Why Your Amazon Kindle Book Could Be Far Bigger Than You Imagine

Amazon Kindle & Kindle Fire

In all of the fevered debate over e-publishing vs traditional print publishing, I find it astonishing that no-one ever mentions the single biggest advantage offered by having an e-book on the Amazon Kindle™.

This hidden advantage will often be the very thing that allows an author to make a full-time living from their books, and yet no-one ever mentions it.

It represents a game-changing moment in publishing history, and savvy authors who jump on the opportunity will have the chance to be more successful than was ever possible before.  So here it is:

Your Kindle e-books will never go out of print, so they will keep on selling forever

Unlike in a traditional book store (which will only stock most new titles for a couple of months) your books stay on the Amazon ‘shelves’ forever.

This apparently simple point is in fact of earth-shaking importance, because it means you now have time to find and grow your readership, without worrying about ‘death by bookstore’.  

Let me explain…

Traditionally-Published Print Books Only Have A Small ‘Window Of Opportunity’

The endlessly repeated tragedy of traditional print publishing is when a writer discovers that after the launch of their book, they’re not selling nearly as many copies as they had hoped.  They need more time to find and grow a readership for the book, but unfortunately, no such time is granted.

book recycleIf the book hasn’t proved to be a big hit within a couple of months, the bookstores send all unsold copies back to the publisher, who either ‘remainders’ them (sells them off dirt cheap) or recycles them into paper pulp.   Either way, the book is dead.

This is a devastating and all too common experience for the majority of writers.  Those few authors whose books become mega-hits manage to avoid this, as do a considerable number of Romantic Fiction authors.  Sadly for most authors, this limited ‘window of opportunity’ closes before they’ve had sufficient time to prove themselves worthy of staying on the shelves.

But the advent of e-Publishing has changed the game forever, and very much to the author’s advantage.

Authors Now Have Time To Find And Grow Their Readership

With ePublishing, books can now remain on the virtual ‘shelves’ forever, allowing an author time to find and grow their readership steadily.   Furthermore, readers of your ebooks now have time to fall in love with all the characters and worlds that you create, and tell all their friends.

You light a slow burning fuse and all of this begins to build.

Authors achieve this by developing their Author Platform, and specifically by using social media.  You interact online with the community of people interested in the genre – including readers, reviewers, book bloggers and other supporters – and your reader audience begins to grow.

Granted that sales will be in small numbers at first.  But then the sales magic begins to happen, as you take the time to incrementally promote your books one after another, and as readers gradually spread the word.

Here’s what can happen, compared with the average experience of the book store pathway:

Chalk Boards

Publishing Hell or Publishing Heaven?

Once an author’s books reach a certain point of readership, a moment of ‘sales fission’ can occur, generated by word of mouth.  When enough readers begin to talk about and recommend your book, sales suddenly begin to grow at an accelerating speed.  This can only happen because your books don’t disappear from the bookstore shelves in the interim.

If you fully grasp the magnitude of this phenomenon, you will also understand that this is not a utopian dream, but a logical process, and a real chance for success.

But That’s Not All – There’s Another Hidden Advantage That I Call ‘The Phoenix Effect’

The second huge advantage of e-publishing on the Kindle is the powerful ‘back selling’ phenomenon that occurs when slow-selling earlier books are discovered by readers who enjoy an author’s later works.

Those author-addicted readers go back and seek these titles out hungrily, going on a ‘book binge’, often buying several at a time causing the earlier titles to rise phoenix-like from the ashes of previously lackluster sales.  Unlike in a traditional book store, these earlier books are still there and available for sale on the Amazon Kindle marketplace, waiting for revival.  I have dubbed this the ‘Phoenix Effect’ so that writers have a clear image of the phenomenon firmly lodged in the mind.

In fact the sales of ALL the author’s books are lofted by this phenomenon, and the cumulative compounding effect of this cannot be overstated.

Yet another hidden advantage of the Kindle is that if your book is successful, it clearly proves how good your book is, and can pave the way for being offered a traditional deal … if you still crave one.  This has been the experience of John Locke and Amanda Hocking, both of whom have been successful with eBooks, and have been offered lucrative traditional print deals as a result.

The bottom line is that with the advent of the Amazon Kindle, your potential for sales has increased dramatically.  You now at last have the time needed to find your audience and grow your readership.

What do you think?  Are you planning to publish on the Kindle?  Have you already?  Do leave a comment below.

