Insights on the Book Business

BEA 2014 Notes and Photos

June 5, 2014

Below is a short collection of notes that was taken from BEA 2014. Hopefully you can find one or two bits of interest. Pictures can be found at the end of the blog post.

  • Mystery/Crime readers  – From Nielsen’s Book & Consumer Survey : Average reader is 50+, 39% use the library for some of their books, 18% use the library as their sole source for books, 1 in 5 own a Kindle, prefer to read on an eReader, responds to emails and special offers, uses email and Facebook, low use of social media.
  • Young Adult readers – From Nielsen’s Book & Consumer Survey: well-connected (Twitter, Pinterest, Tumbler, Instagram);  high use of social media; Glamour #1 magazine to read; does not read newspapers; uses blogs, Goodreads, Groupon; likes personal methods of book discovery; book recommendations from friends, BS lists, school, in store displays, magazines. External factors for buying include reviews, in a series, movie/TV tie-ins. Price is usually not a factor (thought that was interesting).
  • Adult non-fiction including Christian – From Nielsen’s Book & Consumer Survey: 40-54 years old, religious, work in office, avid magazine reader (Family Circle, Cooking, Women’s Health), uses Facebook and Pinterest, unlikely to use Goodreads and newspapers, book discovery happens in stores, 1 in 5 own a Kindle.
  • Author’s Hub area: new at BEA this year. Grouped Indie authors together in one area/booth each with small table and chairs. Making it less expensive for authors to have representation at BEA.
  • Sat in on a presentation from author Hugh Howey concerning his website and reports on author earning. Read more »

Book Expo of America Recap – Part 1

June 14, 2013

Part 1 – A summary of notes take from the workshop sessions from BEA 2013.


New Session: eBook Pricing: Insight on Strategies and Experimentation

75 people in attendance


One big difference between print and digital books is pricing. Publishers have little flexibility to change the list price stamped on a traditional book once it’s chosen, but with eBooks, publishers can make periodic price changes to optimize for increased sales, visibility, and profits. In this session, panelists will discuss recent price experiments they’ve conducted that have only become possible since the advent of the eBook market. They’ll relate which ideas worked and which didn’t, explain how they make pricing decisions, and share their thoughts on the future of eBook pricing.

Josh Schanker, Founder & President BookBub, Andrea Fleck Nisbet, Executive Director Digital Publishing, Workman Publishing, Bella Andre, Author, Chris Bauerle, Director of Sales & Marketing



  1. New release pricing
  2. Backlist discounts
  3. Free ebooks
  4. Other innovative models


Workman Publishing: How do you set a new release price? Tied into the physical book.

Bella Andre – Hybrid author – one book in series from pub is $9.99 and her self published book in the same series is at $4.99.

Feels that the $4.99-$5.99 is a “quality price”.

Digital price is drifting back to parity in price compared to paperback.


Why discount? Price change is not a promotion. The customer who is buying the discounted book probably is not your “regular price” customer. What is the promotion strategy. Ranking. Visibility. Exposure. How to drive units.

Never want to leave units or revenue on the table. The $0.99 is a customer. Maybe the $1.99 sale from a $2.99 price.

Bookbub:  $2.99 vs $0.99 – 2x the sales but the $2.99 makes more money (profit). Read more »

Book Expo of America – Recap Part 2

June 14, 2013

Part 2 – A summary of notes take from the workshop sessions from BEA 2013.


NEW SESSION: Data to Die for: Dynamic Pricing and Sales.

Only about 125 people. Surprised by the low number.

The rapidly changing eBook market has created both angst and opportunities when it comes to pricing. Michael Tamblyn chief content officer of Kobo and Josh Schanker of Bookbub will share exclusive eBook sales data and ideas to help everyone from publishing executives to independent authors develop dynamic pricing strategies that work for their titles.

This whole session is about pricing.

Kobo first.

A daily, hourly, minute-by-minute discipline. They are informed of price changes by publishers, authors, and competitors.

