This post, by J.A. Konrath, originally appeared on his A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing blog on 1/17/12.
Right now I’m looking at the Top 10 Kindle bestsellers in occult fiction.
Every one of them is self-pubbed. In fact, there are only three legacy authors in the Top 30. I count only ten legacy pubbed in the Top 100, and most are brand names.
It also doesn’t bode well for legacy publishers.
Long ago, I said ebooks aren’t a competition. But that only applies when they are affordable. Once an ebook costs over five bucks, readers become choosy. The above list is proof. There are ten ebooks on that list priced more than $4.99.
Bet you can guess which ones. Hint: none of the self-pubbed.
At the moment, legacy publishers seem to be content with their ebook sales. They boast how ebooks are exploding, while print sales slip more and more.
And yet, they obviously aren’t pricing ebooks competitively. I’m outselling King, Harris, and Preston & Child. That’s odd, since they kill me in paper sales. But it doesn’t matter, because bestselling authors sell at any price, which publishers are aware of.
Midlist authors do not. Midlist authors right now are getting screwed by their publishers, earning far less than they could. It’s bad enough they’re only getting 17.5% of the list price; when the list price is ten bucks it is leaving a lot of money on the table.
So why aren’t legacy pubs pricing their midlists and backlists competitively? Are they still trying to preserve paper sales? Or have they crunched the numbers and figured out $7.99 to $14.99 is the sweet spot for profits?
Whatever the reason, it is misguided. Here’s a look into the future: