USA Today Reports ebook Self Publishing Successes

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USA Today Reports ebook Self Publishing Successes

Postby longknife » 09 Feb 2011, 11:47

[this blew me away!]

http://www.usatoday.com/life/books/news ... 9_ST_N.htm

Authors catch fire with self-published e-books
By Carol Memmott, USA TODAY

You may not know her name, but Amanda Hocking and others like her are riding the comet of digital publishing.

* Amanda Hocking sold more than 450,000 copies of her nine young-adult paranormal books last month. Virtually all were e-books.

Amanda Hocking sold more than 450,000 copies of her nine young-adult paranormal books last month. Virtually all were e-books.

Amanda Hocking sold more than 450,000 copies of her nine young-adult paranormal books last month. Virtually all were e-books.

Fed up with attempts to find a traditional publisher for her young-adult paranormal novels, Hocking self-published last March and began selling her novels on online bookstores like Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

By May she was selling hundreds; by June, thousands. She sold 164,000 books in 2010. Most were low-priced (99 cents to $2.99) digital downloads.

More astounding: This January she sold more than 450,000 copies of her nine titles. More than 99% were e-books.

"I can't really say that I would have been more successful if I'd gone with a traditional publisher," says Hocking, 26, who lives in Austin, Minn. "But I know this is working really well for me."

In fact, Hocking is selling so well that on Thursday, the three titles in her Trylle Trilogy (Switched, Torn and Ascend, the latest) will make their debuts in the top 50 of USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list.

A recent survey shows 20 million people read e-books last year, and more self-published authors are taking advantage of the trend.

(Self-publishing is done without the involvement or vetting of an established publisher and uses a publishing system such as Lulu, Smashwords, Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing or Barnes & Noble's PubIt! Many traditional media outlets do not review self-published books.)

"It's possible for any author to make their book available with little or no upfront cost and reach a global audience," Russ Grandinetti, vice president of Kindle Content for Amazon, says of Hocking's success. Digital publishing, he says, "gives a chance to a great book that otherwise might have been overlooked."

In the past, it has been rare for a self-published hardcover or paperback to enjoy such spectacular sales.

Hocking credits her success to aggressive self-promotion on her blog, Facebook and Twitter, word of mouth and writing in a popular genre — her books star trolls, vampires and zombies.

And she's making money.

"To me, that was a price point that made sense for what I would be willing to spend on an e-book," says Hocking, who sets her own prices. "I use iTunes a lot, and it's 99 cents and $1.29 a song."

For every $2.99 book she sells, she keeps 70%, with the rest going to the online bookseller. For every 99-cent book she sells, she keeps 30%.

H.P. Mallory, another self-published paranormal e-novelist, has sold 70,000 copies of her e-books since July. Her success caught the attention of traditional publisher Random House, with whom she just signed a three-book contract. "Selling e-books on Kindle and Barnesandnoble.com basically changed my life," Mallory says. "I never would have gotten where I am today if I hadn't."

Others are profiting, too:

• The No. 4-selling Kindle book (it has been as high as No. 1) is The Hangman's Daughter by German novelist Oliver Potzsch. It's part of AmazonCrossing, a program offering translations of foreign-language titles. More than 100,000 copies have been sold.

• Novelist J.A. Konrath, who has sold more than 100,000 self-published e-books, gets more than 1 million hits a year on his blog, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing (jakonrath.blogspot.com). His novel, Shaken, hit No. 9 on the Kindle list last year.

Lorraine Shanley of Market Partners International, a publishing consulting firm, recently enjoyed Deed to Death by D.B. Henson, a self-published e-book she downloaded to her iPad.

The 99-cent price made her try it.

"Often books published by traditional publishers are excellent, but I don't think it prohibits self-publishers from doing a good job," she says.
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Re: USA Today Reports ebook Self Publishing Successes

Postby Margo » 10 Feb 2011, 09:08

I have been following a few of the authors breaking through by self-pubbing ebooks. I hadn't heard that Mallory decided to go traditional. I'm a little surprised and strangely disappointed (though her career is obviously not my business). I guess I really want these people to succeed even if I do have great reservations about self-pubbing. Konrath, in about a year, has gone from saying that this is a perfect experiment for mid-listers but new authors should stay away to saying that no author, new or veteran, should ever sign with a traditional publisher ever again.

