Self-Publishers Aren’t Killing The Industry, They’re Saving It

In light of current events, I thought it would be good to re-run Ed Robertson’s excellent guest post from November 2012 where he highlighted interesting parallels between historical paperback pricing (pre-industry consolidation) and self-published e-books.

It’s unlikely I’ll have time this weekend to respond to emails, or tweets, or jump in the comments, as I’ll be busy editing, but this should give you something to chew on.

I’m sending the 2nd edition of Let’s Get Digital to the editor tomorrow, and I’ll be blogging about that Monday or Tuesday.

Oh, and the Spanish translation of Digital has just been released. You can grab it for free today only. More at the bottom of Ed’s post:

Self-Publishers Aren’t Killing The Industry, They’re Saving It

I’m a self-publisher. An indie author. Whatever you want to call me. I’ve read many articles about how self-publishers are killing the book industry. I’ve heard it from big publishing houses. From the president of the Author’s Guild. From traditionally published novelists and agents and even other self-publishers. If I want, I bet I can find a new one of these articles every single day.

But I won’t, because I no longer believe them.

Self-publishers don’t have the power to kill the publishing industry. I don’t think anyone does. But we do have the power to change it. We already have – and paradoxically, this change isn’t a change at all. And instead of killing books, this change has helped resurrect them.

We aren’t the first to be accused of killing the industry. In 1939, Robert de Graff threatened to kill publishing, too. At the tail end of the Great Depression, when hardcovers regularly sold for between $2.50-$3.00, he started selling paperback Pocket Books for $0.25.

To put that in 2012 dollars, hardcovers cost roughly $40-50. The new paperbacks, the first of their kind in American markets, cost the equivalent of $4.16. In modern terms, a book that once cost as much as a coffee maker now cost as little as a cup of coffee. A book that once cost as much as a full tank of gas now cost as little as a gallon.

In just over five years from that 1939 launch date, Pocket Books sold 100 million paperbacks.

But it wasn’t all high fives around the burgeoning paperback business. One publisher at Penguin was so aghast at the tawdry covers on his books he wound up selling off the entire line. Others worried openly about the death of the hardcover industry. On the concept of skipping hardcovers entirely and printing straight to paperback, even Pocket Books’ own VP Freeman Lewis said, “Successful authors are not interested in original publishing at 25 cents.”

But they were, of course. Particularly genre writers who didn’t care if this new format was disgraceful. Because it sold. Readers bought their books by the millions. As the format was being denounced as the playground of hacks, authors like William S. Burroughs and Philip K. Dick got their start with bargain-priced paperback-only prints (specifically, with Ace Doubles that sold two novels bundled for $0.35). The history of the era is fascinating – a short yet rich article recaps it here – but what is most interesting to me is that initial $0.25 price.

Passive Guy suggests that self-publishing is saving an industry crippled by missteps (scroll down for his comments underneath the excerpted article). He says big publishers have raised the price of books far beyond the rate of inflation, driving away readers and strangling the market. He doesn’t cite numbers. I will.

  • From 1939-1961, many paperbacks sold for $0.25-0.35. In 2012 dollars, prices started at $4.16 and decreased to as little as $2.71.
  • By 1966-68, low-end prices bubbled back up to $0.60-0.75. In 2012, that’s $3.99-4.99.
  • By 1972-75, mass market paperbacks kept on climbing to $0.95-1.25. In 2012, that’s $5.26-6.92.
  • By the mid 1980s, mass markets hit $2.95-3.95. In 2012, that’s $6.34-8.49, with some beyond $9.50.

In short, relative prices slowly decreased between 1939-1961. By 1966, they climbed steeply, peaking around 1982-86 at an inflation-adjusted $7.99 (or more). The price of most mass market paperbacks has remained there ever since. In less than two decades, paperbacks cost 295% what they did in the years before.

Coincidentally, corporate mergers of publishing houses began in earnest in 1958, accelerated in the 1960s, and became an “epidemic” by the 1970. By the 1980s, the American publishing industry reached a state largely like the one we see today, where a handful of companies own the vast majority of the business.

