Posts Tagged ‘eBooks’

What Should eBooks Cost?

Friday, July 12th, 2013

In this article is the following quote:

“The cardinal rule for digital ebooks is that you want to sell them for as much as you can,” says Allen Weiner, an analyst at Gartner.

Now, think about that for a sec.


Is that not fundamentally wrong? What you really want in an eBook, is to find the price point where you’re making the most money in aggregate for that book. In other words, the maximum price customers will pay may not yield the highest income. Suppose both the price points produce a profit when you do your P&L. Now suppose you get 100 sales at $9.99 (call it $1000 bucks). That’s nice. You have $1000 bucks in the door. But what if 4.99 gets you 1000 sales? (Call it $5000) You make A LOT more if the lower price sells a lot more books.

In eBooks, mind you, you manufacture once and sell multiple times with no per unit manufacturing cost. More units sold do not result in more expenses. There are some server costs, as the files must be stored and backed up. But it’s not like paper, where each book contains paper and ink that you have to pay for. With an eBook, the vendor assumes the cost of delivery. You get your file to Amazon (for ease, pretend that’s all) and you’re done.

It seems to me that the goal should be finding the sweet spot for the trifecta of price, units sold, and income realized.

I’d shrug and say I don’t understand traditional publishing’s P&L except there’s just overwhelming evidence that a lower price sells significantly more books. Ask any self-publisher.

What do you think?


Scandal and Indiscreet in North America

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

To anyone who has tried to buy the Kindle eBook of Scandal or Indiscreet in North America, yes, those books should be available but no, at the moment they are not. For some reason, Amazon is showing that the books are not available for Kindle, even though Berkley has the rights, and even thought they USED to be available.

I’ve contacted my agent and she in turn has contacted Berkley so I’m hopeful this will be resolved quickly. In the meantime, all I can say is I’m really sorry.

Speculations about Why

I actually think this is mostly Amazon’s fault. Berkley, the publisher of my last four historicals, only acquired North American rights. This means Berkley can only sell those books in the US and Canada and I can sell the books everywhere else. Which I am doing.

A few weeks ago I got an email from Amazon asking me to prove I had the right to sell Scandal, Indiscreet, and Not Wicked Enough since they could see the exact same content being sold by another vendor (Berkley). This is a good thing as there have been cases of nefarious persons stealing an author’s content and selling the entire eBook via Kindle with sometimes only a few changes, or even none. That’s not piracy, that’s theft. I provided Amazon with scans of my contracts showing the rights acquired by Berkley and what rights were mine. Amazon replied promptly with OK! Awesome!

So, now Scandal and Indiscreet for Kindle are showing as not available to US customers… Kind of suspicious, eh? It’s possible the problem is something else, but for now, that’s my theory. Amazon has made a mistake.

I emailed Amazon setting out what had happened and my theory about why, and they promptly responded with, “Berkley needs to contact us.” Which makes sense even though, come on, this is surely Amazon’s fault. So I then emailed the whole thread to my agent and now we just have to wait for Berkley to address this with Amazon.

Anyway, I expect the books to be back on sale for Kindle shortly.

My apologies to everyone who tried to buy the books and could not, and my sincere thanks to everyone who emailed me about the problems with availability.


Carolyn Goes International

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012
The UK Kindle edition of Not Wicked enough is available on Amazon UK. If you are in the UK, Australia or New Zealand you can buy the Kindle version here and for less than the paper version!

It turns out I also have the UK/AUS/NZ rights to Scandal and Indiscreet. There are a few other countries where I have the rights so I’ll be adding those to the territories as well.

I need to get new covers made for Scandal and Indiscreet, so I imagine it will be a month or so before those are ready to put on sale. I believe I have final-copy digital files. Something to look forward to, eh?

Also, If you read German, the German edition of My Wicked Enemy is available for pre-order via here. I think the German title is In the Arms of Demons but I don’t know.

The guy looks like the model in the photo I used for A Darker Crimson.


Free ebook of not wicked enough

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

I am giving away (gifting) 20 eBooks of Not Wicked Enough.

How to get one: leave a comment Per the rules below and agree to leave an HONEST review at your eBook vendor.

Rules: No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Must be 18 or older. I can only gift at US vendors who allow gifting of eBooks and who are selling Not Wicked Enough. (Updated add: the main vendors, Amazon, Apple, Barnes&Noble and Kobo all allow the purchase of an eBook as a gift. I, personally, do not know what other vendors do, but if your choice allows gifting of eBooks, you’ll be fine!)

Leave your comment by midnight pacific February 16, 2012



Remember When?

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

I’ve been thinking about a lot of publishing stuff lately, gathering thoughts, forming opinions etc. But of all the upheaval lately, I can’t help but be struck by something ironic.

