Author Topic: The crux of the indie publishing problem, 2020 version: profitability  (Read 4781 times)  

Offline Patrick1980

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Re: The crux of the indie publishing problem, 2020 version: profitability
« Reply #25 on: July 31, 2020, 03:51:34 am »
Thanks again to all who've shared their experiences. Hopefully this thread will be helpful to many out there.

From what I'm seeing, there is always an outlier who claims, "Yeah, I put my books up on Amazon, send out a few emails, and my books fly off the virtual shelves."  That may happen, but I don't think such cases provide useful examples to most of us.

This seems to be be far more typical, though:


鬼: "I spend what I consider a decent amount on ads every month. It usually fluctuates between 3500-15000 every month. So far, every month has been solid and an increase over last year."

Crystal_: "I spend six figures a year on ads..."

Crystal_ also pointed out that she's profitable to the tune of 6 figures per year. 鬼 implied the same.

But when you're spending over $100K in ads, that would require some very careful monitoring, I would think. It would be very easy to drift into the red, at least for a single month.

This does suggest that the economics of indie publishing have gone haywire. I know people with "real" businesses (with employees, etc.) who don't spend anywhere near $100K on marketing and promotion each year.

***

This is what compelled my original post:

I'm a member of 20Bookto50K. Over there, it is a big thing to post screen shots of monthly earnings.
 
These seem meaningless without a revelation of how much the author spent to make $114K in a month, or whatever. There is a big difference between revenue and profit, and that sometimes gets lost in author discussions about earnings on Amazon, IMO.

« Last Edit: July 31, 2020, 03:57:54 am by Patrick1980 »

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    Offline Wired

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    Re: The crux of the indie publishing problem, 2020 version: profitability
    « Reply #26 on: July 31, 2020, 04:05:26 am »
    ...the economics of indie publishing have gone haywire.

    Yup.

    Offline Amanda M. Lee

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    Re: The crux of the indie publishing problem, 2020 version: profitability
    « Reply #27 on: July 31, 2020, 04:55:53 am »
    Honestly? I depend on new releases to make money. I live in a window where I make a certain amount each month. It's a big window but it's stable. I release one main name and one pen name book each month, both written by me. I spend about 4-5K a month advertising first-in-series books. I have 12 active series under two names and several finished series where I regularly dust the characters off for crossovers. That advertising money consists of 2.2-3.5% of my revenue depending on the month. I'm debt-free and almost have my retirement completely funded. I'm hardly the only one I know making a living, though. There are plenty of people out there doing the work and making it a career. The absolute one thing those making it have in common is doing the work, though. Does that guarantee success? No. It certainly helps, though.
    I think there's a contingent of people out there who want to believe it's impossible to make this work because they haven't yet cracked the nut. It's not impossible. It's simply not easy and takes constant readjustments. If you don't believe it will happen, it definitely won't happen, though.
    As for profitability, ads can definitely eat up money if you're not careful. That doesn't mean that nobody is profitable. I know quite a few people who have figured it out. Some spend 50K a month to make 200K a month. Others spend 1K a month to make 10K a month. They're out there, in all shapes and sizes.
    This is a business where the learning never stops. You have to keep at it. Those who stop sink. The rest keto swimming.

    Amanda M. Lee

    Offline Douglas Milewski

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    Re: The crux of the indie publishing problem, 2020 version: profitability
    « Reply #28 on: July 31, 2020, 09:02:38 am »
    Personally, I can't track this. This is a literal statement. Between a full time job and writing three or four novels a year, my brain is maxed out. I literally don't have the bandwidth to handle advertising, which is yet another job. I know that this limits me, and I accept that.

    Right now, I'm back to offering first free in series. I don't move many books, but I don't spend very much. No amount of advertising with Amazon moved my needle. Zero. I wrote the wrong books at the wrong time, and no amount of marketing will change that. That much said, I'm mighty proud of them. I couldn't have written anything else. My brain is not a commercial brain and doesn't work on spec.

    My spare cash is quite limited, so all spending is dear and incredibly difficult to recoup. I do need to spend, everywhere, on everything, so I'm always making compromises. The term is undercapitalized.