I'm also watching what's happening with Hocking now that the final book in her first trilogy has come out. I think she might have hit a 'reader expectation' snag with this one. A few days ago, the final book was coming up with Amazon reviews of 3 stars or less 40% of the time. My understanding, never having read the books mind you, is that she
Spoiler:
violated the HEA rule of romance,
and her fans are split over this choice. LOTS of reasons to watch where this goes.
Last edited by Margo on 11 Feb 2011, 09:38, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: USA Today Reports ebook Self Publishing Successes

Postby KatieT » 10 Feb 2011, 12:55

This trend towards e-Pub is completely fascinating, and, I imagine, rather inspiring for all of those writers who've been trying for ages to get in with one of the Big 6, or who would rather not even try.

I've also been following Konrath's blog, and must admit that I've had delusions of grandeur, too, with making it "big" by e-Pubbing my work :)
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Re: USA Today Reports ebook Self Publishing Successes

Postby Quill » 10 Feb 2011, 23:26

Sounds like an author needs a stable of books, rather than a single title, to really make a splash in the e-book market. Apparently they feed off each other, meaning a customer who likes one book will buy others of the author's work, considering how cheap they are ($0.99 - $2.99), and probably is more likely to tell friends. And it can make the author's marketing push more efficient and impactful.

So dust off those trunk-novels and get that cover art designed!
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Re: USA Today Reports ebook Self Publishing Successes

Postby charlotte49ers » 11 Feb 2011, 09:02

Very interesting! Thanks for sharing. :-)
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Re: USA Today Reports ebook Self Publishing Successes

Postby Margo » 11 Feb 2011, 09:36

Quill wrote:Sounds like an author needs a stable of books, rather than a single title, to really make a splash in the e-book market. Apparently they feed off each other, meaning a customer who likes one book will buy others of the author's work, considering how cheap they are ($0.99 - $2.99), and probably is more likely to tell friends. And it can make the author's marketing push more efficient and impactful.

So dust off those trunk-novels and get that cover art designed!


Yeah, this does seem like a big factor, though I've seen some buzz about a handful of authors who are building up nicely with one or two titles to start. Of course, we're talking a few hundred or a thousand sales a month (nothing to sneeze at) versus a Winters with something like 5k sales a month or a Mallory with 20k sales in a month (off 4 or 5 books, if I recall). Genre, writing quality, and cover quality/appropriateness also seem to be important factors. And quality editing/formatting, of course. An ebook can get a scathing blogger review for having two or three minor typos.
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Re: USA Today Reports ebook Self Publishing Successes

Postby bcomet » 15 Feb 2011, 17:50

Very, very interesting.

Do these authors blog about their process? Did they use professional editors or at least copyediting if not developmental editing services or professional cover art and layout? What about marketing services?

If there are any links, please post them.

I have long felt that when teams (writer with an editor-layout artist-cover artist-marketing service pros) collaborate, that self-pub will rise to a new and more excellent status.

Thanks for this update.
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Re: USA Today Reports ebook Self Publishing Successes

Postby JohnDurvin » 06 Mar 2011, 23:32

Does anybody else find it strange that this girl wrote fifteen books in a year? I don't have the hardware/software capable of reading the files, and I'm really curious as to whether the books are actually good or just marketable.
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Re: USA Today Reports ebook Self Publishing Successes

Postby notw » 07 Mar 2011, 07:50

I downloaded a sample of her first book in the series and thought it was okay. Granted, I am not a huge paranormal reader, but I think the price she sells her books at and the fact that paranormal is still popular is a big reason for her success.
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Re: USA Today Reports ebook Self Publishing Successes

Postby Margo » 07 Mar 2011, 11:36

JohnDurvin wrote:Does anybody else find it strange that this girl wrote fifteen books in a year? I don't have the hardware/software capable of reading the files, and I'm really curious as to whether the books are actually good or just marketable.



