Survey of a Genre: Science Fiction eBook Market Under the Microscope

So there’s two big questions on everyone’s minds about ebooks these days, right?
1) How much of the market do indies (self publishers) really have?
2) What price is working for folks?
There’s going to be some variability to the answers. Some genres will likely see greater or less indie penetration; some will see higher or lower prices as the most popular. What follows is raw data mined from Amazon (which represents ~70% of the US ebook market, and is therefore a better tool for ebook numbers than Bookscan is for print). Answers from one genre won’t answer decisively for all genres. Nevertheless, it’s a useful tool for getting some ideas.

Overview

I picked science fiction for the genre to mine. A couple of reasons: SF was consistently a genre where indies had a lower presence in the top 25 bestselling list, for my December/January checks; and I write SF, and have read SF for over three decades, so I know the publisher names very well.
Analysis and data are from the top 200 bestselling science fiction ebooks on Amazon, February 26th 2012. EVERY attempt was made to ensure the data was as accurate as possible. Publishing companies owned by the author were counted as self publishing. Publishing companies which publish any submitted book for a fee were likewise counted as self publishing (there was one case of an Outskirts book). Publishing companies which in any way vet incoming books or have a submission process were counted as traditional publishers (couple of cases of Piers Anthony books by Premier Digital Publishing, for example). Whenever a question existed whether a publisher was trad or indie, I counted it as trad.
Please note that this is a limited data set, from one retailer (albeit a dominant one), about one genre of fiction.

Self Publishing (Indie) vs Traditional Publishing

Top 25 Bestselling breakdown was 72% indie, 28% traditional, with a 18/7 split.
Overall for the top 200 books, there were 154 indie books and 46 traditionally published books, or 77% indie and 23% traditional publisher.
Of interest: out of those 46 trad pub books, only 25 were recent books (which I define as originally published in the last ten years). The remaining 21 were older books, by authors like Burroughs, Heinlein, Asimov, Orwell, Anthony, and Adams. These older books represent most of the prices under $10 for traditionally published ebooks.
A couple of stray thoughts:
1) The idea that “only a few” self publishers are doing well is false. This is 154 books all selling well in excess of a thousand copies per month, in one (rather smallish) genre.
2) The data showed 72% indie penetration for the top 25, and 77% for the top 200. I suspect that the figure would remain roughly constant much deeper.

Pricing

I’ve broken out pricing by price, and by indie/trad.
$0.99 – indie 48; trad 3; all 51 (25.5%)
$1.49/1.50 – indie 2; trad 0; all 2 (1%)
$1.99 – indie 7; trad 0; all 7 (3.5%)
$2.99 – indie 74; trad 4; all 78 (39%)
$3.95/99 – indie 8; trad 3; all 11 (5.5%)
$4.50/4.79/4.99 – indie 13; trad 7; all 20 (10%)
$5.99-6.35 – indie 2; trad 4; all 6 (3%)
$6.99 – indie 0; trad 4; all 4 (2%)
$7.95-$8.09 – indie 0; trad 10; all 10 (5%)
$8.99/9.00 – indie 0; trad 2; all 2 (1%)
$9.99 – indie 0; trad 3; all 3 (1.5%)
$11.99 – indie 0; trad 1; all 1 (0.5%)
$12.99 – indie 0; trad 2; all 2 (1%)
$13.99 – indie 0; trad 2; all 2 (1%)
$14.99 – indie 0; trad 1; all 1 (0.5%)

Despite the marked dominance of the 99 cent and $2.99 price points, I am noting an upward trend in self published ebook prices among better selling writers. As they grow fanbases, I suspect these writers are becoming more confident in their work and bolder in their pricing. There’s a distinct move toward the $4.50-$5.00 price point for indies (8.4% of indie books), and 14.9% of bestselling indie SF ebooks were priced above the $2.99 point.
There’s also a distinct drop off point after $8.00. Very few books were able to prove highly successful above that price, indicating that about the price of a mass market paperback is the highest most consumers are willing to pay for most ebooks. The exceptions were books by well known name authors such as George R.R. Martin.

The Future?

