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Don’t be Taken in by Amazon’s News About KDP Success Stories

kdp-amazon[1]Amazon put out a press release in the UK today that talks up the success a few authors are having in self-publishing their ebooks via Amazon KDP. They’re boasting about details like 15 of the top 100 best selling ebooks were self-published titles, and:

Since KDP launched on, 61 KDP authors have sold over 50,000 copies of their books; 12 authors have sold in excess of 100,000 copies. With Amazon’s popular 70% royalty option KDP authors have the opportunity to make even more money from the books they sell – 50 authors have earned in excess of £50,000, and 11 of these have earned more than £100,000. Royalties earned through borrows from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library are not included in this figure and if included would make the earnings even higher.

While this is good news in that it is proof that success as a self-published author is possible, today I feel like injecting a little reality into the ebook hype. Here’s the pin which I hope will puncture the balloon:

Just because an author has that level of success doesn’t mean everyone will. Nor does it mean that the success can be achieved overnight, or without a lot of work.

To continue my point, just because Amazon only named 61 authors as being the cream of the crop does not mean that that those in legacy publishing can proclaim self-publishing a failure. The average author with a legacy publisher doesn’t exactly get to make a living on his writing, and given the current upheaval in publishing it seems quite likely that whatever job security an author used to have way back when is long gone.

I suppose some will think that obvious, and if you do then just please ignore me. I’m simply the guy riding in the same chariot as the conquering hero, whispering in his ear "thou art mortal".

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David January 7, 2013 um 10:00 am

Nah, I think it’s good that someone’s pointing it out. I also think the KDP success story is going to become an even-rarer bird.

It’s still a fun game to play, though.

Mike Cane January 7, 2013 um 10:53 am

You don’t understand the purpose of releases like this. It’s not to sucker writers in, it’s to scare the living shit out of the Big 6/4. Amazon is telling them they’re obsolete for a writer’s possible success (which is just as much as a long-shot with the Big 6/4 as it is with KDP).

Peter Turner January 7, 2013 um 5:26 pm

Mike, while I agree that Amazon makes these announcements about KDP for reasons strategic as well as to attract authors, your second statement–comparing authors likely success via the Big 6/4 to that via KDP–can’t be true. There are roughly the same number of books self-pub’d on Kindle as their are published via ALL traditional trade publishing companies–and the success rate of traditional publishers is much, much better.

Nate Hoffelder January 7, 2013 um 5:41 pm

You could be correct (I don’t have any data), but that doesn’t change the fact that this announcement will scare some in the Big 6/4.

Peter Turner January 8, 2013 um 8:50 pm

That’s for sure, at least for those with big genre fiction lists.

William Ockham January 7, 2013 um 7:13 pm

So, we can conveniently forget all the writers chasing the big pub dream but aren’t published? I think not. What is the ratio of unpublished to published writers in traditional publishing? 100 to 1? 1000 to 1?

You proved Mike’s point.

Peter Turner January 8, 2013 um 8:49 pm

How can you possible estimate the number of unpublishing authors. What does that even mean?

William-Stephen Taylor December 9, 2013 um 7:58 am

I think he’s counting the number of people (700,000,000.) all over the world who use the English language in one way (or form) or another, Pete, and he is assuming half of them can read and 10% of them can write, 10% of which he assumes (try to) write in one form or another and of the fiction writers on Amazon, 80% of which cannot write at all and of the other 20% around 0.1% only write for the love of it.

Er, what was the initial question…or comment?

Oh, yes… Thats how he estimates the ratio.

As for how many, work it out for yourself.

Of course, this is only my unqualified opinion.

Mike Cane January 7, 2013 um 7:34 pm

>>>and the success rate of traditional publishers is much, much better

No. It’s not. You’re dreaming.

Peter Turner January 8, 2013 um 8:47 pm

What do you base this on? I know (not dreaming) that there are 100s of thousands of books in print that sell over 10K per year out of approx. Does that really compare with success rate of self-pub.

Amy January 8, 2013 um 12:11 pm

I think it’s great that Amazon highlights that there’s an alternative to traditional publishing (whatever their ulterior motives might be!). Getting your work to a readership requires a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears and, in the end, there is no guarantee of success for an author pursuing either publishing path.

I don’t think you or Amazon are the bad guys here for having your say – their press release highlights KDP as a valid potential publishing solution for writers and your post highlights that self-publishing is not a magic ticket whereby anyone can become an overnight success.

William-Stephen Taylor December 9, 2013 um 8:03 am

Amazon is not interested in selling anything except Advertising space.

Why do You think 'his nibs' bought a newspaper.

I bet None of You knew that did You?

Well You do now.

How does it feel?

Erik May 14, 2013 um 11:59 am

While I agree that over 95% of all people who self publish on Amazon do not make any money at it. That is the same with legacy publishing. As well over 95% of manuscripts submitted by aspiring authors are rejected.

But if you are passionate about getting your story out there, it is irrelevant. With self publishing on Amazon, your book IS published. Even if only a few people purchase and enjoy it… you succeeded in sharing your story. This wouldn’t have been possible with legacy publishing if they rejected your manuscript.

