E-Books and Indy/self publishing

‘The world is changing, Grasshopper, and we’re all scrambling to make sense of it.’

The buzz is all about authors who have a following making copies of their out of print books available through Smashwords (or some other avenue) as e-books. Anna Jacobs, a top selling romance writer, also wrote a fantasy series and a stand alone SF book as Shannah Jay. These have been out of print for a while, so she put these books up on Smashwords. She’s also released the prequel to the fantasy series.

Anna says her fantasy books sell better in Australia, than they do in the UK, and her romance sell better in the UK where she is known for them. The fantasy sales have not been very exciting, but …

‘I have 5 historical romances and one modern novel up at Amazon under my own steam, two regency romances up there (and at all sorts of other places) via Regency Reads – I only ever wrote two regency romances. The rest of my books are put up by my saga publisher.

Tracking is fiddly but numbers are worthwhile financially on the books we put up ourselves. For example, my historical romances have recently had between 2 and 5 books in the top 100 ebook historical romance sellers in the UK (out of 7 books published as ebooks) and my sagas have had similar numbers in the top 100 sagas.

These numbers go down while the UK sleeps and up again when the UK wakes up. It’s very pleasing. Yesterday I had 5 historical romances in the top 100 at about 5pm and 6 sagas in the other top 100 list. Today I had one historical romance in the list at 2.10 pm Aussie time today, and 3 sagas in the other list. The lists change every hour.

For most of these sales I get 70% of selling price if sold to someone in the UK or USA, 30% if sold to elsewhere in the world. It’s not in the league of my print book sales, but makes a nice addition to my income. For those from my publisher I get only 25 % of sales, standard royalty rate for ebooks at the moment.’

Over at the Mad Genius Club- Writers’ Division, Several of the writers have formed Naked Reader Press (Meaning naked as in e-books). Submission details for NRP. They say:

‘Naked Reader came about when a group of us, all writers, editors and others in the publishing field as well as a few with legal or accounting backgrounds, got together and started talking about what we would like to see in a publishing house. That conversation quickly turned to the number of authors who were taking advantage of e-publishing through their own sites, through “cooperatives” and the like. A few more conversations down the road and we came to the conclusion that we wanted to offer more than just our own books and stories for sale. We wanted to offer the opportunity for authors with backlists to release those books in a digital format at terms that were fair to them; terms that would keep cost to the reader down while giving the author more money per book than they would get through a traditional route. Later, after more talk and a lot of research, we decided that we could pool all our talents and Naked Reader was born.’

And there’s  The Book View Cafe.

‘Book View Café came together in March of 2008 around a group of authors (click here to see our complete author list) with a simple aim: to use the Internet to bring their work directly to their readers. It was already clear that a revolution was coming to the publishing industry and these authors wanted to help shape its course.

Working with a shoe-string budget and volunteer labor, but drawing on a collective century’s worth of experience in the publishing industry, they created the Book View Café website. Rather than just another clearing house for books online, they created a space where readers could browse and discover new authors and titles alongside current favorites. Aware that the Internet demands variety, the authors made sure that fresh fiction appeared on their front page every day, a feat made possible by the extensive list of material available to over twenty professional authors.’

But how successful are these ventures and can you achieve sales if you are a ‘newbie’ author?

Here is a guest post by Robin Sullivan, wife of writer Michael J Sullivan about his e-books self publishing. She says:

‘Many say that Joe’s success is a direct result of his traditional publishing foundation and that new authors can’t hope to do the same. Since we don’t have a time machine so that Joe can remake his career, perhaps looking at someone who started with nothing, and is currently selling similarly, can be used as an example for what is possible.’  She goes on to talk about the new fantasy series that they have self published and the sales it is making.

And then here’s Amanda Hocking.

Here’s a Huffington Post article about fantasy writer, Amanda Hocking’ who has written 17 novels (she’s only 26 – Obsessive moi?). She’s self published and, since April 2010, she’s sold 185,000 copies.  She says:

‘I decided to self-publish, and I thought it would be better than them sitting on my computer. Worst case scenario, nobody would read them, and that’s what was happening anyway.’

LOL, good on you Amanda.

Here’s an article by Derek J Canyon on self publishing in e-book format with information on sales.

All of this is really interesting. I’m really happy with my publisher so I won’t be rushing out to self publish. I like to know that several other professionals have read my books and edited them rigorously before I send them out into the world.

But, like everyone else, I’m watching e-books and what’s happening in the real-world market with interest. Have you bought self published e-books? What’s the quality been like?

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