Way back before Jeff Bezos named a website after a very large river, there were bookstores! Physical bookstores. Then along came chain bookstores. Really BIG bookstores that had the power to demand and get steep discounts and payola that got called co-op (where a publisher pays the bookstore pretty big bucks to get a title in the best part of the store, or to get a piece of paper tacked onto the shelf under the book, all to improve the chances of that book selling.) This put the independent bookstores at a disadvantage. There was an outcry. Shop Indie!! Don’t buy from the chains!!!

The Mega-Store Model Is Anti-Avid-Reader

I remember when Mom and Pop bookstores started disappearing from my town because they could not compete with Crown, Borders, Barnes & Noble, Waldenbooks and the like. Several cute little bookstores just up and closed shop. The hue and cry was still Shop Indie! Don’t Buy from the Chains! Chains are evil!!

As smaller indie bookstores went away, the selection of books at chains and even some of the large independents started to shrink. I remember how hard it started getting to find what I wanted to read. For years and years, my local independent, which I LOVED and still do, did not carry romance. And the dozen or so smaller stores that did were gone. Drugstores, who used to carry racks and racks of genre fiction, got rid of the racks of books because the jobbers who filled those racks were all fired. Suddenly, the only books in drugstores were the same damn books in the chains.  One less place to find and buy books.

Then Amazon came along and I remember booksellers and publishers scoffed. Who would buy books on-line and wait for delivery when you could go to a bookstore and walk out with the book right then? Why, you couldn’t even browse!

Amazon’s Model is Pro-Avid Reader

As I reader, I discovered that at Amazon, I could now find the books I wanted to read. I knew who my favorite authors were, I knew what titles were getting word of mouth and I could get those books from Amazon. I could jump on Amazon, search Romance or Fantasy or Barbara Hambly and browse for the books I wanted. I also started hearing that editors, though they scoffed at Amazon, were using Amazon as a way to find out what was unexpectedly selling and as a book-finding system. Amazon kicked ass at that.

I remember when the chains started gobbling each other up. B.Dalton? Acquired. Waldonbooks? Acquired. More bookstores disappeared, gobbled up by other chains. Fewer bookstores, but much bigger stores. Too big?

The pressure from Amazon built and some of the bigger independents started having trouble, because more and more avid readers, annoyed with the dwindling selection of books and the relentless push of the same-old same-old, turned to Amazon. And then Amazon solved the wait-for-it problem. I could order a book and have it the next day. And it didn’t cost me an arm and a leg.

Some really big independents closed. Here in the Bay Area, the two shockers were Cody’s Books in Berkeley (not romance friendly) and Staceys (also not a Romance friendly story, I’m sorry to say).

Avid readers complained about the Borders selection and its inability to shelve or reshelve their stores with books that were getting buzz. Impatient avid readers didn’t wait for the book to finally show up. Why should they when they could order from Amazon and have it the next day? Border’s problems with inventory control were an open secret among readers. They really did support Romance, though, and I suspect that kept their doors open longer that might otherwise have been the case. Several years before the Borders bankruptcy the Borders/Walden Express nearest me closed not because of sales (they were quite profitable per square foot, which I think was in large part due to their awesome romance and genre sections) but because the landlord (a Mall) tripled their rent. If I’m recalling correctly, to $30,000 a month. A MONTH.

Then Border’s failed and suddenly, everyone seemed to forget that Chains were supposedly responsible for the demise of the independent book store. No, it was Amazon who killed them. And Amazon killed Borders too! Except if you read past the first paragraphs of articles analyzing the failure, eventually, you’d get to the description of the inventory problem. That, combined with a corporate cookie cutter mentality about what books would be stocked — so that a Borders anywhere would, supposedly, be the same experience, was a far bigger problem because it was baked in. This cookie cutter/chain store mentality infects Barnes & Noble, stores too.

The Avid (Romance) Reader’s Dream Comes True

Then Amazon came out with the Kindle. It was a success, and anyone paying attention to the Romance community could have predicted it — because eBooks had already been a success  in Romance for 10 years. At long last, we’re seeing mainstream acknowledgment that Romance readers are the leading edge. Ignore us at the peril of your book delivery business. Then came 70% royalties for self-publishers and Amazon started eating a lot of lunches.

Now we’re all supposed to cheer for the survival of the last remaining chain store and it’s all Amazon’s fault.

Maybe. From what I hear, Amazon is ruthless. I don’t doubt for a moment that there’s a reason publishers and booksellers actively despise (not just fear) Amazon.

