New agents are a boon to writers. They work hard, and are enthusiastic. (Enthusiasm goes far in this business.) Read their agency websites carefully to see who they have represented, and which publishing companies they have worked with. And don't forget to google both the agent and their agency to see what pops up.
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Rachel Brooks of L. Perkins Agency

About Rachel: Before joining the L. Perkins Agency, Rachel worked as an agent apprentice to Louise Fury. In addition to her industry training, Rachel has a business degree and graduated summa cum laude with a BA in English from Texas A&M University-CC. Rachel is actively building her client list. Find her on Twitter: @RachMBrooks.

What she is seeking: She is excited about representing all genres of young adult and new adult fiction, as well as adult romance. While she is looking for all sub-genres of romance, she is especially interested in romantic suspense and urban fantasy. She is also on the lookout for fun picture books. She’s a fan of dual POVs, loves both print and ebooks, and has a soft spot for marketing-savvy writers.

How to submit: Send a query letter (with an author bio in it) and the first 5 pages of the manuscript pasted into an email (no attachments) to rachel [at] lperkinsagency.com. Please only query one agent at this agency.
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Siobhan McBride of Serendipity Literary Agency

About Siobhan: Siobhan McBride joined Serendipity Literary Agency in 2014. Raised in New York’s Hudson Valley region she studied painting, drawing, and ceramics before receiving her Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing from SUNY New Paltz. She began her career in Publishing as an intern for the literary agency Objective Entertainment, and from there went on to work as a writer in the Editorial departments of various magazines including MovieMaker and Chronogram. Her passion for music and film led her to becoming the Music Editor of CriticalMob, eventually moving on to do freelance work with their parent company, Company Cue. Recently she has been tutoring young adults as a volunteer with 826NYC. Siobhan looks forward to creating lasting relationships with her clients and wants to work closely with them to give life to the vision of their work. Holding positions on both sides of the editorial field gives her a strong grasp of what an audience is looking for and the knack to balance that with a writers’ artistic drive.

What she is seeking: Siobhan is actively seeking voice driven narratives whether Fiction, Memoir, or Non-Fiction. She holds a strong interest in Literary and Gothic Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, Adult Dystopian, Mystery/Crime, Thrillers (bonus points if they’re psychological), Historical, daring Young Adult, and narratives with philosophical undertones. For Memoir and Nonfiction titles, she seeks Investigative, True Crime, and dark/bizarre History. Siobhan enjoys the dark, macabre aspects of life where paranormal fiction and horror are viewed an under appreciated art forms deeply rooted in psychology, and looks for authors unafraid to delve into these inner workings of the human psyche.

How to submit: Visit the submissions page on Serendipity’s website: serendipitylit.com. You can direct your submission directly to Siobhan by requesting her in the body of the submission form. The average response time is 4-6 weeks.

 
 
I love Weird Al. I have always loved Weird Al. But now I REALLY love Weird Al.

Not only does he know that "it's" is a contraction, he also knows what a dangling participle is. (Be still my heart!)

Now that I am backed by a celebrity, I feel inspired to add my own Word Crimes:

1) Impact is not a verb. It is a noun. You can have an impact on something, but you can't impact it. (It may be true that all your friends, TV announcers, and anybody with an MBA believes impact is a verb. THEY ARE ALL WRONG!)

2) "Issue" does not mean "problem," it means a topic of debate. You can discuss an issue, but you cannot have one. (This grammar crime was fomented by therapists, who also have convinced susceptible individuals that they can be "conflicted" when they have "issues.")

3) Grow is what you do with potatoes - not audiences, businesses, or twitter followers. (This is an MBA crime.)

4) "Conflicted" does not exist. You can feel conflict, you can even be in conflict, but you can't be conflicted. (See number 2 above.)

4) Disrespect is not a verb, it is a noun. You can show disrespect, but you can't disrespect someone.

5) "Different from" (or "different to" in Great Britain) is correct when you are comparing nouns, not "different than." For example, California is different from ... well, just about anywhere.

6) The object of a preposition is object case, not subject. Let's keep this between you and me, not you and I.

7) "Like" is for comparing nouns. "As if" is for verb phrases. I act like you, but we can't act like nothing matters. We must act as if nothing matters.

