Traditional publishing vs. self-publishing. Which should you choose?

From Nathan Bransford:

Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of agents and publishers or to take arms against a sea of books on Amazon, and by being among them, rise above? To die, to sleep (oh wait you won’t), to sleep perchance to dream of fame and riches… aye there’s the rub.

Ahem. Sorry.

So. You have yourself a book. Should you just go ahead and self-publish and see how it does? Should you try your luck with agents and publishers? Should you try agents and publishers first and then self-publish if that doesn’t work?

. . . .

But once you have a general sense of the differences between traditional and self-publishing, you’ll have decisions to make. Having traditionally published my Jacob Wonderbar series and self-published How to Write a Novel and How to Publish a Book, I’ve seen both sides.

. . . .

Dispelling myths

Before we get to some of the pros and cons of traditional and self-publishing, I feel the need to dispel some myths.

For some reason, rival camps of traditional and self-publishing devotees continuously spring up online and besmirch the other side, even as the number of authors who have dabbled in both traditional publishing and self-publishing (like me) continues to rise.

Some self-publishers (often adopting the “indie” moniker) profess that traditional publishing is the stuff of retrograde dinosaurs and haughty agents looking only for authors who aren’t like them and that no one should even waste their time sending out queries.

Some traditional publishing types paint self-publishing with a broad brush as little more than vanity publishing for books that weren’t good enough to make it through the traditional publishing process.

These caricatures don’t have any truth to them. Both self-publishing and traditional publishing are viable paths.

Traditional publishing has its merits. Self-publishing has its merits. Traditional books can catch on. Self-publishing books can catch on.

What’s important is that you choose the process that’s right for your project based on what’s important to you and what your strengths are.

Get in tune with your goals

So before you go down this path, get in tune with your goals.

I’ll get to more detailed questions later in this post to help you weigh that right approach for your project, but really sit with your thoughts for a bit and gauge the elements of writing and publishing that are most important to you.

Why did you write the book? How important is it to you to make it revenue positive? Do you want it out there in a big way or are you content just having copies you can give to friends and family?

Starting this process with some self-reflection and getting in tune with your writing goals will prime you to make the best decision.

7 questions to ask yourself

Okay. You’re now open-minded about choosing the path that’s right for you and you’ve gotten in tune with your goals.

Here are questions to ask yourself to help narrow down which path you should choose. And if you’d like to talk it through with me, feel free to book a consultation.

Is your book a niche/passion project or does it have broad, national appeal?

In order to attract a traditional publisher, especially one of the major ones, you’re going to need to have a book that fits into an established genre, is of appropriate length, and has mass commercial appeal. As in, it’s something for a broad audience, not a narrow niche. And if you’re writing prescriptive nonfiction, you need to be one of the top people in the entire world to write that book if you want to pursue traditional publishing.

Nearly everyone who has ever written a book views it as a potential mega-bestseller, but this really requires some honest self-assessment.

Does your book have broad, national appeal or is it niche? Is it a potential bestseller or something you just wrote to, say, have your family history recorded for posterity or to get a bee out of your bonnet?

I like to use the airport bookstore test here. Is your book something you could potentially see on sale in an airport bookstore?

The major publishers (and the literary agents who work with them) are going for broad, mainstream audiences. If your potential readership is more narrow, you might want to go directly to a small press or self-publish. If you are writing nonfiction and lack a significant platform, you may want to just go ahead and self-publish.

But if you can genuinely see it reaching a wide audience, you can give traditional publishing a shot.

How much control do you want over the publishing process?

One of the things I like most about the traditional publishing process is its collaborative nature. You’re working with experienced professionals who bring a wealth of expertise to bear at every stage of the process.

But this does mean giving up some control. Your agent may want you to revise your work before they send it to publishers. You will almost assuredly be edited by an editor at a publishing house. You won’t have approval over your book’s cover and you’ll probably only have mutual consent on your book title. You’ll have limited control over how and where your book is marketed and things like discounts and promotions.

This all requires a collaborative mindset and ceding some of the decision-making. Your publisher may well make some decisions you don’t agree with, and some that might even drive you a bit insane.

Meanwhile, with self-publishing, everything is up to you. The edits, cover, title, fonts, marketing, price points… it’s all your choice.

So if you have an extremely precise vision of what you want your cover to look like or are dead-set on including your own illustrations, self-publishing may be the way to go. If you’re willing to be flexible, traditional publishing is an option.

How much does the validation of traditional publishing matter to you?

There’s still something gratifying about making it all the way through the traditional publishing process, having your work validated by professionals, and getting paid for your efforts.

The names Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster… they still matter to people.

But maybe you don’t care one whit about the name of the publisher on the spine of your book. And that’s fine too!

Gut check how much a publisher’s validation matters to you or whether you’re fine going straight to readers.

How important is it for your book to be in bookstores and libraries?

Traditional publishers still have a significant competitive edge in the print era because of their distribution and sales infrastructure. If you want your book widely available in bookstores and libraries, you are going to need a traditional publisher.

Sure, you might be able to strike up some individual relationships with local bookstores, but traditional publishing is the surest path to having your book widely available in stores and libraries across the country.

Now, in a world where close to the majority of books are purchased online, maybe this no longer matters to you. If you self-publish, you can have your book available on Amazon alongside all the other big names.

But if you care about being in bookstores, traditional publishing may be worth a shot.

Link to the rest at Nathan Bransford

PG stifled himself (a rare occurrence). Feel free to comment.

USA – Bookstore Sales Fell 17% in August. Ebooks fell, or rose, depending on where you look.

From The New Publishing Standard:

Publishers Weekly carries news of a US census Bureau report showing that US bookstore sales “dropped 17.3% in August, falling to $872 million.”

Per PW, “traditionally, August and January are two of biggest sales months for bookstores, since they incorporate the rush period at college campuses.

Jim Milliot notes, “For instance, Barnes & Noble Education, one of the nation’s largest college store chains, is making a major effort this semester to promote its First Day Complete program, which provides students with all the course materials they need—mostly digital—which are included as a fee or as part of tuition; the strategy has resulted in the decline of print textbooks.”

Thus far, it is not clear just how much college books shifting to digital are contributing to the 17% August decline, but the overall message is clear – print sales in bricks & mortar stores slumped in August compared to last year.

At the same time, the AAP BookStat reports book sales overall (inc. online) up 8.5% in August, with PW’s John Maher running with the headline “Publishing Industry Sales Rebounded in August“, but noting ebooks were down 5.4%.

Important to remember here that, while print sales, easily tracked by ISBNs, cover pretty much all the market, the ebook numbers tell only a partial story.

Contrast the 5.4% AAP-recorded decline in ebook sales against the 10% rise, year on year, in the Kindle Unlimited pot pay-out for August.

August 2023 saw Amazon pay out $49.6 million in royalties, mostly to self-publishers and small presses, all untracked by the AAP.

(PG note: This report appears to include only Kindle Unlimited payments, not the almost certainly higher total for royalties on sales of indie authors who don’t participate in KU or participate with some books, but not all books.)

Link to the rest at The New Publishing Standard

Canada’s Wattpad Updates Its Paid Program: ‘Originals’

From Publishing Perspectives:

Not since it opened its “Paid Stories” program several years ago has the Toronto-based Wattpad updated its remunerative offer to writers in any substantial way.

Announced this week, “Wattpad Originals” is a newly offered approach, an apparent recognition that some writers are looking for more in return from the platform than readers. The change may reflect the fact that serial writers who like the rhythm, the hustle, and the interactive tenor of online storytelling-and-response have more options, more companies, more platforms available to choose from, especially as graphic-narrative options have expanded from Asia into Western markets.

Tokens, called “coins” and a subscription called “Premium” are familiar brand-terms being offered to Wattpad readers, who make up the vast majority of the current 85 million people who “on average discover and share stories on Wattpad monthly,” according to company figures. (It has always been best thought of as a reading platform, the minority being its many writers, as company officials have stressed in the past.)

Those currently posted numbers state that 92 percent of the audience remains in Gen Z and millennial parts of the populations on which it draws. The main graphical idiom of the company’s online sites has persisted in its youthful appeal. Wattpad remains reliably international in its presence in Southeast Asia, Europe, Latin and North America. As in the past, it today carries content translated into at least 50 languages, according to the company.

Typically attracting far more female users than males, the platform cites an average session spent on Wattpad as lasting 60 minutes. The aggregate usage meter on the system reportedly is 23 billion minutes being spent on the platform monthly.

. . . .

The ‘Wattpad Originals’ Option

What’s being described now as the next step in writer revenue delivery, “Wattpad Originals” gives reader several options:

  • They can pay to read ahead, using those “coin” tokens or a “Wattpad Premium” subscription.
  • Wattpad Premium subscriptions are offered at US$7.49, which opens two Wattpad Originals per month.
  • Another Wattpad Premium subscription goes for US$4.99 per month, but does not unlock Wattpad Originals
  • Or they can wait for content to become free to read.
  • A new chapter added on the front end of a serial means that a previous chapter becomes free, thus incentivizing writers as well as readers to keep moving.
  • A maximum of 10 chapters, the most recently published, will be behind the “Originals” paywall. The program also expects to show readers how long they will need to wait for a free chapter to become available–which means that writers are making some sort of commitment to when they’ll be adding something new on the front end.
  • When a Wattpad Originals story is finished, a sample of it will be offered free to let readers see some of the content and , with luck, buy the full narrative.

Regular subscribers to television’s streamers will recognize this as not unlike the tactic weighed by consumers of those systems: They can pay for a monthly subscription and see each episode of a show as it rolls out weekly, or they can wait and buy, say, one month’s subscription and binge-watch the entire season of that show after all of its weekly episodes have been released.

This is a model that Wattpad says it has gotten from Webtoon, the comics platform based in Seoul with which Wattpad became closely connected when Webtoon’s parent Naver bought Alan Lau’s Wattpad for a reported US$600 million in 2021. It’s unclear whether Wattpad’s local administration in Canada has opted to adopt the new “Originals” plan or has been directed to do that by the South Korean ownership at parent company Naver. Media messaging simply asserts that Webtoon has used this approach “to great success” and that the new plan “will strike a better balance for readers and authors, creating more opportunities to build fandoms and reading communities while also making money.”

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

PG admits he hasn’t spent any time looking at what Wattpad has been doing for several years.

From Wikipedia:

Wattpad is a free online platform that allows users to read and publish original stories.[5] Wattpad has stories available in more than 50 languages, and nearly 300,000 writers from 35 countries take part every year in the largest writing competition, The Watty Awards.

. . . .

In January 2019, Wattpad launched a publishing division named Wattpad Books in an effort to take the “guesswork” out of publishing for authors.

In January 2021, Naver Corporation announced that it would be acquiring Wattpad; the deal was completed in May 2021. As of November 2021, Wattpad has a monthly audience of more than 90 million users, who can directly interact with the writers and share their opinions with fellow readers.

. . . .

Wattpad was developed in 2006, as the result of a collaboration between Allen Lau and Ivan Yuen. The company is based in Toronto, Ontario.

. . . .

As of January 2018, Wattpad had received almost USD $117.8M in funding from investors. In 2011, Wattpad announced that it received $3.5M in total funding from its current investors, and from W Media Ventures, Golden Venture Partners, and Union Square Ventures. Then in June 2012, Wattpad raised $17.3M from a group of venture funds led by Khosla Ventures.

In April 2014, Wattpad announced $46M in the Series C funding led by OMERS ventures. In January 2018, Wattpad announced USD $51M in funding from Tencent Holdings Limited, BDC, Globe Telecom’s Kickstart Ventures, Peterson Group, Canso, and existing investor Raine.

. . . .

In January 2021, Wattpad announced that it was to be acquired by Naver Corporation in a $600 million cash-and-stock deal. In an interview, Lau states “it’s also been very clear from Naver, and we agree, that we should operate as independently as possible.” Wattpad will remain headquartered in Canada and under its current leadership.

Link to the rest at Wikipedia

From Kindlepreuneur:

What Exactly Is Wattpad?

Wattpad describes itself as a ‘social story-telling platform’.

It makes use of technology and community in order to help writers find an audience for their serialized novel, short stories, etc., and for readers to find new up-and-coming writers to check out and follow.

The company is based out of Toronto, and has a very hip ethos and aesthetic. They make it clear that the platform is primarily intended for Millennials and members of Generation Z. As such, you can expect a pretty groovy, inclusive type of vibe from Wattpad.

However, the way a company describes itself is one thing. What it actually does is another.

So what is the actual bread and butter of Wattpad?

  • Talent discovery: Wattpad is a little like shows such as the X Factor or The Voice, but specifically for writers. Anyone is welcome to join and start publishing their work for free. Only the ones who get a good response go further in the process. How? Wattpad offers resources for writers to grow and develop. The best of the best become eligible for specialist programs connecting them with publishing houses and even TV and movie production companies.
  • Social platform: You can think of Wattpad as a sort of social network for writers and readers. Instead of it being a place to like cat videos shared with you by a distant relative, it’s a platform to discover stories. It aims to give writers a place to express their unique voice, and has a broad and inclusive approach to genre.
  • Technology: As you’d expect from a start-up company targeting millennials and members of Generation Z, tech has a big part to play. This is apparent both on the front and back ends of the Wattpad service. Behind the scenes, Wattpad makes use of machine learning and AI to spot the brightest stories among its many uploads. On the front end, Wattpad offers a mobile app to allow readers and writers to connect on the devices they love the most.

In a nutshell, Wattpad is a social platform for lovers of the written word. It offers opportunities for writers to get their art discovered and for readers to find new favorite stories and artists.

The rest of this Wattpad review will focus on what the service has to offer for writers. If you’re a writer, what can Wattpad do for you, and is there anything you need to be wary of?

. . . .

Wattpad Review For Writers – The Process

Signing up for Wattpad is easy, as you can see from the below image. You can either quickly register through email, or use one of your social accounts to gain access.

So how exactly does Wattpad claim to help writers? They break up the process of using Wattpad from an author perspective into three stages.

  1. Create: The first stage of using Wattpad as a writer is to create your story. You are given pretty much free reign to write how you want and in whichever genre you wish. You can check out a full list of genres a little later in this article, but it’s fairly comprehensive. You can shoot from the hip, or make use of the writing resources provided by Wattpad to shape your story.
  2. Build: Wattpad describes the “build” stage of the process as “establishing a global fanbase.” To be fair, the service does have over 70 million readers from around the world, and the metrics show that readers do spend a large amount of time on the platform per session. However, there are, of course, no guarantees. Your ability to tap into this potential fan base will depend upon the quality of your stories and the effort you put in to promoting them.
  3. Amplify: If your work gains traction on Wattpad (as judged by the service’s machine learning algorithm, taking into account factors such as popularity and engagement) you may get a chance to monetize through the Wattpad platform. Top performing stories gain the chance to get a publishing or movie deal. Of course, these are a minority of the stories published. Most writers will not be able to monetize through Wattpad.

Now that we have an overview of the three stages of the Wattpad process, let’s go deeper and see exactly how Wattpad aims to help you.

What resources does it offer, and what claims does it make about helping you as an author?

. . . .

You now know that Wattpad is a social tech platform for writers and readers, and you have an overview of the three stage journey for Wattpad authors.

So what specifically is being offered?

Readers. Wattpad has a passionate community of readers, currently over 70 million. I would expect this number to grow, as the company has some major investors behind it and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon. As a writer, finding a passionate and engaged readership is often half the challenge. Wattpad gives you an off-the-shelf audience to share your work with.

Genres. Wattpad offers a ton of genres you can publish in. 

. . . .

The bottom line is Wattpad is a suitable platform for niche authors and a great place to find engaged readers of almost any persuasion and preference.

Contests: Wattpad regularly offers writing contests. These are often offered in conjunction with events and major brands, such as a recent partnership with Converse sneakers in order to celebrate International Women’s Day. As well as being a fun community feature, winning a contest is good for your author CV, and there are prizes as well.

Awards: Wattpad has their own awards ceremony, “The Wattys,” which has been going since 2010. It celebrates a mixture of established and breakthrough writers who publish through Wattpad.

Authors can also gain exposure through Wattpad by being featured as a “pick.” Picks are stories chosen by the Wattpad editors, and they gain a greater level of exposure than regular stories.

Conference: Wattpad hosts an annual conference, known was Wattcon. It is a chance for authors and readers to get together, share tips, find mentorship opportunities, and take their online love of reading and writing into the real world.

Community: The community aspect of Wattpad is a cornerstone of the platform. It offers a chance for readers to give feedback and help writers grow. Authors can also directly engage with fans of their genre and hopefully turn them into fans of their work in particular.

. . . .

What You Need To Know Before Signing Up for Wattpad

Authors are often skeptical, and rightly so. There are a lot of unscrupulous people out there.

So what are the no-gloss, straight up facts about Wattpad you need to know as an author?

  • Rights: You own the full rights to your work. Wattpad doesn’t. Your writing is protected by copyright as soon as you publish it. You can remove it from the platform and publish it elsewhere any time. You can also offer stories you’ve shared via Wattpad to publishers, and these are not legally viewed as reprints.
  • Monetization: The monetization stage of Wattpad is in beta. It’s not the primary purpose of the platform. However, the top-performers receive opportunities for publishing deals and even links to movie and TV studios.
  • Growth: Wattpad offers a ton of free resources to help you grow as a writer. These include craft tips, such as character development, and marketing tips, such as boosting the engagement your work receives on the Wattpad platform.

If your primary purpose is to make money through your writing, Wattpad might not be the best pick for you. However, it definitely doesn’t impede you from doing so elsewhere.

