Category Archives: Release

Changes in the publishing industry

A New Yorker article. Talks about Amazon and changes that have taken place in the publishing industry in the last 20 years. Some food for thought. Creating good content is difficult, and electronic distribution costs these days are negligible. Authors should pocket a large percentage of the actual retail price of their stories IMHO. OTOH, without a good distribution system, an author can’t get to market, so I see why they’d want a percentage of the action.  But a total race to the bottom is ultimately not the best thing, either.

I’m not sure what the best answer is. Maybe a new book-only company that gives a fair deal to independent authors (like the 70/30 split Amazon gives for their KDP Select folks) but with no other caveats, and does a reasonable business in books for the publishing house authors (like carrying their books, but letting the publishers ship so there is no overhead) and no “promotional fees” just algorithm recommendations, in exchange for the authors getting 20% of whatever the publisher actually sells the (paper) book for, and 60% of electronic book sale price. Eventually I’ll learn more about Kobo and Smashwords and the rest, once I’m done with the 70% + exclusive KDP deal with Amazon. In the meantime, I’m doing OK with it.

Interesting numbers

Ry forwarded this link to me, a report on author earnings. Some interesting numbers. It’s only Amazon data, and it isn’t sliced and diced in all the absolutely perfect ways for my tastes, and it’s got some serious caveats, but it’s data, a lot more than any publisher or book-seller makes public easily anywhere else.

The take-away is that ebooks can make some significant money, and the industry is changing, but it’s not an easy path because there is a lot of competition and it isn’t an unlimited supply of buyers. But I think it means that getting a big name publisher is not nearly as necessary for success as it used to be, at least not in those particular genres that this report looks at.

Learning new things

As an author/publisher, nobody tells you anything. Well, people tell you all kinds of things, but not necessarily what you want or need to know ahead of time. You don’t have an agent or publisher or mentor to guide you through things, point things out, and (hopefully) point you in the right direction while steering you around common pitfalls. I can search all day and night, pester friends until they are not friends any more, read books, download books, click through on links, and come up blank far more often than not. But then every now and again, you find something useful, like: Continue reading Learning new things

700 Club

Wow. Just hit the second milestone number for The Stars Came Back, where I’m sure I’ve just recovered my upfront costs of editing, cover art, etc. Still hanging in the charts, bobbling around unsteadily but consistently between the low 20s and the high 30s on the Space Opera and Military Sci Fi charts at Amazon. The charts are recalculated ever hour or so, based on some sort of recent sales formula. So if I never sell another copy, at least I haven’t lost money. [UPDATE: check the whole chart if it’s not there. It wobbled into the #19 spot just now.]

It went live on the 13th of January. It’s now the 2nd of February. Three weeks to hit 700 net copies sold (and a couple dozen borrowed). Guess I must have done something right. *sigh* Time to work on reformatting for getting it in paperback, I suppose.

Another seven million copies and I can retire.

Shamelessly stolen from my other post.

So the question is: PoD (Print On Demand) or print run of X copies?  How many people want dead trees on their shelf?


A person can go crazy watching numbers too closely. It continues to plug along, staying on the charts in the middle of the mil-sci-fi and space-opera second page of the top 100, floating around between #25 and #35 mostly, while bouncing between #3000 and #8000 in overall sales rank. I know there is some lag, and some weighting on sales that show what “direction” they are trending, but it’s totally non-transparent as to why exactly it moves sometimes. I’ve seen it move up over a period when nothing sold, and down when it has sold several copies, so obviously it depends on sales relative to other books.

Not having any idea how a buyer found the book is also frustrating, but unless I get famous I doubt Amazon will readily share that info with me. Guess I gotta get famous, then :-).

Reviews continue to be good. The three 4-star reviews each gave a perfectly valid reason to dock it one star, and I really can’t argue with them. I’d count my self lucky to get another hundred reviews like them. Two thought it was a great story, but didn’t like the screenplay-like format, one thought the writing and story was solid, but not quite 5-star worthy (needed to be Heinlein or Jefferson level prose to earn a 5-star, which it isn’t). Not sure why, but several copies have been returned. Nothing to worry about, just curious why. I’ve heard that between 1/2% and 6% get returned, and after peaking at 2% it’s been inching down, though doing stats with small numbers isn’t very accurate. I won’t “trust” the return numbers until I have a statistically significant sales number, preferably over 3,000.

Guess I should go start writing a new book.

Halfway to breakeven

When I started out, I had a couple of goals, “threshold numbers” I wanted to hit. I passed the first one (100) a while ago fairly easily, as expected. The next number was 700, roughly the number where I was certain I had broken even on cash costs for editing, cover art, and this website. I’m now halfway there (not counting the 8 units borrowed by Prime members).  If sales hold steady at the current rate, I’ll hit 700 in three weeks or so, call it mid-February. Continue reading Halfway to breakeven

Painful lessons, learned slowly

The reviews are solid as I write this, 11 five-star reviews and a single four-star (didn’t like the format). Fine, I’ll take that – I already knew that some people wouldn’t like it. But if it’s a five-star story, writing, editing, and plot, and only get knocked down a single star because it’s a strange format? I’ll take a hundred more like that in a heartbeat.

So, what have I learned so far about releasing a book, as opposed to just writing it?
Continue reading Painful lessons, learned slowly

No Kindle?

A couple of people have asked me how to read it if they don’t have a Kindle. No problem. You can download a “kindle reading app” from Amazon. Pick your platform, download the app, then buy the book. If you have some other preferred reader, once you download the file, you can find it on your computer, then convert it with Calibre. Again, if you like it, spread the word, write a review, let me know.