I've been spending a great deal of time on Hugh Howey's website recently. Howey is becoming an industry legend. In addition to self publishing and transforming his Wool series into a major best seller, he's been providing a wealth of information on self publishing. Of particular value are his regular reports on the income generated by independent authors from Amazon sales. How these calculations are generated can be found on his site and I urge to you investigate them. Required reading.
One of the hot topics Howey's research has sparked is the issue of what the prices of digital fiction should be. I'm not ready to make any definitive pronouncements on the topic, but I did think it would be useful to do some quick and dirty analysis that factored in inflation. I've learned that it's pointless to discuss pricing, particularly on long-lived markets such as book selling, without considering the long-term effects of devaluation on purchasing power.
I began my analysis beginning with the year 1965. That year I turned twelve, a normal YA starting point for a male to begin reading Sci-Fi/fantasy. The median prices are accurate for the softcovers sold during that period. (I was a major frequenter of the BookMasters located on the Grand Concourse and Fordham Road in the Bronx and still have a few books from that era.) Also, during the 60s, the US population broke 200 million and the era saw an explosion in sales and acceptance of new Sci-Fi and fantasy authors and titles.
First, let's compare today's dollar with one from 1965.
Now, let's do a quick analysis of price points and incomes for books being sold in 1965. The 15% royalty payment is typical and remains so today.
The side by side comparison above brings the profound impact of inflation into clearer focus. While the current author makes significantly more money in absolute terms, the purchasing power of their earned royalties is about one third their 1965 counterpart.
Of course, other variables must be factored in. For example, if Amazon is significantly expanding the number of people reading and purchasing books, then today's author may be able to hope to make up in sales volume what they have lost in purchasing power. (On the other hand, higher prices would certainly help out authors, at least so far as this spreadsheet exercise is concerned.)
Also, since Amazon and other services enable anyone to be published at the digital level of production, the argument that making something is much better than making nothing is compelling.
I'll be refining these numbers and incorporating some of the aforementioned variables into the numbers moving forward. But even at this level, they provide food for thought.
Another observation is that above $9.99. Amazon's royalties are punishing at 65% and it's difficult to see how they can be justified. Many titles above that point often serve niche and limited-scope markets and the volume does not exist to offset the loss in income. We'll publishing up some numbers on this as well.
Review Submission Guidellines
Want me to review your book? You must join the Rule-Set mailing list and contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Do NOT use the contact form for a review request; for press and publishers only. Your book can be a proof but ready for sale within 60 days.
Scifi/-fantasy only at this time. Make sure it's been professionally copyedited. If it's not, I'll know in about five pages and will reject the book. I don't mean to be a hump about it, but approximately 40% to 50% of the books I've received have had far too many typos, comma splices, misuse of dependent clauses, etc. (No, it doesn't have to be perfect. Most books have a few typos, including ones coming out of "traditional" publishing.) Your book cannot succeed in the market with such flaws and it's not fair to ask reviewers to read it in such a state.
I'll take a look at YA, but I'm not the best fit to that audience. PDF, Mobi, print all fine. If you have an author website you wish me to link to, please provide the URL. I don't charge and I also don't guarantee a good review!
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