Amazon Author Insights

24 March 2017

PG says you need to check out Amazon Author Insights if you haven’t done so already.

From Elizabeth Spann Craig via  Amazon Author Insights:

I used to feel like the sole, income-focused writer in any group I was in. I was the one on any panel hesitantly bringing up ways that writers could make money with their writing.

I’ve noticed now that there are more writers like me out there and I’m more relaxed about being a commercial fiction writer.

I’ve been asked by parents, college students, and high school students about what degree is needed for becoming a writer.

But that’s one of the wonderful things about being a writer. You don’t have to have a degree in anything.  I was an English major, but that’s as far as I went with it.  When asked for my advice, I ask what type of writing they’re wanting to do and what their end-goal/their child’s end-goal is.  If the goal is “a career in writing,” then I’ll go as far as to suggest that they don’t go the MFA (Master in Fine Arts) route. They should instead read as much and as widely as they can and start writing.

. . . .

Writers at the start of their careers should ask themselves: am I writing to please myself or am I writing to appeal to a broader market? My kids are older and if I didn’t make a living at this, I’d be getting a day-job.  Writing is my full-time job.  I’m not making a ton, but I’m making more than if I taught school and more than I’d make at any other job; I’ve been out of the traditional workforce since my first child was born in 1997.

. . . .

It’s better, in the current environment, to self-pub instead of trad-pub (most of the time).  I experienced first-hand cutbacks that publishers are employing to save costs.  When I started out, 3-book deals were the norm at Penguin.  That unfortunately changed.  The merger between Penguin and Random House meant a layoff for my editor. Now there are many stories about how difficult it is getting to break into the industry and the market. It’s obviously still possible to do so…but at what cost?  I made and make a good deal more from my self-published books than my traditionally published books.

. . . .

Write series.  Series are currently more popular with readers.  I’m wondering if it’s because readers, once they’ve spent the time investing in the story world and characters, want to read more in that same story world.  Lucky for us–because series are easier and quicker to write for the same reasons: the story world is established, as well as the story’s recurring characters (descriptions, traits).  Most of the work is already done.

Link to the rest at Amazon Author Insights

The New Crave in Publishing

20 March 2017

From The West Georgian:

Every writer’s dream of signing a publishing contract is becoming harder to make reality. Unless you are already a best selling author or celebrity, publishing companies have become harder to please. Self-Publishing has become the saving grace for writers who do not have the means to be represented by professional companies.

“Self-publishing has become very easy and affordable,” said Lisa Adams, Book Publishing professor for Continuing Education. “The amount of editors that are looking for books in the traditional world has shrunk. It was always really hard to get a book published and now it is exponentially hard.”

Companies like Amazon, Lulu, Infinity Publishing and more, make self-publishing possible. All the author has to do is write a story, decide whether they want it to be Print On Demand (POD), an E-book or both. Once they decided they upload their manuscript, choose their cover, font, price and voilà. Their story is available for sale online.

. . . .

A self-published author has the joy of dodging the long wait time and process that is inevitable when publishing traditionally. The process of getting a book published traditionally can be stressful with all of the people the book goes through and the process of making the book meet the standards of the company. Self-publishing gives the author control over their creation. “Compared to the traditional process, as an author you have control over your project,” said Adams. “You decided the title, cover etcetera. In traditional publishing, the publisher decides everything and has the right to change anything they want to.”

Link to the rest at The West Georgian

That Day I Decided to Stop Chasing the Bestseller Lists

19 March 2017

From author Marie Force:

I’ll admit it. I’d become a bit of a whore for it, and I’m not proud of that. After the first time it happens, it becomes a little addicting, the high of realizing you’re one of the top-selling authors in the country in a given week. Wowza. I vividly remember the day I first made the USA Today list in November of 2012. It was Thanksgiving Day, and I hit no. 99 with Fatal Deception, the fifth book in my Fatal Series. I was overwhelmed and thrilled and incredulous at how I’d gone from being one of the most rejected authors I knew to a bestseller in only a couple of years.