And as publishing companies grew larger and ostensibly more efficient, the prices of their cheapest offerings tripled.

Correlation isn’t causation. I don’t know that the consolidation of the publishing industry was a direct cause of this massive surge in prices. But if I had to bet, I would bet that these mergers resulted in a de facto monopoly, a semi-collusive state where publishers raised prices simply because they could. I don’t think these price increases were natural or inevitable.

Ultimately, however, it doesn’t matter why they happened.

What matters is that prices went up. A lot. People had to pay more to read. The more they read, the more they had to pay. Books, as much as it might feel otherwise, aren’t a necessity of life. They aren’t food. They aren’t gasoline or electricity. As prices go up, sales go down. Readers read less–especially in times of recession. The market erodes. Becomes vulnerable to change.

For whatever reason, the publishing industry failed to keep their lowest-priced books anywhere near the prices they’d maintained for decades. When ebooks arrived, instead of going lower, they wound up costing even more than the old paperbacks. $9.99. $12.99. $14.99. They still don’t cost as much as a tank of gas, but three of them do.

Big publishers maintained these ebook prices through outright collusion. Even as they fought to keep ebooks even higher priced than their artificially-inflated paperback prices, online retailers like Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo threatened to kill the publishing industry again. They made it possible for authors to publish directly to readers. In the midst of the Great Recession, independent authors offered their books at prices first established in the Great Depression. Some authors went even cheaper. Many wrote genre trash. Many sported lurid, shameful covers. Across the industry, hands were wrung.

“If indies have killed anything, it’s the idea that books need to cost as much as they do.”

I don’t know what happened to spike prices between 1961 and now. Maybe publishers got greedy. Maybe they just got inefficient, but never had to address the issue, because they were the only game in town; if people wanted to read good books, they had to buy from traditional publishers. Publishers who, for whatever reason, abandoned those low-cost, Pocket-style books.

And when the opportunity finally arose, indie authors stepped in to that gap. If indies have killed anything, it’s the idea that books need to cost as much as they do. Many indies have gone so far as to sell their books for $0.99, or give them away for free. Confronted with this novelty, and constrained by their own recession-tightened budgets, readers have snapped up these cheapest books, leading to a constant deluge of arguments that self-published authors have gone too far, that these prices are unsustainable, that in their race to the bottom, they’ll ruin the market for everyone.

The proper dismantling of these fears would require a response even longer than this one. I will say that indie authors need to eat, too. The rising class of professional self-publishers has to pay for cover artists, editing, proofreading, and advertising of its own. To treat writing as a job, indie authors have to find a way to be paid like it’s a job. In the meantime, self-publishing platforms like Amazon’s prevent prices from bottoming out by rewarding higher prices with better royalty rates and more visibility.

And readers help keep prices from zeroing out by proving by the millions that they are willing to pay a few dollars for books by the indie authors they love.

Very strangely, if you look at many of the moment’s most successful indies, the prices they charge – $2.99, $3.99, $4.99 – are the exact same prices readers paid more than fifty years ago. Indies are the new Pocket Books. And some of them are very, very good. I expect several classics have already been self-published. Able to buy and explore at prices they haven’t seen in half a century, readers are giving us real careers. In return, we’re able to offer them even better books.

Tomorrow, there will be a new article about how self-published authors are killing the book industry. I won’t read it. I don’t believe it.

And I don’t think we have anything left to prove.

***

Ed Robertson is the author of the mega-selling post-apocalyptic Breakers series. The first book is free and you really should check it out. I read it a couple of years ago (and have since devoured about ten more of his books), and gave it five stars.

digi spanish final highBefore I go back to editing, the Spanish translation of Let’s Get Digital. has been released! A huge thank you to Isabel Ferrer did a wonderful job on the translation.

It’s free today only and here’s (part of) the blurb:

Internet ha revolucionado todos y cada uno de los sectores con los que ha entrado en contacto, y el mundo de la edición no es una excepción. Por primera vez, estos cambios están devolviendo el poder a los escritores. De ti depende que te aproveches de ellos.

