Home » Amazon, Self-Publishing » There Is One New Book On Amazon Every Five Minutes

There Is One New Book On Amazon Every Five Minutes

22 August 2014

From TechCrunch:

In an interesting post, writer Claude Nougat estimated the total number of books on Amazon – about 3.4 million at last count (a number that could include apps as well) and then figured out how many books were added in a day. Nougat noticed that the number rose by 12 books in an hour, which suggests that one new book is added every five minutes. And, most likely, it’s probably an indie book.

Let’s let that sink in.

What does that mean for the indie publisher? If you’re perpetually optimistic, very little. If you’re even a little bit pessimistic, however, you might want to rethink your career. As Nougat writes:

Now if life is tough for the more successful self-published authors, try and imagine what it’s like for the rest of us? The reason why? Basically the tsunami of books that buries every single newcomer!

This also means that this onslaught buries mainstream titles as well, which is something that should give the big five publishers pause.

. . . .

Even indie millionaires aren’t doing quite well. Amanda Hocking, vampire writer, made millions on her novels but now her titles are going for free or cheap and have fallen far on the rankings. Hugh Howey’s Dust is at 800th place in the pantheon of books, which might as well be the bottom.

Link to the rest at TechCrunch and thanks to Brandt for the tip.

PG tends to think in terms of the enormous world market where indie authors can sell their books through Amazon. Last month, Mrs. PG earned money from sales in the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan, India, and Australia. Her monthly royalties from non-US markets frequently exceed total royalties she received every six months when she was traditionally published.

He’s also reminded that the playing field between indie authors and tradpub is being flattened more and more all the time.


Amazon, Self-Publishing

130 Comments to “There Is One New Book On Amazon Every Five Minutes”

  1. “Hugh Howey’s Dust is at 800th place in the pantheon of books, which might as well be the bottom.”

    • That was my reaction. #800 among 3.4 million? Sure, I’ll take that! How that can be described as the bottom is beyond me. I’d think rank #3,000,000 is nearer the bottom than #800.

      • He obviously has no freaking clue how many books a day that title is selling to be at that place. It’s … it’s ludicrous.

        • ^This.

          I’d be very pleased to be #800.

          • I’d be over the moon! 😀

            • Just checked my KDP report for that one title. I made more in the last 90 days from DUST than I made in two years working at the bookstore.

              There are a lot of people who don’t even show up in our Author Earnings reports who are earning a full-time living. I’ve heard from them. They have 30+ titles that all rank in the tens of thousands of popular categories, which might get missed by our spider (which only grabs the 120,000+ titles that make the top 100 of cats and subcats).

              I don’t think the author of this article has any idea what a #800 book does a day. Especially priced at $5.99. Not to mention Kobo, B&N, iTunes, ACX, and the print edition. Add those up, and I’m making a lawyer’s salary every 90 days from one book.

        • Yes. It’s too bad that that it is no longer politically appropriate to use the term ‘retarded’, because sometimes it really does apply.

          • Author T.R. Ragan has offered this Amazon sales-to-ranking chart, which seems pretty accurate — and which pretty much refutes the TechCrunch author’s minimizing of the significance of Howey’s and Hocking’s book rankings.


            Amazon Best Seller Rank 50,000 to 100,000 – selling close to 1 book a day.
            Amazon Best Seller Rank 10,000 to 50,000 – selling 5 to 15 books a day.
            Amazon Best Seller Rank 5,500 to 10,000 – selling 15 to 25 books a day.
            Amazon Best Seller Rank 3,000 to 5,500 – selling 25 to 70 books a day.
            Amazon Best Seller Rank 1,500 to 3,000 – selling 70 to 100 books a day.
            Amazon Best Seller Rank 750 to 1,500 – selling 100 to 120 books a day.
            Amazon Best Seller Rank 500 to 750 – selling 120 to 175 books a day.
            Amazon Best Seller Rank 350 to 500 – selling 175 to 200 books a day.
            Amazon Best Seller Rank 200 to 350 – selling 200 to 300 books a day.
            Amazon Best Seller Rank 35 to 200 – selling 300 to 1,000 books a day.
            Amazon Best Seller Rank 20 to 35 – selling 1,000 to 2,000 books a day.
            Amazon Best Seller Rank of 5 to 20 – selling 2,000 to 3,000 books a day.
            Amazon Best Seller Rank of 1 to 5 – selling 3,000+ books a day.

      • That is about 100 books a day. Since when that’s bad?

      • I’d think rank #3,000,000 is nearer the bottom than #800.

        Yes, some of my out-of-print, only-in-paper, sold-by-third-party-sellers game titles sit at #3,000,000. They were work for hire and published 25 years ago. I think only collectors buy them. Perhaps once a year. (I have no sales data on them, naturally.)

    • I thought the same thing. This doofus doesn’t get it. If Ragan’s chart rankings are still anywhere near true, Dust, which is 720 right now (it came out a year ago, so has been making Hugh moolah for 12 months) is selling in this range:

      Amazon Best Seller Rank 500 to 750 – selling 120 to 175 books a day.

