Confirmed by Colbert: Amazon does rip off authors!

This blog post is an update to a story on my blog written over two years ago regarding the inaccuracy of Amazon’s reporting of sales to authors.  It seems that even authors published through traditional publishing, not just us Indie folks, have been affected.  Just ask Emmy award winning TV journalist Stephen Colbert!  Watch the video –>  Stephen Colbert Amazon vs Hachette

stephen colbert takes on Amazon

So let’s get this right, Amazon!

I have a list over over 150 authors who have contacted me regarding this subject. Story, after story, after story of Amazon and CreateSpace inaccurately reporting sales. I personally have experienced it with all three of my books loaded onto CreateSpace through our small press, AgeView. I have, as many of you do, copies of receipts from friends who have bought the books; screen shots of their verified purchases, yet the sales never showed up. And let’s not even begin to talk about Amazon’s “expanded distribution.”

What a joke!!! My award winning Flying Solo trilogy is in over twenty countries, but do you think I have ever seen a fraction of the sales through “expanded distribution” reporting? Hell no!  Don’t get me started!  Most recently, I have heard about Amazon’s fake book companies that “resell” your used book!

That is why many Indie writers, including the authors recently signed with AgeView, have decided to circumvent the dragon. We use Amazon only for what we have to. Afterall, over 50% of all book sales are through Amazon, so one really doesn’t have much choice. But any other stuff, like expanded distribution, goes through Lightning Source (which is part of Ingram) for print and BookBaby for ebooks. Forget the KDP rip off. Another Amazon scam.

So, thank you! Thank you! God bless you Stephen Colbert for posting your experiences and multiple disgruntlements with Amazon on TV to a very captive audience. Continue to shout about it from the roof tops. And when you are ready, contact us ! Our small coalition of Indie writers will band together for a class action lawsuit to take on the giant. Or at least tarnish them a little with mass media!

stephen colbert shoots Amazon the bird

Take that Amazon!  (photo courtesy of Comedy Central)

Please reblog this story everywhere. Facebook it. Google plus it!  And “link” it in! Maybe, just maybe the Associated Press or Oprah will pick up it. Add your email and comments to our list if this atrocity has happened to you. Because if you are an author, you know it has!

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Did you love or hate Catholic school? Meet saucy journalist and author Amy Gallagher

Those of us Baby Boomers who attended Catholic school all have some strong memories.  Some good, some not so good.  Take a look at this author interview with dynamic and talented journalist Amy Gallagher.  Amy has a knack for bringing young adult and childen’s issues to the forefront through creative humor.  She has been published in numerous journals involving healthcare and aviation.   In addition, she has published two children’s books on being the “odd child out” and learning the ABCs through eating health veggies!  She has recently joined alliance with the Indie Authors of AgeView Press.  Enjoy!

Amy Gallagher writer

Meet YA and Children’s author Amy Gallagher

What sparked off the idea of your books?
My original manuscript – which I’m still writing – Riley Patton, In Search of the Blarney Stone, a fiction set in Ireland. My Chapter 4 was basically a character analysis of Riley which I then brought to life to create Good Girl Gone Plaid.
Which character, if any, most resembles your personality?
Definitely Riley. I’ve always loved the name Riley for a girl. And Riley is just as inquisitive as I was growing up. I think it’s important to ask “why” even to grown ups which was frowned upon at home, school and church during my childhood. When children know why, they understand more and feel greater empathy. It’s a child development fundamental that needs to be properly nurtured. It’s also a teaching moment between adult and child.
Which character was the hardest to write and why?
Probably Riley’s dad. My own father died in 2003 when I was drafting the Riley Patton, In Search of the Blarney Stone. Chapter 4 was about Riley and I read it to my dad who absolutely loved the character and her shenanigans. My dad never knew alcohol would lead to death, and as he lay dying in the hospital over the course of three weeks, I read my manuscripts to him, as well as scriptures.
How do you plan/research your books? Well, that’s a tough one because I work full time as an English teacher and I also write freelance for nurse-related magazines. Planning and researching for my books happens when it happens. I’d love to do nothing but write my books, and that’s what I’m working toward…one day!
Good Girl Gone Plaid for YA

A YA coming of age story!

What are you working on at the moment? I’m drafting Good Girl Gone Blue, a non-fiction account of my life as a “Blue” wife – married to a police officer…ten years but the streets got the best of him, which led to his adultery, ultimate divorce, first ever foreclosure, etc. The foreword is written by a psychologist who worked for and with the Dallas Police Department for 20 years which is very insightful, validating and supportive. I’m also including actual police reports to highlight the realities of the life as a Blue and a Blue Wife. Blue as in the color of the uniform, and Blue as in the resulting depression that emanates in the life. I’ve also completed two children’s nutrition books: The Blue Apple and Johnny’s New Race Car.

