D. D. Scott’s 2012 Epublishing Predictions – Nailed or Failed – and Epublishing Predictions for 2013

It’s that time of year when I ask:

What will the new year mean for Indie Epublished Authors?

First, here’s a quick re-cap of what the last few years have looked like for me:

Two years ago – December 2010 – I had Indie Epubbed/Self-Published my first 3 Ebooks, and I was selling a whopping 27 copies per month…across all platforms (Kindle, Nook, Sony, Kobo, iPad and Smashwords)!!!

Last year at this time – December 2011 – I was selling over 10,000 Ebooks per month across all platforms, was both an Amazon and Barnes & Noble Top 100 Bestselling Author and a two-time Amazon Movers & Shakers List Author!!!  I’d published 10 books and planned to add 16 more in 2012.  My reader base was well over 100,000 readers strong (if you count the 75,000 peeps who’d already downloaded the book that’s Free and started it all for me BOOTSCOOTIN’ BLAHNIKS). I’d sold over 40,000 Ebooks!!! And my royalties for just December 2011 alone were over $10,000!!!

Okay, this year – December 2012, here’s where I stand…I’m both an Amazon and Barnes & Noble Top 100 Bestselling Author, making it all the way to the #1 Nook Pubit Book and a three-time Amazon Movers & Shakers List Author!!!  I’ve published 23  Ebooks and 3 Audio Books (one of which also made it to the #1 Chick Lit Audio Book on Audible) and plan to add 10 more products in 2012.  My reader base is well over 200,000 readers strong (if you begin the count with the close to 200,000 peeps who’ve downloaded the book that’s Free and started it all for me). I’ve sold over 100,000 Ebooks!!! And my royalties have reached a high of $14,000 per month and are averaging around $5,000 per month!!!

I’m not saying any of this to brag…not at all!

This is simply an example, my personal example, of what just a little over 2 years can mean to an Indie Epub Author!

It shows the massive growth potential in an Indie Epub Author Career.  It shows that our reader bases have the potential to grow beyond our wildest plans and expectations!  And it shows that there’s still a huge, untapped reader base out there.

BUT…

In 2013, as in 2012, the BIG QUESTION WILL BE THE SAME…

HOW DO WE REACH READERS?

That to me is the question I’m still asking my crystal ball…

To answer it, I thought it might be fun to look at where we’re going next by first figuring out whether or not I “nailed or failed” my 2012 Predictions.

Here’s what I predicted for 2012:

http://thewritersguidetoepublishing.com/indie-epublishing-2012-d-d-scotts-predictions

When it came to predicting how to reach readers, basically, I suggested that it would be in primarily the following ways:

1. Ereader-Centric Blogs like ENT (Ereader News Today) and our own RG2E

NAILED – I, along with many of you fellow WG2E-Land Authors, have hit it big-time (meaning Amazon’s Movers & Shakers List and Top 100) by using ENT, which has something like 400,000 Facebook Fans alone!!! And we’re also building fabulous new, very active readerships using the Ebook Gifting Platform we’ve established in our own reading community, The RG2E.

2. My “First One is On Me” Strategy, meaning an author’s first book is always FREE across all platforms

NAILED – Offering an Ebook for FREE works, especially if you can keep it that way forever, across all platforms! I still find over 5,000 new readers that way per month (that’s how many people download that first book for FREE each and every month). Going FREE also works short term, using KDP Select, although, yeah, that approach bites the big one long-term due to its Exclusivity Period.

3. Unique Author Collaborations – like joint marketing strategies

NAILED – Have y’all been watching the progress for authors, many of our own WG2E-Land Peeps included, who’ve participated in the joint-marketing site Free Par-Tay ? They’re rockin’ it! I still don’t get how they’re getting around promoting each others’ books on their Amazon Book Description Pages because that’s prohibited in Amazon’s KDP rules, although, maybe Amazon has changed that because of the success of this marketing strategy filled with limited-time only FREE Ebooks. We’re also starting to see some success with our WG2E Street Team Beach Book Blast Promotions Group.

4. Social Media Platforms where Authors take time to Get-to-Know Readers and Hang with ‘em

NAILED – Nothin’ beats getting to know readers and hangin’ with ‘em too! Check out the polls I conducted with our RG2E Peeps. Visit my Facebook and Pinterest Pages and Boards.