What’s next? Difficult to say. I feel that the 99 cent and $2.99 points will remain dominant for as long as Amazon continues to use their current pricing structure. The 99 cent point is the lowest price allowed; the $2.99 point is the lowest books can get a 70% royalty from Amazon. That makes these prices standard starting points for newer writers trying to “earn their chops”.
I believe we’re seeing a trend which will continue of self published authors starting at those points, then gradually moving prices up as they acquire more readership and audience. More books, more years of work in learning the craft, and more readers will enable writers to boost prices and therefore profit more from each sale.
On the trad pub side, I believe we’ll see less books published at prices over MMP price. Their ebook prices will trend down – *must* trend down, to compete with indie pricing – so we’ll see a settling into $5-8 for most traditionally published ebooks, with higher prices for books they believe will sell well at a higher price. However, with such a high percentage of the ebook market (in this genre; preliminary evidence suggests similar self publishing penetration in most other genres) seized by self published books, publishers are in a tough spot. Retaining dominance in chain bookstores is their only remaining point of strength. As sales in those chains continue to dwindle, publishers will be forced to find more effective ways to regain lost market share in ebooks, or be relegated to a minority market position.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the data presented above! If you see flaws, please point them out; this is the first time I’ve done this in-depth a survey, but I intend to do more. If there are other things you think I ought to have looked at, or would like me to examine in future surveys, please let me know. Hopefully, this data will prove useful to many of us in making informed business decisions!
 


74 Replies to “Survey of a Genre: Science Fiction eBook Market Under the Microscope”

  1. Fascinating data; thank you for going to the trouble to compile this.
    I have a question about word count. Were these all novels? Any shorter works? I’m curious as to whether the lower pricing is due to lower word counts.

    1. Hard to say for sure how long any given ebook is, since most of them don’t have word counts listed, and of course there’s no such thing as ebook page counts. Almost all of those books will fall in the 50k-100k range though, in my experience.
      Price for ebooks is usually less related to length and more related to what the publisher is selling the print form at – or the confidence level of the author, for self publishers.

  2. Fascinating data; thank you for going to the trouble to compile this.
    I have a question about word count. Were these all novels? Any shorter works? I’m curious as to whether the lower pricing is due to lower word counts.

    1. Hard to say for sure how long any given ebook is, since most of them don’t have word counts listed, and of course there’s no such thing as ebook page counts. Almost all of those books will fall in the 50k-100k range though, in my experience.
      Price for ebooks is usually less related to length and more related to what the publisher is selling the print form at – or the confidence level of the author, for self publishers.

  3. Thanks so much for compiling this! I didn’t know Indie science fiction authors were doing so well. I write romance but I follow the entire industry and enjoy learning how any genre is doing. I’m curious if the results on pricing apply in general to other genres, or if the genre and number of writers might play into it. I’d guess the romance genre is pretty flooded with authors and books, and many traditionally published authors are putting their extensive back list on Kindle themselves. I’m glad to see more and more info like this survey coming out – thanks!

    1. My December and January surveys did include romance, but only went down to the top 25 best-selling. In both cases, indie romance writers matched or exceeded science fiction indies in percentage.
      My hunch would be that the romance top 200 would be more indie dominated than the SF top 200.

  4. Thanks so much for compiling this! I didn’t know Indie science fiction authors were doing so well. I write romance but I follow the entire industry and enjoy learning how any genre is doing. I’m curious if the results on pricing apply in general to other genres, or if the genre and number of writers might play into it. I’d guess the romance genre is pretty flooded with authors and books, and many traditionally published authors are putting their extensive back list on Kindle themselves. I’m glad to see more and more info like this survey coming out – thanks!

    1. My December and January surveys did include romance, but only went down to the top 25 best-selling. In both cases, indie romance writers matched or exceeded science fiction indies in percentage.
      My hunch would be that the romance top 200 would be more indie dominated than the SF top 200.

  5. Fascinating, thank you for this post! I’ve long suspected this may be the case, and being a self-published author (and SF fan!) myself, this is very helpful. When I published my first novel, I was very uncertain about pricing and changed it more than once, but this post is very affirming. I only hope the traditional publishing business will follow suit and lower their prices soon. It’s disheartening to see an ebook priced way above the paper version. My e-reader has a lot of indie authors on it!

    1. Using this data as a guide, my suggestions for pricing would be something like:
      – 99 cents for short stories and promotional books (i.e. first in a trilogy/series to get readers to buy the rest of the books)
      – $2.99 for most books by authors who are new, and have yet to acquire an audience
      – $3.99 to $5.99 for most ebooks by authors who have successfully begun to acquire a fan base, good sized mailing list, etc.
      With the caveat that the data here is for this genre, anyway. 😉 Other genres may see different pricing fluctuations, I’m not sure yet.