    On the other hand, I only need to hit the lottery once to get this boiler boiling. I keep writing, keep working, with every new series objectively better than the last. If I had been "successful", I don't think I would have worked so hard or dared so much.

    Disclaimer: I sell horribly. Set your filters accordingly.

    Offline Flying Pizza Pie

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    Re: The crux of the indie publishing problem, 2020 version: profitability
    « Reply #29 on: July 31, 2020, 09:56:16 am »
    I Published my first book with Book Source in 2008. Book Source became Create Space, now it's KDP. That's 12 years, so I think I'm qualified to speak about what it was like 10 years ago.

    Was it easier to sell some copies? Yes. With no advertisig I sold a dozen copies or so each month, at $6.99

    Was it so easy that any book was a best seller? No. See above. And, in the beginning, Amazon didn't pay 70% - they paid 35% max! You had to sell twice as many books then to make the same amount as now - with only US sales. No international sales. Was it easy? NO.

    I enjoyed Hugh Howey's book Wool, and commend him for writing it. Still, if I had to read another passage in the book (now) about how tired the protagonist was walking up dozens of flights of stairs, I probably would have tossed the  book out a window. Would Wool be a million-seller now? I don't think so. Still, you had to write at least at that caliber to sell that many books. With that in mind, nothing is really different. You still have to write compelling stories and catch a buzz and go global.

    The other thing that nobody has mentioned is that most TRAD PUBS are selling Kindle copies at $9.99 to $12.99 and they can advertise and make a profit at that. While many (dare I say most?) Indie authors are trying to sell their books with a Freebie first, or a 99-center, and then some $2.99 books. You won't ever compete if your highest-priced book is $2.99 unless you are a fantastic /AND/ prolific author. Most of us are not.

    I hear the argument on this forum that "readers won't pay $6.99 or higher for an Indie's books." I cry Bullcrap! Wool is $9.99 - The Martian is $6.99 - Fifty Shades is $7.99 - and yes, I know those are all represented by TRAD PUBS now, but they were not originally.

    Make your writing, your blurb, your interior, your story, and of course your cover as good as a TRAD PUB and you can sell at a price that will make you enough income to advertise profitably. Do you really think the buying public looks at a book and tries to figure out if it is from Simon and Schuster or Penguin Books? They don't! They look at everything else and see if it catches their interest - that's all. If it doesn't, it's not because the publishing business as an Indie is too tough. It's because you didn't give them what they wanted at that moment. It's on us to write better than what's available from the big publishers. Until we do, we'll keep our day jobs and scribble our words at night.


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    Offline jm2019

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    Re: The crux of the indie publishing problem, 2020 version: profitability
    « Reply #30 on: July 31, 2020, 10:13:17 am »
    Hi Patrick,

    "This does suggest that the economics of indie publishing have gone haywire. I know people with "real" businesses (with employees, etc.) who don't spend anywhere near $100K on marketing and promotion each year. "

    I'm not sure this is the best way to look at it though, if we think terms of cost of sales. Because it's more like this:

    For that 'real' business: cost of sales = marketing spend + wages + services + facilities + other sundry

    For us Indie: cost of sales = marketing spend + services (usually a smaller % of the spend)

    So they may not be spending 150k on marketing, but they're spending lot of money on other items.

    But when you think in terms of margin, if _Crystal makes (and the other poster) 100K on a 100K spend, you're talking 50% pure margin. This is excellent for any business! Most businesses don't make anywhere near that, except very profitable tech business and perhaps some other sectors I don't know too well (financial services is another example).

    So, it's not really haywire at all if you can cross the 30-40% margin. To me, their examples are very heartening and here's why - I'm experiencing the same even though I'm nowhere near their success. But, my true margin (royalty - ads - fixed expense annualized) is now > 30% with my first series, and my effort would be grow the series, and improve that margin because my ad cost can spread over more and more books.

    Is it hard to reach that higher level? But then where is it "easy" to get to the top of anything though? Every business has its challenges and nuances and competition - this isn't any different or "special." I used to do some work of looking at many business and how they operate, and the funny thing was everyone thought they were "special" - they weren't. Often, the underlying issues and nature of competition was similar.




