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If you aren't sure whether to self-publish, ask yourself what you want.

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James D. Macdonald

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The top hundred items in the Kindle store, 08May11, 1600 EDT.

Self-published books are marked "SP."

1. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (Algonquin Books)

2. Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Wi-Fi, Graphite, 6" Display with New E Ink Pearl Technology - includes Special Offers & Sponsored Screensavers by Amazon (Electronics - Apr. 27, 2011)

3. Kindle 3G Wireless Reading Device, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, 3G Works Globally, Graphite, 6" Display with New E Ink Pearl Technology by Amazon (Electronics)

4. The Lincoln Lawyer: A Novel by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown and Company)

5. Dead Reckoning: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel by Charlaine Harris (Ace)

6. Bossypants by Tina Fey (Hachette Book Group)

7. Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin (Macmillan)

8.Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo, Sonja Burpo, Colton Burpo and Lynn Vincent (Thomas Nelson)

9. The Secret Holocaust Diaries by Nonna Bannister, Denise George and Carolyn Tomlin (Tyndale House Publishers)

10. Vegas Moon (A Donovan Creed Novel) by John Locke (Telemachus Press, LLC) SP

11. Team Secrets Of The Navy Seals by Anonymous (Andrews McMeel Publishing)

12. Elisha's Bones by Don Hoesel (Bethany House)

13. The New York Times by The New York Times Company (Newspaper subscription)

14. The Sixth Man by David Baldacci (Hachette Book Group)

15. Kindle Lighted Leather Cover, Black (Fits 6" Display, Latest Generation Kindle) by Amazon (Accessory)

16. 10th Anniversary by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (Hachette Book Group)

17. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic Paperbacks)

18. Heir To The Everlasting by Janice Daugharty (Bell Bridge Books)

19. The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly (Hachette Book Group)

20. The Innocent by Vincent Zandri (StoneGate Ink)

21. The Paris Wife: A Novel by Paula McLain (Random House Digital, Inc.)

22. Calendar Pro (A Schedule Tool for Kindle) by Jujuba Software

23. The Heart of Memory: A Novel by Alison Strobel (Zondervan)

24. A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One by George R.R. Martin (Random House Digital, Inc.)

25. Notepad (A Note Taking Tool for Kindle) by 7 Dragons

26. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Penguin Publishing)

27. Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic Press)

28. Homecoming, The: A Novel by Dan Walsh (Revell)

29. Thicker than Blood by C.J. Darlington (Tyndale House Publishers)

30. Beyond The Bougainvillea by Dolores L. Durando (Bell Bridge Books)

31. Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic Press)

32. A World I Never Made by James Lepore (The Story Plant)

33. Walking on Broken Glass by Christa Allan (Abingdon Press)

34. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (Random House Digital, Inc.)

35. The Wall Street Journal by Wall Street Journal (Newspaper subscription)

36. Reader's Digest by Reader's Digest USA (Magazine subscription)

37. The New Yorker by The New Yorker (Magazine subscription)

38. No Time Left (Kindle Single) by David Baldacci (Hachette Book Group)

39. Chasing Fire by NORA ROBERTS (Putnam Adult)

40. Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography by Rob Lowe (Henry Holt and Co.)

41. Love You More: A Dectective D. D. Warren Novel by Lisa Gardner (Random House Digital, Inc.)

42. The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan (Disney Hyperion)

43. Trojan Horse by David Lender (David Lender) SP

44. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson and Reg Keeland (Random House Digital, Inc.)