. . . .

Wattpad Pros and Cons

We’ve explored everything Wattpad has to offer. So, in a nutshell, what is my take on the service?

Wattpad Pros

  • Free: No cost to read or write on Wattpad — and plenty offered in return.
  • Open: I really feel this is a platform for creative writers. It encourages expression and is open to the most modern of genres.
  • Community: Having a community of 70 million readers is an awesome resource. This is like if everyone in the United Kingdom, plus a few more million, was reading on Wattpad.
  • Growth: I love the free resources offered by Wattpad and the mentorship and development opportunities available.

Wattpad Cons

  • Monetization: I feel as if Wattpad could offer more opportunities for authors to monetize through the platform. The new beta program is a step in the right direction, but this could definitely be developed further.
  • Not for everyone: Although there are no age limits or anything, I definitely feel older or more conservative writers wouldn’t feel at home on Wattpad. It is a very liberal, very young-focused platform. That’s fine, but a lot of authors do not fit into those categories.
  • Requires Time and Effort to Succeed: In order to see results from Wattpad, you’re going to have to invest more time in your marketing of your book. There are lottery winners out there, but most need to invest time and energy. (Emphasis provided by PG.)

. . . .

Overall, I feel Wattpad can be a great resource for up-and-coming authors looking to hone their craft. If you want to get feedback and grow as an author, Wattpad can be the place to do that. It also allows you to connect with relevant writers and find fans for your work.

However, in order for an author to build a following and gain real results, they’re going to have to become a Wattpad marketing guru and truly know how to get their book in front of Wattpad readers.  The way I see it, though, is why not focus on a paying market like Amazon and get direct sales from all that marketing effort? If you’re going to market something, might as well get paid for all your hard work, right?

Link to the rest at Kindlepreuneur

The Kindlepreuner article sums up a lot of PG’s impressions over the years. A lot of people have spent a lot of time and effort to become successful writers on Wattpad, but to what end?

Unlike KDP, it has always been PG’s impression that not very many people are making serious money from their writing under the Wattpad Way. Can you earn substantial money without selling your books to a traditional publisher, small or large, or, even better (in PG’s opinion), self-publishing on Amazon?

Is Wattpad some sort of knockoff of a social media company for bookfolk and would-be authors that is mostly a consumer of lots of time and effort on the part of would-be authors in a system that generates only a minimal return for all but a relative handful of authors?

Who has gotten rich from Wattpad?

In 2021, Naver, South Korea’s internet conglomerate, acquired Wattpad in a cash and stock transaction valued at more than an estimated USD $600 million. From Naver’s press release:

With a global community of 94 million people–including five million writers–who have written more than one billion uploads on the platform, Wattpad is a global leader in social storytelling and entertainment. Wattpad’s creator-first approach to nurturing and supporting reading and writing communities has helped authors around the world.

PG was not able to determine how much money the two Wattpad founders banked from this $600 million sale nor how large a payoff several large New York City venture funds realized from the sale. He expects the answer is some variant of “quite a lot.”

PG will be happy to hear any information about how much of the $600 million authors received. After all, the authors provided the large majority of the content that generated a lot of the traffic that made Wattpad so valuable and its founders so rich.

PG is familiar with the old Silicon Valley truism that goes, “If you can’t understand what the product is, it’s you.”

PG would be happy to hear the opinions of authors who have been or are Wattpad regulars in the Comments section for this post regarding whether he’s right or wrong in his outside-looking-in opinions about the platform.

PG understands that a very high percentage of all participants in social media platforms large or small are spending their time because they find the online experience and resulting electronic friendships to be enjoyable in and of themselves.

PG has a couple of social media accounts he regularly participates with just because he finds them enjoyable diversions. (No, he won’t divulge what they are or any of his screen names.)

If PG learns that a great many participants on Wattpad were/are engaged with the platform for the same sorts of reasons, he’ll acknowledge that his snide remarks about founders and funders getting rich at the expense of authors are incorrect.

Although PG doesn’t gamble, he understands that a great many gamblers know they’re almost certain to lose far more money than they win. But despite that knowledge, they gamble for the emotional buzz that accompanies their participation – the roll of the dice, the spin of the roulette wheel, etc.

Chat GPT on Self-Publishing Via KDP Earn More Money

PG gave ChatGPT the following prompt:

write a 500 word article about why authors who are publishing using Amazon KDP earn more money than authors who publish through established publishers

Here’s what showed up on his screen:

Title: The Amazon KDP Advantage: Why Self-Published Authors Earn More Money


In the rapidly evolving world of publishing, authors now have more opportunities than ever to share their work with the world. Traditional publishing houses have long been seen as gatekeepers, controlling access to the literary market. However, with the advent of self-publishing platforms like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), authors now have the chance to take control of their careers and potentially earn more money. This article will explore the reasons why authors who publish using Amazon KDP often enjoy higher earnings compared to those who choose established publishers.

  1. Greater Royalties

One of the primary reasons why authors utilizing Amazon KDP have the potential to earn more money is the royalty structure. Traditional publishing contracts typically offer authors royalty rates ranging from 8% to 15% of the book’s cover price. Conversely, Amazon KDP allows authors to earn up to 70% in royalties for eBooks priced within a specific range. This substantial difference in royalty rates significantly impacts an author’s earnings, particularly in the digital age where eBook sales are flourishing.

  1. Direct Control and Flexibility

Self-published authors using Amazon KDP have complete control over their work, including pricing, cover design, and marketing strategies. This control enables authors to experiment with pricing strategies, run promotional campaigns, and make changes to their books at any time. Traditional publishing often involves relinquishing these decisions to publishing houses, limiting an author’s ability to adapt to market demands swiftly. The freedom and flexibility offered by KDP allows authors to be more responsive to readers’ preferences and optimize their earning potential.

  1. Global Reach and Market Accessibility

Amazon, being a global online marketplace, provides unparalleled reach to authors publishing through KDP. It has a massive customer base that extends across multiple countries, making it easier for authors to tap into international markets. Traditional publishers often focus on specific regions or territories, limiting an author’s potential readership and earning opportunities. With Amazon KDP, authors can target a global audience and potentially gain exposure to millions of readers worldwide, thereby increasing their earning potential.

  1. High Digital Demand and Accessibility

In recent years, the demand for eBooks has surged, fueled by the rise in e-readers, tablets, and smartphones. Amazon dominates the eBook market with its Kindle devices and app, providing a seamless reading experience to millions of users. As a result, self-published authors on KDP can capitalize on this growing digital demand. Additionally, eBooks have advantages like lower production costs and the ability to reach readers instantly, enhancing an author’s potential earnings.

  1. Enhanced Marketing and Discoverability

Amazon KDP offers various tools and promotional opportunities to help authors market their books effectively. These include Kindle Countdown Deals, Kindle Free Promotions, and the ability to participate in Kindle Unlimited, a subscription service for readers. These features can significantly boost an author’s visibility and attract new readers, leading to higher sales and earnings. In contrast, established publishers may not dedicate the same level of marketing support to every author in their catalog.


While traditional publishing still holds its value and allure, the rise of Amazon KDP has revolutionized the publishing landscape. Through KDP, authors have gained the ability to publish independently, retaining greater control over their work and potentially earning higher incomes. The platform’s favorable royalty structure, global reach, marketing tools, and the growing demand for digital books all contribute to the financial advantage enjoyed by authors who publish using Amazon KDP. As the publishing industry continues to evolve, it is becoming increasingly clear that self-publishing platforms like KDP can provide authors with lucrative opportunities and a path to success.

PG invites opinions, disagreements, alternate (polite) contentions, discussions of errors in reasoning, items that should have been discussed (within the 500 word article limit), etc., etc. PG does admit that Chat GPT went 99 words over the 500 word article request, but PG didn’t see a lot of wasted wordage.

European Publishers See Audiobooks, AI as Inevitabilities

From Publisher’s Weekly:

The Readmagine publishing conference ran from June 7-9 in Madrid, featuring an A-list of publishing pros.

. . . .

The boom in audiobook sales, which continues to transform the landscape across Europe, was a point of conversation. Enrico Turrin, deputy director of the Federation of European Publishers, told the audience that when all the data from FEP’s members is in, audiobooks are likely to account for as much as 4-5% of sales. This shift follows that in the U.S., where Michele Cobb, executive director of the Audiobook Publishers Association, noted that the U.S. has seen 11 years of double-digit growth. “Now, 53% of the U.S. population has listened to an audiobook,” Cobb said.

Cobb noted that there was a potential shift in prevailing business models, moving from a credits-based system to the all-you-can-consume model. “There is growth in both areas,” she said. Discovery too is changing as new consumers are increasingly finding books on TikTok – “you might call it AudioTok,” Cobb said. People are building online communities around listening to audiobooks, but like with print, “the biggest challenge is marketing” and many publishers are “using influencers to do their marketing.”

Kurt Thielen, CEO at audiobook publisher Zebralution, said that he was seeing the market shift in Germany, where the company is based. “We’re seeing people do an audiobook with everything, from books to magazines to personal brand content. It’s a fundamental change in the marketing approach.” Thielen said that short, 30-minute episodic serialization is becoming more prevalent.

Growth for audiobooks has been strong across most demographics, but the born-digital Gen Z – those 18-28 years old—are showing a preference for audiobooks over digital reading, said Shauna Moran, trends manager for Global Web Index, an U.K. based consultancy. “68% of European Gen Zers say they prefer audio books to e-books,” and “28% regularly listen to podcasts.” Moran noted that the content Gen Z preferred was “engaging and goal oriented” – meaning self-help and publishers of DIY content might have an opportunity with short form audio. As far as discovery goes, there was no surprise when she referenced the power of TikTok to persuade readers. “People want to be told what to [read],” she said.

Matt Locke, director of Storythings, a media consultancy from the U.K., concurred. He went on to say that future innovation in publishing would require some tangential thinking, insofar as the past patterns of consumption are evolving into a situation where people want “everything, everywhere all at once,” which has helped fuel the shift from “visual to listening.”

When it comes to innovation from inside the established publishing industry, HarperCollins’s Restivo-Alessi, was part of a panel that tried to peer into the future. The panelists made several observations. They saw the possibility of famous authors, following in the footsteps of Swiss bestseller Joel Dicker and fantasy novelist Brandon Sanderson, going the self-publishing route; and authors merging genres, such as romance and fantasy becoming “romantacy,” which was already a big trend as of Frankfurt 2022.

Unsurprisingly, AI was a main point of discussion, with the panel referencing a variety of ways the industry has already been impacted, from the launch of Reedz, an AI-powered translation company based in Sweden; Bookwire’s incorporation of ChatGPT into its platform; and the launch of Sudowrite, AI-powered writing software. Restivo-Alessi quoted HC CEO Brian Murray’s speech at the London Book Fair earlier this year, noting that “AI is both an opportunity and a risk.” It offers publishers a chance to streamline some editorial and marketing tasks, such as the production of metadata and production of social media posts, but also threatens the integrity of “human-centric storytelling.”

Link to the rest at Publisher’s Weekly

As PG has said before, he sees AI voices replacing humans very quickly, but takes no pleasure in the disruption of the lives and businesses of human voice actors.

That said, AI for ebooks will provide a great many benefits to publishers and self-publishers. AI will do the job much faster, enabling indie authors to publish ebooks, hard copy and audiobooks at the same time or stage the entry of each of those versions of the book if that appears to be a better way of maximizing revenue and profits.

PG expects to see creators of AI voices wanting to monetize their investments in building and perfecting text to speech, but he predicts that there will be a whole lot of competitors in text to speech showing up in a hurry and, at least some systems designers, perhaps academics, who will make an text to speech AI widely available at no charge or much lower charges than commercial versions of that service.

One interesting issue PG predicts will surface relatively quickly with AI narrators vs. human narrators will be a squeezing out of humans in this process for both cost and time-to-market benefits.

Amazon Publishing Statistics

From WordsRated:

Amazon was initially founded as a bookselling platform in 1995. Since then, the company has gone through massive changes, becoming the world’s biggest retail company in which bookselling represents just a fraction of profit.

However, even in the book sales sector, the company dominates the book publishing industry with an upwards trend, threatening to overtake the market in the future completely. On the other hand, the company did a lot of positive things for the book industry, such as the emergence of self-publishing accessible to anyone. In this report, we’ll cover all the aspects of Amazon’s book publishing business.

Amazon book sales

Even though Amazon’s book sales make up only 10% of the company’s profit, they are still the biggest seller of books in the United States and worldwide.

Amazon generates around $28 billion worldwide from book sales every year. The company is responsible for over 50% of sales from the Big Five publishers and controls between 50% and 80% of the book distribution in the United States.

  • Amazon sells at least 300 million print books every year.
  • The company reportedly controls at least 40% of the print book sales in the States.
  • Some estimates show that by 2025 Amazon could take over more than 70% of the US print book market.
  • In the UK, Amazon controls at least 50% of the market, selling over 106 million copies each year.

When it comes to ebooks, Amazon is dominating the market by a wide margin.

  • Amazon sells over 487 million ebooks through Kindle every year.
  • The company’s market share in ebook sales stands at least 67%, climbing to 83% when Kindle Unlimited is included.
  • Amazon is estimated to control over 87.9% of yearly ebook sales in the UK.
  • Even though the company sold more ebooks than print books in 2011, nowadays, Amazon sells 3x more print books than ebooks.

Self-publishing on Amazon 

Amazon has been the driving force behind the massive emergence of self-published books in the United States:

  • Amazon releases over 1.4 million self-published books through its Kindle Direct Publishing every year.
  • This doesn’t even take into account self-published ebooks with no registered ISBN number, so the extent of Amazon’s self-publishing figures is much higher.
  • Kindle Direct Publishing is regarded as the largest ebook publisher of self-published ebooks, even without official numbers available.
  • Amazon pays over $520 million in royalties each year to over 1 million authors who decided to self-published through KDP.
  • Only 1% of audiobooks on Audible are self-published
  • Self-published books account for 31% of Amazon’s ebook sales
  • Self-publishing authors have the option to publish their work in 40 languages.

Amazon’s Royalties Paid to KDP Authors

Link to the rest at WordsRated

Boost Your Book Launch by Perfecting Distribution and Metadata

From Jane Friedman:

The major self-publishing platforms have made the publishing process easy—perhaps too easy. We’ve been conditioned by our use of consumer technology to expect instant results. Errors are not difficult to fix. A change of heart or opinion? Re-upload the file or edit your book’s listing!

But in practice, some things in publishing can’t be changed, and other changes don’t happen anywhere near as fast as you might think. The truth about publishing is that you basically get one shot with many essential aspects of the process. Do-overs can be expensive if not impossible, or they may not be successful.

During the past ten years, AuthorImprints has helped more than 200 self-publishing authors publish their books. We’ve experienced virtually every conceivable pre-release production challenge, discovered pitfalls to avoid, and found several opportunities you can use to streamline the publishing process. Here are the most important lessons self-publishing authors can integrate into their first or next book-release plan.

Determine your distribution strategy first

The first question I ask a self-publishing author is if they have special print requirements as these may preclude the use of print on demand (POD). Those requirements can include the need or preference for special paper, color printing, or non-standard dimensions.

Beyond the cost of printing, the big hurdle for books that are not POD is selling the book on Amazon and listing it in the Ingram catalog. For this you’ll need to find a distributor or fulfillment company that can do this for you.

On the other hand, the two big POD providers—Amazon KDP and IngramSpark—offer printing with distribution as a single offering. Compared to printing books in bulk and having to find a distributor, the process is simple to set up, assuming your book meets POD requirements.

This is what makes POD so popular with self-publishers. It’s a terrific solution, but it also carries those expectations of instant results and the assumption that updates are easy. They can be, but make sure you avoid these three gotchas when using IngramSpark. They can bring chaos to an otherwise well-planned book launch:

1. Do not enable distribution until the files are final. IngramSpark clearly states that they may begin printing books “as soon as the title is enabled for distribution.” If you’ve uploaded a draft or advance reader copy, and distribution is enabled, that’s the version your buyer may receive. It has happened to novices and experienced authors alike.

2. While your book is available for pre-order, don’t make changes to the files close to the release date. This relates to the preceding lesson. If your book has been enabled for distribution, IngramSpark states it will be removed from distribution while the changes are processing. I’ve found that books sometimes remain for sale. You never know.

For example, a client’s hardcover was available for pre-order two weeks before the release date when he asked us to update the dust jacket. It was indeed removed from distribution, and as of this writing, three weeks after release date, it still isn’t available for purchase from Other stores have it, including, but not

3. Do allow for listing delays. We’ve found that books distributed by IngramSpark will appear on Barnes & Noble relatively quickly, in about a week or so. But we’ve seen it take weeks for a book to appear on Amazon in full—cover, price, and order button. It can also take weeks for the formats to be connected or joined on a single page. Other times, these processes may take only days.

Does that mean Amazon KDP is a better choice? No, they aren’t even an option if you want to offer pre-order. KDP also does not allow you to control wholesale settings, which you need to control so bookstores can order your book.

I suggest you upload final files at least six weeks before release date and don’t make changes to the files.

Get the price right from the start

Leaving margins aside, your paperback’s retail price can generally be competitive with traditionally published trade paperbacks. It’s almost impossible, however, to be competitive with hardcover pricing. Printing in bulk helps, but larger publishers also have distribution efficiencies that enable them to price hardcovers more attractively than self-publishers can.