Then it got better.

Waiting for Love, book 8 in my Gansett Island Series, hit no. 6 on the New York Times’ ebook list in February 2013.

What a thrill, especially when you consider that book 1 in the Gansett Island Series was rejected EVERYWHERE. So not only was it thrilling to have an indie-published book in a series that no one wanted, except my readers of course, be the first to hit the New York Times list—and in the top 10, no less, it was also extremely vindicating.

. . . .

I went on a bit of a tear with the bestseller lists after Waiting for Love hit. Over the next three years, there were another 26 NYT bestsellers and more than 30 USA Today bestsellers along with many Wall Street Journal bestsellers that I haven’t been as good about keeping track of. In short, I was on a roll, and it felt good. It was validating and vindicating and exciting—and incredibly stressful.

EVERYTHING was timed toward making the lists—release days and release week contests and promotion and advertising. It became a mini form of MADNESS that overtook my life every time a new book was released, and then came the breathless wait on Wednesdays for the lists to be released to validate what I already knew based on the sales—my book was a bestseller. I won’t deny that it was fun to celebrate the lists, and add to the collection of covers on my wall that my agent started as a tradition for each new listing, but I’ve known for more than a year now that this whole thing was starting to get a little out of control.

And that became VERY clear to me last summer. I was on vacation with family and friends in Block Island, my no. 1 happy place in the world, where I spent an entire Wednesday afternoon at the beach stressing out about how my new Fatal book would do on the bestseller lists.

. . . .

Earlier this year, in a move no one saw coming, The New York Times eliminated its ebook list, among many other lists that were cut. I want to say, for the record, that I totally disagree with this move, and it infuriates me that the NYT has basically given the shaft to authors who are KILLING IT on the digital side, which we all know is the future of the book business. They also eliminated the mass-market paperback list and made some other questionable moves that left a lot of people scratching their heads and wondering why. Now we’re hearing that USA Today is considering eliminating its bestseller list, too.

I feel for the scores of authors who had the NYT list as a “someday” goal. I hate that it has become almost impossible for authors who are nearly 100 percent digitally published to make the NYT list, even if they sell 25,000 books in a week. I always thought USA Today is a much bigger deal because it highlights ALL the books sold in the country in ALL formats on one list. Because it takes a lower number of sales to score a spot on the back end of the list, USA Today has been viewed by some as somewhat of a stepchild to the vaunted NYT. But I think most authors would agree that hitting the top 50 on USA Today is a pretty big deal when you look at who else is with you on that list on any given week.

If you are an author who is yet to hit a list and that is your goal, I want you to know that I fully support your goals and aspirations, and I understand them completely. I understand the need for that feather in your cap because I once had the same need for the feather. I am rooting for ALL of you to get there someday if that is what you want, and I will always celebrate my author friends and colleagues who make the lists.

Link to the rest at Marie Force Blog

Here’s a link to Marie Force’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

‘It’s no longer about the vanity press’: self-publishing gains respect — and sales

19 March 2017

From CBC News:

Vancouver-based author Sharon Rowse was thrilled when after years of trying she finally landed a book deal with a New York publisher.

“It had always been my dream to be published,” Rowse said.

Her novel, a historical crime story that takes place in her home town, had been “a bit of a hard sell” for the American market.

But reality poured a big bucket of cold water on her dreams when the publisher was bought out, and its mystery section discontinued.

“My book was the last one to come off the press, which meant that I was suddenly without a publisher with a book that had just literally come out two weeks before the publisher closed,” she said.

Rowse searched for a new publisher for her book, but “nobody wanted to pick it up.”

Instead of letting her writing languish, she decided to take control of the process and added it to the the growing trove of self-published works that are increasingly finding their way into the hands of readers.

. . . .

