20 December 2014 by Published in: Uncategorized 43 comments

I’ll be on the road much of next week, so I thought I’d do my annual predictions about the publishing game a little earlier than usual this year, mainly so I can loaf through the holidays and dip into more eggnog than I ought to. So for whatever they’re worth, here they are:

1) Subscription services will make it much harder to sell books. The voracious readers who are most likely to try an indie with a “WTF purchase” will instead tend to borrow instead of buy. This will result in drastic reductions in author take-home pay, all assurances of “increased exposure” aside. A whole group of readers are being conditioned to believe that books have little or no value/should be free/should only be read if virtually free. This will continue. For an idea of where this progression ends, look at music. Musicians can’t earn decent money anymore by having a hit, or even several hits. The economic model is broken in such a way that the artist sees virtually nothing, with the intermediary company that enables the download taking the lion’s share of the revenue. Musicians now earn their livings by touring, by selling merchandise (shirts, hats, etc.), by selling virtually anything but music. Alas, authors don’t have the option of filling coliseums at $50 a ticket or being cool or mainstream enough to hawk $22 concert T-shirts with their likenesses on them, so expect things to get much harder.

2) The importance of brand will increase. What do I mean? Well, I like to use water as an example. In developed countries, water comes out of the tap, and is virtually free. This has been the case as long as I’ve been alive. And yet savvy marketers have convinced the lion’s share of consumers that they need to pay, often large amounts, for a product that is essentially identical (it’s H20) to what they can get free. This is a triumph of consumerism and I believe there’s a lesson in it. As art becomes increasingly commoditized in the eyes of consumers, being able to create demand for a particular brand of commodity becomes essential. Authors who want to have careers doing something besides chasing the next fad will have to develop a brand in their readers’ minds that’s worth paying for. Back to water. Not only is water free from the tap, but there are countless generic bottled water producers. And yet some manage to position their identical product (H20) at many dollars per container, while others are almost free (bottle cost, shipping, filling, inventorying). The difference is the apparent value of the brand. Some brand adherents will go so far as to claim one virtually identical product tastes better or is in some other way superior to those icky generic variants, never mind the drinkable, safe tap water. That’s genius from the brand management standpoint, and smart authors are well advised to pay attention to what’s worked to create billion dollar industries from nothing.

3) Perma-free isn’t what it used to be, but it’s still pretty good. Used to be you could put your first book free in a series and be guaranteed tens of thousands of downloads per month, with some conversion factor to the rest of the series (paid). Now, not so much, in that the number of downloads will be lower. But it still beats putting your book out and tweeting “Buy my book” or “Today only – .99!” until blue in the face. I noticed a substantial drop in free downloads via Amazon once KU came out, so the subscription model has monetized some percentage of those readers who largely or only read free – but at the expense of author discovery. Good for Amazon. Not so much for authors trying to get visibility by giving readers a taste for free.

4) Apple is coming on strong. B&N isn’t. Kobo, yawn. Google Play, mmm, not so much. Exclusivity to any vendor will continue to cost authors more than it earns them over the mid-to-long term. The reason is that exclusivity used to pay better, in that Amazon made it sort of worth your while. Now? If you think selling your novel for $1.39 royalty via borrows is a good reason to forego every other vendor out there, hey, you better than I know what your work is actually worth. But for anything longer than a novella or short story, I don’t see it as a decent deal for anyone but Amazon. And I’m not alone in that perception. Sometimes Amazon throws us a great big meat-covered bone, and sometimes a rotting table scrap. This time, it’s not even a scrap, although I know some authors who have done well. They are exceptions. Diversification across all vendors will continue to be important for smart publishers, indie especially. On a side note, traditional publishers get full royalty on a borrow, from what I understand – it’s only the indies whose work is considered worth a fraction of a sale royalty. That should tell you a huge something about how the vendors view indies as business people, as well as how they view the value of their work. Doesn’t take rocket science to figure it out. Whether they’re right, or wrong, is open to debate. I don’t like selling ten to fourteen hours of entertainment I invested hundreds of hours into and spent thousands editing, proofing, creating covers for, etc. for $1.30-something. Some may well might. Up to them.

