Wednesday, July 2, 2014

More on e-book publishing

Following my article last night about how the 'Big 5' publishers are deluding themselves if they think e-book sales have plateaued or are stagnating, I had a couple of questions from readers about how big the e-book market really is.  The answer can be found on's Kindle Store.

That's a screen capture from an Amazon search for all e-books in the Kindle Store this evening.  With well over 2½ million e-book titles to choose from on alone, there's plenty of variety!  Other outlets probably offer titles that Amazon doesn't carry, so my best guess is that there are approaching 3 million e-books available right now to prospective readers.  Many are free;  'indie' books are usually very affordable;  and those of the 'Big 5' are typically the most expensive.  With so many to choose from, why would anyone want to pay high e-book prices, except for a select few authors whose work one particularly enjoys?

My primary writing genre - military science fiction - is, of course, a much smaller subset of the store:

That means I'm competing on a much less crowded playing field.  At the time of writing my latest novel is 6th from the top in Amazon's 'Hot New Releases - Military Science Fiction', and 9th from the top in its secondary genre, 'Hot New Releases - Space Opera'.  It's priced to sell, and is doing so very nicely, thank you!  I make less per book than 'big-name' authors, but I sell more books than quite a few of them - at least in the short term after release.  Works for me . . .

I may increase my book prices a little once I get to the point of being fully self-supporting from my writing, but not by very much.  It'll all depend on the market and what it will bear.  If a recession hits, of course, I'll lower my prices instead, to help those who can't afford much in the way of entertainment to afford my books.  That way I help them buy books, and they help me keep body and soul together.  (That's another way in which indie authors are much more flexible and able to respond much more quickly than old-style publishers.  They have all that overhead to support.  We can adopt a simpler lifestyle by cutting back overnight to accommodate a lower income stream.  Let's hear it for ramen noodles . . . )



Eccentric Cowboy said...

I've been quite fascinated with the recent changes with the Kindle ebook system allowing authors to upload their stuff without having to tread the quagmire of big name publishers and being able to set their own prices.

I've not yet submitted anything of my own yet, although I have plans, but from most of what I see it appears to be a good thing.

Ever since I stumbled upon Robert E. Howard and his novella collections I've been fascinated with the shorter story style, which is of course extremely difficult to publish in a traditional book form. I've suspected that with the advent of cheap ebooks the novella could make a real come back, combining quality and quantity at a fairly cheap price.

I appreciate you taking the time to post this delicious information on self publishing for us newbies trying to get a foothold.
Interesting stuff as always! :)

John Cunningham said...

Mr. Grant, your War to the Knife is, I think, your best book yet. How soon will the sequel be out? I fear that you are wasting many hours per day on eating, sleeping, time with family, etc, when you should be lashed to your word processor. Seriously, keep up the excellent work

On a Wing and a Whim said...


The explosion of indie has seen a huge expansion across all genres in the short story and novella format, usually priced in the .99 to 2.99 USD range. After all, with no limit to shelf space, there's no reason stories can't be as short or as long as you want... in fact, there's a definite trend toward novels shrinking back to "pocket book" size, like the old L'amour westerns, while other subgenre novels are exploding in length because they're not constrained to current mass market paperback shelving standards.

Mr. Cunningham,

Should you try to get between my husband and his quality family time with me, I have a shotgun and am not afraid to use it. :-D

Seriously, thank you for the compliments, and he is working on the new novel, six days a week (and sneaking off to get a little time in editing on the 7th.)

Tom Bridgeland said...

Amazon helped me get my novel to buyers. It has been for sale for one year, and while sales are not much now, for a several months it made me a nice income, about what I could have gotten from a part time job. I can honestly see myself, or any decent writer, making a living by writing just for Amazon.

shugyosha said...

Hmm... do YOU make less money per book or dooes THE PUBLISHER make less money per book?

Peter said...

@shugyosha: Depends on the terms of the author's contract. A big-name author can make significantly more per book than a mid-lister. I understand that top sellers are now getting much better e-book royalty terms than the 'industry standard' 25% supposedly offered by all of the Big 5.

In my case, I reckon I'm making much more as a percentage of each dollar of sales than a normally-published author. Of course, some of them are making more per book than I am because the selling price of their book(s) is/are much higher than mine. That's OK - I'm not jealous. I think I'm charging a fair rate for my work, and my readers seem to agree. As long as we're all happy, what's not to like?

Anonymous said...

I heartily agree with this article. I started to get seriously interested in e-books around mid 2011, and since that time I have accumulated over 550 titles, 105 so far this year alone. That is over and above the several hundred hardcover books I have accumulated over the years.

I currently in my 70th year and have been an avid reader for more than 60 of those. I have never enjoyed it more than I do now.

The plethora of new and exciting, authors is just outstanding, you of course being one of them.

As far a I am concerned the "Big 5" can go pound sand.

Keep up the good work.