As some of you may or may not have seen, earlier in the month a Traditionally Published (from now on TP) author posted a blog about her earnings, attempting to dispel the myth that authors are the rich super-stars we readers sometimes think they are. Unfortunately she removed the article not long after, for “contract disclosure reasons” which, ok, I get that.
In what appears to be a response of sorts to that article, new to me author Brenna Aubrey posts about how her first month of publishing on her own (Self Published, or SP) was, and is very straight forward about the numbers. And she also explains why she turned down a TP deal, and why she is very happy to have done so. You can go read the whole article (and I highly suggest you do) but I have pulled a couple of screen shots, just to give you an idea of numbers:
In one month of sales. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t come close to that in my day job. Obviously that is not going to be every month, but it is pretty impressive. And those numbers are not typical for everyone, but certainly not out of the realm of possibility if all the stars align for an author.
Now the reason I started with this information – yesterday Huffington Post posted an article by Kensington CEO Steven Zacharius about how SP authors shouldn’t quit their day jobs – yet, and how TP houses just can’t afford to have cheap books. Here is a direct quote, copied for your pleasure:
“As a publisher, my biggest concern is the clutter of the books being put out by the major publishing houses along with those that are just put up directly by authors. The established publishers have to charge more money because they have paid the author an advance (for bestselling authors, a heck of a lot). Publishers couldn’t possibly afford to sell the book away for $ .99. If this were the business model and publishers were making greatly reduced revenue on the sales of these titles, the publishing industry would go belly-up. There would be no way for the publishing company to recoup their author advances and as a result, these advances would drop substantially. Free or reduced price books is not a viable business model for publishers.”
You know what this says to me – as a reader – TP houses have a poor business plan. Also, that if I am looking for something cheap to read, then I need to check out other options.
The amazing Laura Kaye wrote a very long (but 100% worth the read!) response to Mr. Zacharius – you can read the whole thing here, and there is a really great summary, with links to even more articles/blogs here – but I strongly encourage you to read not only Laura Kaye’s original post, but all the comments. Mr. Zacharius makes several appearances in them, and unlike many other conflicts I have seen in the book world, most everyone remains very respectful and there is some great discussions that take place.
Now it is no secret, if you have visited here before, that I am a giant fan of many many SP authors. It is also no secret that I am a giant fan of many many TP authors. I am also a giant fan of many many hybrid authors – a new term coined to describe an author that has some work TP and other work SP. You know what this means? I am a giant fan of a good story – no matter how it got into my hands.
This is going to sound harsh – and I hope you take it in the sense it is intended – but all I am after is a good book. I don’t care if a publisher is losing money on it, I don’t care if the author is able to quit his or her day job to write. At the end of the day, I want a good story to lose myself in that won’t break the bank. Now – I am VERY happy for authors that are able to write full time, and of course I don’t want to see the publishers go under, but honestly, as a CONSUMER ONLY, it has very little affect on me as a reader. Except for the fact, I know, if there were no publishers and authors had no time to write there would be no more books. But honestly, if as of tomorrow no more books were ever published I still don’t think I would run out of reading material. It is a good problem to have.
And somewhat on the topic of price, I flat out refuse to pay more than $6.99 (and that is really pushing it) for an ebook. I am not sure why that is my magical number, other than the fact I can usually get the paperback for that price. And in my mind, being able to hold that paperback in my hands is worth more than having the file uploaded on my ereader (I have a Kindle, but for argument’s sake they are all the same). And I do know I am not alone in this opinion. Which means more and more often I end up picking books that are SP.
Those of you saying $7+ isn’t much to pay for a book (and yes I know how much time authors put into writing their stories – I am not discounting that AT ALL) keep in mind I read A LOT. For example, today is Jan 22. Since the beginning of the year, 22 days, I have read to completion 22 books. If you don’t believe me, check my Goodreads page. I haven’t written a review for all of them, nor will I because that would take FOREVER. But feel free to ask me about any of them. My recall of the basics for most of them is pretty fantastic. Of course tonight in place of reading I am writing this thesis length blog post, so my book count will no longer be one per day.
Even assuming I got half of those for free for review (which I will review if I haven’t yet) and the rest were ebooks averaging $3.99 … 3.99 x 11 = $43.89. In less than a month. Keeping that pace that is over $500 a year. On books. Just let that sink in for a minute.
And of course, because it is “easy” for anyone to publish a book through Amazon there is going to be a lot of crap to sift through. (I put easy in quotes, because I am of the opinion that if you are doing it right, it isn’t actually that easy) And yes, sometimes I am sucked in by a good blurb, or a cheap price, but as a reader, I am smart and learn fast. When I am spending my own hard earned money on something and I get a dud, I quickly figure out what made that a dud for me and don’t make the same mistake.
Of course the same is true for TP books – not all of them are going to “speak” to me. And my liking a book has no basis on how or who published it. In the end, as a reader, all I want is a good story that takes me out of my day to day and throws me into a world of fantasy – be it an actual fantasy story, a romance I wish could happen, a crime drama I’m glad didn’t happen, or whatever else I am in the mood for. And I for one am SO GLAD there are both TP and SP titles for me to chose from.
I know there are growing pains, but I really hope that soon Publishing Houses and the Execs that run them see that readers don’t care where the story comes from, as long as it is good. And that they realize SP is not their enemy, but can actually be a good thing. Getting people to read more means more people buying books. More books being sold is good for everyone.
In closing I hope at least part of that makes sense, and if you read it all the way to the end, you get a cookie. A virtual cookie. I am not sending cookies all over the place. Because as little as some authors make, trust me when I say there is NO money in blogging 😉 At least not for my little corner of heaven.