She noticed that a lot of popular e-books were priced at 99 cents, and immediately dropped her price from $2.99 to 99 cents. The cut would slash potential royalties—Amazon pays 35% royalties for books that cost less than $2.99, compared with 70% for books that cost $2.99 to $9.99. But sales picked up immediately. "I did that to encourage people to give it a chance," she says. "I saw it as an investment in my future as a writer." The strategy worked. Several reviewers on Amazon said they bought the book because it was 99 cents, then ended up liking it.
She checked her sales several times a day, obsessively refreshing her Amazon page. In the first month, it sold 100 copies. When Ms. Chan saw the sales figure, she danced in her kitchen with her husband and toddler.
"We were saying, 'Wow, this is really cool. What if you sell 1,000? That would be awesome,' " her husband recalls.
Then, at the end of June, "The Mill River Recluse" got a mention on a site called Ereader News Today, which posts tips for Kindle readers. Over the next two days, it sold another 600 copies. Ms. Chan realized she might be able to drive sales herself. She spent about $1,000 on marketing, buying banner ads on websites and blogs devoted to Kindle readers and a promotional spot on goodreads.com, a book-recommendation site with more than six million members.
Self-published titles have been buoyed by an explosion in digital book sales. E-book sales totaled $878 million in 2010, compared to $287 million in 2009, according to the Association of American Publishers. Some analysts project that e-book sales will pass $2 billion in 2013.
The march of self-published authors has put publishers and literary agents on guard. Publishing houses like Penguin and Perseus have recently launched their own digital self-publishing programs in an effort to capture a slice of the mushrooming market. Some agents, including Scott Waxman, have started their own digital imprints.
Digital self-publishing still has serious drawbacks. Though e-books are the fastest-growing segment of the book market, they still make up less than 10% of overall trade book sales, according to the Association of American Publishers. Book reviewers tend to ignore self-published works, and brick-and-mortar bookstores have long shunned them. And very few authors have a marketing and advertising budget equal to a publisher's.
Self-publishing is upending the book industry. One woman's unlikely road to a hit novel.
When I saw this article, I could not escape how many correlaries it help for Christian Writing. Bottom line, do not give up as a Christian writer – JMb (ed ) <><
How Self-Publishing Allowed An Environmental Lawyer Became a Best-Selling Fiction Author Pt1
By ALEXANDRA ALTER – Wall Street Journal Books http://goo.gl/MztwL
This summer, Darcie Chan's debut novel became an unexpected hit. It has sold more than 400,000 copies and landed on the best-seller lists alongside brand-name authors like Michael Connelly, James Patterson and Kathryn Stockett.
It's been a success by any measure, save one. Ms. Chan still hasn't found a publisher.
Five years ago, Ms. Chan's novel, "The Mill River Recluse" which tells the story of a wealthy Vermont widow who bestows her fortune on town residents who barely knew her, would have languished in a drawer. A dozen publishers and more than 100 literary agents rejected it.