8) Plurals do not use apostrophes - EVER. You own CDs, not CD's.

9) A possessive goes with a gerund. "My going to California upset her" is correct, not *Me going to California upset her."

10) Reported speech uses declarative sentence structure. "I asked him what the time was." Not *"I asked him what was the time." If you are quoting, you can use interrogative structure. Ex. I asked him, "What is the time?" (Reported speech is comprised of sentences beginning with phrases using verbs such as wonder, consider, ask, etc. Ex. I wondered what the time was. I considered what the alternatives were.)

If you are guilty of any of the above grammar indiscretions, you are doomed to suffer the eternal torment of grammarian hell. Also, people will assume you did not pay attention in my English class. (That's right. I'm talking about you, Pete.)
 
 
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I am beginning to wonder how many rounds Amazon can take. So far, Amazon has been punched by France, kicked by Germany, bludgeoned by Stephen Colbert (that's gotta hurt), tastefully critiqued by the Authors Guild, and now it is getting hammered by the Federal Trade Commission.

What is at stake here? Well, Amazon allowed children to download games using their parents' accounts, but without parental consent. And what's more, they knew about it but did nothing. That annoyed the FTC. So, now the FTC is suing Amazon.

The FTC says it is "seeking full refunds for all affected consumers, disgorgement of Amazon's ill-gotten gains, and a court order ensuring that in the future Amazon obtains permission before imposing charges for in-app purchases."

I am delighted to see that the FTC has such literary flair - "ill-gotten gains" indeed.
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Daily Report: F.T.C. Sues Amazon Over Billing for Children’s App Purchases

By THE NEW YORK TIMES, July 11, 2014

The Federal Trade Commission filed a suit in a Federal District Court in Seattle on Thursday, contending that Amazon improperly billed customers for “many millions of dollars” of charges that children made without their parents’ consent. The suit focuses on charges related to games downloaded through Amazon’s app store.

Read the rest of this article here.

 
 
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Once relegated to gathering dust under the beds of pre-teens, and eventually their parents' garages, comics and graphic novels have expanded their reach by leaps and bounds over the past decade.

Publishers Weekly recently posted this interesting article (see below) about the breakneck speed at which the comics sector is expanding.

If you are a graphic novelist, click below for publishers accepting manuscripts from writers.

7 Graphic Novel Publishers Accepting Manuscripts Directly From Writers
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PictureChart courtesy of Comichron and ICV2.com
Comics, Graphic Novels Market Hit $870 Million in 2013

By Calvin Reid | Jul 16, 2014

Led by book format comics with $415 million in sales, the North American comics and graphic novel marketplace generated $870 million in sales in 2013, according to a new estimate by ICV2 and Comichron, two comics industry trade news and data sources. The estimate includes sales of traditional comic book periodicals, digital comics, and book format comics in both the comics shop market, newsstands and the general book trade.

According to new estimates, the $870 million figure for 2013 can be divided into $365 million in sales from comics periodicals—traditional American comic books—sold almost entirely via the direct market or comic shop market, the network of about 2,000 comic shops around the country. Comichron also noted that about $25 million of the $365 million in periodical sales come from newsstands.

Book format comics or graphic novels, have grown into the largest section of the comics market. Graphic novels generated $415 million in sales in 2013, divided between sales in the comics shop market ($170 million) and general bookstores ($245 million).

Digital comics sales, the newest and fastest growing category in the market, are estimated to be about $90 million in 2013.

Read the rest of this article here.


 
 
These two agents are looking for clients. Both have had experience working in prestigious literary agencies. As always, go to the agency's website before sending your query. See which publishing houses they have worked with, what type of books they have represented. It's always a good idea to do a google search on the agency (and agent) to check for other authors' experiences.
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Pam van Hylckama Vlieg at D4EO

About Pam: Pam van Hylckama Vlieg started her literary career as assistant to Laurie McLean, of Foreword Literary Agency, in early 2012. By April Pam was promoted to Associate Agent. In her first two years as an agent, Pam brokered 24 deals, with such publishers as Knopf, Scholastic, NAL, ACE, Grand Central, and others. She joined D4EO in June 2014, where she will continue to build her list.

