The eBook is not dead: self-published authors are making a killing!

You might have heard some murmurings recently about how eBook sales have slumped, and the electronic way of reading is now on its way out in favor of the traditional printed book. And while it is true that we have regained our love for a print book, and they are not going to be replaced anytime soon with eBooks, the digital versions of our favorite novels are not dead, they’re just making a killing for others.

A new report, published by accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers has shown that, in the US at least, the sales of eBooks are just as steady as those of print and audio books, and sales continue to grow at the same rate. The difference, however, between eBooks and print books, is that the digital books seeing high levels of sales are published by self-published authors, instead of the big traditional publishing companies.

PwC says that, in the data collected from traditional publishing houses, it does appear that the sales of eBooks have dropped. That data, though, doesn’t take into account those authors who publish by themselves or using a small publishing house to help them through the tricky woods of self-publishing. Another report, this time coming from a site called Author Earnings, was publishing recently based on tracked downloads on Amazon, the giant website which sees 75% of all eBook sales go through its website.

This report clearly shoes the popularity in eBook sales from self-published authors grow in the space of the last year, while those digital copies of books published by the Big Five publishing houses (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster) have slumped, effectively swapping places with self-published books. Less than 30% of the eBook market is held by the Big Five publishers, while almost 45% of it is seen and enjoyed by self-published, or indie, authors.

The figures from Author Earnings also show that, despite the fact that traditional publishers as a whole make more gross dollars from eBooks, the authors themselves are actually making a killing on the sales of their eBooks, because they take home 70% of the sales of each book, instead of the 10 to 15% that traditionally published authors take home. This means that self-published authors can afford to lower the price of their titles, driving up sales, and getting themselves on that coveted best seller list.

So the eBook is not dead, and neither is the self-published author. They’re just working together in harmony, making a killing.

Why you shouldn’t give up on self-publishing, even if you’re still not the next E.L. James

Self-publishing is a slow process, and getting your books onto the top of the bestseller lists and into the hearts and minds of readers is not an easy feat, but it’s not impossible. And if your heart is in it, it’s all you really want, and you are determined enough, then there should be nothing stopping you.

Some people look down on the idea of self-publishing because of the difficulty that it takes to become an acclaimed author. Of course, without traditional publishers taking 90% of your profits to market you, it’s not going to come as easily, but there are other methods. Things like social media and online reviews have long been belittled for their unreliability, but consider this.

Using a publishing guild with integrity, rather than a vanity publisher which will accept anything that is sent their way, an establishment such as Mereo Books for example, to publish your book will give you a guarantee of quality which purchasers and other publishers will recognise. Online imprints such as Mereo operate in many ways similarly to a mainstream publisher, only accepting those books that have serious potential, but they are not quite as discriminating as a traditional publishing house. So if you want your book to be published with integrity, but you don’t want to spend years sifting through rejection letters, then consider an online imprint that will really help you out.

I mentioned above that online reviews are not really cutting it in the efforts to sell self-published books, but suddenly new self-publishers’ review sites have started popping up and impartially reviewing self-published novels, thus granting them a rating out of five stars. These sites are in their early days, and therefore they have yet to have made a real mark on the world’s readers who are looking for the best reviews of the best books that they have to buy for their loved ones for Christmas, however sites such as Brag Medallion, Compulsion Reads, Nash Black and The Book Review for Fiction all have tens or hundreds of readers who objectively review self-published works and leave their comments out there in the ether for anybody to read.

It’s early days, but Dr John Yeoman, a successful commercial writer and lecturer in Creative Writing, predicted for Write to Done that “by 2020… the equivalent of Brag Medallion will be as well-known as Random House,” and those looking to sell their self-published books will go straight to these review sites to make sure their writings are seen, heard, and talked about.

The world of self-publishing has been well and truly taken over, by fans of the Fifty Shades books

OK, perhaps it’s a little stereotypical to assume that all women enjoy the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, but ever since the overwhelming success of EL James’ erotic trilogy of novels that are now being turned into a movie, set to break box office records when it opens on Valentines’ Day next year, there has been a huge surge in middle aged women who are producing and self-publishing their own novels.

EL James has well and truly brought female authors to the forefront with her controversial novels, and while some may argue about the quality of the writing and the relevance of her subjects, we cannot argue with the fact that her self-publishing success brought the industry as a whole into pole position in the publishing industry as a whole. An unknown author until Fifty Shades was published; EL James has given authors – male or female; published or not – hope that no matter what your age, gender, religion, political stance and subject matter, it is possible to break into the world of publishing.

In fact, James has done more than just this, as academic research has recently shown that it is middle aged and well educated women who are currently dominating the growing e-publishing market. Taking their inspiration from the Fifty Shades trilogy or not, the fact that this book exists is surely to thank for their emergence and their popularity in the market.

