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Old 25th January 2012, 11:53 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Published authors and percentage income

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Originally Posted by Gary Compton View Post
Isn't that what the 5 star ratings are for on Amazon - to sort the wheat out from the chaff?
Have a look at the Kindle Self Publishing forums, it's all about authors swapping books to get good reviews or just simply asking for good reviews. Through in freinds & family automatically giving a book 5 stars and the reviews are pointless.
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Old 25th January 2012, 12:16 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Published authors and percentage income

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Your best bet is to see a book you like and then download a sample using the 'look inside' button on Amazon, then decide if it's your sort of thing.
This is true, and when I can (which isn't often enough) I do. But if you can't trust the star ratings (and Null Zone's point seems to reinforce that) then there's no point sorting by them, which brings back the problem of how to identify the potentially good ones. There are just so many that pulling them out at random and using the "look inside" function is too time-expensive: I'd rather browse in a bookshop. I guess you can sort by sales rating, but if no one else can identify the good stuff either, that might not be very relevant.

I've hoped for a while that the explosion in self-e-publishing would mean someone would develop a more trustworthy ratings system, or at least one that could be filtered to taste (eg, only count ratings from reviewers with >20 reviews, and/or reviews > 200 words); otherwise, as Ian says, you're back to word of mouth.
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Old 25th January 2012, 12:41 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Published authors and percentage income

It's not all that scientific and doesn't always work but I found the professionalism of the cover, the blurb. the "About the author" and basics such as book being listed in the correct sections in to be a good guide on the quality of the self published material.

Caring about the little details says a lot about an author.
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Old 25th January 2012, 12:45 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Published authors and percentage income

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I've hoped for a while that the explosion in self-e-publishing would mean someone would develop a more trustworthy ratings system, or at least one that could be filtered to taste (eg, only count ratings from reviewers with >20 reviews, and/or reviews > 200 words); otherwise, as Ian says, you're back to word of mouth.
Apparently some people have even started offering 5 star reviews for $5 (it was mentioned on another board I'm on, mainly populated by other self-published authors, where they're wondering how long till someone starts selling 1 star reviews for your competitiors . But while initially funny, if there's money to be made, it may just be a matter of time ). So even if someone has written lots of other reviews you can't be sure they're valid.
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Old 25th January 2012, 12:54 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Published authors and percentage income

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Apparently some people have even started offering 5 star reviews for $5 (it was mentioned on another board I'm on, mainly populated by other self-published authors, where they're wondering how long till someone starts selling 1 star reviews for your competitiors . But while initially funny, if there's money to be made, it may just be a matter of time ). So even if someone has written lots of other reviews you can't be sure they're valid.
True, it would be extremely difficult to design a system not open to corruption. Next on my wish-list (and this might already exist, but I haven't come across it) would be a highly trusted site with staff reviewers for self-published books. This might even be a commercial proposition if it gained a wide enough following to generate significant advertising revenue.
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Old 25th January 2012, 02:41 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Published authors and percentage income

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Thanks Ian, an interesting comparison is Scarfy on this forum. He's sold on average 1200 books per month on Kindle for the last 5 months. I think at 1.99 he earns 1.20 per book. If his sales hit 15,000, which they look like doing for the year. That'll earn him 18K before tax which is much more than the traditional route.
That is *exactly* what I'm thinking about.

Self-published used to be entirely about vanity press, and I've repeatedly argued that if you have a strong manuscript good enough for traditional print publishing, you should go that way, and treat it as a business.

However, if you really do have a strong manuscript, and feel you can successfully market itself, then as a business decision self-publishing for Kindle makes more sense.

I was in Waterstones the other day, and looked at the authors present in the sff section. Some names were not present, and other names had only a limited selection.

Which means the only way those missing books will sell is via the internet.

And if the internet is the main sales platform for those books, then surely the authors may as well control that process themselves?

I firmly believe what we're looking at with epublishing is a massive revolution and once the Kindle Fire comes to the UK, we'll see this really entrench in the public consciousness - that books can easily be read on iPad/tablet/Kindle.

So if a publisher is not able to put your books on book shop shelves, and only gives you a small percentage of sales income from internet sales, then surely - with a solid marketing plan - it makes more sense to sell directly yourself?
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Old 25th January 2012, 07:34 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Published authors and percentage income

Hi,

The thing that it says to me is that an author on kindle with a good book can make an equivalent living to a trad published author selling much the same number of books. Just some rough calculations.

If you sell your book on kindle at $2.99 and take the seventy percent royalty option you make $2 a book roughly. If your book is in paperback in the stores at $30 and you make eight percent off the cover you'd get around $2.40. So either way you're making the same per book more or less.