Digitalízate: Cómo autoeditar y por qué

About davidgaughran

David Gaughran is an Irish writer, living in Prague, and author of Mercenary, A Storm Hits Valparaiso, Let's Get Digital, Let's Get Visible and this here blog thing.
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61 Responses to Self-Publishers Aren’t Killing The Industry, They’re Saving It

  1. Sandra says:

    And I’m doing my best to help.

  2. Ali Isaac says:

    Interesting… I just had an email from Amazon Kindle today using the same comparison of Indie publisbed ebooks with the emergance of the paperback in conjunction with a request for authors to support them in their ongoing battle with Hachete…

  3. Cary Vaughn says:

    Thank you for this. Great article.

  4. kingmidget says:

    If the Amazon email is accurate — that their efforts are only about getting publishers to drop their e-book prices — I’m all for their effort. I’m disgusted by traditional publishers who charge more for an e-book than a paperback costs. That said, I can’t entirely trust Amazon that that is their only purpose.

  5. capecurrents says:

    Reblogged this on sweatingthewriting and commented:
    A thought provoking article!

  6. I love… really love a finely bound, hardcover book, but in the past ten years, my own earning power has dropped so that the discounted $25 hard bound is now out of the question, unless it’s something I’ll refer to lots of times in the future. That $25 goes to put a half-tank of gas in the car. I read as much or more than I did back in the day, but the realities of economy and space (our library shelves, expanded as far as possible were filled years ago, and I’m trying not to build all those towering stacks of read books…) have changed my standard procedures. Now,lk for a fun read, or a review read, I opt for the eBook. I don’t think I’m alone in that, even among us old-schoolers. Now, I don’t blame the dinosaurs for the comet that laid them low, they didn’t see that coming; but Publishing needs to wise up, fast and stop wasting consumers’ time with the cute puppet shows and like drivel.

    • bevrobitai says:

      Richard, you are better off than we are in New Zealand where hardcover books cost $50-60 and paperbacks run from $25 to $40! At least the high prices here mean that we can publish on Createspace and still make a small profit even accounting for the very expensive postage rates, and in our tiny market, POD is much more sensible than a print run done locally. Most publishing firms here have shut up shop and moved to Australia which leaves the field wide open for us indie publishers!

  7. Fascinating isn’t it, how long this debate is going on? Will it take a generation before Big Publishing stops trying to convince the world that we indies are the death-knell of books? What we are threatening is THEM – the publishers, and their industry – not books themselves, or the future of reading. Perhaps for so long they big publishers WERE books and reading, in their entirety, they are making this mistake – but also, being threatened, they are twisting the situation somewhat to help them seek allies. People will go on reading, so other people will go on writing stuff for them to read – regardless of the rise and fall of companies like Hatchette et al – regardless even of the fate of Amazon. But Amazon has given many of us the chance that we would never have had from the big 5 publishers, and Amazon continue to help me make my living. I sort of feel honour-bound to help them defend their corner, and defend them from such laughable accusations as being the ruination of the book industry. Big publishing may not survive the current changes – but what has Big Publishing ever done for me?

  8. Shah Wharton says:

    Still super relevant two years on!

  9. Awesome. I’m planning on self publishing, so I love this article.

  10. Author Mandy White says:

    Reblogged this on Mandy White and commented:
    David Gaughran: Self-Publishers Aren’t Killing The Industry, They’re Saving It

  11. Pingback: Ed Robertson: Self-Publishers Aren’t Killing The Industry, They’re Saving It | Writer's Cramps

  12. I couldn’t agree more–and I’m an indie, too. Thanks for the enlightening article, David!

  13. J.M. Porup says:

    Technology disrupts and redistributes power. The short-term gains of ebooks for authors will be offset by the long-term destruction of all creativity, dissent, free speech.

    Welcome, Amazon, harbringer of a new Dark Age.

    https://www.anamericandissidentinexile.com/blog/2014/08/why-ebooks-arent-like-paperbacks/

    • If that’s not actually tongue-in-cheek, I believe you have really jumped to the wrong conclusion, M. Porup. Yes, technology disrupts and redistributes power. You’re right about that, and that’s the point. It’s redistributing power from the elitist few to the populous and democratic many.

