Yet another self-published Kindle writer makes a killing
In mid-March we had Barry Eisler turning down a 0,000 advance, which he explained in his long interview with J.A. Konrath.
As the Daily Finance's Martin Cloake reported:
' At the heart of both authors' reasoning [Konrath and Eisler] is the publisher's advance. Traditionally authors received a lump sum advance against sales which they would use to write the book. But that money has to be earned back once the book is published, and at a royalty – between 10 and 15% – of the sale price.
This can be seen as a loan, an insurance policy, even a bet. Konrath says: "Signing with a big publisher is like signing a life insurance policy, where the payments keep getting larger while the payoff gets smaller as time goes on." Taking that loan, argues Eisler, only makes sense if "the loan is so big that you don't think you'd ever be able to make that much on your own". '
Stephen Leather - UK
A British thriller writer, Stephen Leather (U.S.) (UK) sells his ebooks for as little as 71 p (US .50) and has enjoyed the #1 spot on Amazon UK's ebook bestseller lists for "90 percent of the last three months" and that's from selling "somewhere in the region" of 2,000 ebooks a day.
' Leather enjoys a successful parallel career writing "big international thrillers" for Hodder & Stoughton.
But last August, when Amazon.co.uk opened its Kindle store, he saw an opportunity: "I was lucky, in that I had three novellas Hodder had turned down because they were in a different genre from my other books and too short to work as conventional paperbacks.
"But I realised they might work for the Kindle." '
He realized the Kindle (UK: K3) was going to be very big on Christmas Day and that after people downloaded the ebooks they'd always wanted, most of them relatively (or absolutely) expensive, they'd start looking for cheaper books.
"I knew the wave was going to break on Christmas Day. I got myself in position to take advantage, I got on and I've been riding it ever since."
Kindle 3's (UK: Kindle 3's), DX Graphite
Check often: Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources. Top 100 free bestsellers.
recently published non-classics, bestsellers, or highest-rated ones
Also, UK customers should see the UK
store's Top 100 free bestsellers.
To me, the lack of quality control is a big deterrent to paying more than a dollar or two for an indie ebook from an author whose books I have not previously read. In the beginning, Smashwords was a great place to find indie books and give them a try, but that is rapidly changing as the number of indie ebooks rapidly increases. As Smashwords has grown, as indie publishing has grown with the rise of ebooks, and as the needle in the haystack has become increasingly difficult to find, we need to implement a method that imposes some sort of quality control.
A common response to this puzzle is to suggest looking at reader reviews on ebookseller sites like Amazon, on social sites like Goodreads, and on book review blogs. Perhaps in the very infancy of ebooks these were good and practical ways to determine quality, but that has changed with the rapid growth of indie ebooks. Not only are many of the indie ebooks simply not reviewed, those that are reviewed are often not well reviewed except in the sense of whether or not the reviewer liked the story. The insight of a professional reviewer is missing.
I began to notice the problems with reviews when readers began giving 1-star ratings because of price; that is, they were protesting the price of the ebook rather than evaluating the content. Price should not be a determining factor because each of us is capable of determining whether we are willing to pay the price, independent of whether someone else believes a particular price is too high, regardless of the book’s other qualities or lack thereof.
Compounding the price boycott review problem are the reviews that give a book 4 or 5 stars but do not detail what is good or bad about the book. One book I was interested in had a rating of between 4.5 and 5 stars. Of the 23 reviews, only 2 mentioned that book clearly had not been edited or proofread and, thus, reading it was difficult. This is not to suggest that the other 21 reviewers either didn’t or shouldn’t have enjoyed the book; rather, it reflects another concern of mine: Perhaps readers are unable to discern the difference between there and their, seen andscene, or seem and seam, and thus do not know that a book has errors. Some readers have told me that, as long as they get the idea, they do not care. I’m not convinced that bodes well for the future of literacy.
Yet another problem with these reviews is that it takes a leap of faith to accept that they are legitimate and made knowledgeably. This is the result of a lack of uniform, accepted criteria against which a book is judged by everyone — the gatekeeper role. When someone with the screen name “opus941″ and no other identification tells me that so-and-so’s ebook was by far the best fantasy ebook he/she has read since Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, but doesn’t mention that there are 4 homonym errors, 2 run-on sentences, and the same character’s name spelled differently within the first 3 paragraphs, I wonder whether opus941 ever read LOTR or simply watched the video, and I wonder how much credence to give to the review and the reviewer.
It is true that with a lot of work on my part, I can overcome many of the problems. For example, if I discover that opus941 has reviewed 42 ebooks and that I have read 10 of them and agreed with his/her reviews, I can probably move toward the end of the spectrum that says I can gamble on an ebook with a good opus941 review. But such trust is rapidly shattered by the first ebook opus941 raves about where I can’t get past the first few paragraphs because of poor grammar and editing, an occurrence that happens much too frequently with indie publishing.
