Writing Roundup

All right, I’m sitting here with a brain full of recipes and a novella to complete. You probably had enough of the recipes yesterday, and anyway, these I haven’t made yet. So I’m running around the blogosphere collecting quotes and articles I recommend to you as authors/inde publishers/ what-have-you. See you tomorrow!

Dean Wesley Smith on the myth of selling a lot of copies, very quickly:

Make your five-year business plan and set your expectations.

If you have only one book up, selling 25 copies per month is unrealistic. Don’t expect it. And hoping to be lucky is not a business plan.

But if you have a bunch of novels out and you are in the second year, selling 25 copies average across your titles is realistic. It might not happen, but it is worth aiming for.

Plus, if you also write short stories, they can help. Collections sell pretty well. Not as well as novels, but they can help in the total income.

Stop looking at sales numbers and hoping for huge sales numbers.

Plan for five or ten years out and focus on the writing the next book.

Hugh Howey on why Big Publishing is the Problem:

As author Michael Sullivan broke down in this damning blog post, it shows publishers making$7.87 on a $14.99 e-book while the author only gets $2.62. For a hardback that costs twice as much at $27.99, the publisher makes $5.67 to the author’s $4.20. What used to be a fair split is now aggressive and indefensible as publishers make more money on a cheaper product while the author makes far less. Publishers are ripping off readers and writers as they shift to digital, and they are getting away with it. They are even winning the PR campaign against Amazon, a company that has fought for lower prices for its customers and higher pay for its authors.

Let me repeat: Publishers are waging a war here for higher prices and lower royalties. $14.99 is their ideal price for an e-book that costs nothing to print, warehouse, or ship. That’s twice what mass market paperbacks used to cost, which is what they are replacing. Reminds you of how cheaper-to-produce CDs suddenly cost twice as much as cassettes simply because they were new, doesn’t it?

JA Konrath takes a deliciously snarky hatchet to Hachette:

Supporting competition among e-retailers to avoid dominant position in the value chain

Translation: Force all e-retailers to accept our pricing structure. Then Amazon won’t be able to discount our ebooks anymore.

Joe sez: I love the line “supporting competition”. Because that’s what all good businesses strive for; to help our competitors.

Agreement with Google for out-of-print books

Translation: Now books will never go out of print!

Joe sez: Why is there even an out of print reversion clause in contracts?

Agency model implemented with e-retailers thanks to Hachette Livre’s size and Anglo-
Saxon presence in order to retain control over ebook pricing

Translation: We’re gonna make Amazon agree to agency pricing again.

Joe sez: Is this what you want, Hachette authors? For your publisher to price your ebooks at $14.99 again?

Also, I love the line “thanks to our size and presence.” When Amazon uses its size and presence, they’re a bullying monopoly. But when Hachette does this to force retailers to accept their pricing structure, it’s a bullet point that investors are meant to applaud.

So it looks like the Amazon-Hachette thing just won’t die, and frankly at this point I don’t really care. If Hachette were to suddenly go away, their authors could do just as well or even better elsewhere. At the rate Hachette is laying people off and axing parts of their own business, this is beginning to look like a possibility. I’m not saying all authors have the ability to become indie publishers. Most haven’t the skills or the inclination to that much effort on top of what they already do. However, it does leave them with options beyond the pittance they are getting per book. I can’t wait to see what comes next for publishing… when the ‘legacy’ publishers are done and gone.

I’ll close with this, from Dave Freer, on why he chose to bring out Stardogs independently rather than with his long-time publisher Baen Books.

I work hard, I put in long hours. I shouldn’t be wasting time on covers, conversions, blurbs… (I think I shouldn’t. You may beg me to waste a lot more time) let alone trying to do publicity. BUT… I will get faster at all of those, and yes, nothing inspires like a bit of extra cash… that you can see paid into your Amazon account, and will get, dead on time, no problems, in two months. I’ve just got royalty statements that go back to sales… 18 months ago. And they’re as opaque as mud.

So basically, the answer is simple. I’d be happy to go trad publishing… except for preferring 70% of the price of the e-book, to 17-20%, and being able thus to keep the book prices down, and being able to work to my time-frame – and my time-frame is means you get a lot more books, and hopefully I get a lot more of your money… an equation that works for me.

Me, I’m going to keep writing. And making jam. Because I can, and it’s something I love doing. Bringing in money is gravy, and of course, the jam doesn’t even do that!


6 thoughts on “Writing Roundup

  1. I’m sorry but as a reader I have a limit of 4.99 for an ebook. Unless you are one of 4 authors. I will not pay more than that and most of the time only 2.99. I stopped buying paperbacks when they went over 7 an will do the same with ebooks if they are over the 5. I buy two books a week so I’m one of those customers authors should want to keep around. I got to finish Sabrina Chases wonderful scifi series this weekend with this pricing system. Highly recommended.


    • I price my ebooks at 4.99, but many authors go a dollar or two higher. For a long novel, I think that’s fair. You’re looking at a huge investment of time and trouble to produce a novel. Now, most of what I read is priced between 2.99-4.99, like you, but I’ll pay a bit more for an author I know and trust.


  2. You know, with this whole Hachette thing, they keep forgetting one very important fact. Amazon is under no requirement to carry Hachette books. None.

    Hachette needs Amazon worse than Amazon needs Hachette based on what I’m seeing. After all, Hachette is kicking and screaming about it, while Amazon just keeps trucking on.

    Now, I get that it’s hurting the Hachette authors, but they need to look at it for a second. Hachette is trying to set high ebook prices, and Amazon is saying, “Nope. We’re not going to play that here.” A lower ebook price will actually sell more ebooks. The prices that Hachette wants are high enough that many people wouldn’t touch them, particularly midlist authors many readers are unfamiliar with. I’m not paying a lot for an author I’m just not sure about.


    • The numbers I saw from Hachette when they reported to their French over-company were certainly not indicative of a strong business which is giong to survive in a competitive marketplace. Which coupled with the news that they just shot down part of their business, has me thinking this won’t be an issue much longer.


  3. I think many authors have a tough decision. On my kindle I can pull up 1000’s of different books which gives me choices I never had before. Do they want to sell a 1000 books for 7 dollars or 3000 books for 2.99. The second choice makes you more money and gets you more readers.


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