      It’s 5.99. Hugh keeps about 4 bucks and change on each sale. If he’s selling middle of that range, that’s roughly 150 books x 4 bucks= $600. A DAY. And this is a year after release (so I don’t doubt it was way higher than this rank).

      Who gripes about $600 bucks a day from ONE book among many. $4200 a week.

      I don’t think Hugh-baby is hurting.


  2. It doesn’t matter how bad some of those books are – at least the writer doesn’t have to wait through interminable rounds of rejection by agents before getting on with her life. Write it, get it to the best place you are capable with that idea at this time, submit it (properly formatted), it is accepted and put out for sale.

    And the writer gets on with her life.

    The cost to writers in general of the WAITING and the REJECTION is HUGE. Depressed writers have a hard time creating new stuff. Writers who know their books are for sale and findable with the right keywords are happier – and can keep writing. Maybe they are not selling – that’s rejection of a kind – but even if they survived the old model, they might not be selling anyway. The good ones are more likely to persist, the bad ones to get it out of their systems. The new model is win/win.

  3. Work your niche.

    • Absolutely!

      Also, hopefully ebook retailers (Amazon, kobo, etc.) will continue to develop their sorting tools and keyword/categories to help readers drill deep to find exactly what they’re looking for.

      As the issue of discovery becomes larger than it is now, I think it’ll be critical for ebook retailers to make their search engines considerably more robust than they are now.

      I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked the shelves at B&N and failed to discover anything new that interested me. (Of course nothing was new, all those slots were paid rental spaces, usually showing a new release of an old title…) Sometimes I feel this way at Amazon. Often the same books pop up in my searches and I’ve already clicked all the filter buttons, no way to drill down further. I know there are new books, I just can’t readily see them. (And don’t get me started with kobo, I gave up quickly after looking for a “new release” and only finding pages and pages of books “coming soon”. (Yeah, it was probably user error, but I gave up.)

      Unless Amazon, et al continues to develop the ability to drill down and search, ebook stores will/might eventually become similar to the same old shelves at B&N.

      But in preparation for when the ebook retailers become more robust, we need to develop books in our niche. Write to our passions, the thing that we love. 🙂 The thought makes me happy.

    • That’s the key. Write what you want to read, because knowing the niche makes all the difference. I’ve seen people try to write what they think will sell instead of what they love. That’s not going to work.

  4. I suspect the estimate is way low. Smashwords adds one book every five minutes (~300/day), so I’d guess Amazon does a big multiple of that.

  5. The tsunami only drowns those who rely on Amazon juice alone. Those who follow tradpub marketing advice don’t do much better. Those to pay attention to the basics of social have a life raft.

    Indies don’t need to sell a million books to make a living, but too many have lampshades on their heads and wonder why nobody takes them seriously.

  6. ::looks in SciFi Genre listing::

    Alien Invasion (1595)
    Colonization (1236)
    First Contact (1002)
    Hard Science Fiction (4666)
    Military (5510)
    Space Exploration (1135)

    Obviously my efforts are doomed – I’d better give up now.

    ::shuffles off to day job::

    • Exactly.
      He assumes that every book out there competes with every other book.

      I like to think I’m a pretty eclectic reader but there are entire companies that publish nothing that interests me.
      (Starting with the BPHs.)

      Looking at the top level genre breakdowns, I see:

      Arts & Photography (159,060)
      Biographies & Memoirs (122,066)
      Business & Money (179,413)
      Children’s eBooks (159,508)
      Comics & Graphic Novels (30,320)
      Computers & Technology (49,990)
      Cookbooks, Food & Wine (43,513)
      Crafts, Hobbies & Home (56,246)
      Education & Teaching (108,390)
      Gay & Lesbian (28,869)
      Health, Fitness & Dieting (177,699)
      History (170,570)
      Humor & Entertainment (78,339)
      Literature & Fiction (871,825)
      Mystery, Thriller & Suspense (150,931)
      Nonfiction (1,410,681)
      Parenting & Relationships (53,080)
      Politics & Social Sciences (189,992)
      Professional & Technical (228,211)
      Reference (92,913)
      Religion & Spirituality (301,603)
      Romance (199,525)
      Science & Math (168,294)
      Science Fiction & Fantasy (169,746)
      Self-Help (74,474)
      Sports & Outdoors (50,031)
      Teen & Young Adult (72,538)
      Travel (43,251)
      Foreign Languages (429,517)

      Right from there, 2.7M of the titles are of little concern to me.
      The best part, from a reader perspective, is that amazon knows it and only offers up titles from the classes I’ve shown interest in.

      Instead of a tsunami, what I see is a nice refreshing shower.

      • I love this response. I will admit that it was starting to creep into my consciousness that the deluge of books was going to become an issue.

        This puts it into perspective.

        • You can’t look at Amazon’s book inventory as an ocean. It’s more like a collection of lakes, some huge, some little more than puddles. And Amazon provides a lot of ways to get your books into smaller ponds where they’ll stand out.