45. Three Cups of Deceit: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way (Kindle Single) by Jon Krakauer (Byliner)

46. I'll Walk Alone by Mary Higgins Clark (Simon & Schuster)

47. Paid in Blood by Mel Odom (Tyndale House Publishers)

48. Mystery: An Alex Delaware Novel by Jonathan Kellerman (Ballantine Books)

49. Liquid Fear: A Mystery Thriller by Scott Nicholson (Haunted Computer Books)

50. Time by Time Inc. (Kindle Edition) - Magazine Subscription

51. A Girl Like You (a Donovan Creed Novel) by John Locke Telemachus Press, LLC) SP


52. Saving Rachel (a Donovan Creed Crime Novel) by John Locke Telemachus Press, LLC) SP

53. Royal Wisdom by Kate Petrella (Adams Media)

54. Lethal Experiment (a Donovan Creed Novel) by John Locke (Telemachus Press, LLC) SP

55. Paper Roses (Texas Dreams Trilogy #1) by Amanda Cabot (Revell)

56. The Dukan Diet: 2 Steps to Lose the Weight, 2 Steps to Keep It Off Forever by Pierre Dukan (Crown Archetype)

57. Free Kindle Books Plus a Few Other Tips by Michael Gallagher (Blog subscription)

58. Something Blue by Emily Giffin (Macmillan)

59. RX from the Garden by Kathleen Barnes (Adams Media)

60. The Shop by J. Carson Black (Breakaway Media) SP

61. Lethal People (a Donovan Creed Novel) by John Locke (Telemachus Press, LLC) SP

62. Presenting to Win: The Art of Telling Your Story, Updated and Expanded Edition by Jerry J. Weissman (FT Press)

63. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson and Reg Keeland (Random House Digital, Inc.)

64. Cottage by the Sea by Ciji Ware (Sourcebooks Landmark)

65. A Clash of Kings: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Two by George R.R. Martin (Random House Digital, Inc.)

66. A Turn in the Road by DEBBIE MACOMBER (Mira) SP

67. Wish List by John Locke (Telemachus Press) SP

68. Now & Then (a Donovan Creed Novel) by John Locke (Telemachus Press) SP

69. Night Road by Kristin Hannah (Macmillan)

70. Godchild by Vincent Zandri (StoneGate Ink)

71. Divine by Karen Kingsbury (Tyndale House Publishers)

72. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (Random House Digital, Inc.)

73. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson and Reg Keeland (Random House Digital, Inc.)

74. Eve by Iris Johansen (St. Martin's Press)

75. Know Your Bible: All 66 Books Explained and Applied by Paul Kent (Barbour Books)

76. Disrupt: Think the Unthinkable to Spark Transformation in Your Business by Luke Williams (FT Press)

77. The 17 Day Diet by Dr. Mike Moreno (Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc)

78. 44 Charles Street: A Novel by Danielle Steel (Random House Digital, Inc.)

79. Shattered: A Daughter's Regret by Melody Carlson (Navpress)

80. The Righteous by Michael Wallace (Balsalom Publishing) SP

81. The Edge of Light (At Home in Beldon Grove, Book 1) by Ann Shorey (Revell)

82. When You Went Away by Michael Baron (The Story Plant)

83. American Vampire (Vampire for Hire #3) by J.R. Rain (J.R. Rain) SP

84. Deadworld by J.N. Duncan (Kensington Books)

85. The BITCH-PROOF SUIT (Romantic Comedy) by De-ann Black (Toffee Apple Publishing)

86. THE LAND OF PAINTED CAVES: A Novel by Jean M. Auel (Random House Digital, Inc.)

87. The Brass Verdict: A Novel by Michael Connelly (Hachette Book Group)

88. Live Wire by Harlan Coben (Penguin Publishing)

89. Marware Eco-Vue Kindle Leather Folio, Black (Fits 6" Display, Latest Generation Kindle) by Marware (Accessory)

90. The Spell (The Big Bad Wolf Series) by Heather Killough-Walden (Heather Killough-Walden) SP

91. USA TODAY by USA TODAY (Kindle Edition) - Newspaper Subscription

92. Truth and Consequences: Hearts of the South, Book 1 by Linda Winfree (Samhain Publishing, Ltd.)

93. The Economist - US Edition by The Economist (Kindle Edition) - Magazine Subscription

94. Shape by American Media, Inc. (Kindle Edition) - Magazine Subscription

95. Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue (Hachette Book Group)

96. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (Random House Digital, Inc.)