***And here a Bonus Tip: Once you start publishing books in a variety of genres, you’ll attract a variety of readers too! So another HUGE theme for 2013 will be Writing in Multiple Genres!!!

Okay…my 2012 Predictions seem to have been right on so far. BUT…here’s where I was a wee bit off…and I wouldn’t say these were Failures, just way under-estimated or over-estimated in relevance…

1. Exclusivity

Just a rather nasty word for me. And I know, never say never, but I still can’t imagine telling my readers “oops…you’ve got a Sony Ereader or Kobo? Sorry…you can’t get my books for those.”   But wow is The Zon killin’ it with KDP Select, including sweetening the borrow pot by over a million dollars for the holiday season. But sweetening the pot for whom? I still believe, not the authors, but I’ll give ‘em credit for it being a brilliant strategy for The Zon. For me, and from what I’m seeing in my own sales numbers, it’s about being available on all platforms around the world. And can we all say “International Sales?” That’s where it’s gonna be in 2013…not stateside…

2. The Big Six Pubs…which, yeah…are soon to be, more than likely, The Big Three

These guys might just get a shot at making up some major lost ground, now that because of the DOJ Settlements made and Court Dates looming, they have to play fair when it comes to pricing…aka no price-fixing. BUT…that means there are a ton more books now at lower price points, so price points alone aren’t the advantage they once were for Indie Authors.

Also, these guys are now into the Ebook-Only Imprint divisions. BUT…Authors Beware…What are you getting from these shareholder-controlled start-ups that you can’t get yourself for a bigger piece of the pie?

3. Subscription-Style Services

I jumped the gun on this one, but I still very much believe it’s on its way!!! Think Amazon SmartPhone…which is rumored to be coming at us in 2013!!!

Our readers will increasingly be looking to Subscription-Style Services – whether through library systems or Online Giants like The Zon (Amazon) – in which they’ll pay so much per month or per year to download a certain number or unlimited number of Ebooks to a variety of Ereaders, Tablets, and Smart Phones.