      That’s exactly opposite of your prediction of the destruction of “creativity, dissent (and) free speech.” Just as the internet poured fuel on the fire of creativity, dissent and free speech, so have ebooks written by indie authors.

      Tradpubs with their many gatekeepers were seldom proponents of creativity, dissent and free speech. They wanted and continued to want a risk-free fat bottom line. The became the “establishment,” the very anathema of creativity, dissent and free speech.

      I realize, judging by that line about Amazon and after reading your blog post, that it’s the fact that the ebook market is dominated by one retailer that really disturbs you, along with the capability to collect information on your reading habits. Those are valid concerns. But I remember reading over the past few years about how Facebook would bring about the end of all civilization and privacy, facilitating Big Brothers everywhere. Yet, use of social media has arguably toppled tyrannical governments, and the concerns about data mining is largely overblown because there is simply far more data out there than is digestible by Big Brother. Be wary? Sure, but let’s not claim the sky is falling when it’s not.

  14. Reblogged this on David VanDyke's Author Blog and commented:
    Awesome post from Gaughran.

  15. Dave says:

    It’s similar to the music industry and the onslaught of MP3′s or Blockbuster and Netflix. The old giants don’t like their boats being rocked and they don’t know what to do about it besides fighting.

  16. Many farmers told Henry Ford that they would never buy his stinky/noisy Model T trucks and would stick to their horses and wagons. Look how that worked-out for them. It seems like ebooks are available around the world and now every Author no longer has to kiss the boots of the Trade Publishing “gatekeepers” … Amazon has removed the Gatekeepers. Marketing and visibility remain as a challenge and luckily for Self-Published Authors like me,Trail-Breaking Author like You David Gaughran, are helping the rest of us figure out our Path. Thank you for being visible and for helping us. I own copies of your books and tell everyone I meet about you and your books. Please tell everyone about my 5 star book Champion too :) Miles Cobbett

  17. Pingback: Self-Publishers Aren’t Killing The Industry, They’re Saving It | serena guidobaldi

  18. Arphaxad says:

    Self-published authors are doing such a good job that I can’t remember that last big 5 book I’ve purchased. “breakers” by Edward w. Robertson is a perfect example. That book is amazing. The entire series was a joy to read. And because of the low price of each book, my friends all could buy their own instead of me lending them mine.

    When I used to buy a lot of paperbacks I used to share them with my friends. A small circle of friends that never bought duplicates because we could share amongst each other, now buys our own ebook copies and we can now talk about books as we read them because we don’t need to wait to finish the book and then lend it.

    All the grip about Amazon is the death toll of an elite class trying to keep control of the publishing industry. What they fail to see is that authors no longer need to go through their gate to get to the readers… the walls have all been torn down.

  19. It was interesting to read Ed Robertson’s guest post from November 2012 where (as you say) he “highlighted interesting parallels between historical paperback pricing (pre-industry consolidation) and self-published e-books.” And, indeed, (as he says) “the history of the era is fascinating.”

    However, when I link jumped over to the “short yet rich article [that] recaps” that history, everything that I read sounded way, way too familiar. I did some checking on my bookshelf and found the book that I was looking for, one that I had recently read. The referred-to article by Andrew Shaffer, that was published in a 2012 issue of mental_floss magazine and reprinted online (April 19, 2014) at mentalfloss.com, is actually a point-by-point, theme-by-theme condensation of the book “TWO-BIT CULTURE: The Paperbacking of America” by Kenneth C. Davis and published in 1984 by Houghton Mifflin.

    I don’t know where Andrew Shaffer got his information, but it is a shame that such a prime source was not credited.

  20. Pingback: Readers United (Statement from the Amazon Books Team) - Joseph Ratliff

  21. Angela Booth says:

    Amazon’s saving publishing — or trying to do it, against the vested interests trying to save themselves. And yes, I think indies are saving publishing too — look at EL James, and other indies propping up publishing houses which should keel over.