  6. Fascinating, thank you for this post! I’ve long suspected this may be the case, and being a self-published author (and SF fan!) myself, this is very helpful. When I published my first novel, I was very uncertain about pricing and changed it more than once, but this post is very affirming. I only hope the traditional publishing business will follow suit and lower their prices soon. It’s disheartening to see an ebook priced way above the paper version. My e-reader has a lot of indie authors on it!

    1. Using this data as a guide, my suggestions for pricing would be something like:- 99 cents for short stories and promotional books (i.e. first in a trilogy/series to get readers to buy the rest of the books)
      – $2.99 for most books by authors who are new, and have yet to acquire an audience
      – $3.99 to $5.99 for most ebooks by authors who have successfully begun to acquire a fan base, good sized mailing list, etc.

      With the caveat that the data here is for this genre, anyway. 😉 Other genres may see different pricing fluctuations, I’m not sure yet.

  7. Thanks for doing all the hard work of this survey. The information on price points came out about where I expected, but I didn’t realize the percentage of Indies dominating the top 200 was so high.
    As and Indie writing science fiction, I love it. The buyers of SF ebooks are going after the stories, no matter who publish them. 🙂

    1. You’re welcome! =)
      I plan to do a similar survey for fantasy as well (I’ve already done some of the preliminary work involved, and again know the genre). I might extend the work to other genres as well – I’m particular interested in the romance breakdown, as it’s a powerful/popular genre. But that will likely take longer, as I don’t know all the publishers involved there as well.

  8. Thanks for doing all the hard work of this survey. The information on price points came out about where I expected, but I didn’t realize the percentage of Indies dominating the top 200 was so high.
    As and Indie writing science fiction, I love it. The buyers of SF ebooks are going after the stories, no matter who publish them. 🙂

    1. You’re welcome! =)
      I plan to do a similar survey for fantasy as well (I’ve already done some of the preliminary work involved, and again know the genre). I might extend the work to other genres as well – I’m particular interested in the romance breakdown, as it’s a powerful/popular genre. But that will likely take longer, as I don’t know all the publishers involved there as well.

  9. Thanks for doing this work. I believe pricing is a big advantage indies have over trads.
    I think a fundamental change that has to occur to the mindset of approaching publishing is to stop focusing on bestseller lists. The key to success in the digital market is the long tail rather than the surge. The focus on a big release needs to be replaced with a focus on an enduring series with a lot of content.
    My earnings from when my Area 51 and Atlantis series were in the top ten on Kindle and B&N and now when they’re more evenly spaced out, with some in the top 100, are not that much different. Still much better than any traditional publisher could do for me. I tend to sell more eBooks in a day than a traditional publisher could manage in six months.
    Beyond pricing, the commitment of an author to their own marketing when they “own” the property is key.
    Another elephant in the room is an author who has not earned out with a trad publisher and isn’t even close. What is their incentive to promote? In fact, the reality is they have an incentive to desire sales down on the possibility of gaining their rights back.
    It is indeed a strange time.

    1. Bob, first – thanks for stopping by. =)
      I agree completely. I don’t have raw data which completely supports the following hypothesis, but here’s my gut feeling based on my observations:
      Single books are only very rarely going to do well. Most of the writers in that top 200 had multiple books out, in many cases multiple books in the top 200. The model of thinking about each book as a single unit you attempt to make a bestseller is at best, inefficient, and probably doomed to overall failure.
      Instead, I believe that the best approach to the new market would be to deliberately seek out those writers who a) aspire to a writing career of many books, over many years and b) are able to maintain a steady yet rapid stream of prose.
      In other words, the best writers for publishers to grab in a digital era are probably the ones who can write well, produce consistently, and produce in enough quantity that they’ll easily remain in the minds of their fans.
      In other words, I think that a return to *building careers* over years and decades would benefit publishers more than chasing bestsellers.