Writers like Rowse are the target of a pending new collection of local self-published authors at the Vancouver Public Library — and other libraries across Canada are doing the same.

“Knowing that there’s been this huge outpouring of self-publishing over the past few years, we want to make sure that we’re finding that kind of content when it’s coming from Vancouver,” said Christina de Castell, VPL’s director of collections and technology.

“We really want to give Vancouver authors an opportunity to have a platform to share their work.”

Link to the rest at CBC News and thanks to Sadie for the tip.

Annabel Karmel goes self-publishing for next title

16 March 2017

From The Bookseller:

Bestselling child nutrition author Annabel Karmel is to leave publisher Ebury and self-publish her next title, Baby-Led Weaning Recipe Book.

Karmel’s 1991 début, The Complete Baby & Toddler Meal Planner was inspired by her son Nicholas who was a fussy eater, was rejected by 15 publishing houses and “countless” literary agents before it was represented by a book packager and sold to Simon & Schuster in the US at Frankfurt Book Fair, who then went on to order 25,000 copies. It was later sold to Ebury in the UK.

To date, she has sold 1.93 million books, for £19.6m, through Nielsen BookScan UK, with The New Complete Baby & Toddler Planner her top seller (339,646 copies). The author told The Bookseller she was self-publishing as “an experiment” and remains on good terms with Ebury, which she did not rule out returning to at a later date, adding: “I will see how it goes.”

Karmel has attracted 4.3m users a year to her her website and said she was well-placed to tap into her “loyal mum” audience. She has also has a weekly average social reach of 1 million, which she considers a “powerful” platform to promote her books, on top of her experience after 25 years experience in publishing. Karmel also has a range of baby food she sells to supermarkets, with good connections in retail.

“I sell my food into supermarkets, we know the brand better than anybody else, and so we are the best-placed to help sell and market a book,” she said.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Here’s a link to Annabel Karmel’s books.

Young author inspired to write and publish own book

13 March 2017

From the Eastern Courier:

A talented East Auckland teenager has written, illustrated and self-published her own book.

Jennifer Cheuk, 17, from Howick, penned the collection of short stories and poems entitled The Peculiar Thoughts of a Hummingbird.

Cheuk began the adult’s anthology at the mere age of 15, compiling 13 quirky tales that delve into the ideas of society, the perspective of children and multiculturalism.

“I drew inspiration from Shaun Tan, an artist I really like; Katherine Mansfield; and all the other little random books I read when I was growing up,” Chuek says.

. . . .

The home-schooled student also illustrated the book and arranged self-publication on her own.

“I wanted to be able to say I had done this rather than had help from other people,” she says.

“It made it feel like more of an achievement for me.”

. . . .

Senior librarian Tina Brown says: “Jennifer has been coming to Highland Park Library since she was a toddler and has always joined in summer reading programmes, story times and school holidays programmes.

“Her book is not only delightful but also thought provoking.”

Link to the rest at Eastern Courier

KDP Paperbacks: A First Look

12 March 2017

From The Alliance of Independent Authors:

The integration of ebook and print-on-demand publishing on Amazon is something authors have been requesting for years, so the introduction of KDP Paperbacks was greeted with interest. Let’s examine what KDP Paperbacks has to offer in the early stages of its rollout.

. . . .

For new titles, the print setup duplicates KDP’s easy-to-use ebook setup.

There is no utility for moving an existing CreateSpace title to KDP. You must repeat the setup process, re-entering the metadata, uploading the manuscript and cover files, and selecting the trim and paper options.

If you republish the paperback through KDP and indicate that it was originally published on CreateSpace, it will be automatically removed from CreateSpace.

Covers created with older CreateSpace templates may trigger errors, and will need to be reformatted to remove the whitespace at the borders.

. . . .

An Amazon representative confirmed in email that the correct formula for KDP Paperbacks is: 60% of (List Price – Printing Costs).

This differs from the long-standing CreateSpace formula, (60% of List Price) – Printing Costs.