What she is looking for: Pam has a passion for adult genre fiction (no erotica) as well as MG, YA, and New Adult fiction.

How to submit: Submission Instructions: Please paste your query, 1-2 page synopsis, and your first chapter into the body of an email and send to querypamvhv@gmail.com
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Mackenzie Brady at New Leaf Literary

About Mackenzie: Mackenzie Brady joined New Leaf Literary as an agent in 2014. Previously, she’d been an agent at Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency and before that an intern at Farrar, Straus & Giroux and FinePrint Literary Mgmt. She was a microbiologist in her pre-publishing life, so she’s always on the hunt for projects that bring new facets of science to light. She is endlessly fascinated by the human body, especially the heart. Follow her on Twitter: @mackenziecbrady

What she is seeking: Her taste in nonfiction extends beyond science books to memoirs, lost histories, epic sports narratives, true crime and gift/lifestyle books. She is particularly interested in projects with a strong narrative and a female bend. She represents select adult and YA fiction projects, as well. Her favorite novels are almost always dark, visceral reads focused on the complexities of being a human. Think “Breaking Bad” and “The Wire” but in book form. She also represents illustrators (with or without book projects of their own). In the end, all she wants is to be told a good story.

How to submit: Do not query more than one agent at New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc. Send query to query [at] newleafliterary [dot] com, and put both the word “Query” plus the agent’s name in the e-mail subject line (for example: “Query for Mackenzie: [Title]“). You may paste up to 5 double-spaced sample pages within the body of the email. No unsolicited attachments. You will receive an auto-response confirming receipt of your query. This agency only responds if they are interested in seeing more.

 
 
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Writer's Digest has just announced its 16th "Dear Lucky Agent" Contest. This is a free contest, so you lose nothing by entering.

The contest closes on July 30.
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ANNOUNCEMENT

Welcome to the 16th (free!) “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest on the GLA blog. This is a recurring online contest with agent judges and super-cool prizes. Here’s the deal: With every contest, the details are essentially the same, but the niche itself changes—meaning each contest is focused around a specific category or two. So if you’re writing middle grade fiction, this 16th contest is for you! (The contest is live through EOD, Wednesday, July 30, 2014.)

WHY YOU SHOULD GET EXCITED

After a previous “Dear Lucky Agent” contest, the agent judge, Tamar Rydzinski (The Laura Dail Literary Agency), signed one of the three contest winners. After Tamar signed the writer, she went on to sell two of that writer’s books! How cool! That’s why these contests are not to missed if you have an eligible submission.

HOW TO SUBMIT

E-mail entries to dearluckyagent16@gmail.com. Please paste everything. No attachments.

WHAT TO SUBMIT

The first 150-200 words of your unpublished, completed book-length work of middle grade fiction. You must include a contact e-mail address with your entry and use your real name. Also, submit the title of the work and a logline (one-sentence description of the work) with each entry.

Please note: To be eligible to submit, you must mention this contest twice through any any social-media.

Please provide a social-media link or Twitter handle or screenshot or blog post URL, etc., with your official e-mailed entry so the judge and I can verify eligibility. Some previous entrants could not be considered because they skipped this step! Simply spread the word twice through any means and give us a way to verify you did; a tinyURL for this link/contest for you to easily use is http://tinyurl.com/pwbds3q. An easy way to notify me of your sharing is to include my Twitter handle @chucksambuchino at the end of your mention(s) if using Twitter. If we’re friends on FB, tag me in the mention. And if you are going to solely use Twitter as your 2 times, please wait 1 day between mentions to spread out the notices, rather than simply tweeting twice back to back. Thanks. (Please note that simply tweeting me does not count. You have to include the contest URL with your mention; that’s the point.)

Here is a sample tweet you can use (feel free to tweak): New FREE contest for writers of middle grade fiction http://tinyurl.com/pwbds3q Judged by agent @petejknapp - via @chucksambuchino

WHAT IS ELIGIBLE?

Middle grade fiction. The agent judge did not choose to exclude any subgenre, so everything is fair game.