Theme: overall drift down in prices paid by consumers. Kobo is seeing a 8% price decline from a year ago. However it swings up and down on a monthly basis. Traditional publishers pricing has settled.

A real emphasis on the days right after Christmas to make sure the new eReader makes its first buy. Heavy discounts.

Self publishing is taking a larger % of the pie. Represents about 20% of their unit sales. Also usually at a lower price.

2011-2013. Self pub average price was once about $1.70. The Indie’s has started the drive to $3.50. Which is what they are currently at. This is an important stat for Indie’s when it comes to pricing strategy. The eBook buying consumer is getting very comfortable with the $2.99-$5.99 price point.

Did some quick analysis of affiliate book sale prices from Digital Book Today. On our last 4,000+ eBook sales from the “sales from last month” option from Amazon, our price point was $2.87. We do have a dedicated page for Daily Kindle Deals and sometimes authors have their book on a price promotion when advertising.

What “free” means. Giving away a free book in a series. About two weeks later is when the sales kick in on the other titles by the author.

Consistently have seen when the first book is discounted heavily we have seen a bounce in the sequel.

Even small price changes ($15.99 down to $12.99) has had an impact. Read more »

Image Picture Guidelines for Facebook & Twitter

March 3, 2013

Does your profile pages on Twitter and Facebook look uneven?

What are the actual Image Picture Guidelines for Facebook? Twitter? YouTube?

Did you know the cover photo image on Facebook is 851 x 315 pixels?

If you have ever experienced frustration at trying to find the perfect size for your profile pictures then we have the perfect solution.

The folks at has a great infographic that details the sizes for the different components for Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Follow this link to see this helpful infographic.

Amazon Affiliate Changes

February 25, 2013

Most authors have heard about the Amazon affiliate changes concerning free books that came out on 2/22/2013. Additional conversations can be found on the Amazon Central Message board, on Kindleboards, and many other eBook sites.

What impact does the Amazon Affiliate changes have on authors, book websites, and promoting your book for free?

  1. Amazon changing their T.O.S. (terms of service) caught a lot of people off guard but in many ways you could see it coming. The proliferation of sites promoting only free books to capture affiliate sales on Amazon have come to an end or at least have become severely restricted. These sites will have to change their business model to pay for their time. There are additional sites in beta that are only offering free books with no other services.
  2. How does this impact Digital Book Today? For DBT affiliate $’s is a very small part of our revenue stream. As of today when we list free books we no longer will have our affiliate ID in the link. Of course if a customer follows a paid link into Amazon and ends up getting some free books it will count against us. At some point we might just not include any affiliate ID’s in any of our links. A $2.99 book provides a commission of $0.21. It takes a lot of book sales to make it worthwhile. The “gold” is when people end up buying large ticket non-book products with your affiliate ID.
  3. How does this impact The Top 100 Best Free Kindle Books List? Currently not at all since this is part of We get about 60% of the affiliate $’s. Squidoo gets the rest. They have 3 million+ pages on and the majority of them have links to products on Amazon. We easily cause the 20,000 free downloaded eBook threshold to be exceeded but they sell so many other products that it HOPEFULLY is not an issue. Of course they could change their T.O.S. The benefit The Top 100 Best Free Kindle Books List provides is traffic to DBT and a great source of visibility for authors who are promoting their free days. We will keep this site running regardless if we lose the affiliate traffic unless decides to outlaw our site. Stranger things have happened. The Top 100 Best Free Kindle Books List is consistently in the Top 25 of their 3 million+ pages in terms of traffic while generating 100,000+ clicks into Amazon and not counting additional clicks once inside of Amazon. Read more »

Amazon, Your Free Book Promotion, and The 800 Pound Gorilla

February 25, 2013

Digital Book Today and The Top 100 Best Free Kindle Books List can help an author with their free book promotion. However we are just one island in the vast ocean of the Internet. To capitalize on your free book promotion an author needs to make sure they are getting the word out to as many islands as possible.

