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The Critique Crypt => General writing chat => Topic started by: Ed on February 15, 2011, 02:08:29 PM



Title: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: Ed on February 15, 2011, 02:08:29 PM
Saw this article about how authors are getting a raw deal from most publishing houses when it comes to their royalties on e-book sales, while the publishers are in some cases making 70% more profit from an e-book than they would get from a printed book. Looks like the authors are getting stiffed again ::)

http://authorsguild.org/advocacy/articles/e-book-royalty-math-the-big.html


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: Geoff_N on February 15, 2011, 05:43:21 PM
I don't recognize much of the scenario in that article. One is that having worked briefly for a publisher, I know how much work goes into a manuscript. Hundreds of hours of editing time goes into acquistion, content-editing, revising, proofreading, cover art, etc. All that is necessary even if the book is only to be released as an ebook. Then there is the promo - not cheap. The cover artist has to be paid, often as a royalty % that the article omits. I have yet to find a small press that doesn't offer its authors an ebook royalty of at least 50% of the sale price - not the below-20 price quoted in the article. So many authors assume there are virtually no costs to the publisher but I know one who after all the above, had to pay Lightning Source for manuscript updates after the author made revisions after the final edit. Lightning Source now distributes ebooks as well as paper.

It seems that piece only used famous authors and their books that were written when paper was the predominant medium if not the only one. And for the big publishers. The contracts used for research are likely to be old. However, even those publishers are in financial trouble - that is why us lesser species of authors are having so much trouble gaining their interest. If publishers were really raking it in, we'd have less trouble getting published!


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: jsorensen on February 15, 2011, 06:56:32 PM
This question is probably very selfish of me--my plan is to attempt an ebook through Amazon's Kindle--but does anyone know of the benefits of self publishing through Amazon?  Has anyone attempted it and is willing to share their triumps and woes in the ordeal?  Is this something we should do? Should we go the route of small publishers to get a start? So on and so on...  :scratch:


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: Pharosian on February 15, 2011, 09:56:28 PM
One of our members, rottndandie, has published Kindle editions via Amazon... Maybe she'll respond to this post.


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: ozmosis7 on February 15, 2011, 10:32:34 PM
I've heard rumors that quite a few authors make a decent penny self-publishing 1 or 2 novellas a month via Amazon and Smashwords. I think part of that comes down to how established you are, but also how much time you invest pimping it through all of your social venues. What I've been told--as believe it or not I tend to hate doing that part of the job--is to never be shy of mentioning your work everywhere and at every opportunity. So it is my opinion that the authors that do this frequently have a pretty good name and spend tons of time spreading the word everywhere they can. Hope that helps.


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: Craig Herbertson on February 16, 2011, 03:20:30 AM
Most publishers don't coin it in from my experience. Only big hitters with big promotions are likely to more than scrape a living. If I was starting out I'd try to establish relationships with some of the many small press publishers. If you're work is good enough eventually someone will go for it. There is a strong financial argument for self publishing if you have one or two things already out on the market. As always you have to ask yourself 'why am I writing this?' - fame, money. love...?


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: LashSlash on February 16, 2011, 04:56:09 AM
'why am I writing this?' - fame, money. love...? --- it beats working, doesnt it?

............ maybe i make more from an ebook sale than i do from a hardcopy...... i know i should know this..... but bikoman probably knows the answer.

 bikoman...?


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: Geoff_N on February 16, 2011, 10:42:15 AM
'why am I writing this?' - fame, money. love...? --- it beats working, doesnt it?

............ maybe i make more from an ebook sale than i do from a hardcopy...... i know i should know this..... but bikoman probably knows the answer.

 bikoman...?
Depends on the publisher. Royalty percentage is much higher for your ebook, ALLAKAZZAM!, whether Kindle or pdf etc than for the paper print book but then the ebook price used to be only a pound so the total money to you from an ebook sale would be less than that for a print book. However, times have changed. I see ALLAKAZZAM! (LashSlash collection of deep and witty stories published by BeWrite Books) is on Amazon and at a good price. So the short answer is YES.


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: Craig Herbertson on February 25, 2011, 07:03:10 AM
'why am I writing this?' - fame, money. love...? --- it beats working, doesnt it?

............ maybe i make more from an ebook sale than i do from a hardcopy...... i know i should know this..... but bikoman probably knows the answer.

 bikoman...?

Yes it beats work by a long chalk. ;)


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: rottndandie on April 13, 2011, 04:54:12 PM
Sorry to be so late to respond. I've been in hiding from forums lately to try to get some writing done. :)

I self-published two novels and a novella for the Kindle and nook, and for me, it's been awesome. Not everyone has the entrepreneurial spirit to make self-publishing a successful business, though. It's not just writing a book and uploading it -- you still have to get it edited, get cover art, and get it in front of readers. All that costs money. Some folks *have* forgone editing, but that decision is often reflected in poor reviews. Some folks *have* made their own covers, but that decision is often reflected in poor sales.