Do you write for any websites?   I’ve written articles published on various web sites and newspapers: ADVANCE for Nurses Newsmagazine; Air Med & Rescue Magazine;Nurses Lounge; Nurse.com; Fort Worth Star Telegram; Burleson Crowley Connection Newspaper; Burleson Star Newspaper. In addition, I run an advocacy website for nurses called RNspiration.
Do you prefer to read paperbacks or ebooks?  Tell us why . . .
I need both. I think a balance of the two is important to the growth as a reader, writer and teacher. As a teacher, I continually poll my students [middle school and high school] about their preference, and invariably the results are always 50/50. I find that very interesting and telling about the future of paper. So many have predicted the death of paperbacks, but I believe otherwise.
Favorite book as a child and as an adult? As a child, my two favorite books were Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Black Beauty. As an adult, probably Anne Lamott’s books, notably the Blue Shoe.
Whom do you admire and why? I admire my 17 year old son Michael. That may sound trite since I’m his mother, but I admire his ability to adapt to the adult-level demands of teens today. He is a child of divorce, and has had to manage the “double life” like many children of divorce today [including my students], along with the unrealistic expectations of others to produce perfection daily. The freedom to “run be free” has been stolen from our teens. Families are broken, society delivers conflicting messages, our leaders lie, money talks. I don’t mean to sound negative; I’m not. I am a realist, a mother who has had to “fight the good fight” for and along side her son. He has overcome many challenges and yet remains so beautiful inside and out.

When you just feel different!

When you just feel different!

Name three people, dead or alive, you would invite to dinner. And of course, why? Jesus, Peter, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Amelia Earhart, my son Michael, my mother Shirley, Ghandi, my best friend from St. Peter’s Catholic School Mary, Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks, Ellen D. Why? Jesus for the obvious – He was the main character in the greatest story ever told! Peter, my elementary school was named after Peter, and throughout the book of Peter, the content address sobriety, salvation, suffering and serving. Peter was a pastor/shepherd and instructed how to deal with persecution from outside the church, false teachers, evildoers…all while stimulating Christian growth. I’ve always believed that if we aren’t growing, we’re dying. I’ve also been persecuted and have come to understand there are evildoers in this world, which I refused to belief as a little Catholic school girl. Churchill because he vehemently stated “We will NEVER surrender!” I love that! I fight my own personal “wars” at times, and yet this man was a Timex that kept on ticking. JFK because he was the first Catholic president, and I’d like to ask him who the shooter was. I’d also like to give him a piece of my mind about his multiple affairs. Earhart because I’ve been called “Amelia” a few times in my life, and I love flying – have also written for the aviation market, interviewed corporate pilots, flown in a private jet, flew a corporate jet simulator and a Blackhawk helicopter simulator. I’d like to ask her where she crashed…if she crashed, and what were her last thoughts. My son Michael because I love him and he has a brilliant mind and would thoroughly enjoy the experience. My mother because she would also enjoy the experience. Ghandi because he is the great teacher of simplicity/peace. My best friend Mary because we grew up together, and I considered her like a sister; we had so much fun together as kids. I would love to reconnect with her today but I do not know where she lives/works. Denzel because he is my favorite male actor and I find him very sexy. Tom Hanks is my second favorite actor, brilliant as well. Ellen D. because she is extremely authentic and incredibly funny which is a tough act to follow. She “bottom lines” to the truth which I appreciate as a journalist. Just the facts, mam.
Enjoy an exerpt from Good Girl Gone Plaid

Do Amazon and Createspace rip us off? The update.

It’s has been several months since first publishing and republishing the story about Amazon and Createspace failing to report accurate sales.  It’s absolutely evil.   Here is what has been learned.

It's almost evil!

It’s almost evil!

Hundreds of authors contacted me regarding the inability to see their sales, especially from expanded distribution channels.   The story has been blogged and tweeted.  One author, on the grounds she stay anonymous, as her book was just picked up by one of the “Big Six” and she feared be dropped, told me that over 500 of her books sales never showed.AgeView Press was contacted by the Vice-President of Customer Service at Createspace, George  X ecr@createspace.com  who explained that he takes customer concerns very personally.  He pulled up my account for my latest book SOLO VIETNAM.   Now, I know for a fact that since it was published, April 2013 that at least ten friends have ordered it from Barnes and Noble and other retailers, which should have shown up on CreateSpace’s records as expanded distribution orders from Ingram.   Mr. X kindly shared with me that I had shown one sale from Expanded Distribution.  When asked where that was from?  He was not allowed to provide me that information.    Yet, he could see it from Ingram.

