Amazon

Amazon

Amazon | Guy L. PaceI’ve been working with some marketing people and trying different promotions on Amazon for Sudden Mission and Nasty Leftovers. As I move to the finish line on the third book, I want to have a stronger showing in the first two. While they have done well at times on Amazon, sales on the other e-book vendors have been abysmal. So, I had to come to a decision.

As of today, both books are only available, exclusively, on Amazon. Much as I wanted to have an open market for the books, it just wasn’t going to work.

There is a benefit for the reader, though. Via the KDP Select program, folks with Kindles and the Kindle app–along with an Amazon Prime or subscription account–can get and read both books for no added cost. That is in the Kindle Unlimited program that is part of KDP Select. You can still order your own e-book copy for $2.99, or the paperback (through a local bookstore or Amazon and shipped from Ingram Spark). But, if you want to just check it out and read it, that works, too. You can even lend a copy to a friend through the lending library feature.

I do have an option to opt out of the KDP Select in about 30 days. I do not expect that to happen.

I hope I’m not disappointing anyone. Amazon is what works and that’s where I have to take it. Thanks for your support.

Keep writing.

 

Royalties

What are royalties?

BugBear BooksRoyalties are the part of the price of a book that actually goes to the author after all other costs and fees. So, it doesn’t mean authors wear crowns. Here’s a little taste of the business side of writing and publishing.

If you check out Sudden Mission and Nasty Leftovers on Amazon, Nook, or Kobo, you’ll see that the price for the e-book version is $2.99. This is, I think, a reasonable price for an e-book. The print/paperback editions, as published through IngramSpark, are $10.95. As a self-published author, I get to set the pricing at a point that seems reasonable to me. I collect a nominal amount of royalty for each sale and the sale prices cover the costs of printing and/or producing the books. Marketing or promotion comes out of the royalties (my pocket).

Amazon, and most of the other e-book sellers, pay the author or publisher up to 70 per cent of the price of an e-book as long as the price is between $2.99 and $9.99. That seems the sweet spot for e-books. I went to the lower end of the price structure simply because I want my books accessible, and I felt the percentage was enough to cover my own costs and effort.

Hybrid Publishing

Sudden Mission and Nasty Leftovers first came out published by a–now defunct–hybrid publisher, Booktrope. When I signed up with them, they set the price of the e-book editions at $3.99 and the paperback editions at $13.99. My royalty from Booktrope would be 30 percent. Since I assumed that Booktrope would manage the creation of the e-book format, print format, and some marketing–as well as editing and proofreading support–that amount seemed fair. With most hybrid publishers, that is generally the deal with authors. A 30 percent royalty and the hybrid gets the 40 percent cut. Assuming that the hybrid does the work expected and the quality is decent, that is a reasonable and fair deal.

Even at $3.99 for the e-book, that price supports the production and release of an e-book edition just fine. The overhead costs of producing an e-book is very low. Much more so that production and printing–even on-demand printing–of a paperback or hard cover book.

Unfortunately, hybrid publishing is a hard business. Publishers come and go on a regular basis and authors get left in the cold. One friend has been through several hybrids with her books, and she sells a lot more than I.

Traditional Publishing

So, why are some e-books priced at $13.99 and higher?

If you look at books on Amazon with e-book prices above $10, you’ll see the publishers are traditional publishing houses, generally out of New York City. You’ll see new books released in the hard cover first, as with most traditional publishing processes, and the e-book released at the same time at a price of $13 to $20. Considering that the costs to produce the e-book edition are the same as, say, Sudden Mission‘s e-book edition–that seems like a very high price.

It is. You see, traditional publishing still follows the old model of producing a hard cover edition first, followed in a year or so by a paperback, maybe a trade paper, edition. Go to your local Barnes & Noble. How many hard cover copies of new books do you see going out the door? I’m talking the ones not on the bargain table. There are quite a few on the shelves, but they’ll get returned in a week or so when they don’t sell. The publisher will, if they are not damaged, re-sell them to other bookstores if they can. Eventually, the books that don’t sell get destroyed. Someone has to eat that cost.

But, traditional publishers figured out that if they release the e-book edition at the same time, the sales of the e-book will help subsidize the cost of producing–and later destroying–the hard cover edition. It’s a win-win for the traditional publisher, assuming the folks in the reading audience buy this concept.

How much does the author get in this? Well, a big name author can command between 12 and 15 percent royalty, maybe more. Less if represented by an agent. A less well-known author, with an agent, will get about half of whatever the royalty agreement is.

Bestsellers

Let’s have a little fantasy here. Say Sudden Mission became a best seller this year and we sold 50,000 copies of the e-book.

As a self-published author, at the current price for the e-book edition, my royalty for this year would be:

$104,650.00

With a hybrid publisher, at the $3.99 price for the e-book edition, my royalty for this year would be:

$59,850.00

With a traditional publisher, at a $13.99 price for the e-book, my royalty (after an agent takes a cut, I get 3 percent) would be:

$20,985.00

Granted, this doesn’t take into account the time, effort, and expense promoting the book. That includes attending conferences, SF&F cons, travel, hotels, all that. Yes, that is all on the author. Traditional publishers only cover travel and promotion for the top-tier authors. When it is all said and done, the author in each case would spend about one-third of the royalty for promotion. And, when that year of “bestseller status” is over–it is over. Royalties after the big year generally arrive in tiny dribs and drabs.