The biggest difference between self- and traditionally published book pricing can be seen with ebooks. One reason for traditional publishers’ high ebook prices is to protect the pricing of their print editions, which in turn benefits bookstores. But traditional publishers also enjoy distribution advantages unavailable to self-publishers via KDP or from a self-service ebook aggregator. Traditionally published books often aren’t subject to the download fees charged by KDP, and the royalties are different. These terms can be negotiated by traditional publishers.

For more on pricing self-published books, read Kim Catanzarite’s post about the wisdom of giveaways and low pricing here on Jane’s blog. Her experience is my own, and I give most of our new author-clients the same advice: price aggressively low from the outset. If you start high and later reduce the price, you may never recapture momentum. You want to maximize reading, not margins. Having lots of readers translates to getting customer reviews. And books with lots of reviews have pricing leverage.

Link to the rest at Jane Friedman

Self-published authors earn more than traditionally published counterparts, according to ALLi report

From The Bookseller:

New research by the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) claims authors who self-publish currently earn more than traditionally published authors.

ALLi circulated the survey to its members and subscribers, as well as “through other key self-publishing and author organisations” in February 2023. It was answered by more than 2,000 respondents – 60% of whom were in North America, with 21% from the UK and 8% respectively for Australia/New Zealand, and Europe. It found the the median revenue for independent authors in 2022 stands at $12,749 (£10,229).

This compares to the findings of a report into authors’ earnings commissioned by The Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society (ALCS) and published in December 2022, which showed that median earnings from writing alone for authors with third-party publishers stands at approximately $8,600 (£7,000).

The ALCS’ report showed “a sustained fall in professional writers’ real terms income from writing over the past 15 years of around 60%, pushing median earnings down to minimum wage levels,” a trend which ALLi suggests self-published authors are “bucking” in light of its survey’s findings, which suggest average incomes of self-published authors are rising, with a 53% increase in 2022 over the previous year.

By contrast, its report goes on, “previous author income surveys, which have focused on revenues received by authors with third-party publishers, have repeatedly reported falling incomes.”

. . . .

ALLi has commissioned the UK Copyright & Creative Economy Centre, CREATe – which conducted the ALCS’ survey – to expand analysis of the findings, particularly in relation to “key demographic groups and factors that contribute to higher incomes.” ALLi will publish the full report including demographic data in June 2023, together with a collection of insights from several peer self-publishing organisations, as the Big Indie Author Data Drop. This compilation and final 2023 report will be presented at the Self-Publishing Live conference in London in June 2023 and will repeat as an annual event, which the organisation says will fill “a notable gap in author income research”.

Orna Ross, ALLi director, said of the findings: “ALLi has always believed that authors are financially better off self-publishing. Now that the results of this survey confirm that belief, we want to make sure all authors know that they can make a living as an author, if they do the work and acquire good publishing skills, alongside good writing skills. And that they are not alone. There is full support for talented and dedicated authors at ALLi and throughout the self-publishing community.”

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

PG notes that Orna Ross, the founder of The Alliance of Independent Authors, has been doing good things for indie authors for a long time (ALLI was founded in 2012).

Those who recall 2012 (including PG, just barely), will remember that this year included a notable antitrust suit filed by the U.S. Justice Department against Apple, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster for trying to fix prices for ebooks, and strangle Amazon’s ebook business in the crib.

Basically the five big publishers agreed to refuse to sell ebooks to Amazon unless Amazon sold their ebooks at the publisher’s list price. The agreement was made at the instigation of a top Apple exec and provided that Apple would sell the majority of e-books between $9.99 and $14.99, with new releases being $12.99 to $14.99.

Apple also adopted the agency model which it used in its App Store for distribution of e-books. This let Publishers control the price of the e-books with Apple receiving a 30% commission. The joint agreement provided that the Publishers would establish ebook prices on Amazon so ebook prices on both platforms would be identical.

On the day Apple launched its ebook store, a Wall Street Journal reporter asked Jobs why people would pay $14.99 for a book in the iBookstore when they could purchase it for $9.99 from Amazon. In response Jobs stated that “The price will be the same… Publishers are actually withholding their books from Amazon because they are not happy.”

As PG has opined on more than one previous occasion, doing this reflected the rank business and legal stupidity of the major publishers. What Jobs and the publishers agreed to do was a classic example of illegal price-fixing that was (and still is) clearly prohibited by US antitrust laws.

Jobs was a highly magnetic and innovative individual who built Apple from nothing into a major world-wide computer brand, a wonderful American business success story.

However, Jobs was dying of cancer at the time, kept this information secret and (PG suspects) decided to propose this agreement without any input from Apple’s lawyers at all. A law student who had taken a single antitrust class would have recognized this was prohibited conduct.

After being sued, the publishers quickly caved, took their financial licks from the Justice Department and some state attorneys general who joined in the suit, and went back to business as usual. Apple lost at the trial level, lost at the United States Court of Appeals. The US Supreme Court declined to take the case.

Amazon kept pushing ebooks, including more generous royalty terms than authors could get from traditional publishing, and never looked back. PG has suggested on numerous occasions that traditional publishers missed a wonderful opportunity to earn a lot of money from ebooks because they didn’t want to harm their printed book sales or relationship with traditional bookstores.

It was a classic example of one bad decision after another.

Orna Ross and ALLI have provided a lot of help for indie authors ever since the Apple antitrust case was still roaring along, so she’s seen the thick and thin of indie authors. You may want to check out the membership benefits the organization offers.

4 Pillars of Book Marketing, or How to Sell More Books in Less Time

From Jane Friedman:

When I first started marketing my wife’s books, I thought we needed to be everywhere and do all the things in order to be successful:

  • Facebook ads
  • Amazon ads
  • BookBub ads
  • YouTube ads
  • Promo sites
  • Facebook groups
  • All other social media platforms
  • Newspapers and magazines

The list goes on—and on. The truth of the matter though, is that you don’t need to do even half of what’s on that list.

The do all the things approach likely does more harm than good, especially in the beginning. Sure, further down the line, you can start adding to the list, but even then, don’t feel you need to.

My wife’s books currently earn a healthy six-figure income. And we use two traffic sources:

  • Facebook ads
  • Amazon ads

Now three years into the journey, we are starting to explore other traffic sources so as not to rely so heavily on Facebook and Amazon. But these two platforms alone, along with a small spend on BookBub and promotional sites for launches and promotions, drive the results for us.

. . . .

Marketing for 30–60 minutes per day came about as more of a necessity than anything else; with three children under the age of three in the house, time isn’t something either my wife or I have much of! If you currently have young children or have done so in the past, you’ll know where I’m coming from. So I had to make sure every minute I spent was on the right marketing for us.

Avoiding the shiny objects discussed in Facebook groups, i.e. the latest fads, I identified what was driving results for us and doubled down on them, eliminating everything else.

This is when I (accidentally) identified what I now call the four pillars of book marketing. And, after speaking with many authors over the past couple of years, I believe these four pillars are critical for every author.

Without them, you’ll be spinning your wheels not knowing what to work on and when, or worse, spending your resources on things that don’t move the needle.

So, here’s what you’re going to learn:

  • What the four pillars of book marketing are
  • Why 30–60 minutes per day spent marketing is all you need
  • How and why to craft a strategy for your author business
  • Identifying your lever-moving activities
  • How to plan out your days, weeks, and months for maximum productivity and results

The 4 Pillars of Book Marketing

Some activities in your author business may not be exciting but are essential to keep your business going, such as accounting, taxes, replying to emails, and other admin/auxiliary tasks.

When it comes to marketing and driving book sales, there are really only four pillars that truly matter:

  1. Book product page
  2. Traffic
  3. Audience building
  4. Profit

Book product page

Something I say to authors a lot is: Your book sells your book.

No amount of marketing or advertising is going to sell a poor-quality book.

You could be the best marketer in the world, but if your book itself isn’t up to scratch, isn’t up to the standard it needs to be in today’s world of publishing, it’s not going to sell.

You may be lucky and get a few sales, maybe even a few hundred sales right off the bat. But when the reviews and ratings start coming in, the performance of your marketing is going to decline over time.

This is why, yes, you need to write a stellar book. But you also need to present your book in the best possible light. And you achieve that by creating a superb book product page.

After all, sales don’t happen in your Facebook ads, BookBub ads, Amazon ads, etc. They happen on your book product page. That’s where readers make the decision to buy or not to buy your book.

The key assets of your book product page you need to focus on are:

  • Book cover
  • Book description
  • Pricing
  • Reviews and ratings
  • Look Inside
  • A+ Content, specific to Amazon (optional)

With a compelling and engaging book product page in place, all of your marketing and advertising will perform that much better because your conversions (i.e., sales directly from your ads) will be higher.

And the more sales your ads generate, the more organic sales (sales that come as a result of your Amazon rank) you’ll enjoy.

. . . .

For my wife’s books, we are exclusive to Amazon. Authors who have books in the Top 500 of the Kindle store generate 80–90% of their sales directly as a result of their bestseller rank. These are all, essentially, free sales.

But to achieve a great bestseller rank and enjoy those organic sales, you need to tickle the Amazon algorithm enough to take notice of you, which you do by driving sales through your own marketing and advertising efforts, such as Facebook ads and Amazon ads.

. . . .

Audience building

As an author, your biggest asset is your books. Your next biggest asset is your audience.

I’m not talking about your Twitter followers or Facebook likes. I’m talking about true fans of your books, who you have direct access to through email.

The issue I have with building an audience on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook is that you’re building this audience on rented ground. If your account on one or more of these platforms is suddenly shut down, you would lose your entire audience overnight.

To avoid this situation, by all means, build an audience on these platforms, but, make sure you are de-platforming people by encouraging them to join your email list, which is best achieved through offering them something in return for their email address, such as a short story, a novella, a bonus chapter, or even a full book; this is commonly known as a reader magnet.

With an email list, you can contact your audience at any time (within reason, of course), ask them to buy your new release, leave a review of your book, and let them know about a flash sale you’re running.

When your email list becomes large enough, you can drive a LOT of sales of your new releases and your backlist, and it won’t cost you a penny in advertising. Your world really is your oyster when you have an email list.

Just respect your audience, don’t spam them, provide value (yes, even entertainment is considered value), and share a little or a lot, whatever you’re comfortable with, about yourself, your writing—even Tibbles, your cat, who accompanies you whilst you write!

Remember, you are communicating with real people, so be sure to treat them as such. And ultimately, be your true authentic self.

Link to the rest at Jane Friedman

How to Get a Book Deal in 4 Steps + Why You Shouldn’t Bother

From Kindlepreneur:

Here are the 4 steps to take to get a traditional book deal:

  1. Ensure your book is fit for market
  2. Find an agent
  3. Submit to publishing companies
  4. Choose an offer

Let me be clear: Traditional book deals are a thing of the past. If you do not actively reach 25,000+ people regularly before a deal, no reputable publishing company or literary agent will take a risk on your book.

In 2022, don’t bother trying to get a book deal without an existing, sizable audience.

If you have a relative or friend who works for an agency, you have a much better chance of your book proposal falling in the right hands.

For the rest of us: Self-publishing is a legitimate way to earn a living as a writer. Publishing your own book may not come with the prestige of earning a book deal. However, publishing prestige is an outdated concept, and readers certainly don’t care. Many self-publishers make more money than their traditionally published counterparts.

If you’re reading this article, I’m guessing you’re not a celebrity. If you don’t have a regular audience of 25,000 or more (and you don’t have close connections at a press or agency), just self-publish. My website and email list are great resources to walk you through the process step-by-step.

. . . .

What is a book deal?

A book deal is a contract between an author and a publisher. Sometimes called a traditional book deal, this is when the gatekeepers of the legacy publishing industry offer you an advance on book profits in return for several benefits.

How much do you get for a book deal? You can get an advance between $5,000 and $100,000 if you land a book deal. However, it is both difficult to get a book deal and unlikely that a first-time author will receive such a significant advance.

What are the benefits of a book deal?

  • A monetary advance before publishing the book
  • Bookstore placement
  • Professional editors, formatters, cover designers at no extra cost to you
  • The ability to say you landed a book deal

What are the disadvantages of a book deal?

  • Massive time investment for a slight chance at a traditional deal
  • Loss of control and ownership of your work and brand
  • Minimal financial upside (in the long run)

Let’s face facts: Traditional media is on its way out, including traditional book publishers. Readers don’t care if something was self-published or traditionally published (as long as it looks professional). Book contracts often require you to sign away your rights for an advance.

Self-publishing is more viable than ever — and more profitable, thanks to Amazon.

I recommend seeking a traditional book deal only if:

  • You are a celebrity of some sort.
  • You have more than 25,000 loyal followers on social media or listeners on your podcast. (Honestly, that’s a low number.)
  • You have a friend or relative who works at a publishing house.
  • You would be cripplingly ashamed to say you self-published (Self-publishing is far more respected these days, so this shouldn’t be an issue).

Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing vs. Indie Publishing

Traditional Publishing

Traditional publishing is the industry in which a publishing house publishes a book. This usually requires a literary agent as an in-between for the author and publishing house.

How hard is it to get a publishing deal? It is tough to get a traditional publishing deal. The chances of landing an agent, then a traditional publishing book deal, are about 1 in 1,000 — and even worse if you don’t have a massive online following.

Traditional publishers typically cover the cost of a professional editor, book cover artist, back cover blurb, ISBN number, printing costs, final proofreaders, and more. But they also take a sizable chunk out of your royalties.

They offer authors an advance, usually in the form of a five- or six-figure lump sum. This is not in addition to royalties. Instead, you won’t make any royalties until you would have made as much as your advance (called “earning out”). If you don’t earn out, you do not have to pay back the advance. It’s a risk the publisher takes by fronting cash before they’ve made a profit.

How much of a book price goes to the author? After a publisher has earned out their advance, about 5-15% of the book price is paid to the author in royalties. Not only will the publisher take a huge chunk, but you’ll also need to give your literary agent the standard 15% commission of what you make.

I know many writers want a book deal so they don’t have to market their own book. Unfortunately, traditional publishers provide little marketing support for their authors. They reserve most of their marketing budgets for their top bestsellers (a tiny fraction of books written).

Traditionally published authors still have to do their own marketing, including:

  • Social media
  • Blog posting
  • Video blogging
  • Book signings
  • Email newsletters
  • Promotional giveaways
  • Podcasts
  • Book reviews (including paid/sponsored)
  • Organizing a launch team
  • Establishing a solid track record by writing good books in the first place

You may have heard of the Big 5. They’re the biggest publishing houses in America, primarily housed in New York City. The Big 5 traditional publishers are:

  1. Hachette
  2. HarperCollins
  3. Macmillan
  4. Penguin Random House
  5. Simon & Schuster


Self-publishing is when an author publishes their own book. This is a legitimate publishing route that many authors of all shapes and sizes have chosen.

Self-publishing can be more lucrative than traditional publishing.

Although you will not receive an advance on your self-published book, you keep a lot more of the profits. Amazon KDP might take 35-70% of self-published ebook profits, whereas traditional publishers and literary agents would take 80-95% of the royalties and retain printing rights.

But to be a real author, you have to go through a traditional publisher… right?

No! This is an outdated, offensive way of thinking. “Self-published” is not a dirty word. But if you like, you can say “independently published” or simply “published” to your friends.

Although Amazon does take a portion of your profits, they command 70% of the market share for selling eBooks. And Amazon gives little to no advantage to eBooks that are traditionally published.

You can always seek a book deal after you’ve successfully self-published. Make sure your first book is a great book that earns rave reviews. Your second book should do even better.

Once you’ve gained tens of thousands under your banner, perhaps it’s time to look into traditional book publishing for your new book. (I expect you will have fallen in love with self-publishing by this point.)

I know many writers don’t want to deal with marketing their book, but don’t be fooled. Traditional publishers hardly lift a finger to sell your book unless you’re an author superstar. When you traditionally publish, you still need to market your own book at signings and on social media.

. . . .

Indie Publishing

There’s a third option: indie publishing, sometimes called hybrid publishing or independent publishing. Different people mean different things when using these terms, but typically an indie publisher or hybrid publisher tries to combine the benefits of self-publishing and traditional marketing.

The main advantage of an indie publisher is that you usually don’t need an agent, but you can still tell your friends you landed a book deal.

They may offer small advances but still take a large chunk of the royalties. They may provide minimal design and formatting services but could ask for the copyright (a big no-no; never hand over the copyright for your book). They will still offer little to no marketing while expecting the author to market their own book.

Feel free to look into indie publishers with a critical eye. However, many of you reading this will benefit from simply self-publishing, utilizing professional freelancers along the way.

Pro tip: Avoid vanity presses. A vanity press is a type of publishing company that charges you upfront for publishing, usually resulting in a net loss for the author. Vanity presses prey on writers desperate to get their book published. Never pay upfront to distribute your book.

To be clear, self-publishers should pay for a professional editor and a book cover designer, at least, on top of other self-publishing costs. But never pay a publishing company. While we’re on the topic, never pay a literary agent to represent you. (Same as in real estate, acting, etc.)

Link to the rest at Kindlepreneur

Laurie McLean’s Crystal Ball: Publishing Predictions for 2023

From Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris:

Well, to say a lot happened in publishing last year is a severe understatement.

Simon and Schuster Merger that Wasn’t

Among the legal news, the biggest merger in publishing history — Penguin Random House’s proposed acquisition of Simon and Schuster, aka the antitrust trial — got nixed by the courts. And PRH ended any speculation that a merger would happen after that, basically taking it off the table.

S&S’s parent company reinforced that they are still looking for a buyer. HarperCollins and Hachette are being thrown around as potential suitors. But S&S may also end up with a private equity firm who sells off parts of the business to turn a profit (man, I hope this doesn’t happen!).

