of "other people liked this book, you should check it out, too!"


I took a survey of my readers on my website, which is hardly conclusive of anything, but 15% of my readers found me through an Amazon recommendation and 10% through an Amazon also-bought list. None found me through a Top 100 Category list.

While my data means very little due to the way I collected it (hardly scientific), I think it may be applicable to others' situations only because those Category lists are pretty difficult to find. You only see a book is on one when you navigate to the page. They aren't listed much of anywhere else (or if they are, I can't find them easily and I doubt most readers browsing look for them.) Now, if you manage to get into the Top 100 of the entire Kindle Store, then yes, you'll gets some eyes, because Amazon puts those lists on its front page. I'd wager the top ten of Romance or the top ten of Mysteries might have some visibility as well. But when I made the top 20 of Occult and Supernatural Horror, I wager that list was too specific to have been seen by much of anyone. (But it sure was fun to be ranked higher than Stephen King for a few weeks.)

From what I understand, Amazon figures your visibility by something they call a conversion rate, which means how many people who look at your book cover click on it and ultimately buy it. If your conversion rate is high, they show your book to more people (recommendations, also-boughts, etc.), meaning you have more likelihood of selling more books. If your conversion rate is low, then they show your book to less people, meaning you have less likelihood of making sales. That's why you see meteoric rises like Derek's or mine (which admittedly was way less, um, meteoric. I capped out at a ranking of about 2,000 before my sales declined) and also why the book suddenly takes a nose dive.

I kind of expect that as Amazon gets bigger and ebook buying becomes more commonplace, they'll change these algorithms again to encourage more niche-buying. I'm pretty sure that Amazon will get very good at providing readers with a tailor-made experience for them, which will probably make Amazon ebook sales change yet again. I think they'll stop pushing a few books at everyone and start pushing a wider variety of books at smaller targeted audiences. But that's just a hunch.

ColoradoMom
09-08-2011, 07:51 PM
I find the "top categories" hard to navigate and not very reliable. Also, most of the time I've already read the ones that would appeal to me and many (just my personal opinion) are not as good as their position indicates. Or maybe, more accurately, they are not typically what I am looking for.

Since I buy a lot of niche Kindle books I typically find new authors in the "People who bought this also bought" section. So one suggestion is to get yourself on a better and more diverse recommended list in order to find more people in your target audience.

One way to get this ball rolling is to purchase your book then purchase books that are like yours - so that your book will have chance to get in on those sales. Of course, you can't do it with one purchase, but every little bit helps.

Another thing that I would do (if I had my fiction book on sale already), is find another author who is publishing books like mine and see if they wanted to do a joint venture where two (or more) authors team up to promote their books as a package. Of course, you'd have to be very choosy so you're not mixed up with crap, but I see local networking as a pretty good answer to author centered promotion and marketing - even if you have no intention of self publishing.


I could think of at least a dozen ways to manipulate Amazon for better positioning and you can bet when I put out some fiction, that's what I will be doing. :)

Cloud Eight
09-08-2011, 09:07 PM
Good suggestions ColoradoMom. Thanks.

Old Hack
09-08-2011, 10:00 PM
Another thing that I would do (if I had my fiction book on sale already), is find another author who is publishing books like mine and see if they wanted to do a joint venture where two (or more) authors team up to promote their books as a package. Of course, you'd have to be very choosy so you're not mixed up with crap, but I see local networking as a pretty good answer to author centered promotion and marketing - even if you have no intention of self publishing.

One of the big problems with selling self-published print books is getting them into bookshops: without distribution (and I mean what trade publishing calls distribution, not what a lot of self publishers mean by that) it's impossible to get a decent bookshop presence.

I suggested to several self publishers and self-publishing groups that they band together and work as distributors, each holding stock of each others' books and making sales calls and so on: but they were all reluctant to do so. I always thought that was a shame and that they might well make a good number of sales if they did so. It would be worth trying, at least, I'd have thought.

annetpfeffer
09-09-2011, 03:25 AM
One of the big problems with selling self-published print books is getting them into bookshops: without distribution (and I mean what trade publishing calls distribution, not what a lot of self publishers mean by that) it's impossible to get a decent bookshop presence.



What about independent bookstores? Is there any hope there?