It get’s better.  This time, I chose not to go with KDP select.  I never saw the increased sales following the 4,000 free downloads of my award winning novel FLYING SOLO.  Not even after hawking it with KindleMojo, World Literary Cafe and anywhere I could get the info out there.   Never saw them.   I sold very few books with KDP select.  So this time, I decided to expand my ebook availablity by having in in multiple formats, Kindle, Nook, ebook and ibook via BookBaby.

The jury is out.   Scads of folks have downloaded the book in various formats, many writing reviews.    Yet, to date I show zero sales on BookBaby.   Now, to be fair, their policy is that after a sale is made in particular month, it can take up to 60 days after that month closes for them to report the sales from their distribution.   Seriously people?    Sixty freaking days?  Dont’ we live in an electronic world?   Are these retailers like Kobo, Itunes ibook, Barnes and Noble using the Pony Express?

What the heck?   <—-please insert selected four letter vulgarity here!

As an Indie author and owner of a small press, I find this completely outrageous.  How can one possibly track the availability of their marketing?   Last year, I sold more books hawking them myself via book signings and the Texas Author Book program and made more for each copy.  The problem?   And authors, you will just love this one, the numbers of books you order yourself from CreateSpace do not count as sales!    Yet, when big publishers order 10,000 copies of a new release for distribution, that book is automatically put on the New York Times best sellers list!

Again. . . what the heck?  No that one deserves fuckity-fuck, fuck, FUCK!!!

The morale of the story?   Authors you better love what you do.   Have a great time writing your Indie books, going to book signings and enjoying your fifteen minutes of fame.    Because unless you are born under a lucky star, you are barely going to break even.

What’s sad is that because of the desire to become famous, small press and Indie press have seen waves of authors turn to the dark side.   Vampires were hot, so they wrote that.   Bondage was hotter with 50 Shades of Grey, so they wrote that.    There are literally hundreds of thousands of poorly written books which overshadow quality Indie writing that get’s literally lost in the sea of Indie wannabes.    What’s an author to do?

1.  Keep complaining to CreatSpace to show your immediate electronic and expanded distribution sales

2.  Join forces with reputable Independent Press organizations like Independent Author’s Network, Readers Alliance and Book Your Next Read #BYNR.

3.  Follow Jonathan Gunson‘s tips for Indie author success.   Follow book bloggers.   Make thoughtful posts on their blogs.  Gain their trust.   Then ask for a review.

4.  Before you tweet a random book, READ IT!   Dont recommend books that are off your brand, poorly written crap.   Save your tweets for worthy words.

5.  Keep your network of solid, proven Indie Authors tight.   Communicate and unite.   Network and promo them.   Attend worthy writer’s conferences like Lexicon. You’ll be amazed.   By paying it foward, your returns will be rich.

A lawyer, David Berke has contacted AgeView Press about joining forces with other authors to draw publicity to this dilemma.   The Associated Press contacted AgeView Press, but the journalist, Hillel Italie, HillelHItalie@ap.org  never followed up on the story.   It continues to happen.   To me and to many other authors.  Please email this reporter and let them know this is NOT an isolated incident.

We keep the faith.   Continue to try and stay positive in the marketplace.   And most of all. . . write because we love doing it!    Please feel free to SHARE and reblog this post.   Grassroots efforts really do result in action.   Just ask President Obama!

Back by popular demand! The Amazon Rip-off!

So many readers and authors have contacted me regarding Amazon and CreateSpace ripping them off with inaccurate reports of sales, that I was compelled to repost this blog.   The question remains. . . what do we as Indie Authors do about it?   Please, repost this article and tweet it.   Will someone from the press or AP ever pick it up?

I had one AP reporter contact me. . . she did not believe it was happening.  But if you are an author, you know it is.

Guest post by John. R. Clark, Managing Editor at AgeView Press

When AgeView Press Indie pubbed the book FLYING SOLO in May of 2012, the author, Jeanette Vaughan  immediately began tracking sales.   She heard from excited friends and family who immediately emailed when ordering their copies.  The first sales were off of Createspace’s e-store with the title ID number given to the author.   Then, through Amazon, a week later, when the book went live on the site.  Finally on Kindle, when the ebook format was completed.

ostrich head in the sand
“Where, oh where are my royalties?”

