For far too long I've been using my blog simply as a platform to post my news. And you have to agree, there has been a lot of news to post. Yet when this blog first started, over five years ago, my intentions were very different. My original plan was to write a kind of diary of my journey to becoming an author. Along the way I became so busy being an author, that I lost my impetus to blog about it. To report on my journey has begun to resemble a list of boasts - CWA Dagger Award shortlist, accolades in journals as diverse as The Times and Star magazine, on both sides of the Atlantic, voted and selected for Best Fiction lists, hitting Number 1 on kindle and iTunes, and regularly appearing bestseller charts on amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith, amazon... yes, I'm boring myself. So my blog petered out, apart from the occasional interviews with other authors, and sporadic posts about yet another promotion, special offer, or bestseller list. Only this week, COLD SACRIFICE was a 'Buzz Book' on iTunes, ROAD CLOSED reached the Top 10 on kindle, and DEATH BED was selected for the amazon kindle summer promotion, reaching Number 3 in crime and thrillers.
It's time to get back to the original purpose of this blog, and explore issues concerning the world of publishing, from the perspective of an author. I have no 'inside knowledge' beyond what I can gather from my own experience. So here's where I am right now.
My debut, CUT SHORT, came out in 2009 as an A format paperback - small, cheap, with a monochrome cover. By 2011 my first three titles had all become bestsellers, and my publisher 'branded' the series, bringing out all the titles in the series in B format, with lovely colourful shiny matching covers. You can see them all on my website LEIGH RUSSELL if you want to see how smart they look. The row of covers on the virtual shelf on my kindle isn't quite the same.
Here's my little bookcase at home, like a trophy case, only hidden away upstairs where no one else can see it, with 15 editions of my books on display plus three bookmarks. If you look carefully on the extreme left, you can see the eye on the proof copy of the first edition of CUT SHORT is looking in the opposite direction to the one on the spine of the sale copy.
When CUT SHORT was first published, a fellow author advised me to ask my publisher to bring it out as an eBook. Wait for my next statement... I wasn't quite sure what he was talking about! I'd heard talk of 'eBooks' but it was all something of a mystery to me then. Six months later, the eBook duly came out. The same process occurred with ROAD CLOSED. By the time DEAD END was published in 2011, eBooks were firmly on the map. The eBook was available to download on the same day the print book hit the shelves. Meanwhile, sales of eBooks began to overtake the print version. I'll deal with my response to that in another post. DEATH BED was due to be published in 2012. The eBook was released on December 2011, six months ahead of the print book. The same happened withSTOP DEAD, and that pattern seems to be continuing for the time being. I can't say "for the foreseeable future" because things are changing so fast, it's hard to look ahead.
Sales of eBooks are growing. Some statistics cite them as representing 20% of the market in a rapidly growing sector, other sources say they are now at 25% of the market.
In a statement accompanying its fourth quarter and full year results for 2012, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos neatly summed up where he sees the future of book retailing heading–especially for his company. “We’re now seeing the transition we’ve been expecting,” said Bezos. “After 5 years, eBooks is a multi-billion dollar category for us and growing fast – up approximately 70% last year. In contrast, our physical book sales experienced the lowest December growth rate in our 17 years as a book seller, up just 5%.”
(US Publishers Weekly, January 2013)
From the perspective of an author, it makes little difference in terms of income. The standard percentage royalties an author earns from sales of eBooks is higher for an author than on print books, as the publisher's overheads are far lower. Certainly the sales on eBooks are potentially huge compared to those of print books. My own books have sold hugely in eformat compared to the sales of my books in print.
Personally I'm in two minds about eBooks. I'm thrilled to be earning a living from my books, if a modest one. But I still love the look and the feel of physical books.
Oh, and the links here are to the eBooks on kindle... but you can find links to the print books as well on my website: WEBSITE