If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Check out our February author interviews: 2/7-debut author Keenan Powell (Alaskan lawyer), 2/14-Leslie Wheeler (Rattlesnake Hill), 2/21-bestselling author Krista Davis, who unveils a new series, 2/28-Diane Vallere answers my questions about Pajama Frame. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our February Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 2/3-Saralyn Richard, 2/10-Kathryn Lane. WWK's Margaret H. Hamilton will blog on 2/17, and Kait Carson on 2/24.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Second Edition - Chance for a do-over

This past Wednesday, all the rights to Bad Policy officially reverted from my publisher to me and the second edition went live using my publishing company, Wolf's Echo Press. I’ve already discussed the self-imposed angst I generated by reediting and reformatting the book. Today I want to talk about one of the things independent authors often say they most cherish, the ability to choose how to price and promote their books.

The print decisions were fairly easy to make because I’ve had practice when I developed the print edition of my Kindle Scout winner, Ant Farm. I use CreateSpace to prepare the print edition for sale on Amazon and IngramSpark for all other distribution. The reason for the two versions is the difference in royalties CreateSpace pays for Amazon and all others.

Here’s how royalty works at CreateSpace for Bad Policy:

The list price is $14.95, of which they take 40% off the top if the book is sold on Amazon or 60% if sold in “Expanded Distribution” (any Amazon competitor, whether online or bricks and mortar). That leaves $8.97 (Amazon) or $5.98 (Other). From that, CreateSpace deducts both a fixed charge per book ($0.85 for books with 110-828 pages) and a variable charge of $0.012/page (for Bad Policy this comes out to $3.19) for total per unit deductions of $4.04. My payment (combining my roles of publisher and author) is what remains, $4.93 if the book sells on Amazon and $1.94 elsewhere.

As an aside, note that even if we assume there is no profit for CreateSpace in the $4.04 fixed costs of producing a book, they and Amazon still make $5.98 (before shipping costs) per book sold on Amazon, compared to the publisher’s and author’s combined take of $4.93!

At IngramSpark, the royalty calculations are a bit different because the publisher determines the wholesale discount. I set mine at 40%. My thinking is that bookstores will be ordering this book because of customer request, not to stock their shelves. Therefore, the standard discount makes sense. Starting with the same $14.95 with 40% wholesale discount, leaves $8.97. Ingram has a higher charge to print the book ($4.84), leaving $4.13 for the publisher and author.

That’s eighty cents lower than what CreateSpace pays for Amazon sales (so I use CreateSpace for that sales channel), but a whopping $2.19 higher than CreateSpace when it comes to any other sales channel. Another reason for using IngramSpark for bookstore sales is I have had bookstore owners tell me they will not carry or order a book published by CreateSpace because it is owned by Amazon, who they see as an unfair competitor.

Figuring out what to do with print was the easy part. How to price the ebook and where to sell it required (and will require in the future) considerable thought.

The original ebook price for Bad Policy was $5.95. Cabin Fever’s ebook still has a $5.95 price tag. Kindle Press priced Ant Farm at $3.49. Amazon, gorilla of the ebook market with a roughly 70% share in the U.S., pays royalties at a 70% rate for books priced between $2.99 and $9.99, provided the books comply with a few rules that are easy to follow. Prices outside that range qualify for a 35% royalty.

I like 70% better than 35%—about twice as much.

I did a scientific survey of 1 person (my life partner, Jan). She said to price it at $4.00. The marketer in me changed that to $3.99 and that is its price.

We now arrive at the decision point over which much ink has been spilled: go exclusive with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) or sell across multiple platforms. There are excellent arguments for both sides. I looked at my past sales for guidance. Amazon has sold over 80% of the ebooks for Bad Policy and Cabin Fever even though the publisher made sure the books are available everywhere.

The KDP exclusivity period runs for ninety days, when it can be renewed for the next ninety days or not. The biggest advantage for going exclusive with Amazon is to have the book available in Kindle Unlimited (KU) and the Kindle Owners Lending Library (KOLL). Thirty percent of Ant Farm ebook sales have come through the KU and KOLL programs. Yes, if a book is not available on KU and KOLL, some people will buy the books, but those folks have already had three years to purchase Bad Policy. Consequently, I decided to start Bad Policy’s rebirth by going exclusive and trumpeting to KU participants that for them the book was now free.

I’ll do the experiment for ninety days, evaluate it, and then decide what to do for the next ninety days. That’s life in the independent author lane.

~ Jim


Margaret Turkevich said...

informative and overwhelming. Good luck!

Kait said...

Interesting and instructive for those of us who self-publish. Congratulations on getting your rights back and much success!

Warren Bull said...

Thanks for keeping us up to date about part of the world of publishing. I always read these posts with interest.

Jim Jackson said...

Margaret -- Sorry the material is overwhelming. Perhaps a bit of how I felt slipped into the narrative mix?

Carla Damron said...

This is great info. Thanks for sharing your research!

E. B. Davis said...

I love when authors make the first of the series free or at a low cost. If they hook me, I'll buy the next ones at full price, or the Kindle price of the big publishers, $7.99. I'd rather indie authors max out at $5.99 because that's a more fair price than what the publishers set--who should follow suit. After all, there are no transportation costs and there is no material being used for an e-version. That cost should cover the cover art and formating. I have no interest in paper books and hope you make a profit off them, Jim. Good luck!

KM Rockwood said...

Thanks for crunching the numbers for us, Jim.

To tell the truth, I'm not at all sure I could handle all that's involved in publishing myself.

Best of luck with the project! I'm sure you'll let us know what works for you (and what doesn't.)

Paula Gail Benson said...

Jim, I agree with the others, I always enjoy your perspective on the business of publishing and appreciate your gentle instructive nature concerning the numbers. (Reading your posts really helps me understand the process! It's very eye-opening.) Our Palmetto Chapter particularly enjoyed hearing about your experience with Kindle Scout. I really like the cover for your reprint of Bad Policy. How did you select it?

Jim Jackson said...

KB -- Should you ever become independent or hybrid, there are folks you can pay to do everything for you.

Paula -- The cover contains the essence of a huge scene in Bad Policy. I had described that scene to the original cover artist, but he and the publisher came up with what they did, which didn't really reflect my vision--but that was their choice. When I could work directly with a cover artist of my choice, we came up with the current version that you and I like.

And as you all know, I enjoy understanding the business side of publishing and am happy to share the numbers.

Gloria Alden said...

As an indie-publisher I found the blog informative. I'm afraid I'm rather lazy when it
comes to promoting my books - lazy or of the old school not wanting to seem too self-important, a little bit of Lake Woebegon in me perhaps. I often give bookmarks to people I've just met and in the discussion mention I'm a writer, if they show an interest. And I give copies of my first book to people I know well or someone I've bonded with like an elderly lady I met last fall, and another one who just came on my Mobile Meals route and wants to writer her memoir and said she loves mysteries. I figure if they like it, they can buy the next one.
I also donate my books to local libraries.