Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Navigate the Choppy Waters of the E-book Industry

For a long while now the publishing industry news has been burning up with the Amazon/Hachette dispute. Both sides have dug in their heels and refuse to budge. Both feel they’re equally justified in what they demand. And this feud is over something as simple as the pricing of e-books.

Guest post by Winter Austin
A lot of authors have come out of their writing caves to voice their opinions on this controversy; everyone from the new indie author to many successful New York Times bestsellers. I’m not going to sway you one way or the other. Frankly, my opinion on the matter means beans since I’m still in the beginner’s stage of this game. Five published books and one self-pub does not make me an expert. What I can give you is an insider’s look at how my publisher, a fairly new division in an already longstanding publishing house, and I have found a way to get e-books out there for the consumer and the drawbacks to some of these ideas.

You’ve all heard it: e-books will last as long as you leave them out there. And it’s true. I’m one of the earlier authors to sign with my house, Crimson Romance, after they first opened their doors to submissions for e-books only. My first book, published in February of 2013 is still sitting in places like Amazon and B&N and still selling; albeit slowly, but selling. Oddly enough, it’s my first book getting the higher sales than the subsequent three. I believe it’s due in part to the fact that Relentless is the first book in a four book series and people are just wanting a cheap read without making a commitment. Typically on Amazon my books are priced around $3.82, on B&N $4.99. Of course Amazon will be the cheaper deal, but to me these are fair prices for a book that averages out at about 75,000 words and over 200 pages in e-format.

Crimson has allowed two of my books to sell for 99¢, which they did well during that short spell, but not well enough to make me a bestseller. Here’s where the joy of having e-books comes in, they’re still out there, and they’re still selling. Had my first book been a paperback right off, I don’t think it would still be sitting on the shelves. E-books aren’t limited to a shelf-life.

Now having said that, it doesn’t mean you just sit back and watch it while doing nothing in turn. When my working and personal life allows, I’m finding new avenues and ideas on how to get my books before new readers’ eyes. Currently, I’m here, visiting Author Culture and inquiring at a few other blogs I’ve never been on before. Sometimes the easiest promoting you can do is a simple spotlight on a book reviewing blog, which I recently finished. Giveaways, within reason, tend to garner interest, yet like I said, within reason. Your goal is to drum up interest, not freebie all of your potential sales.

A huge plus to having e-books as giveaways; no postage to pay for. When you stop and figure up the cost of shipping trade books to winners you have probably spent what you would have made in selling three books. (This is just a guess-tament, don’t quote me on it.) Personally, I prefer this option since my family lives on a tight budget. It’s a win-win for me and the reader.

Speaking of tight budgets, e-books are economically smart for the publisher and author, as well as the reader. In processing an e-book, the publisher cuts their costs when you consider the only people working on the book are the editors and the formatting team. There is no paper to purchase, printing machines to maintain, and the cost of adding a particular kind of cover and binding it. Just a few computers and some people who know formatting codes and how to get the book to read on the handful of e-readers out there.

In my case, as the author, there wasn’t an advance paid out, which meant I started receiving royalties as soon as the book went on the market and sold. No paying back the publisher. And in a best case scenario, the publisher doesn’t lose much money on the venture.

Now you’re wondering, what am I getting in royalties? Sorry, no kiss and tell from me. Just know it’s not your typical royalty rate.

In regard to the reader, if they’ve purchased their preferred e-reader they’ve spent a good chunk of change. And they’re serious readers looking for the most books they can have for less. While not a bad thing, I’m a reader, too, and I look for bargains on some of my favorite authors, or on authors I want to try. This is a marketing deal to help catch a new reader’s eye and entice them to come back and read more of your books.

There is a slight downside for the author. A cheaper book means less pay out. It’s a good thought, but say your book went on a short time deal for 99¢. During that sale a bunch of people grabbed a cheap book. Here’s where reality sets in: that book may languish on the e-reader, left unread for an undetermined amount of time, if it ever gets read. The other downside is the buyer realizes they got a book they never would have read because its not their preferred genre, so they return it. And Amazon is one of the few places that allows you a set number of days to return it for free. Seeing as Amazon is the biggest seller of most authors’ books this is a bite into the royalty check later on.

Granted, I’m giving the perspective of an author published with a house in e-books. My experience is different than an indie author, but the marketing and promoting is, for the most part, the same. The lone difference is my publisher is still trying to find new ways to give new life to my backlist. An indie is on their own to do this.

In closing, I hope you’ve gotten a better inside look at what an e-book author is dealing with in the current climate. Perhaps it’s given you a chance to see what the big fuss is about between Amazon and Hachette.


Winter's Degrees of Darkness series is available, and lucky you, all four books are out and you don’t have to wait on the next installment. And if you’re not an e-book reader, they are available in paperback at all e-retailers.


Winter Austin was once asked by her husband if he could meet some of the people who took residence in her head. She warned they weren’t all characters he wanted to meet, as killers walked among them. Needless to say, that conversation ended abruptly.

A lifelong Mid-West gal, Winter swears she should have been born in the South, Texas or Louisiana preferably. But then she’d miss the snowy winters.

Dividing her day between her four children and their various activities, a growing pet population, and her Beta-with-Alpha-tendencies Hero, Winter manages to find time to write chilling thrillers between loads of laundry.

Don’t worry. You won’t find any of her mouthwatering culinary dishes poisoned. Unless you’re one of her fictional creations.

Where to find Winter:

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