The Lunara Series

Friday, December 9, 2011

Indie Authors are going to do it!

What publishing house is going to sell "quality" books for $2.99 or less? None of them are. They can't, they have too much overhead. We, the independent authors, are going to take over the publishing industry by 2020.
The following is what I think about and what motivates me to promote my Lunara series.
With the high quality of the self-publishing suites at Amazon, we have all of the tools needed to create the same book as a publishing house. eBooks, which overtook printed book this year, are so cheap and so convenient. The next generation of readers on their eReaders will propel eBook sales to over 80% of the market by 2020. That means that everyone will be searching for book collections on their kindles, nook, or iPads. They will be searching online or via eReader. Publishing houses, who can't lower prices due to overhead and margins (someone has to pay for the marketers, the editors, the coffee guy, and the CEO), are faced with an impossible task of competing with us, the indie author, who can provide interactive experiences with their readers through blogs, email, and twitter accounts (try getting Stephan King to reply to an email, whereas John Locke replies to everyone), and best of all, indie authors can provide a $.99 cent book like I do with my Lunara series and hundreds of other authors have low priced books too, Season Of The Harvest by Michael Hicks, The Concordances of the Red Serpent  by William Meikle, and The Rings of Alathea by Dan Moore to name a few.
Apple started this trend for us. Apps are 99 cents (Angry birds, Scrabble, or Monopoly). Now, everyone expects their apps and eBooks to be 99 cents...the publishing houses can't do it. We can! As a group, indie authors have enough momentum to take over 75% of eBook sales by 2020. How can anyone expect to pay $7.99 for an eBook? So many are $.99. Are those books 8x better? Because our books aren't 8x worse. (Thanks John Locke for that perspective)
As Indie authors, we have an opportunity to setup a business plan for each of us that can propel us to the levels of one million eBooks sold. Customers will stop paying $7.99 for eBooks when they realize that a $.99 cent book is just as good or better. Now mind you, the readers will still spend the $7.99, but this time, they will purchase 8 eBooks from perhaps 8 different authors. That is how we get multiple "Million Sale" indie authors. We have an opportunity to overthrow the publishing houses and provide hundreds of "Million Sale" indie authors by 2020 or sooner. Right now, there are only a few (two?) one million sales indie authors, but by 2020, there will be hundreds because of the price point we can provide. Amazon will be forced to showcase our books in the best seller ranks and push the publishing houses down the list.
Another reason that Indie authors have a huge advantage, sampling downloads. With two clicks, you can have a sample of a $7.99 publishing house book and a $.99 Indie book, you can read both samples and pick the one to buy. All things being equal, I would purchase the $.99 book and so would 99% of the population. I know the quality that indie authors provide. I have read hundreds of them. We aren't hacks. We are WRITERS! We have the passion because we struggle for the love of our books.
I am just starting out in this world of promoting my Lunara series, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I encourage everyone else to see it too. I know it sucks to see low sales or the disrespect from a publishing house that doesn't even reply. But this is our opportunity to take over an industry. A band of rebels against the empire. Stick with it! We are just beginning the eReader boom!
Visit kindle direct publishing ( or many other suites to start publishing today!
Contact me at and I can help set up your word doc for eBook conversion. I have done a bunch.


  1. To get the same quality, you still have to pay an independent editor. It's not the grammar correction but the honest assessment of the novel story line and where it can be improved. It really takes a disinterested third party who has extensive experience to tell you that. Critique partners are not good enough, even if they are well published. Still, you can sell cheaper than the big six, though you would have to sell a lot at the $0.99 price point to be meaningful.

  2. Hmm. Be careful what you wish for.

    No one is denying that the major houses are facing serious challenges and will continue to do so over the next few yeares. Also, no one is denying that Amazon and others are currently offering very attractive terms to indie authors which enable the aggressive pricing you mention.

    Your argument falls down, however, in two important respects. First, however good a writer an indie author may be, they can't compete with professional designers who are working their socks off right now in the major houses to create e-reading experiences for which people will want to pay $7.99 and more. You can debate that, if you like. But I've seen some of the stuff in the design pipeline, and it knocks everything ever produced by any indie or small press publisher you care to name into a thoroughly cocked hat. The big guns are coming. Seriously. Premium content will always find an audience. It's been free to watch films on TV for more than half a century, but cinemas are still trundling on.

