Riding the Ebook Train

Evolution of Readers
Image by jblyberg via Flickr

Ebooks are big news these days, even though they still comprise only a small portion of total book sales. Amazon reported that Kindle downloads surpassed print book sales in December 2009. Apple just released the iPad which can function as an eReader and download ebooks from the iStore.

Writers are cashing in on the popularity of ebooks. By uploading their own books to the big distributors like Amazon, Apple, B&N and Sony and bypassing the Big Publishers, they’re able to directly reach the reader and get a larger slice of the royalty pie. And the slice is getting larger. Amazon is changing its royalty rate in June from 35% to 70% (for ebooks priced 2.99 or greater) which is a huge boon for authors.

Technology has made it easy for writers to sell their stories directly to readers and reap the majority of the benefits. If you can follow some formatting guidelines, you can upload your story within minutes and be selling.

And notice that self-publishing is quickly losing its stigma of being the last refuge for the writer who couldn’t make it in Real Publishing.

If you want to make a full-time living as a writer, that is now entirely possible. Even if Big Publishing isn’t interested in your books.

Need some proof?

JA Konrath is selling 180 230 ebooks a day. He has six books in print and thirteen ebooks available on the Kindle (mostly novels that Big Publishing didn’t want). He projects he’ll make $100,000 by the end of the year. Just from his ebooks.

Karen McQuestion has six ebooks available on the Kindle (and not on any other platform and no print books) and has sold 30,000 copies of her ebooks since July 2009. Of the six, one is a children’s book and two are young adult novels. She’s proof that you don’t have to be traditionally published or have a big name to make money on ebooks.

Moira Rogers reported a dramatic upsurge in her ebook sales in December 2009 and January 2010. After months of low sales, her numbers jumped to over 400 sales in January alone on just one of her ebook titles. She says her other backlist titles on Amazon are experiencing the same surge in sales.

Lee Goldberg has been following JA Konrath’s ebook success and has been experimenting with the covers of his backlist books available on the Kindle to see the effect on sales. So far, his sales have increased with the new covers and if his sales continue at their current rate, he’ll earn $1400 in royalties in April.

Ellen Fisher released her first ebook on Amazon in February 2010 and had 27 downloads. She released two more ebooks and ended March with 889 downloads.

There is amazing opportunity for writers with a good book, a good cover, an appealing description and low price to make money on Kindle sales. And this isn’t even counting the other platforms, like the iStore, B&N and Sony.

Your Turn

Do you have any ebooks available on Amazon or on other ebook platforms? How have your sales been?

If you don’t have an ebook on Amazon yet, why not? What do you need to get you started?

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5 thoughts on “Riding the Ebook Train

  1. Caine

    What DO I need to get started? How is an "e-book" defined? Pages Count? If ever there was a post on line that should motivate writers to stay at it and never give up it's this one!

  2. Heather Massey

    Go, Ellen! It was exciting to discover Ms. Fisher's science fiction romance NEVER LOVE A STRANGER. The digital market is a great boon for niche subgenres like SFR.

  3. Kait Nolan

    I just released my paranormal romance novella Forsaken By Shadow (available on Amazon, Scribd, Smashwords, and the iBookstore) at the tail end of March for the bargain price of $1. After being listed for a month (with no marketing) I've sold 38 copies. I'm doing a massive blog tour in the month of May and I expect to see a big upswing in sales as a result. The sequel I hope to put out in August.

    I'm really excited about the possibilities and the freedom to explore options that make little financial sense in traditional publishing (like novellas, which don't sell all that well in print).

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