    Here’s the thing. I don’t care about publishing. I care about READING. I’m a reader first, and a writer second.

    I’m ashamed to admit that I paid $16.99 for an ebook I wanted to read yesterday, even though I told myself I could buy 3 indie books for that price. But I wanted to read THAT book.

    So I’m part of the problem. I know I shouldn’t encourage idiot publishers in their madness. But I paid.

    Readers will keep paying. Publishers will screw every last cent out of readers that they can.

  22. Marigold says:

    Great article. I know lots of Australian readers who’ve been complaining for years about the local markup of books, any books. We might have a ‘higher standard of living’ but most avid readers have gone to ebooks or even ordering books from overseas through internet shopping for those who still want the feel of a book in their hands. The Book Depository’s UK website is often the first stop for me for Christmas shopping, but I still buy from small local bookstores when I see something I like, because I suspect they won’t be around much longer.

    • bevrobitai says:

      A good point, Marigold – prices in NZ are painful too, but I still try to buy from our local bookshop because they support our local authors. Sadly I went in today to find the ‘closing down sale’ in full swing. It’s near impossible to sell print in our tiny market so thank God for ebooks and a small (so far) and steady income from Amazon!

      • Marigold says:

        It is sad to see so many small businesses closing down these days. It’s quite literally seeing someone’s dream end. Luckily those who dream of being authors are being given another lease on life through the wonders of the internet :) There is hope for some.

  23. I have been an independent journalist for nearly two decades. The initial response was that hiring “freelancers” would kill the job opportunities for “pros”, but what happened? Those professionals had to step up their game, thus independents improved quality over quantity. Now, I am a sports journalist – I can’t say it is the same for all media topics, but holds pretty true to similar course. I am also an independent author and love that corporation media houses and book publishers try to convince the public that a story put out by an independent will never be as good, as fulfilling, as economical, blah to infinity. I have read some very well published ” pro” authors that put out drivel compared to many indies that have put 100% of themselves into the entire process. If anything, independents are once again making the industry better in nearly every way by simply letting the facts speak for themselves.

    Ask a librarian how many times they have a new reader walk in and ask if they have a certain author’s book and are told “no” because it was an independent author “no one has heard of” – only to later have more people come in later because their friend read that story in an e-book and talked about how great this unknown author is. Libraries are getting more interested in providing vastly larger selections for patrons of indies because people are wanting fresh and new and turned off by the corporate media house cookie-cutter formula stories.

    Keep writing. Keep pushing the boundaries.

  24. Reblogged this on christinalrivers and commented:
    Excellent piece for authors and readers

  25. vickilesage says:

    Amazon has a right to make money, just like big publishing does. But Amazon has also allowed ME to make money as a writer, as well as purchase great books at an affordable price. I read more and write more because of Amazon. Do they make money off my reading and writing? Sure. Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so.

  26. Fiona Kirk says:

    Spotted the ‘David Gaughran’ mention in the communication from Kindle – good shout! I think I speak on behalf of a great many self-published authors when I say “Thanks for your unstinting efforts”. Not quite sure where you find the time to write and publish your own tomes and still keep up to speed with ‘developments’ in the industry but it is very much appreciated!

  27. As recently as last week I sent an e-mail to a local bookstore asking to do a signing for my Pirate series. I was told that because I published my book on Amazon, they were not interested in doing a signing, because Amazon is trying to run independent bookstores out of business. If you don’t carry the books people are reading, you put yourself out of business, and Amazon is your scapegoat.
    I published my books on Amazon because I got tired of rejection letters, and I know I can write a good story, plain and simple. I got tired of having someone else judge my writing who had never even seen what I can do, and based their opinion on a two-paragraph query. After six years of rejection, and wanting to quit writing, I’d had enough. So I did it myself.
    Yes, marketing is an issue, but I still sell books. People want a good story cheap, and I’m sorry, but they aren’t willing to pay $50 for a hardcover Harry Potter book anymore. Paperback books are cheap, ebooks are cheaper (most of the time), and indie author books are sometimes the cheapest, best reads you will find.
    I’m still stuck on the fact that Hillary Clinton published a book traditionally before I did. What does that say about the state of publishing??

