Writers In the Storm is delighted to welcome Bob Mayer, one of the premiere writer advocates in publishing today. Bob, along with Jen Talty (his co-founder at Who Dares Wins Publishing) have become very well known voices in “indie” publishing in a very short time.
Here’s Bob in his own words…
Publishing is the Wild West right now, with changes happening daily and most of the prognosticators from the beginning of the year already proven wrong, as they were last year and the year before. The recent settlement with the Justice Department by several of the Big 6 is a huge game changer.
Jen Talty and I formed Who Dares Wins Publishing in January 2010. At the time I was looking at it as a sideline, a way to get my Atlantis series back into circulation. I was busy writing my epic Duty, Honor, Country, a Novel of West Point and the Civil War and editing The Jefferson Allegiance in anticipation of sending them to my agent for sale. (Jen meanwhile, slaved away full-time for a year and a half building the company).
As 2011 dawned, I had to re-evaluate. 2010 was a year of drastic change. In January, ebooks constituted roughly 3% of the market. People, ‘experts’, said they might make it to 5 or maybe even 10% by the end of the year. They were wildly off.
I had to evaluate based not on where publishing was at the moment, but rather where it was going to be. So I made the decision to commit to Who Dares Wins Publishing completely. Considering this is my livelihood, abandoning a proven business model for an unknown model was risky, but I’ve always taken chances and embraced challenges, from West Point to the Infantry to volunteering for the Green Berets and in publishing. I’m going to use my own sales numbers, not the other authors we have, for the sake of privacy.
In January of 2011 I sold 347 ebooks.
By the end of the year, I sold close to half a million ebooks.
And I only sell two titles at .99; the rest of my titles range from $2.99 to $4.99, which means they earn 70% royalties on their platforms. My average income per ebook is roughly $1.50. We recently published The ShelfLess Book: The Complete Digital Author detailing all we’ve learned in e-publishing.
Here’s another thing few discuss: the 100% royalty rate of direct sales. We launched an automated web site thanks to Jen Talty’s hard work that pays dividends in direct sales.
However, I think with all the changes, an indie author has to continue to take chances. I just signed a deal with Amazon Encore for some backlist titles and with their science fiction imprint, 47 North, for three future titles.
One marketing tool I believe is very effective is to post on other people’s blogs. People read their own blog. I think building community is more important than direct marketing. Making connections with the movers and shakers in the business is also important. That’s the reason I was just at RT and will be attending Thrillerfest in July.
It might be the Wild West in publishing, but as a former Green Beret, it’s the kind of environment we were trained to thrive in.
If you haven’t ever heard Bob speak, his classes are awesome – here he is talking about e-book pricing and the agency model:
Are you finding this changing publishing environment freeing or overwhelming? Bob is traveling to Indianapolis today for a speaking engagement, but he promised to stop by so don’t be shy with those questions. If you know the answer to someone else’s question, feel free to help each other out down in the comments section too. :-)
Bob Mayer is a NY Times Best-Selling multi-published author. He is a West Point graduate, served in the Infantry and Special Forces (Green Beret) commanding an A-Team and as a Special Forces operations officer, and was an instructor at Fort Bragg. He teaches Novel Writing, Warrior Writer and does keynote speeches. For more information on Bob visit his website or his blog, Write It Forward.