Is Your Book Available in More Than One Format?

Do you know the answers to these questions?

  • Who reads the most books overall?
  • Who reads the most ebooks?
  • Who listens to audiobooks the most?

College graduates read books in a variety of formats

These three questions all have the same answer. The answer is:

College Graduates—especially those making more than $75,000 per year and living in an urban or suburban environment.

The Pew Research Center’s most recent survey found that adults with a bachelor’s or advanced degree are more likely to be book readers than those who have only attended some college, high school graduates, and those with less than a high school education. And adults ages 18 to 29 are more likely to read books than those 65 and older.

college graduates read in a variety of formats

One interesting takeaway from this study is that well over one-third of college graduates consume books in digital and audiobook format. Those who read the most consume books in multiple formats: print, digital, and audio.

As an independent author or small publisher, this means that you should be making your books available for purchase in at least two, if not all three, of these formats. The more choices customers have, the more likely they will find your book in their preferred format, increasing your sales.

For many independent authors and small publishers, the price of audiobooks is too steep for their budget. Both ACX and Findaway Voices both offer more affordable audiobook production through royalty sharing with a narrator so that authors pay less upfront costs to produce an audiobook.

As artificial intelligence (AI) technology continues to improve, I believe that within a few years, production of audiobooks will be as affordable as production of print books is currently. I think that text to speech programs will evolve to sound just like a human reading, making audiobook production affordable for everyone.

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Photo courtesy of Joseph Redfield.

Global eBook Sales are Within Your Reach

Imagine that someone in China or South Africa is reading your book. The good news is that it is possible. With ebooks, selling books internationally is easy.

Did you know that with a click of a button, you can sell your ebook in multiple countries?

  • Amazon will sell your ebook in 12 countries.
  • Kobo ebook stores sell your ebook in 36 countries.
  • Apple eBook store sells to over 40 countries.

Author Earnings recently completed a report on ebook sales in the top five English-language countries: United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Below is a chart that shows the annual ebook sales broken down by country.

Author Earnings study revealed some interesting points. Here are three of the salient ones:

  • Amazon is the majority retailer in just about every market.
  • Taken all together, Amazon accounts for more than 80% of English-language ebook purchases, Apple another 10%, Kobo 2% and Nook 3%.
  • Self-published indie authors are verifiably capturing at least 24% to 34% of all ebook sales in each of the five English-language markets.

Once again, the news is that Amazon dominants book sales in English-speaking countries. However, it is important to remember that Amazon is not the only ebook store.

Many independently published authors publish exclusively with Amazon. If you publish exclusively with Amazon, you might be missing out on sales both in the United States and worldwide. Following are three reasons NOT to have your ebook exclusive to Amazon:

  1. You are missing out on offering your book for sale in at least 28 countries.
  2. You are missing a potential 20% more sales for your book.
  3. You reduce the impact of external marketing and sales for your book as everyone does not purchase books via Amazon.

Don’t shortchange yourself. While it is easy to publish a book on Amazon, remember Amazon is not the only player in the ebook sales industry. If you want to sell more books, you need broader distribution. Make sure your ebooks are listed in Kobo and in the Apple store as well as in all the ebook retailers. You can do this by making your ebook available for distribution through one of the following ebook distributors:

If you have already published your ebook on Amazon, that’s okay. You can still use Smashwords or IngramSpark for broader distribution. Both services will respect your existing relationship with Amazon.

Don’t miss out on worldwide sales for your ebooks. Indie published ebook sales continue to grow. Your book sales will benefit from the exposure wider distribution brings.

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Photo courtesy of Slava Bowman

Promote Your Books to English-Speaking Countries

According to Maps of the World, the top ten English-speaking countries in the world include India, Pakistan, Philippines, and Nigeria.

english-speaking-countries

One of the blessings of digital books is that they allow you to sell your English-language books around the world without having to ship print books internationally and deal with customs. With ebooks, you can sell your English-language books in any country where Kobo, Amazon, and other ebook stores have a presence.

Of course, it is difficult to sell books without some marketing. Thankfully, the Internet allows you to connect with English-speaking people around the world. Social media is a great place to connect with English speakers around the world.