DerekJCanyon
09-09-2011, 03:25 AM
ios, I use Excel to make my charts.

kaitie
09-09-2011, 07:43 AM
Am I the only one uncomfortable with manipulating Amazon things? I guess I feel like that's the main reason they're unreliable. As a reader it bothers me.

Old Hack
09-09-2011, 10:12 AM
What about independent bookstores? Is there any hope there?

Self-published writers can get their books into both independent and chain bookshops: the problem is getting their books into lots of them, and over a wide geographical area.

It takes a lot of work and time to contact them one by one, and that's what is required to do so.


Am I the only one uncomfortable with manipulating Amazon things? I guess I feel like that's the main reason they're unreliable. As a reader it bothers me.

Ratings systems have been manipulated for years. For example, those "bestselling" or "favourite" charts put out by chain bookshops? Places on those charts are paid for by the publishers. Yes, it's worrying; but it's also commonplace.

kaitie
09-09-2011, 09:34 PM
Self-published writers can get their books into both independent and chain bookshops: the problem is getting their books into lots of them, and over a wide geographical area.

It takes a lot of work and time to contact them one by one, and that's what is required to do so.


Ratings systems have been manipulated for years. For example, those "bestselling" or "favourite" charts put out by chain bookshops? Places on those charts are paid for by the publishers. Yes, it's worrying; but it's also commonplace.

I guess that's true when you put it that way.

Adam
09-09-2011, 09:45 PM
Thanks for taking the time to post this, Derek! :)

jnfr
09-14-2011, 11:23 PM
Great numbers, Derek. Thanks so much for sharing.

ColoradoMom
09-17-2011, 05:51 AM
One of the big problems with selling self-published print books is getting them into bookshops: without distribution (and I mean what trade publishing calls distribution, not what a lot of self publishers mean by that) it's impossible to get a decent bookshop presence.

I suggested to several self publishers and self-publishing groups that they band together and work as distributors, each holding stock of each others' books and making sales calls and so on: but they were all reluctant to do so. I always thought that was a shame and that they might well make a good number of sales if they did so. It would be worth trying, at least, I'd have thought.

This is just me Old hack, but if I have to self-publish fiction I'm not going to be interested in bookstores. There's no point in working that hard for such a small payoff and I really do agree that traditional publishers are far better equipped to get that job done. Hopefully I will have a traditional publisher for my fiction and they can deal with that, but if I get to the finished version of the second book in a series and have no bites I'll self publish and will only be concerned with online sales at that point.

Obviously the more venues your book is available in, the better your sales will be, but when self-publishing you really do need to pick and choose what works and let go of things that don't. Of course the hardest part of this is figuring out what works. ;)

Katie, as far as being uncomfortable with "manipulating Amazon" - this is just creative marketing. There is nothing dishonest about buying your own book to get it on the "customers also bought" scroller or banding together with authors who write books in your genre to promote each other.

I use my real name on Amazon, so writing my own review would be pointless, but you're damn straight that I'll have all my relatives writing reviews! You gotta get the ball rolling somehow, and reviews just happen to be the easiest way to do this.

Although I do agree that some people's reviews HAVE to just be made-up because the book is just so bad. That's why the send a free sample button should always be clicked before purchasing. :)

Old Hack
09-17-2011, 11:28 AM
if I have to self-publish fiction I'm not going to be interested in bookstores. There's no point in working that hard for such a small payoff and I really do agree that traditional publishers are far better equipped to get that job done.

Agree. Courses for horses, and all that. It's hard-to-impossible for fiction-writing self-publishers to get bookshop placement: but bookshops still sell more print copies than online outlets do. Of course, if we're talking about e-books the equation is very different.


Obviously the more venues your book is available in, the better your sales will be, but when self-publishing you really do need to pick and choose what works and let go of things that don't. Of course the hardest part of this is figuring out what works. ;)

My bold. When you've figured that bit out I'd be grateful if you could tell me!

Carradee
09-20-2011, 06:10 PM
So what? It's still the poster's responsibility to ensure readability if they want the widest possible pool of respondents. ESPECIALLY if someone is self-publishing, knowing how to present information in a readable form is a key skill.

Knowing how to be polite is a key skill, too. There's "Hey, I can't read that; could you increase the font size, please?" (like Maryn did) and "Hey, idiot! Increase your font size!" You're coming across as closer to the latter than the former. I'm assuming it was an accident and therefore bringing it to your attention.