This example is a complete fantasy. But it does illustrate the differences between self-published, hybrid, and traditional. I was conservative on the traditional royalty rate and assumed an agent would be involved.

Bottom Line

Authors work hard to create a product. Most of the authors I know cannot support themselves on what they make from their work. They have “day jobs” and other ways to keep food on the table, pay for kid’s college, put gas in the car. Even authors who do well in the marketplace, do not make enough to live on just from the writing. Most authors I know who do well (better than I), rarely sell more than 10 percent of the books as in the above fantasy.

Those authors, including myself, are in the business because it’s a passion. A little fame, a little recognition–that all helps. We’d still write our stories anyway.

Keep writing.

 

 

Kluge

What is a Kluge?

“Kluge” is a word common around computer and hardware systems and is an unfortunate appropriation of a German family name. The term kluge (often misspelled “kludge”) refers to a “clunky, unpolished, quickly thrown together,” workaround or patch that results in a difficult to maintain or repair system.

klugeI knew that the term likely came from the Kluge paper feeder and offset printing systems from the early 1900s. It surprised me to find in Missoula a near-working Kluge offset in a custom print business. They were in the process of repairing the Kluge to get it to print foil embossing. A quick study of the Kluge and comparison to other offset printing devices gives you an idea of how the unit earned the reputation–and why the term became common. When they work, they work beautifully. Maintenance and repair is difficult.

Here’s a link in Wikipedia to give you a more or less complete rundown on the term.

offset-printer

One of the scheduled events at the Montana Book Festival was a printing demonstration using a Golding offset printing press. Probably circa 1890, the device weighed about 350-400 pounds. The frame is cast iron and the mechanism works smooth as butter. The owners of this letterpress adapted it in the “make-ready” process to use more modern materials, including polymer plates. That disk in the picture is the ink plate. The rollers smear the ink around on it and apply it to the image plate, which then presses the ink on the paper. It is an amazing process to watch.

Yes, I found all this pretty interesting and exciting. I started working in newspapers when some were still printed using offset and moveable type. I was witness to the transition from hot lead to digital typesetting. Seeing this old stuff and watching it work was very nostalgic. The smell of the ink and oil, the sound of the mechanism as it worked, brought back a lot of memories.

The Kluge and some other devices were at Noteworthy Paper & Press in Missoula.  If you visit, you’ll find a lot of custom printed things.

I visited Valley Christian School for my part of the Youth Festival and got to talk to the high school senior AP english class. After a short read from Sudden Mission, I lead them through an exercise in creating a fictional character using a character sketch. I had fun and I hope the students did, as well.

Saturday was the book fair at the Holiday Inn, and everyone had their books available. Here’s a pic of my books among the others on one table.

books

I had a great time at the festival and I hope they can keep it going.

Keep writing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Subscribers

Be a Subscriber

I set up a gift code on Amazon for an e-book of Nasty Leftovers. On September 30, I will randomly select from my blog subscriber list someone who will receive this code.

Building and this list is important. It helps me get the message out about my books and projects. Those of you subscribed get the blog posts right away. You stay informed about the books, what’s coming, what’s happening. Folks not subscribed may miss a post that is also shared on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or elsewhere. Imagine your frustration if you miss a reading/signing event in your town or at your favorite bookstore!

So, if you are already subscribed, thank you. Encourage friends and family to subscribe. If you’re not subscribed, just click the little subscribe link on the page and subscribe. Simple.

I do not share any information, the list, or any personal information with any one else.

If you already have a copy of Nasty Leftovers and you end up the winner of the gift code, no worries. You can forward that to a friend or relative. Spread the love.

Don’t forget. If you live or are in Spokane this week, I’m reading/signing at Auntie’s Bookstore downtown at 7 pm, Thursday, September 15.

Thanks.

Keep writing.

 

Briefly

Just Briefly

I’ll be brief today. I’m getting ready for a reading/signing at Auntie’s Bookstore in downtown Spokane, WA, on Sept. 15, 7 pm. I hope lots of folks in Spokane and the surrounding area come to hear!

From Sept. 21-25, I’ll be at the Montana Book Festival in Missoula, MT. They’re still putting the schedule together. If you plan to attend, or will be in the Missoula area during that time, please check in and look me up! The schedule on the link above should be firmed up in the next week.

Both Sudden Mission and Nasty Leftovers (as reported in the previous post) are available in print now. You can even order print copies from Amazon (see the links). The print copies are not via CreateSpace, but Ingram, so shipping might take a couple more days. For some reason, Amazon isn’t showing the cover image for Sudden Mission, but it may show up soon.

There is a new review of Sudden Mission on Amazon by an old Madras High School friend. She was a couple of years behind me and married one of my classmates. I attended a combined reunion this summer and had a lot of fun catching up with old friends.

Any time authors or artists can get ratings or reviews is a blessing. Today’s market is so crammed with content and content providers, it is hard to get noticed any other way. So, when you read something put up a star rating if you can. Good or bad, it all counts and it all helps.

Subscribing to this blog is a good thing. Really. I don’t share your email or info with anyone else. You get updates and posts right away and won’t miss anything. I may use the mailing list in the future for contests and giveaways. If you are already subscribed, great! Thanks. Share the information with friends and family. The more subscribers, the more we’ll use this for fun stuff.

So, that’s everything, briefly.

Keep writing.