CONTEST DETAILS

This contest will be live through the end of July 30, 2014, PST. Winners notified by e-mail within approximately three weeks of end of contest. Winners announced on the blog thereafter.

To enter, submit the first 150-200 words of your book. Shorter or longer entries will not be considered.

Keep it within word count range please.

You can submit as many times as you wish. You can submit even if you submitted to other contests in the past, but please note that past winners cannot win again. All that said, you are urged to only submit your best work.

The contest is open to everyone of all ages, save those employees, officers and directors of GLA’s publisher, F+W Media, Inc.

By e-mailing your entry, you are submitting an entry for consideration in this contest and thereby agreeing to the terms written here as well as any terms possibly added by me in the “Comments” section of this blog post. (If you have questions or concerns, write me personally at chuck.sambuchino (at) fwmedia.com. The Gmail account above is for submissions, not questions.)

PRIZES!!!

Top 3 winners all get: 1) A critique of the first 10 double-spaced pages of your work, by your agent judge. 2) A free one-year subscription to WritersMarket.com ($50 value)!

MEET YOUR (AWESOME) AGENT JUDGE!

Peter Knapp joined the Park Literary Group in July 2011, where he represents authors of middle grade and young adult fiction. His recent sales include a contemporary YA to Scholastic, a contemporary MG to Penguin, and a YA fantasy series to Entangled. He does not represent picture books or nonfiction. Prior to joining Park Literary, he was the story editor at Floren Shieh Productions, where he consulted on book-to-film adaptations for Los Angeles-based film and TV entities. He graduated from New York University with a B.A. in art history.

 
 
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Horror is an immensely popular genre. (Zombies! Vampires! Werewolves!) 

Perhaps, for that reason there are relatively few publishers accepting unagented manuscripts. (Many horror publishers say they are "swamped.")

The publishers I have listed below accept a variety of formats: short stories, poems, and novels. Please read their guidelines carefully.

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Arkham House published its first book, The Outsider and Others by master horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, in 1939.  More than sixty years and 200 books later, Lovecraft remains on the center stage. Other writers published by Arkham House include Greg Bear, Michael Bishop, James Blaycock, David Case, August Derleth, John Kessel, Mary Rosenblum and many more. 
Submissions: Please submit a synopsis of your manuscript to: PO Box 546, Sauk City, WI  53583.  Do not make submissions via email. Arkham House does not return submissions or acknowledge that they have received your manuscript. They will contact you only if they are interested in publishing your work. Snail mail only.
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Elder Signs Press is looking for Dark Fantasy, Dark Fiction Thrillers, Horror, Mystery, Science Fiction, and Supernatural Thrillers. 

Submissions: Send a ynopsis of up to three pages. This should include information about your characters, major plot points, and how the book ends. Also send the first three chapters; and a cover letter with your real name, the name you wish to publish under (if different), contact information (address, email), word (not page) count, publication history, and any specific knowledge/experience you have relating to the material. Electronic submissions only. Responds in 1-3 months to queries. Responds in 3-6 months to proposals. Read full guidelines here.
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Rainfall Books is a British publisher of fantasy, horror and science fiction, specializing in modern works inspired by the writing of H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard and Clark Ashton Smith. 

Submissions: Rainfall has published 150 chapbooks over the past three or four years and have many more waiting in the wings. They are always looking for submissions for these in the form of poetry and short stories. They are happy to publish reprints. Please read guidelines here.
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Samhain Publishing is looking for novels—either supernatural or non-supernatural, contemporary or historical—that are original and compelling.  Authors can be previously unpublished or established, agented or un-agented.  Content can range from subtle and unsettling to gory and shocking.  The writing is what counts. 

Submission criteria: Between 12,000 and 120,000 words. For print eligibility, length must be a minimum of 60,000 and a maximum 120,000 words. Books are first published as ebooks, then as trade paperbacks within twelve months. Please read full submission guidelines here.


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Tartarus is a small British independent press founded in 1990. They specialize in collectible hardback

limited editions of literary supernatural/strange/horror fiction. They also publish paperbacks and ebooks. Tartarus has been the recipient of four World Fantasy Awards, and in 2010 received a "Stoker" from the Horror Writers Association.

