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Discussion Starter #1
Disclaimer: I didn't say all readers, nor did I mention KU, or Select, or free books. Just talking about my readers.
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I saw an interesting report a few days ago, and have been mulling it over. I can only come to one conclusion - my readers are saturated.

Here's the logic behind that statement:

We've published 19 books since Nov 2011.

We track specific dates for sales, reviews, ads, and promotions. From that, one of the guys created a new report that calculates time periods. (I know, I know... :p but I like metrics)

Each year the following time spans have increased:

Days to 500 sales
Days to First Review
Days to 5th Review
Days to 2,000 sales

About the only value that has remained constant has been the time to 3,000 sales, although that pushed out about 4 days between 2013 and 2014.

Between 2012 and 2013, there was very little "creep."
Between 2013 and 2014, there were significant differences.
Now, in 2015, it looks to be worse, although the sample is limited so far in a new year.

With one exception, those time spans have progressively increased with each new book. In late 2014, and so far in 15, the number of days before those milestones occur have almost doubled since 2013.

So what's a fella to think? Again, the only conclusion I can draw that makes any sense is that my readers have a larger "backlog" of titles than before. They are, essentially, saturated.

Does anyone else track this sort of thing?
Am I missing something obvious here?
 

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I forget which paper published it, but there was a major piece recently about how people's kindles are full, and readers are becoming more and more choosey with less and less time. (Maybe someone can find the link?)

If true, it has serious long-term implications to the community as a whole.
 

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I'm wondering if this is the effect of all of these newsletter services like Bookbub. I know as a reader I go through maybe a book a week but I can't keep up with all the content out there.  I leave most of my subscription emails unread most days now. I can't bear to download another book and leave it to rot on my kindle. 
 

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Why does this even surprise anyone?

On a year-to-year basis you have:

X number of readers, with
y amount of time to read, and
z number of new books being published

Self-publishing has EXPLODED the number represented by z. So naturally, the porridge will be getting thinner all the time.

At one point, the number of people publishing vs the number of people giving up publishing will reach an equilibrium, but we're not there yet.

In short: "making it" has always been hard. There have always been vastly more books than readers can read. We've just shifted the whole selection process to the stage where the reader forks out money.
 

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I think Joe may be on to something.    Just on my primary kindles , I have a TBR of 744 books.  And some of those are box sets with multiple books.  All those are books I plan to read.  So saturation is a possibility.
 

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Also, every book isn't the same. Some books will naturally sell better than others. Especially, I think, if you are writing in a niche genre, the subject itself will be more or less popular depending. In 2011, there were fewer post-apoc or prepper thriller stuffs. Now there are more, so it'll be a tougher sell. Seems pretty usual to me.
 

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A different reason popped into my head: the industry is maturing. The playing field is ever more crowded. It used to be that anything sold. Now only the most attractive and otherwise high quality material sells.

I took a quick look at your books. I realize some are nonfiction, but IMO there are some obvious improvements to be made - in covers, in pricing, in branding, in clarity. Not saying they're bad, but with an ever-toughening market, maybe you need to look for ways to update things, to group and brand your series better, and then there's prices. Most of your ebook prices seem to be a bit high for today's market. With the saturation you are talking about, people may be deciding that 8.99 or 9.99 is too much to pay, when other comparable things are available.
 

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Maybe it's not saturation, but a return to normal.  Like a hot new IPO, self publishing has taken off in the last five years, but now it's settling.  Also anything is hard to quantify when Amazon is still shaking things up every six to nine months.
 

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Four days to 3K sales is still pretty speedy, if you ask me, so maybe not saturated. Maybe just damp? :)
 
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If the ebook readers are saturated, perhaps we should push out some paperback copies.
 

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Okey Dokey said:
If the ebook readers are saturated, perhaps we should push out some paperback copies.
Joe certainly does that! Better than any of the rest of us, I'll warrant.
 

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E-book sales actually decreased last quarter, from what I recall reading in trade magazines, and I think 2014 was flat overall.

What I think is saturated is the reader device market. Everyone that wanted one has one, and the initial rush to go out and just grab books is over.  And there aren't zillions of new people reading - if anything, the trend is that fewer adults read after they leave high school/college.