Initially, things appeared kosher.    People exclaiming that they had ordered the book, were showing up within a day or two on the electronic royalty reports with a reasaonable accuracy.    But by June and July, sales descrepencies were noted by the author from customers claiming that they had purchased the book directly through Amazon, not an Amazon affiliate.    Many of these sales were simply not listed.The author contacted Createspace customer support, who gave assurance that all sales were being accurately reported.   FLYING SOLO was now also on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select as well as expanded distribution channels, which included Amazon affiliates in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.    Sales were being reported to the author from readers and bookclubs in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

The first note of apparent discrepancy came when a dear friend of the author ordered three copies of the book from Amazon in June.    These books were ordered all at the same time, from Amazon.com direct.   Yet, that cluster of three sales was never posted as such.      Another instance in early July involved the same issue.    Again, a customer ordered three copies, yet no sales were trackable through Amazons channels for three sale purchased on the same day.

Meantime, the author was making public appearnances, being featured on blogs and radio, and rounding with booksignings.   During the months of June and July, no expanded distribution channel sales were posted on the royalty report, yet customers were emailing the author letting her know how much the book was being enjoyed overseas.   More than 15 five star reviews for the novel were posted on Amazon.

What should have shown as a surge of sales, as the book peaked, never appeared on the royalty reports.   The author was suspect.   She contacted Ingram directly, only to be informed that they were not supposed to reveal information to an author directly.  So, the Indie publisher, AgeView Press made the call.    Ingram showed 16 copies of the book ordered through their system total since May.   Those sales never showed on the June or July royalty report.    The author filed formal complaints with Createspace customer service, but received only canned letters in response explaining  that indeed there was an issue with reports in Expanded Distribution and it was being investigated.   Advice to author?  Please be patient.

By August, it was clear there were gross in accuracies.  The 30 copies ordered from Barnes and Noble never showed up.   Few if any sales were listed for August.    Yet the author had confirmation of over 4,000 copies in distribution worldwide.    The crowning blow came in September.   A plan was devised.    A friend, agreed to help with the investigation.   She ordered a copy of FLYING SOLO on September 7th, taking screen shots of her order and confirmation of payment directly from Amazon.    She printed out here receipt showing date and time of purchase.   The book arrived on September 13, to San Jose, California.   Photos were taken.   The sale was complete.    Copies of all screenshots and receipts were scanned and sent to the author.    By September 20th,  no sales were shown at all on Createspaces report.    Phoning Createspace, the author was informed that no sales were showing for Amazon for the month for that title.    It was time for outrage!     What had been suspected, had now been proven.  Not once, but twice!

Time to climb up the foodchain.  After many phonecalls and emails to Createspace, a Senior customer service “executive” phoned personally and stated he would investigate.    Talk about a wacky result.    Due to the print on demand status of Createspace books, sometimes they are one or two books ahead.   Thus even though your book was printed in one month, but sold in another, a royalty might actually show up in the prior month for that sale.   What???

No one expects to get rich off of writing a book.    Few and far between are the Oprah Bookclub golden orbs of success.    But how are authors to trust a system, happy to take their money for assisting to create and publish a book, which does not thoroughly, detail accurate sales?    Simply outrageous.   What options does that leave the Indie publishers?     How can they possibly track the success of their marketing efforts.   Is the publishing world doomed to be controlled by the big six?     Are small bookstores and Indie presses to be overrun by powershouse chains which offer the Indie published writer no turf?

How can the press or the author be sure those sales are accurate with no detail?   Rise up Indie authors!    Repost this story!    Tweet it, facebook it.    Make it go viral.   Print it and send it to your local newspaper and the Associated Press.   This abject fraud is outrageous and MUST STOP!

John R. Clark, Managing Editor, AgeView Press

Tantatlizing Tidbits: Glimpse of a page turner – excerpt from FLYING SOLO

Picture of cover for FLYING SOLO

“Sassy, sexy 1960s drama in the skies over New Orleans. A must read.”

Welcome to Tantalizing Tidbits.  

Just to tantalize your tastebuds a bit, I will be featuring excerpts from various Indie published books in a column called Tantalizing Tidbits. Based on your feedback, I will post more excerpts. If you like an excerpt, please click like, Tweet it and facebook a link to it. That is how I will gage which excerpts you like the best.

Here we go. . . the first excerpt if from FLYING SOLO. This is a fast, page turner set in 1960s New Orleans. The gist of the story? A socialite, suburban housewife is filled with the wanderlust. On a whim, she takes flying lessons behind her powerful husband’s back. He’s livid when he finds out. An ogre, he threatens her with divorce. Which, she is glad to get until she looses custody of her children. Newly in love and desperate to get them back, she steals a plane! And that’s just the first half of the story!

