Saturday, June 4, 2011

Author be be quick

I've seen a fair amount of angst the past few days about a few recent publishing developments:
  • Amazon Sunshine Deals - Over 600 books from traditional publishers priced from $0.99 - $2.99, which are gobbling up the the Amazon Top 100 rankings

  • Amazon becoming a "real publisher" as evidenced by their hiring of Larry Kirshbaum and signing of Barry Eisler, Joe Konrath, and Barry Crouch

  • Some slow down in the ebook %'s off the big 29.5% numbers of February's AAP numbers

  • The discussion that never dies which is: a flood of "crappy books" will kill the book industry
Michael has a great scene in his yet to be released book where things are looking just about as dark as it could be. One of my favorite characters in the book is totally unaffected by the impending doom. He basically points out that he's lived a good life, will die in relative comfort surrounded by friends...he has no complaints. He makes a great analogy about whether it makes any sense to spoil the memory of a great meal by lamenting that you've come to the last bite.

Well we are FAR from "the end" of the good times brought on by the current climate in publishing. But I wanted to give my own opinions on the subject of change.

We can be certain of a few things:
  • Change will come, it is the only certainty that we can count on.

  • We can speculate what that change will look like. It's important to keep abreast what is going on and to keep your eyes open. If you wait until after it happens you'll have to play catch up.

  • No one can be certain exactly what the future will look like, although many will bet on their soapboxes and proclaim they know for sure

  • Those that are able to adjust to change quickly, will be more successful than those who clinging to the past

  • Will it always be this great? I have no idea - this may be the "gold rush days" but it may be just the start of something even better. Recently I posted the great sales of one of my authors (at the time at about 10,000 a month) and mentioned it in a forum someone sniped back...but what makes you think those sales will can't count on that. My first response was you're right - the sales will probably increase...and they did - he finished out May with 17,700+ in sales.
So what are my "messages of the day"?
  • Maximize Opportunities: Times are great now, make the best of current environment. Remember the old saying of making hay while the sun shines?
  • Continuous education: Keep yourself informed of the changes in the industry. You're already doing that by reading my blog but other great sources are: JA Konrath, Dean Wesley Smith, Kathryn Rusch, and David Gaughran. We won't always agree with one another but we spend a lot of time watching for trends and important information so stand on the shoulders of others who have already invested the time and effort.

  • Be thankful: Times have never been better to be in writing. You are fortunate to be in the right place at the right time. Authors who have been in the business for decades no how hard it once was.

  • Don't worry: Getting yourself tied up into knots about what may or may not come to pass is unproductive. Focus that energy to point #1 above.

  • Embrace Challenges: Overcoming obstacles is far more rewarding than to have everything handed to you on a silver platter. I've always said that perseverance and determination is the best fuel to guarantee success. If you find a wall in front of you, go over it, dig under it, or find away around it. The only unacceptable option is to sit down before it.
I'm not worried about what the future holds because I know that the entrepreneur spirit has proven time and time again to be the catalyst to drive our civilization forward. Each closed door opens a new window. So my thought of the day is to be nimble and smart. You can't stop change, nor should you want to. Instead embrace it and find a way to succeed while the rest cower in fear.


V. Furnas said...

Excellent post! The changes are thrilling and I cannot wait to see what is coming down the track.

Wendy Tyler Ryan said...

Agreed, change is inevitable. Embrace it or perish.

SlingWords aka Joan Reeves said...

Excellent post. I appreciate the optimistic tone because too many people are running around yelling, "the sky is falling."

It may indeed be falling, but the smart people are learning how to make debris-proof umbrellas.

(Hope you are feeling much better. I'm still on antibiotics and still feeling crappy but trying to get back to biz.)

Btw, I like the new look of your blog.

Best wishes,
Joan Reeves

Robert Burton Robinson said...

Yes, Robin, the Sunshine Deals blew me out of the top 100. My book, Sweet Ginger Poison, had been on that list for 29 days, and had made it as high as 44. It averaged 524 sales per day in May.