          For instance, in my genre of paranormal and urban fantasy, there are currently 29,948 books. Clicking “witches and wizard” drops the number to 2,863. For readers who want new material, they can go to “last 30 days” and the number drops to 107. For the last 90 days the number is 329.

          The numbers are even better in my other category: Women’s Fiction/Fantasy. There are 518 books listed in the category. In the last 30 days category, there are 19 books. Last 90 days includes 51 titles.

          That’s why getting the next book out is such a good way to promote yourself. Every release is another trip back to the itty-bitty ponds.

          • Yah, I’m a total newbie working on a book. I looked for books that were similar to what I’m working on – to see what was out there. I found two.

            So, I know I’m talking about a niche of a niche, but that isn’t necessarily a weakness. And screw it, I think it’ll be great anyway. And I’m having fun.

            I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no publisher looking for my book.

          • That’s like living in Canada.

      • And even if fine genre distinctions weren’t available there are some who look at a mountain, and instead of an obstacle see a challenge.

        ::hold up hand::

      • I go to Amazon and have a few book categories I visit regularly and a few I visit sporadically. I visit Sci-fi/Fantasy just about every day. I visit some of the health/fitness and romance reads maybe once a week. I sometimes feel like visiting art/architecture books, not that often. And I do religion/theology weekly. Comics/Grahpic novels monthly.

        While I may get a yen to browse others–history, biographies, travel, self-help….it’s safe to say I pretty much stick to my usual handful of reading niches when I browse.

  7. Articles like this seem as though they’re trying to dim the joy of writing. Which, as Alicia points out, is the main thing – writers like to write! And being able to skip the whole “you don’t fit our marketing plan” rejection process (which can take forever), makes struggling through the actual process of writing much, much easier.

    The old way stunk. Stink, stank, stunk. The new way is better. You write your story, you polish it to your very best ability (using assistance or not), and then you put it out there. And then you move on. You are able to do what you love.

    If your book doesn’t sell, then you can look at why that is, and make adjustments, either in the cover, the blurb, or the writing itself. Maybe you are horrible and will never get better; at least you are doing what you love. Maybe you are not very good, but writing more books helps you get better. Maybe you only have five fevered fans; that’s more than you would have had had you been rejected by the Top Five.

    You, the writer, control the vertical and the horizontal. When will Trad Pub realize that that, in and of itself, is part of the reward of self publishing?

    • Ten fevered fans! Who read every week and sometimes comment!

      If they had any idea how strong that kind of support is – and how impossible it was for newbie writers to get support back in the days…

      Writers crave for someone to listen to their story. No one plays Shostakovich when they first pick up a violin – and lack of encouragement will keep most from sticking to the practice necessary to master Twinkle, Twinkle. (Mothers are good for this.)

      I really admire the bad writers of the past – they kept at it because they wanted to, without much in the way of reward. Some of them got better.

      • You have ten fevered fans, that’s excellent – there are many more in your future, I’m sure. (I think I have five….)

        We were all new once; I too admire new writers who are bad – at least they are writing, at least they are following their goal, at least they are not just swallowing what someone else says that they should swallow.

  8. I had the same reaction, Ryan. Jaw on floor. 800th place is the bottom? That’s at least 100 books a day, maybe more. That would be 3000 a month at that rate, earning 70 percent of 5.99. On one title. Poor Hugh, scraping by on $12,000 a month for that single book. It’s over, man! The boom times have ended!

  9. Hundreds of pages are added to the Internet every second. Thousands, even! This onslaught buries professionally developed pages. Really, we can expect YouTube and Buzzfeed and every other popular website to vanish beneath the Tsunami of Internet Crap.

    Or, it could be that when presented with infinite choice people still choose the things they like.

    • Agreed. The cream will always rise to the top; people become their own gatekeepers as to what they like and don’t like.

      • “people become their own gatekeepers…”
        Excellent! That is it exactly.
        It’s also one of the reasons why the Wanna-be Curators are frightened of indies.

    • And some of us really like browsing and finding jewels. 😀 I think what the indie movement has done is just that–give people choices trad pubs would not or could not give them. Now, the readers who might like them get to find the “doesn’t quite fit our requirement” stories that editors turned down (not due to writing talent, but the story wasn’t right or was too weird or was too short, etc).

      The finding part is the challenge. The being found.

      But at least it’s out there for those who would love that weird or too short or too long or not-quite-right story. And when the underserved readership finds those oft-rejected-by-trad subsubniche writers, it will be love.

      I know back in my romance reading days, I could never find enough ugly-hero/beast stories. They tended to make the “beast” archetype guy a beast emotionally, not physically. I was always looking for stories that let the guy be an actual physical “beast” in terms of scars/deformity/damage. I was always so happy when I found them. To me, that’s a bigger hurdle for the heroine to overcome than just he’s got a bad temper or he’s a former assasin for the CIA, really, cause he was still hot and had abs to die for and silky hair and both eyes. Come on.