Jonathan Gunson

Article written by Jonathan Gunson

Author / CEO Bestseller Labs


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  • Kristine says:
    August 21, 2012 at 7:00am

    Great perspective Jonathan. Last year I gave up trying to find an agent and went ‘DIY’ with Amazon. My first novel is going OK on the Kindle so far. Less so through ‘Smashwords’. I started on Twitter two years ago, and is how I get people to my new blog, and from there to my Amazon page. I’m still tempted if I ever hit #1 in my category (hope) to approach a publisher for a traditional deal. Is this a good idea?

  • Jonathan Gunson says:
    August 21, 2012 at 11:05am

    Kristine. Congratulations on the Kindle book – the first of many I can see.

    Re taking the ‘print publishing’ route: What I have to say about traditional publishing is aimed at new writers largely, on whom publishers generally won’t take a risk. In your case, if you can show significant sales on Amazon, plus the beginnings of an author platform (i.e. Twitter and your blog) then I would definitely consider a traditional print deal if offered. They will do far more than just test out your book in a few stores. The traditional publishers also still have huge amount of clout in the marketplace and large numbers of print books are still sold. Plus, working with a large publisher means that you won’t be working alone any more.

    This is the path already being taken by 3 well known authors – all started with eBook success, had a traditional offer and made the jump.

    Amanda Hocking (Zombies)
    John Locke (Raffish Detective ‘Donovan Creed’)
    E L James (50 Shades Of Grey)

    • August 21, 2012 at 12:35pm

      I hope The Snowtear Wars will also make this jump that you speak of! I am so thrilled to have my books, and upcoming books available. It was tough waiting around for a publisher or editor to do something for you. I feel like the reins are back in my hands and I am controlling my own destiny again!

      • Jonathan Gunson says:
        August 21, 2012 at 12:42pm

        Scott – re The Snowtear Wars We all like the sense of regaining control. Keep me posted re making the ‘jump’ from Kindle to a traditional publisher if and when the day arrives.

        • August 22, 2012 at 11:18am

          I will. It’s going to be a fun rise to the top!

    • August 22, 2012 at 12:27am

      Excellent article. Signing with an agent and a publisher for the average author means less income. Being independent allows for better royalties, thus more income to the author and complete control of your books destiny. If you are doing well as an independent you may have second thoughts about a change.

      • Jonathan Gunson says:
        August 23, 2012 at 6:50am

        A hybrid model of Traditional print and eBooks is always possible – it cover all markets then. Many authors do this – e.g. Joanna Penn, John Locke, Amanda Hocking and EL James.

  • August 21, 2012 at 11:59am

    Nice to read a positive ‘take’ on ebook publishing, versus the ‘it’s not proper literature’ .

    The ‘problem’ is that the press etc portrays this as ‘I uploaded my book and made shedloads of money’ (I have a blog on this with an amazing quote from Good Housekeeping on exactly these lines). What ‘they’ don’t tell you is that you have to work DAMN HARD for those sales. I spent 4 months setting up my blog, extending my FB page to incorporate every friendly writer daft enough to friend me.
    And I spent more time reading blogs, commenting on blogs,joining blogs, ‘liking’ stuff on FB. Now the ebook is on Amazon,(Jigsaw Pieces) I’ve added Twitter to my folder. Again, the proportion is 90% chat, 10% advertising.
    If you’re good at marketing yourself, like intereacting with others, ebook publishing are for you. If not, try to get a publisher.(Actually, scrub that – I gather most publishers now want you to do all of the above as well!!) Hey.. it’s a great life if you don’t weakin/lose the use of your fingers.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 21, 2012 at 12:39pm

      Carol. RE: 90% chat, 10% advertising. That’s about the proportion I use too.
      And yes agree regarding what’s required to succeed in this vocation – that 4 letter word: WORK.

  • August 21, 2012 at 1:02pm

    Yesterday, I had a very short conversation with a social media guy who has written a book and is working on a second, both published traditionally. I asked why, when he has a strong platform through his social media expertise and experience, and his answer was “Distribution.” He told me about a friend taking a photo of his book on a bookstore shelf in Australia (he is from the US) and said, “No self published writer could say that.”

    Something about the conversation bothered me, and this post showed me what. Yeah, his books might be on shelves in Australia for a couple of months, but with strong online sales, people in Australia might buy is book for years.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 21, 2012 at 10:45pm

      Dava. ‘Distribution’ is of course the key – that is the entire point of this article.

