Thursday, April 1, 2010

The e-book experience, April edition

MARCH UPDATE (from the Amazon kindle forum):
Now that March is finished, here are my indie sales totals for the month as of last night...

Novels at $1.99:
The Red Church 324
The Skull Ring 248

(rank for each usually between 3,000 and 6,000 on Amazon, with blips in either direction)

Novella at 99 cents
Burial To Follow-- 72 copies (generally ranks between 8,000-15,000)

Story collections at .99
Ashes-- 68 copies
Flowers-- 37 copies
The First--28 copies (currently ranked 41,000)

Mass-market novel from Major Publisher at $5.59:
They Hunger-- (currently ranked around 91,000). I don't have real-time sales figures, but I would guess 15 or fewer. Maybe as low as 6 or 8, judging by other accounts I manage for Ghostwriter Publications.

1. People greatly prefer cheaper e-books, and the lower price is far offset by the increased volume when considering its sustainability for the author (and maybe publisher, but they have a different economy right now).
2. Being independent may be a more practical, sustainable way for most authors to make a living. Sure, there will always be a need for stars and superstars, but the vanishing working class of writers can now have a reliable foundation from which to build an audience.
3. It's still better to be published in New York because it's easier to get one big check instead of hundreds or thousands of electronic quarters. And I now better understand why NY needs to keep their e-book prices high. Those reasons just don't hold much water here at ground level, where it's a direct line between writer and reader (with only an Amazon server in between).
4. I am ecstatic and very grateful for this new era, so much so that I will very shortly be releasing two new novels--the supernatural thriller DRUMMER BOY and the psychological thriller DISINTEGRATION. My numbers are by no means spectacular, but they are steady and reasonable.

I know there are plenty of cracks in my reasoning, other authors are having different experiences, and that I had the "advantage" of six books on the store shelves--but I don't think that has much at all to do with my new audience. And these numbers just take into account the Kindle, but it's by far the biggest and best e-book outlet. And it may be THEY HUNGER is just a crappy book. But I can't believe it's many, many times worse than the two novels people are buying on a regular basis (the story collections are just for comparison's sake--I expected them to sell about 10 percent of what the novels sell, so they are doing better than I projected.)

It's great to be part of this new era with you, and I can hardly wait to see what unfolds in the days, months, and years ahead. This must be what Gutenberg's gang felt like, though he probably had a lot more trouble finding people who could read...

I look forward to any thoughts you may have on ebook pricing, the viability of independent publishing, and the Kindle's role in better connecting readers and writers.

Scott Nicholson

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