The tablet market also didn't really pan out like a lot of people thought, also. And tablet users are really too easily distracted by e-mail, browsing, etc, to make good novel readers. People went to bigger phones, but there you have even more distractions from reading.

The one category of sales that I recall was up is print.  Print sales are up 5% to 10% over last year. And I think a lot of us e-book writers forget what kind of numbers are getting pulled down by print books - "The Girl on the Train" sold 56,000 units last week. And that's just hardback, in one week. That works out to $1.5M in retail sales for that one week. That $1.5M gets spread out over the entire publishing industry, from retail, to distributors, to editors, publishers, artists, and so forth. When those same 56,000 units become $100K of e-book sales that go in an author's pocket, there is basically no knock-on effect except for that one author.  So basically you've got case A where the "book biz" gets $1.5M and case B (the e-book case) where the book biz gets $100K. So... the cards tend to get stacked in favor of trad publishing because each unit sale pushes more cash back into the business.

 

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Discussion Starter #15
Becca Mills said:
Four days to 3K sales is still pretty speedy, if you ask me, so maybe not saturated. Maybe just damp? :)
That was four additional days to 3K, not four after release. I wish I had a book that popped so quickly. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #16
David VanDyke said:
A different reason popped into my head: the industry is maturing. The playing field is ever more crowded. It used to be that anything sold. Now only the most attractive and otherwise high quality material sells.

I took a quick look at your books. I realize some are nonfiction, but IMO there are some obvious improvements to be made - in covers, in pricing, in branding, in clarity. Not saying they're bad, but with an ever-toughening market, maybe you need to look for ways to update things, to group and brand your series better, and then there's prices. Most of your ebook prices seem to be a bit high for today's market. With the saturation you are talking about, people may be deciding that 8.99 or 9.99 is too much to pay, when other comparable things are available.
That was so kind, David. I can't believe someone actually took the time to go look at my stuff.

That being said, my sales aren't down. If my OP made it sound like I was complaining about lower sales, that wasn't my intent. My point was that it takes longer to get to the same numbers for each title. I'm seeing a belle curve that is less pronounced - flatter and longer.

I do appreciate your advice, however. Nobody (as in Joe) isn't perfect.
 

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Joe_Nobody said:
That was so kind, David. I can't believe someone actually took the time to go look at my stuff.

That being said, my sales aren't down. If my OP made it sound like I was complaining about lower sales, that wasn't my intent. My point was that it takes longer to get to the same numbers for each title. I'm seeing a belle curve that is less pronounced - flatter and longer.

I do appreciate your advice, however. Nobody (as in Joe) isn't perfect.
This is why I love Joe.
 

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Joe_Nobody said:
Disclaimer: I didn't say all readers, nor did I mention KU, or Select, or free books. Just talking about my readers.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I saw an interesting report a few days ago, and have been mulling it over. I can only come to one conclusion - my readers are saturated.

Here's the logic behind that statement:

We've published 19 books since Nov 2011.

We track specific dates for sales, reviews, ads, and promotions. From that, one of the guys created a new report that calculates time periods. (I know, I know... :p but I like metrics)

Each year the following time spans have increased:

Days to 500 sales
Days to First Review
Days to 5th Review
Days to 2,000 sales

About the only value that has remained constant has been the time to 3,000 sales, although that pushed out about 4 days between 2013 and 2014.

Between 2012 and 2013, there was very little "creep."
Between 2013 and 2014, there were significant differences.
Now, in 2015, it looks to be worse, although the sample is limited so far in a new year.

With one exception, those time spans have progressively increased with each new book. In late 2014, and so far in 15, the number of days before those milestones occur have almost doubled since 2013.

So what's a fella to think? Again, the only conclusion I can draw that makes any sense is that my readers have a larger "backlog" of titles than before. They are, essentially, saturated.

Does anyone else track this sort of thing?
Am I missing something obvious here?
This could be the first serious downside I've heard for a long series using the same author name. Could it be, that readers are shopping around for new voices? They might be still looking for books in the same genres, but are buying different authors. I have never used pen names, but this could be a reason to do it. You could fill your own also boughts with different authors, but they're all you ;)
 
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Joe_Nobody said:
That was four additional days to 3K, not four after release. I wish I had a book that popped so quickly. ;)
4 extra days? Wow. That's a lot.
 
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