Anyway, if you have specific questions, I'm happy to answer 'em.


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: Ed on April 13, 2011, 05:15:57 PM


Anyway, if you have specific questions, I'm happy to answer 'em.


Cool, thanks -- I was reading another forum where somebody said the couldn't get to grips with formatting their work for Kindle -- have you had any problems with that? Any tips as to which how-to to read, etc.? :smiley:


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: jsorensen on April 13, 2011, 08:03:51 PM
Also--covers?  I have ideas on what covers should look like for a particular piece and can probably create things through digital photography and photoshop programs, but (along with the basic text formatting question Ed asked), have you tried to create your own covers?  How was it? etc and etc---I'm partially attracted to this route in terms of the control I could maintain and the hands on with several aspects of the product...but I'm a newbie when it comes to the technical basics...again, do you know of any particular good "how-to" sources?


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: Pharosian on April 13, 2011, 08:29:58 PM
Sorry to be so late to respond. I've been in hiding from forums lately to try to get some writing done. :)

Hey! Welcome back!

We've been having a discussion in the Critique Group about Kindle/self-publishing, and ozmosis7 posted a link to an interesting article by Tobias Buckell, who reveals his sales figures as a function of time and price point. I'm pasting the link here because I don't think you can see that post on the site. Anyway, I'd be interested in hearing how your sales are going on a month-to-month basis. Are the numbers staying fairly steady? Increasing?

http://www.tobiasbuckell.com/2011/04/01/a-year-of-selling-tides-from-the-new-worlds/


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: rottndandie on April 13, 2011, 09:47:26 PM
Cool, thanks -- I was reading another forum where somebody said the couldn't get to grips with formatting their work for Kindle -- have you had any problems with that? Any tips as to which how-to to read, etc.? :smiley:

This one is VERY good: http://guidohenkel.com/2010/12/take-pride-in-your-ebook-formatting/
but I don't do it his way. It seems overly complicated. I just use Mobipocket Creator and upload a Word doc to create a PRC file. That way I can include the cover image and a ToC (which is helpful for people wanting to jump to a specific chapter). I haven't had any readers complain that the formatting is off.

For epub files, I use Calibre. If I need to tweak it, I use Sigil. It takes some getting used to, and it helps to be familiar with HTML.


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: rottndandie on April 13, 2011, 10:19:56 PM
Hey! Welcome back!

We've been having a discussion in the Critique Group about Kindle/self-publishing, and ozmosis7 posted a link to an interesting article by Tobias Buckell, who reveals his sales figures as a function of time and price point. I'm pasting the link here because I don't think you can see that post on the site. Anyway, I'd be interested in hearing how your sales are going on a month-to-month basis. Are the numbers staying fairly steady? Increasing?

http://www.tobiasbuckell.com/2011/04/01/a-year-of-selling-tides-from-the-new-worlds/

Thanks! I'll try not to be as much of a stranger while I finish up the WIP. :)

Interesting article. I didn't read the whole thing -- just skipped to the highlights. I don't have any fancy graphs, but I am tracking sales in a spreadsheet. I clicked the Publish button at the end of July, then released a new book on Dec 1. Here's how my monthly figures look:

MonthTKLVoV$$
Jul10-$18
Aug41-$45
Sep100-$229
Oct93-$135
Nov91-$202
Dec125156$334
2010460156$946
Jan13239$313
Feb117288$351
Mar137504$454
Apr328202$525

I tried setting the price for VoV to $4.95 in January, then lowered it to $3.99 and finally to $2.99 where it stayed for all of Feb. In March, I put VoV on sale for 99c. For April, TKL is on sale for 99c and VoV is back to $2.99. Figures for April are through today.

I've done some advertising, too. You see a jump in sales for TKL in Sept -- that was when I advertised in Kindle Nation Daily. I just barely made back the cost of the ad. In Jan and Feb, I had a couple of features in Daily Cheap Reads, which helped sales for about 2 days. In March and April I had features in Pixel of Ink which helped sales a bunch. I also advertised VoV in March at Ereader News Today and barely made back the cost of the ad (because priced at 99c, my royalty is 35c), but it pushed the book down to the 700s in the Kindle store. Ranking helps sell books. I've got a spot in May for TKL on Ereader News Today, too, and I'll do a 99c sale for that, just to get more impulse buyers. :)

So while it's not a ton of money, I am making enough to pay the electric bill. :) I'm happy that the sales are increasing, and readers are leaving excellent reviews.


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: Pharosian on April 14, 2011, 12:52:57 AM
Wow! Those numbers are pretty nice! Congratulations!