Am I the only one uncomfortable with manipulating Amazon things? I guess I feel like that's the main reason they're unreliable. As a reader it bothers me.

Bothers me as a reader and writer. I've recently realized that it's made me overcautious, though. For example, I really should SEO my pages. >_>



Although I do agree that some people's reviews HAVE to just be made-up because the book is just so bad.

Now, I'm not so sure about that. Ever hung out on fanfiction.net? I don't think I've ever seen a story that didn't get some "This is fantastic!" reviews from strangers. (Some friends of mine wrote an intentionally terrible fanfic to test it.)

Wait. There was one story that lacked any positive reviews. My memory blocked that one.

Old Hack
09-20-2011, 08:03 PM
Knowing how to be polite is a key skill, too. There's "Hey, I can't read that; could you increase the font size, please?" (like Maryn did) and "Hey, idiot! Increase your font size!" You're coming across as closer to the latter than the former. I'm assuming it was an accident and therefore bringing it to your attention.

Carradee, if you have a problem with anyone's post then the appropriate action for you to take is to click on the "report post" button, so that the mods can deal with it. Otherwise you also risk "coming across as closer to the latter than the former".

For the record, I have no problem with Terie's post.

Now, let's get back on-topic, everyone. Thanks.

Carradee
09-21-2011, 02:42 AM
Carradee, if you have a problem with anyone's post then the appropriate action for you to take is to click on the "report post" button, so that the mods can deal with it. Otherwise you also risk "coming across as closer to the latter than the former".

I walked into that one. Sorry for overreacting.


For those of you who are interested in what a newbie self-publishing authorís sales might look like, here are my up to date sales numbers for my self-publishing efforts over the last 11 months. In this time Iíve sold 11,023 copies of 4 e-titles, earning about $9,700 in gross royalties and about $4,500 in profit.

I should've said this earlier, and I'm sorry I didn't, but great job, Derek! :) May your sales numbers at least level out, rather than continue to drop. Thanks for sharing!

And you're selling a lot better than me. :tongue

Chilly
09-21-2011, 10:55 PM
I'd say pulling down $4500 profit (so far) is a good indicator of success, considering that most publisher's advances to new authors are reportedly heading below 3 grand.

Which is about what I made last year on freelance magazine writing. No way would I accept that amount for a novel that has taken months of work to finish.

That's what is pushing me to e-pub. Much as I'd love to see my work in hardcopy on a shelf at B&N, I'd also love to make money on it. It's one thing to get 15% for a hard cover, considering the publisher's sunk costs in printing and distribution. But only 25% for e-books is not something I can willingly sign up for, especially after the whole "battered wife syndrome" of query/reject/query/repeat.

I understand your profits were over 4 titles, but you certainly don't appear to be done yet. Nice cover art, too, by the way.

Old Hack
09-21-2011, 11:30 PM
I'm not sure that "most publisher's advances to new authors are reportedly heading below 3 grand". Some of them could be--but most? I'm doubtful.

A few of my friends signed their first-ever book deals in the last year, and not one of them got advances of less than £30,000 per book signed. I know that's a tiny sample, and therefore probably not representative; and they've all got really good agents, which explains why they're probably hitting above the norm. But still, I think you have to consider things like genre, and representation, because those will have a huge affect on the amount of advance paid.

As for Derek's royalties: the books are clearly selling very nicely: but I have to echo what Chilly said, but in a different context. A total of $4,500 profit, for four titles, in eleven months? No way would I accept that amount for a book that took months of work to finish.

(Not that I intend to belittle Derek's achievements at all, you understand: I just want to put this into a little context.)

Medievalist
09-21-2011, 11:46 PM
I'd say pulling down $4500 profit (so far) is a good indicator of success, considering that most publisher's advances to new authors are reportedly heading below 3 grand.

4500.00 is nothing to sneeze at.

Regarding advances, that's really not at all what I've been seeing, or hearing. Have you got a link?

In my niche, which is known for historically low advances because computer books are outdated so very quickly, I've never heard of a book receiving an advance less than 5K.

And that goes back to my first experience in the early 1990s.

Tobias Bucknell has some good data here:

http://www.tobiasbuckell.com/2005/10/05/author-advance-survey-version-20/

He's been updating the data since 2005; the genre is SF/F but honestly, I think the basic data is sound.

