I was very interested in the NYT article about Meredith Wild. It says that she got $6.25 million as an advance, not the $7 million that other outlets reported. Still, it's one of the hugest advances ever.
It says that Liliana Hart has picked up four other authors, which is interesting. I did a search on the ranks of SilverHart books, and they're nowhere near where Waterhouse Press, Wild's imprint, are. They have good covers, but they aren't actually doing that much. In contrast, Waterhouse has been pushing Audrey Carlan's books like crazy, and they've taken over the top charts at every e-book retailer.Ms. Wild’s success wasn’t accidental, but grew out of a meticulously planned marketing campaign. Before the book was even released, she began buying online ads targeting erotic romance readers. Her husband took out 10 credit cards and a personal loan to pay for advertising. They borrowed $70,000 from Mr. Grishman, a former banker who is Ms. Wild’s brother-in-law. They eventually raised enough to fund a six-figure national marketing campaign, which included paid posts on social media and movie theater ads promoting “Hardwired” that played before the “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie.
“Hardwired” took off instantly, and sales snowballed when the second and third novels were released.
By that summer, Ms. Wild was making $500,000 a month in royalties. Her books were selling briskly through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She arranged her own audiobook deal with Audible, forgoing an advance in exchange for higher royalties. She sold translation rights to publishers in several countries.
Ms. Wild sold her web design company. She hired Mr. Grishman to run Waterhouse, so that she could focus on writing. As the company grew and her sales surged, she realized she already had the infrastructure for a publishing house of her own. She just needed more authors.
Liliana Hart and Jasinda Wilder talk about treating everything like it's a business decision. "It's a business," they shout. Russell Blake talks about having to spend money to make money, which is true, although as a new author I definitely spent a lot of money on things that I didn't need to buy yet. It's very easy to do.
Meredith Wild has way more business sense than Liliana Hart, despite Liliana's earnings when she started back in 2011. Seeing how well she was doing, having come from a tech background, made me reframe my own efforts. It's not about finding readers - it's about user acquisition. That's what all marketing is. And FB ads are an amazing way to get into that mindset, because it's a simple way to get into web advertising. What's your CPC? What's your conversion rate? How much are you making off of each new customer? Will they stay loyal and purchase new products from you?
Bella Andre, Barbara Freethy, and Meredith Wild currently represent the very top of the independent authors, because their deals with Ingram mean that they can access the 36% of readers who only read print books. They're all making millions per year.
One of my friends linked a ludicrous blog article that claimed that Amazon said that only 40 self-published authors were successful. What Amazon actually said was that only 40 self-published authors had sold 1,000,000 books over the last 5 years. There's still plenty of success under 1 million units sold. Rosalind James hit the 300,000 unit mark last fall, and she made half a million last year with books priced at $4.99.
Then I got into an extended discussion in the comments, where one of my friends' friends started talking about how you had to start in 2013 or before in order to get any traction in self-publishing, and how it was just impossible for authors to make any money. The rest of us were giggling at the idea of self-published authors making only the poverty line, so she said that she wished that she made half of the poverty line working 12-hour days straight for 2 years and that nearly all authors were like her. She also kept accusing my friend of trying to scam her/everyone by selling a "how to publish" book, which was nonsense. No "how to publish" books were being sold anywhere in that thread.
So I linked to Individual Author Earnings Feb 2014-Sep 2015. I pointed out how many authors are making over $10k, which for me is close enough to the poverty line. I also said that many of us have multiple pen names, so it's probably an underestimate. Not that many self-published authors are full-time, either. You're going to see a higher income average among those who've made enough to quit their day jobs, which is a chicken-egg question. They're quitting their jobs because they can make enough money, and they can make MORE money because being an author is their full-time job.
The friend whose wall this was on is a USA Today best-selling author. The other people chiming in included someone who makes a VERY large amount in the first month off of a new novel. All of us started in 2014.
She kept making very strange and wild claims that you could only make a small income if you had the marketing budget of a trad publisher (which was nonsense, because trad pub barely markets), or that "author" was now synonymous with "erotica writer", and she'd never sully her hands!!!!!
We reassured her that there was plenty of money to be made without writing a single sex scene, ever, but she kept talking about how erotic romance was the only career path, and she'd never take it.