What does that mean for how authors will be paid?

~~~~~

Okay…there you have it. That’s where we’ve been and perhaps a peek at the issues we’ll be dealing with going forward in our Indie Epublishing Journeys.

What are your thoughts and predictions regarding Epublishing 2013?

The Best of Epublishing Wishes — D. D. Scott

D. D. Scott is an Amazon and Barnes and Noble Top 100 Bestselling Romantic Comedy and Humorous Mystery Author. She’s also a Writer’s Go-To-Gal for Muse Therapy and Indie Epublishing, the Co-Founder of The WG2E- The Writer’s Guide to E-Publishing, and the Founder of The RG2E – The Reader’s Guide to E-publishing.  You can get all the scoop on her, her books, her Online Classes and Live Workshops, plus juicy tidbits too from her new cyber home…D. D. Scott-ville.


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Comments

  1. Helen Beal says:

    As a freshly pressed indie author this was a hugely helpful article – thanks DD! I’ve gone with BookBaby as I wasn’t sure about KDP exclusivity – once challenge I am having is getting my first book down from 99c to FREE – any tips on how to do this? Thank you! Helen

    • D.D. Scott says:

      Welcome to the Indie Epublishing World, Helen, and Welcome to The WG2E! :-)

      I hadn’t heard of BookBaby but just looked it up and saw that they charge $99 up front, is that correct? What do you get for that $99? And, is that per book?

      As far as getting your first book to go FREE on all platforms…What I did was start with Smashwords and make it FREE there. Hopefully, Barnes & Noble, if you’re available there too, will then match, and hopefully then Amazon too. Although, Amazon is matching FREE less and less because of their KDP Select program. But they still do on occasion. It’s certainly worth a try.

    • Steve Vernon says:

      The way I got FLASH VIRUS: EPISODE ONE “perma-freed” on Amazon was to first release it as a freebie on Kobo. Then, once it had gone live and free on Kobo I contacted as many of my peeps as possible to report it as a freebie – by hitting the “lower price?” button over at Amazon. It took about a week and I don’t know how many people reported it.

      There is still some more work to do. I need to get it “perma-freed” on Amazon.com.uk as well as Amazon.ca – but I believe I will wait until after the Christmas rush. The way I figure it, Amazon will probably be plenty busy over the next few weeks. I figure I’d be better off waiting for the January-February slump.

      That’d be my biggest bit of advice for you, Helen. Put your network into action. Get all of your friends and acquaintances to report your Kindle version to Amazon and wait and see.

      Hope that helps.

      • D.D. Scott says:

        Excellent point, Steve! I did that too, once mine went FREE on Nook. I had my network use Amazon’s button on my book’s buy page to say that it was cheaper at Nook.

        Thanks sooo much for sharing that!!! :-)

      • I’m so excited! After two months of trying to get my book listed for free on Amazon, I came onto WG2E this morning and saw Steve’s post about Kobo (thank you, Steve!). I had a friend notify Amazon that my book was free on Amazon, and lo and behold, my book went free on Amazon TONIGHT (just a few hours later)! Yippee! I don’t know what I would do without this website and all of the great, helpful tips and advice from all my fellow peeps and indies. I couldn’t have taken this journey without you, and I am so thankful for each and every one of you on WG2E, and most of all to D.D. for creating such an awesome website and support for writers. <3 and hugs to you all, and wishing you the happiest of holiday seasons!
        :)

        • Steve Vernon says:

          Wow! That’s fast action. I’m happy that worked for you, Riley. The tricks and techniques of this business change fast and evolve constantly. I’m always glad to help someone else and I’m so grateful that D.D.’s page gives me the opportunity to do so.

      • Steve Vernon says:

        That’s awesome, Riley. Give me a link and I’ll download a copy myself. Every little nudge helps.

  2. Tamara Ward says:

    Thanks, D.D., for sharing your story and your ideas! You’re an inspiration to me, and I’ve enjoyed learning from you and this website. Congratulations on your trailblazing, and on another successful year! I don’t have any predictions, but as for thoughts, I’m excited for 2013. The more books I have on the market, the more flexibility I have to use them in different ways to attract different readers. Thanks, again!

    • D.D. Scott says:

      I luuuvvv what you said right here, Tamara:

      “The more books I have on the market, the more flexibility I have to use them in different ways to attract different readers.”

      You nailed it, my friend!!! :-)

      And thanks bunches for the sweet shout-out!

      I luuuvvv that we can share all of our experiences and experiments each day here at The WG2E and learn from and encourage each other. Nothin’ beats Writers Helping Writers Reach Readers.

  3. Angela Brown says:

    Wow! 27 book across all all formats each month! Better than me lol! But that’s par for the course coming out as a brand newbie in the Indie circuit. I’ve got a lot of learning to do, and a few more mistakes to learn from. But I’m getting a chance to see some wisdom and experience with contributors and hope my mistakes can be fewer by capturing and using the advice that can work for me and grow my reader base, sales and my writing career as a whole.

