Bookselling Magic

It seems that almost every week I am running into a new story about an author that has bypassed traditional publishing and is now making big money selling their books as ebooks.

First there was J.A. Konrath, a self-published author of mystery novels. He placed his books for sale on Amazon’s Kindle store and reportedly began making thousands of dollars a month from sales.

Then came Amanda Hocking. A writer of paranormal romance, Amanda could not find a publisher to take on her books. She decided to publish them herself via the Kindle store and ended up making over $1 million before being offered a lucrative contract from a large publishing house.

Next, Elisa Lorello showed up on the scene. Elisa is a teacher in North Carolina. After multiple rejections from publishers, she decided to publish her first novel as an ebook for the Kindle. Elisa sold over 52,000 copies of her novel on Kindle.

Then, Nyree Belleville started having success. Under the pen name Bella Andre, Nyree writes steamy romances. After her publisher dropped her, she began to self-publish her novels for the Kindle on Amazon. In a short time, she was making thousands of dollars a month selling her ebooks.

The list could go on. Authors who are self-publishing start seeing dollar signs when they read these stories. Writers begin thinking, “Why not take the same route with my books?”

Let me share some words of caution with you.

Smashwords, an ebook publishing and distribution platform for ebook authors, publishers and readers, keeps statistics of their book sales. With 16,000 authors and 40,000 titles, Smashwords statistics have a story to tell.

Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, says, “The overwhelming number of self-publishing digital authors end up in the same place as their print counterparts: oblivion.”

Harsh words, but the statistics prove them. Less than 50 authors on Smashwords are making more than $50,000 per year. The site has a lot of authors who don’t sell a single book.

eBook sales follow the typical power curve. A very few sell a whole lot and a whole lot sell only a few.

There is nothing magic about ebooks or Kindle. Book selling remains the same whether books are in print or digital form. It takes great writing, good marketing, and the right pricing to sell books.

My advice is to follow your heart, seek God, and allow Him to be your co-publisher.


1 thought on “Bookselling Magic

  1. I believe the real value of the new on-demand paradigm for Christian authors is the new ability to get your books out there and see what the Lord blesses. Of course, this is coupled with the belief that book sales, like everything else in the believer’s walk of faith is the direct result of the Lord’s actions on our behalf. Outside of the kingdom, the same rules apply but there is simply a different power source.

    Now that I can get me books out there, I can gradually build my ministry of writing by following the Lord’s blessing. It is another way to hear from Him as I walk the path of using the creativity He gave me.

    One interesting thing is that my Christian books do not sell well at all on Smashwords. I find that curious. They sell best on iBooks which is also curious. My books on font design and on-demand publishing do best on Amazon and Lulu. It’s fun to watch the whole thing play out.


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