All seven of my books have been priced at $0.99. But now I've decided to experiment with a $2.99 price for my latest book. Like several of my books, it is just under 40,000 words.

I tried it at $2.99 a couple of months ago, but got impatient after a few weeks of low sales. Now I realize that I probably didn't give it enough time at that price.

Amazon's "Also Bought" feature is very powerful. But when you first raise the price of a book from $0.99 to something higher, you lose much of the effect of the "Also Boughts," since those customers were primarily shopping for $0.99 books. At least, that's my theory.

At any rate, you have to sell a ton of product to make a living off $0.99 books. I'm just not sure it's possible---unless you write six or seven books per year. :(

And these Sunshine Deals, or something similar, could become a regular thing. If that happens, self-published authors would be virtually elimated from the Top 100 bestseller list.

So, bottom line, you were right, Robin. ;)

Robert Burton Robinson said...

More thoughts about pricing books at $0.99...

- Impulse purchases
- Reach new readers who are willing to take a chance because of low price

- Perceived as lower-quality book (nobody wants to waste their time on a lousy book at any price)
- Impulse buys mean that customer does not read the sample and maybe doesn't even read the description. If it turns out to be a type of story she doesn't like, she may give it a one-star review.

Vincent Zandri said...

Great post as usual ... I think in this climate of chance and adjustment it's important to be open to experimenting with price. I maintained a spot in the top 100 with two books and even the top ten for a couple of months, but we had to be realistic and StoneGate upped the price to 3.99 and we reaped the benefits accordingly. Now one of those same books is back on sale and kind of stalled at around the 300 plus range, but my gut reaction is that given time it will gain ground once more. The second of those two books should be at 2.99 but SONY lowered the price without consulting the publisher and we had to pull the title completely. Amazon won't have it at the correct price for about a week. Now that's frustrating! But I have to say, I have zero complaints...:)

Stephen T. Harper said...

Great post. It's always a time for optimism. But especially so when it's so easy to take the reigns of your own career. The sky is only falling if you are counting on other people or circumstances to create what we can and should be creating for ourselves.

Robin Sullivan said...

@Slingwords - thanks - I'm still working on the blog - but it's getting there. Once I have it all nailed down I'll be having a post on where/how to find things now that I'm getting more organized.

I'm a tad weak but other than that - no other health related issues. Thanks for asking.

Robin Sullivan said...

@Robert - Yeah all rankings across the board seem to be hit hard - but the real question - is it hitting your sales? For my top sellers the rankings have risen but so have sales so no complaints. Curious how it is effecting you since you were in the top 100 and at a lower price point then I'm running with my authors.

Robin Sullivan said...

@Vincent - yeah I've seen you playing around with the price points again. Where you are at ranking rise probably has more to do with the Sunshine Deals then anything else. Just because you are back to $0.99 and a long way from the Top 100 (relatively) isn't because of the pricing - its because a lot of your "low price" people are off buying and reading their Sunshine Deals. It will probably take quite some time for the effects of Sunshine to work its way out. The promotion ends on the 15th but it will probably have some stickiness such that I think a lot of the Sunshine Deals will stay at that price and if they do they'll continue in the lower rankings for some time.

Robin Sullivan said...

@Stephen - I like your attitude - I love "take charge" people who don't rely on others (or the marketplace) to make their opportunities.

Stephen T. Harper said...

Thanks Robin. I just think that Amazon has done plenty on my behalf already. No deal they might implement with traditional publishers is likely to change the fact that the door is wide open for all writers to get their work out to a world of potential paying customers. If we can't be excited about that, then marketing probably isn't our real problem.

Elizabeth Ann West said...

Okay, some sunshine about the sunshine deals:

* If some "low-royalty" published books (traditional) are in the $0.99-$2.99 price range, it further erodes the ability for readers to identify what is "direct published" (self-published).

* More books at affordable prices will increase e-reader device purchases.

* $0.99-$2.99 is not sustainable for authors of "low-royalty" contracts unless those publishing houses start changing their contracts to more in line with Amazon's author-centric contracts.