    I love getting see the time-tried-tested and true results of working hard.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      It is all about “the time-tried-tested and true results of working hard,” Angela! Great way to say it!!!

      That’s one of the advantages about the Indie Epub World too…we CAN talk about what works and what doesn’t. First, because we have the data, and second because we can talk about it, unlike many TradiPub Authors who aren’t allowed, by contract or by the direction of their publishers, to talk the talk.

  4. Patrice says:

    D.D.- Love the fact you share your experience and knowledge and you set the bar high, but give us something to strive for. My past year in self publishing was not as successful as the previous year, but still made a nice income. I only put one new book up, which is probably the reason, but I had to rewrite a book twice which got me a 3 book contract with Montlake. I expect when the first first comes out, my self pubbed books will start selling better, and I did follow some advice here and put up 2 boxsets! Not selling as well as I’d hoped, but I keep playing with the numbers and hoping they will catch on. My single books outsell them, and yet they could buy the whole set for half the price of a single. Now I have 3 books for .99, and each one sells separately for $2.99. We will see!

    • D.D. Scott says:

      Congrats on your fabulous deal with Montlake, Patrice! (And for those of you unfamiliar with Montlake, that’s Amazon’s new Romance Imprint.)

      And I do think you’ll definitely see a lift in your self-pubbed books once you’re first book with the full force of The Zon is released. Yayyy!!! Note: It would be interesting to ask our very own Theresa Ragan that question since she’s now published with Amazon’s Thomas & Mercer (mystery/thriller imprint) and has a bunch of self-pubbed books too!

      Boxed Sets are not the rare, unique item they were last year at this time, but if the price is right, they will catch on with your readers. I’m really going to be pushing all three of mine (as soon as the second and third come out later this month). I even set-up a page on my website where I’ll lead new D. D. Scott-ville Readers to those sets.

  5. Patrice says:

    PS – how do I change my picture here. That sour face doesn’t really suit me! lol.

  6. LM Preston says:

    Well my predictions for 2013 is more ‘app’ based or itunes based sales increases. I’ve noticed while traveling that many more people have tossed their larger ereaders for their phones. One major irritation for book buyers that use their phone is that with nook/kindle purchasing and searching for titles is a pain. So, now I’m seeing more book apps, or websites (not kindle) that have better transition to iBooks. As far as Amazon sales go, now it’s going to be back to the hustle of finding your market and pushing them to buy direct. Since Amazon isn’t really helping with the ‘advertising’ of ‘free’ books like before (Oh did you notice they have 2 best-sellers list now? (1) for FREE and (2) for PAID…hummm).

    • D.D. Scott says:

      I do think we’ll see a move to everyone on one device, perhaps a more tablet-style SmartPhone, LM. Amazon is rumored to have just such a phone coming late 2013.

      I don’t use my phone now for exactly the reason you stated, but, before I got my first Kindle, that’s how I entered the Ebook world, and I do think that’s the case still for a bunch of readers. They try the Ebook experience on their SmartPhones then move on to an Ereading device or tablet.

      It is getting tougher and tougher to be “found” on Amazon, but it still can be done, and I think it’s by varying the genre categories you write in. That’s constantly giving you a new audience, and now with Amazon’s new Author Rank, you can get nice little boosts by making the Top 100 in individual categories (they show that now on your other books’ buy pages). So Categorization is very, very important, even more than it was last year.

      As far back as I can remember, they have had the FREE Bestseller List and the PAID one. I know that was the case when I first went FREE with a book on September 2011.

  7. Jeanne says:

    Congrats to you on your awesome sales for 2012!

  8. PJ Sharon says:

    Fabulous recap, D.D. You are a smokin’ hot trail blazer, my friend! Reaching new readers is definitely at the top of my list for first quarter marketing goals. My biggest stumbling block seems to be that I can’t write fast enough, LOL. With four YA novels out in 2012, I’m a bit frustrated with my sales, which have tumbled since I came off of the select program in June, despite the release of the fourth book. Nothing I’ve done promotionally has changed that. A month long blog tour upon the release of my book in September netted zero increased sales and all of the group promos haven’t done much for me either. I feel like I’m shouting out to all the same folks and not really hitting my market, which is YA/adult crossover IMO.

    As much as I hated to do it for all the reasons you mention, I enrolled two of my titles into KDP Select to see if I can gain some traction again through the holidays. I’ll also be doing some paid advertising which I’ve not done a lot of because I’m not making enough to budget for that with all of the other expenses of indie-pubbing.

    As far as writing in another genre, which my husband has been suggesting for months, I can’t see starting from square one again with branding, website design, and marketing of adult romances under a pseudonym any time soon. As I said, I simply can’t produce quality material that quickly, and I’m now committed to completing the last two books in a trilogy this year. I really don’t know how you do it all. You aretruly inspiring. Congrats on the success and thanks for all you do!