According to Alison Baverstock, an associate professor in publishing at Kingston University in Surrey said that her research showed a clear split between the genders that currently have a self-published eBook on the market. That split is 65% to women and 35% to men, while almost two thirds of all self-published authors are sitting in the middle aged category between 41 and 60. Half of all of these self-publishers in are full time employment, while 32% of them have at least one degree, with almost half of those authors having a higher degree.

Baverstock said that the self-publishing industry of late has shown a very high level of satisfaction in authors, rather than the air of desperation that perhaps has been felt throughout the industry in the past. This idea leads to the suggestion that self-publishing is no longer just a route into the market for those who seek a professional publisher, but actually a way of life for those authors who feel that they know their market better than a publisher. In fact, self-publishing is not necessarily a back-up choice for authors. Gordon Wide, a senior literary agent at Curtis Brown, agreed with the points made from Baverstock’s research and said that “authors may wish to remain self-published; there are many routes to market.”

After EL James’ success, here is hoping that we hear many more success stories come out of the market, and that we are able to grow our industry even further.

For better or for worse: eReaders are changing our reading habits

Technological change has taken over many aspects of our lives over recent years, and with radical changes affecting television, music and film industries it is little surprise that the publishing industry has also seen some big changes. eBooks are well and truly on their way to taking over print books, and while that may never actually happen, those choosing eBooks over printed books are a lot more in population these days than they used to be.

However, the rise in popularity of eBooks is changing consumers’ reading habits as quickly as the industry’s technology is changing. And the faster that technology changes, the faster our reading habits become. The ultimate question is: are eBooks making our reading habits unhealthy? Or are we simply speeding up to keep up with the demands of our faster paced lifestyles?

Paper books offer an opportunity for readers to read their chosen prose slowly, taking in all of the important parts and savouring the deliciously well-written literature. It is comparable to eating nutritious food slowly in order to take in all of the nutrients and enjoy the taste of the food sufficiently. On the other hand, an eBook is traditionally read a lot quicker and in a more superficial way – readers will scan pages and not take in all of the details in order to get through it faster, and as opposed to paper books it is much harder to flick back through the pages in order to double check some information that the reader has missed.

Many readers might say that their main purpose of reading in pleasure, perhaps it is for information, or perhaps it is for enjoyment. One of the most important purposes of reading, however, is to think, and those that read regularly on an eReader move along much more briskly than they would do if they read a paper book, leaving no time to linger and think as they go. eBooks, in this case, will defeat their own purpose; deep thinking, lingering and slow reading do not mix with technology.

eBook sales have recently plateaued, but sales have not begun to decrease, suggesting that those fans of digital books are not losing interest, despite the change in their reading habits. Some might suggest that in order for eBooks to retain their popularity, the way that they are read will have to become more thoughtful, more social and perhaps even more innovative. The future is bright for eBooks, but the changing reader habits that we have discussed may also mean that the future will stay bright for paper books.

Print books are making a comeback as it seems eBooks are not taking over after all

Ever since eBooks began gaining in popularity, fans of print books have worried that they would soon see the death of their beloved hard and paper bound novels. Libraries have struggled to cope with the decrease in demand for print books, and some have declared that the introduction of digital books is changing the publishing industry forever.

However, according to recent figures, sales of print books have actually overtaken sales of their digital counterparts and in the first half of this year more print books were sold that eBooks. Numbers revealed by Nielson Books & Consumer showed that eBooks took up only 23 percent of sales in the industry for the first six months of 2014, while hardcover books made up 25 percent and paperbacks were 42 percent of book sales.

Not only did print books as a whole overtake eBook sales, but both hardbound and paperbound books sold more separately than eBooks did. Some might wonder whether this is showing a slowing in the popularity of eBooks, or whether those that turned to digital books in the first place have come full circle and gone back towards the traditional.

Bloomsbury publishers have agreed with the latest figures that the popularity of eBooks has ceased to grow in popularity; however they have insisted that this doesn’t mean that the popularity is on the decline. Publishers have suggested that eBooks have simply hit their peak, at least for now, and Richard Charkin, the managing director of adult books at Bloomsbury, has said that “the US market is certainly reporting a plateau.”

Mr Charkin also added that some countries with more emerging markets have been slow to warm up to the idea of e-readers and the concept of eBooks, but he did insist that it is likely that these markets will grow, thus putting a stop to the plateau that we are currently seeing. “Not for a moment do I think this is the top of the market,” he said as he insisted that we are by no means seeing the end of eBooks in our future.

Fans of print books believe that we are also nowhere near seeing the end of reading our favourite novels on paper, with author Stephen King saying that he believes print books have a long and bright future ahead of them. “I think books are going to be there for a long, long time to come,” he said, commenting on the popularity of books, both print and digital.

Considering the latest figures and comments retrieved from those within the industry, hope amongst those who are lovers of print as well as writers of print will be wondering whether it is time for them to breathe a sigh of relief. If these developments continue, then those wondering if we are close to seeing the death of print books will soon be proved very, very wrong.