Submissions: Tartarus is looking for short story collections and novels of between 75,000 and 120,000 words. They would like to receive literary strange/supernatural fiction. They are not interested in high fantasy, violent horror or young adult fiction. They do not publish teen, children's or young adult fiction. Electronic submissions should be sent to rosalieparker@btinternet.com as a Word or rtf attachment. Please send a synopsis or first two or three chapters/stories when first getting in contact. Additionally, they are now accepting single short story submissions for Strange Tales V. Please read full guidelines here.


 
 
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The economic figures recently released in the UK do not bode well for authors. While authors' income has dropped 29% since 2005, publishers' income has increased, which means authors are getting a smaller cut of the profits generated from their work.

Prospects for UK authors bear a depressing similarity to those of the US. A poll conducted in 2013 by Digital Book World and Writer's Digest revealed that the median income for self-published authors was $5000.  Hybrid authors (those who both self-publish and publish with established publishers) had a median income range of $15,000 to $19,999. Fewer than 10% of traditionally published authors make a livelihood that could be called lucrative.

Does this mean you should abandon writing? Absolutely not. Just keep your day job.
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Traditional publishing is 'no longer fair or sustainable', says Society of Authors

Chief executive of 9,000-member UK group argues that while 'authors' earnings are going down generally, those of publishers are increasing'

By Alison Flood - The Guardian, July 11, 2014

After figures released this week showed professional authors' median annual incomes have collapsed to to £11,000, The Society of Authors' chief executive has claimed that traditional publishers' terms "are no longer fair or sustainable".

Earlier this week, the Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society released a survey of almost 2,500 writers which found that the median income of a professional author last year was £11,000, down 29% since 2005 – a period in which median earnings for UK employees have fallen by 8%. By this year, according to the survey, just 11.5% of professional authors said they earned their income from writing alone, compared with 40% in 2005.

The ALCS set its findings against Department of Culture, Media and Sport figures which show that in 2014, the creative industries were worth £71.4bn per year to the UK economy. "In contrast to the decline in earnings of professional authors, the wealth generated by the UK creative industries is on the increase," it said. "If unchecked, this rapid decline in the number of full-time writers could have serious implications for the breadth and quality of content that drives the economic success of our creative industries in the UK."

Continue reading this article here.

 
 
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Yesterday, I received an open letter (see below) from Richard Russo, co-Vice President of the Authors Guild. The Guild has steadfastly promoted the interests of writers throughout its long history. Now, it is weighing in, alongside Stephen Colbertthe NYT, and numerous authors, on the protracted Hachette-Amazon dispute.
Indie authors may not feel any particular allegiance to Hachette, or to any of the "Big Five" in this war. Most will feel inclined to side with Amazon, which provides a platform for self-published authors. Amazon's latest tactic, to give Hachette authors 100% of their royalties during the dispute, would seem to vindicate the idea that Amazon is concerned for the writers who appear to be caught "in the middle."

Authors, as Russo pointed out, are not caught in the middle. As far as Amazon and Hachette are concerned, they do not even figure into this battle. The royalties offer is a stunt designed to hurt Hachette (Hachette will not get its cut of the sales) while appearing to be the good guy. It is a short-term ploy to deflect the mounting criticism of Amazon's tactics.

The truth is that Amazon doesn't stand for the best interests of authors any more than Hachette does. Amazon is the Everything Store. The majority of its sales come from electronics, not books. Books, as far as Amazon is concerned, are just another product on its increasingly long retail list.

Russo makes a point that is crucial, if largely ignored, in his letter. "Books," he says, "are special ... and can't be treated like other commodities."

Books are not products; they are ideas. In spite of the fact that publishers may treat them as if they were mere objects, books don't primarily occupy the physical realm. As repositories of information, knowledge, and imagination, they exist in the mind.

Neither the big publishing houses nor Amazon has taken the real nature of books into account. Nor have they offered genuine support to the authors who create them. Instead, we are thrown a nominal percentage out of the millions that both the Big Five and Amazon rake in. (Even when authors garner 70% of the royalties, Amazon takes 30% from the sale of hundreds of thousands of books that they don't have to print, market, distribute or pay advances for.)