    Online Usedtoposthere

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    Re: The crux of the indie publishing problem, 2020 version: profitability
    « Reply #31 on: July 31, 2020, 12:08:02 pm »
    One point is that indie is no more difficult than tradpub in this regard. Traditional publishers still expect authors to market their books. (I have published both ways.) And if one book does not do well, it is difficult to get a new contract.

    It is correct to say that net is more important than gross in publishing. (Again, a trad contract will earn you 50% at most per unit of what an indie contract does. If you sell over twice as many books and or get more visibility for your indie work, it can still be well worth it.)

    I have earned six figures since my first year at this (almost eight years in now). I have spent 1.5 to 5 percent of my gross on advertising during that time. I would do even better I am sure if I spent more on ads (or did more!) and did things like author cross promo and conferences, but I am older, financially comfortable, diffident and a bit reclusive, and happiest and most productive when focusing on writing. I write long books, pretty evergreen (a book can sell well for years), take a lot of risks by writing in different tones and mashing up genres some (again, tradpub is not going to let you change subgenres within a series!) and typically put a book out every 3-4 months. I do not make writing decisions much on the basis of the market, because I like to try stuff. That has become my brand, in part. I would say my books come from the heart, and people seem to appreciate that. I am fortunate to have a core group of loyal readers who watch for my new book and buy it, and I have 31 books out now, plus audio and translations, which have helped. I always do audio and spend a lot on it. I did not have a mailing list for the first few years but have one now. It is not especially big and I do not really promote it, but I write pretty good newsletters and engage with my readers in a Facebook group and answer all my emails.

    My advertising now is putting a first in series up free for three days every month, advertising on a handful of small and medium sized sites. Since I have six indie series, I can rotate those book ones out.

    To my surprise, even with no advertising, my latest series has earned me quite a few new readers. My latest book in particular, book 3 in a stand-alone series, seems to be getting read by quite a few new folks. I think it is the title and series title, and maybe some word of mouth and alsobots, because I have not had any Amazon push.

    There are lots of paths, and people have different needs. If I had been 30 or 40 when I started writing, my focus would be very different. I would not have started writing at all, though. Too busy doing the career, pay the mortgage, raise the family thing. No mental space for writing.

    Life is long (hopefully). You do not have to do everything at once or follow a trail blazed by somebody else. There is a lot of comparisonitis in this profession. I have succumbed to it many times myself. Comparison is the thief of joy.
    « Last Edit: July 31, 2020, 12:17:35 pm by Usedtoposthere »

    Offline GeneDoucette

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    Re: The crux of the indie publishing problem, 2020 version: profitability
    « Reply #32 on: July 31, 2020, 01:19:23 pm »
    I demur most of the time, when conversations like this come up, because aside from BB promos, I don't pay for advertising. I pay for covers and I pay for my website maintenance, but historically, advertising hasn't worked tremendously well for me. That isn't to say I won't keep trying, say with the occasion FB ad or something, but it's never been a big part of my budget and I don't expect that to change.

    A couple of thoughts, though.

    Conversations like this tend to assume we're all aiming for the same target, and I don't know how true that is. I still have a day job, and can produce 2-3 novels a year at my very best. The split between my day job income and my writing income is about 50/50 on average; I can't live without my day job, and I can't live without my writing job. I hope that changes and I can retire from said day job, but it's not currently an issue; i don't know that i'd be able to produce things any faster if I did that.

    I tend to lean toward "write books people want to buy" as being more important than anything else, which I can say because that's how it's worked out for me. I self-published a standalone sci-fi novel that took off in audio, got the attention of a major editor, and was republished by a trad pub house in 2018. Since September, 2018, I: self-published a series book in December, 2018, self-published a book in another series in March, 2019, wrote a standalone sci-fi book from April-May of 2019, sold it to the aforementioned publisher in August, 2019, self-published the last book in a long-running series in January 2020, wrote and sold two short stories to a magazine, wrote the first book in a new sci-fi series, sold the audio rights and am self-publishing it in September. I plan to write and publish two more books in that series before May of 2021, when that standalone sci-fi book I sold to the publisher in August of 2019 is released.

    That's basically a two+ year plan, in which my income is a combination of advances from traditional publishing and payment for short stories, and my self-publishing income. None of it is being driven further by advertising; instead, I'm getting known in as many markets as I can insert myself into.

    (...I also launched a Patreon page somewhere in the middle of all that.)

