I’m a baseball fan, more specifically a Colorado Rockies baseball fan. They had a disappointing year and it has been hard to be positive—but I still watch. Maybe that is the definition of a fan; even in bad years you root for your team. Baseball is a frustrating game to watch because it’s about failure. The top hitters in the league hit on average 30% of the time. That means 70% of the time they fail. That’s a lot of failure to observe over a course of the season.
Baseball and Indie authors share some attributes—mostly failure. “Around 12% of the top 20 books on Amazon are self-published. 12% is not much by any standard. It perfectly illustrates the hardest challenge for any indie writer: Marketing and book promotion! Very few succeed indeed.” This is a quote from a web site called kindleranker.
With the article quoted above there was a list of the most successful indie authors on Amazon and the number of bestsellers they have written. This is a strange list of either “not authors” or unknown names. So 12% of top selling books are by indie authors nobody heard of? This does seem odd. I randomly picked three to see what was going on.
The number one “indie author” is Dartan Creations with 171 top 20 sellers. This is obviously some sort of self-publishing group that turns our all kinds of mostly non-fiction books. The trick seems to be to list the author as Dartan Creations with co-authors, who no-doubt are the real authors. So Dartan Creations has many successful books but it represents multiple authors. No harm, no foul—but a little deceptive.
This was a common aspect of about half of the top ten indie authors; Book List Guru, Premise Content, Pretty Planner and others—they are not authors at all.
Number two on the list was also not an author “Jade Summer”—it’s a brand of adult coloring books. They even brand the books with what looks like an author’s name and positioned it on the cover to mimic where the author’s name would be. Is this illegal—no. Is it wrong—no, again. Maybe a little deceptive if you goal is to get on top 20 lists on Amazon based on authors. There is not a top 20 list based on “brands.”
The next one I picked was because it was the only name I recognized; Anton Chekhov. A dead Russian author was self-publishing? This was a little confusing in that for some books they are published by Random House but for others they appear to be self-published—and apparently they sell well. Don’t really know the details here but someone is messing with Amazon.
The only other name that I thought might be a real author was V Moua. This does appear (that doesn’t mean it is so) to be a real person with an odd name. He has written something like 170 children books and would appear to have significant sales. Looks like price is a factor.
So what does this mean and why should you, or me for that matter, care? What it means for sure is that fiction indie authors are very low on the list of best-selling authors. No doubt fiction mystery authors are even lower. Indie mystery writers are like baseball players; they fail a lot. However, baseball players are paid huge sum of money to fail—not so much writers.
Some of my blogs get to deep into the book business aspect of my life and may have little interest to most readers—sorry if that is the case. The most important aspect of the article from kindleranker was the comment that the hardest challenge for any indie writer is marketing and book promotion.
I spend as much time (or maybe more) on marketing and promotion as I do on writing. If you are thinking about writing you should be aware that success only comes from having a “great” book, or at least a “good” book and knowing how to market your book and yourself. There are probably more cases of having a “bad” book and having great knowledge about how to market and being successful than the other way around. So to be a successful indie author you need to know marketing, first and writing, second.
This goes against everything I learned when I was thinking about writing. The experts all said concentrate on writing, produce the best book you can and keep writing. So maybe if you have 170 great books that you can afford to sell at a $1.99 on Amazon you will reach some level of success? That sounds like a very narrow window for success.
There is a great joy in creating something from nothing. Take an idea and some months later it is a published book on Amazon. Maybe that is like hitting 30% of the time and calling it a success. As long as you’re doing as good as your competitors—it is success. Although I think I would prefer to be on the best seller list. Maybe next month? Or I could change my name to Jade Summer.
Thanks for being a reader!