This NYT article (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/12/books/review/Meyer-t.html) has an interesting historical perspective.

I think it's always wise to negotiate an advance, keeping in mind that it might be better to receive royalties later than cash up front, which, for those of us who depend on writing for income, isn't always an option.

Chilly
09-21-2011, 11:50 PM
As I said, he's not done yet. Hopefully his sales will pick up again. Christmas is coming, after all.

My information on advances comes from authors who are still being traditionally published and agents. It is possibly limited by genre (science fiction) and format (mass-market or trade paperback vs. hardback).

Don't get me wrong: if I'm able to get a hardback deal, I'll take it. But if my novels are headed for mass-market paperback, it may well be more profitable to e-pub it myself.

That comes with a caveat: none of my work will be put up on Amazon until it's been professionally edited with professional cover art. There's some obvious financial risk involved.

Is that link from Toby Buckell's site updated? Latest comment was 2008. It'd be nice to see a larger sample than the evidence I've collected on my own.

Medievalist
09-22-2011, 12:25 AM
Is that link from Toby Buckell's site updated? Latest comment was 2008. It'd be nice to see a larger sample than the evidence I've collected on my own.

As I noted, it's still being updated.

I'm still hearing first time averages in complete accord with Tobias' numbers.

Note that you're likely to do a little better if you have an agent.

Going to any regional SF con, and attending the panels on writing will render similar data. I've had first time novel friends receive 5K per with a three novel deal, and I've had friends receive 10k on a novel with an option on the next three books, also a first time novelist in SF.

You might also go to the library and look at back issues of Locus; SF and F authors are often quite frank about advances.

It honestly hasn't really changed much since I started paying attention more than twenty years ago.

dondomat
09-22-2011, 07:36 AM
I'm not sure that "most publisher's advances to new authors are reportedly heading below 3 grand". Some of them could be--but most? I'm doubtful.

I suppose that this works one way if one really means 'most publishers' - of which like 1% are the big dozen and the rest are small houses and mini-publishers who indeed do pay below 3 grand, when they pay at all. And I also suppose that the more mini-publishers there are, the tinier the average royalty rate will be.

Medievalist
09-22-2011, 09:01 AM
I suppose that this works one way if one really means 'most publishers' - of which like 1% are the big dozen and the rest are small houses and mini-publishers who indeed do pay below 3 grand, when they pay at all. And I also suppose that the more mini-publishers there are, the tinier the average royalty rate will be.

No.

First, restricting this to just the U.S., the "big six" are, well, those are the names of publishers that most enthusiastic readers will remember. That's not saying that indie publishers aren't super and wonderful--but Tor, Macmillan, Scribner's, Random House, Knopf, Harper Collins, Farrar Strauss Giroux, Addison-Wesley, Palgrave, Penguin, Longmans, Picador, Bedford, Henry Holt, Hachette, Time-Warner, Little Brown, Orbit, Doubleday, etc. etc.

That's not even a third of the publishing companies owned by the big six.

And just because a publisher is small and indie, doesn't mean that they're non-standard. There are indie houses that totally own their niches, for instance.

Royalty rates are a little flexible, but not all that much; they're tied to cover prices typically. You're more likely to see fluctuation and deals on advances than royalty rates, though an author who sells out can dicker (or the agent can) or ask for a sliding scale based on sales, or start higher in terms of a few points off the percentage, or, maybe, get a better rate on ebook royalties.

It's really not as bleak as some assert, wrt to advances or royalties.

I'm seeing an awful lot of assertions that based on what I used to see in contracts for ebooks and what I see on my own contracts, and what I used to negotiate, and what my friends who write fiction are getting, are just not accurate.

And as I've said before, I'm in a niche that has relatively low advances, but they've been pretty stable for the last twenty years or so.

Old Hack
09-22-2011, 09:07 AM
I suppose that this works one way if one really means 'most publishers' - of which like 1% are the big dozen and the rest are small houses and mini-publishers who indeed do pay below 3 grand, when they pay at all.

Ah, I see what you mean. I was considering "most advances", not "most publishers' advances": does that make sense?


And I also suppose that the more mini-publishers there are, the tinier the average royalty rate will be.

You're wrong here. The size of the advance or publisher does not affect the average royalty rate. The professionalism of the publisher often does, though, so be wary of publishers which pay strangely small or large royalty percentages.