    • D.D. Scott says:

      What you said right here is exactly it:

      “I feel like I’m shouting out to all the same folks and not really hitting my market, which is YA/adult crossover IMO.”

      That’s why I don’t really do Blog Tours per say anymore. What you want are NEW audiences who haven’t heard of you. That’s why writing in multiple genres works!!! And you do NOT have to re-brand yourself at all. Especially, if you can find a way to bring along the same characters that your readers love. I call it Cross-Pollination, and it’s really working for me. For example, now that my Stuck with a Series (Humorous Mystery) Books have entered the occult and witchcraft category Top 100 Bestsellers List, I’m finding an entirely new audience.

      Oh, and I hear ya on the paid ads. I very rarely do those anymore. Only on sites like ENT and perhaps Kindle Nation Daily. Although, I do think Kindle Nation Daily has priced itself out of that market too.

    • Don’t rebrand yourself if you make the leap from YA to adult, PJ (unless you start writing erotica). You WANT those YA readers to make the leap along with you once they are old enough. Just clearly label which books are YA, which are YA/A crossover, and which contain mature themes.

      I publish non-fiction book under a separate name, but it’s because I really don’t want my two audiences to cross-pollinate.

      “All rise … Attorney X … I have here before me a document labelled Proposed Finding of Fact, but the fact-pattern you lay out here is so fantastical as to be hard to believe. Tell me, counselor, did you mistakenly cut-and-paste the manuscript for your latest fantasy fiction novel into the legal form?”

      “No, your honor … it’s all true…”

      “Well I’m going to make judgment AGAINST your client because, frankly, the facts in this case DO sound like something out of a fantasy fiction novel!”

      LOL!!! Unless you fear something that drastic … just stick with branding your own name :-)

      • D.D. Scott says:

        Great points, Anna!!!

        I totally agree that rebranding yourself for each genre isn’t necessary. What you want to do is brand yourself as an author period!!! And perhaps make the fact that you write in multiple genres part of your brand!!!

  9. Julie Day says:

    Well done on all of the successes, DD. I totally agree that you have nailed the ‘free’. I did that too, and got great results so will keep it that way. I plan to try to find new audiences for my YA series next year by looking at other sites I can use to promote it. I also plan to find new audiences by writing more magical romances and more children’s books and going out to libraries and doing fayres.

  10. Wow, thank you for this post! I found it incredibly helpful. I have a question: is there a good resource that lists eReader-centric blogs?

  11. Liz Matis says:

    This is such a wonderful and helpful blog DD! Starting with the new year I’m going to hunker down to get new material out.

    2013 looks exciting as I’ve been asked by my RWA chapter to give a presentation on self-publishing and ACX.

    I’ve been asked to be part of a new blog venture called Romancing The Jock made up of authors who write sports romances and one of the authors contacted me to suggest that we have our teams play each other in our books! Genius!

    • D.D. Scott says:

      Have fun with your presentation, Liz!!!

      Luuuvvv the idea of cross-pollinating with your new blogging group!!! And now, if you add some genre twists in too…wow!…what a great way to increase your audience base!!!

  12. Alison Pensy says:

    Thanks for this post, D.D. Very imformative, as usual :-) . Congrats with your success. I have had similar success riding the free wave and this year I published my first romance, so now I am writing in two very different genres. I did so under a pen name but made sure I linked it to my real name and I’ve seen lots of cross-over readers. Strangely most of my YA books are read by adults and my sales of the romance are rising steadily, so I can only attribute it to cross-over readers. With that I’ve also noticed my YA books showing up along with romance novels in the ‘also boughts’ and vice versa, my romance showing up in the YA fantasy ‘also boughts’, which I’m sure is getting me a new audience. That was one advantage I didn’t even think of, but I’m tickled pink about it.

    I don’t have any predictions to add for 2013. I’m just planning to sit back and watch it all unfold. I’m sure it will be another rollercoaster ride for all involved in the industry. These are exciting times, that’s for sure :-)

    Merry Christmas & a Happy and bookselling New Year to all!

    • D.D. Scott says:

      Excellent, Alison! Congrats on your Ridin’ the Free-Way Success and thanks sooo very much for sharing your experiences with us!!!

      The “Also Bought” streams are mighty powerful, and if you can keep on getting into new ones because of the new genres you’re writing, that means you’re reaching all new audiences!!!

  13. Dale Amidei says:

    It’s so important to remember that the landscape of publishing, like that of technology, promises to be one of continual change. Thanks for being a resource in helping us to track the cheese, D.D.!

    • D.D. Scott says:

      “tracking the cheese”…LOL, Dale! Good one!!!

      And yes, what works now may not work again…but we don’t know unless we keep current and give it a whirl!