The real question, however, is why should I have to do so much work to find a decent indie ebook to read? The consequence is that I am unwilling to pay much, if anything, for an indie author’s ebooks until I have read 1 or 2 and am convinced that the author can actually write a coherent sentence that captivates my attention. There are just too many things competing for my attention for me to undertake yet another major project, and looking for indie ebooks that worth reading is becoming such a project. Clearly, this is neither good for authors nor for their distributors. Yet, in the absence of traditional publishing that assures at least a minimal gatekeeping, this hurdle needs to addressed by 90% of indie authors (yes, there will always be a percentage for whom none of this is a hurdle to overcome).
The solution may be for distributors to become the new gatekeepers, either themselves doing the gatekeeping or requiring authors to attest that their ebooks meet certain prestated editorial criteria. I am not talking about storyline, plot, or other content related to the storyline or plot. I am talking about quality control – that the book has been professionally edited and professionally produced. The question is how to implement such a system at the distribution level.
I suppose one way to do it is to require every ebook to have a minimum price of 99¢ and to require the author to offer a double-your-money-back guarantee should the buyer find x number of grammar and/or spelling errors. (I accept, and think everyone must accept, that no book, professionally edited and proofread or not, is wholly error free. The question really is one of numbers: 1 error every 2 to 3 pages may be acceptable whereas 1 error every paragraph would not.)
Another way might be to require reviewers to respond to certain questions as part of the review process: “Did you find any spelling errors? Give examples. Did the ebook appear to have been edited? What is the basis for your conclusion?” Perhaps 2 or 3 more standardized questions should be asked and answers required before a more general review about the story or plot can be posted and a star rating awarded. Then the star rating can be given as weighted to include the answers to the required questions. For example, if a reviewer gave the story a 5-star rating but said that spelling errors had been found and the ebook appeared not to have been edited, the weighted rating might be 4 stars. However, a reader could see the review, the answers to the questions, and the story rating, as well as the overall weighted rating, and can assign his/her own weights.
I’m sure there are other creative ways to get a truer sense of an ebook, we only need to collaborate to find them. Authors and distributors should agree to the method ultimately settled on should be agreed and it should be applied uniformly across distribution channels. Authors would still be free to do as they please. However, readers would be better served and the better authors — those who really do care about their relationship with their readers — would profit more because readers would feel assured of getting a quality read from these authors and thus be more willing to spend a reasonable sum to buy the author’s ebooks.
It could only be good for all concerned when distributors are able to sell ebooks for a reasonable sum, authors are able to sell ebooks for a reasonable sum, and readers can improve their odds of finding that proverbial needle in the haystack. Certainly, it is worth thinking about.
Via Rich Adin’s An American Editor blog
I have a major announcement! I’ve been working away this weekend on a little webpage I’m calling The Indie eBook Hall of Fame. This site is designed to be a one-stop filter for readers to help them find the best of the best indie ebooks being reviewed out there in Blogland. To land on the list, the book must be available in ebook form in multiple formats, and must have been reviewed (and recommended!) by at least three independent bloggers—not just Amazon, Smashwords or Goodreads reviews, but full-on write-ups by bloggers who are reviewing indie books.
The internet indie scene can seem at times like the world’s biggest slushpile. This site offers not just one, but THREE gatekeepers who have screened the content for you and found it worth recommending. Each of these books was found worthy by more than one reviewer.
I started by combing the archives of my own reviews and those at a handful of other blogs I follow, looking for repeat appearances. And I’ll keep my eye out for more. But of course, I can’t do it alone. Here’s where you can help me:
- If you are an author, you need to set up a Google Alert on yourself so you can tabs on who is reviewing your stuff. When you hit the magical three excellent reviews, send me the info on your book and where it’s been reviewed so I can check it out.
- If you are a blogger and you have a book you’ve read that is worthy but doesn’t have three reviews yet, send me the info and I’ll add it to the ‘Almost’ Page, where other bloggers who are trolling for their next great read can go and look for something. And of course, if YOU are trolling for a new read, why not check out the ‘Almost’ Page yourself?
- If you are a blogger who regularly reviews indie books, and you are not yet on the Blog Roll at the side of this blog, email me so I can check out your site and add you.
I am very excited about this page—it’s not just me, recommending these books (in fact, there are a few on there already which are patently not my thing). It’s the entire blogging community. Please spread the word so those who have intel about thrice-recommended books I’ve missed can get it sent to me. Let’s create a true one-stop resource where readers can connect with truly excellent indie reads.