Why A Traditional Publisher Can Hurt Your CareerBy Mercy Pilkington
Mark Coker, CEO and founder of the hugely successful ebook distribution platform Smashwords, wrote a blog poston how the sales figures for an indie author versus those of a traditionally published author can demonstrate something that not many in the industry know: a traditional publishing deal might actually do more harm than good for an author.
Essentially, Coker broke it down on the Smashwords’ blog in this nutshell. Data shows that authors who sell their ebooks at a $2.99 price point can actually end up earning more in royalties than authors whose books are priced at $6.99 or higher because they move more product. Only authors who have the option to price their books that low can see this gain over authors whose titles are priced by the publisher.
“One surprise, however,” according to Coker’s blog post, “was that we found $2.99 books, on average, netted the authors more earnings (profit per unit, multiplied by units sold) than books priced at $6.99 and above. When we look at the $2.99 price point compared to $9.99, $2.99 earns the author slightly more, yet gains the author about four times as many readers. $2.99 ebooks earned the authors six times as many readers than books priced over $10.”
While some critics might take issue with Coker’s data or present it merely as speculation—surely Stephen King doesn’t have to worry that his books won’t sell at $9.99, right?—the company founder does go to lengths to point out that seven of the current top thirty books in the Apple ebookstore were distributed to the platform by Smashwords. Coker’s quite valid point is that readers are relying less on the standard bestseller lists and looking more at the ebook storefront rankings when selecting reading material.
As the industry comes to the point in which self-publishing no longer carries the stigma it once did, it will be interesting to envision a future in which traditionally published authors are the ones being carefully scrutinized and questioned by the reading public.
Mercy Pilkington is a young-adult author and a teacher in a correctional facility. She does not have a single textbook in her classroom. With the top-of-the-line technology at her disposal and the low reading ability of many of her students, there’s no need for standard paper texts. Instead she relies on e-readers, iPads, desktop PCs, Polycom video conferencing equipment for virtual field trips, live streaming for science demonstrations, and text-to-speech read-aloud software to teach English and science. Within the next ten years, public school classrooms across the country are going to look a lot more like Mercy’s classroom because the educational possibilities with these kinds of technologies are limitless. Have a question? Send an email to email@example.com