Enjoy a read from FLYING SOLO:

     Her exhilaration when flying was not without fear today. But she was thankful for her courage and commitment to her children. She thought about the Navy ideals that Steve had told her about. Honor, courage, and commitment. Well at least she had two out of three. For there was certainly no honor in her first totally independent act as a pilot; which was now stealing a plane.
     Nora started to see dwellings increasing in numbers within proximity. She realized she was on the outskirts of Hattiesburg. Pinebelt Regional was north of the city. She would be flying over Hattiesburg’s western edge. Almost there. Just a few more moments and she would be home free.
     She made contact with Pinebelt tower when she was ten miles out. “Pinebelt tower. Twin Piper, November six, niner, one, five, foxtrot. Three miles south west, requesting permission to land.”
     “Twin piper six, niner, one, five, foxtrot clear to land runway three six.”
Nora recognized from studying her maps that runway three six required her to bank left when in proximity of the airport. She received another radio communication from the tower, “Twin Piper, niner, one. Winds are currently zero four five, at twenty-five knots, gusting to thirty-five. Clear to land runway three six.” Nora knew that meant she would be getting quite a bit of crosswind as she attempted to land the plane.
     It suddenly began to dawn on her how risky this mission was. If she somehow failed her landing, and crashed the plane killing herself; her children would not only be motherless, but stranded in Baton Rouge. Although these thoughts began to cross her mind in flashes, she tried to put them out of her head.
     “Come on Jack. Help me out here,” calling on her father’s spirit in heaven or hell, she really wasn’t sure. She took a deep breath, put her head on straight and mentally focused on the task at hand. When she saw the airport come into view several miles out, she pulled back on the throttles and began a gentle descent. A few minutes later she could visually see the numbers of runway three six.
Nora was also starting to feel the wind. It was difficult to hold her course and her wings were rocking like a boat on rough seas. To maintain her heading required lots of rudder input to compensate. Unfortunately, she was sometimes over compensating causing her to overshoot her course in the other direction. She was struggling to keep the nose up. It was going to be the landing from hell.
     In fact, it was so bad, she radioed the tower. She was dropping too much speed and couldn’t pull the nose of the plane up to stabilize the plane. “Pinebelt tower, Piper one, five, foxtrot, going around.” She had to bail the landing.
     “Piper one, five, foxtrot, clear for the go around. You’re the only one in the area; clear to land at your discretion.”
     She pushed the throttles forward and leveled off flying just above the runway. Once she started gaining airspeed, she pulled back on the yoke and began her climb into the sky.
     Sweat was pouring from her brow. This time it was going to take more skill and concentration. She made a climbing bank to the west, leveling off at one thousand five hundred feet. She was now re-established in the traffic pattern ready to attempt another approach. “Come on Nora, you can do this. You have to do this,” she coached herself.
     Making a sign of the cross, she approached the runway again. This time she was much more aggressive in her rudder control to compensate for the gusting crosswind. She pointed the nose in the direction of the gusts as Steve had taught her. Keeping her hands steady, she kept the nose up and lowered her speed to begin her descent. “Steady, steady,” she said. One hundred fifty, one hundred, fifty, twenty five feet. She was at the end of the runway and boom. Nora was down. Smoothly. A huge sigh of relief came over her as she lowered her speed and applied her brakes. She was here. Thank God she was here.
     Nora taxied the plane towards the hangars for general aviation. She had rented a temporary space from Grayson Aviation. The mechanic planned to meet her. Pulling the plane safely into the hangar, Nora ticked off yet another step of her strategy. Once she parked, she closed up the Piper and applied the pad lock to the outside door of the building.
     “Would you like us to hold the key for you here, Miss Broussard?” the mechanic asked her.
     “No, thank you. I will hold onto them. I appreciate the offer, but I know that the co-owner will be anxious to get them.” Nora then took off her glasses and baseball cap. It felt good to shake out her hair. Despite it being December, it was drenched with sweat. She walked from the FBO over to the general terminal. It would be another hour or so before Charlene arrived, so Nora ordered a Coca-cola and took a seat in the bar to relax.
She couldn’t help but watch the clock, wondering how Charlene was making it up Highway 11. Her friend had quite a lead foot; she hoped she wouldn’t be pulled over by the Mississippi Highway Patrol. Nora had given a detailed map to Charlene on how to find the airport.
     It was almost three o’clock and Charlene’s Caddy was nowhere to be found. Nora got up and walked outside the terminal to look for her. She didn’t want to appear like a loiterer in the terminal and she couldn’t drink too many Coca-colas due to the baby. The caffeine and sugar was already making the baby kick incessantly.
     Nora rubbed her tummy. “I wonder if you will be born with the spirit of Jack Broussard?” she questioned the life inside. Nora felt that although her recent actions were unlawful and bit dodgy, her father would be proud that she was a fighter.
A flash of baby blue rounded the corner, tires screeching. Charlene! The Cadillac pulled up to the curb. “Good golly miss molly! I thought you would never get here,” a relieved Nora exclaimed.
     “Well, heck sister. I had my eyes so glued on that detailed map that I missed a damned turn with all that construction. God, I need a drink.”
     “No time for that, we have to get back on the road and back to Baton Rouge. Especially before we hit rush hour traffic.” At this point, it looked like they might just make it.
     “Nora Jean, I’m at least going through the Dairy Mart drive-thru to get a coke float. This girl’s gotta have some sugar. I’m plum nearly wore out.”
     “Here, move over. I’ll drive then. And yes, I’ll stop at Dairy Mart.”
     “So, how was it?” Charlene had to get all the details.
     “Nerve wracking. But I made it.”
     They hugged and gave a big “yee-haw” out the windows of the Cadillac. Nora could breathe a sigh of relief. Now all that was left was to get back to her kids and call Frank. Devilish delight danced in her eyes as she imagined his face realizing his plane was gone.

