Cheer up PublishAmerica authors, didn't get a royalty payment from PublishAmerica, well neither has the estate of Edgar Allen Poe.
Letter from PublishAmerica's CEO: What they don't tell you about ebooks
May 24, 2012
How many of you read ebooks? Answer: 20 pct. How many never read a book at all? Answer: 0 pct, but that's only because you are a book writer yourself. Among the rest of the nation that number is also 20 pct. Fifty million Americans 16 years or older never read a book.
Just about everyone who reads ebooks owns an e-reader. The most popular device is Amazon's Kindle. 62 pct of you who read ebooks own a Kindle; 22 pct have a Barnes and Noble Nook.
Americans read 17 books per year, on average. But people who like ebooks read 25 books per year.
These are the numbers that apply to America. Now let's compare them to numbers that apply to PublishAmerica.
Aaron Levy, a Jewish soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, recalls a traumatic event in his childhood where his entire family, while on vacation, is killed in their vehicle by Palestinian terrorists. This event sparks the passion of one man who vows to avenge his family's death. Then there it is, the development of an unlikely and forbidden relationship between a young Aaron and Al Zahra, a Palestinian Muslim.
Aaron and Al Zahra's friendship blossoms over religious conversation and intellectual connection, and the romantic tension between them is apparent. Both being in medical school, they venture to different parts of the Middle East for further training, and distance does what distance often does. Years pass until a reunion follows. With an ending that shocks and inspires, Palestine pleases anyone who has ever been in love or was forbidden to love. Duke encourages the notion that it is possible to overcome religious and ethnic differences.
Ten percent of PublishAmerica books are available as an ebook, for Kindle, Nook or Google. I haven't looked up the very most recent numbers, but is somewhere just above 6,000. The majority of these are available for Kindle only. That's by the authors' choice (they can request/purchase conversion to any of the available formats), and they reflect the nation's preference seamlessly.
Now get this: 2200 of PublishAmerica's ebooks actually sell copies. That's slightly over one-third. The other two-thirds have not sold a single ebook copy to date. They're available, for sale on Amazon or bn.com, but nobody has downloaded them yet.
That's one. Two: half of those 2200 ebooks have sold only 1 copy so far. We don't know who the buyers of those single copies are, because Amazon and Barnes and Noble are not going to give us that information. But we suspect that in most cases it's the author who was curious what their book looks like on a Kindle.
Here's three: our bestselling ebook is written by a dead author. The title is The Raven, by our local hero Edgar Allan Poe. It's available in the public domain so we figured that we might as well put it out there. In the past six months we have sold 284 ebook copies of The Raven. Our runner-up bestselling ebook has sold 30 pct less. And bestselling ebook number 3, in turn, stays 40 pct behind number 2.
We also publish Shades of Gray. No, not Grey, but yes, kind of similar to the 10-million-books-in-print bestseller. We released that ebook last December, well before anyone had ever heard of EJ James. In March and April it suddenly started to sell, just when America's current #1 bestseller was released, and right now it is our number 13 bestselling ebook. Why? We cannot know for sure, but we suspect that a few dozen consumers simply bought the wrong ebook.
So what do these data tell us? How unimpressive or impressive is it that PublishAmerica sells 30 ebooks each day, one every 48 minutes? Three things, I believe.
In the first place: if you're an unknown author with an unknown book, your path to ebook success is uphill, and it is steep. How do consumers find your ebook? It has no hard copy that you can put in a window. Ebooks don't change hands. And you can't wrap it and give it away as a present.
Secondly: don't get confused by what you read in the media, when they talk about giant ebook sales. It's true, ebook sales are indeed giant, but it's mostly the top bestsellers that account for those sales, written by the usual celebrity authors. You and I are not among them, and neither are 98+ pct of all other authors.
And finally, these data tell us that there is still no substitute for good old face-to-face promotion, product in hand. You got something to sell? Show it, let your customer see it, touch it, smell it.
There's no doubt that ebooks are the future. But that future arrives much faster, and easier, for celebrity authors than it does for Main Street writers like you and me.
Not surprised, really, are you?
I invite you to talk back to me. I don't guarantee a response, but I do guarantee that we listen. You can reach me by email at email@example.com. In the subject line write Attn. Willem.