Digital Content Law

Publishers successfully challenged Maryland’s Digital Content Law that sought to force publishers to license ebooks and audiobooks on “reasonable terms” for library lending. And two longshot lawsuits against Amazon and the Big Five for price fixing were thrown out (mostly) by a judge.

Book Banning

And book banning went into overdrive, no pun intended, in 2022. I don’t understand it. If you don’t like a book, don’t read it. But don’t tell me what I can or cannot read. If you don’t like what your kid’s teacher is assigning, talk to the teacher.

But to statewide ban a book because its ideas scare you or it has a picture of a naked comic animal (yes, Maus was banned because of that), the problem might be you instead of the book. Ahem.

Good News

But there was good news as well. Sales for print books, digital books and audiobooks continued on pace with the great sales of the prior two years. With an especially long week before Christmas, sales skyrocketed to end the year on an up note. In the final sales week of the year, NPD BookScan recorded print sales of approximately 16.3 million units, which was well ahead of previous years.

However hardcover sales declined more than 10% to just below 2020 figures, and print books in total were down 6.5% from the prior year, so that might affect the total revenue for publishers. (Note that these figures only go up until October 2022, so we might still end the year even or down a bit from the previous year’s sales. I’m not worried, however.)

. . . .

Now on to my Publishing Predictions for 2023:

Book sales will stay even or just a bit less than prior years. I don’t see a lot of changes happening in 2023 as compared to 2024.


Audiobooks will continue to sell well. People like them. They both read and listen to books. I see tremendous upside still in this market.

Supply chain issues will level out as new solutions are found, so that will cease to be as much of a problem for publishing as it has been since 2020. If this happens, publishing will not be so nervous about slipping publication dates and the inability to resupply if a title sells surprisingly well.

Paper Prices Advance Digital Sales

Paper prices are still rising, so publishers might finally start looking at digital books (ebooks) as a profit center rather than another format. I mean, c’mon. Why can’t we have several versions of a book in digital form: an author’s cut with extra material at a premium price, a quick-read simple version for less money, a kid’s version of the adult book. It’s all possible for very little effort or money if the parties are willing. Seems like a no brainer to me.

Self-Publishing Thrives

Self-publishing authors, take heart! Readers are finding your books. And since you own all the rights and subrights, you can experiment by changing covers, fixing copyediting mistakes, adding a sequel or prequel to your series, etc., etc. Build your fan base through meaningful conversations with your readers and they will reward you by buying everything you write.

Link to the rest at Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris

PG notes that the self-published authors he hears from continued to do just fine in 2022 and intend to have another successful year during 2023.

Amazon Book Sales Statistics

From Words Rated:

  • Approximately 10% of Amazon’s worldwide revenue comes from book sales
  • Although this sounds small, it still equates to $280 billion
  • Amazon is responsible for roughly half of all the sales of the big 5 publishers
  • Memoirs and biographies were the top-selling genres on Amazon in 2022
  • Amazon controls up to 80% of all book distribution in the US

. . . .

  • Amazon pays $250 million in royalties to self-published authors each year
  • Only 1% of audiobooks on Audible are self-published
  • More than 1,000 self-published authors made $100,000 last year from Amazon
  • Self-published books account for 31% of Amazon’s ebook sales

. . . .

  • E-books make up 21% of Amazon’s total book sales by revenue
  • However, because they are significantly cheaper than print books, e-books actually make up 36% of sales in terms of total number of books sold

. . . .

  • Amazon’s market share when it comes to e-books is 68% before even looking at the books that Amazon have published themselves or the books within Kindle Unlimited
  • With these figures factored in, it is thought that Amazon may be responsible for up to 85% of all e-book sales

. . . .

  • Amazon’s subscription services such as Prime and Kindle Unlimited earn the company more than $6 billion each year
  • Kindle Unlimited is estimated to have 3 million subscribers

. . . .

  • Best-selling is simply the books that have sold the most copies
  • Most read are the books that have been interacted with the most on Amazon devices rather than simply being the books that have sold the most copies
  • Up to 60% of the books available on Kindle Unlimited are thought to be self-published

Link to lots more info at Words Rated

Are You Making Less Money with Your Writing at the Moment? You’re Not Alone

From Women Writers, Women’s Books:

​Not long ago, I got my twice-yearly royalty check from my indie publisher. I had looked forward to being wowed by the amount since my book had become a TV movie on Lifetime.

  “Can’t wait to see how the sales increase,” said everyone in the periphery who gave my own hopes a voice.

    Neither could I. 

     I had tingly fingers as I prepared to glimpse what would surely be my best royalty check ever. And blinked hard, rubbing my eyes in disbelief.

   No way.

   I could make one single car payment with money for a coffee for the half year of sales and countless hours of promotion and related appointments. It was the teeniest royalty check I’d earned since publication.

   My little brain couldn’t handle it. 

Was it because the publisher ran out of paperbacks just before the premiere? Or perhaps that the book title was different than that of the movie? How would I explain to my cats that I wouldn’t be buying them sparkly collars I’d promised when we made it big, and we’d need to cut back on their fancy-pants treats?

     The sting of disappointment was palpable.

But I was completely on the wrong path. 

     Because while I’d busied myself with book-to-movie promo and navel-gazed over others of life’s other details, the author landscape was shifting again. 

I’d read that people were reading increasingly less, often buying their books from subscription-based models were popular among readers which offer nearly unlimited choices for books for a flat fee, cutting the author’s share of royalties to a nub. So even if book sales remained steady or increased in some cases, it’s entirely possible that the royalties decreased.

Then I listened to the Six Figure Author Show, a retired-by-six-months podcast that reconvened in October of 2022 to address the growing crisis and titled it Why Book Sales are Down, and What to Do About It.  

       The reasons, the hosts opined, were varied. From the war in Ukraine, inflation, a looming recession, and even the current strength of the US dollar can impact our royalties.

. . . .

What options do we have that add revenue streams and indirectly support our writing?

         In November of 2022, I attended the 20Books2022 Las Vegas conference. While some of us commiserated on the side about the good old days when Facebook and Amazon ads and some good ole fashioned elbow grease translated into book sales, the conference workshops were a reminder to authors that there are still plenty of ways to get scrappy and add income streams. 

Workshops on crowdfunding. On launching a successful Patreon page, a membership platform that helps creators get paid. On selling short stories. On “going wide,” distributing our books on multiple platforms rather than on just one publishing source. And mining all of our intellectual property rights and considering whether translations, large print, and audiobook versions are worth exploring.

I left the conference knowing that in order to pay bills while continuing to write new books, I would pick a few things to help. I’ve launched my own Patreon page, meeting with subscribers once a month and offering workshops and Q&A within the membership. I’ve continued freelance writing for other companies on Upwork. I made a profile on Fiverr to be an e-greeting card for those whose loved ones watch Lifetime TV and would enjoy a message from one of the movie subjects. Is it a good idea? I don’t know. But it’s worth a try. And I’ve monetized my speaking events.

Link to the rest at Women Writers, Women’s Books

PG doesn’t like to see any author who works hard fail to make money, but he had several reactions to the OP.

  1. Being paid royalties twice per year is the oldest of the many old-fashioned practices of traditional publishers. It’s impossible for an author to determine what promo activities are generating sales and what activities aren’t and the publisher quickly loses interest unless bookstores are buying a particular book like hotcakes. For many publishers, it’s a numbers game – publish enough books you think might sell and, odds are, you’ll be right with a few of your guesses. Throw a bunch of books at the bookstore wall and see what sticks.
  2. Of course, indie publishing via Amazon lets you see on a near real-time basis how many of which books you’ve sold on a daily basis. When you run an advertisement, you can see whether it is generating sales within a day or two or a week at most. You can experiment with a variety of different advertising messages to see which work the best. You can even see what works better in the UK and what works better in the US.
  3. The ability of traditional bookstores to return unsold copies of hardcopy books at any time is another antiquated practice that makes discerning what works and what doesn’t with promotions virtually impossible. To make the situation worse, your publisher is unlikely to know what the real returns situation really is or correlate it with any particular marketing activity.
  4. Does anybody in publishing really understand marketing at all? In ancient times, PG worked in marketing research and for a large advertising agency. Even by those antiquated standards, traditional publishers couldn’t market their way out of a paper bag. After all, they all majored in literature or English or whatever it’s called today, which may have refined their literary sensibilities, but did not develop the slightest talent for selling books to 21st century readers in any material way.
  5. Patreon is fine and dandy for many purposes, but income generated there isn’t the same thing as actually understanding how to sell more books and generating a much larger audience who wants to purchase your books.

The Making of A Six Figure Author: How Authors Evolve With Their Income

From Written Word Media:

The indie author community is a large, resilient and fascinating space. Authors from all over the world come together in online forums, groups, and conferences (in person and virtual), to trade valuable tips and commiserate on the challenges they face.

Still, indie publishing can feel like a bit of a black box. Not everyone has, or wants, a large online network of other authors. And, even if you have cultivated a community of fellow indies, it’s still hard to know what you don’t know.

Every year we survey authors in an attempt to aggregate and share meaningful information on how and what indies are doing. What marketing tactics are working? Are indies using professional editors? What changes as authors increase their earnings?

Back by popular demand, this year we have segmented our data by author income level, and gotten even more granular than we have in the past. Keep reading to learn what differences we see between eight different author income brackets, and join the discussion in the comments to share what you think.

One important thing to note is that income is not necessarily a marker of “success.” Different authors have different goals for their writing, and, for many, income is far down the list of what matters. We are not ranking our survey respondents by dividing the data into income stages. We simply think this is an interesting way to look at the data.

The Author Sample

This year we had over 1,300 authors complete our survey. Thank you to everyone who took the time to share. This would not be possible without your efforts.

Our Stages:

We’ve segmented our responses into eight different buckets based on author earnings level.

Stage 1: $0-$249 per month

Stage 2: $250-$499 per month

Stage 3: $500-$999 per month

Stage 4: $1,000-$2,499 per month

Stage 5: $2,500-$4,999 per month

Stage 6: $5,000-$7,499 per month

Stage 7: $7,500-$9,999 per month

Stage 8: Over $10,000 per month

The image below breaks down some of the main differences between each stage, but be sure to keep reading for more analysis and takeaways.

Note: we asked authors to rank marketing tactics both on effectiveness and if they felt they were overrated or underrated. These are different values. An effective marketing tactic is one that works well. An underrated marketing tactic is one that doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

Disclaimer: While indies are largely an honest bunch, it’s important to keep in mind that all data here is self-reported. We think these results reveal some of the realities of being an author, but this is hardly a double-blind study with a significant sample size.

Link to the rest at Written Word Media

PG notes that this is a long article and, to his way of thinking, can be a valuable source of information for indie authors, new or seasoned.

Amazon Advertising Strategies

Fewer posts than normal because PG has immersed himself in the Zon’s book advertising world.

First, some general observations:

  1. The Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) advertising reporting/monitoring system is past due for a significant upgrade. The online piece doesn’t really take advantage of the data PG is certain is generated during the book shopping and purchasing behaviors that Amazon monitors and collects, so reliable information on which to base advertising strategies is way too thin. KDP presents its authors with only the thinnest top slice of the useful information that would help indie authors and traditional publishers alike to connect with readers who would enjoy their books.
  2. The only other source of information on advertising performance is downloaded Excel spreadsheets that are next to useless unless one spends a lot of time constructing another spreadsheet that extracts and cumulates the useful bits. PG started to build one such spreadsheet a few years ago, but decided it wasn’t worth his time. Perhaps he’ll try again, but he suspects a database would work better than Excel for this job, but doesn’t want to relearn database configuration, etc., that he forgot ate least ten years ago.

End of gripes.

The last time PG looked at third party analysis tools to help with Amazon advertising, he liked Publisher Rocket, but wanted more. What he’s really looking for is a tool that does what PubRocket does, but combines that with a tool that sucks in all the info in Excel spreadsheets to provide a more complete picture of an author/publisher’s books in the context of the constantly changing world of the world’s biggest book store.

In the meantime, it has been a couple of years since PG took a look at books that claim to show an author/publisher how to locate and analyze key information that will help in the task of spending wisely and well in the world of Zon advertising.

PG was very taken with a tech company that offered a service to automate the management of ad spending on Amazon and included some good analytic data a couple of years ago, but encountered some glitches in the system that made it appear it wasn’t quite ready for prime time. He would be happy to hear about any experiences visitors might have had with anyone doing the same thing at present.

PG thinks a great many indie authors would like to find a tool/service that gives them actionable information concerning what works and what doesn’t for their books in the swirling cauldron of Amazon’s book promotion and sales world. There are lots of sources of good business rules to follow, but PG would like to see more detailed feedback than a royalty report that shows up after he’s tried one thing or another that may not be in anyone’s book of general rules.

Feel free to put experiences, observations, opinions, ideas, etc., into comments on this post. If it’s something that you feel you can’t talk about publicly, click the Contact PG link at the top of the blog to communicate privately. PG has been a lawyer for so long that he almost automatically treats anything anyone tells him in private as privileged and confidential and he’s not into sharing business or personal secrets he learns about with the wider world.

And, no, PG is convinced that no New York publisher uses anything like what he would like to see. The time between when a book deal is signed and when book returns start coming in from Joe’s Bait Shop and Book Store as well as Barnes & Noble (are they dead yet?) makes PG’s current rinky-dink Excel-based advertising analysis and ad spend tools look like Captain Picard on the bridge of the Enterprise (is he dead yet?).

End of rant. PG feels much better now. But he’s hungry.

Two Bites of the Apple on Kindle Vella

From Writer Unboxed:

If you’re considering self-publishing and wanting to maximize potential income, do yourself a favor and take a peek at Amazon’s Kindle Vella platform.

If you haven’t already heard about Kindle Vella, it’s a place where you can serialize your novel over an extended period, instead of publishing one whole story all at once. Instead of chapters, you are publishing “episodes,” much like a television series.

This isn’t a new concept. Serialized novels first popped up as early as the 17th century and really took off in England during the 19th century when novels were published episodically in newspapers and magazines.

This allowed poorer overworked readers to enjoy stories that would have been too expensive for them to read as leather-bound volumes. In the modern era, Kindle Vella readers are reading on their phones, often during short breaks in their busy days, like while standing in line at the DMV or waiting in the carpool lane.

There was (and still is) a benefit to authors for writing serially. Many unknown 19th century authors were able to establish an audience and grow in popularity by first publishing in serialized format, including but not limited to Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, and Robert Louis Stevenson. Many modern-day authors are having similar success, building their fan bases through Kindle Vella. Why couldn’t this be you?

In a nutshell. The first three episodes of every Kindle Vella story are free to readers. After which, readers must redeem tokens to unlock future episodes. The number of tokens it takes to unlock an episode corresponds to the length of the episode. For example it takes 6 tokens to unlock an episode that is in the 600-699 word length. It takes 12 tokens to unlock and episode that is 1200-1299 words in length.

Readers can buy tokens in bundles of 200 ($1.99), 525 ($4.99), 1100 ($9.99), or 1700 ($14.99).

As they read, readers can give feedback such as marking your story as a “favorite” or giving an episode a “thumbs up.” This feedback will affect your bonus. More on that later.

How to get started. It is ridiculously easy to set up an author account. If you do not already have an Amazon account, start there. Once you have an Amazon account, access Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Once you sign in to KDP, access the “Kindle Vella Library.”

After that, KDP will take you through the step-by-step process of entering your name/pen name, the title of your story, the genre, and the key words.

As for the cover image, you don’t have to pay for an expensive book cover. Traditional book covers aren’t even allowed. Instead, choose a simple image with no words on it that conveys the tone, theme, and genre of your story. You can find many images for free online. For example, explore Canva. The dimensions of a Kindle Vella cover image should be 1600 x 1600 px.

. . . .

Writing the Perfect Episode. Kindle Vella allows episodes to be anywhere from 600-5000 words; however, there does seem to be a “sweet spot” with readers. Because they’re often reading on their phones to kill time in between events in their busy days, the 12-20 token (or 1200-2000 word) episode seems to do the best.

Obviously, it is imperative that you make every episodes hugely compelling and end each episode on a devastating cliffhanger that leaves the reader desperate to know what happens next. If readers aren’t hooked, they won’t waste their tokens on your paid episodes. They’ll move on to explore other stories, and yours will wither on the vine. For this reason, you may need to end your episodes in the middle of what you might consider a “normal” chapter ending.

Again, think of the classic Batman episode. It always ended with Batman tied up and the swinging blade getting closer and closer to his neck.

Publishing an Episode. Publish one episode at a time (it’s as easy as a click of your mouse) and do so at consistent intervals so readers know when to expect the next installment. This is another similarity to Victorian-era serialized stories in newspapers that came out at regular intervals.

You can also write ahead and schedule several episodes (or even your whole story) so a single episode is released according to your pre-determined schedule. In fact, writing ahead and scheduling episodes is something I would strongly recommend so you don’t fall behind. I actually don’t publish Episode 1 until I have 5-6 episodes ready to go.

Royalties and Bonuses. You don’t earn any royalty on your first three episodes, which are free to readers. After that, your royalty depends on how many tokens are required to unlock your episode. Obviously, the more tokens the higher the royalty, but also remember that the more tokens required, the less likely it is that a reader will open the episode (see “sweet spot” above).