      Oh, I think I got off on a fangirl tangent.

      • Okay I have to ask, what key words are you using in that search? Cause my currently novel is the ugly heroine, but do people really look for that? If so, I’m updating my metadata now.

        • I tend to search for beast, or beauty and beast. or “homely” or “ugly” or “scarred” or “deformed” with other terms like romance or historical romance or fantasy romance. I do Google more often than Amazon when I am looking, since it will pick up review terms like “ugly hero” and such. BandB was my fave fairy tale, and Bearskin not far behind, and then JANE EYRE was my fave classic novel growing up, so I think I imprinted on the hero who is messed up physically as an object of needing a good woman to rescue him. 😀

          I don’t like cruel heroes too much, but I reread that Janet Dailey one with the butt-ugly hero like a half-dozen times because it was one of the few ones that let a not-good-looking man be just that. And Charlotte Vale Allen had a hero who was akin to the Phantom (musical, hidden away) and I read that one over and over. He had real issues, that dude.

          Can you link me up to your novel? I’m curious now.

          Renee, I also enjoy plain or homely heroine novels. I think a lot of us grew up feeling homely or not-pretty and when we found a heroine that can still get the great guy who was not a beauty-queen/princess type, it’s sort of encouraging. I would not be surprised if some readers are actively searching for the plain, homely, or ugly heroine. The Ugly Duckling?

          • Oh, never mind. I see your name here clicks to it. A recluse with burns. Wow…you know, in my romance glomming days, that would totally sound off my alarms to go check it out. Recluse is a VERY key term for me as a reader. I love recluse characters whose world gets rocked romantically. 🙂

            This is gonna get a Kindle borrow and go on my TBR…which gets bigger every day. They are gonna have to bury me with my Kindles so maybe I can finish up all these books in the life beyond. 🙂 THANKS for writing a B&B story. You really need to get the word out for the B&Bers out here.

            • Lol, tell me how? I’ve got it in my key words, but I’m still trying to figure out how to use metadata to its fullest extent. Cause this is a true B&B story, and no magic beauty at the end. But apparently my keywords suck. This is what I have right now –

              Tattoos, romance, beauty and the beast, nontraditional, contemporary fairytale, modern romance, character driven

              • You might be able to fuse “contemporary fairytale” and “modern romance” (you already have romance, and contemporary/modern are essentially the same). Fairy tale is important, gotta keep that, but it would let you fit in “recluse,” if you eliminate one.

                Is there another niche thing besides “recluse” or “social outcast” or something in the story that might pop you into a more specific romance category?

                Is character driven an important keyword? I have no idea. I think romance alone tells folks it’s character-driven….at least, that’s what romance readers want–two really good characters falling in love and having issues making being together tough (but obviously not impossible).

                What conflict issue might be your keyword– the way the family gets in the way? Or if you talk a lot about the burn aspect and have hospital setting in scenes? I’m trying to think of the romance niches. Medical. Family drama. Hmmm. I suck at this.

                Let me go look at your blurb and subtitle…

              • OH, snap, you have a “dying hero” or “terminal illness.” That might be one.

                You could add a subtitle: “A Modern Beauty and Beast Romance.” Or even “A Modern Beauty and the Beast Romance with a Twist.” Or with “A Colorful Twist.’

                The colorful would be the tattoo art and the twist is that SHE is the beast, not he. Or just “with a twist”

                If you put that in the subtitle, then you have another keyword to play with, cause it would come up in Beauty Beast searches on Amazon, so you don’t have to use it up in a keyword and can experiment.

                That’s one way to catch the browsers who are BandB freaks like moi. (Just like A Modern Cinderella would catch those who like the poor beleaguered gal and the tycoon archetype, though she could be the tycoon in the twist)

                • Lol, except he is the beast on the inside. Lol, it is a twisted Fairytale, she is the beauty who looks like a monster, and he is the beast that looks like a beauty. But yeah I like the subtitle idea.. let me go poke. At this point nothing will hurt.

                  Updated to this – Tattoos, scarred heroine , beauty and the beast, nontraditional romance, contemporary fairytale, tragic hero, ugly duckling transformation

                  With this subtitle: Twisted Fairytale: Beauty and the Beast

                  Because in theory I have one plotted out for Cinderella.

                • You definitely need to play that up. No s***. It works

                  I strongly recommend you add the subtitle like RIGHT NOW…and then play with the blurb to see what else you can play up.

                  Terminal Illness
                  Burn scars
                  Family conflict
                  Beauty and Beast
                  Emotional Trauma
                  Physical Trauma
                  Happy Ending (folks wanna know he’s not gonna die, right?)

                  Just brainstorming.

                  Edited to Add: tragic hero, I like that. I know that even if you add the subtitle it takes a while to show, but that one is really important, because if a person types “Beauty Beast” it helps it show, right?

                • Awesome did all of that. But he does die, so Happy Ending.. while true might upset some people. Swear good death, but… he is dying. That is what drives the story.