5) Trad publishers will step up the competition with lower priced backlist offerings. The reluctance to price lower will give way to shareholder demands for fat profits, meaning a lot of $2.99-$5.99 novels from quality names. This will result in the average price paid for an ebook continuing to spiral downward, reducing the apparent value proposition of indie offerings. As I said in my last blog, if I can buy an edited, professionally presented novel by a marquee name for $4, my interest in paying that for an amateurish, questionably or non-edited screed from someone I’ve never heard of is going to be pretty low. That’s going to make it harder for new names to break out, as well as for many names that have respectable sales to maintain them moving forward.

So there we have it. Nothing revelationary, but hey, what do I look like, frigging Nostradamus? I could make more inflammatory predictions, but wouldn’t have confidence in them. These I believe accurately describe the 2015 playing field as it’s shaping up.

All in all, it’s going to be a tougher year in 2015 than in 2014, which was tougher than 2013, which was tougher than 2012, and so on. However, there will still be breakthrough authors who come out of nowhere and whose work electrifies an audience. There will still be exceptions. Many of those will be indies.

It remains an exciting time to be an author. I certainly can’t complain. To wrap up my year, I was on the cover of The Wall Street Journal and in The Times, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, and a host of others at the top of the year, have sold nearly a million books now (not counting my co-authored tomes), released my co-authored novel with Clive Cussler in Sept. and hit #2 on the NYT Bestseller List with it, sold foreign rights to Germany, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic, have a half dozen name production companies nosing around JET and my Assassin series, have a wonderful agent who has forgotten more than I’ll ever know about the biz, and have generally had a nice run of it. Next year will see a host of co-authored romances, five Russell Blake novels, another co-authored tome with Cussler, and plenty more surprises, I’m sure. For the end of my 42nd month in the publishing game, can’t whine too much, although I certainly do, early and often.

Oh, and for those who buy my crap (which should be everyone at this point), JET – Survival is available on pre-release and goes live December 26th. Hint, hint.

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Comments

  1. Sat 20th Dec 2014 at 7:53 pm

    I’ve always thought you looked like Nostradamus but maybe it’s just me… Merry Christmas, Russell. 🙂

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sat 20th Dec 2014 at 11:33 pm

      To you as well, my friend.

      Urp.

      Reply
  2. Sat 20th Dec 2014 at 8:49 pm

    Not much to argue with there, Russell.

    The upside of a difficult market is that, maybe, it’ll drive the one-book wonders, the *real* crap merchants, and the quick buck bozos into other areas of the internet. Heck, writing was a tough job when trad was the only game in town (apart from vanity). At least we can put our works out there now, and stand a chance of building a brand and a career. We can take that first step on the rung, and maybe start climbing. A few short years ago, the ladder was always just out of reach except for the very few.

    I’ll take products available in a difficult market in favour of products sitting on a hard disk in an easy market any day of the week.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sat 20th Dec 2014 at 11:34 pm

      Yep. This is definitely better than waiting a decade or three for the right gatekeeper to be in the right mood to feel your stuff might fit the right slot this week, only to languish a year later when everything had changed five times over.

      Reply
  3. Lawrie Lock
    Sat 20th Dec 2014 at 9:11 pm

    OK I am a fan, and a pretty avid reader around 400 books this year. I think the model of pricing a book in order to get the reader hooked is a good one, I can’t tell you how many authors I have started on this way only to buy most of their books. As an expat like yourself I always found it difficult to carry enough books around on my travels. E books solved that. Really enjoy your stuff. Merry Christmas

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sat 20th Dec 2014 at 11:35 pm

      Glad you like it. I am reminded when on international flights just how awesome ereaders are. And I too have discovered a few from the loss leader approach. Happy Holidays!

      Reply
  4. Sat 20th Dec 2014 at 9:46 pm

    Happy Travels, Russell. Rest assured, you continue writing your crap and we will continue to pay for your crap. Hint..hint.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sat 20th Dec 2014 at 11:35 pm

      That’s the hope! And gracias, as always.