The author’s goal is to use our site (and others) to get their book up on Amazon’s top 100 list (and the sub category 100 book lists) as quickly as possible. Amazon updates their lists on an hourly basis.

Once you get on Amazon’s Top 100 lists then it is time for the 800 pound gorilla in the cage (Amazon) to take over. No matter how many sites you use to promote a free title one has to wonder ultimately how many downloads come from being on the Amazon Top 100 lists

Recently an author detailed his efforts on a free book promotion he ran on Amazon. This other author actually got 30K in downloads over two days (first time being free and well reviewed). He paid to be promoted on many of the popular free book sites. He asked for stats from the sites. The best he come up with is about 18K in clicks into Amazon (not downloads, but many would be). Amazon was probably responsible for at least 60% of all his downloads but only after other sites got his book up on the bestseller list.

Which comes first the chicken or the egg? Without the free books sites promoting his book he probably would not have made it on any of Amazon’s Top 100 lists. Without being on the Top 100 lists he would have never gotten as many downloads and publicity.

His sales after the free days paid for his promotional costs.

He had a couple of good questions and comments including:  

Read more »

Three Types of Bookstore Customers

November 27, 2012

As an independent author you need to decide the proper price point for your book. Should your book be priced at $0.99? $2.99? $7.99? Is it possible to market and sell your book to all three types of bookstore customers?

If you can sell your book at a higher price point without a major loss in units sold the end result is more return for your intellectual property.

Digital Book Today deals with a large number of Indie authors. Many authors have found sales success with one or more of their books. If you are one of these authors you should presume that you have a following of readers who will be interested in your newest book.

This might be the time to follow the old guards of the book industry and treat your book as a Hardcover New Release but in a digital format. Maybe set your price at $7.99 with it being on sale for $5.99 shortly after your release since we know most hardcover new releases are discounted the moment they hit the shelves.

Instead of ignoring the standard practices of the major publishers that have been very profitable for 40+ years, maybe it is time to implement a best practice from them.

The book industry has known for many years that there are really three major types of customers, each with smaller sub-groups that walked into bookstores. They even merchandise and market their books in stores to those three major types of customers.

What are these three major segments of customers?

  • The hardcover book buyer with a major focus on new releases.
  • The mass market paperback book buyer.
  • The bargain and remainder book buyer.

Very few customers will actually buy books from all 3 sections. An exception can be seen during the holiday season when some customers will buy a hardcover book as a gift. Read more »

VIGILARE – The Making of a Book Trailer

November 11, 2012

VigilareOur guest post is by Brooklyn James author of Vigilare (book #1) and Vigilare: Hell Hound.

BOOK TRAILERS are a  relatively new concept, following the promotional success of the movie trailer.  Without a movie trailer, advertised on national television, how else would we  know of the latest blockbuster or quiet Indie film coming to a theater near  us?
By virtue of movie trailers, we get an average of two and a half minutes to  determine whether the concept, actors and overall theme appeals to our film  palate. I LOVE a good movie trailer! One movie in particular I want to  watch, REACHER, is based on the fantastic Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child. I was not aware they were making such a movie until I saw the  movie trailer. From this movie trailer, I can deduce the film involves the city  of Pittsburgh, a red Chevelle with black racing stripes, mystery, suspense and a  kick butt anti-hero played by Tom Cruise. As a Pennsylvania native, a Steelers  fan and a lover of all things with horsepower, the city and the car alone, are  enough to stir my curiosity about this film.
Some authors and publishing companies have taken to promoting their books  in much the same way, by virtue of a book trailer. Usually  these book trailers are quite short, on average thirty to ninety seconds in  length. From the modest to the grandiose, I have viewed book trailers of all  sorts. Some even include real actors. I am inclined to believe most of these  ‘higher-end’ book trailers are produced by larger publishing companies. As the  majority of author produced book trailers I’ve watched simply depict images,  illustrations, animation, narration and/or a musical score to get the general  point across.
My curious nature winning out, I had to attempt a book trailer myself.  After several months of imagining a storyboard, contemplating the worth of a  book trailer in my promotional efforts and tracking down an illustrator, I’ve  released my first official book trailer for my supernatural thriller trilogy, Vigilare
I hope you enjoy, as it took a good dose of time, and a little cash Read more »

The Cycles of Book Sales

October 6, 2012

A repost of a blog article from author C.S. Lakin’s website – Live Write Thrive.

