The Indie Ebook Scene Is Growing: Here's Over 170 Authors Who've Sold More Than 50,000 Copies

from the success-stories dept

We've written a lot about the incredible new ecosystem of independent, self-published ebooks, which in a few short years (with the help of huge success stories like Amanda Hocking and Joe Konrath) has largely eliminated the stigma of what we once called "vanity publishing", to the point that even traditionally published authors are deciding to go it alone.

Though Hocking and Konrath were some of the first names to get some serious attention with their impressive ebook sales, today there are lots of other examples. An anonymous submission points us to a blog dedicated to tracking self-published ebook success stories, which has put together a list of over 170 independent authors who have sold more than 50,000 ebooks, including 33 who have sold more than 200,000. Hocking and Konrath still make the top ten, but they have plenty of company:

Barbara Freethy - over 2 million ebooks sold (April 2012)
Amanda Hocking - 1,500,000 ebooks sold (December 2011)
John Locke- more than 1,100,000 eBooks sold in five months
Gemma Halliday - over 1 million self-published ebooks sold (March 2012)
Michael Prescott - more than 800,000 self-published ebooks sold (Dec 2011)
J.A. Konrath - more than 800,000 ebooks sold (April 2012)
Bella Andre - more than 700,000 books sold (May 2012)
Darcie Chan - 641,000 ebooks sold (May 2012)
Chris Culver - over 550,000 (Dec 2011)
Heather Killough-Walden - over 500,000 books sold (Dec 2011)

The post also points out some encouraging statistics from Amazon:

Kindle Direct Publishing has quickly taken on astonishing scale – more than a thousand KDP authors now each sell more than a thousand copies a month, some have already reached hundreds of thousands of sales, and two have already joined the Kindle Million Club.

Under the old system, many of these authors would likely still be sending out manuscripts, hoping for the lucky convergence of circumstances that puts it in the right pile in front of the right reader when they're in the right mood. There's still some disdain for self-publishing in some circles—but with the open playing field that has been created, the increasing number of authors flocking to it, and a growing roster of success stories, it won't be long before that too starts to change.



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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Aug 2nd, 2012 @ 1:40pm

    Math

    Since I'm sure the 'digital pennies' crowd will be commenting soon, I'm curious what an average "best seller" would do in sales in physical copies. Does anyone have the slightest idea?

    Sure, we've got the very high end such as a Stephen King or James Patterson novel or Harry Potter that sells millions, but what kind of numbers could we expect an average best seller to do? I'm a pretty well read person, and I don't recognize the names of about half of the authors for the top 40 books on Barnes and Noble right now.

    If those authors listed above are getting even 10 cents per sale after expenses, then they've got a good paying job by most accounts - and I suspect they're getting much more than that per sale.

     

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      zegota (profile), Aug 2nd, 2012 @ 2:46pm

      Re: Math

      It varies widely. Suffice it to say that a bestseller in trade publishing would probably need to sell closer to 10,000 (or even 100,000, in some cases) copies a month for the first few months, rather than 1,000.

      Also, if you're putting King and Patterson and Rowling at the high end, which they certainly are, you should also consider that these indie eBook authors are still outliers. The vast majority of self-published books sell fewer than 50 copies.

      It's depressingly difficult to be a successful author regardless of the path you choose. The difficulty of finding a publisher has simply been supplanted by the difficulty of finding an audience.

       

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      John Fenderson (profile), Aug 2nd, 2012 @ 2:48pm

      Re: Math

      Average physical book sales vary quite a lot according to genre and publisher (marketing matters!). That said, a reasonable rule of thumb is that an average author published by a major publisher will sell about 10,000 copies.

       

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      A Non-Mouse, Aug 2nd, 2012 @ 2:49pm

      Re: Math

      Here's a quote I found online, however I did not confirm this with Amazon/B&N:

      "Here's what Amazon and B&N pays for self-published ebooks:

      Amazon Kindle Publishing Royalties:
      $2.99 and above: 70%
      under $2.99: 35%

      Barnes & Noble Pubit Royalties:
      $2.99 and above: 65%
      under $2.99: 40%"


      So taking Barbara Freethy as an example: a quick look on Amazon shows her ebooks are typically priced at $2.99. Some higher, some lower, but $2.99 seemed typical. 70% of $2.99 is $2.09, times 2 million sales equals almost $4.2 million in her pocket. Even if you were to take it to the EXTREME other end (all 2 million sales at 99 cents each with a 35% royalty) she's still looking at almost $700,000 in her pocket. Not too shabby, and congrats to her on that!

       

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        Josef Anvil (profile), Aug 3rd, 2012 @ 12:50am

        Re: Re: Math

        Can someone help me to understand why the royalty is so much greater for more higher pricing?

        This seems to be forcing authors to charge more for their work than they may want to. Price fixing ?