  14. Julie Day says:

    Not putting a message here to check to see if my new Avatar comes up.

  15. Good job, D.D. I’m happy for you.

  16. Congrats on such a bang-up year, D.D.! You give me hope for my own future!

    I can’t say I have any predictions, but am just sticking to basic common sense: 1) Write shorter books when possible, as they can be completed and put up for sale faster, 2) Do cross-promotion wherever possible with other authors in the same genre by trading excerpts, etc., 3) Put non-ethnic covers on books with more widespread appeal (maybe it’s not PC to say, but non-black readers often dismiss books with black faces on the cover), 4) Promote the eStore I set up through Ganxy (which I learned about right here at the WG2E!) to get away from the rigid pricing at Amazon and other retailers by offering periodic eStore-only sales and introductory pricing on new books (mine is http://www.bettyegriffin.com/Bettye-s-Books.html if you want to take a look), 5) Write in 500-word bursts at least twice a day, preferably three or four times (got that tip from author Jody Hedlund), 6) Keep learning…because even if I’ve written 100 books or more, there’s always a better way to do something, and if you’re not open to new ideas you’ll be stuck in a time warp!

    • D.D. Scott says:

      Thanks sooo much, Bettye! It is all about giving each other hope throughout our journeys.

      Sounds like you’ve got a great gasp on where you’re headed and on what’s working for you!!! U Go, Girl!!!

  17. Stacy Green says:

    Great post, DD. I have a question – I have a short story out I’m trying to get Amazon to price match, and then my debut novel released on the 30th. It’s with a publisher, so I can’t do anything about the price. But do you think putting the short story into KDP Select would be worth it in terms of gaining some visibility?

    Thanks!

    • D.D. Scott says:

      Tough call, Stacy! And I know it’s tempting for short-term gain, but here’s my philosophy:

      Exclusivity periods hurt your readership growth globally long-term. It’s all about being available on all platforms, all the time, internationally. Short term they’re very tempting, but if you’re in it for the long-term, losing several months on other platforms is a bunch to make up for. And it takes months to make it up. So, you lose the duration of your exclusivity plus the rebuilding time on each platform you pulled from to go exclusive.

      That said, many peeps have done well on Select, but more than that have been unhappy with the long-term effect or lack thereof for what they lost in the meantime.

      • Stacy Green says:

        Well, I was thinking of doing that with the short story because it’s already been available for almost 3 months on other platforms, and most of what it’s moved has been via Kindle. And since I don’t expect to make any ROI, I thought throwing into Select my be worth it for the exposure.

        Would that be huge mistake?

        • D.D. Scott says:

          Totally do what works best for your goals, Stacy! :-)

          Not a huge mistake or no-no by any stretch of the imagination. Just know that it will take you awhile to build back up on any of the other platforms, and you will lose any great reviews you’ve had on the other sites too. But if your goal is simply more readers, and not more readers across all platforms, then go for it!

          Does that help a bit?

  18. Christina says:

    I agree with you on international sales. Kobo is going to really get rolling in the next year. They had some bugs to work out but I think they’re really going to do well.

    Definitely writing shorter books as Bettye said. I find about 25K – 30K is good for me, depending on where the story goes. My goal is to put out four books next year. Not as much as you, butI’m slowly building my own little empire :)

    I think you were right about the free and .99 books in 2011 / 2012, but I don’t think they’re doing as well as they used to. All of mine will be priced at 2.99, or I may try Dean Wesley Smith’s pricing strategy. Whatever I do, I’ll leave it alone for at least three months and see what the data tells me. I’m also planning to do box sets.

    As far as promotion, I’m still not sure what works. I can’t seem to think of anything to write about as far as blogging and Twitter confuses me. I’m considering taking one of Kristen Lamb’s beginner blogging courses and see if some of that clears up for me. Otherwise, I plan to just write. I’ve decided to cut down on blog hops and other promotion until I get more books out. I need the time to write new material and get it edited and with the day job the other stuff got in the way. I need more hours in my day!

    I can’t wait to see what 2013 will bring! February will be the end of my first year, and while I haven’t been nearly as successful as you or some others I’m looking forward to seeing what growth my second year will have.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      Sounds like you’ve got an excellent plan, Christina!

      I am seeing HUGE growth on Kobo, especially internationally, and I can’t wait to see where I’m at with them by this same time next year!!!

      Get Kristen’s books on Social Media (We Are Not Alone) and Blogging (Are You There Blog), and you’ll be set. Both of those really worked for me! :-)

      I agree with you on pricing when it comes to the 99 Cent point. It’s definitely not what it used to be.

  19. Thank you so much for this great post, DeeDee! It will be interesting to see how well audio books take off next year. :)