      The fact is that instead of the all too brief ‘starshell’ of a bookstore shelf appearance, sales are grown over time and on a far larger scale with an eBook. This applies to your social media friend’s books being seen in far away Australia. Very good – but only for the moment. By contrast, an indie book on the Kindle will be seen on the Amazon ‘Shelves’ worldwide… and forever.

      The ‘author dream’ has always been to find an agent, get a publisher and then ‘get distributed’ to book stores. But that world is crumbling. Book stores are disappearing. In fact the term ‘Traditional Publishing’ might be called that these days because it’s a 19th century business model.

  • August 21, 2012 at 3:21pm

    Excellent article. This is exactly why I went indie. I think we should see ebooks as a part of a retirement plan, an inheritance for our children, our grandchildren… yes, I’m enthusiastic. But I published my first ebook exactly 12 months ago. In January, I quit my job to stick with it fulltime. Am I rolling in dough, buying Porches and eating caviar? No, and not just because caviar is gross. Ebook writing isn’t magic. It’s been lots and lots of hard work, marketing, promoting, etc. And I fully expect to have to continue that for as long as I want the ebooks to make money. But I believe if a writer puts out a good product, works hard to promote it, and isn’t afraid of the technological changes that will inevitably come along, it’s a real thing that’s here to stay.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 21, 2012 at 11:17pm

      Diane. Re your comment. “I think we should see ebooks as a part of a retirement plan, an inheritance for our children, our grandchildren…” Exactly. Some might claim that this is already the case with traditionally published paper books. Not so, because the entire infrastructure is moving towards ‘ebooks’, and even more interestingly, whatever they might evolve into.

      • Debs says:
        August 23, 2012 at 9:28pm

        A brilliant eye opening article Johnathon , I never new or I suppose realised that books in stores were destroyed If not sold. This shocked or disturbed me to think a book be destroyed! I do enjoy a book, but also i love my kindle, to the point that we have a relationship.

        Seriously there have been a few eye openers in this article as I am currently making an attempt to write a couple of different books something I have always thought of doing. Whether I will ever get published or learn how to get on kindle is a matter for later on. This is all new to me on the how’s and do’s, another scary thought for me but something I have too attempt. I may never get published but kindle will accomplish my dream for me (fingers in mouth ahhh) thank you :))

        Seriously I now have a choice !!!

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          August 23, 2012 at 10:06pm

          Of course you’ll be published on the Kindle Debs, it’s relatively easy to learn. There are also some excellent very inexpensive services out there, or you can even use Amazon’s own very good information and do it yourself. But either way, I’ll be putting out some information soon about this precise subject of Kindle ‘How To’, so stay tuned.

          With regard to actually writing your books, do watch this inspiring 3 minute video – The writing secret’ by Maeve Binchy.

  • August 21, 2012 at 3:25pm

    Really interesting article and definitely a different perspective. I have been writing for just over eighteen months I am in the process of re-writing my first novel and I hope to publish on Kindle next year.

    I have read a lot about self publishing. There’s no denying I am romanced by the idea of having my book in print on the shelves of a bookshop for all to see, but surely that’s the real vanity publishing?

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 21, 2012 at 11:51pm

      Yes the vanity or ego trip of seeing one’s real printed book on the shelves, that one can see, feel, smell and listen to the ripple of pages is a great moment. But, while it is something that one generation is instinctively trained to like, the next generation is not. Consider this fair warning: The bell tolls for print.

  • August 21, 2012 at 3:35pm

    Hi ~

    I’ve been reading this debate on the sidelines for quite a while now, and while I predominantly agree with e over traditional publishing for myself, I don’t think it’s a matter of one versus the other, ultimately. Traditional publishers seem to recognize the growing independent movement and will offer their print books in e form as well; so, traditionally distributed books don’t really leave the virtual shelves either. Do they? Perhaps it’s not as as simple as that…

    That said, as I prepare to launch my new novel, JESTERS INCOGNITO (www.harrisonwheeler.ca), via the common array of online routes, there is no doubt in my mind that e-publishing is more relevant than trad publishing today. Kristine mentioned using the stats on sales and self-driven platforms on our e-books to later approach traditional publishers ~ I hope to do the same, it seems like the logical move in our democratically flipped, ‘power to the author’ world.

