Our Changing World

I know most readers don’t give a whit about who published a given book. We want to read what we want to read. However, most of us do care about price and availability, and those things have a strong connection to publishers.

Which means a lot of you may find this article about a romance author “going rogue” interesting.

Over in the main Kindle forum you see thread after thread complaining about the price of ebooks. How can the Kindle version of this book cost more than the paperback? The same as the hardback? How can this 20-year-old book that’s available for $5 in paperback cost $15 for the ebook? Etc., etc., until there are almost as many threads saying Enough Already as there are price threads. Well, folks, the fact is publishers set prices, and a year ago the biggest publishers teamed up with Apple and forced Amazon to agree to contracts that made it stop discounting their ebooks. When you see that new romance you wanted to read on your Kindle or Nook priced at $12.99 and it’s only 200 pages . . . .  That’s not the author, and that’s not Amazon. The publisher is the idiot that set that price.

More and more authors who have reacquired rights to backlist books are putting them out as ebooks for reasonable prices. Alexis Harrington stands out in my mind, probably because I like her books. An author who does this gets to price reasonably and we ebookers tend to appreciate that and reward with purchases. (I don’t know about anyone else, but with that $12.99 Kindle book, I do read it in paper – from the library.)

So while authors republishing backlist books for Kindle has been a growing phenomenon, established authors putting out NEW work themselves straight to Kindle has been exclusive to a few brave souls. This week, however, it’s been all over author blogs how thriller writer Barry Eisler turned down a $500,000 deal for 2 books with St. Martin’s to go indie with those books himself. That’s been the headline news, but all of a sudden there are others here and there and today these two romance writers.

As you read the article you will notice that’s it’s not just the money, maybe not even mainly money, although I’m sure these authors are going to do the smart thing and set reasonable prices and see more sales because of it. Connie also talks about having wanted to write certain books that her editors just wouldn’t hear about for a long time and now that’s what she’s doing. My guess is these people are going to find themselves making more money and having more fun writing than they ever did in their entire traditional careers.

A writer in one of the comments on that article reveals she made about $5,000 for two traditionally published romances and says that most romance authors make less than $10,000 per book. Eyes, a romance in the supposedly dead western historical subgenre, will be one year old on April 10. It’s sold over 7,000 copies for Kindle alone as of this minute. Amazon pays a 70% royalty on my $2.99 price. Do the math, and welcome Connie and Marsha to the indie world.

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2 Responses to Our Changing World

  1. Maureen says:

    Thank you for the link, Ellen. I’ve seen too many authors complaining about pirating and how they are losing money and begging people not to illegally download their books. I agree illegal downloads are bad. However, when your publisher is charging me $12.99 for an ebook just because you’re published in trade paperback, I’m not buying. And possibly, someone else is downloading illegally. Either way, you’re loosing, at the very least my money. And I refuse to believe the nonsense that it costs just as much to publish an ebook as a dead tree book.

    I always look to Amazon’s recommendations and then price. That’s how I found you and Alexis Harrington, to name a few. 🙂 Keep up the great writing!

  2. Hi Maureen and welcome. In my personal opinion, the reason publishers are charging $12.99 (and up) for ebooks has nothing to do with their cost. Publishers want to slow down the ebook revolution and keep as much of their market in paper as they can. Their problem is it isn’t working. They’re driving readers to indies like me and authors like Harrington with her intelligently priced backlist books and to books by small publishers that are priced reasonably.

    I don’t think piracy is a problem for someone like me who has her books priced at $2.99. My guess is it isn’t much of a problem up to at least $5 because most people would prefer to get something legally if they can do that without feeling cheated. As I said, my own solution is the library, which is similar to pirating in that I read the book, and no one gets a penny. Okay, maybe considering the library buys the book originally, somebody gets some fraction of a penny.

    Now established authors are starting to sit up and take notice. Publish yourself and Amazon gives you 70%. Sign a contract with a traditional publisher and you probably get 25% of the NET sales price of the book, which I’ve seen calculated as less than 20% of the actual sales price.

    An editor from a traditional publisher contacted me, and we talked a bit. When she told me 25% of net for ebooks, I really thought they were trying to take advantage of a dumb indie with no agent. Later I found out that’s really what authors are getting!

    The argument has been that the traditional publisher gets you wider distribution and so you get more in the end, but when a lot of people do the math….

    Then there’s that creative thing. I know when an agent at a conference told me I had to change the title of Rottweiler Rescue to interest anyone in it because first mysteries have to have “death,” “blood,” “murder,” etc., in the title, my reaction was – like hell. My reaction was even stronger to the young twit editor from NY who told me Rottweilers are unsympathetic street dogs and I needed to write an all breed book. I own Rottweilers; I did Rottweiler rescue myself for 10 years and am still involved. I wrote that book for a purpose – to portray the dog breed I love honestly instead of the usual killer dog thing. I was willing to give up any notion of ever being published (for that and many other reasons), but I wasn’t willing to change that book to something more p.c. and acceptable to non-dog people.

    The editor was right in that the market for that kind of book is niche and small, but there is a market big enough to satisfy an indie like me, and I’m going to write a Rottweiler mystery series. Take that NY! ~Ellen

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