So, there you go.  A tantalizing taste of what can be found in the novel FLYING SOLO.   If you liked this excerpt, please let me know by sharing it below with one of the share buttons.  Tweet itFacebook it.   Link others back.   You can purchase this book from AgeView Press if you would like a signed copy.   Or download it on Kindle for free as an Amazon Prime member.    Just $2.99 on Kindle purchase.    Also available in print via Amazon.  

Be looking forward to excerpt #2.   Again, if you like it, please share it!  Let’s get this party started.

Wanna get published in 2013? Here are some words of wisdom!

Bookmaze

Brazilian artists Marcos Saboya and Gualter Pupo’s BookMaze

In 2012, Indie publishing soared.  Recently, a fantastic website for the how to’s on self publishing surfaced from cyberspace.   You, as a writer or wanna be writer should take a look.  Marilyn and Tom Ross run the website Self Publishing Resources.   It is chocker-block full of information regarding the world of Indie Publishing.   A one stop shop.   They have truly done their homework.

Take some time and read through the stats posted from one of their blog articles.   Some of the information you may have heard before, but at year end, it is helpful to review.    The stats are both staggering, yet motivational.   It is important before beginning any journey, that you have the correct information to keep you from running amuck down rabbit trails.

Many thanks to Marilyn and Tom Ross for their outstanding collection of this data.   Enjoy!

Excerpt from Self Publishing Resources a blog by Marilyn and Tom Ross:

  • The New York Times reported that “According to a recent survey, 81 percent of people feel that they have a book in them…and should write it.” If you do the math, that represents over 200 million people in the U.S. who want to write a book in their lifetime! No wonder self-publishing is thriving as never before!
  • A new survey found that 23 percent of readers polled have visited an author’s web site, while only 18 percent have gone to a publisher’s site. The survey, conducted by advertising firm Spier New York, surveyed 813 readers, 35 percent of whom were under 35 years old. The survey also found that 50 percent of those queried had purchased a book as a gift within the past year. Online purchases represented 28 percent of books bought, while 89 percent came from a brick-and-mortar retailer.
  • USA Today has added a searchable database of 10 years of bestseller data. You can find it on the page where their weekly bestseller list is posted. A key discovery: the all time best-selling writing/reference guide in the United States is The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. (Note that it was originally a self-published book!)
  • Consumers in the Northeast spend the most on reading materials, while spending is the lowest in the South.
  • Sales of religious paperback books represent a significant market share in today’s publishing arena. The new gospel on book sales has spiritual and religious titles crossing over into mainstream bookstores and taking upwards of 7 percent of all book sales. The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren for instance, has sold over 22 million copies. And this is not a New York phenomena: the publishers, agents, and authors are primarily a whole different group than the Big Apple players.
  • There is a new concept, “wag the long tail,” which means if you rack up enough small sales, especially consumer sales on the Internet, it will add up to big profits in the long run. Technology is turning mass markets into millions of niches. Independent presses, self-publishers, and authors can sell effectively into these micromarkets. This bodes well for new and mid-list authors, not to mention creative-minded smaller presses.
  • Blogs can lead to books. A blog is a great place to flesh out ideas, get reader feedback, and sometimes catch the attention of an agent or publisher.
  • The ratio of customers to bookstores is highest in Nevada, Texas, and Mississippi.
  • Statistics provided by publishers to the Association of American Publishers revealed that net sales in February 2006 were at $358.4 million, up 12.3 percent over the same period in 2005. Genre leaders were higher education and adult mass market paperback.
  • About 20 percent of online sales are of titles not available in traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Projections are this figure will soon reach a third of all book sales.
  • Many famous authors and their books were rejected multiple times. Publishers turned down Richard Bach’s Johnathan Livingston Seagull no less than 140 times; Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind received 38 “no’s,” while Stephen King’s Carrie was turned down 30 times. J. K. Rowling’s original work was pooh-poohed by 12 publishers…guess who’s kicking themselves now that they passed on Harry Potter? And E. E. Cummings first work—The Enormous Room, now considered a masterpiece—was ultimately self-published…and dedicated to the 15 publishers who rejected it.
  • What element of a book is the most important? Seventy-five percent of 300 booksellers surveyed (half from independent bookstores and half from chains) identified the look and design of the book cover as the most important component. They agreed that the jacket is prime real estate for promoting a book. Find a great cover designer.
  • Speaking of promoting, niche magazines, which focus on a single topic, are becoming increasingly popular. This trend to specialization — everything from magazines on poker playing to horse people, from interior design and decor to wedding titles, from dog magazines to golf periodicals — provide targeted opportunities for promoting books on these topics.
  • It is good that these fragmented magazines exist. Book review column inches in newspapers have dropped by 20 to 50 percent.
  • University presses are rebounding. They increased their title input to 14,484 (up by 6.3 percent) in 2004, an all-time high. The growth engines were history, biography, and law, which represented 55 percent of the increase. A Princeton University Press title even topped the New York Timesnonfiction best-seller list.
  • From 8,000 to 11,000 new publishers enter the field every year; they are mostly self-publishers.
  • There are about 1.5 million books in print at any one time in the United States.
  • Bookstore sales by month would surprise the average consumer. You probably think December is the high month. Yet the big bounce is in January and again in August and September when university sales are made. The lowest month is April with only $0.987 billion in sales.
  • Some 300 to 400 mid-sized publishers exist.
  • 78 percent of titles brought out come from a small press or self-publisher.
  • California is the stronghold of small presses with approximately six times the number located elsewhere. Colorado and Minnesota also have large independent and self-publishing communities.
  • On the average a bookstore browser will spend eight seconds looking at the front cover and 15 seconds scanning the back cover.
  • The size of the small press movement is estimated to be $13 billion to $17 billion a year, as opposed to trade publishers who are responsible for bringing in $26 billion.
  • Nonfiction typically outsells fiction by two to one. However, at least 20 percent more fiction is being published these days via the Internet and (POD) Print on Demand.
  • Interest in poetry and drama has grown by more than 33 percent since 1992.
  • The average number of copies sold per title of a POD company that printed 10,000 different titles: 75 books.
  • One book per year is produced in America for every 2,336 people— in contrast to one for every 545 individuals in the U.K. Other countries ahead of the U.S. on a per capita basis are Canada (577), New Zealand (779), and Australia (2,041).
  • A poll of 2,700 U.S. Internet users, representing about 100 million U.S. Internet users, indicates that about 8 million unpublished novels and 17 million unpublished how-to books have been written by that Internet-using population alone.
  • Women buy 68 percent of all books sold.
  • Most readers do not get past page 18 in a book they have purchased.
  • 52 percent of all books are not sold in bookstores! They are merchandised via mail order, online, in discount or warehouse stores, through book clubs, in nontraditional retail outlets, etc.
  • 64 percent of book buyers say a book’s being on a bestseller list is not important.
  • The #1 nonfiction bestseller for 2001 was the Prayer of Jabez, exceeding 8 million copies. Self Matters was #1 on the 2002 list with a mere 1,350,000 copies sold. John Grisham’s The Summonstopped the fiction list with 2,625,000 copies. The best-selling trade paperback during 2002 was, of all things, a cookbook: Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook. How-tos, memoirs, and religion were also strong sellers.
  • Parables, short tales of fiction that teach a life lesson, have many avid fans that drive them onto bestseller lists. One of the most recent is Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, MD. Dr. Johnson began his career as a self published author
  • Bookstores are famous for returning books to publishers. The industry return rate is typically 36 percent for hardcovers and 25 percent for softcovers.
  • It takes an average of 475 hours to write a novel. Fiction is considered successful if it sells 5,000 copies. Writing a nonfiction book requires about 725 hours. A nonfiction book is deemed successful when it reaches 7,500 copies sold.
  • The largest advance ever paid for a self-published book? A whopping $4.125 million. Simon & Schuster paid that for Richard Paul Evans’s The Christmas Box.                

We have researched a multitude of sites and publications to pull these facts together for you. They include the ISBN agency, Harris Interactive poll, Book Industry Study Group, Bookwire.com, Seybold conference, IBPA, the American Association of Publishers, Authors Guild, Lulu.com, Jupiter Media Matrix, parapublishing.com, Foreword magazine, Department of Commerce, Publishers Weekly, various news releases, Books in Print, R.R. Bowker, Forrester Research, Morris Rosenthal, Romance Writers of America, Shelf Awareness, U.S. News & World Report, Poets and Writers, M. J. Rose, Borders, and SIMBA information.