In a world in which businesses whose sole interest is moving the merchandise dominate publishing, we can kiss Shakespeare, Socrates, and Einstein goodbye.
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Dear Authors Guild Member,

We want to share with you an open letter on the Amazon-Hachette dispute, written by Richard Russo, novelist and co-Vice President of the Authors Guild.
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The primary mission of the Authors Guild has always been the defense of the writing life. While it may be true that there are new opportunities and platforms for writers in the digital age, only the willfully blind refuse to acknowledge that authorship is imperiled on many fronts. True, not all writers are equally impacted. Some authors still make fortunes through traditional publishing, and genre writers (both traditionally published and independently published) appear to be doing better than writers of nonfiction and “literary” mid-list fiction. (The Guild has members in all of these categories.) But there’s evidence, both statistical and anecdotal, that as a species we are significantly endangered. In the UK, for instance, the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society reports that authors’ incomes have fallen 29 percent since 2005, a decline they deem “shocking.” If a similar study were done in the U.S., the results would be, we believe, all too similar.

On Tuesday, Amazon made an offer to Hachette Book Group that would “take authors out of the middle” of their ongoing dispute by offering Hachette authors windfall royalties on e-books until the dispute between the companies is resolved. While Amazon claims to be concerned about the fate of mid-list and debut authors, we believe their offer—the majority of which Hachette would essentially fund—is highly disingenuous. For one thing, it’s impossible to remove authors from the middle of the dispute. We write the books they’re fighting over. And because it is the writing life itself we seek to defend, we’re not interested in a short-term windfall to some of the writers we represent. What we care about is a healthy ecosystem where all writers, both traditionally and independently published, can thrive. We believe that ecosystem should be as diverse as possible, containing traditional big publishers, smaller publishers, Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and independent bookstores, as well as both e-books and print books. We believe that such an ecosystem cannot exist while entities within it are committed to the eradication of other entities.

Over the years the Guild has often opposed Amazon’s more ruthless tactics, not because we’re anti-Amazon but because we believe the company has stepped over the line and threatened the publishing ecosystem in ways that jeopardize both our livelihoods and the future of authorship itself. There’s no need to rehash our disagreements here. But it is worth stating that we are not anti-Amazon, or anti-e-book, or anti-indie-publishing. Amazon invented a platform for selling e-books that enriches the very ecosystem we believe in, and for which we are grateful. If indie authors are making a living using that platform, bravo. Nor are we taking Hachette’s side in the present dispute. Those of us who publish traditionally may love our publishers, but the truth is, they’ve not treated us fairly with regard to e-book revenues, and they know it. That needs to change.

If we sometimes appear to take their side against Amazon, it’s because we’re in the same business: the book business. It may be true that some of our publishers are owned by corporations that, like Amazon, sell a lot more than books, but those larger corporations seem to understand that books are special, indeed integral to the culture in a way that garden tools and diapers and flat-screen TVs are not. To our knowledge, Amazon has never clearly and unequivocally stated (as traditional publishers have) that books are different and special, that they can’t be treated like the other commodities they sell. This doesn’t strike us as an oversight. If we’re wrong, Mr. Bezos, now would be a good time to correct us. First say it, then act like you believe it. 

We’d love to be your partners.

 
 
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Smashwords, the largest all-platform publisher for self-published ebooks, conducts an informative yearly survey of its authors. The survey is not only useful for gauging the success of various sales strategies. it also provides valuable information on marketing trends.

What does a successful ebook look like? If it is fiction, it is priced between $2.99 and $3.99, is more than 50,000 words, is part of a series, and has been placed on a pre-order list. 

Most self published authors don't utilize the pre-order feature, which is a mistake. The reason indie authors don't take advantage of pre-orders is that they don't do pre-release marketing, which is also a mistake. If you are self publishing a book, you need to spend at least three months marketing it - through reviews, interviews, ads - before your publication date. Otherwise your book will hit the market with a whimper instead of a bang.

