And high prices are a quick and easy way to create a poor reading experience, harming everyone. High prices are also a way to drive customers to other, less expensive books. Rather than serving to protect print editions, publishers are creating a market for self-published works. And harmful price practices is not the only way the big five are powering the self-publishing revolution. Next, were going to look at some sales numbers within these genre bestseller lists to see how underserving a high-demand market has resulted in the creation of a brand new supply of books. Listening to reader Demand The next chart shows the percentage of genre e-books on several Amazon bestseller lists according to how they were published: The bestseller lists used were mystery/Thriller, Science fiction/Fantasy, and Romance. All internet of the subcategories within these three main genres were also included. Why choose these genres?
Are they decreasing the value/cost ratio and thereby creating lower average ratings for their authors and their products? If so, this might will have some influence on long-term sales, and keep in mind that e-books do not go out of print. What if in exchange for immediate profits, publishers are creating poorer ratings for their goods and a poorer experience for their readers? Both effects will hurt a works prospects down the road (a road with no end in sight). And since ratings on e-books also apply to the physical edition on Amazons product pages, this pricing scheme ends up adversely affecting the very print edition that higher e-book prices are meant to protect link. It is common these days to hear that the quality of self-published work is hurting literature in general. I counter this notion with one of my own: Pricing e-books higher than mass market paperbacks used to cost is having an even more deleterious effect on reading habits. Books are not only in competition with each other, they compete with everything else a reader might do with their time. Creating a poor experience is a way to lose readers, not a way to protect a physical edition or a beloved bookstore.
Thats because overall customer satisfaction is a ratio between value received and amount spent. As someone who reads both self-published and traditionally published works, i can tell you that its getting harder and harder to tell the difference between the two. Most readers dont know and dont care how the books they read are published. They just know if they liked the story and how much they paid. If theyre paying twice as much for traditionally published books, which experience will they rate higher? The one with better bang for the buck. This raises an interesting question: Are publishers losing money in the long run by charging higher prices?
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Well conclude this report by looking at author earnings, but I dont want that bombshell to drown out these equally important observations. The first thing that jumped out at me when i opened my email was these next two charts, which our data guru had placed side-by-side. What caught my eye was how they seem to be inversely correlated: On the left, we have a television chart showing the average rating of 7,000 bestselling e-books.1 On the right, we have a chart showing the average list price of the same 7,000 e-books. Both charts break the books up into the same five categories. From the left, they are: Indie published, small/Medium Publisher, amazon Published (from imprints like 47North big five published, and, uncategorized Single-author.2, its interesting to me that the self-published works in this sample have a higher average rating than the e-books from major publishers. There are several reasons why this might be, ranging from the conspiratorial (self-published authors purchase their reviews) to the communal (self-published authors read and favorably rate each others works) to the familial (its friends and family who write these reviews).
But the staggering number of reviews involved for most of these books (over a hundred on average across our entire sample) makes each of these highly unlikely. As ive seen with my own works—and as ive observed when watching other books spread organically—the sales come before the reviews, not after. There are a number of more plausible explanations for the nearly half a star difference in ratings, and one in particular jumped out at me, again from seeing these two charts next to one another. Note the shortest bar in one graph correlates to the tallest in the other. Is it possible that price impacts a books rating? Think about two meals you might have: one is a steak dinner for 10; the other is a steak dinner that costs four times as much. An average experience from both meals could result in a 4-star for the 10 steak but a 1-star for the 40 steak.
The rest of the puzzle hit my inbox with a mighty thud last week. I received an email from an author with advanced coding skills who had created a software program that can crawl online bestseller lists and grab mountains of data. All of this data is public—its online for anyone to see—but until now its been extremely difficult to gather, aggregate, and organize. This program, however, is able to do in a day what would take hundreds of volunteers with web browsers and pencils a week to accomplish. The first run grabbed data on nearly 7,000 e-books from several bestselling genre categories on Amazon. Subsequent runs have looked at data for 50,000 titles across all genres.
You can ask this data some pretty amazing questions, questions ive been asking for well over a year link. And now we finally have some answers. When Amazon reports that self-published books make up 25 of the top 100 list, the reaction from many is that these are merely the outliers. We hear that authors stand no chance if they self-publish and that most wont sell more than a dozen copies in their lifetime if they. (The same people rarely point out that all bestsellers are outliers and that the vast majority of those who go the traditional route are never published at all.) Well, now we have a large enough sample of data to help glimpse the truth. What emerges is, to my knowledge, the clearest public picture to date of whats happening in this publishing revolution. Its a lot to absorb, but I believe theres much here to learn. Im going to start with some of the smaller lessons to be gleaned from this data.
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We dont want to interests screw up before we even get started. When I faced these decisions, i had to rely on my own sales data essay and nothing more. Luckily, i had charted my daily sales reports as my works marched from outside the top one million right up to 1 on Amazon. Using these snapshots, i could plot the correlation between rankings and sales. It wasnt long before dozens of self-published authors were sharing their sales rates at various positions along the lists in order to make author earnings more transparent to others link link. Gradually, it became possible to closely estimate how much an author was earning simply by looking at where their works ranked on public lists link. This data provided one piece of a complex puzzle.
lucrative in the long run than doing a deal with a major publisher. What used to be an easy decision (please, anyone, take my book!) is now one that keeps many aspiring authors awake at night. As someone who has walked away from incredible offers (after agonizing mightily about doing so i have longed for greater transparency so that up-and-coming authors can make better-informed decisions. I imagine established writers who are considering their next projects share some of these same concerns. Other entertainment industries tout the earnings of their practitioners. Sports stars, musicians, actors—their salaries are often discussed as a matter of course. This is less true for authors, and it creates unrealistic expectations for those who pursue writing as a career. Now with every writer needing to choose between self-publishing and submitting to traditional publishers, the decision gets even more difficult.
Distributors like amazon and Barnes noble dont share their e-book sales figures. At most, they comment on the extreme outliers, which is about as useful as sharing yesterdays lottery numbers link. A few individual authors have made their sales data will public, but not enough to paint an accurate picture. Were left with a game of connect-the-dots where only the prime numbers are revealed. What data we do have often comes in the form of surveys, many of which rely on extremely limited sampling methodologies and also questionable analyses link. This lack of data has been frustrating. If writing your first novel is the hardest part of becoming an author, figuring out what to do next runs a close second. Manuscripts in hand, some writers today are deciding to forgo six-figure advances in order to self-publish link.
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We've enhanced your online experience. You can now access your email and up-to-date news at m, login to pay your bill, manage your services and much more at my verizon. Published: 2/12/2014, written by: Hugh Howey, its no homework great secret that the world of publishing is changing. What is a secret is how much. Is it changing a lot? Has most of the change already happened? What does the future look like? The problem with these questions is that we dont have the data that might give us reliable answers.