      1. So glad someone sent this link to me. A group of us are doing a similar study for romance (historical and contemporary), mystery, and suspense, but we’re comparing Amazon and B&N. We’re still compiling information and I plan to post our findings on my blog (which is dedicated to helping authors navigate these changing times).
        We’re seeing the same trends you mentioned in pricing: indie authors raising prices and traditional publishers lowering prices. That’s making it harder to study the lists at a glance and pick out which is which. Another thing that’s making it harder to tell indie from traditional is the covers. The quality of indie covers has improved dramatically in the past year. So $4.99 indie romances with really professional covers seem to be gaining a lot of market share, especially at B&N and Apple. (I’ll know better when I finish compiling data.) Front list titles by indie romance authors are also gaining ground.
        The percentages where very different for Mystery/Thriller/Suspense, though. On those lists things were split more evenly between indie vs traditional. We’re still wondering why and trying to collect more data.
        As for volume, romance authors with multiple ebooks — especially if those titles are a series — do significantly better. I have 2 trilogies, and whenever I do a concentrated push on book one, it elevates sales for the next two titles, and then the sales spill to the next trilogy. I’ve learned how to roll that in a pattern that’s working very well for me and other authors who are doing the same thing.
        The knowledge that we’ve gained and shared by tracking data has made us extremely efficient promoters. That’s going to make it even tougher for traditional publishers to compete, when they have a few PR people promoting numerous authors up against highly motivated, extremely savvy indie authors focusing on just themselves.
        Wild times!

  10. Thanks for doing this work. I believe pricing is a big advantage indies have over trads.
    I think a fundamental change that has to occur to the mindset of approaching publishing is to stop focusing on bestseller lists. The key to success in the digital market is the long tail rather than the surge. The focus on a big release needs to be replaced with a focus on an enduring series with a lot of content.

    My earnings from when my Area 51 and Atlantis series were in the top ten on Kindle and B&N and now when they’re more evenly spaced out, with some in the top 100, are not that much different. Still much better than any traditional publisher could do for me. I tend to sell more eBooks in a day than a traditional publisher could manage in six months.

    Beyond pricing, the commitment of an author to their own marketing when they “own” the property is key.

    Another elephant in the room is an author who has not earned out with a trad publisher and isn’t even close. What is their incentive to promote? In fact, the reality is they have an incentive to desire sales down on the possibility of gaining their rights back.

    It is indeed a strange time.

    1. Bob, first – thanks for stopping by. =)
      I agree completely. I don’t have raw data which completely supports the following hypothesis, but here’s my gut feeling based on my observations:

      Single books are only very rarely going to do well. Most of the writers in that top 200 had multiple books out, in many cases multiple books in the top 200. The model of thinking about each book as a single unit you attempt to make a bestseller is at best, inefficient, and probably doomed to overall failure.

      Instead, I believe that the best approach to the new market would be to deliberately seek out those writers who a) aspire to a writing career of many books, over many years and b) are able to maintain a steady yet rapid stream of prose.

      In other words, the best writers for publishers to grab in a digital era are probably the ones who can write well, produce consistently, and produce in enough quantity that they’ll easily remain in the minds of their fans.

      In other words, I think that a return to *building careers* over years and decades would benefit publishers more than chasing bestsellers.

      1. So glad someone sent this link to me. A group of us are doing a similar study for romance (historical and contemporary), mystery, and suspense, but we’re comparing Amazon and B&N. We’re still compiling information and I plan to post our findings on my blog (which is dedicated to helping authors navigate these changing times).
        We’re seeing the same trends you mentioned in pricing: indie authors raising prices and traditional publishers lowering prices. That’s making it harder to study the lists at a glance and pick out which is which. Another thing that’s making it harder to tell indie from traditional is the covers. The quality of indie covers has improved dramatically in the past year. So $4.99 indie romances with really professional covers seem to be gaining a lot of market share, especially at B&N and Apple. (I’ll know better when I finish compiling data.) Front list titles by indie romance authors are also gaining ground.

        The percentages where very different for Mystery/Thriller/Suspense, though. On those lists things were split more evenly between indie vs traditional. We’re still wondering why and trying to collect more data.

        As for volume, romance authors with multiple ebooks — especially if those titles are a series — do significantly better. I have 2 trilogies, and whenever I do a concentrated push on book one, it elevates sales for the next two titles, and then the sales spill to the next trilogy. I’ve learned how to roll that in a pattern that’s working very well for me and other authors who are doing the same thing.