97. Digital Disciple by Adam Thomas (Abingdon Press)

98. Follow the Stone by John Locke (Telemachus Press, LLC) SP

99. Newsweek by The Washington Post Company (Kindle Edition) - Magazine Subscription

100. Get into bed with Google by Jon Smith (Infinite Ideas)
 

James D. Macdonald

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Of those top hundred items, six are Kindles, or Kindle accessories and software, leaving 94 items to download to your device.

Of the remaining 94, 10 are subscriptions to magazines, newspapers, and, in one case, a blog. (I'll count that blog as self-published, for 10% of the total subscriptions.)

Of the 84 books: 14 (16%) are self-published.

(And of those 14 self-published books, over half (8; that is, 57%) are by John Locke.)

The take-away lesson?

If you want to do well on the Kindle, be published by Random House.
 

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Just for completeness, and leaving off games (Scrabble for Kindle, Word-search for Kindle) and subscriptions (The Atlantic), the next sixteen books (to bring us to the top 100 books for Kindle, are:

103. The Heat (The Big Bad Wolf Series) by Heather Killough-Walden (Heather Killough-Walden) SP

104. Her Last Letter by Nancy C. Johnson (Nancy C. Johnson) SP

105. Shipwrecked (Kindle Single) by Mishka Shubaly (Mishka Shubaly) SP

106. Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?: A Rock 'n' Roll Memoir by Steven Tyler (HarperCollins Publishers)

107. Save Me by Lisa Scottoline (Macmillan)

108. Bel-Air Dead by Stuart Woods (Penguin Publishing)

109. Just Perfect (Perfect Trilogy) by Julie Ortolon (Julie Ortolon) SP

110. Switched (Trylle Trilogy, Book 1) by Amanda Hocking (Amanda Hocking) SP

111. Delivered with Love by Sherry Kyle (Abingdon Press)

112. The Jungle by Clive Cussler and Jack Du Brul (Penguin Publishing )

113. Savage Nature by Christine Feehan (Jove)

115. Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy (Random House Digital, Inc.)

116. The Message NT w/ Ps and Proverbs Burg Leather by Eugene H. Peterson (NavPress)

117. Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff (Harper Collins, Inc.)

118. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (Random House Digital, Inc.)

119. Ascend (Trylle Trilogy, #3) by Amanda Hocking and Jason Letts (Amanda Hocking) SP

========

Six more self-published books, to bring us to 20 out of 100, or 20%
 

Sheryl Nantus

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And as far as anyone thinking the Amazon Kindle top paid lists reflect reality best, well, Amazon only includes the numbers from a single retailer: Amazon. If Amazon added just one more e-tailer, Fictionwise, to their stats, self-published e-books would practically disappear. I personally NEVER buy books (print or e) from Amazon; I don't buy any e-books from the big online sellers. I buy them direct from publishers or authors/cooperatives. (I know I'm not exactly representative of the average e-book buyer, but there are quite a lot of readers who don't buy from the big online chains.) But the point is that Amazon doesn't count those sales, either. Bazillions of e-books (self- and commercially published) aren't sold via Amazon, so its lists are actually LESS reflective of broad public opinion than the NYT lists, which actually count sales from a number of different sources.

Yippers.

Fictionwise, for example, has been selling ebooks for years. Along with B&N and a slew of smaller ebook sites such as ARe, etc. Not to mention the epublishers' websites which generate their own traffic.

It's easy and tempting to think the world revolves around Amazon and the Kindle.

And yet... not.

;)
 

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Fictionwise, and ereader.com, now both owned by B and N have been doing quite nicely with ebooks for more than ten years.

And the iBooks bookstore is flourishing as well.
 

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Just a point of clarification: #66 Debbie Macomber -- if it's Mira, it's not SP.
 

Roger J Carlson

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I've met Debbie. She was the keynote speaker at the ACFW two years ago. She's far too busy writing to spend time self publishing.

One of the things that struck me about her story was that it was a struggle of a mom writing as she could find the time. There weren't any shortcuts, no self-publishing miracles. Just hard work, frustration, self-doubt, more hard work, and eventual success. Her talk was both encouraging and realistic.

Her story is, I think, the rule for most writers rather than the exception. What this thread has been concentrating on, it seems to me, has been the exceptions.