The royalty calculation is (number of tokens to unlock episode) x (token-bundle price/# tokens in bundle – taxes and fees) x (50% revenue share). For example, if it takes 12 tokens to unlock your episode, and those tokens were purchased in a 200-token bundle…

12 tokens x ($1.99/200 token bundle – $0 taxes) x 50% = Royalty

Or…12 x .00995 x 50%=6-cent Royalty

Not super exciting, BUT where the real excitement comes in are the monthly bonuses. It is a little unclear how bonuses are determined—it has something to do with reader engagement and the consistency of your episodes—but they can be surprisingly high.

Link to the rest at Writer Unboxed

I Don’t Care! I Really, Really Don’t…

From Dean Wesley Smith:

I constantly get letters from people talking about traditional publishing in one fashion or another, assuming, I suppose, that I still care about the buggy-whip factories of publishing. And sometimes, like a few days ago, I post about something going on in traditional publishing that just makes me laugh.I do posts like that to entertain myself because I had to live in that traditional publishing world for decades. I can make snorting noises at it now if I want.

I do have interest when copyright issues are being hammered out in court by a traditional publisher, or a trademark issues. But past that legal interest, or a watching-the-car-wreck enjoyment, I flat don’t care one bit about traditional publishing.

I do care that so many beginning writers spend their dreams that way, but as the old saying goes, you can lead a writer to knowledge but you can’t get them to think.

So I honestly wish the big five would collapse even faster to save writers from themselves. But past that, I just don’t care.. This is almost 2023 and it is not my issue some writers and a lot of other pundits in publishing want to stay anchored in 1990.

The big industry of publishing has so gone past the old methods of traditional publishers, it is amazing. And so many writers in traditional come to me about not making any money anymore, or not being able to “sell” a book to a publisher, when there are thousands and thousands of writers making fantastic money indie publishing their own work and having total control of it.

Link to the rest at Dean Wesley Smith

The Fastest Way to Print High Quality Books

From LuluxPress:

Link to the rest at LuluxPress

PG wasn’t familiar with this site and hadn’t looked at Lulu for a very long time.

PG has no reason to question the honesty of either Lulu or LuluxPress, but, as always, read the terms of use, terms & conditions, etc., etc. before, not after, you use either service. Ditto for KDP, which reminds PG that he needs to review KDP for any changes, additions or deletions.

30-year-old retiree earned $97,000 in passive income from Amazon last year: Here’s how she got started

From CNBC:

In 2017, by age 24, Rachel Richards had already worked as a financial advisor and then as a financial analyst at a manufacturing firm. After picking up her license, she began working as a Realtor. No matter what kind of work she was doing, one thing remained constant: People in her life were constantly looking to her for help with their finances.

“I began to wonder, ‘Why aren’t they learning on their own? Why aren’t they reading books, or listening to podcasts or looking on websites?’” says Richards, now 30.

Then it dawned on her: Most of the financial books she’d come across were boring and esoteric, bordering on intimidating. And few were targeted toward young women. “So I thought to myself, ‘How can I make this topic sassy and fun and simple?’”

Richards began writing her first book, “Money Honey” in January 2017 and self-published on Amazon that September. By just about any measure, it was a massive success. In its first month, the book brought in $600. The next month it brought in $1,000. “After that, it was pulling in $1,500 a month pretty consistently,” she says.

. . . .

The robust income she earned from publishing didn’t hurt. All told, through the end of July 2022, Richards has sold about 25,000 copies each of “Money Honey” and her second self-published book, “Passive Income, Aggressive Retirement,” a 2019 release which details her strategies for early retirement.

In 2021, royalties from the two titles netted Richards more than $97,000 in profit. Here’s how she did it.

She self-published online

Richards, like many aspiring authors, dreamed of seeing her name in print through the window of her local bookstore. She also hoped that with a traditional book deal, the publisher would handle the labor-intensive task of promoting the book. That turned out not to be the case.

“The more I asked authors about their experience, the more I learned that publishers expect you to do 99% of the marketing and promotion,” Richards says. “If you’re an author with no platform, they’re not going to send you out on a national book tour.”

Once she learned she’d have to flog the book herself no matter what, Richards was far less inclined to give a publisher a big chunk of her royalties. “When you get a book deal, you earn a 10% to 15% royalty. When you publish on Amazon, you earn a 35% to 70% royalty.” (Royalty structures vary between different formats, such as e-books and paperbacks, and factor in costs such as shipping and tax.)

She also says that self-publishing guarantees creative control, even if it comes at a cost. Thinking her book wouldn’t sell and hoping to limit her losses, Richards spent just $561 to hire an editor and a cover designer for “Money Honey.” She says a more “realistic” minimum budget is at least $2,000 and ideally would include an interior formatter as well. She spent $3,500 putting together her second book.

Link to the rest at CNBC

Is Hybrid Publishing Ethical?

PG Note: He published this post prior to the one just following it chronologically. The UK study was talking about what are known in the US as vanity presses.

Vanity presses are shady operators who say they will “publish” an author’s book if he/she/they pay the vanity press a fixed upfront fee, which may sometimes be increased by additional “services” that cost more money.

In return, the typical vanity publisher will print up a few hundred books, list them for sale online, wholesale and retail, send out a canned press release, and provide the author with a number of copies of the book.

Typically, the vanity publisher only orders a short run of books because they know very few copies will sell. When the book doesn’t sell, the vanity press typically contacts the author to ask if the author wants to have the unsold books destroyed or shipped to the author.

It’s not unusual for people connected with traditional publishing to conflate vanity publishing and self-publishing, but, if the self-publishing author wants to make money, she/he/they need to spend some time learning how to do it reasonably well. All the information necessary to understand and execute the process is available online.

Although PG thinks some serious competitors to Amazon would help indie authors as well as encouraging Amazon to up its game a bit, at the moment, Amazon is, effectively, the place the indie author must be successful and the company provides financial incentives for an author to sell exclusively through them.

From Jane Friedman:

The publishing industry has been arguing for a long time about traditional vs. hybrid vs. self-publishing and which of these avenues are legitimate, and which are not, but a recent UK study that decries hybrid publishing as unethical has ruffled a lot of feathers.

Here’s the basic problem, in my view: these arguments ultimately conflate “ethical publishing” with positive ROI on a per-book basis. I’d like to take a closer look at that foundational premise, its inherent cracks, and offer a different paradigm.

Regardless of who pays for it, this is the cost to produce a book

My operating assumption is that you want to create a quality book—a book that will be on par with the quality of every other book on the shelf next to it. Regardless of who is fronting the investment (the publisher, in the case of a traditional publishing, or an author, in the case of hybrid or self-publishing), it can easily cost upward of $20,000 to create the thing.

Yes, there is variance based on the book’s contents (if you need a fact-check or an index or photo permissions clearance, for example), word count, or printing specifications. There is also a great deal of variance in terms of the pricing you can find these services for—but generally speaking, you’re going to get what you pay for. Good designers and editors have fairly standard rates, so I’m using those here to illustrate what I call the actual cost of producing a high-quality book. If you cross-check these numbers with a traditional publisher, you’ll find they expect to outlay about the same amount when such responsibilities are handled by freelancers.

Three-pass editing (Developmental, Copyediting, Proofreading): $7,500
Cover and custom interior design: $3,000

Finding great editors and designers is an important task—one that many self-publishers have no interest, ability, or time to do. Partnering with a reputable hybrid publisher or a publishing services firm who continually vet their creative partners removes the onus of team curation from the author.

Project management and back cover copywriting: $5,000

Self-publishers can and often do take on their own project management. It takes around 120 hours of professional project management to produce a book, more for the inexperienced. A lot of authors decide this is not how they would like to spend their time and hire out project management accordingly.

Offset print run (let’s assume a relatively small run of 3,500 copies, for example): $8,750

Total creative investment: ~$24,250

These costs do not include marketing and publicity. A full-scale publicity campaign, for example, starts around $10,000. The vast majority of traditionally published authors receive limited marketing and publicity support from their publisher, so regardless of publishing route, the bulk of a book’s marketing and promotion responsibility falls squarely on the author.

The earning potential from a single book

Publishers, as well as many individuals deciding on a hybrid publisher or on self-publishing, are concerned with turning a profit on the project. So, let’s look at how many copies a book needs to sell to earn out the creative investment alone on a paperback with a list price of $18.95.

  • From $18.95, we subtract the wholesale discount. If the book is being sold into bookstores, 40-55% is standard.
  • Then we subtract the distributor’s cut (18-20%).
  • The hybrid publisher and author split the net revenue (let’s call that $9.23 in this case) along the lines of their specific deal, and these vary widely. Sometimes hybrids take 15%, others take 50% of net revenues. We’ll use 30% for this example, making author earnings ~$6.46/book.

What this means is that, if all your books are sold through the brick-and-mortar channel, you would need to sell around 3,700 copies to break even on your up-front creative and printing investment. (Direct, non-retail-distribution-dependent sales channels earn more per copy.)

This sketch should shed some light on why traditional publishers are increasingly looking to acquire books that will sell more than 5,000 copies. It also suggests why publishers stress the importance of author platform: the author’s direct relationship with readers reduces the need to pile on marketing spend to reach sales goals.

Traditional publishers face ever-increasing printing costs and relatively stagnant retail prices (the market simply will not bear a $30 paperback novel, or even a $20 one). So they have little choice but to recover their margin with bulk rates for larger print runs. In other words, the sales projection threshold for a traditional publishing deal continues to move up, yoking publication to commercialization.

Is producing a book worth doing if it in and of itself is not a profitable project?

There is not a single right answer to this. For some people it is, and for some people it isn’t. A book does not always need to be an ROI-positive event to be worthwhile. Many thought leaders and entrepreneurs write book-production costs off as a marketing expense, since they recognize the legitimizing value of a byline to their authority. A book can function as a lead-gen tool to drive conversion to contract sales; a book can act as a compelling business card that helps net new clients or speaking engagements; a book can drive an individual’s community engagement and retention. Many authors prefer to work in a hybrid or fully assisted self-publishing model because those avenues offer them more control over their work and rights, greater speed to market, and increased potential for return on their intellectual property.

I echo Jane Friedman in saying that “Most writers, regardless of how they publish, are motivated not by money, but some other reason. Prestige, Infamy. Status. Visibility. A million other things.”

This insight applies not only to nonfiction writers, but to novelists, children’s book authors, and memoirists as well, for many of whom producing a high-quality book is a lifelong dream. The value writers get from publishing their book often has little to do with the royalties it generates. As Jane describes in great detail in the aforementioned article, “The writer who makes a living from book sales alone is the exception and not the rule in traditional publishing . . . what most frustrates me, year after year, is why we believe or assume that authors have ever earned a reasonable full-time living from publisher advances or book sales.”

Link to the rest at Jane Friedman

PG was very interested in the costs estimates in the OP. He assumes that these are the costs that major traditional publishers accrue when they publish a book.

He also suspects that many of these costs are associated with getting printed books into physical bookstores – persuading the bookstore buyers to purchase a bunch of printed books (with the ability to return unsold books to the publisher for full credit) by touting all the money spent on publicity, taking book review editors to expensive Manhattan restaurants, etc., etc.

PG thinks that serious self-publishing authors are happy to get status, visibility, etc., but their primary objective is to make money from their writing via book sales through online bookstores, Amazon being the big dog.

Because indie authors sell their books online, they focus most of their efforts at gaining visibility for their books online via social media, websites, email lists, etc.

For PG, the last quote from Jane Friedman in the OP is the killer:

What most frustrates me, year after year, is why we believe or assume that authors have ever earned a reasonable full-time living from publisher advances or book sales.

So, are we to assume that everybody else in the traditional book business — publishers, employees of publishers, editors, agents, publicists, book distributors and wholesalers, traditional bookstores, Amazon — has a reasonable expectation of being able to earn “a reasonable full-time living,” while authors must have side jobs, wealthy spouses, inherited wealth, etc., in order to survive?

The author belongs at the bottom of the publishing heap?

The author is a peon and agents, editors, publisher gofers, book stores, etc., are the aristos?

Tor lands ‘masterwork’ by TikTok sensation

From The Bookseller:

Tor has landed a “masterwork” by The Atlas Six author and TikTok sensation Olivie Blake.

Publishing director Bella Pagan bought UK and Commonwealth rights with audio for Alone With You in the Ether from Chris Scheina at Macmillan US’s Tor division. It will be released in e-book by Tor UK and Tor US on 1st June and Tor UK will then publish in hardback and audio on 8th December.

The publisher said: “Alone With You in the Ether is a glimpse into the nature of love, what it means to be unwell, and how to face the fractures of yourself and still love as if you’re not broken. As Charlotte Regan works at a museum, and Aldo Damiani is a time travel-obsessed maths professor, it will appeal to just the same ‘dark academia’ audience who adored Olivie’s The Atlas Six.

Alone With You in the Ether has already been a self-published TikTok hit, with more than 13.5 million mentions of the hashtag #AloneWithYouintheEther. Atlas Six sequel The Atlas Paradox will be published this October and the last book in the trilogy will follow in 2023.

Blake is a pseudonym for LA-based writer Alexene Farol Follmuth. She said: “I wrote Alone With You in the Ether so that I, and others like me, could make sense of life from inside the constraints of a mood disorder, explore the vulnerability of art and time and wonder, and ultimately face our own fractures to find something worthy of love. I am honoured that this story has resonated with so many readers, and I’m unbelievably grateful that this book will now find a home with my incredible team at Pan Macmillan.”

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

This item raised the question in PG’s mind about whether he should try to be a TikTok sensation himself.

The OP does mention that the book was self-published.

A question arose in PG’s mind when he checked out the top-rated review of the book. For him, the photo used by the top-rated reviewer looked quite a lot like the photos of the author of the book, but PG could be wrong.

How to Upload Your Book to KDP, Easily and Correctly [Text Instruction + Screenshots]

From The Book Designer:

I recently published my 21st book to the KDP platform, having been self-publishing for the last 7 years. And as I was going through the self-publishing steps again, it occurred to me how the platform has evolved over the past decade. This text-based, step-by-step tutorial is your most current and up-to-date process to upload your book to KDP.

. . . .

Uploading Your Book to Amazon KDP: a Step-by-Step Process

Uploading your book to KDP is relatively easy. You don’t have to have a lot of tech know-how, and if you run into any issues, KDP support is excellent at walking you through the process, either by email or over the phone.

In order to upload and prepare your book for publishing on KDP, there are several key elements you need at the ready. 

  • Your completed formatted book (eBook and Paperback). The best formats are ePub file for Kindle eBook and a PDF for the paperback/Hardcover
  • Keywords for KDP as researched with Publisher Rocket
  • Categories list as research with Publisher Rocket (eBook and paperback categories)
  • ISBNs—purchased through

You can hire a professional formatter if you want, or you can format the book yourself. Here’s a guide that walks you through the formatting process for KDP.

If you plan to publish more than one eBook—or simply want to do the formatting yourself—you may want to invest in a user-friendly book formatting software such as It’s a relatively low investment for $147.00, and it’s simple to use.

. . . .

Step #5: Write a Compelling Book Description

A compelling book description sells lots of books and builds your fanbase. This is why you need a powerful book description in order for potential buyers to read what the book is about.

Here’s why your book description matters:

  1. It is a sales page crafted to capture the interest of your reader.
  2. Amazon’s algorithm bots scans the book description for relevant keywords indexed by Amazon.
  3. It is the critical decision-maker for browsers to make a final decision on buying your book

Here is a great resource for learning how to create a compelling description: the Free Amazon Book Description generator by Dave Chesson at Kindlepreneur.

Link to the rest at The Book Designer

For PG, this was a nice summary of the steps to indie publishing. He usually doesn’t include live links in the excerpts he posts on TPV, but he found the ones included in the OP were high-quality and helpful locations.

Universal Book Link User Guide


The internet is a great place to discover new books to read, but it can sometimes require a little work between hearing about a book you want to buy and actually reading that book. There are a lot of bookstores out there, so even when someone shares a link directly to the book you’re looking for, that link might not take you to the bookstore for your preferred reading app. (Or your local version of the page.)

That can leave you navigating to the proper store site and searching for the book you were already linked to. Sometimes the person sharing the link will try to help you out, sharing half a dozen links at once (one for each store she can track down).

That leaves you wading through a pile of links to find the one that’s right for you. Either way it’s a relatively small hassle, but it’s also an easily solvable one.

Here is where Universal Book Links Shine

When you see a Universal Book Link from Books2Read, you can trust it to get you to the store you want. That’s because a Universal Book Link can keep track of a book’s location at all of the major stores. The first time you click a Universal Book Link, you’ll see a page that looks like this:

Link to the rest at

This service appears to be from the folks at Draft2Digital, who, among other things, make it quite easy for indie authors to create ebooks and print books for publishing anywhere because D2D’s formatting system creates non-proprietary files so you can easily publish wide instead of with Amazon.

PG’s impression, looking from the outside in, is that D2D has chosen to use some of their money to improve the publishing process for indie authors. Again, from the outside looking in, Amazon’s process for publishing ebooks seems pretty crude by comparison and has made only baby-step improvements since PG first used it.

How Writers Fail (Part One)

From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:

I keep forgetting that working in the arts requires a very specific sort of attitude. It’s an attitude that can be trained, but to do that, an artist must want to change. This is a complex and sometimes difficult thing to do.

First, the attitude itself.

It’s a combination of optimism and pragmatism, with a bit of cynicism mixed in. Yeah, I know, confusing. So let me give you the example that sparked this small series of blog posts.