She didn't write that many in a year. She explains that on her blog. After she had some success, she looked at her trunk novels and decided some could not be fixed and another could be. She also eventually hired an editor, if I recall. Lots of misinformation floating around about her. If people are actually interested, I seriously suggest reading this stuff straight from her blog. She has a post addressing how long she's been writing, how she came to self-publishing, what she did (and didn't) do for promotion, how her sales rose over time, etc. She doesn't write faster than most other authors. From what I can tell, she spends more hours of each day at it than most people could manage.

notw wrote:I downloaded a sample of her first book in the series and thought it was okay. Granted, I am not a huge paranormal reader, but I think the price she sells her books at and the fact that paranormal is still popular is a big reason for her success.


Everyone is trying to figure out why Amanda. Why Konrath? Why Lieske? Etc etc etc.

Last December, Konrath's blog had a list of indie writers with more than 1000 sales per month. One of the writers on that list is barely literate -- I kid you not. Yet people were buying, probably based on the fact that the first few Amazon reviews were always 5 stars. I smell a "you scratch my back, I scratch yours" deal with some other indies. On the other hand, there are a couple of authors on the list who got as far as the marketing department of the BIG 6 before their editor got shot down at the pitch meeting. They are realy bringing their best game to the table.

So is the key to have a book at 99 cents or $2.99? One of the authors on the list (toward the higher end of the sales) never goes that low. Lieske, on the other hand, saw such a climb in sales at 99 cents that she stayed there and Konrath tried dropping one book to 99cents and increased his sales on that book by something like 15 times. I'm interested in seeing what happens (if anything) to the books he is selling for $2.99.

Is the key to have 15, 20, 30 books up for sale? Victorine Lieske broke that rule.

Is it hyper-promotion? Book bloggers broke Amanda out. Now she does lots of promotion.

It's clearly not just about writing skill if someone barely literate can make a living with self-publishing while better writers sell 3 copies in six months.

Konrath appears to be a big believer in luck, but people debate him on that all the time.
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Re: USA Today Reports ebook Self Publishing Successes

Postby Margo » 23 Mar 2011, 11:28

Agent Kristin Nelson has mentioned on her blog the rumor that Amanda Hocking might be about to accept a 7-figure deal with one of the Big 6.

It's been suggested that indie authors (who have not been traditionally published before) are just trying to get the attention of traditional publishers, that they would give up being indie the minute the Big 6 showed up at their door. Part of me hopes this isn't true.

While on the other hand, as mentioned in Nathan's blog (and in detail in an interview on Konrath's blog), a fairly heavy hitter with some serious money in the game has decided to leave the NY dollars on the table and defect to indie.

What is the publishing world coming to? (Had an agent tell me a couple of weeks ago that this is the worst condition he has seen the industry in over the last 30 years.)
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Re: USA Today Reports ebook Self Publishing Successes

Postby Guardian » 23 Mar 2011, 15:25

Margo wrote:Had an agent tell me a couple of weeks ago that this is the worst condition he has seen the industry in over the last 30 years.

It's also happening elsewhere. I also heard the same from former colleagues in the gaming industry and movie industry, There the very same is happening. People simply doesn't want to work with publishers and agents as many of them are considering them as money hungry leeches. People simply doesn't want to work with publishers whose are naming themselves as "One of the Big X" while they're doing nothing in the reality with the exception of demanding the greatest percentage for a work what for they added nothing, just their name. As I heard the recent feedbacks, industry workers are saying publishers are used to ruin every product with their mania to turn everything to ultra dumb and mainstream (As I also experienced this, I can agree with this statement. As we said in the gaming industry; if you want to turn your work to a dumb quantity mainstream project, get a publisher. The bigger the publisher, the dumber your product will be.).

The world is changing and I strongly believe the days of the "Big publishers" and agents are numbered in most industry. The first signs are already appeared. Some talented professionals are also said; publishers and agents should grow up, because the present path what they're intending to dictate is wrong and it's not serving the interests of the creators, nor the customers.

It's been suggested that indie authors (who have not been traditionally published before) are just trying to get the attention of traditional publishers, that they would give up being indie the minute the Big 6 showed up at their door. Part of me hopes this isn't true.