    Either way, it’ll be nice to know that my book will endure in 1s and 0s for many moons to come!



    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 21, 2012 at 11:48pm

      Harrison. Re eBooks v Traditional. Agree it’s not one versus the other. The way I see the ‘shock horror’ future of publishing is spelled out in an earlier post in which I envisage Traditional Publishers morphing to encompass the eBook world.

    • December 14, 2012 at 5:40am

      Very interesting article. My Gosh, it’s “one red paper clip.”

      I do not want people to know my true name.

      I truly enjoy writing; sometimes difficult at times.

      I think that most authors would agree.

      Amazon is an amazing platform.

      I think, this article, is quintessentially the most concise summarization I have yet read.

      Thank you so very much very your insight and very intelligent analysis.

      As always.

      Authored by: Unknown.

  • August 21, 2012 at 3:45pm

    Just started out Jonathan. My children (early thirties) are guiding me through Twitter and threatening me with Facebook. So far I am impressed with the power of social media to reach people quickly who may be able to help. Am currently revising the text of my novel to make the first few pages more ‘impactful’ (another of your guidance notes, I think!). Thanks for all the help so far. Charles

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 21, 2012 at 11:43pm

      Standing by for publication day Charles.

  • August 21, 2012 at 3:47pm

    90/20, That’s a very good rule, Jonathan. You have some great insights here. Like always!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 21, 2012 at 11:43pm

      Thank you Seeley. You are as they say, ‘The Real McCoy’.

  • August 21, 2012 at 4:23pm


    I experienced the traditional publishing world via a small press. I stayed with the publisher in question for two years, during which time they published just one of my books before I plucked up the courage to go it alone and become an indie.

    Since I entered the world of self publishing, one of my ebooks, The Seventh Age, has steadily grown in popularity much to my surprise.

    Would I ever go back to traditional publishing? No, I’m happy being an indie. :)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 21, 2012 at 10:30pm

      Jack. Re ‘The Seventh Age’. Excellent news re the steady growth. FYI. I’ll be writing more psosts about social media for authors again. Regarding paper books: I have overflowing shelves of traditional books, several thousand in fact. The look and feel of a printed book is a unique and irreplaceable sensory experience that we all love. But this is also the case with many other types of beautiful antiques.

  • August 21, 2012 at 5:57pm

    Great article, Jonathan, and very encouraging to those of us who have tried the old way of getting published time and time again. I published my mid-grade fantasy book as an e-book and I am about to published my second. I haven’t had many sales as yet .. a few good reviews .. and some interviews, and yes, promoting is time consuming and frustrating at times. But as you say, my books will be available to this new way of life .. the fantastic e reader will never go away. Do you mind if I feature your article on my writer’s FB page. Giving you full credit of course. M. C. Arvanitis (Margaret Arvanitis)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 21, 2012 at 11:41pm

      Margaret, yes please do link to this article on your FB page. That is to be encouraged! Use a lengthy snippet of it too if you like, up to 30% of it. But not all of the article please. (It is copyrighted.)

  • heidi_g says:
    August 21, 2012 at 6:20pm

    Okay, here I am, commenting:) BUT REALLY… perspective and awareness are so valuable in life and this article is all about a great awareness creating a very inspiring perspective. Personally, I had no idea that traditionally published authors had such a small window to find their audience. That is almost tragic. I know, there are lots of rumblings about the changes in the publishing industry and whether or not Amazon.com has destroyed literacy…but giving books TIME to find their readers…well, that is just #awesome!!!! Thank you for writing this and pointing out this very positive side of all the chances we are going through.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 21, 2012 at 11:38pm

      Heidi thanks for travelling over from Twitter. Having TIME to grow is awesome yes. And no, Amazon is not detroying literacy. In Charles Dickens day, cheap pamphlets were distributed by the million – all filled with smutty stories. (a la ‘50 Shades of Grey‘). The wail went up “pamphlets are destroying literacy!” They were known as ‘Penny Dreadfuls’. All are now long forgotten, but we still have Dickens, because cream has a tendency to rise to the top.

  • August 21, 2012 at 6:21pm

    I published three nonfiction books with good traditional publishers, but when switched to Western historical fiction, my agent dropped me. I published my first novel, God’s Thunderbolt: the Vigilantes of Montana via CreateSpace and Kindle, and it won the 2009 Spur for best first novel. The second, Gold Under Ice, was a finalist for a 2011 Spur, but I missed the deadline for the third novel, The Devil in the Bottle. All three are published both in paper via CS and on Kindle. Kindle sales outnumber paper sales 6 or more to 1, but the having the books in paper helps with Montana bookstores. This is a big, primarily rural, state and people are loyal to the books. Besides, in far-flung places, people have difficulty getting on the Internet, and many don’t trust it.