        The knowledge that we’ve gained and shared by tracking data has made us extremely efficient promoters. That’s going to make it even tougher for traditional publishers to compete, when they have a few PR people promoting numerous authors up against highly motivated, extremely savvy indie authors focusing on just themselves.

        Wild times!

  11. I agree with what Bob said about marketing and how this is going to change. I just had my first small press (not self pubbed) digital reissue come out in January. Where before when it came out in mass market I marketed to the release week, I realized that now I can just keep spreading the marketing out because the book will always be available.
    I may be slow to coming to the self-publishing side of my career, but I’m learning a great deal and hoping I can continue to grow my career with whatever successful avenues are out there.

  12. I agree with what Bob said about marketing and how this is going to change. I just had my first small press (not self pubbed) digital reissue come out in January. Where before when it came out in mass market I marketed to the release week, I realized that now I can just keep spreading the marketing out because the book will always be available.
    I may be slow to coming to the self-publishing side of my career, but I’m learning a great deal and hoping I can continue to grow my career with whatever successful avenues are out there.

  13. Hi Kevin. Thanks so much for doing this legwork. I’m curious where you found the top 200 – when I look at Amazon’s list they only offer the Top 100 (free and paid are separate lists, but both are Top 100). So how did you get the rest of the books in your study?
    Thanks again. Really interesting work.

    1. First, remember – I did the top 200 best-selling science fiction books, not overall bestsellers. Although it would be interesting to compare, I think overall bestsellers have higher traditional publisher market share than any given genre because their really big books tend to be REALLY big.
      That said; to get top 200 in SF, go to kindle ebooks, then fantasy and science fiction. Select a sub category of SF. Now, in your navigation header it’ll say fiction>science fiction>category name. All those are links. Click “science fiction” and you’re seeing a list of all SF ebooks on Amazon, ranked by bestseller status.

  14. Hi Kevin. Thanks so much for doing this legwork. I’m curious where you found the top 200 – when I look at Amazon’s list they only offer the Top 100 (free and paid are separate lists, but both are Top 100). So how did you get the rest of the books in your study?
    Thanks again. Really interesting work.

    1. First, remember – I did the top 200 best-selling science fiction books, not overall bestsellers. Although it would be interesting to compare, I think overall bestsellers have higher traditional publisher market share than any given genre because their really big books tend to be REALLY big.
      That said; to get top 200 in SF, go to kindle ebooks, then fantasy and science fiction. Select a sub category of SF. Now, in your navigation header it’ll say fiction>science fiction>category name. All those are links. Click “science fiction” and you’re seeing a list of all SF ebooks on Amazon, ranked by bestseller status.

  15. Wonderful work. And I agree with Bob Mayer, the pricing is the key. Traditional publishers could squeeze my books out of the top 100 if they woke up to the fact that they are losing potential money by clinging to an antiquated business model.
    Frankly, I’m hoping they stay asleep.
    Again, thanks for doing all this amazing legwork. The results are fascinating and uplifting.

    1. They’re in a difficult position, with the disadvantages of old habits and large infrastructure expenses. Easy to say “drop the price to $5, silly!” Harder for them to do just yet.
      But every month they retain higher prices is another month more indie writers gain in recognition and fan base, so I’m OK with the delay. 😉

  16. Wonderful work. And I agree with Bob Mayer, the pricing is the key. Traditional publishers could squeeze my books out of the top 100 if they woke up to the fact that they are losing potential money by clinging to an antiquated business model.
    Frankly, I’m hoping they stay asleep.

    Again, thanks for doing all this amazing legwork. The results are fascinating and uplifting.

    1. They’re in a difficult position, with the disadvantages of old habits and large infrastructure expenses. Easy to say “drop the price to $5, silly!” Harder for them to do just yet.
      But every month they retain higher prices is another month more indie writers gain in recognition and fan base, so I’m OK with the delay. 😉

  17. Kevin, I left a comment over on the Kindleboards, too. The list you’re referring to and that you’re drawing your data from is, unfortunately, NOT the bestseller list. It is a popularity list that is manipulated by Amazon’s algos to specifically favor Select books, especially those that have just finished a successful free run and returned back to the paid store as well as those better-selling books that are in the Prime Lending Library. So of course your results are skewed to indie books and to the sales prices for most indie books.
    My own book is currently #19 on the SF Popularity list while it’s only #86 on the Bestseller list. Two days ago, it was #4 on the Popularity list because of how Amazon places books that come off a successful free run.
    I’m sorry. I’m an indie author and would love to think the results you’ve spent the time to collect and collate are accurate, but they aren’t. You’ve used a sales list that is purposefully manipulated to favor Select books.

