Another Cogent, On-Point Post

FROM KRIS RUSCH in her The Business Rusch series.

People, LISTEN. This is no amateur pundit or wannabe author. This is a seasoned pro, making this WORK.

So, you indie writers who’ve self published, you’re feeling pretty smug right now, aren’t you? You’ve read this post, you’re thinking, I’m glad I didn’t walk down that road.

And yet, how many of you have novels selling for 99 cents? How many of you have all of your novels priced at 99 cents? How many of you have a novel up for free somewhere, even though you’ve published fewer than ten novels? How many of you have nothing priced over $1.99? $2.99?

How many of you fled all of the other e-publishing platforms so that you could be in the Kindle Select program, just because they give you five days when you can market your book for free?

In some ways, you guys are much worse than the traditional writers. You have no vision and no understanding of business. Most of you are running around the internet, promoting your one novel, following some kind of crazy Get Rich Quick scheme. According to Michael Cader’s figures, only 20 self-published ebook authors made the bestseller lists in 2011. Only 20, out of the hundreds of thousands published.

You’re gambling on a wave that won’t ever reach you, wasting all your energy on one or two or three books rather than doing the one thing that will guarantee you more readers: Writing (and publishing) the next book.

And even if you’re one of the fortunate few for whom lightning does strike with your 99 cent ebook, you won’t make much money. The bestselling ebook published in 2011 was by a self-published author, Darcie Chan. Her Mill River Recluse sold 413,000 units at 99 cents, which means she made roughly one-third of that (because under $2.99, most e-book sites only pay 35% or less). In other words, she made about $143,000. Not bad.

But if she had priced at $2.99, and sold half of those 413,000 units, she would have made around $432,000. (206,500 units times $2.99 times 70%)

Here’s the thing: If the book is good—and clearly that one is or it wouldn’t have sold that well—it would eventually have sold 413,000 copies or more, and Darcie Chan would have made a lot more money. She’s a news story, and the darling of the Kindle Boards right now, but her wave will dissipate, especially if she doesn’t publish another book soon. Anyone see Amanda Hocking on any bestseller lists lately?

Most books—whether traditionally published or not—never ever ever even sniff at a bestseller list of any kind. To pursue that as your goal is like trying to win the lottery. You’re better off writing the next book, getting a lot of books out there and making money on all of those books over time.


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