                  Okay definitely going to work on my blurb, just I know how important the metadata is, but hitting the right keys is a lot harder than you would think.

                  Thank you!!!! So much.. you have no idea.

                • Lol, except he is the beast on the inside. Lol, it is a twisted Fairytale, she is the beauty who looks like a monster, and he is the beast that looks like a beauty.

                  That sounds great. Too bad is not HEA. I only read HEA. A word of caution: let readers know that is not a HEA in a blurb, since readers can get quite irritated when their expectations, set by a blurb or a cover, aren’t fulfilled.

                • You just made your brand: Twisted Fairytale…and you could tag this one #1 and then Cinderella #2. YOu know what they say? Readers love a series.

                • Lol, I do that when I have the second book done. Burning on a Geek Love series now, where all the characters are geeks, gamers, cosplay, etc… and none are gorgeous or have abs, all are real people. So need to get those out. Need to quit the day job so I have more time to write I swear.

                • Well, I love geeks and I am a fan of cosplayers (I follow some on FB). I think that sounds like lots of fun. (Which reminds me I have to see if they updated the circus story arc of Kuroshitsuji anime, season 3. The visual look is beyond fabulous and they are all freaks.)

                  Best with that. I hope it sells like mad for you.

                  (Though I’m sad he dies. Sniff.)

                • Mir, I only watched the first season of Kuroshitsuji. Is the second one as good as the first one?

                • ELKA, the first season was GREAT. The second: meh. The third one so far has really been good. It shifted locale to the circus pretty fast and what Sebastian and Ciel are looking into is intriguing. And both of them are PART OF THE CIRCUS, so watching Sebastian do his acrobatics and whatnot (you will DIE when you see him interact with the big cats, cuz you know Sebastian and cats , right?). The circus crew is fascinating and creepy and even tragic-seeming. The character designs are excellent. Really excellent. I am so having fun.

                • Thank you. That’s sounds like fun. I’ll skip the second season and go straight to the third then.

                • Elka, enjoy them soon. Japan has been cracking down on streaming and scanlation sites. One of my fave scanlator groups seems to have shut down this past week. I’m worried they’ll be gone and I’ll be left high and dry. Sniff.

                  (Shortsighted of Japanese companies. Those streaming sites create fans that then want DVDs, manga, merchandise. I have 3 messenger bags from animes, various types of manga, keychains, figurines, tee shirts, cds of anime music, DVD sets of some anime, downloads of anime music…. They should cooperate with the sites to see how they can best position their artists and product to encourage American/Western purchases, not shut them down, when it’s unlikely we’re ever see in English most of these works in any sort of timely manner. )

                • I’ll check it out sometime these week, then, maybe even today.
                  Yeah, that’s really shortsighted. Without scanlation groups most of public outside of Japan wouldn’t even be aware about more than half of those animes.
                  Hey, have you ever heard of or watched Tigger and Bunny? It’s a great short and very funny anime.

                • Elka, I’ve watched several episodes and read a few doujinshi. I happen to be a fan of Origami (LOL).

                • Origami is nice. 🙂 You know, we should go on a drink together, I certain we would have lots to talk about. So if you are ever in Europe, around Italy or Austria, poke me. 🙂

                • Elka is right. As a romance reader, I wanted and expected a Happy Ending. Without it, it’s not strictly romance genre to me, it’s women’s fiction or mainstream romantic fiction, etc. HEA is crucial to a genre romance reader (imo, at least from years of interacting with them, having been a member of RWA and gone to romance conferences as a fan).

                  The blurb does need to make clear that the illness is terminal (no magic happy cure). Maybe emphasize the glory of his demise (you said it’s a good death, and some folks really like to see a redemption for a character who is not gonna live). That would be keyword” redemption” for metadata I guess.

                • Okay I do say terminal and say he will die, but I have been worried about the non-traditional ending. Okay I’ll update the blurb a bit to state something like “Will they grab this chance at love, before death claims him.”

                  My only argument to the HEA – is all true love ends in death, and he is just lucky enough to die while he loves and is loved. I can’t think of a better way to go.

                • I think that sentence is perfect and more than sufficient to clue readers who HATE HATE death endings (you do not want a 1-star review from a person expecting a miracle cure and then have hero die, cuz some readers are vindictive that way. Seen it.) The ones who understand there can be beauty in a tragic early death that has grace and love won’t be put off.

                  It’s like the Phantom’s amazing dialogue at the end of the novel–when he goes on about how amazing it was to kiss Christine and how she did not die and how much he loves her…. your heart breaks for him, but it’s love that makes his death noble. His unwavering love and Christine’s bit of mercy.

                  I’ve had true love for 32 years–I am still mad for hubby and he for me, miracle that cuz I am one weird dame–and I hope to die first with that love still around me (and pray his second wife is AMAZING so he can be happy till he dies). 🙂 Love is grand.