      Reply
  5. Sat 20th Dec 2014 at 10:03 pm

    This must be why you’re writing harder than ever rather than resting on your (considerable) laurels and piles of green. I agree with your predictions and am handling them much the same way: Writer harder, faster, better, capture my readers and build my brand, and diversify into trad pub, film/tv, audiobook and foreign. Also start a pen name and begin a short romance line, because it’s easy and fun and if Russell Blake can do it… 🙂
    The game is still the best in town for those of us who work harder than we ever dreamed.
    Still loving the whole adventure though. I officially diagnose myself as obsessive/compulsive.
    Good luck, rolling stone!
    Toby Neal

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sat 20th Dec 2014 at 11:37 pm

      Well, there is some of that obsessiveness about it all, but then again, in man’s search for meaning, we have to define ourselves somehow, and this seems healthier than the type of car or size of house or number of Rolexes or which trophy mate you’re on this year. But what do I know?

      Good luck to you as well. As always it’s the journey, not the destination, which for all of us is assured…

      Reply
  6. Sat 20th Dec 2014 at 10:25 pm

    Small typo here:

    by a marquis name

    That should be “marquee.”

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sat 20th Dec 2014 at 11:31 pm

      Now you know why my editor and proofreader are always busy.

      Reply
  7. Sun 21st Dec 2014 at 12:30 am

    How do you know you’re not cool enough to hawk T-shirts with your likeness on them? It could start a new trend for authors. Maybe make us seem hip.

    Agree with your predictions for 2015. You’re like a gypsy fortune teller. 🙂

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sun 21st Dec 2014 at 6:24 pm

      Well, er, perhaps a dart board bearing my likeness…

      Reply
  8. Sun 21st Dec 2014 at 1:14 am

    Merry Christmas!

    Nitpicks:
    #1 The Passive Voice ran an article recently talking about how the traditional music industry was sucking their superstars dry, back before MP3’s. It was… hold on a sec… here.

    http://www.thepassivevoice.com/11/2014/steve-albini-on-the-surprisingly-sturdy-state-of-the-music-industry/

    If he’s to be believed, only the traditional system and those that served it are suffering.

    #5. It would be smart for tradpub to lower prices, but the deals they’re negotiating with Amazon right now imply they won’t (or they’ll resist.) Amazon had to negotiate for the right to discount, and had to make concessions to get that right.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sun 21st Dec 2014 at 10:30 am

      Oh, yes, the music biz has always sucked its superstars dry. It’s just that since MP3s, things have gotten about 10X harder. Steve discusses how easy it now is to connect with an audience as a musician. Which is super. But he doesn’t discuss how many musicians actually make much, or any, money at it. So yes, anyone can now make a sound recording and upload it for free (sound familiar?), but the model to extract money from doing so is pretty much gone. To make money from music, bands now (as they had to back in the punk rock days he alludes to) have to do so playing live and selling their merchandise, not from any meaningful payment for their sound recordings. The difference is that the system has finally now figured out how to suck virtually all the cash out of the artist’s chunk (it’s way worse now – I know several multi-platinum selling acts who work in construction and have never really earned enough to do much more than survive, even when they had top-selling records under the old system. And they’ve given up making records anymore because it’s simply not worth it. Metallica comes to mind). So the sound recording is now basically a loss leader to the tour and the shirt, whereas before the tour was the loss leader to sell the record and the shirt. So ticket prices went up so bands could make more playing live, and the shirt is still where they make their money – in the old days the record company took that, too, unless the artist was very, very savvy.

      I think you might be misreading #5. Publishers wanted to hold onto as much control as possible, keeping it out of Amazon’s hands. That included the ability to keep prices high on their big, big names. Which has nothing at all to do with how they will be pricing their backlists, which is what I believe will be the battle zone for indies in 2015. Not John Grisham’s latest, but rather being able to buy Time To Kill or The Firm for $4 – $5.

      Reply
      • Mackay Bell  –  Thu 01st Jan 2015 at 8:28 pm

        So Lady Gaga doesn’t make money from iTunes? Neither does Justine Beiber? (To name just two musicians that become famous after the internet supposedly destroyed the music industry.) They do. A lot. They might make more money touring and through merchandise, but any of us would be very happy to get their checks from Apple. Fox made a ton of money in iTune downloads from Glee cover songs. Steven Colbert made a bundle with a silly Christmas song.

