View Full Version : Authors respond to the Bookseller's survey

12-11-2012, 11:05 PM
Cor, this is interesting. So The Bookseller asked a bunch of authors, both self-published and 'traditionally published' (I know, I know: we may have to live with that descriptor now, folks) what they thought about a bunch of stuff and the answers are right here: http://www.futurebook.net/content/author-paradox

We asked traditionally-published authors* on a scale from 1 – 10 how satisfied they are with what their publisher achieves (1 – very unsatisfied and 10 – very satisfied). Their* average rating is 6.2, which suggests that publishers serve them reasonably well but hardly a glowing endorsement.

When questioned deeper, these authors gave some interesting views on their publishers’ ebook pricing and marketing strategies;

*I don’t know their rationale.
*Their ebooks are overpriced and they do very little differently in promoting them.
*They have discounted the first book in the series to $2.99 which has boosted sales, but the remainder are at $9.99 which is not an attractive price point.
*I am not convinced that they have any strategy
*They've been very slow to respond to the changes in the marketplace and are just now considering e-book price reductions, which I think has been detrimental to my sales.
*Overpricing, meaning they are unable to compete.
*An overly blinkered approach imposed by the parent company's board, allows no flexibility or common sense and my e-sales are about 2% of total.
*Marketing not great.

These responses reflect at least 80% of author answers. I’m sure not music to publishers’ ears, but rather fundamental questions scream out from this:

*Are publishers communicating their marketing and pricing strategies with their authors?
*Can publishers implement a nimble and responsive pricing strategy across their vast numbers of books?
*Are publishers working closely enough with their authors who understand their market, competitors so well?

Plenty of chewy stuff in there, from both sides of the aisle. I would be interested to hear what people think.

12-12-2012, 01:13 AM
I've definitely seen/heard authors say that their NYC published books are priced way too high for the market compared to their small-press or digital-first published books.

I've seen/heard a few authors say moving to self-publishing AFTER they knew their market (through years of being published traditionally) was a huge financial win for them.

I've only been small-press published (and right now have no interest in pursuing big six--I write category length or shorter fiction) and I know exactly how and why my publishers arrived at the price points for my work. There is no mystery there at all, it's based on wordcount and market research.

It's all very interesting to me, and I often keep my ear to the ground to hear who is saying what about ebook pricing, sales numbers, etc.

As a reader, I have only spent more than $9 on an ebook maybe twice ever, both times were for the same author, one who I have bought frequently at a lower price point. The first was absolutely worth the $, the second was a disappointment. The price definitely factored into my disappointment, and I haven't bought that author's work at that price point since.

12-12-2012, 03:01 AM
These two bits of data are interesting, too:

Perhaps critically for publishers, when we asked their authors to rate their agreement with the following statement: ‘I have contemplated switching to self-publishing’ 48% agreed with varying passion and 37% disagreed

43.3% of self-published authors would ultimately like to get a trade book deal, with 44.3% expressing ambivalence at the idea and only 12.4 % set firmly against.

I wonder what the overlap between these two groups is. If those SP authors were trade published, and the TP authors self-pubbed, what would the satisfaction ratings be, and where would most authors eventually end up?

I think we're lacking some critical info here with this survey, specifically where the trade-published authors fall on the sales spectrum (as midlisters in general seem most favorable toward self-publishing).

12-12-2012, 03:06 AM
Personally, I think the cheapness of ebooks is transitory. Once print is effectively replaced by ebooks that can't be lent (beyond a single, strongly-controlled instance) or sold on, prices will rise.

12-12-2012, 06:47 AM
Also, while high prices may be a disincentive to buy, low prices aren't necessarily on their own an incentive to buy.

- Victoria

12-12-2012, 05:59 PM
I know for myself that I really have only a nebulous grasp on what is meant by marketing. I suspect that it is conflated with publicity and from a publisher's perspective, it's not the same.

12-12-2012, 06:13 PM
I know self-reported data can be inherently dodgy but this middle number surprised me:

43.3% of self-published authors would ultimately like to get a trade book deal, with 44.3% expressing ambivalence at the idea and only 12.4 % set firmly against.

If it's true, and it's certainly been my impression, that only a very few self-published authors have good sales, this number seems awfully high. In other words, if they're not selling well and a trade publisher comes along with an offer, would so many really say, "Meh, I'll think about it"??

Barbara R.
12-12-2012, 06:38 PM
It's interesting that self-published writers report a higher level of satisfaction than published writers. My guess is that it has to do with different levels of expectation. Self-published writers probably have lower expectations about sales than published; so the same number of books sold would represent a grave disappointment to published writers but a boon to self-published.

Published writers do, on the whole, sell more than self-published, but their expectations may be higher still.

Among published writers, it's rare to find one who doesn't have some issues with their publishers. Every time they walk into a bookstore and don't find their book (or don't find it up front on display), they tend to feel shorted. Of course, self-published writers almost never see their books in bookstores, but they don't expect to. So once again it comes down to different expectations.

The bar is always moving for published writers. Early on, people tend to think that all they want is a publishing deal and they'll be happy for the rest of their lives. Then they get that deal and discover that true happiness lies in greater exposure, sales, and critical respect. If they achieve that, the bar moves again, and nothing will do but a spot on the bestseller list or a major award. I'm not sure this dynamic applies to self-published writers; maybe some will weigh in and comment.

12-12-2012, 06:44 PM
Personally, I think the cheapness of ebooks is transitory. Once print is effectively replaced by ebooks that can't be lent (beyond a single, strongly-controlled instance) or sold on, prices will rise.

Cheapness? When I look at ebooks that also have print versions, an awful lot of them are only a couple of dollars cheaper. I don't consider them much of a bargain.

Of course, I am probably not the typical ebook buyer. Except for two books, all my ebooks fall into two categories - books that were free or nearly free (less than two dollars) in the Kindle store, and digital duplicates of books I already have sitting on my bookshelf. The two exceptions are computer tech books that are large and heavy in print form, and I bought the Kindle version to make them easy to travel with.