  28. Pingback: Self-Publishers Aren't Killing The Industry, Th...

  29. Pingback: The True History of Paperbacks: A Small Correction to Hachette CEO’s Response to Amazon | Edward W. Roberston

  30. Anna Castle says:

    The ebook advantage isn’t only about price; it’s about portability. And that, imho, is revitalizing both reading and the writing of creative fiction. I see young people — you know, those people who don’t buy books anymore and so supposedly don’t read — reading on their phones or other gadgets everywhere I go. Granted, I live in a town with a Big State U, but still: more people are reading more things more often in more places. And these are exactly the people most likely to try new kinds of content, as well as new delivery methods. Trad pubs are still cranking out the same old stories. I’m awed at the galactictically vast magnificence of the independent imagination. And proud, now, to count myself among that number.

    • Good point, Anna. There’s a convergence of advantages to the ebook/ereader (including apps) combo analogous to the convergence of advantages to other networked devices themselves – price, capability, portability, recoverability, transmittability, lendability, sharability, adaptability to the disabled such as the ability to change print size or instantly obtain audible versions, the ability to read in the dark for many devices (making, for example, plane trips that much more pleasant), the accessibility to instantly obtain books rather than waiting for shipment…the list goes on and on.

      Tradpub houses, who were dragged kicking and screaming into the digital age, could have kept their whole pie and preserved their system if they’d beaten Amazon to the punch by coordinating design and production of a Kindle-type reader and pushed ebook technology forward. Instead, they showed themselves to be dinosaurs, failing to understand all the advantages to digital that rapid drove adoption of the new technology. They only saw the downsides and failed to envision the world after just seven years (2007-2014) from the introduction of the Kindle. That failure of vision has left them fighting a rearguard action but, perversely, still benefiting as reading in general is experiencing a resurgence. After the consolidation period, tradpubs are experiencing record profits. It says something sad about an industry that is doing so well largely because of Amazon, yet continues to whine about the trailblazer.

      I often wonder what would have happened had Amazon decided to buy one of the Big Six and launch from an established platform rather than from scratch. Thank God they didn’t. I doubt I’d be making a living as an indie today without the current wide-open environment.

      • Anna Castle says:

        Plus I don’t think I could order replacement ceiling fan remote controls with 30+ 4* reviews from MacMillan and get them in 2 days. Amazon is more than just books! I don’t think of Amazon as my publisher at all. I think of it as a debut-author-friendly bookstore.

  31. Cora Buhlert says:

    Hi David! Just wanted to let you know that you’ve been quoted on the German site lesen.net Unfortunately, they misspelled your name. http://www.lesen.net/diskurse/wie-sich-amazon-im-konditionenstreit-als-anwalt-des-kunden-verkauft-13549/

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  34. pilesofpages says:

    Reblogged this on pilesofpages and commented:
    A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an overview on self-publishing (Self Publishing: Why and How), and this is a great article to add to the “why” section of that discussion. A great read!

  35. Reblogged this on and commented:
    Informative as always

  36. Sheri Savill says:

    Love. This. Article.

  37. Pingback: 20 Tweets to Tweet About & Goodbye Robin #amwriting #RobinWilliams | Shah Wharton

  38. Rachel Thompson says:

    Knowing what I know about how corporations work, the uglier side between the two sides comes from big 5 publishing. At least with Amazon the author gets some money. Big publishing has abused their mid-list author meal tickets far too long– they deserve their self-made slow death. I’ve been offered contracts by conventional publishers and every one was a deal with the devil. I refused them. I just could not bend over that far and hold my ankles that long. I rather give it away then get raped.

  39. writerchick says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more. I too think the Indies are revitalizing the industry while giving readers the gift of affordable books. To me, it’s a win-win for readers and writers. Not so much for the ‘big five.’
    Writer Chick

  40. rmcalzada says:

    Monopoly sounds like the appropriate word. Having so few – and such highly controlling – publishing companies mirrors politics: have a select few in power, and the majority of the people start to feel their free will becoming constricted. I’m hoping to become a part of the e-book reform. Even if I have to start out by earning pennies and sustaining myself on cheaper food.