    My point, I guess, is that there are a lot of different ways to do this, and rapid-release + lots of advertising is only one of them.

    Offline Crystal_

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    Re: The crux of the indie publishing problem, 2020 version: profitability
    « Reply #33 on: July 31, 2020, 01:33:23 pm »
    I do think it depends with AMS vs FB.

    AMS is very expensive in some genres. If you're in one of these (say new adult or contemporary romance), I would wait on AMS. FB will be cheaper per click. Maybe even 3-4x cheaper. (This is assuming you want to spend more than $20-30/day. IME, it's hard to get AMS to spend more than this with a sub .50 bid unless you hyper target, and, even then, it's hard to break $100/day).

    But now that AMS is showing page reads, it's hard to know what will happen with pricing.

    If you want to hyper target, AMS is very good for that. I can make a list of ASIN that are my exact trope mix or that have a very similar cover. I can't do that with FB. But I probably can't scale this super high either.

    I've had better luck with FB overall, but I have some hyper targeted AMS campaigns that work very well.

    If your genre is expensive on AMS and filled with readers who are on FB (most are; most readers are women 35+ in most genres, but not in all genres), I'd start there. (FB also has more resources in terms of learning ads. There are a lot of classes compared to classes on AMS).

    If your genre is less saturated or you have an idea about hyper targeting, I'd start with AMS.

    Also consider covers. Many of my covers are too sexy for AMS, but they do well for me, so I'm not willing to change them to get AMS approval.

    In general, I wouldn't expect to make a profit on a series with less than three books. And ads are always a multiplier. The better you're packaging, the better your ads will do. You can't sell something no one wants. But you can probably present your book in a way that makes people want it.

    Offline Lorri Moulton [Lavender Lass Books]

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    Re: The crux of the indie publishing problem, 2020 version: profitability
    « Reply #34 on: July 31, 2020, 07:16:35 pm »
    I write what I enjoy, so that's a lot of fun.  And I knew (thanks to this forum) that it would be difficult to market books that usually merge genres.  I have enough trouble finding promos on BookFunnel, which is why I usually end up hosting my own. 

    If I were trying to make a lot of money, I'd probably write something else.  While money would be nice, it's not the main reason I write.  If I'm honest, I write because I like to control the world in my story.  I know what the end result will be, even if I don't always know how I'll get there. 
    And it will have a happy ending.  :)
    « Last Edit: July 31, 2020, 07:18:07 pm by Lorri Moulton [Lavender Lass Books] »

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    Offline notjohn

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    Re: The crux of the indie publishing problem, 2020 version: profitability
    « Reply #35 on: August 01, 2020, 06:18:35 am »
    >2) You need to produce quality in the long term. Writing garbage eventually ends your career fast.

    I don't think that's true at all. Surely the worst writers ever published are Clive Cussler and Kevin Kwan, and they seem to sell a few copies now and then.

    And yes, it was a LOT easier in 2012!

    Every enterprise that Jeff Bezos launches has only one goal: eventually to divert the income from the entrepreneur to his own pockets. That has happened with Amazon Marketplace, Amazon Advantage, Amazon Associates, and most recently Kindle Direct Publishing. AMS was probably his most brilliant move in a quarter-century of brilliant moves.
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    Offline C. Gockel

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    Re: The crux of the indie publishing problem, 2020 version: profitability
    « Reply #36 on: August 01, 2020, 10:27:17 am »
    I first released in 2012. I've always had to advertise to sell books, I don't think that has changed. I used to do marketing that was free but time consuming--I wrote fanfiction and pointed readers to my original fiction. I have always been profitable, but I also kept expenses low.

    I have found that there are people who are willing to operate completely without profit. They see it as a long-term investment, and believe they'll build their fanbase without making money, and some day all the money will come. I'm not sure if that is true. However, you are competing with people like that when you purchase AMS and Facebook ads.

    I am going to try hypertargeted AMS ads, since Crystal mentions them and I can think of some books right off the bat that I should be featured beneath.

    Currently I use Facebook advertising, both targeted ads and boosted posts. It works well for me. I do purchase newsletter space with ENT, Fussy, Freebooksy, RobinReads, EreaderIQ, BookBasset (strangely effective for sci-fi), FreeKindleBooks & Tips, ManyBooks.net...and I'm sure I'm forgetting some!

