Thursday, February 2, 2012

Nothing Western About This Trend

All the buzz is about the Kindle Select Program and how authors are seeing increased sales for books offered through that venue.  I have two books contracted with a non-traditional publisher, and it appears, the rumors are true.  Despite having my books given away free on a spotlight day, the promotional effort has created enough visibility that I moved up in the ranks and sold mega copies the following days.  Amazing.  BUT...

The e-publishing uproar is great in so many respects...especially for those with new books to contract and have a say in the price.  I've been writing for over ten years and have several books published through traditional e-publishers, and the concern for me is the pricing.  I'm not as concerned with charges for print books since most of the focus is now on downloads...finally.  There are, however, some old school folks who still want to hold a "real" book in their hands, but are they willing to pay the outlandish prices being asked?

A question I've continued to ask myself for years is...why would someone order and wait to receive one of books when they can go to Walmart and buy two or three by a well-known mainstream author?  I'm good, but I'm also relatively unknown except for in small circles here on the Internet.  I don't know how to increase my visibility unless Oprah discovers me. That's not likely to happen as she hasn't answered any of my emails. *lol*

Besides, the price for me is prohibitive for anyone on a fixed income.  I understand my publishers have to make a profit. They also have to pay the editor, copy editor, cover artist, and whatever other fees are incurred, then we split what's left, which sometimes is more a slap in the face than an honor.  I find that making ten cents per print copy sold ($9.95-13.95) leaves a very bitter taste in my mouth.  I make far more on downloads, but the majority of any money I make right now is on the two books with the least expensive price of $2.99.  Those priced in the $5.95 neighborhood are going nowhere and there's nothing I can do but wait until my contract expires and hope someone is willing to accept previously published work.  I see Amazon's KDP as a way of getting my brand of writing in the public eye...something I've been striving to do for years.

I will, in the future, probably chose to self-publish and cut out the middleman, but that doesn't mean I don't recommend signing with a publisher.  New authors who jump in feet first, self-publish, and then rue the fact that their editing stinks, are placing a stigma on the more-seasoned and trained authors who choose the route.  This is a stigma those of us who started in the e-industry have faced all along.  Signing with a traditional house who takes pride in what they turn out has been a valuable experience for me.  I thought I'd written a prize-winning novel with my debut book, but it turned out to be nothing more than a delightful story I'd TOLD.  I didn't SHOW my reader the emotions, smells, and other senses involved in a true novel.  I head-hopped, used passive voice, made rookie mistakes that I've since learned to avoid.  I wouldn't have learned any of this without my editor, and thankfully, I learned before the manuscript was published.  I earned a four-star review on that novel from Romantic Times, which at that period, was being especially tough on e-authors.  That one review will always remain a "gem" in my crown.

Don't get me wrong....I don't believe any of my books are error-free, and I'm constantly learning.  I do that now through critique groups with other experienced authors who have learned similar but often different lessons through their own editing sessions.  I'm still very much involved with and part of my author's groups, but I'm seeing a swing in the trend which lures and confuses me at the same time.  I wonder where all this is leading.

  B&N has already announced they are removing Amazon titles from their stores because of the exclusivity involved..."Barnes & Noble won’t sell books from Amazon’s new print publisher in its brick-and-mortar stores, in an attempt to cut off access for the online books behemoth that it says “undermined the industry” by signing exclusive agreements with publishers, agents, and authors," and lots of other book stores have already closed.  I wanted an e-book revolution, but it it's going to turn out to be a bloody battle like the Civil War, then maybe I've been wishing for the wrong thing.  You?


Meg said...

Oh man, you are NOT kidding. Ouch - bricks are falling on our heads. It seems were just cannon fodder some days. I hope to ride out the skirmishes and eventually win in this "war."

Caroline Clemmons said...

Ginger, whether we want it or not, the revolution is here. For me, it's a good thing. I have seven titles on Amazon, all but two of which were previously published by traditional publishers and I've republished on Kindle and Smashwords. Last month I made 32 times as much from Kindle as from Smashwords. Let's face it, authors like to be in control of content, genre, cover, etc. If we can do that and make a larger profit, why not? I hate that book stores are closing, and there are some author's books I will always buy in print. The number is shrinking, though.

Ginger Simpson said...

I totally agree Caroline. I'd love to have more control of my books...especially in the pricing since that's where I can't compete. Of all my contracted books, right now I'm making the most on the two that are published in the KDP program and sold for $2.99.

There's nothing wrong with making more profit and controlling your beef is that some new authors who haven't learned "the rules" are putting up less than polished books which places a stigma on self-pubbed authors. You and I got where we are through traditional routes, and I speak for myself when I say, all the editorial sessions I've suffered have not been a waste of my time. Instead, they've made me a better author. As far as print, there are old dogs who won't learn new tricks...I thought for sure I'd be one of them until I got my Kindle, but I'm not so sure they're willing to pay the outlandish prices that are charged for POD books as opposed to those for downloads. I'm concentrating my efforts on ebooks right now because that's where my sales are coming from.

Beth Trissel said...

Ginger, I hear you, and no, I don't have any answers. A good post, though.