Indie writer finds success with e-books

26-year old Amanda Hocking sold 450,000 e-books in January, at $3 a pop, directly to her readers. She's never been traditionally published and it is unlikely any publisher could offer her a better deal than the Kindle store.

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  1. I wonder how much an outlier this is.

    It’d be more interesting to find the median income for self-published authors via the Kindle store.

    Also interesting would be some sort of curated guide to self-published materials. I know from personal experience that finding good stuff on, say, Feedbooks is really, really hard.

    1. I think she’s probably the perfect definition of an outlier. Then again, I think what we’re seeing is a perfect example of the Long Tail: near-zero-friction distribution enables writers to reach audiences they never would have had a chance to reach before. And “good stuff” is hard to define, even: one person’s noise is another person’s signal. I’ve seen books — written by authors with only a passing familiarity with grammar — get glowing reviews, without taking anything away from literary fiction, or paranormal romance, or anything in between. Most authors can manage a few dozen sales a month, which is not amazing, but then we’re at the very start of ebook adoption now. As the market gets bigger, those numbers stand a good chance of increasing, too.

      Making a curated guide of self-pubbed materials is ghettoizing the work. Better to let them fight for their ratings like everyone else.

      1. MrAndrews, I disagree. There is room for criticism / guidance among self published work. It is inevitable and desirable that if self published eBooks continue to grow (and of course they will, at some speed) that there will be reviewers, critics, etc., that will garner a following…

        Just like with every other advance in information distribution.

        The real worry here is, “Doesn’t this mean they can delete / change / censor anything we publish at any time or apply sinister DRM once print is actually truly dead?”

  2. This is how the ‘free market’ is _supposed_ to work! You create a product, people buy it or not, you make money or not. Depends upon whether your product is crappy, or not. [there you go, a three sentence economics course :-) ]

    Thanks to Lulu, Amazon, et al for providing an infrastructure to allow this kind of thing. Anyone who’s a creator should be happy to split the revenue stream with you to be able to do this kind of thing.

    The traditional publishers, music labels, movie production studios, what have you, don’t want a ‘free’ market. What they want is a ‘restricted market’. When there’s a restriction – via DRM, or control of distribution channels, or any other sort of a choke point, the middlemen can make a profit. When you go around those restrictions, you also eliminate their profit. That’s what makes them so unhappy.

    1. It might be more accurate to say that Amazon takes 30% in exchange for services rendered. Now, if those services (file hosting, product listings, development of the ecosystem as a whole, etc) are or are not worth 30% could be debated, but it seems to be the going rate at similar services.

  3. This post is pretty much incorrect as written if you bother to read the USAToday article. She doesn’t sell direct to her readers, Amazon does and pockets 70% for a $0.99 ebook and 30% $2.99 ebook. Not all of her books are priced at $3, actually $2.99, some are priced at $0.99. So she actually earns $0.30 or $2.09 per ebook sold. Still real money but not what was represented by this post.

    Also somewhere else I saw the top 20 of these authors and next on the was only 40% of her total and it dropped rapidly to 2.5% of her sales.

  4. Some of her books sell for $0.99, where she only takes 40 cents(ish) of the dollar… and those are her best selling titles.

    I’d still estimate it evens out to about $1 — on average — per sale profit across all her books. So, still a lot of money.

  5. So.

    Has anyone read her output? Is she any good? Can she be compared with anyone who’d have heard of before?

  6. Read both links, also checked out Amanda’s Amazon page – looks like she’s upped her prices some, to $8 – $10 each, with some exceptions. Is this the BB effect, I wonder? If you check out that second link, there are quite a few authors making insane monthly bank off Amazon. Really not bad at all.

    As an author I find this heartening, even if I’d rather hold a real book in my hands than read an ebook. Somehow I feel cheated if it’s just electrons.

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