    I haven't been making as much money in the last few years, but I do understand why. I wrote two off-genre books, and probably didn't package the second well. I blew the release of the second, too. BookBub isn't accepting me or other indies as often, and now I'm writing in a less popular genre. Some of those things I cannot control. Some of those things I can. I will be working on the ones I can change...writing more "to market" might not be one of the things I *want* to change, and probably won't. I have eccentric tastes in reading, and if I can't write off-beat books, I'd rather go back to coding.

    Also, although I have a new UF series I can't get out of my head, I will probably come back to the less popular genre, because I love sci-fi.

    I would like to publish more--currently I only release two books a year.

    I still make enough money to pay the bills and then some. Also, I am able to pick up my daughter after school in the afternoon and am here for homework help.


    I write books about Change, Chaos, and Loki
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    Offline Carol (was Dara)

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    Re: The crux of the indie publishing problem, 2020 version: profitability
    « Reply #37 on: August 01, 2020, 11:18:52 am »
    On average, I put a quarter of my monthly publishing income back into advertising. That leaves room for other expenses, sees me profitable, and keeps the sales cycle feeding itself. As long as I keep a loose eye on incoming sales and outgoing ad costs and adjust as needed to stay at that 25 % mark, I'm in a good place. My sales tend to stay within a reliable window at this point, anyway, and most of my ads are older ones that I just check in on once in awhile. The only time consuming part is new series launches, where my new ads have to be tested and monitored as I zero in on the good performers and kill the rest.

    I don't think about ad costs much anymore; since 2011 I've been doing some form of advertising and/or promotion, always with careful packaging and regular releases. In the early days, I'd have loved to have the information and resources we have now. For me, ads are just part of the business, and the cost of not investing time into other forms of marketing that I don't enjoy.


    Offline Crystal_

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    Re: The crux of the indie publishing problem, 2020 version: profitability
    « Reply #38 on: August 01, 2020, 07:19:56 pm »
    While I see a lot of mediocre or sloppy books selling well, I rarely see a noticably bad book selling well. Pretty much everything that sells has something good about it.

    Don't get me wrong. I don't consider these books good/up to my standards. I don't like mediocre or sloppy books and I won't read them or listen to people calling them good, but I can usually see why people like them. And they usually have potential--they could be good with another draft or two.

    Offline Doglover

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    Re: The crux of the indie publishing problem, 2020 version: profitability
    « Reply #39 on: August 01, 2020, 11:08:34 pm »
    A person on Reddit, handle "thewritingchair", says they made $23K in the first eight weeks of launching a new pen name, with zero advertising.

    Disclaimer: it ain't this person's first rodeo. In other posts they say they have been writing all their life, they write genre, and they write to market in a very no-BS focused way.

    If it's true, it is interesting.

    I barely bother with [ads] and make a very good living writing books.
    Anyone who tells you that success in this is heavily dependent on marketing just sucks as a writer. Cold hard truth there. If your books can't sell on their own, marketing ain't gonna change that.
    I stick with a mailing list (via mailerlite) that you sign up to in the back of the books, the same two ads on facebook that are like three years old now, the same AMS ads that are probably a year old by now.
    The best advertising is the next book - always.
    Marketing can work to earn more money but I maintain if your books aren't making money without it, throwing cash that way won't do anything.

    I started a new pen name last year, no ads, no mailing list and made $23K in the first eight weeks of publication. Sometimes I feel like starting a brand new name and doing the same just to reveal it on this sub.
    Quality rises, [crap] doesn't.

    Here's a guide I wrote two years ago about how to write to market to make money.
    In short, yes, this is how you make money in ePublishing. Write a series in a hungry genre to market and keep up the releases. As they pile up so do your royalties.
    It's exactly what I do. I took a year off and my royalties dropped from $100K to $75K.
    I'm going to keep my backlist size to myself so I'm not doxxed. At the moment I'm at about four to five novels a year.


    reddit.com/r/selfpublish/comments/hxxj7q/im_starting_to_give_up_on_the_advertising_part_of/

    Link to "guide" above: How to make money ePublishing (without a bestseller)

    reddit.com/r/writing/comments/6sam29/how_to_make_money_epublishing_without_a_bestseller/

    But while she starts off saying a book should be able to sell itself, she ends up by saying she has an ad on facebook and one of Amazon. So she is advertising then. You have to have something to draw attention to the book in the first place.