                  So, not knocking your ending. It’s your vision. Just saying the rabid HEA contingent would feel cheated if they thought (due to tagging) that a cure/hea was awaiting this couple like with BandB–where he unbeasts and princes up.

                • An outstanding thread a within a thread discussion. Quite informative. Thanks 🙂

                • Okay I do say terminal and say he will die, but I have been worried about the non-traditional ending. Okay I’ll update the blurb a bit to state something like “Will they grab this chance at love, before death claims him.”

                  That should do the trick. I believe it’s better to warn your readers what they are getting than to suffer their outrage.

              • The problem with “beauty and the beast” as a keyword is that when you search on it, you get hundreds of pages.

                How do I know this? One of my books is a Beauty and the Beast tale. When I used that as a keyword, as I did, and tested it on Amazon…well, Troll-magic might have been somewhere in those hundreds of pages of results – I paged through for a good 15 minutes – but I never found it. Clearly it wasn’t going to get my story in front of the eyes of readers who might like it.

                I can’t say I have a solution for this problem. Just some experience with it. 🙁

                • Oh, wow! I should have read the whole brainstorming thread before I commented! Clearly I need to revisit my keywords and be clever just the way you’ve been clever. Wow, again! I’m impressed with what you’ve devised.

                • Do I spy with my little eye some Kay Nielsen? (love madly)

                • You do indeed. I adore his work, both his black & white line drawings and his color paintings.

                  If PG will forgive the link, here’s a smidgeon of Nielsen – three images – on my website. (Plus the b&w images in the header bar.)


                • THanks. I visited. I have some bookmarked and hard-drive-saved color images that I thought would be great for a cover for a short story of retold fairy tale. Love the art like mad.

                  I own the Calla edtion of EotS&WofM. Not the best edition, but I wanted to own some of the illustrations.

                • 😀

                  Totally understand wanting to own some of his art! I wonder who has the originals? I envy them!

                • Yeah, we’d have to sell like that 50 Shades person to afford them, prolly. hah.

                  Found a discussion about that:

                  If I had a 100 million or so, I’d love to own original Craft, Palencar, Powers, Varo, Nielsen, Bauer, and the Dillons–to start. Maybe I’d need 200 million? :p

                • Occasionally pieces come up for sale. A few years ago one came up in a Scottish sale (so a dealer friend told me) and he got it for peanuts (about 150 pounds) because he was the only one who knew what it was. I told him he would have had a battle on his hands if I had been there!

                  Oh! O-o-h! Oh! Yes, I’m in pain. W-a-n-t!

                • Right? It’s like when those folks find some incredible gem in a garage sale that the owner didn’t realize was worth a small (or large) fortune. Sigh. 250 or so bucks. Sigh.

          • Mine is a beauty and the beast/scarred brooding hero as well. And now I’m off to change the metadata. It hadn’t occured to me that people searched on those terms, but it’s brilliant!

  10. Newbie Romance Writer

    It sounds discouraging, but depending where on the curve of one is placed, and what genre one chooses, it’s not really relevant. Most of those other books are not competition.

    I made over 1000 dollars last month as an unknown new author with two self-edited romances and Fiverr covers, without any promotion. This month is going to be even better, and the next of the series will come out in September.

  11. I have to agree that the final quoted paragraph may be a problem. Amanda Hocking was always pricing her books in the cheap or free range of things and that, particularly in the early days, is what fueled her tremendous popularity. Even at those low prices, she made her millions.

    Hugh can speak better about this, but even 800th place may still be producing good revenue for him, particularly on material that he wrote quite some time ago.

    • Isn’t Amanda Hocking completely tradpublished now?

      • She retained her vampire novels that gave her the big initial boost. She continues to sell those as an indie – kind of as a low-cost intro, I think.

        Those books were written years ago and she’s since published several others. The article is moronic.

  12. This is one of the dumbest articles yet, and that’s saying a lot. One of Patterson’s books from last year is ranked 2,565. Does this mean he’s going to be on the bread line any day? Also, I just looked at Dust and it’s in the 600s now. Someone needs to explain the Amazon rankings to this person.

  13. Let me pile on with one other consideration.

    Back in late 2011, when I won the lottery, I hit #4 on Kindle with just shy of 5,000 sales in a single day. Based on everything I hear, I am willing to bet that to hit #4 today, you would have to sell thousands more than that per day.

    Put another way: At any given ranking, you are probably selling a lot more units than you were several years ago. Which means that at ranking #800, Hugh Howey is selling boatloads of copies per day.

    Also, the curve of sales does not rise in a flat, steady line as your books’ ranking improves. It gets steeper and steeper as you near the top ranks. By that, I mean that while you can hit #10,000 with perhaps as few as 15 or 20 sales in a day, you will have to sell multiples of that daily — perhaps 70-80 — to reach #5,000, then several hundred per day to reach #2,500, and maybe 1,000 per day to hit #1,000. These numbers are very crude estimates, only to give a relative sense. But you can see that you don’t have to be in the Top 100 to be making serious money.