Moving to Las Vegas four years ago now enabled me to get in touch with dozens of artists in very different fields. I haven’t had that experience on a daily basis since I left Wisconsin mumble-mumble years ago. When I lived in small-town Oregon, going to conferences and conventions provided some of the contact, and the openness of the internet both helps and hurts, but nothing replaces an in-person experience, particularly with other art besides writing.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been taking a series of classes. Some of them are in disciplines that I wasn’t able to practice due to that West Coast move, although I kept my hand in through online study. Some I simply needed to do in person for me, to get the feedback that comes from an audience and/or from an onsite instructor.

. . . .

But, about a week ago as I write this, I sat in the first class of a discipline that has changed a lot in the past forty years, due to the internet and the connectivity of the world. I’m being deliberately vague about the discipline for a variety of reasons, not the least is that I don’t want a bunch of people (on Facebook or here on the blog) asking me why I’m abandoning writing.

I’m not. I’m just reviving some other parts of myself.

. . . .

What type of class we’re dealing with isn’t exactly relevant to the story. I was sitting next to another person who desperately wants a career in the arts. That person had confessed as much to me.

We sat through the same presentation. We learned a whole bunch of really cool stuff. By the end of it, my internal optimist saw so many opportunities that had I not already chosen a writing career, I’d have been jumping on all of those opportunities. As it is, I’m looking at how to use what I learned just in the first class in my own writing career. (You’ll see posts about this scattered throughout what I’m doing the next few months, as I learn more.)

I was so excited. I’m still excited. The entire class made me realize I had felt this way when the indie publishing movement started—the whole popcorn kittens feeling. That feeling is essentially so many cool ideas that it’s almost impossible to corral all of them.

. . . .

So many opportunities! So much choice! How can I best use all of this to the advantage of my various businesses? How can I add more without losing something that I want to do?

After the class was over, I turned to the person beside me.

“Wow, this is incredible,” I said. “I hadn’t realized there were so many possibilities.”

The person made a sour face. “I don’t believe any of it,” the person said. “They’re going to have to prove to me that these opportunities exist.”

Prove? Heck, it was obvious to anyone who looked. It was obvious through just by going through daily life. And the class itself was obvious: It was being offered by people who worked in that discipline. If there weren’t opportunities, there would be no class.

Instead, if the opportunities did not exist, those who had the expertise would jealously guard that expertise so no one else could even attempt to participate. That’s how doors close, particularly in the arts. You have to break them down or sneak in sideways or be even better than anyone already practicing that art.

That was how traditional publishing was back when I first broke in. It took work, perseverance, and a willingness to ignore the word no over and over and over again.

. . . .

So, I said, in response to this person, “Prove it? What do you mean? It’s obvious.” (And sometimes I’m oblivious.)

The person said, “[this particular discipline] has never been open, not when I first tried it years ago. I doubt it’s open now.”

We’d just sat through a long presentation about all of the opportunities, and the instructor even talked about the way this discipline was once the most difficult to break into in the country and is no longer.

I opened my mouth, closed it, and finally got a clue. This person did not want to hear that they had just walked into a place with a lot of opportunity.

I said something polite (God knows what) and turned away to talk to another person who wanted to reinvent themselves because they’d lost their job in the pandemic. That person was very excited, as was an artist in another discipline who joined the conversation. That artist was trying to figure out—as I was—how to blend what we had just learned with what we were already doing.

We didn’t see dollar signs: we saw opportunity.

The first person? Opportunity had just given them an hours-long presentation, and that person turned their back on it. I wouldn’t be surprised if that person does not show up to any future classes.

Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Here’s a link to Kris Rusch’s books. If you like the thoughts Kris shares, you can show your appreciation by checking out her books.

5 Ways to Use Fiverr to Publish Your Book

From Self Publishing with Dale:

When I first decided that I wanted to write a novel I have to admit I was a bit naïve going into the process. I was fumbling my way through and asking questions to authors that I knew on a regular basis.

. . . .

As soon as I hit my word target I realized there was a lot more work to go just to get it to a point where I could consider publishing it. This is when I took to Fiverr and other freelance sites to find experts that can assist me with the post-writing work of creating a book.

The results were a mixed bag, but on the whole I highly recommend at a minimum getting ideas from sellers on Fiverr if you are writing a book.

. . . .

1. Finding an editor

I created a job on multiple sites (mainly focused though on Fiverr and Upwork) to try and find an editor that could take my rough draft and help me get it closer and closer to a finished product. I received a lot of responses from both sites and I quickly realized I needed to be asking more questions to help weed out all of the people responding to my gig.

I asked questions like: How many YA books have you edited? How many books have focused on fan fiction or Norse myths? I would recommend that you think about these things prior to listing your jobs so you can more efficiently get through what will be quite a large volume of people submitting bids or applying to your job.

I ended up paying $350 for the first round of edits on a 53,000-word novel (as an aside, the novel finished around 61,000 words). I got incredibly lucky or did a decent job of vetting the editors because the person I found was amazing, efficient, and literally made all the difference in the world to my book.

Most of the online services would have cost triple the amount of money and would not have turned the book around in three working days. This was an incredible value and I am extremely happy with the choice I made to list this job.

2. Creating a Book Cover

My next gig that I listed was to have a graphic designer help me create a proper book cover for my eBook. I decided to focus on just an eBook release so I only needed a front cover. The volume of responses that I got from this job was a bit overwhelming and there was a very wide range of prices.

I tried a couple of sellers for this and provided them with the information they requested to take a crack at the book cover. The results of this job varied wildly from really terrible designs to ones that were okay but unusable. I ended up creating my own book cover using Canva and some ideas that I picked up from the various Fiverr designs that came my way.

I ended up spending around $150 for these services in total and ultimately didn’t use the results other than to influence the final book cover design. In the grand scheme of things this is a small price to pay to get some creative ideas and I do think that you can get usable book covers this way although I think I would encourage paying on the higher end of the bids as this was definitely an area where I got what I paid for with each design.

3. Copy for my Amazon listing

As soon as I got through a few rounds of edits (each round cost me the same as I used the same seller). I was ready to publish my book. In order to do that you have to do things like prepare the copy for the Amazon listing which is almost an art in itself.

Ultimately, I ended up using the same seller that did the editing for my book to help write (really edit) the copy that would go up in all of the online bookstores (Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, etc.).

This was a modest cost of $50 and it made a huge difference in what I released. They expertly guided me through how to entice people to read the book by making it less of a short summary and more of a comparison piece to other similar books and shows that the reader might also like. I would not have thought of doing that without their assistance, but it makes complete sense.

Link to the rest at Self Publishing with Dale

PG would be interested in any experiences visitors have had, good or not-so-good, hiring help with writing/publishing from Fiverr, Upwork or other similar online service marketplaces.

The Author’s Guide to Fiverr

From Indies Unlimited:

If you’re a self-published author, there are chances that someone has suggested you get a cover or some editing on Fiverr. Upon learning the site Fiverr got its name because you could pay people five bucks for an assignment, you quickly dismiss whoever gave you that advice. You’re certain you can’t get anything good for that price. Well, don’t dismiss Fiverr so quickly. Just like a book shouldn’t be judged by its cover, Fiverr is more nuanced than its name suggests.

What is Fiverr?

Fiverr is a marketplace where you can either buy or sell service. The name comes from the fact that services start at $5. Now, there may be some great services that you can get for $5, but I haven’t found many. The real benefit of Fiverr is as a marketplace. You can see people selling things you want–such as covers, artwork, and editing. When you log on to purchase an item, the product or service sold is called a gig.

What Do Authors Buy on Fiverr?

Authors can buy pretty much anything, even other authors to write their books (I’m not kidding, ghostwriting gigs are there). Generally, authors want to write their own books, so, on a practical level, authors tend to purchase editing, covers, artwork (for ads or extras), copy writing/blurb writing, and logos.

If It’s not $5, How Much Is It?

The prices vary, and a lot of the deals will look like they’re five dollars, but they’re not — in practical terms — that cheap. For example, the ghostwriting gig I linked to above is $5, and for that fee, the author will deliver up to 200 words. At that rate, a 60,000-word novel would run you $1,500. Editing is similar. A good editing gig may charge $5 to edit 500 words. For an 80,000-word book, that will come out to $800. However, the good thing about all gigs is there’s the option to ask for a custom quote. When you do that, you tell the person how long your book is, what the genre is, and ask them for a quote. They may tell you they’ll charge you $700 (a $100 discount on what you would pay if you tried to order 160 of the $5 gigs). Not all gigs start at $5. The better cover designers start their gigs at a minimum of $15, but usually run at least $35. You need to look at what you get with a gig. Most gigs come with three options: bare bones, middle ground, and the luxury package. For a cover, the barebones gigs tend to only allow you one cover image. It’s hard to get a good cover with a single image; usually it requires at least a background image and another one. Authors wanting a cover that follows traditional cover guidelines will want to pay more for a gig that allows at least a couple of images.

Link to the rest at Indies Unlimited

How Are You Going to Spend the Money?

From Brandon Sanderson’s Blog:

How Are You Going to Spend the Money?

I got this question from the journalist from the Associated Press who interviewed me.  He gave an excellent interview, and we had a really great conversation.  But this question stopped me for a moment.  It’s a valid question, but it took me by surprise, as I haven’t been looking at this the way that some people seem to be.  I didn’t hit the lottery, any more than any other business hits the lottery when they have a product that connects with their market.

I will spend the money as I spend the rest of my money.  Part into savings, part into paying salaries (along with nice extra bonuses because the Kickstarter did well), part reinvested into the company.  (We’re still planning on building a physical bookstore, and this will help accelerate those plans.  Also, it’s not outside of reason that as I move into doing more film and TV, I will want to partially fund some of the projects.)

While this Kickstarter is an incredible event, and (don’t get me wrong) is going to earn me a good chunk of money, it’s going to be comparable to other projects I’ve done.  Also, don’t underestimate how much money it costs to maintain the infrastructure (like a warehouse–or in this case, probably more than one) it takes to be able to ship several hundred thousand books.  It will likely be years before we can be certain how much this actually earned us after all expenses.  More than we’d get from New York on the same books, but potentially not that much more.

That said, I will almost certainly buy myself some nice Magic cards.  Still have a few unlimited duals in my cube that could use an upgrade to black border.

Did You Anticipate This Level of Success for the Kickstarter?

I did not.  I knew the potential was there, but I didn’t think it (getting to this astronomical number of backers) would happen.

My guess was that we’d land somewhere in the 2–4 million range, though I really had no idea.  My team can attest to the fact that in the lead-up, I was very conservative in my estimates and expectations.  This was an experiment from us that I’d been wanting to try for a while.  (I’ll talk more about that below.)  I didn’t have any idea how well it would go.

To pull back the curtain for you a little, Rhythm of War’s first week sales were somewhere around 350,000 across all formats.  (That week was 50% audio, 25% ebook, 25% print.)  Starsight’s numbers were around 80,000 copies across all formats for the first week.  (This one was 54% audio, 29% ebook, and 17% print.)  Those are US numbers only.  Note, these are both what I’d consider very successful projects.  Both of these books sold enough to claim the #1 spot on their respective New York Times bestseller list, for example.  And though Stormlight sold 4 times as much–it also took 4 times as much work.  (In the long run, because of its larger price point, Stromlight does earn more though.  Which is why it amuses me that people sometimes accuse me of writing the YA books to “cash in.”  Um, no, my friends.  I earn less on those.  Not significantly less, but still.  I write them because they are stories I want to tell.)

The first year for Rhythm of War was about 800,000 copies total.  Starsight ended up somewhere around 250,000 copies after one year.  (Rough estimates.)  It’s too early to tell for Cytonic on this second metric, which is why I used the previous book.

Now let’s look at a less successful Sanderson book.  Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds is my worst-selling recent book.  First week was under 10,000 copies–and it’s only sold about 80k copies so far in the three years it’s been out, with the first year being roughly in the 50k range.  These numbers weren’t surprising to me–it was not only a short fiction collection (which is a tough sell to a lot of readers), it was also in a genre I’m not known for and the first two novellas had been out in ebook for years, with quite good sales.  So while this isn’t the best comparison ever, another good thing to look at was the Way of Kings leatherbound, which had roughly 30,000 backers.

Together, this knowledge gives a rough idea of my readership.  It’s hard to judge apples to apples with this Kickstarter, as I am giving the ebook with the other editions–and it’s hard to know how many of those readers above are buying two copies instead.  But I could guess that the upper end of the number of people willing to show up to buy a Sanderson book in the first year of release is somewhere around 800k, while the lower end of people who will show up for one is around 50k.  That’s why I say I knew the potential was there.  If the 30,000 people from the original Kickstarter showed up and bought the lowest tier, we’d be right around a million for the Kickstarter.  We knew it would likely be bigger, but how much bigger?

Modern media consumption is, for better or worse, very platform-specific.  People don’t like to be moved from one platform to another–and I get it.  The convenience of having your media collection all in one place, of already having your credit card info stored, of not having to do much besides click a button (or grab something at the bookstore where you’re already visiting) is huge.  The question wasn’t if people would want to read these books.  It was this: Would they be willing to move from their comfortable platform to Kickstarter?  Would we be able to even make them aware of these books?

How many of those potential 250k–800k people who normally buy a Sanderson book in the first year could be convinced instead to move and preorder it through Kickstarter?  Our guesses, it turned out, were way low.  But at the same time, it is interesting that (not disregarding our huge success, which I’m not at all complaining about) even this huge Kickstarter breaking all records is only grabbing a fraction of my normal audience.  So maybe you can see why we knew we had potential, but were conservative in our estimates.  We didn’t know what to expect, but assuming that we’d do a fraction of what a Stormlight book did in the same space (even if it was a reprint) was at least a reasonable baseline.

Note that if you want to consider a really daunting fact, realize that if all 800k first-year Stormlight readers showed up (these are the ones willing to buy the hardcover or the more expensive ebook, since the prices don’t drop to mass-market levels until after the first year) to buy these books on Kickstarter…  Well, our current average spend per backer is over $200.  So we’d be talking about a Kickstarter of $150 million plus, in that pie-in-the-sky case.

No, we’re not going to try to do that by releasing a mainline Stormlight novel in first run on Kickstarter.  The reason why has to do with the next questions.

Is This the End of Traditional Publishing For You?  Is That Why You Kickstarted These Books?

I know some of you know the answer to this, having read the sound bites I’ve put into various news media interviews I’ve done recently.  But if you’ll humor me, I want to go into more depth.  To do that, first let me tell you a story.  (Totally unexpected, I know.)

In 2010, Macmillan (the parent company of Tor Books) got into some finicky contract negotiations with Amazon.  The publishers felt that Amazon was selling ebooks at rock-bottom prices to move Kindles–something they wanted to do to dominate the market and control the reading platform.  During negotiations, Amazon–to put pressure on Macmillan and try to starve them out–stopped selling any Macmillan books.  (Except for used copies through the extended marketplace.)

This was within Amazon’s power; as a retailer, they can decide what they want to sell and what they don’t.  They used a common, if cutthroat, strategy here.  They had a flood of money during that time they actively didn’t want to turn a profit at the end of the year.  They knew that if they sold ebooks at a loss, Nook and Kobo would have to do likewise–and they weren’t flush with cash they literally needed to burn.

I don’t like that mindset, using our pieces of art as the thing sold rock-bottom.  But it’s not like the publishers have been angels in their treatment of Amazon.  The two have had a rocky relationship for basically forever.  Plus, the publishers have historically been backward-thinking about electronic mediums (see my next point).

The point here is that this event twelve years ago taught me something.  Amazon turning off the ability to buy books didn’t really hurt me in the long run. (Amazon, notably, picked the month of the year with the lowest book sales to do this.) But it did really hurt the careers of some newer authors who were releasing that month.  And it told me just how fragile my career was.  And it’s only gotten more fragile in the years since.

Judging how much market share Amazon has is famously difficult, as people keep sales figures close to their chest.  But many estimates put Amazon at around 80% of the ebook market, 90% of the audiobook market (they own Audible), and 65% of the print book market.  (You’ll sometimes see much lower guesses for ebooks, but I can tell you that at least for me, 80% is low.  It’s probably closer to 85%.)

So how many of those 800k copies of Rhythm of War did Amazon sell?  Probably around 650,000 copies–maybe more.  Somewhere around 80%, by my more conservative of estimations.  And in my most popular format, audio, they completely dominate the market.

This is deeply unsettling.

Now, it’s hard to blame Amazon for this, at least not entirely.  I absolutely blame them for their terrible treatment of workers.  And yes, they’ve engaged in some predatory practices, as I talked about above.  But I honestly think that the bigger factor is that they’re just really good at selling things.  Kindle has the best user experience, and was the innovation that finally broke open the ebook market.  Audible championed the credit model and finally brought audiobooks to a reasonable price point.  (Old people like me will remember the days of $70–$80 Wheel of Time audiobooks.)   Amazon’s delivery speed is incredible.  Their stock, near-infinite.

Beyond that, I have friends at Amazon.  I like the people at Amazon.  I’ve worked with them on many things, and the people there have universally been excellent.  Book lovers, passionate about their jobs, and really easy to get along with.

Still, their market share should terrify authors.  Innovation is strangled by market dominance.  And the problem with loss leading (like Amazon did over the years) is that eventually you have to start making profit.  And then the squeeze comes.  Indie authors are feeling this right now.  Amazon created the indie book market, quite literally.  Before it, indie publishing was an enormously expensive and risky affair.  One of my neighbors when I was growing up was a journalist who decided to try to indie-publish a book, and he ended up with the proverbial garage full of tens of thousands of copies he was unable to sell.

