Monday, May 9, 2016

Reasons to Focus on Print: An authors decision in a digital age

Several people have been asking me about what Jenny Trout reported about my sales in her recent blog post about returns. It’s been enough people that I figure I should probably write something up about it. So here goes. 

Yes. We have all but abandoned digital releases in favor of print and audio.  This wasn’t a decision we had decided lightly, so before I start getting emails from people saying I’m disparaging digital work… let me explain.

Historically we have always sold poorly in e book. We have 38 books out right now, between our SA Price, Stella and Audra Price names, my Anastasia Virgas name and my other pen name Dagmar Avery.  Sales are low for us, and have always been. We have been okay with it, because we aren’t mainstream with what we write. But it’s gotten worse. 

With the influx of books being uploaded to Amazon every day (I believe the last count was 700+ a day!)Our limited visibility was further cut down, and then with the advent of this returns bullshit, sales were set to nothing. 

We rarely make 50 sales TOTAL in ebook a month, and during release week, hell release day, we are inundated with almost if not HALF of the sales for the released book returned. That is no way to be able to keep releasing books. 

Then we looked at out print and Audio. Whereas audio sales aren’t huge, we make more on them. And print? Print we do awesome with. When you are selling double what you’re selling a month in e book in print… well it tells me some things. It tells me E books are not the medium to get our work out there with. It tells me print is not dead, and I need to focus on what works for us.
Here’s a breakdown. 

We are lucky. When we put out a book, I don’t have to pay extra for formatting or Cover work, so our overhead is low… between 300-500$ for edits. Now in order to put another book out, I need to make back what I put into a release. So in e book, if a book sells for 4.99 (the majority of the books sell for this) I have to sell a minimum of 144 copies to break even. That’s not even making a profit. As the E sales we have average between 2-4 a book a month… at the high end it would take me 36 MONTHS to make that money to simply edit the work, back. 

Now, in print, selling at 12.99 we would have to sell 27 copies. WHICH DO YOU THINK IS EASIER?

At Con, for a new release, I sell books at 10$. This means I need to sell between 30-38 while there. Considering we always sell well at con, this is not a hardship.

Most would say E book is the easier way to go. But not for us. No, not at all.  So selling 27 print book means I have the ability to release another book in a few months.  

36 months to earn out on e-book? Not feasible. At all.  

I realize readers are pissed about this. Certain readers don’t read print, don’t do audio. To be quite honest, the amount of readers that only read e book and read us is so low, I can’t even count it. Yes, losing any sale is hard but consider the other side of this. 

No E books means my books aren’t being pirated. It means they aren’t being read and then returned, and most importantly, it means I’m not checking KDP daily and getting more and more frustrated that for the 6th day in a row I haven’t sold a damn thing. 

I like the idea of a return to the printed word as well, digital while easier and all but immediate, can't compare to the tactile wonder of holding a book in your hands.

The 1-15 sales I get a month on a .99-4.99 book isn’t worth the stress and the feelings that I am not good enough. I know I am, and the work we do is. Shit visibility is the culprit, but that doesn’t compute when you are constantly tearing your hair out over nonexistent sales. Maybe things will change in the future, but for now, this is the best course of action for us.  I always liked print better anyway.

So I'm going to open up the discussion here for those that feel the need.