How people chose what ebook to read – Part 1

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The availability of online bookstores, and particularly the arrival of eBooks is starting to transform how  people discover the books they may want to read. The traditional place to do that was bookstores. You’d go in to buy one book and discover another.

Officials at Amazon and other book websites argue that clicking can replace browsing, but is that just a vague and nebulous hope, or are people actually selecting the books they’ll read in different ways? A recent poll  conducted for USAToday and Bookish, a website designed to help people find and buy books, asked readers what factors create interest in a particular book for them. Continue reading

Amazon finally catches up with the 21st century in Australia

Amazon LogoFor a retailer with one of the biggest, and possibly most sophisticated back office systems in the world Amazon demonstrated until a couple of days ago one of the most backward and antiquarian of systems when it came to paying Australian publishers who didn’t have an American bank account. While Google was quite happy paying earnings direct into our bank account every month in Australian dollars, and Lulu (Hague Publishing’s agent for Barnes and Noble and Apple sales) paid monthly into our PayPal account, and even Kobo was prepared to pay into our Australian bank account a maximum of every six months, Amazon would only pay by cheque in American dollars once our earnings had exceeded $100. This then required paying bank fees on the cheque, and on the conversion, costs which because of the complexity of the process we simply absorbed, rather than trying to split it up by individual sales and billing to our authors.

Now, however, the launch of Amazon’s new Australia store means that Amazon will be paying us monthly direct into our bank account in Australian dollars.

Perhaps more importantly Amazon will also be paying royalties of 70% of the list price, similar to what it had previously paid for American sales, rather than at the previous rate of 30%.

So good news for small Australian publishers without an American bank account, and their authors. But perhaps not such good news for the Australian reader who is now forced to pay GST, and in some cases according to a significantly higher price than what they have to pay for in the American store, e.g: A Game of Thrones: $4.99 AU, $2.90 US. The Signature of All Things: equivalent. Just One Evil Act: $19.99 vs $6.59. The Book Thief: $12.99 vs $2.90.

The price difference even seems to have happened to Hague’s own books with Bonnie’s Story: A Blonde’s Guide to Mathematics having the same list price of US$4.99 in both stores (ie $5.29 in Australian dollars), but being marked down to $4.39 in the US store.

Of course readers could get the book from our own website for $5 Australian without any DRM protection 🙂



When submitting to a publisher don’t: submit your partner’s manuscript without seeking their approval

Picture of manuscript submissionAfter last week’s posts which dealt with the relatively heavy topic of eBook earnings I thought it might be time to try something a little lighter. As a result this is will hopefully be the first in an irregular series entitled: When submitting to a publisher don’t:. In this case don’t submit your partner’s manuscript without seeking their permission!

Now you might think this warning isn’t really required, but it has actually happened to me. In the case in point I received a short, illustrated manuscript suitable for a parent to read to a young child. I liked the story, and the illustrations, but wasn’t sure if we were the best fit for the book .

When I emailed the author I discovered than not only was he not aware that his partner had submitted the manuscript without telling him, they had also commissioned the artwork without his permission and he hated it. Probably made for rather a chilly conversation over the breakfast table the next day. I do have to say, however, that I felt it was rather sweet of the partner to have that much faith in their partner’s work. But the bottom line remains: don’t.

Did the average eBook really earn just $297 in 2012?

income-graphicAs a small publisher this is obviously an important question: both for us, and for our authors. The question being, of course, how well is an author doing compared to their peers.

Unfortunately this information is difficult to obtain, as from the publisher’s perspective it is often commercial in confidence. Alternatively the information may rely on a small, non-representative sample of self-disclosing authors. What information is around seems to indicate, however, that the goal of earning enough to get a cookie and a mug of chocolate each week on the royalties from eBook sales is probably going to be well beyond the experience of the average author.

Back in May 2012 The Guardian ran an article with the headline ‘Stop the press: half of self-published authors earn less than $500’. The article was based on a survey of 1,007 self-published writers that was originally published by the website Taleist.  Unfortunately I was unable to view the results from the original survey from the Taleist site due to its age, so this information is gleaned from the Guardian article.

What the survey shows is that  the average amount earned by self-published authors in 2011 was just $10,000, with half of those responding making less than $500. While self-published superstars such as Amanda Hocking and EL James raked in enormous sums of money (Hocking attained sales of $2.5 million), the overall figure  is significantly skewed by the top earners, with less than 10% of self-published authors earning about 75% of the reported revenue, and half of writers earning less than $500.

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