Link to the rest at The Alliance of Independent Authors and thanks to Ryan for the tip.

PG says the roll-out of KDP Paperbacks has seemed a bit vague and sloppy, not Amazon’s usual style.

Author Overhead, Pt. 1

10 March 2017

From the Draft2Digital blog:

One of the burdens shouldered by indie authors is the overhead of the business. With a traditional publishing contract, some of that overhead is mitigated. The author isn’t asked to pay directly for cover design, layout, or distribution—though ultimately the cost of these services is factored into the royalty deal between the author and the publisher.

Having those expenses covered up front can be one advantage of going traditional. But as an independent author, all those expenses and more may fall on your shoulders alone. In this two-part series, we’ll look at some of the expenses and overhead you’ll take on for your indie author business, and those you should avoid.

First, The Unavoidable

Death. Taxes. Overhead for your author career. There are some things you just can’t avoid.

Author overhead can be a bit tricky, though, when it comes to the ‘unavoidable.’ Because for the most part, there really are no barriers to entry in this business. Anyone with access to a public library’s internet connection can write and publish for free. Whether that book becomes a success, however, comes down to pure luck unless there is an investment on the part of the author.

A good rule of thumb when it comes to a successful author business is to accept that there will always be a cost to pay. You may pay that in dollars, as we’re discussing here. Or you may pay it in time—whether that means taking the time to do all the work yourself, or enduring the time it takes for your book to reach an audience without any investment on your part. One way or another, Overhead takes her due.

In that sense, it’s easier to just think of any money you spend as a shortcut for time. If you can pay for services to be rendered, you’ll save both the time to do the work yourself and the time spent waiting for readers to look past the flaws of your book and give it a chance. Overhead may be unavoidable, but it doesn’t have to be a burden.

. . . .

It’s true, you can edit your work yourself. Particularly if you are skilled at copyediting—finding typos, grammar gaffs, and logical omissions in writing. If you are meticulous enough, you can certainly find and fix any errors that appear in your work.

That’s good news for many authors, who pride themselves on being savvy perfectionists. But the truth is even the keenest editing eyes among us have trouble objectively reviewing their own work.

Editing your own book can save you a few hundred dollars, but what it doesn’t save you is time. The fact is, when you edit your own work you spend more time reading and rereading and re-rereading. It can slow down the release of your book by weeks or even months. This is due to a bit of hardwiring in the human brain.

Humans are wired to look for shortcuts. Think of stereotypes: If I say ‘doctor’ or ‘nurse,’ there’s a very good chance you pictured a man first and a woman second. Never mind the fact that in our much more enlightened age women can be doctors and men can be nurses. There’s a pre-wired pattern (learned from years of cognitive bias) that makes you fall back on a stereotype in the absence of any other evidence. The stereotype is a shortcut for you brain, so that it doesn’t have to work as hard to create a mental image.

. . . .

The way this impacts our editing is simple: We wrote what we wrote, and we know what we meant.

When we’re reading our own work again (and again, and again) we’re often seeing our intention rather than the actual words on the page. This is how you can read the same sentence a dozen times and never realize you left out a “the” or even a noun or a verb. You have a built-in expectation of those words being there—your brain is biased to expect them so the sentence will make logical sense. As you read, your brain fires up its shortcut and inserts the missing words into the flow, even though they do not appear on the page.

Link to the rest at Draft2Digital and thanks to Alexis for the tip.

Time to Give Up on Self-Publishing?

8 March 2017

From Electric Gutenberg:

For years I’ve been one of the most enthusiastic cheerleaders of the self-publishing movement. Publishing my first novel on Amazon was one of the highlights of my life. I’m the guy who would jump up and down in rapture when I made a single 99 cent sale. My charming (if crudely drawn) cartoon strip series, Hyper Geek, features a perpetually optimistic and largely autobiographical writer (named Mackay) enraptured by self-publishing.

. . . .

