Sunday, February 13, 2011

Does the Old Way of Creating a Bestseller Need to Change?

While doing research for a workshop I and a colleague gave on e-books, e-readers, and e-publishing, I came across some interesting stats, information, and opinions about the revolutionary world of e-books and e-publishing.

One of the things that struck me was J.A. Konrath’s fascinating blog about the world of e-books. Konrath believes that the old way of creating bestsellers through the large publishing houses’ distribution channels and coop arrangements with bookstore chains and big box stores, will change, thanks largely to e-books. E-book selling has taken out the entire distribution and coop process as writers find easy, simple ways to publish their books and place them straight into e-book stores. Konrath maintains that the current prices large publishers charge for e-books (anywhere from $9.99 to $16.99) will have to be reduced if they want to compete. There are too many good and/or popular books that are selling for much lower prices. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo sells for $5.00 on Sony’s ebook store, for example. Stephen King, and Dean Koontz also have e-books on the market for under $10.00, or even under $5.00 with some of their titles. I think Konrath is right, and here’s a great example of why:

Twenty-six year old Amanda Hocking has quickly become an e-book bestseller with her nine self-published paranormal novels about trolls, vampires, and zombies. What’s so astounding about Hocking is that she only began publishing ebooks in March 2010. By the end of that year she’d sold 164,000 copies of her e-books priced from $.99 to $2.99. This January she sold over 450,000 copies, (99% of them e-books). She attributes her success to aggressive marketing on twitter, Facebook, and her blogs; but here’s the thing: she’s outselling big name authors. How is a large publisher going to compete with the wave of independently published books that lots of people are buying?

Konrath says that in the future, distribution and coop won’t be the main reason a book sells. It will be price and content. Hocking isn’t the only unknown author who’s selling well. If you follow the amazon and kindle forums, you’ll quickly realize that a growing percentage of unknown writers are selling thousands of copies of their books, and when a print book, on average, sells only 250 copies these days, that’s something.

To read all of Konrath’s Feb. 8th blog on this topic, go to and to read a bit more about Amanda Hocking’s amazing story go to

Coming in March 2011, THE OPPOSITE OF DARK,
My Alex Bellamy mysteries can be purchased at


Robin Spano said...

Very cool post. Thanks for these links. The Konrath article is incredible - people have been telling me to follow him for ages, and now I can see why - this guy is an open-minded genius.

Do you have an e-reader? Mine just arrived and I think I'm in love. (Though I think a tablet might be a better investment for its cost/features combination, I kind of like that I won't be tempted to check Facebook or email while I'm reading a book in bed.)

Rai Aren said...

Very good post, Debra! I too, have been following JA Konrath's blog for some time now. He has inspired me in a number of ways, and I am happy to say that my sales are receiving a healthy boost because of it. I am learning a lot from him.

Amanda Hocking is an incredible phenomenon, truly.

I am happy & excited for both of these authors & for all of us. There are new opportunities emerging, new trails are being blazed all of the time. The rules of the game are being re-written. We can be the captains of our own ships, and that is very liberating.

I like this new playing field :)

Rai Aren, co-author of the award-winning mystery novel SECRET OF THE SANDS