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Do Amazon and Createspace rip off Indie publishers with failure to correctly report sales?

Guest post by John. R. Clark, Managing Editor at AgeView Press

When AgeView Press Indie pubbed the book FLYING SOLO in May of 2012, the author, Jeanette Vaughan  immediately began tracking sales.   She heard from excited friends and family who immediately emailed when ordering their copies.  The first sales were off of Createspace’s e-store with the title ID number given to the author.   Then, through Amazon, a week later, when the book went live on the site.  Finally on Kindle, when the ebook format was completed.

ostrich head in the sand

“Where, oh where are my royalties?”

Initially, things appeared kosher.    People exclaiming that they had ordered the book, were showing up within a day or two on the electronic royalty reports with a reasaonable accuracy.    But by June and July, sales descrepencies were noted by the author from customers claiming that they had purchased the book directly through Amazon, not an Amazon affiliate.    Many of these sales were simply not listed.The author contacted Createspace customer support, who gave assurance that all sales were being accurately reported.   FLYING SOLO was now also on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select, as well as expanded distribution channels, which included Amazon affiliates in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.    Sales were being reported to the author from readers and bookclubs in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

The first note of apparent discrepancy came when a dear friend of the author ordered three copies of the book from Amazon in June.    These books were ordered all at the same time, from Amazon.com direct.   Yet, that cluster of three sales was never posted as such.      Another instance in early July involved the same issue.    Again, a customer ordered three copies, yet no sales were trackable through Amazon’s channels for three sales purchased on the same day.

In the meantime, the author was making public appearnances, being featured on blogs and radio, and rounding with booksignings.   During the months of June and July, no expanded distribution channel sales were posted on the royalty report, yet customers were emailing the author letting her know how much the book was being enjoyed overseas.   More than 15 five star reviews for the novel were posted on Amazon.

What should have shown as a surge of sales, as the book peaked, never appeared on the royalty reports.   The author was suspect.   She contacted Ingram directly, only to be informed that they were not supposed to reveal information to an author directly.  So, the Indie publisher, AgeView Press made the call.    Ingram showed 16 copies of the book ordered through their system total since May.   Those sales never showed on the June or July royalty report.    The author filed formal complaints with Createspace customer service, but received only canned letters in response explaining  that indeed there was an issue with reports in Expanded Distribution and it was being investigated.   Advice to the author from Createspace?  Please be patient.

By August, it was clear there were gross inaccuracies.  The 30 copies ordered from Barnes and Noble never showed up.   Few, if any, sales were listed for August.    Yet. the author had confirmation of over 4,000 copies in distribution worldwide.    The crowning blow came in September.   A plan was devised.    A friend, agreed to help with the investigation.   She ordered a copy of FLYING SOLO on September 7th, taking screen shots of her order and confirmation of payment directly from Amazon.    She printed out her receipt showing date and time of purchase.   The book arrived on September 13, to San Jose, California.   Photos were taken.   The sale was complete.    Copies of all screenshots and receipts were scanned and sent to the author.    By September 20th,  no sales were shown at all on Createspaces report.    Phoning Createspace, the author was informed that no sales were showing for Amazon for the month for that title.    It was time for outrage!     What had been suspected, had now been proven.  Not once, but twice!

Time to climb up the foodchain.  After many phonecalls and emails to Createspace, a Senior customer service “executive” phoned personally and stated he would investigate.    Talk about a wacky result.    Due to the print on demand status of Createspace books, sometimes they are one or two books ahead.   Thus even though your book was printed in one month, but sold in another, a royalty might actually show up in the prior month for that sale.   What???

No one expects to get rich off of writing a book.    Few and far between experience the Oprah Bookclub golden orbs of success.    But how are authors to trust a system, happy to take their money for assisting to create and publish a book, which does not thoroughly, detail accurate sales?    Simply outrageous.   What options does that leave the Indie publishers?     How can they possibly track the success of their marketing efforts.   Is the publishing world doomed to be controlled by the big six?     Are small bookstores and Indie presses to be overrun by powerhouse chains which offer the Indie published writer no turf?

How can the press or the author be sure those sales are accurate with no detail?   Rise up Indie authors!    Repost this story!    Tweet it, facebook it.    Make it go viral.   Print it and send it to your local newspaper and the Associated Press.   This abject fraud is outrageous and MUST STOP!

John R. Clark, Managing Editor, AgeView Press