        Meanwhile, there are plenty of 15 Fame types who do a You Tube video with some music, put in on iTunes and make better good money. There are a lot of musicians who make cover songs, just for iTunes, and make out well. And creators of alternative music, that never possibly would have played on the radio or made it into a music store who do nicely thanks to iTunes.

        Metallica makes a lot of money through iTunes also. They would have made more if they hadn’t signed over their masters to the record labels. They may not make as much as they did under the old system, or through touring, but it’s real money.

        I knew musicians that had hit records and had to bet real jobs (like painting my apartment) well before the internet came and supposedly destroyed things.

        Like with traditional publishing, the only thing that was hurt by the internet were the old models and musicians that were dependent on them. Beyonce is doing fine on iTunes.

        Reply
        • Russell Blake  –  Thu 01st Jan 2015 at 8:45 pm

          You’ll note that I preface my discussion of musicians and their earnings with the clear statement that I’m talking about subscription services and musicians, like Spotify, not sales channels like iTunes, so the earnings of superstars via a sales channel (iTunes) versus a subscription model (Spotify) aren’t relevant. The topic is subscription services that pay far less than a sale and their effect on authors, using music as an example.

          Taylor Swift pulled her catalog from Spotify for that reason. Artists like Pharrel who had a number one hit got something like $3K USD for millions of downloads. It’s a system that hurts artists.

          How well Beyonce is doing on iTunes simply isn’t germane to the discussion of subscription services and how much they’ve cost artists in lost revenues.

          Reply
  9. Mid
    Sun 21st Dec 2014 at 10:36 am

    The bottled water thing boggles my mind, but not necessarily in the same way that it does people in first world countries (or people who come from first world countries).

    Being from a country in which it is deemed unsafe to drink tapwater (no matter what some government officials try to say), it’s never been a big deal to me at all to buy bottled water because that’s what we have always needed to do. There are a ton of different brands at different price levels, and believe me, you certainly CAN taste a difference among the brands (and I’m not talking about cheap vs expensive either). Some brands have an odd, plastic smell to the water while others don’t. Some leave a weird, slightly bitter after-taste if you drink it by itself without accompanying it with food, others don’t. So on and so on. Some taste good even when at room temperature, while others have this weird “brackish” taste when not chilled. As far as tap water here goes, yeah you can drink it — just boil it first. But who really wants to do that?

    I remember the first time I read people bashing other people for buying bottled water, and I was shocked/surprised by the utter disdain and vitriol that the tap-drinking people had for the bottled-water people. I could not for the life of me understand why, but then I realized they were all operating on a completely different perspective than me with regards to safe/unsafe tap water.

    Even when traveling to first world countries (the US, or Western Europe), I typically don’t drink the tap water. I just find it too weird when someone takes a mug, goes into the bathroom, fills it up, and hands it to me. It’s just too ingrained in me, I suppose (tap water = not good).

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sun 21st Dec 2014 at 11:09 am

      Even in some areas of Mexico, where the water is tested regularly and is purer than in the U.S. (due to the sources and the wells), everyone drinks bottled water. That’s a cultural thing. I totally get it.

      What’s weird is that you simply didn’t see it in the U.S. until Coke got the bright idea that they could convince people to pay for water out of bottles there. It worked. The rest is history.

      Reply
  10. Jonathan
    Sun 21st Dec 2014 at 12:19 pm

    Russell,

    I think there’s one aspect you missed which makes it even worse, and I’ll use myself as an example.

    I like to hunt for sales and have done for a while. I’d buy ebooks that look interesting when they’re priced low, even if I don’t know the authors very much, and even if I am not likely to get to those books within the next year (or three).

    Consequently, I have hundreds of books on my kindle. Some of them I will likely never read. I did, however, buy them and the authors got something for their work. Now, with subscription, I am willing to wait longer. After all, those books are now “always on sale” as I can always borrow them the next month or the one after that. The result is that I don’t buy nearly as many ebooks as I used to. I read a lot, more than before, but I don’t buy as much.