Since I was a kid, I dreamed of being a novelist. I wrote short stories, started a couple novels and went to college to study fiction writing, but… yes, I gave up. The more I learned about the state of the traditional publishing business back then, the less I wanted to attempt a writing career. I simply couldn’t see myself playing the submission game, particularly by writing the kinds of books my professors thought would get past the gatekeepers of the literary elite. I had no interest in being a starving artist fighting against the system. I moved into personal computer sales and then into computer education and business consulting. I have no regrets about changing course back then. It was probably one of the smartest moves I made in my life.

Then the internet took off and the digital age arrived, which provided me with all sorts of business opportunities working for tech startups. But I also realized it presented new creative opportunities for writers to go it alone through self-publishing. I decided to try writing a novel once again. I started this blog in 2010 when enthusiasm among indy writers was rapidly growing, in a large part thanks to Amazon and Kindle. People talked about a gold rush in self-publishing. It hit a fevered pitch around 2014 when Hugh Howey published his first Author Earnings report. He and the Data Guy proved that the self-publishing market was growing by leaps and bounds and some indy authors where making serious money. Many were even able to quit their day jobs and support themselves simply by self-publishing. A few were even getting rich. It was like a shot heard round the writing blogs.

. . . .

I wrote and self-published my first novel, Eve’s Hungry, on Amazon through KDP. It took longer (three years) and was more work than I anticipated, but I was very happy with the result. I started to build a little following on this blog and Twitter. I was learning a lot, and having fun. Sales were nothing to get excited about, but I got a few nice reviews and followed it up quickly with a short little book of cartoons I had drawn years ago. Initial sales of that were double my first work. Still combined sales were tiny and sporadic. I certainly wasn’t going to be able to quit my day job. I’d be lucky to buy a Happy meal at McDonalds.

Then reality hit: my day job became a night and day job.

I got so swamped, I couldn’t even put out 140 character tweets to promote my book, let alone think about writing a new one. I stopped blogging and working on my Hyper Geek cartoon series midway through the story. Months went by and I… gasp… stopped checking my ebook sales (which had flatlined anyway). Things have gotten a little better with my schedule lately, but it’s unlikely my day job will ease up significantly for years. I now know from experience how much work is involved in self-publishing new books. It’s not an easy hobby and it’s unlikely to be a real source of income anytime soon. Conventional wisdom is that in order to make a living by self-publishing, you have to crank out books regularly, like every three months or faster. I can’t possibly do that now. I’m not even sure I could or would want to work that fast in the future if I did have spare time.

. . . .

So, is it time for Mackay Bell to give up on his crazy creative aspirations yet again? Like I have so often in my past? If formerly “best selling” self-publishers are quitting, how can someone like me, who never even sold many ebooks, keep at it? Do I finally understand why someone would give up self-publishing? What’s the point if it is “no longer possible” to get rich? Or replace your day job? Is my last post about self-publishing to be an announcement of defeat and surrender?


Of course not. Only an idiot would quit self-publishing.

Now, before you flood the comments with complaints that this whole post was just shaggy dog clickbait, let me explain. Yes, I never had any intention of quitting. I got busy and had to take a break, but I always figured I would get back to self-publishing. While I’m a big believer in quitting things, I can’t see any reason I ever would quit self publishing. Frankly, I can’t see any reason anyone else would. Even if the market is down. So what is really going on with this latest doom and gloom meme about how all these indy writers are quitting?

Who is quitting? Quitting how exactly? Supposedly “successful” and “best selling” indy writers are quitting “self-publishing.” Presumably, they aren’t being named because they are too embarrassed to admit it.

Link to the rest at Electric Gutenberg

Big, Bad, Wide & International Report: covering Amazon, Apple, B&N, and Kobo ebook sales in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand

6 March 2017

From Author Earnings:

Print bookselling remains artificially silo’d by country even today, for variety of legacy historical and logistical reasons. But by contrast, the global ebook marketplace is a seamlessly international one.