    1. Thank you!!!
      Understand, my focus here is not to tweak data to prove a point. It’s to collect data in a manner which might be useful to us all, and give us some insights into what’s actually going on.
      I read your replies on KB with interest. I’m not convinced that the fact this data is based on popularity instead of best-selling status invalidates the data; the popularity list is still the most easily accessed and therefore probably most browsed by readers. It’s highly volatile. But while no one book there today will necessarily be there tomorrow, it’s a good snapshot of what’s “on the table” for readers to buy at any given time.
      Still, would having the numbers from the bestseller list be even better? Yes, it likely would, because the lesser volatility of that list would make that information very useful.
      So I’ll do that next. 😉
      Again, thanks for pointing out the data flaw. I’ll publish numbers on the top 100 for best-selling – as opposed to popularity – as soon as I can. Stay tuned… 😉

  18. Kevin, I left a comment over on the Kindleboards, too. The list you’re referring to and that you’re drawing your data from is, unfortunately, NOT the bestseller list. It is a popularity list that is manipulated by Amazon’s algos to specifically favor Select books, especially those that have just finished a successful free run and returned back to the paid store as well as those better-selling books that are in the Prime Lending Library. So of course your results are skewed to indie books and to the sales prices for most indie books.
    My own book is currently #19 on the SF Popularity list while it’s only #86 on the Bestseller list. Two days ago, it was #4 on the Popularity list because of how Amazon places books that come off a successful free run.

    I’m sorry. I’m an indie author and would love to think the results you’ve spent the time to collect and collate are accurate, but they aren’t. You’ve used a sales list that is purposefully manipulated to favor Select books.

    1. Thank you!!!
      Understand, my focus here is not to tweak data to prove a point. It’s to collect data in a manner which might be useful to us all, and give us some insights into what’s actually going on.

      I read your replies on KB with interest. I’m not convinced that the fact this data is based on popularity instead of best-selling status invalidates the data; the popularity list is still the most easily accessed and therefore probably most browsed by readers. It’s highly volatile. But while no one book there today will necessarily be there tomorrow, it’s a good snapshot of what’s “on the table” for readers to buy at any given time.

      Still, would having the numbers from the bestseller list be even better? Yes, it likely would, because the lesser volatility of that list would make that information very useful.

      So I’ll do that next. 😉

      Again, thanks for pointing out the data flaw. I’ll publish numbers on the top 100 for best-selling – as opposed to popularity – as soon as I can. Stay tuned… 😉

  19. I think publishers are looking at very incomplete data because of their stubborness in refusing to include indi numbers.
    Another trend I’ve noticed, is teens are reading Kindle books on their iPods, phones, and tablets and sending emails to the author as soon as they’ve finished them.
    As an indie (my Angel in the Shadows series is in preproduction to be a major film through http://www.motiompicturepro.com) I can respond right away to my fan base.
    This shift has only occurred in the last six months. Amazon and indies are set up to take advantage of all the purchasing power these young readers have, because they can price product low enough to get them hooked on reasonably priced indie author eBooks.

  20. I think publishers are looking at very incomplete data because of their stubborness in refusing to include indi numbers.Another trend I’ve noticed, is teens are reading Kindle books on their iPods, phones, and tablets and sending emails to the author as soon as they’ve finished them.

    As an indie (my Angel in the Shadows series is in preproduction to be a major film through http://www.motiompicturepro.com) I can respond right away to my fan base.

    This shift has only occurred in the last six months. Amazon and indies are set up to take advantage of all the purchasing power these young readers have, because they can price product low enough to get them hooked on reasonably priced indie author eBooks.

  21. Phenomenal work.
    And I have to second Bob’s words:
    “Beyond pricing, the commitment of an author to their own marketing when they “own” the property is key.”
    These books aren’t just tripping and falling into the Top 200. Lot’s of folks are busting their bums to get them there.
    B.

  22. Phenomenal work.
    And I have to second Bob’s words:

    “Beyond pricing, the commitment of an author to their own marketing when they “own” the property is key.”