But I’m a reader, and darn it, Amazon makes my reader life better. Print publishers have not made my reader life better. They make it worse, and that’s true despite the fact that they’re publishing books by authors I want to read. As a place to buy print books, Barnes & Nobel is irrelevant to me. The nearest one requires a drive of 13 miles that typically takes 45 minutes. No. No. No. NEVER.

If there’s a book I want to read, or even just a certain type of book, I can have that book 30 seconds after my click and I can do it lying in bed. If it’s backlist that has been self-published by one of my favorite authors, I have that book at a better price.

Since this post is already too long, I’ll save the rest of my thoughts for another post.

What are your thoughts?


Some Thoughts on Publishing and Backlist

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

Anyone following my blog knows that I had rights to some of my backlist revert to me and that I’m getting them onto Amazon Kindle, Nook and other digital vendors.

Lord Ruin went up on Amazon 2/19 and as of today, I have MORE than made back my expenses. Royalties due me are already in 4 digits. As of today Lord Ruin on Amazon is:

# Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,607 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
* #9 in Books > Romance > Regency
* #9 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Historical Romance > Regency
* #80 in Books > Romance > Historical

The MMP is 300,000 something because, of course, the book hasn’t been available new in print for years. I don’t have my act together yet on doing the CreateSpace POD version, but obviously I have to get to that.

What does this mean?

The first thing to keep in mind is that Lord Ruin has been impossible to get except as used for years. Because my publisher did not keep the book in print.

These next things are a puzzle for me.
A. Lord Ruin in print wasn’t worth it to my publisher to continue printing
B. My publisher did not consider the digital rights to Lord Ruin to be worth exploiting even though they had them.

A is somewhat contradicted by the fact that I’ve been getting emails on that book every month for 9 years, and hearing complaints about how hard it is to find.
B: My current Amazon numbers suggest they were wrong about that. However, I have priced Lord Ruin at $3.99, no geo-restrictions and no DRM, and my publisher would surely have priced it at nearly twice that and slapped on territorial restrictions and DRM. I’m guessing sales in that scenario would have been lower than they are under the current scenario.

Compare, for example, Lord Ruin to Scandal:

The eBook for Scandal is priced at 7.99 — the same price as the print version. Scandal, a RITA finalist and a book my agent called a tour de force, is #16,064 Paid in Kindle Store. I’m quite sure the book is also DRM’d and comes with geo-restrictions.

Edited to Add: Lord Ruin, I should mention, is highly pirated. I think all but my first two books have been pirated.

I have a marketing budget that consists of my blog, twitter, facebook and facebook ads and I’m about to hit my advertising limit of $200 total spent. Scandal, by the way, got co-op.

In looking at my Kindle sales reports for Lord Ruin, (I’m learning to interpret the reports!) Non-US/Non-UK sales are in triple digits. — That means that people who would, under a print-publisher sales-scenario be unable to buy Lord Ruin CAN and ARE buying it under my scenario. UK sales are also in triple digits.

My costs for getting Lord Ruin into digital format include:
1. A new cover
2. File conversion
4. Time and Frustration

  • My publisher pays many many times more for a cover than I can afford, but that cost is at least subsidized for them by the fact that they use the print cover for the digital cover.
  • File conversion is a PITA but by now I would hope publishers have 1) better software than I do and 2) staff who’ve already been through the learning curve.
  • I probably paid more per unit for my eBook ISBN than my publisher did but that’s also something I could have skipped.
  • My backlist titles have already been edited, copyedited and proofed at no (billable) cost to me. Obviously, I pay an indirect cost in that my advance and royalty rates are lower because my publishers ( I have two, Grand Central and Berkley Books) need to recoup those costs. For my publishers, however, they’ve paid for that in the print book process. And I bet it ain’t cheap. Strictly speaking, however, for the eBook, the publisher is not paying for that a second time.
  • I had to carefully review the eBook source for errors. So does any publisher. And it’s not one source code set. It’s multiple formats. Blech.

For an eBook, the publisher is NOT paying nothing to produce it, but they’re also not paying what they pay to develop the print version.

Lord Ruin, a book that is 9 years old and for which I have spent so far about about $200 total in advertising is kicking Scandal’s ass. My January 2010 paranormal (My Immortal Assassin) is a pretty fresh release. And it’s 18,344 in paid Kindle.

My preliminary take on this is that publishers would be selling WAY more ebooks if they weren’t over-pricing them and they would be selling a lot more books outside the US and the UK if there weren’t geo-restrictions. The lack of DRM on Lord Ruin is also probably a factor. One possibility is that Lord Ruin is a spectacularly good book and my current books aren’t . . . except I don’t think that’s it. Lord Ruin wasn’t a RITA finalist, for example.