For authors, selling an ebook to a reader in a different country is just as easy as selling to a reader in your home country. Barriers to reaching an international audience no longer exist.

Today, with the click of a button, any author can start selling any title they wish simultaneously in 12 country-specific Amazon stores, 36 country-specific Kobo ebook stores, and over 40 country-specific Apple ebook stores.

As of yet, most of these non-English-language ebook markets are still fairly early-stage. But that’s not true of the four other major English-language markets outside the US. In those markets, too, as we’ll see, a substantial share of all new-book purchases has already gone digital. And, as we’ll also see, untracked, non-traditional suppliers make up a high percentage of ebook sales in those countries as well. Which means that these other digital markets have also been consistently underestimated and under-reported by traditional publishing-industry statistics.

. . . .

So this time, we rolled up our sleeves and basically went for the whole enchilada:

  • The top five English-language countries
  • The fifteen largest ebook stores
  • 750,000 top-selling ebook titles, in all genres and categories.
  • All of it calibrated against 700,000 points of raw, unfiltered daily sales data, from over 20,000 distinct ebook titles across all 15 stores.

When we were done, we were looking at the most comprehensive international picture of English-language ebook sales available anywhere.

. . . .

Population Reported
Print Book Sales
(annual units)
Ebook Sales
(annual units)
Ebooks as
% of
all book sales
  U.S.A.   325,700,000  675,000,000  487,298,000  42%
  U.K.     65,400,000 187,500,000  95,623,000  34%
  Canada     36,500,000  50,500,000  26,017,000  34%
  Australia     24,500,000  56,400,000  22,463,000  28%
  New Zealand       4,600,000  5,300,000  *1,306,000  20%*
  5-Country Total:  456,700,000  974,700,000  632,707,000  39%

. . . .

Amazon Apple
Kobo Barnes&Noble
  U.S.A.   406,000,000  44,041,000  1,246,000  19,395,000
  U.K.   84,029,000 7,201,000  1,132,000  –
  Canada     14,892,000  3,760,000  6,479,000  –
  Australia     13,604,000  6,694,000  1,399,000  –
  New Zealand       *  831,000  416,000  –
  5-Country Total:  518,526,000  62,527,000  10,672,000  19,395,000
  % of Total:  82%  10%  2%  3%
  • Unsurprisingly, Amazon is the majority retailer in just about every market.
  • But in Canada and Australia, Amazon is a lot less dominant than in the US and the UK.
  • Taken all together, Amazon accounts for more than 80% of English-language ebook purchases, Apple another 10%, Kobo 2% and Nook 3%
  • The remaining 3%–ascribed to GooglePlay and all remaining channels–is most likely overly optimistic. Their true share might well be even lower.

. . . .

  • Self-published indie authors are verifiably capturing at least 24% – 34% of all ebook sales in each of the five English-language markets; it’s not just a US-only phenomenon. When you also include the uncategorized authors, the vast majority of whom are also self-published, the true indie share in each market lies somewhere between 30% – 40%.
  • Indies are competing particularly well in the Canadian and Australian ebook markets, nearly approaching the level of dominance they currently hold in the US.
  • The Big Five, on the other hand, are letting themselves progressively get squeezed out of nearly every English-Language ebook market. They make up only 38% of Canadian ebook purchases, and that’s the country where they are holding their ground best; in the US, the Big Five now account for barely 26% of all ebook sales.
  • Amazon Imprints have made the most market headway in the US. Despite being single-retailer exclusive to Amazon Kindle, the dozen or so Amazon “house” publishing imprints between them account for 14% of all US ebook sales, 10% of all UK ebook sales, and 8% of Australian ebook sales. In Canada, the Amazon Imprint footprint is a much more modest 3% of all ebook sales, largely due to the substantial shares of the overall Candian ebook market held by Kobo (25%) and Apple (14%).

Link to the rest at Author Earnings

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