Now here's where it goes strange. In order to be trad published your book has to be printed and sold in lots. Say twenty to fifty thousand books per lot. If your first lot doesn't sell well, chances are that there won't be a second, which means your sales of that book are over. But if your books also on kindle, its there selling, in probably lower numbers, potentially forever. If it was trad published and your agent has rights to it, then even if he also put it on kindle etc, he gets his fees on the book potentially forever as well. Even if it sold poorly.

So it comes down to a question. Can your agent get you a good deal? And is it good enough to warrant the loss of income he gets, potentially for the next seventy years?

It also tells me that writing is probably not the best way to make a living from books any more. Being an agent is. Any smart agent would be taking on authors like there was no tomorrow, doing an edit and a cover and blurb and a bit of cheap advertising, and then kindling it. I can't write a hundred books, not this year anyway. But it occurs to me that an agent using this model could put out a hundred books each and every year and sit back and collect his ever accumulating fees. Ten years work, a thousand books all bringing in their own little income stream - he'd be loaded.

And while he was at it he could also arrange a whole lot of five star reviews, which by the way, isn't new to ebooks. Many established authors are asked by their agents / publishers to give reviews of other authors' works in the stable.

Maybe I'm in the wrong business!

Cheers, Greg.
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Old 25th January 2012, 07:41 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Published authors and percentage income

I agree 'I, Brian'. The amount of royalty you receive as a self-published author is pretty good, and I'm glad I went that route after years of fruitlessly chasing publishing houses and agents. What authors actually earn even after being taken up by a mainstream publisher is pretty woeful (something that was a big surprise to me) and I honestly thought you'd get more, especially given that publishing houses now seem to think authors have to do the heavy lifting in marketing/promoting.

The way I see it, the only positive to being taken up by a traditional publisher is to get some kind of 'legitimacy' for your book, you join the ranks of the elites, the author lottery winners.

So how do you argue that self-published authors such as myself provide a legitimate product. Personally I can only point to my sales page and let the numbers do the talking - take January as an example (my trilogy was published for the very first time on Dec 17th 2011).

In January I've sold 236 actual books from my trilogy. The break-up of that number indicates that 93% of people who read book one, go onto read book two, and 73% of people who read book two, go onto to read book three. As for returns, I've had only three, which boils down to a return rate of 1.28%. My daily sales seem to average 8-9 books a day with occasional high peaks of 14-18 on weekends.

So if I listen to the cold, hard numbers they are telling me that, a. I have a high retention rate, probably as high as authors published by a traditional publisher, b. I have a very low knockback rate, and c. that I've sold a lot of books in my first 5-6 weeks, and likely sold more than most unknown, first-time authors who have gone the route of traditional publishing.

You cannot argue with figures - and this is for a book that has not been pulled apart by an editor, has been seriously proof read only by myself, has hand-made covers and has only been up on the virtual shelves for 40 days.

p.s. Each book is listed at $3.99 each.
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Old 25th January 2012, 07:55 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Published authors and percentage income

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It also tells me that writing is probably not the best way to make a living from books any more. Being an agent is. Any smart agent would be taking on authors like there was no tomorrow, doing an edit and a cover and blurb and a bit of cheap advertising, and then kindling it. I can't write a hundred books, not this year anyway. But it occurs to me that an agent using this model could put out a hundred books each and every year and sit back and collect his ever accumulating fees. Ten years work, a thousand books all bringing in their own little income stream - he'd be loaded.
Someone I know vaguely, who was a bestselling author in the seventies, was recently approached by an outfit offering to e-book his out-of-print titles on various platforms including Kindle. They would do cover art etc, and all publicity and marketing, with the author getting 50% of the selling price. This sounds like the kind of model you describe.
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Old 25th January 2012, 08:45 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Published authors and percentage income

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A typical deal for a genre novelist would be about 30,000 for 3 books, payment split over delivery of manuscript and publication of each book.
I have to admit, I've loved my journey learning to write proppa, and I'm still learning

What motivated me initially was the thought of sitting in the house with a chocolate biscuit and a cup of tea, indulging myself, by making up stories and getting paid for it.

But having found how hard it is, I wouldn't accept 30K for a 3 book deal. Considering I've spent probably 5000 hours on my WIP, it would work out at only 2 per hour for book 1 (10K)

I should sue them for not paying the minimum wage for God's sake. I'd get more stuffing teddy's in China!

Not only that, you've targets to meet etc etc.

I like being my own boss. If I want a day off - I have one. If I want to work through the night - I do.

Fact is, what you get from an agent/publisher you can buy now. IE, an editor, proof reader or cover designer, by the way a good business start up at the moment would be a site that offers editing, proof reading and artwork - anybody interested?

Anyway, my plan is to submit to agents, when or if I'm accepted, I will decide then based on the offer, but I'm leaning toward me being the publisher (I hate the word self-publisher - it's belittling) because of the things I've mentioned above.