Incidentially, and apropos to nothing here, Debbie's a truly delightful person.
 

James D. Macdonald

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Okay, correction noted.

That makes it 13 out of 84 top Kindle books are self-published, 15%, and 62% of them by John Locke, or 19% out of the top 100 Kindle books self-published.

Which isn't over half, either way.
Just hard work, frustration, self-doubt, more hard work, and eventual success.
That's the way of it. No short cuts, no magic keys.

Should we note that in that snapshot, two out of the top fifty Kindle items were self published (4%) and half of those were by John Locke?
 
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brainstorm77

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Re Debbie: Mira is a single title line with Harlequin. I wish I had that woman's success:D
 

brainstorm77

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I've met Debbie. She was the keynote speaker at the ACFW two years ago. She's far too busy writing to spend time self publishing.

One of the things that struck me about her story was that it was a struggle of a mom writing as she could find the time. There weren't any shortcuts, no self-publishing miracles. Just hard work, frustration, self-doubt, more hard work, and eventual success. Her talk was both encouraging and realistic.

Her story is, I think, the rule for most writers rather than the exception. What this thread has been concentrating on, it seems to me, has been the exceptions.

Incidentially, and apropos to nothing here, Debbie's a truly delightful person.

Yup. I read about that in her newsletter.
 

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. . . it was a struggle of a mom writing as she could find the time. There weren't any shortcuts, no self-publishing miracles. Just hard work, frustration, self-doubt, more hard work, and eventual success. . . .
Not unlike Brenda Novak's story. Brenda, by the way, is not only a fine and hardworking writer, but one of the nicest people I have ever met. Visit www.brendanovak.com and check out her current fund-raising auction. Lots of items for writers, and much, much more.

Sounds like other commercially published writers I've heard speak over the years at California Writers Club, Sacramento Branch, meetings, too.

--Ken
 

Irysangel

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I thought this might be interesting to add to the discussion:

http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/lunch/archives/007680.php

The week in ebook sales from the 'Big Six'. Not sure if I can post the article in its entirety, but the largest percentage of sales is Hachette, with 22% of sales as ebooks, and the smallest is S&S UK at 3% of sales.

So it's a growing chunk of the market, but it is not anywhere close to taking over print.
 

James D. Macdonald

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The Big Six have only recently turned their attention to e-publishing in a serious way. One of them, for example, was only writing its production standards for e-books this last January/February.

Here's what's going on: The pioneers found the way through the trackless wastes. Thanks, and a hearty handshake. The railroads are coming through.
 

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The Big Six have only recently turned their attention to e-publishing in a serious way. One of them, for example, was only writing its production standards for e-books this last January/February.

Here's what's going on: The pioneers found the way through the trackless wastes. Thanks, and a hearty handshake. The railroads are coming through.

Maybe, but as long as the bigs are charging over ten bucks for ebooks, there is room for the indies to get a nice piece of the action.
 

zegota

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Maybe, but as long as the bigs are charging over ten bucks for ebooks, there is room for the indies to get a nice piece of the action.

What is the evidence for this? I mean, I might agree, maybe, but you could easily say this for *any* price point. Imagine the big-six started charging $5.99 for new eBooks. It would be just as valid to say "As long as the bigs are charging over five bucks for ebooks, there is room for the indies to get a nice piece of the action." Etc., etc.
 

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Imagine the big-six started charging $5.99 for new eBooks.

Okay, I'm imagining it. And I'm imagining myself buying a lot more books for my Kindle. Maybe I'm the only person who'd buy more books at that price and use my public library less, but I doubt it.
 

Terie

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Okay, I'm imagining it. And I'm imagining myself buying a lot more books for my Kindle. Maybe I'm the only person who'd buy more books at that price and use my public library less, but I doubt it.

Go look at the top 20 Kindle paid list. Today, 2 (or maybe 3) of the top 20 are self-published, and most of the commercially published books are between $5 and $10.
 

zegota

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Okay, I'm imagining it. And I'm imagining myself buying a lot more books for my Kindle. Maybe I'm the only person who'd buy more books at that price and use my public library less, but I doubt it.

