Episode 170 – Fast vs. Slow, Reader Engagement, and $2.8 Billion

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Question of the Week: Do you believe Michael Cader’s estimates of the size of the ebook marketplace? Are they too high, too low, or just right, and why?

Just how big is the ebook marketplace? Listen all the way to our top story to find out the latest estimate. After thanking their patrons, Star Flame, Merkiaari Wars, and Awakened, Jim and Bryan talked tips on engaging with audio, staying sticky in the rankings, and nonfiction book length. News stories included Amazon’s six-month KU deal, engaging with your fanbase, newsletter subscribers from giveaways, going fast vs. slow as a writer, and the size of the ebook marketplace. This week’s Question of the Week: Do you believe Michael Cader’s estimates of the size of the ebook marketplace? Are they too high, too low, or just right, and why?
What You’ll Learn:
  • Why authors need to evolve with the changing publishing industry
  • How authors can find the ideal page count for their nonfiction books
  • How authors can revive book sales after its momentum wears off
  • What freebie Amazon is including with its new Kindle Paperwhite
  • How authors can start building brand loyalty and a healthy fan base
  • Why one author deleted 3,200 subscribers from her mailing list
  • Why one author is urging authors to slow down their production rates
  • What one publishing analyst says about the current state of the industry

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  • Lavie Margolin

    Honestly, I can’t speculate on numbers that I haven’t seen.

    • Bryan

      Fair enough :).

  • Amanda Smith

    Dammit Jim, I’m an author, not a mathematician!

    • Bryan

      I love this comment!

  • Spider McGee

    If I had a billion dollars, the first thing I’d do is enter into negotiations to get Jim’s book rights back to him. Every time he mentions it, I can hear the pain in his voice. He needs a hero.

    For purely selfish reasons, the next thing I’d do is finance (and I’m willing to spend up to $250 million of my own money) a proper big-screen version of the Sondheim musical A Little Night Music, as the 1978 filmed adaptation was so heinously botched. Come on, Liz Taylor as Desiree Armfeldt? You must be kidding me.

    Then, I’d take the rest of the money and rent an apartment in Austin. Rents are high.

    • Bryan

      All great things. Jim NEEDS those rights.

  • I don’t know if the number themselves matter, but they’re certainly good enough to show that Indies can do great. It also seems to show that ebooks are doing just fine, despite what the news continues to show.

    • Bryan

      Absolutely. #FakePodcastNews

  • I think your numbers came up a bit high partly b/c you used $3 as the average ebook price. That may be true for indies, but you have to remember trad publishers who still price ebooks high. And that trad publishers still have a hold on the market. So I would say the average is at least $5 or more. Just a thought.

    • Bryan

      Good point, Monica. Thanks!

  • Lindsay Buroker

    I thought the earnings numbers seemed reasonable. I make great money, and I still consider myself mid-list. Occasionally, I’ll launch stuff into the Top 200 on Amazon, but it doesn’t stick there for long. More often, I’ve got maybe one or two series where the books are in the top 10,000. That means that at any given time, there are lots and lots of books that are selling more copies a day than mine are. I know I’ve met plenty of indie authors who earn more than I do!

    • Bryan

      Great points, Lindsay! Thanks for dropping by :).

  • I’m with Jim in wanting to know more about where the numbers came from. Another question I have is on how Pub Houses get paid for ebook sales. Is it like KDP with per unit accounting or like print books with some kind of bulk pre-buy? The latter could inflate the numbers in a similar way the PB sales before returns skew that reporting.

    • Bryan

      Great questions, Edwin. Not sure how Pub Houses get paid.

  • Scott Jarol

    According to a report at Author Earnings, as of Feb 2017, annual eBook sales in the U.S. across all retailers combined were at a run rate of 497 million units. I’d also agree with others that the price of $2.99 is very low because trad publishers still price their books at $9.99 or higher, in many cases. According to the same report, dollar sales for the same one year period were over $3 billion, or roughly $250 million per month, with just shy of 80% of that on Amazon, or $200 million. Granted, Author Earnings triangulates those total sales from data analysis, but Data Guy has been pretty reliable, as far as any of us know. The numbers do look correct.

    • Bryan

      Good point, Scott. Thanks!