Consider the Philippines. Over 92% of the population speaks English. More than 47% of online Filipinos use the Internet. Of those using the Internet, 83% have accounts on social media sites with Facebook being the most used social media platform.

If you are marketing your books to English-speakers around the world, one great tool you can use is Christianity Today’s report listing the favorite Bible verses for 88 different countries. Through measuring how often a verse was highlighted, shared, and bookmarked in the YouVersion Bible App, Christianity Today developed the list.

bible-verse-2

The list indicates that the favorite Bible verse for Filipinos (and Nigerians) in 2016 was:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Interestingly, the favorite Bible verse for India—another large English-speaking country—was:

“In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing: ‘This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: ‘”The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up, and may the Lord their God be with them.”‘” 2 Chronicles 36:22-23

You can view the complete list online at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2017/january/favorite-bible-verses-88-nations-youversion-2016.html.

Knowing what verses are popular in which countries can help you effectively reach people in that country. Using the favorite Bible verse for English speakers in a country you are targeting in your social media posts and online interactions can draw these people to your message.

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Photo courtesy of Hope House Press

Paper is Not Going Away

Recently the Association of American Publishers (AAP) released the sales numbers for books sold for the 2015 calendar year. Overall, book sales were up 0.8 percent ($7.2 billion in 2015 sales compared with $7.1 billion in 2014 sales)—good news for publishers and authors.

AAP

The AAP reported that for 2015, ebook sales declined. In fact, ebook sales declined to pre-2012 levels. In 2012, overall ebook sales were $1.5 billion. In 2015, ebook sales were $1.4 billion.

AAP’s report stated that most of the ebook sales loss was from the Children’s and Young Adult categories (down 43.3% from 2014). This seems to indicate that these younger generations continue to hang on to print reading over digital reading. They may also be buying fewer books as the Children’s and Young Adult category overall sales (both print and ebook combined) were down 3.2% in 2015 from 2014.

Even among books in the Adult category, ebook sales declined. The report showed that for Adult books in 2015, downloadable Audiobooks was up 38.9% and paperback was up 16.2%; however, eBooks sales declined 9.5%.

If you produce print books, take heart. People are still buying print books. In fact, they are buying about four times more print books than digital books.

I believe paper is here to stay. This humorous video testifies to this fact.

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What You Need to Know About Selling eBooks

Sales of ebooks from major publishers have declined since 2014. At their high, ebooks accounted for about 30% of all book sales. Now they have settled somewhere around 25% of book sales. That means that approximately every one out of four books purchased is an ebook.

selling ebooks

Ebooks are an integral part of a good book sales strategy. As such, authors and publishers should know what drives ebook sales.

Smashwords, the largest self-publishing ebook platform, conducts a survey each year of their sales data to find nuggets of wisdom to pass on to authors and publishers to better understand the ebook market. Following are three takeaways from the most recent survey conducted by Smashwords on the books sold from its platform.

1. Fiction Dominates When it Comes to eBook Sales

More nonfiction books than fiction books are published each year. As a result, nonfiction has greater sales overall than fiction. However, when it comes to buying ebooks, fiction books have dominated this format since the beginning. Almost 90% of Smashwords book sales are fiction books. Romance is the largest seller amounting to half of all books sold by Smashwords.

2. Free Still Drives Discovery

Offering books for free to generate discovery has always been a tactic of authors. However, this practice has grown to a new level with ebooks. Authors can offer a free copy of an ebook at no great personal expense. Many authors are using this tactic to become discovered. One study cited that if readers like what they read in a free book, they are 85% more likely to buy another book from the author.

Smashwords survey found that people do download ebooks when offered for free. On Smashwords, books offered for free get 41 times more downloads than books selling for any other price. Remember, offering a free book is meant to drive discovery, so for authors of single books, this practice does not work as well as for those offering a series (series can be offered in nonfiction books as well as fiction). Smashwords survey found that series books significantly outsell standalone books.

3. Pricing Sweet Spot for eBooks

One perennial question that authors face is: What to price a book? Price a book too high or too low and sales suffer. There is a pricing sweet spot in selling books. Smashwords survey revealed that for fiction ebooks, the price point that maximizes both unit downloads and earnings for authors is between $2.99 and $4.99.

You can view all the results from the Smashwords’ Survey on Slideshare.

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