At that point, I went and read Russell Blake's Amazing blog post again.
I'm not going to tell anybody that it's really easy to be a self-published author who makes a good living, because it's not. But I've also seen people who started in the very early days tell people "It's harder than ever to start now!"...back at the end of 2014, when the ebook world was a place of ample opportunity and money raining everywhere, money you could have if you had the foresight to bring a bucket. It's still a fresh world full of opportunity if you just know when it will rain. Some of the old authors, Jasinda Wilder and Liliana Hart, are floundering in the new system. They've got extra attention from iBooks and they've made millions, but they've switched their focus away from book writing. Jasinda sold books to Berkley so that they would take over the marketing side of things. Jasinda is running a vineyard now, and Liliana seems to be running SilverHart at the moment, though, again, I can't imagine that her actual focus is selling books, because the ranks of SilverHart's acquired books are pretty abysmal. She's still hitting the NYT with her own books upon launch, but a lot of that is because of how many readers she acquired back when the self-publishing world was new.While most of the top earners are in romance or one of its offshoots, others are in science fiction, which voraciously consumes indie work; some are in my genre (action thrillers), some in mystery, some in fantasy.
Making $50k a year is only $4167 a month. I recognize that it's not that easy to make a ton of money in genres outside of the ones that Russell listed, but there are plenty of us who make a decent living inside of those genres. When I see people who are making $100,000+ per month inside of romance, I know that I can definitely work harder and do better. There was a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth as the KU 1 rate steadily dropped, but some people (who ignored the angry authors screaming, "We deserve to be paid more!") cashed in and made six figures a month, month after month. The world changed when KU 2 happened.
On Feb. 1, Amazon announced KENPC v 2.0.
Very few people saw a change less than 5% overall. I saw decreases of 25%+ or more and in some cases increases of 50% in my books. Feb. 1 was a strange day. Most people lost 10-25% of their KENPC across the board.We released KENPC v2.0 to improve the way we measure the length of each book. KENPC v2.0 makes a number of improvements to how we standardize font, line height, and spacing used to normalize the length of each book relative to one another. This change will impact the KENPC of some titles while others will remain unchanged. The average KENPC will change less than 5%, although individual books’ changes may be larger or smaller.
And then on Feb. 15, the rate of $0.0041 per page read was announced. There was a massive outcry. We were upset when it fell below half a cent, and then it got even worse.
Being an author who uses KU is not for the faint of heart. There will be constant, major shifts. We are like Sisyphus pushing a boulder up the hill, only for it to break at the top. And that's just how it's going to be from now on, ever after.
Amanda M. Lee said:
I have books that are pushed wide, and they earn basically nothing. Rosalind James and Annie Jocoby scoffed at people who went wide for 2 weeks and then pulled back in -- stay out for 6 months, then you'll see! -- but I've been out since they announced KU 2, and the money just isn't there. I've also been part of an anthology that was a Top 50 book at Kobo for a week or so, and I know how many sales it takes to get there: very, very few.Add me to the group who wants to write for love of the job AND who wants to get paid. I feel really bad for the reader in this thread because she was treated as if her opinion didn't matter. If that were true, none of us would have careers. She never once, however, said writers deserved less money. If you heard that, clean your ears out. She said why she believed borrows and buys were different -- and they are.
The simple fact of the matter is that paying the same amount to borrow books as buying them makes zero sense from a business standpoint. Take your emotions out of the conversation and look at it as Amazon does. Quite frankly paying out the same for a borrow as a buy is unreasonable, unfeasible and unsustainable. It cannot work. Period. If that's what you want and expect you should get out now. KU is not for you and never was.
Now, granted, I believe the graft has been skewing payouts for months. It's not going to magically disappear, although it will get better. This isn't going to be the last time they adjust KENPC either. Get ready, because it's going to happen over and over. If you can't handle it now you won't be able to handle it then. Get out.
Amazon doesn't owe anyone a living. They are not your employers. We are their suppliers. The cost of doing business on that playing field always changes, no matter the job description.
Let's define "great money" as $50k+/month. Some authors are making great money on iBooks, Google Play, Nook, Kobo, etc. Even more are making great money on Amazon. If you make a lot of money there, though, it can melt away without any notice.