    My point is to understand your target markets and have your books available to their preferences. I don’t want to overlook readers because they don’t like computers or Kindles or paper. My books are available for all readers.

    I’ve been at this 4+ years, my readership is growing, and the books are good. I’m currently writing 2 short stories and a novel, and working on a historical article for a Western history journal. If it grows into a book eventually, I’ll pitch it to a scholarly press.

    My experience bears out what you’ve written here, Jonathan. Newbies pay attention. He’s right!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 21, 2012 at 11:28pm

      Correct Carol re not overlooking any markets, including the rural families you mention who steadfastly stick to paper books. But in the end, it won’t be their decision. Eventually there won’t be paper books to stick to.

      PS. I love the ‘ring’ of your book titles: e.g. ‘God’s Thunderbolt: the Vigilantes of Montana.’ Great!

    • August 26, 2012 at 4:08am

      You made important points in your article. I think it’s a crime how books are destroyed.

      I’ve been a successful self-published author for 16 months now, selling about 140,000 books and having the first in the series, Wild Montana Sky (a sweet historical Western romance) make the USA Today list. I have allowed Amazon Montlake to acquire the series. (Their editor came to me.) The Montlake versions of the books launch on Tuesday. (I took mine down today.) At the same time, I’m self-publishing Montana Sky Christmas, a collection of stories set in the same small town as the big books. So I’ll have the best of both worlds!

      In about six months or so, I’m planning to set up a generational trust for my estate, especially regarding the books–some of the royalties to go to my nieces and their progeny (and progeny’s progeny) and some to charity. It’s something I think all authors should eventually consider doing.

      Keep up the good work of educating authors!

      • Jonathan Gunson says:
        August 26, 2012 at 9:54am

        Congratulations Debra. 140,000 books sold? USA Today? You’re well on the way to leaving that legacy. Amazon’s Romantic fiction division ‘Amazon Montlake’ is an excellent move. Apart from any direct business rationale, it’s very hard to continue on alone as readership grows. That organization will give you great support. I like the sound of the whole deal.

  • August 21, 2012 at 8:30pm

    Thanks for this article, it is not something I had considered before.

    I would also add that this effect is also available to those who publish ‘on demand’, although I am in total agreement that the kindle platform is more effective in convetrting to sales. -I, like many others, have found that I buy far more books since I got my kindle.

    I originally published on CreateSpace before they were bought by Amazon. I have recently added that book to Kindle. Your article gives me some hope that success of my next book, or a future one may have that flow on effect on my sales.


    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 21, 2012 at 10:19pm

      Chris. Publish on demand is definitely in the game plan for now. (Like eBooks, they’ll be ‘on the shelves forever’ via Amazon’s Create Space.) But after gazing into the crystal ball of the market, I expect that fewer and fewer will want traditionally printed books over time. There’s just altogether too much pressure for the increasing connectedness of eBooks.

  • August 21, 2012 at 8:43pm

    Another thoughtful post, and it’s great to find practical advice and points like this that highlight the benefits of self publishing instead of the negative. When I published ‘The Troubleshooter’, I wasn’t counting on overnight success. I have a three year plan that involves writing a few more installments in the series and then expanding into other parts of the same dystopian world. My thinking is that the readership will grow slowly and hopefully take off around the third book in the series, when I have a few consecutive novels lined up. This might not be possible with the traditional route, as the first novels would probably be off the shelves in a few months if they weren’t blockbusters. But with e-publishing I can set up my own plan for success and then work hard to bring it to fruition. And that’s a major plus as I see it…

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 21, 2012 at 11:24pm

      You have the ideal plan to ride the eBook wave Bard. You obviously ‘get’ all the industry changes that are happening.

  • August 21, 2012 at 9:50pm

    Nice post. It makes sense too. Trying to gather enough people in your genre (mine is not romantic fiction) to make a critical mass is tough.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 22, 2012 at 12:11am

      Kent. I’ll soon be blogging ‘how to gather enough people in a genre’. There is a specific way of doing this. ( As against the counter-productive way so many do it of repeatedly spamming out a book title and cut price on Twitter.)