When the indie is learning what the publishers are demanding, what they want to change, how much they want to dumb down the product or turn it to a stupid quantity mainstream, they'll back off from the deal. I've seen this numerous times (I also stepped back once when an almighty decision maker started to visualize stupid, dumb things into my work because that would make the work to a good mainstream product), so I wouldn't be surprised if it would happen with Hocking too. I know few indie who believed working with a publisher is a dream. But when they realized what they do in the reality, or experienced how some agents are handling them, they reverted back to freelance mode and said bye-bye to the publisher and the agent system. They never regretted that decision. As they said, they rather prefer a 5 or 6-figure deal with freedom, honesty and quality instead of a 7-figure deal of quantity, endless arrogancy, lies and delusions. Sometimes the less is more (And in a longer term, it's much more profitable.).

the Big 6 showed up at their door

As some writer said; they wouldn't work with them, even if they would show up after their first success. They gave the chance to read their work, but they've been rejected without any reason (Usually by the agents). Summary; people don't forget and they love to take agents and publishers to blacklist. They also don't like when agents and publishers are appearing when they're seeing money, as money is not everything, especially for artists, such as writers. In the past usually the creators, the writers burnt up the bridges. In the present, the publishers and the agents are burning up the bridges with their elitist, arrogant, money centric behavior. So, honestly I'm not surprised when the writers are saying; "Bye-bye publishers and agents, hello indie world!". And I believe more and more are going to say this. I also know many fellow writer who is already took this path or meditating in this new alternative, because they won't beg to agents to do their job or they won't fight with a publisher to read their work. They simply step forward without them and nowadays it seems that's the right and also the easiest step. Writers are not secondary or tertiary elements, but agents and publishers are simply love to handle them on this way, which is a bit offensive for many, especially when the writer is hearing from the agents or the publishers; "Oh, sorry. We're busy." Now, here is the newsflash; Everyone is busy. The writers are also busy and they don't give a damn about cheap excuses.

So in overall it seems the agents and publishers are starting to get back what they've gave in the recent years in every possible industry (Writing, Gaming, Movies). Personally, I also started to consider self publishing as a valid option as the present query / agent / publisher system is just holding me, my works and my schedule back.

What is the publishing world coming to?

What for the so called "professionals" are making it to.
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Re: USA Today Reports ebook Self Publishing Successes

Postby sierramcconnell » 24 Mar 2011, 18:56

Margo wrote:It's been suggested that indie authors (who have not been traditionally published before) are just trying to get the attention of traditional publishers, that they would give up being indie the minute the Big 6 showed up at their door. Part of me hopes this isn't true.


You know, I would love to be published. But the minute that anyone tells me I have to change my story for the sake of it being published, they can kiss my keychain where the twinkle hides. Because I'll be gosh-darned if I give up the meaning of the book just to make money. I won't slap on some half-assed ending like [coughangelologycough] some books just so someone can put it on the NY Best Seller List.

No Thank You. I will self-publish and slowly crawl to popularity before that happens. Because though they can give you money and fame, they can't give you pride and dignity. That's something you have to earn with your own hard work. Meh. :3
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Re: USA Today Reports ebook Self Publishing Successes

Postby Guardian » 25 Mar 2011, 00:33

sierramcconnell wrote:You know, I would love to be published. But the minute that anyone tells me I have to change my story for the sake of it being published, they can kiss my keychain where the twinkle hides. Because I'll be gosh-darned if I give up the meaning of the book just to make money.

Same here. No one is ever going to force me to change my work, unless if I don't agree with the suggested change and it's reasons, as #1; that world wouldn't be the same anymore. #2; that wouldn't be my work anymore (i.e.: I won't add a chainsaw to my fantasy angel's hand, because that would make my WIP über-trendy. And yes, this is happened in the past, so thanks, I skip these sort of "professionals" and their "brilliant" ideas.). If they want something completely different, they'll have to grab a keyboard and write it, because I won't. I'm a storyteller, not a writer for hire. If they want someone to write "publisher" visions, ultimate cliches and trendy dumb works what they want, hire someone else who is rather giving up long years of work, nodding to everything without taking up questions, just because of money.
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Re: USA Today Reports ebook Self Publishing Successes

Postby Margo » 25 Mar 2011, 07:54

Editing can be a good thing, guys.
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