One last thing is, I have a quote from China for 2000 books for $1 which is about 67P so if your eBook takes off, you can print them as well, send them to Amazon for them to dispatch and Bob's your Uncle
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Old 25th January 2012, 08:50 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Published authors and percentage income

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That is *exactly* what I'm thinking about.

Self-published used to be entirely about vanity press, and I've repeatedly argued that if you have a strong manuscript good enough for traditional print publishing, you should go that way, and treat it as a business.

However, if you really do have a strong manuscript, and feel you can successfully market itself, then as a business decision self-publishing for Kindle makes more sense.

I was in Waterstones the other day, and looked at the authors present in the sff section. Some names were not present, and other names had only a limited selection.

Which means the only way those missing books will sell is via the internet.

And if the internet is the main sales platform for those books, then surely the authors may as well control that process themselves?

I firmly believe what we're looking at with epublishing is a massive revolution and once the Kindle Fire comes to the UK, we'll see this really entrench in the public consciousness - that books can easily be read on iPad/tablet/Kindle.

So if a publisher is not able to put your books on book shop shelves, and only gives you a small percentage of sales income from internet sales, then surely - with a solid marketing plan - it makes more sense to sell directly yourself?
Excellent post Bryan. With your experience on the net, you could take over the world
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Old 25th January 2012, 08:54 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Published authors and percentage income

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I was in Waterstones the other day, and looked at the authors present in the sff section. Some names were not present, and other names had only a limited selection.

I really like my local waterstones and I've found them very open to suggestion for authors that are missing: "Are you stocking xyz?" "Let's go and look on the computer - ah, not at present. Are they any good?" A 20 minute conversation later and the guy ordered three different authors we'd been discussing (including Ian Whates' latest!), without me ordering a copy myself. Seems they are interested in having a wide spread of SFF, which is why I'll continue to buy my books from them, rather than Amazon, who, I feel will slowly kill off bookshops under our very noses. Let's have a "Don't shop at Amazon week" campaign in protest at.... capitalism. Monopolism. Any other ism you can think of.

Whilst I'm really pleased that good books can sell well by self-publishing, (and delighted that members here are doing so) the very issues discussed here will mean that all self-published books, including the very good ones, will all fall under one banner (tarnished with the same brush) if nothing is done. As long as Waterstones is open, I'll do my shopping there, and risk missing some very good books, in order to avoid the mountain of rubbish that is building every day. HB's idea is a good one - if only I wasn't so busy...
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Old 25th January 2012, 09:01 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Published authors and percentage income

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I really like my local waterstones and I've found them very open to suggestion for authors that are missing: "Are you stocking xyz?" "Let's go and look on the computer - ah, not at present. Are they any good?" A 20 minute conversation later and the guy ordered three different authors we'd been discussing (including Ian Whates' latest!), without me ordering a copy myself. Seems they are interested in having a wide spread of SFF, which is why I'll continue to buy my books from them, rather than Amazon, who, I feel will slowly kill off bookshops under our very noses. Let's have a "Don't shop at Amazon week" campaign in protest at.... capitalism. Monopolism. Any other ism you can think of.

Whilst I'm really pleased that good books can sell well by self-publishing, (and delighted that members here are doing so) the very issues discussed here will mean that all self-published books, including the very good ones, will all fall under one banner (tarnished with the same brush) if nothing is done. As long as Waterstones is open, I'll do my shopping there, and risk missing some very good books, in order to avoid the mountain of rubbish that is building every day. HB's idea is a good one - if only I wasn't so busy...
It's a learning curve isn't it? Self publishers will eventually realise the importance of following the guidelines that publishers already do. If they do that then the quality will improve.

Having said that, the real publishers don't arf print some crap. Badly written, typos etc etc so I think the rubbish pile in publishing is there and for anybody to see and quite big in my opinion.

On Waterstones, why aren't they becoming a real competitor for Amazon. It makes perfect sense. Move with the times or die!
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Old 25th January 2012, 09:13 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Re: Published authors and percentage income

You can get excellent discounts ordering online at waterstones and then wandering in to pick it up....

And you're right Gary, there is a middle ground for publishers and self-publishers, and I'm hopeful (though not terribly optimistic) it won't take too long to find it. As Anne has pointed out (on this thread?) publishers seem to be going to paper publishing first, followed by ebooks, some time after, so both avids can be catered for.
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Old 25th January 2012, 09:19 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Re: Published authors and percentage income

That's good with Waterstones but the wandering up bit put's me off.

The thought of going into Newcastle town centre fills me with dread. I'd rather get in a hot tub with a rampant Hippopotamus since it's been 15 years since I've been there.

Dont get me wrong, I would love Waterstones to go into direct competition with Amazon but it's not happening.
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