    I am actually saddened by this, as I want to support authors and art, but since I am not rich and have a small child to feed, and blah blah blah (cue in violin music), I have to take advantage of what is offered me.

    On a positive note, I have the 2nd Jet novel in audio and plan to start listening to it today.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sun 21st Dec 2014 at 6:23 pm

      As long as you are buying my crap, you will live a long, fulfilled, prosperous life. Screw everyone else. I promise you that in exchange for you continued patronage. Merry Xmas!

      Reply
      • Jonathan  –  Mon 22nd Dec 2014 at 1:03 pm

        Russell,

        The first hour of Jet II is fantastic. I’m hooked.

        Back to the topic of the post. I must admit that I think booksellers and authors are crazy to go along with subscription models. They’re devaluing books. Most of those customers, paying $10, would have gladly paid more for the books they bought each month, and have done so for years. How many non-voracious-readers did Amazon suck into KU? Don’t know, but my guess is not many, so where are they making their money from? Add to that families which now all use the same KU account for their eclectic reading/listening, and it doesn’t seem like a viable business.

        To me this seems like a bad idea in the long term, but Bezos may have other ideas.

        For writers this is even a worse deal. To give one vendor exclusivity for such low rewards seem crazy to me, and the most myopic form of short-term vision.

        Reply
        • Russell Blake  –  Mon 22nd Dec 2014 at 2:39 pm

          My take is it’s good for Amazon as in increases its stickiness for purchases other than books, but uses books as a loss leader, wherein Amazon doesn’t want to pay a penny more than they absolutely have to. I don’t blame them. I get it. It only sucks if you’re trying to make a living writing. If you’re selling hair dryers and toothpaste and tennis shoes, awesome.

          Reply
  11. Sun 21st Dec 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Love reading your take on things. I think what you said about branding really hit the nail on the head. Also permafree. Getting 50 people a day to download a book instead of 1 a day (or 1 a week) is a way to slowly generate lifelong fans, build the mailing list, etc.

    I’ll make a 2015 prediction: Apple actually “does something” other than exist as a place to upload your book. I predict they’ll create some sort of marketing tool/option for indies to promote our work. Why do I predict this? Just because. I mean who am I, Dionne Warwick?

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sun 21st Dec 2014 at 6:22 pm

      Boy, I hope so. I love Amazon, but I love each and every dollar my work brings me more.

      Reply
  12. Sun 21st Dec 2014 at 5:45 pm

    Whoa! Talk about prescience! I swear you and I are channeling the same psychic. I’ve been thinking exactly the same! Thank you! Keep talking – we’re listening!

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sun 21st Dec 2014 at 6:24 pm

      Like minds…

      Reply
  13. Sun 21st Dec 2014 at 7:08 pm

    Unfortunately, I think you’re right in your predictions. And, big congratulations on your success. Merry Christmas and all the best to you in the new year.

    Reply
  14. Sun 21st Dec 2014 at 7:37 pm

    To sum up:

    1. Buy Russell’s crap and be happy and live long.

    2. One can create demand by Branding and/or inventing a market (bottled water in USA)

    3. 2015 will demand harder work for same $ rewards.

    I am retiring from Casa Playa Maya (a 5 year project now near 19 years old-after nearly 30 years of writing I needed to build something real, touchable) and will startle, nay dazzle you all with my sparkling, riveting prose and tap dancing.

    4. I am getting better at fooling myself.

    My thanks to ALL who have kept me reading during the last 19 years of hiatus. I mean that.

    Merry Christmas to all. Peace.

    Reply
  15. Mon 22nd Dec 2014 at 9:11 am

    Hello Blake,

    Whew! All that talk just to tout the pre-release of
    Jet Survival. Very clever.

    Joyeux Noel, Blake.