  41. Paul Worthington Books says:

    Hey David,
    This is an amazing and spot on post. We need more indie authors like you. Thank you for reminding the reading world that Indie authors are a force to reckoned with.

    When you get a chance, stop by http://paulworthingtonbooks.com, for a fun greet and meet.

  42. radford46 says:

    Hi David. Greetings from London. Self-publishers may not be killing the wider book industry, but is the self-publishing industry killing itself? Why do I write this? Because I have become the latest victim of BookBub’s virtual monopoly. I have hundreds of five-star reviews for my three thrillers and I haven’t advertised with BookBub for about six months. Yet now they have turned me down for all three books (all at 99 cents). This was probably inevitable, given that they say they can now include only 20% of applications for their daily lists. Here’s their stock reply:

    ‘Thanks for your submission. Unfortunately, our editorial team has not selected this title for a BookBub promotion at this time.

    Due to limited space in the email, we’re only able to feature about 20% of the titles that get submitted to us. The editorial team reviews all the submissions that meet our minimum guidelines for a certain category and price point, and selects the titles within that group that they believe will perform best with our members. Other titles the editors reviewed were better fits for our readers’ current tastes.

    While this deal hasn’t been selected for a feature, here are some tips to make future submissions as competitive as possible:

    - Submit your deal at a lower price point
    - Submit other titles from your backlist
    - Re-submit your title in a few months, when it might be a better fit for our readers
    - Review additional tips here: https://www.bookbub.com/partners/submission-tips

    Please wait at least four weeks before resubmitting this title for consideration.

    Best regards,
    BookBub Partners Team’

    Given that BookBub doesn’t really have any serious competition (BookGorilla is a waste of time), I can’t believe that the vast majority of writers who have enjoyed past success are not suffering plummeting sales.

    Any advice would be appreciated.

    Roger Radford (www.rogerradford.com)
    Ps Because of the current turmoil in the Mideast (where I was a foreign correspondent) I have seen a spike in sales of my thriller, The Winds of Kedem, but BookBub doesn’t seem to have taken this book of topical interest into consideration. It’s very frustrating.

    • While BookBub is a great resource, it’s not the be-all and end-all. I don’t owe my success to BookBub, though it certainly has been nice on the occasions I got one in. There are many opportunities for promotion out there other than BookBub. Go hang out at KBoards and I am sure you will get find some recommendations.

      Roger, other factors may be figuring into your lack of traction. Your covers and prose are good, but are your books part of a series? From your Amazon author page, I don’t think so. Series books by their very nature help to sell each other. And, without a series, you can’t implement the permafree-first-in-series strategy that I have found very effective. Also, have you examined your pricing strategy? My impression is that $6.99 is a bit high for books from a midlist or lower indie. For example, my books are priced between $2.99 and $4.99 and I am making a comfortable living off about a dozen works so far.

      Then (rhetorically), what about your keywords and your blurbs? Have you considered making audiobooks through ACX? What about social media? Have you used something like MailChimp to create a fan mailing list? When is your next book coming out? Building a larger backlist will help you a lot. Have you sought out other authors on forums and asked for critiques or advice?

      Good luck with your work.

  43. atwistedpair says:

    Reblogged this on a twisted pair and commented:
    “Self-publishers don’t have the power to kill the publishing industry. I don’t think anyone does. But we do have the power to change it. We already have – and paradoxically, this change isn’t a change at all. And instead of killing books, this change has helped resurrect them.” (Ed Robertson)

  44. MiaSamAndrew says:

    Fascinating Article!
    Thanks for sharing. <3

  45. Pingback: Why does WordPress.com make it so effing impossible to post comments??? | Writers Plain & Simple

  46. rohini99 says:

    Reblogged this on FictionPals and commented:
    Very interesting! The way to go it seems.

  47. Pingback: https://medium.com:443/@cshirky/publishing-and-reading-6a80139d13cc | The Today Online

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