When I self published my first book, I went into it knowing that most likely, I’d sell only five or ten copies of it to friends and family who feel obligated to buy a copy. Imagine my surprise when hundreds of copies sold in the first month and now heading into thousands.

I feel truly thankful that I could self publish and be one of the lucky few that are seeing financial success. But money isn’t everything. I’m just happy for the opportunity to share the stories bumping around in my head.

Long story short, if I can do it ANYONE can. If you have a story you want to share with the world, I encourage you to write it and self publish it. You literally have nothing to lose.

Irene August 23, 2013 um 7:46 am

I have sold absolutely nothing since I uploaded my manuscript onto Amazon last Autumn. I had it on promotion for a few days, and a few friends downloaded it. They read it, thought it was funny, but no real feed back. And with Amazon not promoting my work, it just hangs there, dormant, like a rag nobody wants. A useless exercise I think.

William-Stephen Taylor December 8, 2013 um 9:27 am

Irene. I’m British by birth. I’ve chosen to live in Germany. I write in English but, I have no sales in GB. All my sales are in USA. I have published e-books in different genres but the only book that is selling is a story of the Holocaust.
I started writing 14 years ago, for fun. I love writing.
I don’t wish to be rich and famous as I’ll be 70 next year and don’t have time for this bull****.
Most of the self-published books on Amazon are crap, as anybody can uplooad a story. Amazon’s idea of selling is antiquated, if your book gets sold then you are lucky. Erik says he’s sold thousands but doesn’t mention the title or the genre, so….
The title of my book is "The Package". It’s numbered at 1,000 and something. not even a top 100 – 500 best seller. I’ve changed the cover twice, but it wasn’t until I put it up for free and changed the cover that the sales started.
I think the sales are around the fifty mark, as I haven’t bothered to count them.
I’ve received my fourth check and the next one should be along in the new year.
So, what is the title of your book, Irene. Would you like me to look at á couple of chapters?

[email protected]

Erik December 8, 2013 um 10:29 am

William said, "Erik says he’s sold thousands but doesn’t mention the title or the genre, so…."

I’m not sure what you are trying to imply with that statement. It is a simple matter of clicking on my name in my post to go to my website and see the titles and genres of my books. You can also type "Erik Schubach" in the search box on the US Amazon to see the list.

I write in multiple genre’s. Romance, Lesbian Romance, Science Fiction, and Paranormal. Currently I have published books in the Music of the Soul series, the Valkyrie Chronicles series, and the Fracture series. My next book will be published next weekend. I have multiple books in the top 100 lists for their genres on the US

I firmly believe that anyone and everyone who has a story bouncing around in their head, should write and self publish. But be sure to let people know about your book. Simply publishing does not guarantee sales. Let people know it is out there. Use social media, forums and book review sites to shine a spotlight on your book and the sales will follow. You will only get out of the experience what you put into it.

William-Stephen Taylor December 9, 2013 um 7:49 am

Well, Erik, I had a look at your uploads, quite an impressive list, what a shame though, you’ve sold thousands of books and not received a single comment.
I gave away one book and got three.
As for my paying books, I don’t bother counting the sales, nor the comments, never mind reading them, for as you know, from all the millions of readers out there it would take a genius to please all of them. So I just write and read and…
I had a quick peek at one of your books.
I wish you the best of luck for the future.

Erik December 9, 2013 um 11:30 am

Again William, I’m not sure what you are trying to imply. I get plenty of reviews on Amazon and lots of engagement on my author page on Facebook

There isn’t much participation in my blog if that is what you are talking about. It is only release information there.

I wish you and everyone who self publishes luck in the future. Remember, simply posting a book on Amazon does not guarantee sales. You need to engage people and let them know your books are out there. Selling even a single book to someone you have never met qualifies you as a success.

Jet August 28, 2013 um 10:30 pm

I’m with Erik’s mentality. I just self-published my first book through Amazon not even two weeks ago (twelve customers at the moment… meh) and the fact that it’s out there and someone other than my mom bought it equates as a success to me. I mean, I’m a guy who has been writing books as a hobby since middle school (though, because I was in middle school, I don’t feel there’s enough substance in these stories to justify cleaning up grammar and self-publishing them as well).

Point being… I wrote a book because I had a great idea for a series and I chose to self-publish. Since I made it available for both Kindle and paperback, I don’t intend on relying too much on Amazon to promote my works. My first book is 1 of 10 in a series, so I’ll be more or less passing the paperback version around in my local community college and other places in order to try and get people hooked. Marketing is all about finding efficient and inventive ways of getting the word out that your product exists… and that people should buy it. Amazon is a tool and should be considered as such. It’s not the cure all to your publishing problems, but it’s made it easier to get your work out there and published. If your book is really that great, then word will spread like fire if you continue to fan and feed the flames.

Amazon has given you a start… up to you to find a way to make it work.

William-Stephen Taylor December 9, 2013 um 8:06 am

I would like to add that if it wasn’t for Amazon I wouldn’t have bothered Publishing.

Come to think of it, I could spend more time writing,

Which reminds me…

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