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: Ed on April 14, 2011, 02:39:08 AM
Yep, good stuff. I can see how the figures would add up with a few more novels out there, too. Thanks for the pointers.

I see one of the horror small presses has put out a guide to making e-books -- http://www.amazon.com/On-Making-Ebooks-ebook/dp/B004V9G1R2 -- I can't vouch for it personally, but I'm thinking about getting it.


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: ozmosis7 on April 14, 2011, 07:25:32 AM
Is the software to get things formatted properly difficult to use? Or just to new of a process? I see a lot of weird things in a lot of self-pub/small press stuff, like odd page breaks, italicized text without the italic format, and stuff like that a lot.


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: rottndandie on April 14, 2011, 08:23:55 AM
The software isn't difficult to use, but it is confusing at first. Once you muddle through a few times, you'll get the hang of it. Creating a new PRC or EPUB will become so easy, you'll be able to do it in your sleep while tap dancing. :)

Once you have your PRC file from Mobipocket, you can use the Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac application to proof the formatting. It accepts MS Word docs, so your italics will be preserved. I recommend using Times New Roman rather than some other "pretty" font to avoid potential issues with font sizing, etc on the Kindle. I think the problems we see in indie fiction stem from carelessness on the part of the author. People are so eager to get their books out, they don't proof it very well (or edit it, for that matter). Those authors who care rely on readers to catch the mistakes, which are usually mentioned in reviews. Yikes!

Sales definitely pick up when I put the books on sale, but to earn the same royalty, they have to sell at 6x the previous rate. I don't usually get that big a jump in sales volume, so I do lose money by doing sales, but it gets the book into more hands and new reviews usually result. :)

What helped VoV's sales this month more than anything was (shameless plug alert!) the Hugo Award nomination it got at the end of March. It's not keeping up with Kinshield's 99c sale, but it's beating February's sales by a wide margin. Sales at BN have always been pretty dismal. I don't know how to reach those readers. Posting on the nook Facebook page rarely results in more than a sale or two, and BN is constantly messing with their search function, making it even harder for readers to find the books they're looking for! lol


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: Pharosian on April 14, 2011, 09:36:11 AM
What helped VoV's sales this month more than anything was (shameless plug alert!) the Hugo Award nomination it got at the end of March.

Holy crap!  :shocked:

CONGRATULATIONS!!!! :dance: :dance: :dance:


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: Rook on April 14, 2011, 12:33:00 PM
What helped VoV's sales this month more than anything was (shameless plug alert!) the Hugo Award nomination it got at the end of March.

Holy crap!  :shocked:

CONGRATULATIONS!!!! :dance: :dance: :dance:

What she said!  :dance:


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: ozmosis7 on April 14, 2011, 12:50:32 PM
Yes gratz!


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: rottndandie on April 14, 2011, 01:00:55 PM
Thank you! :)

For those still on the fence about the ebook thing: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/digital/retailing/article/46870-e-book-sales-explode-in-february-as-other-segments-sink.html?utm_source=Publishers+Weekly%27s+PW+Daily&utm_campaign=0cf8530cca-UA-15906914-1&utm_medium=email
Quote
E-book sales growth showed no signs of letting up in February, increasing at an even faster rate than they did in January. According to AAP’s monthly sales estimates, e-book sales jumped 202.3% at the 16 publishers that reported results, hitting $90.3 million. The rest of the trade segments, however, all had declines in the month with adult hardcover sales plunging 43%, to $46.2 million at the 17 houses that reported figures, while mass market paperback sales tumbled 41.5%, to $29.3 million at the nine reporting houses. The $90.3 million in e-book sales was the highest dollar amount reported by any of AAP’s publishing segments in the month. The association attributed the gains to the post-holiday surge of consumers adding e-books to new e-readers.
For the first two months of 2011, e-book sales were up 169.4%, to $164.1 million, equalling the sales of trade paperbacks for the two-month period; trade paperback sales were down 22.5% for the two months at the 19 reporting publishers.

<evil laugh>


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: JonP on April 15, 2011, 05:01:56 AM
Hey, massive congrats on the Hugo nomination - that's quite some achievement. Can I ask how that came about? I assume that usually that kind of thing is driven by publishers, so what do you do if you're self-pubbing?


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: Pharosian on April 15, 2011, 07:53:18 AM
I had the same question. I know for short stories, they only consider stories from particular markets. You could write the best story in the world, but if it was published on some FTL e-zine site, it's not going to be considered. But I've never heard what the criteria are for novels...