Today’s guest post is from Anthony Wessel, a book industry veteran and founder of I enjoy having my books promoted on his site and so asked Anthony to give me his non-author observations on indie book trends.

I read indie authors’ blogs about the lack of sales in the past months. Most indie authors have only been through one or maybe two holiday seasons. A book is a product. Just like with most products there is a sales cycle on a year-to-year basis.

Readers are still buying books in the same cycle as they always have. Just on a different medium.

Trend Lines Are Pretty Much the Same

The book industry has sales trend lines that have been consistent for the past forty years. Sales are relatively flat on a week-to-week basis for forty-six weeks out of the year. Slight sales increases are seen on the minor sales holidays. This means approximately the same number of books is being read in any given week compared to the previous year. The marketing efforts of authors and publishers generally do not increase the total amount of books that are purchased. The marketing effort is to get the consumer to purchase your product (book) instead of the competitor. A great example is the car industry.

Sales boom for six weeks (holiday season). During the last ten days of the holidays, retail bookstores would often have sales for a day that would equal what they would do in a week during the rest of the year. Read more »

Tips N Tricks: Sideloading Ebooks and A Few Other Suggestions For Getting Reviews

September 28, 2012

A day doesn’t go by where I don’t get at least 3-5 submissions for book reviews from authors. Digital Book Today does not provide a review service, but a couple of us do reviews as a hobby for The Kindle Book Review.

Let me make this perfectly clear – I do it as a hobby and have a form rejection response in Gmail that I am quick to use. On a good week I will finish  one book for pleasure while I work out in the evening. Maybe one other How To or Guidebook on publishing, internet, web SEO, or some other book in this expanding segment.

However I am a believer in trying to help out Indie authors buy giving some feedback and tips. Listed below are just some quick suggestions from someone who gets submissions:

  1. Always include a link to your book(s) to Amazon in your request. Twice is even better. Once at the beginning and once at the end of the email.
  2. Your signature line in your email should include links to your books.
  3. Your signature line in your email should include pictures of your books in a neat row. It makes an impression.
  4. Include the Amazon ASN but don’t forget the link. Only including the ASN makes for extra work by requiring a reviewer to cut/paste it into another tab.
  5. Include links to other eReaders websites.
  6. Attach the copy of your book in your email. Don’t make the reviewer have to respond to get a copy. Put it in their hand.
  7. A sales tip from my years in the retail book industry. Always put the book in the customers hand. Let them decide if they want to read it. (see tip #6).
  8. Get your book converted into the popular eReader formats. Don’t make the reviewer have to convert the book. They probably won’t take the time.
  9. Check out this link to a blog post from author Susan Kaye Quinn. If the author sends me a .mobi file then I can send it to my Kindle email address and it will wirelessly be added to my Kindle. Now that is easy.
  10. Make it as easy as possible. Don’t make the reviewer jump through hoops — because they probably won’t.
  11. Always remember to include the title of your book. Don’t laugh. This happens more often then you may think.
  12. More tips based upon the comments from below (edited 10/9)
  13. Please note that some bloggers may not want the copy attached. It is possible that a spam filter will catch this email because of the attachment. I am in the “touch my email” once camp so I prefer to get all info the first time. As an author you need to make the call that you feel is best.
  14. Many literary agents don’t like attachments: they always ask you to paste the opening of your book at the bottom of your email message.
  15. I want a synopsis of the book and maybe something about the author.  I will not read a .doc or PDF.  I will only read physical books mailed to me or .mobi files.
  16. If you are a reviewer reading this post, please take to provide the specific details on how I would like the book info sent to you by the author. Then it becomes a win-win situation for both parties.

Any other tips you would like to share?

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