  • Margaret says:
    August 21, 2012 at 11:53pm

    Hi, interesting post – and congratulations to all those authors who have self-published. You have inspired me to do the same! Just gotta finish the manuscript.

  • August 22, 2012 at 12:08am

    Actually, I’ve read at least one other blog post, if not more, about this advantage and The Phoenix Effect, although you’re the first person to name it. I presumed it was acquired knowledge among self-publishers with extensive backlists.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 22, 2012 at 12:21am

      Re: The Phoenix Effect™.
      ‘You read it here first’ as they say. I dubbed it that way to anchor the value of the concept in writer’s minds. Fact is that back lists are going to become increasingly valuable in this eBook era because of it, and also because of the time scale available with eBooks that makes discovery and growth possible – as enlarged on in the post. I’ll also add that Print On Demand – such as Amazon’s ‘Create Space’ has a similar role, although I expect will not track at the same pace as eBooks.

  • August 22, 2012 at 12:23am

    Tough going at first is what I’m understanding. From May 27 to June 12 I sold 5 books on Smashwords and was elated. But my understanding is that I need to get in with bloggers and reviewers interested in my genre: nonfiction/debt/selfhelp. In fact all my writing is non fiction. Next one will be chicklit and how to, later some literary books.To date I’ve only gotten followers on Twitter who are fiction writers/bloggers/reviewers. This might not be my game after all. Any advice?

  • Jonathan Gunson says:
    August 22, 2012 at 12:34am

    Jeanie. In answer to your questions.

    1. Fact is, non-fiction is much easier to target than genre fiction, because people are specifically looking for help and put their hand up, for example, in forums, on Twitter and by searching on Google. (You need good SEO to attract those.)
    2. Chiclit is very big despite some claims to the contrary – see Tonya Kappes Blog for evidence.
    3. Agree re your bloggers idea. This book blogger post should help.
    4. Regarding ‘How to attract readers, not other writers on Twitter?’. Many authors ask me this, so I’ll be writing a post shortly containing a solution.

    • August 22, 2012 at 12:53am

      Hello Jonathan;
      I have 2 books on Kindle and paperback the first, The Twilight People from March, 2011 and the second book By Land, By Sea from June, 2011. I’ve never been sent royalties from Amazon as yet, especially for Kindle sales and when I asked them for sales figures they told me that ” they don’t give sales figures out. ” Strange I thought, but even the 2 publishers who released my books won’t give me a run down of figures either. Surely my books have at least sold some? My 2 daughters and other friends bought both books on Kindle, yet nothing re sales. Could you give me an inkling as to what may be going on? All this is beyond me…thanks Jonathan, P’ Feenan…

    • August 22, 2012 at 7:09pm

      Jonathan, I read your “bloggers post,” the single best idea since the discovery of fire! I look forward to learning more about SEO, reading Tonya Kappes blog and attracting readers on Twitter. So thanks for the heads up as well as the confirmation that nonfiction & chiclit are still popular. Need to rearrange the neural pathways to the contrary. You’re my new teacher! Thanks.

      • Jonathan Gunson says:
        August 23, 2012 at 10:08am

        Jeanie, book bloggers, book reviewers, and book clubs are very important elements in the publicizing of books. Note: In case anyone reading this wants to see how these entities work heres the link to the book bloggers post

  • August 22, 2012 at 1:47am

    Hi Jonathan,

    Thanks for the latest post. I’m putting my first book proposal together and it’s a minefield trying to put it together and then figuring out whether I should self publish or find a publisher. Your insight is a real help. Keep it coming!

  • August 22, 2012 at 2:05am

    You are dead on with this post, Jonathan. Books don’t have an expiration date- except in hardstores. And one of the tricks to success is writing more than one or two books. Novelist, except for a rare few, probably won’t get rich at their craft. Want money? Non-fiction is the way to go.

    I have one book that sells more and more every month and the only answer I can give as to why is it is a very good book and word of mouth and my meager attemps at marketing are paying off. Now I see my other three books picking up a bit and it has to do with readers of my best selling book.

    Your post reassures me that good things will come if you write a good book and prepare it professionally! Thanks, buddy!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 22, 2012 at 4:59am

      Dannie, ‘non-fiction’ is about as wide a subject as you can get! So I’ve checked out your website to see what you’re up to. Sailing in the Pacific, Walking in the Appalachian Mountains … non-fiction adventure tales yes ?