The ebook revolution, spearheaded by Amazon paying a whopping 70% royalty to indie authors who published on their platform, was huge.  (For reference, traditional publishing currently pays 17.5% on those same ebooks.)  This, mixed with authors having far more power to choose what they want to do with said books–including walking away whenever they want–created an extremely author-friendly boom that has legitimately done great things.  Smaller voices have a much better chance, the New York gatekeepers have lost some of their control, and there’s a feeling of democratization to publishing that has never existed before.

At least there used to be.

You see, since Amazon controls a huge chunk of the market, this gives them a lot of control.  For example, to get the good royalty, indie authors are forced to sell their ebooks under a maximum price chosen by Amazon.  (And that maximum price hasn’t changed in the last twelve years, despite inflation.)  The bigger problem, however, is how Amazon changed its advertising game–targeting indie authors with a kind of “advertise to sell” model.

You see, Amazon wasn’t making as much as it needed/wanted to from those books–in part because it insisted on keeping the prices low to maintain market share.  In part because it had promised kindle buyers this was their perk: cheap ebooks.  But it didn’t want to change its famous 70% royalty.  Otherwise it would look bad to indie authors.

So instead, it changed its recommendation algorithm and its page layout.  It moved organically recommended books down, and added advertisement slots across most book pages (particularly popular ones).  These slots were available for indie authors to buy.

If you go to the Way of Kings page on Amazon, you will find twelve advertisements between the top of the page and the reviews section.  Nine of these are for indie authors trying to sell their books to fans of the Stormlight Archive.  The other three are ads for non-book Amazon products.  This is better than it once was when Amazon first implemented this “feature” five or six years ago.  I once counted even more advertisements, and you had to go all the way to the bottom to find the traditional “books related to this one” list.  (This is the organically generated recommended books list, where other titles rated highly by readers of the book’s author could be found.)

These days, according to some of my indie author friends, you have to spend a great deal to sell on Amazon.  Not everyone’s experience is the same, but I hear this time and time again.  To make it as an indie author, you need to shell out for expensive advertising on the very website selling your books.  I have indie author friends who are spending a good portion of their income on these advertisements–and if they don’t, their sales vanish.  Amazon has effectively created a tax where indie authors pay back a chunk of that glorious 70% royalty to Amazon.  (And this is for the authors lucky enough to be allowed to buy those advertising spots, and therefore have the chance at selling.)

This might seem good.  Publishers spend to get their books in front of people, so it’s good for indie authors to have the same chance.  Except I think this system–as it stands now–takes power away from writers.  In the old days before this system, the primary way that you sold books on Amazon was by having people read them and like them.  If fans of the Stormlight Archive read your book (even in small numbers) and left good reviews, then your book showed up for free on my page.  Amazon might claim that it would be hard for indie authors to compete with traditional authors this way.  But if they really cared, then on the Stormlight page they could make a section titled something like “Independent authors liked by fans of the Stormlight Archive” and help them that way.

The truth is that while the people at Amazon are wonderful, Amazon itself doesn’t care about the indie authors as much as it claims.  If it did, it would let them raise their prices with inflation, and would promote them for free like it once did.  And we shouldn’t expect Amazon to be benevolent.  It is a corporation.  Indeed, this is exactly what we should expect Amazon to do in a system where it has a near-monopoly.  It lacks competition, and so where are these authors going to go?  There’s no other game in town.  So, now it’s time for Amazon to cut into what they’re being paid.  (With Audible, the move was more transparent.  Audible just dropped the royalty they’d been paying indie authors from 60% to 40%.)

This is a long-winded way of saying what many of you probably already knew.  Monopolies (or if you insist on being technical, near-monopolies and monopsonies like Amazon) are bad for everyone.  I insist this is bad for Amazon.  They could collapse this very market they created, and squeeze too much on both the publishers and the authors.  They could stagnate to the point that their user experience is bad, and we lose readers to other forms of media.

Regardless, this has been bothering me for over a decade.  I feel that the current system has a gun to my head.  Heck, all that has to happen is for someone at Amazon read this blog post or see my Kickstarter and decide they just want to make an example out of me.  Poof.  85% of my sales gone.  And while some people might go to another vendor to get my books, the painful truth is that many would not.  Time and time again, studies of contemporary tech media consumption have shown that the person who controls the platform is the one who controls the market.  And users like their platforms.  I mean, I’m as guilty of this as anyone.  I still haven’t gotten around to playing Starcraft 2, despite loving the first one, because I just am so used to Steam (where Starcraft 2 isn’t available) that I haven’t overcome the inertia to go buy it.

That said, even if Amazon weren’t a dominant force, there are some problems with traditional publishing that I’ve been fighting for years.  This is another reason for the Kickstarter.

Link to the rest at Brandon Sanderson and thanks to C. and others for the tip.

The OP includes substantially more of his thoughts and plans for the future together with past experiences, including some ways he’s tried to persuade his New York publishers to change.

PG was pleased with his perception that Sanderson doesn’t show signs of having this experience go to his head. PG didn’t agree with all of his thoughts, but admits Brandon has devoted some serious time to thinking about how he and other authors can be more successful.

L’auteur de Fantasy Brandon Sanderson pulvérise un record de crowdfunding

From ActuaLitté:

Brandon Sanderson s’est fait un peu plus qu’un nom dans le monde de la fantasy : son cycle des Archives de Roshar, ou encore la saga Fils-des-brumes traduits par Mélanie Fazi, se sont vendus à plus de 280.000 exemplaires dans leur seule version poche (données : Edistat). On lui confia même la suite de La Roue du Temps, laissé inachevé à la mort de Robert Jordan — trois romans pour clore l’œuvre et un prequel. Mais l’écrivain n’a pas fini d’étonner.

Link to the rest at ActuaLitté

From IGN Greece:

Ο συγγραφέα φαντασίας, Brandon Sanderson, ανακοίνωσε την νέα του καμπάνια στο Kickstarter για τέσσερα μυστικά βιβλία, η οποία κατάφερε να γίνει η καμπάνια με τα περισσότερα έσοδα στην πλατφόρμα.

Πριν τρεις μέρες, ο Sanderson, γνωστός συγγραφέας των “The Stormlight Archive”, “Mistoborn” και την ολοκλήρωση του “The Wheel of Time”, ανακοίνωσε στους fans του ότι κατά την διάρκεια της πανδημίας -αφού αναγκάστηκε να κόψει τα διάφορα ταξίδια σε conventions- εμπνεύστηκε και έγραψε πέντε νέα βιβλία φαντασίας, μέσα σε τρία χρόνια! Δεν αποκάλυψε τους τίτλους τους, παρά πόνο μια ιδέα των εξώφυλλων τους και ανακοίνωσε ότι τα τέσσερα απ’ αυτά θα διατεθούν μέσω της εκδοτικής του, Dragonsteel, μέσω καμπάνιας στο Kickstarter.

Link to the rest at IGN Greece

From Fantasy Magazine:

Sapevamo già quanto fosse popolare a livello mondiale Brandon Sanderson, autore noto sia per le sue saghe fantasy che per aver completato La Ruota del Tempo di Robert Jordan. Ma non si può negare che la cifra raccolta nel suo Kickstarter per la pubblicazioni di quattro romanzi ha dell’incredibile per un progetto letterario.

Ve ne parla Irene Grazzini (nel frattempo la cifra ha superato i venti milioni di dollari).

Link to the rest at Fantasy Magazine

From AD:

De schrijver trapte zijn Kickstarter-project af met een cryptische video op YouTube, waarin hij toegaf te hebben gelogen tegen zijn fans. ,,Sommigen van jullie zullen teleurgesteld in me zijn, terwijl anderen vast genieten van wat ik nu moet toegeven.”

Wat bleek: nadat Sanderson enkele jaren geleden zei minder hard te gaan werken, is hij stiekem juist meer boeken gaan schrijven. In de afgelopen twee jaar zou hij daarom vier geheime romans hebben geproduceerd, die hij in 2023 met behulp van een crowdfundcampagne op Kickstarter gaat publiceren.

Sanderson werd bekend met zijn fantasy-boeken in de Mistborn-reeks, waarin helden metalen inslikken om speciale krachten te krijgen. Ook bracht hij de Stormlight Archive-boeken uit en maakte hij de Wheel of Time-reeks af voor zijn overleden collega Robert Jordan. Hij staat bekend als een razendsnelle schrijver: in de afgelopen twintig jaar bracht hij tientallen boeken uit, meestal dikke pillen met honderden pagina’s.

Link to the rest at AD

Fantasy Author Raises $15.4 Million in 24 Hours to Self-Publish

PG managed to get round the NYT paywall today. The OP was published two days ago.

From The New York Times:

Brandon Sanderson, a prolific sci-fi and fantasy author, started an online fund-raising campaign this week to self-publish four of the novels he wrote during the pandemic. His goal: to raise $1 million in 30 days.

He blew past the first million in about 35 minutes. And the ticker kept rising.

In 24 hours, he raised $15.4 million, which the fund-raising website Kickstarter said was the single most successful day of any of their campaigns. By Thursday, two days into it, he had raised more than $19 million.

The eye-popping sum raises questions about what is possible for authors with major platforms who are willing to self-publish — and why the vast majority of big names stick with traditional routes to publication. But analysts, and even Sanderson himself, don’t see this kind of self-publishing as a problem for the industry or a desirable choice for most writers. Rather, for the right author, the two paths can coexist and help expand options for readers.

“Publishers need authors to be entrepreneurs these days,” said Kristen McLean, the executive director of business development at NPD Books, which tracks book sales. “This is just going to build his profile and continue to drive the backlist sales of all of his books.”

Part of why this project has worked for Sanderson, McLean said, is his unique relationship with his fans. He has sold 20 million print, audio and e-books, Sanderson said, including titles such as “Rhythm of War,” an epic fantasy novel about a coalition of humans resisting an enemy invasion. Like many authors of science fiction and fantasy, he has spent a lot of time in conventions and interacting with his audience. In 2019, he said, he was on the road for 111 days.

But self-publishing on the scale Sanderson is proposing is an enormously complicated proposition. Fundamentally, most authors want to write books, not run a publishing house.

Books require editors, designers and lawyers. Someone has to register the ISBN number and file for copyright. Someone else has to proofread the manuscript, then proofread it again. Printing thousands of copies of physical books, then storing and distributing them, is expensive and onerous.

To that end, Sanderson has built a company, Dragonsteel Entertainment, which employs 30 people including a marketing director, concept artist, continuity editor and human resources director. He also has a warehouse in Pleasant Grove, Utah, a short drive from his house.

Sanderson has been self-publishing e-books since the early 2010s, he said, and a 2020 Kickstarter campaign to fund a leather-bound reprint of one of his books served as a test run for this larger project.

“I am an artist who was raised by an accountant and a businessman,” Sanderson said in a phone interview from his office in American Fork, Utah. “For a lot of authors, this would be a bad idea because there’s a lot of management.”

Sanderson emphasized that he was not leaving traditional publishers, in part because he wants to be sure that bookstores can continue to have his work in stock. He is published by Tor, which is part of Macmillan Publishers, and Delacorte Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House, and he has a book scheduled for publication later this year with each of them.

e also has no plans to use his company to publish other authors, he said. What makes him successful is his ability to appeal directly to his own fans, who may not necessarily want to buy work by somebody else.

One of his goals for this project, Sanderson said, was to experiment. First, he wanted to see what it might look like to poke a little hole in Amazon’s dominance. Amazon sells more than half the printed books in the United States, but it is even more powerful in e-books and audiobooks, which account for 80 percent of Sanderson’s sales, he said.

“If Amazon’s grip on the industry is weakened, that’s good for the publishers — they are very much under Amazon’s thumb right now,” Sanderson said. “I don’t want to present this as ‘Brandon versus Amazon.’ Amazon’s great. But I think that in the long run, Amazon being a monopoly is actually bad for Amazon. If they don’t have competition, they will stop innovating.”

He also wanted to play around with bundling and upselling. Traditional publishers, he said, offer few products and few options. The array of packages on Kickstarter range from $40 for four e-books to $500 for the four books in all formats, plus eight boxes of “swag.”

Other high-profile writers occasionally self-publish. Donald Trump Jr. took that route with his second book, “Liberal Privilege,” after releasing his first book, “Triggered,” with an imprint of Hachette. Colleen Hoover, a novelist who has three books on the New York Times best-seller list this week, continued to self-publish long after she became a hit maker. And there are certain genres, like romance, science fiction or fantasy, where self-publishing e-books remains common for signed authors.

“There’s a lot of hybrid publishing out there that is just happening quietly in the background,” McLean said. “It’s just the way sophisticated authors in genres manage their business.”

Link to the rest at The New York Times

The author of the OP, Elizabeth A. Harris, is an NYT reporter whose beat is books and publishing. PG is not acquainted with her and, to the best of his knowledge, this is the first article written by Ms. Harris that he has read.

For 95% of traditional publishers in the United States and for quite a few commercial English-language publishers who sell their books in the US, The New York Times is an extremely valuable place to have their books be mentioned. A NYT Books and Publishing reporter is certain to have a great many excellent contacts in every major and a lot of minor publishers.

PG expects Ms. Harris may have contacted several publishers as she prepared her article. That would be the almost certain first step a reporter would have taken with a story like this. Yet, nobody who works for a publisher appears to have agreed to be quoted, even on an anonymous basis.

The one source identified in the article is NPD, a company that operates BookScan. BookScan’s business is providing information about the sales of printed and ebooks, mostly to traditional publishers. An interested observer might ask why a traditional publisher would need to pay someone else to track its sales, but, hey, publishing is a special snowflake and commercial concerns are for the beancounters who work somewhere in the basement and is a bit off topic anyway.

A chance for an executive of a major or minor publisher to be quoted in the New York Times would usually cause her/him to stop any business meeting or interrupt any lunch or vacation to speak with an NYT reporter. But nobody was willing to say anything, not even a catty remark, about Sanderson.

PG’s speculation is that everybody in New York (and maybe London) publishing hopes this is just a one-time happening that will never be repeated again. Everybody knows fantasy and science fiction authors are strange people anyway. Nothing to see hear, move on.

PG would appreciate it if any of the visitors to TPV discovers anyone associated with a traditional publishers commenting about Brandon Sanderson in print that they would send a link to PG via the Contact PG link at the top of the blog.

How Angry Should Other Writers Be About Brandon Sanderson’s $22 Million Kickstarter?

From Slate:

There’s nothing like the announcement of a fat book advance to set other writers grumbling in protest, whether the jackpot winners are Michelle and Barack Obama, who landed a staggering $65 million deal for two books in 2017 or such unsavory figures as right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, whose relatively modest $250,000 contract with Simon & Schuster caused enough uproar that the book was eventually canceled earlier the same year.

But the announcement today that fantasy novelist Brandon Sanderson’s Kickstarter campaign to fund the publication of a four-book series had surpassed $20.8 million to become the platform’s most richly funded project to date presents an unusual challenge for critics of how publishing values books. Conservatives could complain that an overwhelmingly liberal industry had drastically overestimated the popularity of the Obamas and progressives could complain that a company like Simon and Schuster showed terrible judgment in promoting and lining the pockets of a troll like Yiannopoulous. But in Sanderson’s case, there’s no gatekeeper to blame.

Literary writers have long bemoaned the amount of money and promotional resources publishers have poured into books by celebrities, politicians, and the authors of formulaic commercial fiction. More recently, critics of the industry have demanded that publishers invest in more titles by authors of diverse identities. Since Sanderson’s Kickstarter made headlines, there’s been, unsurprisingly, some grousing on social media about whether such an already commercially successful author needs that kind of money. “Today is a really good day to support your favorite author who hasn’t made $18M in the last few days,” tweeted the fantasy novelist Natania Barron. Others have been frustrated that it’s a straight white Mormon man benefitting from this largesse: “There is so much excellent diverse SFF out there,” tweeted the critic Alex Brown, “and y’all are intent on giving that man millions of dollars.”

But it’s hard to take issue with a guy who’s simply selling his books directly to people who really, really want to read them. Sanderson wouldn’t have such a large following, of course, without the benefit of years of publishing conventionally, with the full resources of a traditional publishing house and its distribution networks behind him. (He also wouldn’t have that following if he weren’t reliably pleasing his readers.) And that $23.3 million won’t go as far as an old-fashioned advance, since Sanderson has to print, warehouse, and ship the books himself, along with the swag boxes and special collector’s editions that many of the project’s subscribers have purchased. It is, of course, a vast pile of money, but it’s not unprecedented: Dell paid Ken Follett about the same amount for two books all the way back in 1990 while Penguin paid a reputed $50 million advance for Follet’s Century trilogy in 2008. For that, Follett didn’t have to do anything but write.

A novelist as popular as Sanderson may even be taking a slight loss on this operation, compared to what he might net if he released these books through his current publisher, Tor. But Sanderson is interested enough in the business side of book publishing to try this experiment, and at a time of paper shortages, container ship catastrophes, and other supply-side headaches, to boot. Most authors of any identity or level of literary accomplishment aren’t interested in taking on such a project. And it’s not every author whose fans are willing to pay more for swag and for books printed on fancier paper with plusher bindings. This enterprise and its success is unique to Sanderson himself, and the track record he has with his fans.

There may be a handful of authors—Neil Gaiman and George R.R. Martin spring to mind—who could pull off something similar. There are authors who sell even more books, such as James Patterson or Diana Gabaldon, but whose fan base doesn’t care much about collectibles. And it’s entirely possible there are still other writers out there unfamiliar to me with fanbases so doggedly devoted that they might well be eyeing Sanderson’s $22 million haul and thinking, “I can beat that.” But I suspect not more than a handful.

