Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Why are E-book Sales Really Stagnate?

Why have e-book sales dropped since 2014? Two issues emerge to answer this question. One concerns e-books from major publishers and the other those from independent authors and publishers.

E-books from Major Publishers
In a recent article in the Seattle Times, business reporter Angel Gonzalez discussed the decline in e-book sales from major publishers and the fact that purchasers seem to prefer print books over e-books.

She cites the reason as the contracts the Big 5 publishers have with Amazon, which allow them to retain price control while Amazon receives a bigger cut. This results in a sales price that rivals, if not surpasses, that of the hardcover or paperback versions.

Who wouldn’t prefer the print edition if it is the same price or less than the e-book version?

E-books from Independent Authors
According to Codex’s Hildick-Smith, says Gonzalez, Indie authors and publishers published one million e-books on Amazon in 2015. They currently have 45% of the e-book market, largely, no doubt, because their prices have stayed low.

There is a caveat, however. “Most of those [books] sold only a few copies,” Gonzalez quotes Hildick-Smith as saying, “though a few sellers are doing well.”

While many small publishers produce work that looks as professional as books coming from the major publishers, why do the majority of indie authors have low sales? Two reasons may be to blame. The first is that many self-published books have not been professionally edited. Once a buyer downloads a book full of grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors or advertised as a “book” when it is only 30 pages long, that buyer probably will never order any more of the writer’s other work.

Could it be that buyers perceive print books as having the quality they expect?

This is a good lesson for indie authors. If you want to make a good impression and have a real career as a writer, your work must be as professional as a book coming from a major publisher. Taking shortcuts will only shortcut your career. Spend the money to have your manuscript thoroughly critiqued and edited before you upload it to Amazon. Don’t rely on your English teacher aunt or a good friend. Hire a professional editor. Your future sales rely on it.

The second reason that most indie authors sell only a few copies is that they don’t market their work because they either don’t know how or don’t want to. A comment often heard from writers is, “I want to write, not market.” What good is having your work for sale on the Internet if no one buys it?

For authors who publish traditionally, the days of hiding in their garrets while the publishers do all the marketing ended decades ago. Unless they are in the league of Stephen King or John Grisham with a long list of blockbusters to their credit, authors have to do their own marketing. Their next books will not be picked up unless they do.

Indie authors have no choice but to market their work themselves if they hope to make sales. While marketing is definitely a learned skill, the beauty of it is that most of it can be done for low to no cost.

There are plenty of free webinars to attend that deal with the how-to’s of selling books online. Kathleen Gage (www.powerupforprofits.com) and Tom Antion (www.greatinternetmarketing .com) are two gurus whose advice is invaluable. Social media, which costs nothing at this point, great copywriting, and building relationships with your potential buyers are the ways to selling success. The key is to divide your time between writing and marketing so that you don’t have to sacrifice either.

The Bottom Line
The future of e-book sales is in the hands of independent writers and publishers. If they keep their prices lower than those of print books, e-books should continue to flourish even if the major publishers lose out on this lucrative market share.

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