    Reply
  16. Mon 22nd Dec 2014 at 2:14 pm

    I see Kindle Unlimited as a place to put my shorter 99 cent pieces. I can promote the free aspect, and the 99 cent aspect at the same time.
    I can put links to my books that are not in KU, but are in the same genre, in the back for them to impulse buy.
    My writing strategy has changed slightly due to KU to include prequel stories of the characters featured in my full length novels.
    Okay, we were handed lemons. I’m trying my best to squeeze out some lemonade.
    I’m sure you have the harder stuff to go along with it. 😉

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Mon 22nd Dec 2014 at 2:40 pm

      Oh, sure, if you have pieces that are 10-20K, WTF not stick em in? Not like they sell tonnage, so it’s all found money. But for novels? Mmm, not so much.

      Reply
  17. Mon 22nd Dec 2014 at 11:04 pm

    By “subscription services,” I assume you mean KU? Because when anyone borrows one of my ebooks from Scribd or Oyster, I get paid exactly the same as I do for a buy at most retailers: 65%.

    There’s been some speculation that Scribd and Oyster wouldn’t be able to afford to maintain that type of subscription model, but in a recent interview, Scribd said that most of its subscribers are reading so few books monthly that Scribd isn’t having any financial problems.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Mon 22nd Dec 2014 at 11:07 pm

      Correct. I mean KU.

      Reply
    • Dan Meadows  –  Sat 27th Dec 2014 at 4:35 am

      That’s a sustainability problem all its own, though. It’s a matter of time before subscribers realize they are paying that monthly fee but not using the service enough to justify it. The full price per borrow thing is almost certainly not sustainable unless things continue on that way with subscribers continuing to pay for a service they’re not fully using. Amazon’s payout to indies in KU is likely a far more accurate number for a truly sustainable model for subscriptions, which, rather than punishing indies, may actually put indies ahead of the curve on adapting to these. Consider, it appears as though the major pubs are heading towards putting backlist into subscriptions and dropping prices on them into indie range (sub $5 or so). With a full sale cut per borrow, that may make sense but if/when that cut is necessarily chopped down, it may ultimately decimate revenue from backlist for trad writers and cause huge drops in money heading their way. Indies, on the other hand, will be a year or more ahead of them in dealing with a more realistic long-term compensation model and the sharp writers among us will have figured out ways to adapt to that. I would be far more concerned about subscription models if I were under contract to a publisher and had no ability to be selective about what of my work goes into what platforms at what price. Adaptation and maintaining flexibility are the keys to the future, I think.

      Reply
  18. Tue 23rd Dec 2014 at 5:21 pm

    Oh well. We make less $ in 2015. I see a day when buying direct from authors will happen. Look what’s happening with apps. Now you can buy a sub with a Subway App…
    Til that day I say use whatever is available to build brand. Great advice/insight as usual.
    In 2015, my advice 2 you -> drink more tequila, avoid hurricanes, and write 10 more books. Have a great holiday. W4$

    Reply
  19. Darque
    Fri 26th Dec 2014 at 1:17 am

    Mr. Blake,
    Happy Holidays! I am a new subscriber to your website. I wanted to take a moment to say thank you for all of the great books you write.
    I love your JET Series and have read all of your other titles, (including but not limited to the ASSASSIN & BLACK Series, as well). The only exception is the novel you co-authored with Clive Cussler, which I will add to my collection ASAP.
    I am terminally ill and bedridden a great deal so having new reading material is very important to me (I spend a lot of time reading to get through what would otherwise be endless hours of pain, discomfort and all the extras that come from being terminally ill). My favourite hobbies are reading books, listening to classical & jazz music and watching classic movies. As a result, I read 200-250 books a year and have built an affordable library of several thousand books.
    A friend that sent me an Amazon gift card recommended your books and I became an instant fan. As I type this from the other side of the globe, I am excitedly waiting for JET Survival to be made available on Amazon Kindle (it’s already Boxing Day – 26th Dec – here) and the anticipation is almost unbearable as I not-so-patiently haunt Amazon, waiting for the book to become available.
    I was pleased to see the JET & the ASSASSIN prequels listed as “free” (I’ve been hoping you would fill in the back stories for the series), it’s like a holiday bonus for the fans! Note: I would have purchased the books at the same price I pay for your new books. I am happy to pay the price because your books are worth it.
    I have a gift list I point my friends and family members to (when they ask for gift ideas) that only contains books – whether the kindle, hard cover or paperback editions – by my favourite authors. I love to own the BOOKS (even if I already have digital copies). Keep writing & I (and other die-hard fans) will definitely keep buying! Wishing you and yours much happiness in the new year…

    Reply
  20. Sat 27th Dec 2014 at 4:13 am

    I am in general agreement with the vast majority of your insights and often quote you in my comments on other writers’ blogs.

