As an author, I’m always trying to grow my readership, and hope new readers of one book will buy the other and look forward to my next release. But as a newer author currently writing in perhaps not the most popular sub-genre, medievals, getting my books out there can be time consuming and costly.
What do you think the average self-published author earns a year (across all genres, not just romance)? Digital Book World says the median is $500-999 per year. Other sites, such as The Write Life, take a rosier view…but you have to pay attention to the source of the statistics and which books are included…in this case, 200,000 best-sellers.
I’m very fortunate to have exceeded $999 since my first book released January 14, 2015 (my second released April 14). However, despite my love of writing, I’m debating whether the time and effort are worth the rewards. Given the expenses of self-publishing (such as great editor(s), competitive cover(s), and any promotion or marketing), even earning back what you spent can be a challenge. And the sad reality is that many–probably most–authors will never get compensated for the hours they invested in creating each book.
Why? In my opinion, there are two key reasons:
1) The proliferation of online self-published books of all levels of quality plus many authors’ large backlists.
As of this writing, how many romances do you think are available for Kindle? 288,798. And 30,710 of those were released in the last 9 days.
2) The recent market devaluation of the cost of books in general.
Remember the days when you had to travel to an actual bookstore and shell out anywhere from $5.99 to $7.99 plus tax for a paperback? Now you can hop online and instantly download e-books…for free, a mere $.99, or from $1.99-4.99.
One site, k-lytics.com, reports that in April, 2015, the average price of romance Top 100 best sellers was $2.99. When you upload your book to Kindle Direct Press, Amazon presents a bell curve showing the price at which you have the best chance of selling the most books.
Most of us love a good sale and enjoy saving money. But many readers now feel even $2.99 is too much to pay for thousands of words the author labored over. Thanks to the proliferation of bargain and/or free book e-newsletters such as BookBub (the hardest to get your book accepted into, even at a cost of hundreds of dollars depending on your book’s genre), Bargain Booksy, and Choosy Bookworm to name just a few, readers can have access to dozens of free or discounted books every single day.
And there’s Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, via Amazon Prime, which allows members to download many books for free. Authors decide whether or not to place their books in the program, and get paid from a global pool of Amazon’s money each month. This is great, because of course authors get nothing for books taken out from traditional libraries. But for authors of novel-length books, the payment is usually less than they’d receive from an actual sale. And Amazon announced changes to the KOLL program starting in July, when payouts will be based on how many pages each KU/KOLL reader reads.
Here’s The Authors’ Guild’s take on the changes. There are dozens of posts claiming this will be a good or a bad thing for authors.
It’s great to have the opportunity to try a new author or a different sub-genre than you usually read for free or a low cost. But too much free, whether it’s temporary or permafree, IMO, devalues books in general and raises expectations of more free stuff. Will readers go and buy that new author’s next book, or wait for it to go on sale, too?
What do you think about book prices?