    Second, you make the fatal mistake of assuming that just because Amazon and others are currently offering attractive terms to indie authors, that this will always be the case. At the moment e-readers are in their infancy and the platforms are clamouring for content and market share. The 70% royalty rates you're enjoying now will not exist in five years time. I'm absolutely certain of that.

    These are purely business arguments, before you even start to get into the well-rehearsed lines about the importance of a good editor, marketing strategy, literary agent, etc.

    We live in exciting and scary times for the publishing industry, but never underestimate the resilience of companies who've been putting out books for centuries. They're very good at it.

    1. To address your two points:
      1) You assume people want to pay for additional features and not just the meat and potatoes of a book. DVD sales are plummeting because of netflix, which only offers the rental copy these days. Hardly anyone cares about the cool features. I would give it about 10% of readers would want to pay for extra features.
      2) I don't get 70% from amazon. I get 35%. An author gets 70% if you put your book in the upper range of prices. 35% will be sustainable IMO.

      The best part about the USA and the internet, anyone can be successful in it.

    2. 1) That doesn't address my point at all. You can't divorce good design from the 'meat and potatoes' of a book, however much it suits your agenda. Your argument about DVD sales is irrelevant - I'm not talking about 'extra features', I'm talking about design, editorial, marketing. You're writing off major publishers based on the status quo, but I'm telling you the status quo will change.

      2) If you think 35% is sustainable, then I'm sure Amazon will base their future royalty rates on your opinion.

      Interesting non-sequitur to end with, and how lovely for both the USA and the internet for being so egalitarian. Of course the 'anyone' that can be successful does by extension include massive publishing houses with marketing budgets and design departments.

      It's lovely that you're so bullish about the prospects of indie authors, but it's far too early to count major publishers out of the game.

  3. I must agree with the comments Andrew Lawston makes above; the idea of indies taking over the publishing industry by 2020 seems to me not to take into account all of the facts. Whichever way you look at it (and I'm a self-publishing author, by the way), the mainstreams are not going to give up without a fight. If a name publishing house shouts about a new literary talent, it will get acres of exposure in the mainstream press, and readers will find out about it. That's the sort of publicity most of us indies can only dream of (and it won't change anytime soon, either).
    In addition, among the book-buying public indie books have too bad a reputation for being, well, crap. Indies are themselves undermining their situation by going around and giving each other's books 5-star reviews no matter how badly written and edited they are. So the unwary reader buys one, reads and deletes it in disgust, realising that all the reviews were lies, and thereafter sticks to paying more for mainstream books that the reader knows will at least be of passable quality.
    It's all frighteningly dynamic, and it could go either way, but IMO there are too many indies who can't write supporting too many other indies who also can't write, and once readers who appreciate good English get wise, it's not going to keep going the way of indies.

    1. Thanks Chris. I've been a self published author myself in the past (reasonable success with my MPhil thesis on Lulu, though I deleted it long ago), and will hopefully be jumping into it again with an anthology in the very near future. But I also work as publishing manager for a finance-related membership association, go to a lot of industry events, and have friends and family who work for major publishers. The industry has been slow to react to the pace of change, as industries often are, but they ARE reacting.

      There is blisteringly good indie work out there, but you're right, there's also a lot of junk, and the junk puts a lot of punters off ever putting their toe in the water. A book from a professional publisher brings a guarantee of, if nothing else, accurate English. I've been asked to review friends' e-books and been happy to give 4 star reviews to some... the ones I didn't like I just pretended I was too busy to write a review (I'm a coward).

  4. I doubt indie authors will take over the industry and edge out publishers--but for the first time, self publishing is financially sustainable. I think the paradigm shift is one from publishing houses being the gatekeepers of the industry to publishing houses being a showcase of solid work. Some of the best authors will still be published--but now some of the best authors will be indie, and will choose to stay that way. There will always be people who will trust a publisher's critical decisions (I'm a sucker for anything Tor puts out), but now there is a serious market for people who don't have that backing. I think that is here to stay.