    These books aren’t just tripping and falling into the Top 200. Lot’s of folks are busting their bums to get them there.

    B.

  23. Hi Kev – Lotta work done here, fella.
    Say, why does not this data simply portray what we already know?
    1. Cheap books outsell more expensive books, and
    2. Almost all cheap books are indie.
    I’ll be interested to see if the other genres vary from the trend, but I suspect not by much.

  24. Hi Kev – Lotta work done here, fella.
    Say, why does not this data simply portray what we already know?

    1. Cheap books outsell more expensive books, and
    2. Almost all cheap books are indie.

    I’ll be interested to see if the other genres vary from the trend, but I suspect not by much.

  25. Interesting breakdown. I’m curious where you got the figure of a thousand copies sold a month, since the Amazon rankings don’t give actual sales information.
    One publisher category you didn’t mention, which is arguably a little different from either indie or traditional, is traditionally published authors who are self-republishing their own backlists. That’s what I’m doing, in part, and I expect that more and more writers will be doing it. (You’ll find some of them at backlistebooks.com, and others at bookviewcafe.com, among other places.) I think right now more romance writers are doing it than SF writers.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  26. Interesting breakdown. I’m curious where you got the figure of a thousand copies sold a month, since the Amazon rankings don’t give actual sales information.
    One publisher category you didn’t mention, which is arguably a little different from either indie or traditional, is traditionally published authors who are self-republishing their own backlists. That’s what I’m doing, in part, and I expect that more and more writers will be doing it. (You’ll find some of them at backlistebooks.com, and others at bookviewcafe.com, among other places.) I think right now more romance writers are doing it than SF writers.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  27. Great stuff! Thanks for compiling this.
    It’s encouraging to see the $4.99 price point results, especially that they are better than the next one down at $3.99. I’ve tried different prices ranging on the lower end–$0.99 to $3.99–for my two fantasy novels. I imagine my results are similar to others: I sell more at 99 cents, but make a lot less money overall. I recently decided to abandon the 99 cent price point. There are too many other eBooks in that pile, and I’m getting enough good reviews on Amazon and other places like Goodreads that I think I can try for higher prices now. Besides, I feel my novels are simply worth more than 99 cents. Don’t know if the majority of readers feel the same way. That’s something that remains an ongoing experiment.

  28. Great stuff! Thanks for compiling this.
    It’s encouraging to see the $4.99 price point results, especially that they are better than the next one down at $3.99. I’ve tried different prices ranging on the lower end–$0.99 to $3.99–for my two fantasy novels. I imagine my results are similar to others: I sell more at 99 cents, but make a lot less money overall. I recently decided to abandon the 99 cent price point. There are too many other eBooks in that pile, and I’m getting enough good reviews on Amazon and other places like Goodreads that I think I can try for higher prices now. Besides, I feel my novels are simply worth more than 99 cents. Don’t know if the majority of readers feel the same way. That’s something that remains an ongoing experiment.

  29. Great post!! I happened to do a similar post (with some of the same conclusions on Monday), but analyzing the YA Action&Adventure Bestseller list (I’m on the SF list today, though, as an Indie, which makes me happy). There’s not as much penetration of indies in YA, but it’s getting there.

  30. Great post!! I happened to do a similar post (with some of the same conclusions on Monday), but analyzing the YA Action&Adventure Bestseller list (I’m on the SF list today, though, as an Indie, which makes me happy). There’s not as much penetration of indies in YA, but it’s getting there.

  31. This was fascinating and underscores what a lot of us have been doing by gut. I worked for NY for 26 years and am now Indie and having amazing success with digital at $2.99. I’ve had multiple books in my genre’s bestseller lists in both UK & U.S. , backlist and new, for over four months. I credit using a free strategy & pricing. Bottom line, though, is the work has to be credible for the reader to return. Thanks so much. I’m hoping to find numbers on the thriller genre as good as these! Amazing.

  32. This was fascinating and underscores what a lot of us have been doing by gut. I worked for NY for 26 years and am now Indie and having amazing success with digital at $2.99. I’ve had multiple books in my genre’s bestseller lists in both UK & U.S. , backlist and new, for over four months. I credit using a free strategy & pricing. Bottom line, though, is the work has to be credible for the reader to return. Thanks so much. I’m hoping to find numbers on the thriller genre as good as these! Amazing.

  33. Pingback: fiction

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