If you are thinking of self publishing your book, it's worth taking the time to read the full Smashwords report. Highlights are below.
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2014 Smashwords Survey Reveals New Opportunities for Indie Authors

Posted on Smashwords, July 6, 2014

The ebook sales power curve is extremely steep - This isn't a surprise, but for the first time we share some numbers along the curve (see the slides in the Series section).  A few titles sell fabulously well and most sell poorly.  An incremental increase is sales rank is usually matched by an exponential increase is sales.  Despite the steep sales curve, a lot of Smashwords authors are earning good income from their books.  Your opportunity as a Smashwords author or publisher is to do those things that give you an incremental advantage so you can climb in sales rank.

Readers prefer longer ebooks - We observed this in the prior surveys.  Longer books sell better, and when you view the data through the prism of the power curve, it becomes clear why longer books give authors such a huge sales advantage.

Pricing - The highest earning indie authors are utilizing lower average prices than the authors who earn less, but this doesn't mean that ultra-low prices such as $.99 are the path to riches.  $2.99 and $3.99 are the sweet spots for most of the bestsellers.

FREE still works greatbut it's losing some mojo - Free remains one of the most powerful book marketing tools because it makes it easier for readers to take a risk on an author brand that is unknown or untrusted.  Free ebooks, according to our data derived from iBooks downloads, generated 39 times more downloads on average during our survey period than books at any price.  Yet the effectiveness of free is down dramatically compared to our 2013 (91X) and 2012 (100X) survey results.  While there is still much untapped greenfield opportunity for indies to leverage free, I expect the effectiveness of free will continue to decline as more authors learn to take advantage of it.  If you've never utilized free, now's the time to do so before your window of maximum opportunity closes further.

Preorders yield sales advantage - When we launched preorders in 2013, we knew anecdotally from our early alpha tests that preorders gave authors a sales advantage.  The 2014 Survey is the first time we're able to share aggregated results, and the results are strongly suggestive that ebooks borne as preorders sell more copies and earn the author more money than books that don't utilized preorders.  I think preorders today are where free was five years ago.  The first authors to effectively utilize preorders will gain the most advantage, just as the first authors to enter new distribution channels gain the most advantage.  Five years from now once all indies recognize that preorders are a no-brainer essential best practice, the effectiveness of preorders will decline.  Also revealed in the data is the fact that most Smashwords authors (and therefore, most indies) ARE NOT utilizing preorders yet despite our aggressive promotion of this exciting new tool.  The authors who heeded our advice, however, are reaping the rewards.

Series yield sales advantage - For the first time, we examine the performance of series books.  This new analysis is enabled by the fact that in September we launched Smashwords Series Manager which allows us to capture enhanced metadata on series.  The results are interesting!  Series books outsell standalone books.  We also look at the characteristics of series.  I'll want to do more with series in our 2015 survey.

Best-performing series have longer books - Not a surprise, but the implications are significant.  If you imagine the power curve overlaid on the series data we share, you see why authors who write full-length books in their series have an advantage over authors who break books into smaller chunks.  Also interesting, we found series books under 50,000 words are especially disadvantaged.  This is not to say that you can't become a bestseller writing shorter novellas.  Multiple Smashwords authors have had success here.  But what the data does tell me is that successful novella writers might achieve even greater success if they write full-length.  The data appears to suggest that series books under 50,000 words might create friction that makes readers incrementally less willing to buy.

FREE series starters pack a punch - This is a big deal.  I suspected this for a long time based on numerous authors' results going back to Brian S. Pratt who was one of the first Smashwords authors to prove the effectiveness of free series starters, but the aggregated numbers now confirm it.  We found strong evidence that series that have free series starters earn more money for authors than series that do not have free series starters.  For the many Smashwords authors who are reluctant to experiment with free for fear it'll devalue your books, now you've got the kick in the butt you need to give it a try.  All Smashwords retailers support free without restriction.

Non-fiction earns more at higher prices -  For the first time we added new data for non-fiction pricing.  We looked at the most common price points for indie non-fiction, the price points that earn the most downloads, and the price points that earn the non-fiction author the most money.  The results are fascinating.  It's not a surprise that non-fiction readers respond differently to price.  The surprise is how differently.  Non-fiction buyers are less price-sensitive.  After crunching the numbers it appears as if most non-fiction authors are under-pricing their works, and they should experiment with higher prices.

Read the full article here.


 

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