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    Offline jb1111

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    Re: The crux of the indie publishing problem, 2020 version: profitability
    « Reply #40 on: August 02, 2020, 04:55:25 am »
    But while she starts off saying a book should be able to sell itself, she ends up by saying she has an ad on facebook and one of Amazon. So she is advertising then. You have to have something to draw attention to the book in the first place.

    Yeah, it's hard to figure out how "zero advertising" is a FB ad and an AMS ad, even if they are a couple years old.

    Although she does say that she started a new pen name, new books to go with it, and made $23K in two months with no ads.


    Offline anotherpage

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    Re: The crux of the indie publishing problem, 2020 version: profitability
    « Reply #41 on: August 02, 2020, 06:13:07 am »
    There are numerous variables.

    Genre plays a huge role in profitability.

    There are also too many "writers" out there following the same preached strategy and take the same courses telling them...if you spend they will come.

    These are only my views.

    1) The notion of "series" is diluting the marketplace. You might giveaway book 1 but how many will actually read it, let alone buy book 2. check out goodreads and see how many thousands of books are on peoples shelves that they never will read.

    2) You need to produce quality in the long term. Writing garbage eventually ends your career fast.

    3) If you are just starting...you need to invest in marketing, including paid editorial reviews (this depends on genre)

    4) What worked in 2012...won't work now and the people preaching tactics of years ago are misleading you.

    Mark

    Yes, exactly.

    I spend around 1.6% a month of my income and make a tidy sum every month.

    Writing quality is a key. Anyone can pump out words. Few can write well. (I'm not talking about high literature, I'm talking about story-telling)

    Get that part wrong and it doesn't matter how much $ you throw at the wall, your books won't take off.

    Offline anotherpage

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    Re: The crux of the indie publishing problem, 2020 version: profitability
    « Reply #42 on: August 02, 2020, 06:20:15 am »

    Amanda Hocking, JA Konrath, and John Locke---the superstars of 2010---don't seem to be selling like they once did. I've also noticed that Hugh Howey hasn't put out anything new in a while. (There's a new edition of 'Wool' but that's an old book.)

    Those are the heavy hitters, who got write-ups in the mainstream press back in the day. There are probably more just below them.

    In fairness, though, that may be because they told all the stories they wanted to tell, burned out, or just moved on to other things. (That happens, too.)

    I think howey retired off what he made from wool lol

    And Hocking took her millions and now sits in Starbucks eating cheese ;)
    « Last Edit: August 02, 2020, 06:22:40 am by anotherpage »

    Offline anotherpage

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    Re: The crux of the indie publishing problem, 2020 version: profitability
    « Reply #43 on: August 02, 2020, 06:29:26 am »
    I think another key thing to remember with Amazon ads is to check your LIFETIME spend on an ad campaign.

    You can be deceived into thinking an ad is doing well based on the day,week or month you look at it.

    I.e You start the ad and its doing well, You are making more than you spend.

    A week later, the same.

    But then a month later it drops to equal

    Then the following month its gone the other way.

    Unless you look at the lifetime you can't tell if you are burning money unless you check every day or week religiously.

    Offline Triceratops

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    Re: The crux of the indie publishing problem, 2020 version: profitability
    « Reply #44 on: August 02, 2020, 08:06:16 am »
    But while she starts off saying a book should be able to sell itself, she ends up by saying she has an ad on facebook and one of Amazon. So she is advertising then. You have to have something to draw attention to the book in the first place.

    I think they are saying that they have a couple ads running with their regular and established pen name. But that they also in 2019 started up a new and different pen name, and with the new pen name they earned from debut $23,000 in eight weeks with no ads.

    They are saying that in principle if you can write good stories to market, fast, you can make money pretty fast, with zero advertising and no mailing list either. Whether or not this is true, since the reddit poster chooses to remain anonymous, is another issue.