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: rottndandie on April 15, 2011, 09:05:23 AM
Thanks! Anyone with membership in the World Science Fiction Society can nominate up to 5 books per year. Nominations close in March for books published the previous year. Since the Hugo is a reader-selected award, you can't nominate your own book (nor can publishers nominate their books). Basically it takes just one member of the WSFS to like the book well enough to spend one of his 5 nominations on it. :) Getting on the actual ballot is more difficult. From what I understand, only the 5 most-nominated books get on the ballot. With a membership of over 5000 people, each submitting 5 books... yeah. My book hasn't a chance of winning!  :2funny: That's okay though -- the nomination itself is a huge honor, and I'm thrilled to have gotten it.


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: JonP on April 15, 2011, 06:02:57 PM
Veering slightly off-topic, here's another slightly scary but interesting angle on e-books (http://www.publishingtrends.com/2011/03/the-kindle-swindle/).


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: Ed on April 16, 2011, 04:58:44 AM
Veering slightly off-topic, here's another slightly scary but interesting angle on e-books (http://www.publishingtrends.com/2011/03/the-kindle-swindle/).

Urgh -- that's going to become a real pain in the arse, isn't it ::)


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: rottndandie on April 16, 2011, 08:47:52 AM
I sure hope Amazon is looking into ways to combat this.  >:(


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: ozmosis7 on April 16, 2011, 10:33:08 PM
That is always an issue with digital items. You have to hope a true dedicated reader always looks for a hardcopy in the end I think.

I don't have a link, but I do remember i  my research coming across a very interesting report. This guy I think is a facebook friend, but I can't remember,  so bare with me on all of this.

Anyway, he did a little experiment on digital sales versus hardcopy sales. More interesting though, is that during this experiment he came across info his ebook was being passed about here and there. What he noticed as a result was an increase in sales. So he and his publisher came up with an interesting idea. They put out his next book and leaked it to the public via trading venues like that. The result was tremendous increases in sales. In other words, he used this to increase knowledge of his persona as a marketing idea. Quite genius if you ask me, and believe me when I say...its gonna happen whether you want it to or not. This is turning into a positive spin at the very least.

Truth is, there are many bands I never would have come across if not for the passing of songs between people. And, when I like a band, I buy many of their albums. I think that works with writing too now days. If the 1st Steve King you read was IT (as it was me) and you fell in love, chances are you might enjoy it enough to buy them all. Hmm, funny how that works sometimes. Sometimes even, the very people fighting this system, are benefiting because of it.

Its basically like giving free copies of your media, to gain readers...much like a serial novel...then hoping they buy the book. Great article...wish I could find it for you folks, but I've lost it.


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: ozmosis7 on April 16, 2011, 10:45:25 PM
Also, a little tidbit I picked up from an Anne Rice facebook post. Amazon is going to sell kindles at $25 cheaper for ad(ware) versions of the machine. I'm not sure their ads are with it or not, so that appears to be up in the air at the moment. I did see one of her more popular followers suggested it thee would be free to premium amazon users, although I never found anything verifiable on that. I would also suggest this push at marketing will lead to others and also to eventual increases in sales digitally.


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: leatherdykeuk on April 17, 2011, 03:45:15 AM
Sounds like Cory Doctorow, but I have heard that before.


Title: Re: E-book Royalties -- the house always wins
Post by: Ed on April 17, 2011, 05:28:10 AM
There are a few authors that get incensed by filesharing/copyright theft, F Paul Wilson is one. He's a hard working guy and what he would call a 'mid-lister', meaning he can't just rest back on his laurels and let the money roll in -- he has to keep working at it. His books have been pirated, and he (understandably) feels outraged by it. Here's him working hard while people steal his goods from under him.

I tried to make him feel better about it by telling him every theft isn't necessarily a lost sale -- many of the filesharers are like kleptomaniacs. They get a kick from having thousands of files on their comp. Some have terabytes of media. Way more than you could ever actually view/listen to in a lifetime. To buy it all, they'd have to be a millionaire. So, yes, it's theft, it's wrong, there's no plausible excuse for it, but it happens, and you can either accept it, embrace it and try to turn this aspect of human nature to your advantage, or you can let it get to you and make you feel like a victim. FPW can't get past the outrage he feels at seeing his stuff stolen and distributed without being able to stop it. I can understand that and respect it, but to my mind it's futile. If you can't change the thing that's bugging you, you have to change the way you think about it -- that's the only way to find peace, IMO.

I've also seen authors saying their sales increased after their work was taken onto filesharing sites. Carleton Mellick III is one. I think it probably depends upon how many titles you have out there. If you give away one, you might find people checking out the others. Even if you've just got the one piece out there, some people are decent enough to support the authors they like and buy a copy, and all the time your name is out there and people are talking about your work, you're building a fan base, so there are more people out there who will be looking out for your next story. I think piracy probably benefits unknown authors more than it does well established ones. I think the latter may well lose a few sales through it. Not as many as they think, though. A stolen copy doesn't translate directly to a lost sale.


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