Indeed. I'd also buy more books if they were priced at $1.99. Or $.99. Or free. I'd read a lot more books if they paid me to read them, as well. That doesn't mean it makes any business sense for a publisher to do that.
 

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Maybe, but as long as the bigs are charging over ten bucks for ebooks, there is room for the indies to get a nice piece of the action.

Amazon's PR to the contrary aside, not all of the major mass market houses are unilaterally charging 9.99.

That said, before Amazon decided to be a bully, this was the standard practice:

1. Day and date release ebooks had the same cover price as the print version.

2. Subsequently, roughly a year after the initial release, the ebook price would match a paperback price.

3. Authors are paid royalties on cover price, usually.

4. It's not that much less expensive to professionally produce an ebook compared to a printed book; most of the costs in professional book production occur before the file is sent to the printer.

5. When we buy a book, we are not so much paying for the container, as the contents.
 

zegota

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Amazon's PR to the contrary aside, not all of the major mass market houses are unilaterally charging 9.99.

That said, before Amazon decided to be a bully, this was the standard practice:

1. Day and date release ebooks had the same cover price as the print version.

2. Subsequently, roughly a year after the initial release, the ebook price would match a paperback price.

3. Authors are paid royalties on cover price, usually.

4. It's not that much less expensive to professionally produce an ebook compared to a printed book; most of the costs in professional book production occur before the file is sent to the printer.

5. When we buy a book, we are not so much paying for the container, as the contents.

None of this changes the fact that consumers expect an eBook to cost less than a paper book. You can try to "educate" the consumer, but many a company has gone out of business going down that path.

Also, it's weird that Amazon is a "bully" for offering huge discounts on paper books when every single brick and mortar bookstore has been doing this for eternity. I can't remember the last time I walked into a Barnes and Noble and saw the latest big name bestselling hardback being offered for anything over 50% of the cover price.
 

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Indeed. I'd also buy more books if they were priced at $1.99. Or $.99. Or free. I'd read a lot more books if they paid me to read them, as well. That doesn't mean it makes any business sense for a publisher to do that.

I dont care what makes business sense for the publisher. I care about what makes business sense to me.

I've only had my Kindle a short time. The only book I've purchased was a John Locke for a buck. It was on par with recent books I've read by Charlie Huston and Markus Sakey. I wanted two other books, one by Cormac McCarthy and another by Kurt Vonnegut (Neither were new releases). They were both priced at $11.99 so I checked them out of the library. I realize this is anecdotal but I certainly would have bought both of those books if they were five bucks each but 11.99 just felt like too high. I'm as skeptical about self pubbed books as anyone. I'm not snapping them up left and right, but I'm open to trying more, especially when they are a tenth of the price.
 

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None of this changes the fact that consumers expect an eBook to cost less than a paper book. You can try to "educate" the consumer, but many a company has gone out of business going down that path.

I'm with you here. Ask any random person, "How much should an ebook cost." They'll probably say five bucks. Better yet, ask them "Should an ebook cost less than a paper book?" And they will almost certainly say yes. You can't change the public perception so you have to adapt to it.
 

zegota

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I dont care what makes business sense for the publisher. I care about what makes business sense to me.

I've only had my Kindle a short time. The only book I've purchased was a John Locke for a buck. It was on par with recent books I've read by Charlie Huston and Markus Sakey. I wanted two other books, one by Cormac McCarthy and another by Kurt Vonnegut (Neither were new releases). They were both priced at $11.99 so I checked them out of the library. I realize this is anecdotal but I certainly would have bought both of those books if they were five bucks each but 11.99 just felt like too high. I'm as skeptical about self pubbed books as anyone. I'm not snapping them up left and right, but I'm open to trying more, especially when they are a tenth of the price.

Which is fair, I suppose (I personally have bought many books > $9.99). But at the same time, saying "$9.99 feels too high" doesn't really mean much if $9.99 is the lowest price a publisher can actually turn a profit at. I'm not saying that it is or isn't, but there's always going to be someone who says "I can't possibly pay $X, if only it were $X-1."
 
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Elizabeth George's book Write Away