    Offline jvin248

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    Re: The crux of the indie publishing problem, 2020 version: profitability
    « Reply #45 on: August 02, 2020, 08:10:25 am »
    ... "thewritingchair"..."I started a new pen name last year, no ads, no mailing list and made $23K in the first eight weeks of publication. Sometimes I feel like starting a brand new name and doing the same just to reveal it on this sub....

    Amazon ties all the pen name databases together to one real person.
    They know who everyone truly is because they are mailing checks to an address or bank account and tracking social security numbers for taxes.

    It's in Amazon's best interest for the recommendation engine to give preferential treatment to past successes. Easy to start out a new book from 'that bank account that previously sold a hundred thousand copies' by placing it in the top ten slots for a week to see if it glides into another easy path of massive book sales.

    Outside of that, yes, being a good writer with stories that are written to the market will sell better. That author has the experience or at least the process ingrained to get there -- it could be their choice of cover designs and blurb writing skills that are their true magical arts rather than the story writing -- but something is successful in selling those books no matter what name they attach to the products. A good product will sell better than a poor product, but always remember that Amazon's algorithm is working in the background ... "they know who you are".

    .
    « Last Edit: August 02, 2020, 08:13:15 am by jvin248 »
           

    Online Usedtoposthere

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    Re: The crux of the indie publishing problem, 2020 version: profitability
    « Reply #46 on: August 02, 2020, 09:13:41 am »
    I have quite a number of books that have sold 100,000 plus copies. Believe me, Amazon is not putting my books in any sort of top 100 spot. You need to up your numbers. 500,000 copies, maybe. But people who sell that well are probably doing plenty of their own pushing, and have a huge audience that provides enormous first week sales. Which Amazon pays attention to.

    They get those big numbers, unless they are manipulating things, by writing books lots of people want to read. Marketing can drive customers to a book. It cant make them read it, finish it, or recommend it.

    Offline Crystal_

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    Re: The crux of the indie publishing problem, 2020 version: profitability
    « Reply #47 on: August 02, 2020, 11:20:21 am »
    It's so silly to brag about not marketing.

    If your books sell well without marketing, they'll sell really well with marketing.

    It's like bragging about having an ugly cover.

    It doesn't matter how good your book or packaging is if no one sees it. If you can get visibility without marketing, great, but that's very rare in 2020 unless you're in an underserved niche (and it probably won't be underserved for long if it's popular enough. Other writers will find it and saturated it).

    Offline Indiecognito

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    Re: The crux of the indie publishing problem, 2020 version: profitability
    « Reply #48 on: August 02, 2020, 11:33:02 am »
    It's so silly to brag about not marketing.

    If your books sell well without marketing, they'll sell really well with marketing.

    It's like bragging about having an ugly cover.

    It doesn't matter how good your book or packaging is if no one sees it. If you can get visibility without marketing, great, but that's very rare in 2020 unless you're in an underserved niche (and it probably won't be underserved for long if it's popular enough. Other writers will find it and saturated it).

    The last paragraph is so true.

    After years writing in Romance (Contemporary and Paranormal), I moved into another (much smaller) genre and found new success with a hungry, underfed audience. After a few books and financial rewards, another author was copying my covers, my concept, everything.

    It's one reason I no longer talk to other authors about what specific genre I'm in. Drives me nuts.
    « Last Edit: August 02, 2020, 11:45:23 am by Indiecognito »

    Offline jb1111

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    Re: The crux of the indie publishing problem, 2020 version: profitability
    « Reply #49 on: August 03, 2020, 05:54:41 pm »
    Amazon ties all the pen name databases together to one real person.
    They know who everyone truly is because they are mailing checks to an address or bank account and tracking social security numbers for taxes.

    It's in Amazon's best interest for the recommendation engine to give preferential treatment to past successes. Easy to start out a new book from 'that bank account that previously sold a hundred thousand copies' by placing it in the top ten slots for a week to see if it glides into another easy path of massive book sales.

    Outside of that, yes, being a good writer with stories that are written to the market will sell better. That author has the experience or at least the process ingrained to get there -- it could be their choice of cover designs and blurb writing skills that are their true magical arts rather than the story writing -- but something is successful in selling those books no matter what name they attach to the products. A good product will sell better than a poor product, but always remember that Amazon's algorithm is working in the background ... "they know who you are".

    .

    Interesting points.

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