If you read nothing else from this article, skip down to the last paragraph before “I Need You. We Need You.” Read from there on. That’s all I ask.
At one time or another, every one of us has been inside a bookstore. To some of us, it was Heaven. To others, it was a shortcut to a bathroom. Maybe it was at a huge mall, three floors brimming with hardcovers. Or a local side street, where we could barely find one hardcover. Whatever the case, whatever the outcome, all of us have been inside a bookstore, and we have experienced books.
Even that simple experience is being threatened.
There’s a problem, and it’s not social media. It’s not a lack of time, or a lack of money. It’s a lack of books. And if you think that sounds ridiculous, you can click away from the article now. But you’ll regret it. When you realize buying books can save you money, make you enjoy life more, cause your brain to develop further, and doesn’t compare to anything you’ve experienced before… you won’t look back.
Facts For Authors (and curious readers)
I’m not talking about the self-published book revolution. That’s the whole deal with Kindles, where now everybody -and anybody- can publish books. Some see that as a terrible idea, stating that it “murks up the waters” or “overcrowds shelves.” Others see it as a glorious invention, a real Renaissance for literature. I’m somewhere in the middle, but that’s an article for a different time.
I’m also not talking about Big 6 publishers, and their slew of instant best sellers that assault us every week. If you’ve seen a book in a bookstore, with the cover facing outwards towards you, 99.99 percent of the time that’s a “Big 6” published book. This, also, is a controversial topic. Some people see those publishers as the last real ones, the last real authors working there. Others -usually the ones that approve of Kindles- avoid those books, in favor of small, indie books. I’m, again, somewhere in the middle. Many people are.
What I’m discussing today is the blatant decline of books. No, not the number of books. Not the number of quality books. I believe that both of those numbers are fine. We have plenty of books, and plenty of quality books. Maybe too much.
When I say that books are declining, I mean that the writers of those books are declining. I’ve seen this in many different forms, and so have you… if you’ve been paying attention. Even if you’re not an author, think with me for a second. How many 99 cents e-books have you seen lately? Tons. How many authors seem like they’re fighting for scraps, struggling for each individual sale? They are. There’s lots of them. You’ll see this on Facebook (constant advertisements, anyone?), on message boards (again, constant ads), and really anywhere you go. Both real life and internet, there are those who bomb you all the time saying “BUY MY BOOK!” “READ THIS!” and ultimately “TAKE A CHANCE ON ME!”
Because nobody else will.
Here’s the thing. “Big” publishers only account for around 20% of the bestselling books, and around 30% of sales. So small authors can no longer say “they’re taking all our sales.” They aren’t. But somebody is.
I think the “fighting for scraps from the Big 6’s table” is wrong, now. Statistics seem to say that they aren’t taking as much of the sales. Why does it seem like that? Because those 30% of sales are going to a small number of books. So basically, think about balloons. The Big 6 only has a few balloons, but they’re gigantic, out of this world, making millions of dollars easily. Those balloons take 30% of the sales. So the rest of the 70% falls to indie authors, small published authors, and similar stories.
If we’re all fighting for scraps, then we aren’t doing a very good job. There are a handful of indie authors who dominate the marketplace, so that’s there’s almost like 3 levels of writers nowadays.
- Big 6 writers
- Succesful indie writers
- Everybody else
I don’t have true statstics for these three levels, but if I had to guess how the pie is split it’s probably around 30%, 20%, and 50%. The problem? Those first two levels, the 30 and 20, are split between a few hundred writers. That last level, 50, is split between a few hundred-thousand.
How You Can Help
You have to stand out from the crowd, obviously, if you want to make money. That’s simple. But you also have to stress something to your readers. This is one of the scariest things to say to people, because you think, “What if they don’t like me after this? What if I come off as rude, or greedy?”
Listen, readers, writers, buyers, sellers, everybody. Books are worth more than 99 cents. 99 cents is less than a McDonalds drink. If you’re telling me that any book -even a crappy book- is worth less than a few dozen ounces of a soda… I won’t believe you. I can’t believe you. Because devaluing books is hurting everybody. It’s hurting creative people, and not only writers. Think about musicians, artists, entrepreneurs, and everybody else who is creative and takes a risk to follow their dream career.
We’re telling them, “What you are producing… is worth nothing. What you put hours of work into… is worth nothing. What you dreamed about and spent countless energy on and thought about constantly and worked hard to complete… is worth nothing.”
If you wonder why you see so many people throwing advertisement bombs at you 24/7 and overwhelming you with talk about their products, it’s because they feel like they have to. I mean, heck, my books are at 99 cents right now just so I can pay for gas by selling some. Right now, I make 35 cents a pop. I could up my price to 2.99 and make over 2 bucks a sale, but you know what? Those sales would dry up faster than anything.
I posted an article on here one time announcing I was increasing my sales price from 99 cents to 2.99. My sales… went away within a day. I went from selling 2, 3, 4 books a day to none. And guess what? I didn’t even raise the prices. I forgot to! But it was too late. The sales were gone.
That story isn’t so you feel bad for me, because honestly I’m in a better place than the majority of writers. I’m young, experimenting, enjoying what I do, and I still get to make about 20 or 30 bucks a month from it. I mean, hey! Not everybody likes scary books, so I can’t blame you all for not buying them. I can ask you something, though. When I set out to write this article, it was so people would come look at my blog and maybe I’d sell a book. I’ll be honest. But in the 60 minutes it took me to type this, I changed my mind. I don’t want you to go buy my book. I want you to go buy and read anybody else’s book.
I Need You. We Need You
But there are tons of books out there. Maybe… maybe instead of buying that new release movie for 15 bucks you could buy one book. Read one book. Review one book. Enjoy one book. What if you did that every month? Would you learn to love reading?
It would save you money, I guarantee. That time you spent reading would be time you didn’t buy something else on Amazon, you didn’t scroll pointlessly through Facebook, you didn’t get into another comment-battle over Donald Trump. And all of that not doing, as well as 4 hours of enjoyment (depending on how fast you read), would cost… less than a Dairy Queen blizzard. You can find indie books for .99, 1.99, 2.99. Most of them stop at that. Some go up to 3.99 or 4.99. And yeah, you might not think that sounds great. You might think you don’t have time.
You have time. You have the money. And reading books isn’t just for school students, for teachers, for nerds. It may not be the cool thing to do. You may not get 20 likes for doing it. But you will not regret it.
I need you. We need you. To read a book. To read any book.
Try one of these authors today. Please.
Do you like thrillers, car chases, mysteries, suspense, plot twists, surprises? Check out Jordon Greene. Or Theresa Jacobs.
Do you like kids books, poetry, pictures, and a way to spend time with your little ones? Check out Theresa Jacobs. Or Sojourner McConnell
Do you like fantasy, adventures, sequels, and new lands full of strange creatures? Check out Jessica Hernandez.
Do you like paranormal romance, high drama, and your fair share of magic mystery? Check out Tima Maria Lacomba. Or Rose Montague.
Do you like mysterious places, frightening alleyways, and horrid monsters? Check out Jack Lewis. Or Jordon Greene.
If none of these genres appeals to you, don’t worry! There are millions of books on Amazon, and they have a great search method to help you find what you want. Once you find one book you enjoy, it becomes easier to find others. Try the first book, read it, immerse yourself in it, and I promise. You won’t look back.
Are you a nerd who wants to see book stats? Here you go. Either article.
February 2016 Author Earnings Report: Amazon’s Ebook, Print, and Audio Sales