    The writer of the linked piece is oblivious to any of this. He should know that anyone with several titles selling better than a ranking of, say, #5,000 is probably earning hundreds of bucks per day, cumulatively. Even having a single title at that ranking or below will pay a lot of monthly bills.

  14. Amazon is probably planning for a search capabilities that can handle 100 million titles or more. (Amazon used to run a www search engine called A9). We indies are the early adopters.

    As far as absolute rank is concerned, it’s going to mean less and less. As opposed to what’s my last title’s rank, the more helpful question is How can I better use this platform to generate more income?

  15. 8 babies are born every minute in the United States of America alone. I guess anyone thinking of working for a living should just end their life now.

    The writer of this article shows the defeatist mentality that keeps a majority of people in poverty. If something isn’t easy they don’t want to try it.

    I write because I enjoy sharing my stories with others. I am willing to put in the effort and time to try and sell those stories to strangers. If I make money from it, awesome. If I make enough to write full time, CRAZY AWESOME. But I don’t expect crazy awesome to happen without hard work and effort. People like the article author do, and that is sad.

  16. I looked to see if I could leave a comment on his article and couldn’t, b/c this unbelievable ignorance at how many books Hugh is selling at 800th place on ALL OF AMAZON’S BOOKS was just too much to ignore, but no luck. Then again, I’m at work and we use this old IE … so … but really this person’s ignorance BURNS.

  17. Can my stuff be on the bottom like Howey’s? Please? I’m sure I could limp along for a while at 800.

  18. Hugh Howey’s Dust is at 800th place in the pantheon of books, which might as well be the bottom.

    The bottom?

    Best I’ve ever done is #32 and that lasted only a couple days. If I could hover at 800 with my books on a regular basis, I would be a happy, happy author. That’s some serious bank for one book.

    This guy has absolutely no clue.

  19. Yes, you, too, can be a one-book-makes-six-figures-a-year loser like Hugh.

    What a bunch of Bravo Sierra.

  20. Has anybody checked on Hugh? To make sure he’s okay? Poor thing. I’m sure he doesn’t realize that his career is in a downward death spiral.

    I was over the moon when I broke into the top 20,000 briefly during my last countdown deal. But it wasn’t sustainable because my book is too new, the first book in a series, doesn’t fit neatly within genre expectations, and I’m not promoting it right now because I’m working on getting the second book out.

    I know I keep yammering about paradigms, but here’s another example. If you think that best seller lists are significant indicators of success, and to be good a book has to be in that top 100, and that a book has to prove itself in the first six weeks of its existence, and that a writer’s career hangs on the success of a single book, and that the writer only makes pennies on the dollar of each sale, then an 800 ranking would seem like the end of the world.

    • Here’s the thing, though: You could be on the NYT list (which is a mere 25 books long) and not be earning a full-time living. So what hope does #800 in all of books have? That’s the paradigm these people are used to operating under. They have no idea.

      The difference in royalty rate is massive. Also, you shouldn’t even look at your career earnings to gauge your potential until you have ten or so titles available. So you aren’t up against 3 million books, you are up against, at most, 300,000 *serious* authors.

      Now look at the number of robot-generated wikis. He mentions one that has generated 100,000 titles. Is anyone buying those titles? There’s probably a million books that nobody is ever going to take seriously. And another million with poor covers, blurbs, keywords that don’t stand a chance.

      The pool of books is much shallower than people realize.

  21. The people who are cleaning up here are the cover artists. I know one artist who is working day and night cranking out the exact same book cover — two guys and one gal on top and a howling wolf or two at the bottom. I’m pretty sure that’s all she does these days. I can’t even get in line to do my non-wolf sexy time book cover because she’s just so busy with these.

  22. I hear Bohemian Rhapsody has dropped out of hit parade top 100 too, and Star Wars is no longer listed in the top 20 films on at the movie theatre.

  23. 800 is the bottom?

    My books are in the top 20,000. I am currently selling about fifty ebooks a day between all five titles (including borrows), and about fifty audio books per day. Which puts earnings (and this is a slow month mind you) at an average of about $275.00 a day. Which is enough to give me six-figure income.

    Boy, it really sucks here at the bottom. (shuffles off to go live in a dumpster)

    • THIS. 100% this. You are the story of self-publishing.

      I wish the media would cover success stories at this level, because the Shatzkins of the world don’t believe it’s happening. They have no idea how many people are having this level of success. It’s in the thousands, which is a ten times increase over the number of people making a career writing fiction just five or six years ago.

      Bravo, man.

  24. Bestseller thinking.

    In tradpub, a book selling 100 copies a day at launch is a loser because after the 30 day launch window the author’s probably toast.

  25. I think it will all shake out. Readers will buy the author’s name after a while. Brand names do sell because the quality is known and there is no risk involved.