I’m pretty sure that for publishers, the print book process is subsidizing, to an extent, the eBook process — that is, certain costs aren’t incurred on the eBook side because they’re incurred on the print side (cover, editing, etc)  The question, then, is what happens if print books go away? Poof! (pretend) Publishers can no longer put out a print version. The eBook business would have to support costs that MUST occur (cover art, editing, copy editing etc).

You’d hope that this doesn’t happen until eBooks are selling in substantially higher numbers than they are now. And let’s pretend that has happened. The ratio is flipped. eBooks account for 80% of total book sales and print accounts for 20%. What’s the total number of sales, though? Are they selling more books or fewer books or the same?

I think it might be fewer. Yikes. But I know for a fact it’s less than they should be selling. Publishers are, in fact, right now this minute, selling fewer books than the market will support. Right now there are readers who want to pay for books and they can’t. That’s insanity.

Publishers will be (and are now) in a world where their own policies have suppressed demand for their product through over-pricing the product and because of their inability to sell to groups of consumers who are willing to buy.

I think unless publishers fix the geo-restrictions mess, they’re in a REALLY hard place because there are substantial sales they aren’t making because of that. The hurt is only going to increase.


I am fiercely glad I have these reverted titles back because Holy Cow, that’s a lot of money going straight to my pocket. It’s really, really clear to me that in Romance at least, publishers have badly missed the boat on the value of backlist titles. Romance readers know their OOP titles. They talk about books that are long out of print. Every Romance author knows this because we’re a part of that community. There are OOP titles that are on our keeper shelves, too, and there are new readers who want these books — and can’t get them for love nor money.

What I know is that Lord Ruin went from earning me $0.0 to earning me 4 figures in 3 weeks.

For the next book I put up, there are some mistakes I won’t make and I will have the timing down better, too.

Some More Observations

This post is half-baked. I’m pretty sure I’m missing some logic bits. What do you think I’ve missed?


Lord Ruin Now Available in Multiple Formats

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

Lord Ruin is now available for purchase in multiple formats at Smashwords. $4.99, no DRM, no geo-restrictions. Smashwords should be populating the file out to several vendors as well (Barnes and Noble, Sony, Apple etc) so, yay!!


Lord Ruin Available on Kindle!

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

My 2002 historical, Lord Ruin, is now available on Kindle. $4.99. No DRM. No geo-restrictions and with a spiffy new cover! I’m working on other formats and hope to have them up shortly, but it’s as time permits given I have a book due and it’s a fair amount of work to get the files clean and read.

If you’ve been trying to get your hands on a print version of this book, that’s in the works too, as a POD.


This and That with Poll

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

First off, this:

xkcd cartoon of Period Speech

Period Speech

I know this is not a brand new one, but it’s still funny. xkcd so often is.

I’m pretty much over my cold but now my son has it. I’m going to do another poll because I can. (You can select more than one answer!)

I Read eBooks on:

View Results

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Fight’s Over — But who Really Won?

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Amazon gives in to Macmillan

Macmillan has a monopoly on their books.

Of course they do. Surely Amazon wasn’t naive enough to think otherwise? Only St. Martin’s Press publishes Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter Series. If you want to read this series, you can only get the stories from a book that says St. Martin’s Press on the spine. Or a digital file provided by SMP.

I refuse to believe Amazon wasn’t fully aware of that fundamental fact about the publishing business.

So, is there a winner? It would seem to be Macmillan, since they got what they wanted — a higher price for their eBooks. And Macmillan authors get their Amazon buy button back. That’s good.

But is Macmillan really the winner? I’m thinking, maybe not.

Macmillan won an important right — to set the price where they THINK it should be. They’ve also established a different model for selling eBooks: the agency model, in which Amazon gets 30% of the price set and the publisher gets the rest. Previously, Amazon kept well over 50% of the price. I’ve heard as high as 70%.

On the one had, I admit to being a wee bit relieved that Amazon is no longer going to set digital prices since they’ve been doing that in a way that can only hurt publishers and the current Amazon price structure for the self-published is a disgrace and insult to a working writer.

But now I’m worried that publishers will set digital prices in a way that’s calculated to hurt the digital customer whom they seem to think of as a threat.

Macmillan and other publishers who follow suit — I think that’s inevitable, by the way — will soon learn what consumers think is a fair price for what they’re getting for their eBook purchases. It’s not a bad lesson to learn.

I’m afraid publishers will set eBook prices at levels intended to protect their paper versions. There’s no reason to think they won’t. That’s been what they’ve done at the other eBook sellers such as FictionWise and the like. This can only make the piracy problem worse since the potential legal buyers of eBooks will know they’re being ripped off.

It just makes me kind of sad to think about a new market being deliberately hindered.

With luck, I’ll be proven wrong. I hope so.