    There is one important thing on which I disagree. “Hard work” is not essential to being a success as a writer and self-publisher. This valuable advice has served me well over the years:

    “It’s better to do a sub-par job on the right project than an excellent job on the wrong project.”
    — Robert J. Ringer, writing in “Looking Out for Number 1”

    Incidentally, Robert J. Ringer had three self-published
    titles sell over 10 million copies (in print editions) in the late 1970’s and the early 1980’s (he was more of a pioneer in self-publishing than a lot of the self-proclaimed pioneers in this day and age).

    Another point: I won’t participate in either Kindle Unlimited or Kindle Select. I also refuse to price any of my ebooks below $5.97 unless it is a book of quotations. Offering my books for free or 99 cents or even $2.99 would cheapen what I have to offer.

    Marketing guru Seth Godin called this strategy of low ball pricing as “Clawing Yourself to the Bottom.”

    Seth stated:

    “Trading in your standards in order to gain short-term attention or profit isn’t as easy as it looks. Once-great media brands that now traffic in cheesecake and quick clicks didn’t get there by mistake. Respected brands that rushed to deliver low price at all costs had to figure out which corners to cut, and fooled themselves into thinking they could get away with it forever. As the bottom gets more and more crowded, it’s harder than ever to be more short-sighted than everyone else. If you’re going to need to work that hard at it, might as well put the effort into racing to the top instead.”

    Indeed, “clawing your way to the bottom” ultimately costs you the chance to make a decent living for a long time. It also costs you your reputation.

    In short, when your book doesn’t measure up, the answer may be to charge a lot less for it and loan it out through subscription services. If you have a great book, however, the answer is to charge a lot more for it than the substandard competition charges for theirs. At the same time, there is no need to loan out a great book through subscription services because people who appreciate quality are willing to pay for it.

    Of course, this is part of the branding strategy that you talk about.

    Ernie J. Zelinski
    The Prosperity Guy
    “Helping Adventurous Souls Live Prosperous and Free”
    Author of the Bestseller “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free”
    (Over 225,000 copies sold and published in 9 languages)
    and the International Bestseller “The Joy of Not Working”
    (Over 275,000 copies sold and published in 17 languages)

    Reply
  21. Sat 27th Dec 2014 at 1:14 pm

    I never imagined that Russell’s 2015 Predictions would turn out to be Mitchner’s “The Source”-UR. These Comments are fascinating, diverse, and it seems also a sales forum (yes Ernie I bought your books because of your post and Russell, I look forward to Jet Survival).

    All the best in 2015 to writers and readers. And for a break, visit here. Yes free shrimp and bottled water. Prospero Nuevo Ano!

    Reply
  22. Mon 29th Dec 2014 at 5:22 am

    Hello

    I write cross genre mash ups: humorous action, adventure fantasy science fiction with a dash of clean romance. I’m not in KU. I believe exclusivity is marketing anathema. A couple of points.

    1. KU has had little effect on my downloads.
    2. Making the first book in my series perma free has done wonders. I now sell about 18 books a month. I sold 18 books yearly before that.
    3. Most of the people who buy the second book buy the third and fourth as far as I can tell.
    4. I’d like to think I have an author ‘brand’ and I’m just getting into the public appearances etc.
    5. Thanks to zazzle dot com I made more money from merchandise than from my books in the first two years. Not now though.

    Reply
  23. cinisajoy
    Thu 01st Jan 2015 at 8:57 pm

    On KU,
    As a reader, longer reads are not worth borrowing. I don’t want to be rushed. I would rather buy them.
    Now 30 minute reads are great in KU.

    Let’s me sample authors without spending a fortune.
    If the author is good, I don’t mind spending money on them.

    If one is thinking of doing this, make that short one of your best.

    Reply

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