  26. No doubt about it, the number of books released today are overwhelming, and it will get larger and larger every day, every month, every year. What should a current or future writer do? Before coming with an answer you need to know why you write and publish?
    1- Make Money
    2- Be Famous
    3- Great Story that must be told
    4- I Love to Write
    5- Any combination of the above
    If you choose 1 and 2, or 5 containing 1 and 2, the odds are against you. If you chose 3 and 4 who cares how many books are out there? But still, what should you do? Whatever you want. Don’t let any obstacles stop you, if you’re a true writer. On the other hand if the obstacles stop you, you may not be a writer.

  27. I’m sorry, I just added one. (My Createspace print book just went live.)

  28. 1. If you are hoping to make money, it is still clearly better than submitting to trad publishers and getting rejected.

    2. If you aren’t trying to make money, it’s fun to see your book listed.

    3. In the not too distant future, we are going to hear stories of hidden gems of books that have been on Amazon for decades without selling that suddenly take off and sell because they become topical or simply get discovered by the right people. (i.e.: Confederacy of Dunces) Eventually, one of these might win a Nobel prize for literature. The alternative was being stacked in a slush pile and eventually destroyed forever.

    4. Society will also benefit from books that only sell a few copies, but are extremely valuable to the few readers who are interested in them. For example, historical books, or books that cover obscure topics. It is not too fanciful to think that a book written by a hermit like botanist, covering a particular branch of biology, might help a future researcher discover an important new medicine. An odd self-help book written by an unknown writer might be end up having a special meaning to a future leader in a third world country. A biography by an American soldier who served in Iraq might fill in key details about the war that become critical to the understanding of it for future generations. Or simply, a goofy sci-fi novel filled with typos might make an individual reader happy because it connects to him on some level.

    5. This is not simply about writers getting rich. This is about growing the base of knowledge and expression, which is probably the noblest purpose of the human race.

    • Put the ideas out there and see what happens.

      Isaac Asimov has been an inspiration to robotics researchers for generations. Who’s to say that some “obscure trifle” might not lead a reader to seek a new career and change the world?

      Instead of fretting about other people, just make sure to do your best and let the chips fall where they may.

  29. I never understand why the amount of titles out there is always presented as a problem exclusively faced by self-publishers. We are all competing in the same market.

    Also, some perspective is needed here. The “problem” is much worse on the print side. Amazon has something like 10m print titles, out of approximately 32m currently in print. And that’s not even counting all the second-hand books knocking around, presumably a decent chunk out of the estimated 130m titles ever published.

    By contrast, there are just 2.9m titles in the Kindle Store. Only around a third of those are fiction anyway, and if you drill down to your sub-genre, there aren’t that many titles – especially when you consider that around a third of the e-books in the Kindle Store don’t appear to have ever sold a copy… and can hardly be considered as competition for eyeballs.

    Really, this is one of those things where it’s actually much better than it used to be (but people will freak out about it anyway). The number of titles is growing, yes, but it’s not growing at some exponential rate in relation to the growth of the market.

    And it has a loooooong way to go to catch up with print. The only reason the “problem” isn’t as obvious with print is because bookstores carry such a tiny percentage of all books in print. This is not a problem with digital. Again, a good thing.

    • Don’t forget all the free pre-1923 books available on Google Books, many of which are available in the PDF format.

      It may be a small amount for now, but I’m seeing some of these turn up in Kindle versions (I published a couple myself).

  30. Books sales are a power law – that means a “short head” where sales per book are high for small number of books, and a “long tail” where sales per book are low for a large number of books. This is true of most cultural products, especially those that have relatively unrestricted supply (no gatekeepers).

    But there are many smaller power laws within the larger one, so there are many “short heads” within the scope of the entire distribution. In other words, you can still do pretty well in a genre or sub-group of some time without doing that well in an overall sense.

    In a long tail world, people search out genres and specialized niches that interest them. Over time, the long tail takes in more of the overall sales, and the short head suffers, relatively speaking. So, best-sellers will suffer compared to the past, though it will still be lucrative to be a best seller.

    That’s just how the world works. There is no point worrying about it, as articles like this are wont to do. If you enjoy an activity, are drawn to it as if by a magnet, just go ahead and participate as a producer or consumer. You might get lucky, you might not. So it goes.

  31. That one book every five minutes number does seem overwhelming, but those books are spread out over non fiction and fiction and every genre. I am not going to worry about it. I knew when I started if I wanted to sell a lot of books I would have to write a lot of books. I have a lot of titles published from non fiction to fiction and several genres, both short stories and novels. One long fantasy series, also. I just keep writing and uploading. I put two titles in the mess today, so I guess I am adding to the book pollution.

  32. As per wikipedia, there are 1,200,000,000 english-speaking people in the world. The latest release has sold “only” 3500 copies in three months. I think I’ll skip the pity party and concentrate on how to reach out to all those awesome people who don’t know yet that they’ll love the book.

  33. Take heart. These articles let everyone know why my literary genius isn’t being recognized. It’s not me. It’s the tsunami.

    But I can handle it. If I ever meet up with another fiction author, we can shake out heads in mutual recognition of the tragic cards fate has dealt us.

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