Episode 114 – Amazon Imprints, Powerful Readers, and Truncated Emails

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Question of the Week: Which part of the newest Author Earnings report is most surprising to you? How do you think this info will impact your career going forward?

Abigail Dunard, the first SMBS intern, joined Jim and Bryan on the show this week as they discussed the latest Author Earnings report and much, much more. After thanking their patrons Annie Adams (The Final Arrangement http://amzn.to/1Z7yEoF ) and Chris Shumate (31 Days of Wisdom http://amzn.to/1XC9wth ), the trio took on tips about cover branding, Facebook video, and email marketing services. News stories included the dominance of Amazon imprints, ambiguous Amazon policies, how long sales rank takes to update, the scourge of truncated emails, and the May 2016 Author Earnings report. This week’s Question of the Week: Which part of the newest Author Earnings report is most surprising to you? How do you think this info will impact your career going forward?
What You’ll Learn:
– Why you shouldn’t try to be unique with your covers
– How you can improve your engagement on Facebook
– Which email marketing services are the most effective for authors
– Why it pays to have a book with an Amazon imprint
– How Amazon’s ambiguous policy can keep you unpublished
– What indies can learn from the latest sales rank experiment
– Why truncated emails matter when testing out email marketing
– How the latest Author Earnings report is a game changer
Question of the Week: Which part of the newest Author Earnings report is most surprising to you? How do you think this info will impact your career going forward?

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  • Thanks for the mention, Bryan! I’ve been listening to SMBS for over a year, so it was a thrill to make the top five news! Even if Jim didn’t learn anything from it (at least he didn’t diagnose me with MDS).

    • Bryan

      Sure thing! You did good work :).

  • This info makes me want to write more, learn more, market more, and sell more. In the time I can type a query letter, I’d rather create a Facebook ad that will sell 100 books.

    • Bryan


  • Lindsay Buroker

    When we had Data Guy as a guest, he said they’re completely relying on the information that’s available on Amazon book sales pages, nothing more. I’m not a web pro, but I don’t think they’re doing anything that Google and the other search engines don’t do, so I’m not sure why Amazon would shut them down.

    • Right. Plus, Amazon WANTS more authors in KDP, so why stop people who sing the praises of indie publishing on Amazon?

    • Bryan

      Yeah, I feel like even if Amazon did feel like its data was being poached, it would let this one slide.

  • QOTW – I don’t really read the reports as much as listen to you tell me about the reports. 😉 *

    Actually, I’m always inspired to write harder by the stats, and appreciate their hard work. The biggest surprise was just how deep a dive the Big 5 took. They may never fully recover. They accidentally introduced a lot of their readers to indie book alternatives by over pricing. Assuming the indie alternatives held up, indies win.

    * Bryan, just say “winky face” when you read the 😉 part of my answer on air.

    • BTW, Data Guy has been awesome, and has answered my questions and been very responsive, as well. I like him.

    • Bryan

      Will do!

  • The biggest surprise is how wide they were able to make this analysis. 82% of all sales during the search period is quite something.

    What they found is not much of a surprise. More like further confirmation of what we already know.

  • The most surprising thing in the findings to me was how few authors are earning more than $100K. 1,340 authors out of the hundreds of thousands trying, means the market is very competitive.

    I agree with Jim, though, that it’s about standing out from the crowd more than short term marketing tactics. Ads can help, but you need your books to be so great that people love them and recommend them to other people.

    Since I’m competitive by nature, finding out how difficult the competition is to get to the top makes me want to work harder on making my books better.

    • Bryan

      Win win win!

      • Was just listening to episode 115 and heard the comments about it. Just wanted to point out that in addition to sales at all other book channels not being included in the Author Earnings report, it also does not include NON-US Amazon sales. Here is the complete list from the AE site:

        This picture does not include non-Amazon.com income, from:

        Print sales through brick and mortar bookstores & other mass merchandisers

        Ebook sales through Apple iBookStore, barnesandnoble.com, Kobo, and Google Play

        Audiobook sales through iTunes

        Print books sold online through non-Amazon.com retailers

        Library sales

        Publisher-direct sales

        Author-direct sales

        Non-US digital and online print sales through other Amazon stores (Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca, Amazon.au, etc.)

        Other foreign sales

        • Bryan

          Unsurprisingly, you’re very on top of things, Dan. Exactly, the 1,300+ who are making 100,000 in AE could be much more when you factor in everything else.

  • Laura Martone

    To be honest, I’m most surprised by the fact that I actually finished reading the entire report this time around – as my high school math nerd years are long over and, these days, numbers and stats usually make me quite dizzy. 😉 No, but, seriously, I think the most shocking aspect of the newest AE report is the fact that even non-bestselling, “shadow matter” indies are making a decent living at the writing/publishing game. THAT is very encouraging – since my partner, Dan, and I are hoping less to be millionaires and more to be self-sufficient writers able to send our stories into the world without having to deal with agents and other trad-pub denizens and without having to worry about, you know, survival. As the report claims (and Jim is fond of saying), “The only gatekeepers that matter now are readers.” As it should be!

    • Bryan

      I’ve always seen you two as shadows in waiting.

  • Matia Quintana

    Regarding Jim’s comments about launch sales vs sales over time, ID have to disagree. Outside of the very rare titles, most titles experience the bull of their sales at launch or during heavy promotional periods, not in fact over the history of the title, traditionally or self published. Thems the numerical facts.

    • Bryan

      We actually talked about an interesting article a while back that might beg to differ with your thoughts on this: http://thisblogisaploy.blogspot.com/2016/01/writing-wednesday-long-tail-what.html

      Worth a read!

      • Matia Quintana

        The Long Tail is a great book, and definitely was the selling digitally is all about, but if you actually do the math on Rachel’s sales (12.5k in 3 months, then 40k in the next 14 months) you’ll see my point still holds true: in her first 3 months she made almost a third of her total sales, but in only 1/4 the total time – and that’s not accounting for any promos she did during the 14 months (as opposed to ‘organic’ sales). It’s true in traditional book selling, too, though far more extreme. What the Long Tail allows is constant selling over time to niche markets. Will you sell more over time eventually? In Rachel’s case, probably. Will you see more on average, very unlikely unless you promote or ‘launch’ the book later with a marketing campaign.

        But, yes, Long Tail is true and right and good and cuddly.

        • Bryan

          And isn’t cuddliness the whole point anyway? 🙂

  • Ken Hanson

    Ah, Police Academy…

    • Bryan

      hehe :).