         

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          jsf (profile), Aug 3rd, 2012 @ 10:02am

          Re: Re: Re: Math

          One possible reason is related to fixed costs. It costs Amazon a set amount to sell a book regardless of is size, i.e. credit card processing costs. Above a certain price Amazon can cover those costs while giving away a higher percentage. This could all be done by breaking out all the costs, but the math and accounting are easier if you just ballpark it.

           

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          FSK, Aug 3rd, 2012 @ 10:06am

          Re: Re: Re: Math

          >Can someone help me to understand why the royalty is so much greater for more higher pricing?

          Amazon has some fixed costs (servers, programmers, etc.). Therefore, you get a higher royalty rate when the price is higher.

           

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        SeanFromIT (profile), Aug 3rd, 2012 @ 1:21pm

        Re: Re: Math

        And those percentages were much lower just a couple years ago. Many of the authors referenced have probably been in the ebook game for a long time, so their early sales didn't net as much.

        Many indie ebook markets pay out higher royalties. OokaBooka.com for example offers:
        $1 and above: ~71%
        $1 and below: ~65-69%

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2012 @ 4:29pm

      Re: Math

      Prolly round a quarter. Not bad.

       

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    gnudist, Aug 2nd, 2012 @ 2:13pm

    And troll AC talks about techdirt being negative all the time.

    HOW's THIS FOR NEGATIVITY BITCH

     

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    sehlat (profile), Aug 2nd, 2012 @ 2:17pm

    One Problem With Self-Publishing

    Many authors are terrible proofreaders. And everybody's bad at checking their own work. I've read some self-published stuff that worked very very well as stories, but the endless arrays of typos and grammatical errors kept throwing me right back out.

    If the publishers can quit their bitching about digital pennies and start providing quality editing at reasonable costs, they can make themselves "brands" for real.

     

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      PaulT (profile), Aug 3rd, 2012 @ 1:16am

      Re: One Problem With Self-Publishing

      Self publishing doesn't mean that you can't hire a professional proofreader yourself, or crowdsource it, if you want to. It just means you're not forced to go through the process by a publisher.

       

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    bob, Aug 2nd, 2012 @ 2:22pm

    Paywall!

    Let me just congratulate Mike for seeing the wisdom of the paywall.

    Maybe soon he'll understand why Amanda Hocking went with a traditional publisher when she had a chance.

     

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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Aug 2nd, 2012 @ 2:52pm

    The "selling more than 50,000 ebooks" model will never work for authors that sell less than 50,000 ebooks.

    As usual, Pirate Mike is making Pirate Tim... er, Pirate Leigh write stuff about stuff, confusedly to confuse us. And paywalls. And shoveling poop!

     

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    DannyB (profile), Aug 2nd, 2012 @ 2:54pm

    Printing Press, like self publishing, must be stopped!

    If just anyone can get a printing press starting in 1436 and print their own books, then this will put scribes out of business! Scribes are professionals who take great pride in their skill an art in hand copying books. Books from this newfangled printing press thingy are just poor imitations.

    Scribes offer additional value over mass printed books. Scribes carefully hand copy each character of each word, unlike the evil mechanical printing monsters which don't care and are unable to care about the quality of their output.

    Furthermore the low price of books from printing presses relative to the high cost of Scribe(tm) hand copied books devalues books!

    If anything, the price of books from the new printing presses should be set higher than the cost of hand copied books.

     

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      DannyB (profile), Aug 2nd, 2012 @ 2:56pm

      Re: Printing Press, like self publishing, must be stopped!

      Since the cost of printed books is overall much lower than hand copied books, authors will make proportionately less.

      Soon nobody will write books anymore!

       

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    Zos (profile), Aug 2nd, 2012 @ 3:37pm

    i read. a lot. like a book a day. mostly sci-fi and fantasy.
    i have several publishing sites i keep track of to know what's coming out.

    How do i find the same sort of thing for new ebook authors?

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2012 @ 4:36pm

    Back in the day an author sold his work outright to the printer for printing press pennies.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2012 @ 2:04am

    now how can this be true when, according to Ursula Mackenzie in a post here about Stephen Leather and e-books sales as opposed to traditional sales, e-books are not profitable at all and the only way to be successful is to keep paying publishing houses etc, whilst the authors lose money? seems similar to the idea the entertainment industries have, refuse to update and keep paying politicians to shore up!

     

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    Ninja (profile), Aug 3rd, 2012 @ 4:54am

    Awesome. The publishers will not really die, they'll just be dragged kicking and screaming to the future. That's because there will always be ppl like me that wants to feel the paper thing on our hands even though we have the digital readers. But for now they are getting the beating of their lives! Paywall bob is there to prove =D

     

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  •  
    identicon
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  •  
    identicon
    Opal Rings, Nov 27th, 2013 @ 2:53pm

    Opal Rings

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