Old Hack
09-22-2011, 09:13 AM
I cross-posted with Medievalist there, and I realise I need to clarify my previous post.

I agree with all Medie wrote: but I can see how the average advance received is going to be knocked way, way down if one includes in one's calculations the advances from all the publishers in existence.

There are plenty of tiny publishers which do really good work: but there are plenty more which do not, and which I wouldn't touch with a literary bargepole. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of presses which have been set up by people who don't have a clue about publishing and which don't pay advances, or decent royalties, and don't do much of anything else either.

They're bound to bring the average down to very low numbers, but as they're to be avoided I wouldn't include them in my calculations. Because I don't count them as proper publishers.

dondomat
09-23-2011, 04:53 PM
You're wrong here. The size of the advance or publisher does not affect the average royalty rate. The professionalism of the publisher often does, though, so be wary of publishers which pay strangely small or large royalty percentages.

Of course, "advances", not "royalties", what was I thinking? Must have written that in the after hours when the ole brain is running on fumes. Why "royalties"? No idea, honestly.

Old Hack
09-23-2011, 07:23 PM
Don't worry--I do that sort of thing all the time. But it's worth pointing out errors like that so that people who don't know the difference aren't confused when they come along later and read the thread.

ios
09-23-2011, 09:52 PM
As I noted, it's still being updated.

I'm still hearing first time averages in complete accord with Tobias' numbers.

Regarding that Tobias link (http://www.tobiasbuckell.com/2005/10/05/author-advance-survey-version-20/), the lower figures came from the debut or first novel advance. Looking at the figures, it looks like it goes up after that. Under the career section, those who sold more than one novel (around 5-7), the median advance for the latest novel was $12,500. For first novels? Median advance was $5000.

So, maybe with this climate the advances have gone down for debuts, but this old data supports the idea that it'll go up quite a bit in comparison for the author's later novels.

Jodi

mollieplayer
09-25-2011, 04:13 AM
I echo the point made about not worrying about getting a self-published book into the bookstores. If it does well online, a publishing company will make you an offer eventually (if you're marketing yourself well, too) and they'll pay for that and take care of the hassles involved.

Old Hack
09-25-2011, 10:17 AM
I echo the point made about not worrying about getting a self-published book into the bookstores. If it does well online, a publishing company will make you an offer eventually (if you're marketing yourself well, too) and they'll pay for that and take care of the hassles involved.

Mollie, that's very unlikely, I'm afraid.

Right now, publishers are only picking up the few writers whose self-published books sell in spectacular numbers. Most of the self-pubilshed books out there not only don't sell many copies, but they also won't even register on a trade publisher's radar.

Please, everyone: don't assume that a trade publisher will come along and offer you a deal if your self-published e-book sells well. For most of us this just isn't going to happen, and we can't rely on it.

EbookReader
03-29-2012, 04:19 PM
Was going to ask for an update but the OP hasn't posted since October. So I clicked on his blog and found this:

January Sales Report
http://derekjcanyon.blogspot.com/2012/02/january-2012-sales-report.html

Royalties - month by month
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-MzbMJ1I3zpI/Ty_9FCOBKbI/AAAAAAAAAOM/2gbd_YuS1mY/s1600/2012_01_JanRoyalties.JPG

Turndog-Millionaire
03-29-2012, 05:16 PM
A really nice break down. I must say i do like it when authors share this kind of info. Makes for great research for newbies, and allows for a more informed plan to be made.

And a great first year can i just say, to sell that many books in year one is great. Congrats all around

Matt (Turndog Millionaire)

printingray
03-29-2012, 09:08 PM
The only way to get volume sales is by selling through the retail books trade, and that means you need to print copies in advance to place with wholesalers and retailers. That also means that you have to take account of the fact that the retailers will take a very large proportion of your book's cover price which you have to build into your costings. The problem with most self-published books is that they are published 'on demand' and printed digitally in small batches.

Cyia
03-29-2012, 09:14 PM
The only way to get volume sales is by selling through the retail books trade,


It's not the only way. It's just (overwhelmingly) the most common. There are an increasing number of writers making volume sales via Amazon without ever putting a single book in print. They're a small percentage, but it's working for them.

Old Hack
03-30-2012, 12:02 AM
printingray has left the building. We don't like spammers here.

Sarah Renee Crane
04-01-2012, 03:29 AM
Congratulations!