It’s one thing to challenge publishers to provide readers with a wider variety of books by a more diverse selection of authors so that everyone can find more books to appreciate. It’s another to scold readers for their enthusiastic support of an author whose work they genuinely love because there are authors and books you consider—for whatever reason—more worthy. People don’t enjoy books simply because other people tell them that they should. And if I were one of those allegedly superior authors, I’m not sure I’d want to see my own work cast in the eat-your-spinach role against Sanderson’s French fries. Writers always seem to find a way to begrudge each other’s successes, but the case against Sanderson and his fans is based on sheer fantasy.

Link to the rest at Slate

PG was amused by the “Sanderson may even be taking a slight loss on this operation, compared to what he might net if he released these books through his current publisher,” statement in the OP.

PG suggests the author of the OP doesn’t really know much about the book business. Sanderson is making a huge boatload of money more than he would have received had he published these novels with Tor. The $19 million is just the start of the money he’ll earn. He’s going to sell a whole bunch of books to people who haven’t already bought them through Kickstarter.

Plus, he’ll almost certainly get some interest for a TV/video/movie deal. If PG were to speculate, he suspects that Netflix, Amazon, etc., are already thinking about how much they want to pay for video rights. Then there are t-shirts, toys, etc., plus foreign rights galore.

The author of the OP is a woman named Laura Miller who, according to her byline, is, “a books and culture columnist for Slate and the author of The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia.”

PG checked on Amazon and found that Ms. Miller’s book was published by Little, Brown and Company in 2008 and currently has a Best Sellers Rank: #707,153 in Kindle Store. PG was not able to find any more recent books by Ms. Miller listed on Amazon.

Fantasy author raises $19 million on Kickstarter in two days to self-publish new novels

From CNBC:

Brandon Sanderson asked folks on Kickstarter for $1 million to self-publish four novels he wrote during the pandemic. They funded him in 35 minutes.

Two days later, Sanderson’s campaign has topped $19 million from more than 76,000 backers — and he’s still got 28 days to go. It is already the most-funded Kickstarter for a publishing project, eclipsing a previous Sanderson campaign that raised $6.7 million.

A prolific sci-fi and fantasy author, Sanderson is best known for creating the Cosmere fictional universe, in which most of his novels are set. This includes the “Mistborn” series and “The Stormlight Archive.”

Additionally, he helped finish the final three novels in Robert Jordan’s “The Wheel of Time” book series, which was recently turned into a television series by Amazon.

Sanderson’s Kickstarter offers backers four new novels, three of which are set in Cosmere, as digital e-books, audio books or physical copies based on their donation level. People who spend over a certain threshold will also receive eight monthly “swag” boxes of items related to Sanderson’s work.

As the owner of a small book company named Dragonsteel Entertainment, Sanderson used Kickstarter as a way to drum up enough funds to have enough books available to meet demand and so that he could offer a yearlong subscription box service.

Link to the rest at CNBC

PG wonders whether any visitors have heard of a fantasy author getting an advance of $19 million for a four-book deal under which he will be entitled to all the publisher’s revenue from sales of the books with no obligation to earn out the advance.

If anyone sees any interesting comments on this news from the traditional publishing industry, PG would appreciate a link or message via the Contact PG link at the top of the blog.

Draft2Digital to Acquire Smashwords

From Draft2Digital:

We’re betting that’s a headline you never expected to see, and we’re already anticipating the chatter this will cause in the indie author community!

We know this is going to feel a bit unexpected and out of the blue, but we’re very excited to make this announcement, and even more excited about what this means for you and the rest of the author community.

Since Draft2Digital was founded, in 2012, we have always believed that Smashwords was a vital and integral part of the self-publishing community. In many ways, Smashwords ultimately built the very industry in which we all work and thrive. Their work laid the foundation, and we’ve all been building on that foundation ever since.

And though Draft2Digital and Smashwords have always been cast as rivals in this little drama, the truth is it was, at worst, a friendly rivalry. In the end, we share the same goal: Empower self-published, indie authors and publishers to build and grow their publishing careers.

. . . .

So, what does this mean for our authors?
In terms of the service and resources you’ve come to expect from both companies, nothing really changes. At least, not right away. We will continue to offer the best author support there is, to all our combined authors, worldwide. And over time, authors and publishers will gain all of the advantages from both platforms, with a unified author dashboard and user experience.

The good news is that with our combined powers, all of us at Draft2Digital and Smashwords see myriad opportunities to build even more and even better tools and services, to help you build and grow your author career in ways you might never have imagined.

Among other things, the acquisition means:

  • Draft2Digital now serves 250,000+ authors
  • We now distribute 880,000+ ebooks and 11,000+ print books
  • D2D authors will also gain access to exclusive book marketing tools from Smashwords, including Smashwords Coupons, the patent pending Smashwords Presales tool, Author Interviews, and self-serve merchandising in the Smashwords Store

D2D authors and publishers can expect to gain access to:

  • The Smashwords Store
  • Smashwords Coupons
  • Smashwords Presales
  • Self-serve merchandising
  • Author Interviews
  • D2D erotica authors will also gain access to the Smashwords erotica certification system

Smashwords authors and publishers can expect to gain access to:

  • Simpler publishing tools; tools for automated end-matter
  • Books2Read Universal Book Links (UBLs), Author Pages, Book Tabs, and Reading Lists
  • D2D Print for POD paperbacks (Visit to be included in the beta)
  • D2D Payment Splitting for co-authors and collaborations
  • New payment options, including direct bank deposits
  • With the integration of the Smashwords storefront—combined with our Books2Read Universal Book Links (UBLs), Author Pages, Book Tabs, and Reading Lists, as well as D2D Promotions—the opportunities to help our authors market and promote their books, and to find more new readers worldwide, just went off the scale.

And of course, we’re still dedicated to our core services—providing the easiest and best way for authors to automatically format and distribute their work to an ever-growing catalog of retailers and libraries.

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

PG has been a fan of D2D ever since he had some interactions with the founders when the company was just getting started.

Since then, D2D has seemed, from PG’s outside-looking-in perspective, to be a quality organization that treats indy authors well. He wishes them the best of luck in the integration of two of the early pioneers in author-empowered publishing.

Things I Wish I Knew Before I Published: Part II

From Writers in the Storm:

I love being an independent author-publisher. Being in control of my business gives me a great deal of satisfaction. It also gives me a lot of responsibilities and a heck of a lot of things to know. In part one of this series, I discussed some of the big picture things I wish I knew before I published. Part II continues with big picture things.

Know Your Motivation

You are a writer. You already know how much self-discipline it takes to write a book from first idea to polished product. Applying the seat of your pants to the seat of your chair may not be a problem for you when you’re writing. That kind of motivation is a big picture motivation. But what about the other stuff that a successful author must do?

Motivation for the Traditionally Published

A traditional publishing company will create deadlines relayed to you by your editor. Revisions are due on this date, approval of copywriting is due on a different date. Motivation to complete those tasks cannot be the money or the hope of publishing fame. It takes a distinct set of self-discipline skills to finish creative tasks in a certain time frame. Your publisher may dictate other things as well. Your contract may dictate where and when you make appearances. It doesn’t matter if you don’t feel like it. It’s part of your contract. 

These situations and time-frames do not have to be negative. Many authors have very pleasant and lucrative relationships with traditional publishing. Educate yourself on what to expect. Ask authors published by that company what their experience has been like. Know what your contract obligations are. Understand yourself, your self-discipline, and your expectations. Be prepared and you won’t lack motivation.

Motivation for the Independent Author-Publisher

When you’re self-employed, no one will yell at you if you’re late to work or even skip a day. You have no boss to remind you of your deadlines. You must be self-motivated enough to glue your butt to the chair to get the work done. 

Winging it isn’t the path to success. Have a plan. Have tools ready to help you stay on track. You also will need tools to get back on track when you’re depressed or after a hurtful review or an illness. When you are self-employed, you have to be worker bee, cheerleader, and taskmaster, sometimes all at once.

What I Wish I Knew About Motivation

I do not lack motivation to write. I love the entire process, from idea creation to rough draft to editing and polishing. What I wish I knew from the beginning was that I needed a system to ensure all the other tasks get done. I also wish I’d found the motivation to learn self-promotion techniques earlier.

Link to the rest at Writers in the Storm

How Much I Made Self-Publishing 10 Books Through Amazon KDP

From Medium:

Back in 2013, I was offered a publishing contract with a small book publisher. They asked me to write ‘Freelance Writing on Health, Food and Gardens’ – a 160 page book based on my success in specialist journalism.

The contract was royalties-only, but based on their expertise and enthusiasm, I had high hopes for the title. I expressed reservations because I thought the focus was too niche, but they didn’t agree. They pointed out that health is a massive growth area, food journalism is huge etc. Fair point. So I signed the contract.

After publication, reality kicked in. Sales were abysmal; marketing, non-existent. It got good reviews, but I only made £126 in royalties. It was a huge amount of work for £126.

. . . .

When I was ready to produce another book, I decided to self-publish and get a decent cut on each sale. ‘Freelance Writing: Aim Higher, Earn More,’ was born. It was a collection of my articles, most previously published in magazines, on how to succeed as a writer. I’d been writing for magazines for four years by this time, and was making a nice living from it.

I wrote new chapters to fill gaps. Over the next few years, I sold 140 copies and made about £250.

. . . .

Every time I had a slow period at work, I looked at my articles and considered whether a collection of themed articles would sell if I turned them into books. Still hoping for great things, I decided to publish more books.

Over the next six years I published:

  • The Little Book of Freelance Writing
  • Pagan Journeys
  • Healthy Inspired Living
  • Memories of the Second World War
  • A Grand Tour of Scotland
  • Writing Success
  • Candida Albicans
  • The Guinea Pigs’ Guide to Training Humans
  • Pestilence — an apocalyptic novel

With the exception of the last three, they were all collections of articles that I’d had published in magazines. Most of them were available in ebook and paperback formats on Amazon.

. . . .

To date, I’ve made just over £900 across all my titles. The writing books generated most of that income, although the most recent one flopped — I guess my readers have had enough!

. . . .

To be honest, I’m feeling Medium has more potential as a good earner if I publish regularly. Trying to sell books is very hard, unless you find a niche that sells itself.

. . . .

To keep my costs down on self-publishing, I created my own covers, formatted my own interiors and did all the practical work myself. I have MS Word and graphics software already, so the only investment required was my time.

Some people prefer to buy design and editorial services. But with modest incomes from books, you can see how it might be hard to make a profit if you’re paying out cash to cover designers, editors, and formatting companies.

Some people prefer to buy design and editorial services. But with modest incomes from books, you can see how it might be hard to make a profit if you’re paying out cash to cover designers, editors, and formatting companies.

. . . .

I’ve been disappointed by sales to date. The rewards seem to be diminishing. My writing books, which used to do well, aren’t selling now. The newest titles are selling in small numbers, but not enough to justify writing another novel, for example!

The novel was a huge amount of work and I’d hoped to sell 1000 copies, but I’ve yet to sell 100… despite running Amazon advertising campaigns.

. . . .

If you can get a publishing deal with an advance of £1000 or more, I’d grab it. I wrote another book in 2017, commissioned by a publisher, for which I received a £1500 advance. I’d consider that again.

Self-publishing however, is a bit hit and miss. Brilliant books get overlooked. Popular topics can do really well if they get noticed, despite flaws in the manuscripts.

. . . .

Cover design helps, but I’ve seen people use KDP standard templates and sell thousands! It depends to some extent on whether you have a ready audience.

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But for me, right now, I’m focused on growing my Medium profile, and obviously, the day job, writing for magazines. My next bestseller will have to wait!

Link to the rest at Medium

The Publishing Ecosystem in the Digital Era

From The Los Angeles Review of Books:

IN 1995, I WENT to work as a writer and editor for Book World, the then-standalone book-review section of The Washington Post. I left a decade later, two years before Amazon released the Kindle ebook reader. By then, mainstream news outlets like the Post were on the ropes, battered by what sociologist John B. Thompson, in Book Wars, calls “the digital revolution” and its erosion of print subscriptions and advertising revenue. The idea that a serious newspaper had to have a separate book-review section seems quaint now. Aside from The New York Times Book Review, most of Book World’s competitors have faded into legend, like the elves departing from Middle-earth at the end of The Lord of the Rings. Their age has ended, though the age of the book has not.

Nobody arrives better equipped than Thompson to map how the publishing ecosystem has persisted and morphed in the digital environment. An emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Cambridge and emeritus fellow at Jesus College, Cambridge, Thompson conducts his latest field survey of publishing through a rigorous combination of data analysis and in-depth interviews. Book Wars comes stuffed with graphs and tables as well as detailed anecdotes. The data component can get wearisome for a reader not hip-deep in the business, but it’s invaluable to have such thorough documentation of the digital publishing multiverse.

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One big question animates Thompson’s investigation: “So what happens when the oldest of our media industries collides with the great technological revolution of our time?” That sounds like hyperbole — book publishing hasn’t exactly stood still since Gutenberg. A lot happens in 500 years, even without computers. But for an industry built on the time-tested format of print books, the internet understandably looked and felt like an existential threat as well as an opportunity.

Early on in his study, Thompson neatly evokes the fear that accompanied the advent of ebooks. The shift to digital formats had already eviscerated the music industry; no wonder publishers felt queasy. As Thompson writes, “Were books heading in the same direction as CDs and vinyl LPs — on a precipitous downward slope and likely to be eclipsed by digital downloads? Was this the beginning of the end of the physical book?” That question has been asked over and over again for decades now, and the answer remains an emphatic No. (Note to pundits: Please resist the urge to write more “Print isn’t dead!” hot takes.) But publishers didn’t know that in the early digital days.

The words “revolution” and “disruption” get thrown around so often that they’ve lost their punch, but Thompson justifies his use of them here. He recalls the “dizzying growth” of digital books beginning in 2008, “the first full year of the Kindle.” That year alone, ebook sales for US trade titles added up to $69 million; by 2012, they had ballooned to $1.5 billion, “a 22-fold increase in just four years.”

Print, as usual, refused to be superseded. Despite their early boom, ebooks didn’t cannibalize the print market. Thompson uses data from the Association of American Publishers to show that ebooks plateaued at 23 to 24 percent of total book sales in the 2012–’14 period, then slipped to about 15 percent in 2017–’18. Print books, on the other hand, continue to account for the lion’s share of sales, with a low point of about 75 percent in 2012–’14, bouncing back to 80­ to 85 percent of total sales in 2015–’16. (Thompson’s study stops before the 2020–’21 pandemic, but print sales have for the most part been strong in the COVID-19 era.)

For some high-consumption genres, like romance, the ebook format turned out to be a match made in heaven; Thompson notes that romance “outperforms every other category by a significant margin.” But readers in most genres have grown used to choosing among formats, and traditional publishers have for the most part proved able and willing to incorporate those formats into their catalogs. That’s a net gain both for consumer choice and for broader access to books.

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Thompson quotes an anonymous trade-publishing CEO: “The power of Amazon is the single biggest issue in publishing.”

It’s easy to see why. With its vast market reach and unprecedented access to customer data, Amazon has made itself indispensable to publishers, who rely on it both to drive sales (often at painfully deep discounts) and to connect with readers. For many of us, if a book’s not available on Amazon, it might as well not exist. “Given Amazon’s dominant position as a retailer of both print and ebooks and its large stock of information capital, publishers increasingly find themselves locked in a Faustian pact with their largest customer,” Thompson writes.

That pact has proven hard to break. “Today, Amazon accounts for around 45 percent of all print book sales in the US and more than 75 percent of all ebook unit sales, and for many publishers, around half — in some cases, more — of their sales are accounted for by a single customer, Amazon,” Thompson points out. That’s staggering.

Does Amazon care about books? Not in the way that publishers, authors, and readers do, but that doesn’t change the power dynamic. Amazon derives its power from market share, yes, but also from what Thompson calls “information capital” — namely the data it collects about its customers. That gives it an enormous advantage over publishers, whose traditional business approach prioritizes creative content and relationships with authors and booksellers.

Workarounds to Amazon exist, though not yet at scale. Just as authors have learned to connect with readers via email newsletters and social media, so have publishers been experimenting with direct outreach via digital channels. Email feels almost quaint, but done well it remains a simple and effective way to reach a target audience. Selling directly to readers means publishers can avoid the discounts and terms imposed on them by Amazon and other distributors.

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Authors can now sidestep literary gatekeepers, such as agents and acquiring editors, and build successful careers with the help of self-publishing platforms and outlets that didn’t exist 20 or even 10 years ago. Self-publishing has become respectable; we’ve traveled a long way from the days when book review editors wrote off self-published books as vanity press projects. Newspaper book sections have mostly vanished, but book commentary pops up all over the internet, in serious review outlets like this one and in the feeds of Instagram and TikTok influencers. It’s a #bookstagram as well as an NYTBR world now. To me, that feels like a win for books, authors, and readers.

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Some authors hit the big time in terms of sales and readers without relying on a traditional publisher. Thompson returns several times to the example of the software engineer-turned-writer Andy Weir, whose hit book The Martian (2011) got its start as serialized chapters published on his blog and delivered to readers via newsletter. (Newsletters represent another digital-publishing trend unlikely to disappear anytime soon.) “The astonishing success of The Martian — from blog to bestseller — epitomizes the paradox of the digital revolution in publishing: unprecedented new opportunities are opened up, both for individuals and for organizations, while beneath the surface the tectonic plates of the industry are shifting,” Thompson writes.

Link to the rest at The Los Angeles Review of Books