      • August 22, 2012 at 10:04am

        Ha! I certainly did paint with a wide brush and it wasn’t meant to be disparaging. It is a a fact that self-help and How to books do much better in the marketplace than novels.

        I have great respect for non-fiction writers because they are restricted to the truth, while one of the kindest compliments a novelist can receive is, “Your book seemed so real.”

        My blog about living in Thailand are true stories and it allows me to practice the art of non-fiction. I’m honored you visited, Jonathan. I’ve gain much insight from your post and the success you enjoy! I hope you’ll get a change to read about sailing the Pacific in the form of a good story.

  • August 22, 2012 at 2:09am

    After more than four years of writing/re-writing my first novel, I didn’t have the patience (and maybe not the faith) to plead with traditional publishers. This week “Pieces of You” went up as a Kindle eBook.

    I understand what you and others are saying about building community first, and I LOVE to discuss ideas and issues. My question is, “how do I get numerous followers (as you have) who will leave comments? I ask questions and share ideas and insights but get few responses. How do I know I’m right–or wrong–if I get very little feedback? Any suggestions?

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 22, 2012 at 7:23am

      Joyce. Building up readership takes time and patience – as you will see from some of the other comments.

      Here’s a couple of hints to get you started: You need to be on Amazon with your books in the right categories of course, with a good description, and your author profile also fully complete – written in 3rd person.

      It’s equally important to grow an ‘author platform’ where people can find you and your books to interact. An author platform is not a stage to stand on and shout out your book title, but a place to meet and mingle with readers. It’s made up of various places where you can do this meeting and mingling. (Think Twitter, Facebook, Author Blog for starters.)

      The idea is to interact about the fascination of your genre, not ‘push your book’. The ratio of chat about the genre, and your book could be about 80% chat (and 20% about your book at the very most). Your book is also always visible on the side of your blog.

      I’ll be blogging more soon about selling books on the Kindle.

  • Phoenix says:
    August 22, 2012 at 3:04am

    Well said, sir. Perpetuity is one of the aspects I appreciate about publishing through Amazon, also. I have one novel out (The Official Private Eye Handbook) and am working on more (Child of Fire and Blood, WIP; Murder at Wardenclyffe, WIP). I’m spending a great deal of time/energy/myself on these writings and I imagine there are many others doing likewise. Considering that, the limited window afforded by traditional publishing is a horrible payoff. I had decided long before POD and epublishing that self-publishing would be the route I liked best, so I’m glad I waited for this to manifest.

    Keep preaching and teaching.

  • August 22, 2012 at 3:17am

    Very good article. If you read Joe Kontrath’s blog at all, he has mentioned this also in detail.

  • August 22, 2012 at 3:36am

    Thanks for this post Jonathan,

    Amazon has opened the door for those of us who love to write and actually get the work out there. I appreciate them for that! I just released my second book on kindle and I have no regrets. Traditional Publishers may wanna wake up and smell the coffee! Indie writers no longer have to beg them for a deal. Excellent article Jonathan.



    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 22, 2012 at 6:26am

      Lisa. Second book? Congratulations. Traditional Publishers still have a big place in the scheme of things. They will also morph to take advantage of the new environment I feel. See the Future Of Publishing blog post.

  • August 22, 2012 at 4:36am

    Your tweets are like having a friend in publishing. Thank you.

  • August 22, 2012 at 5:14am


    Just received this post this morning, yes early in the UK and thought I would comment.

    Great article with some interesting facts and spot on about self publishing.

    My story if I may.

    My book, Wrong Place Wrong Time, my first book and a true story was published on Amazon 2 months ago, June and through constant marketing, my blog, facebook, twitter and connecting with other authors, writers, readers via their blogs, I have seen my book as I write this, become #2 in its genre, True Accounts and True Crime, #8 in Biographies & Memoirs, #14 in Non-Fiction. plus at the moment #153 bestseller in the UK. It is also amongst the most wished for as well.

    It is also #18,726 best seller and #75 bestseller in True Crime in America.

    My sales have been very good as well, June was quiet, then I did the free promotion, had over 13,000 downloads, then sold around 1,000 books in July and for August so far, 21st, I have sold around 4,710, apparently this is pretty good.

    The book as I have said is based on a true story and people have mentioned that one day it should become a film, until that day ever happens, I will continue to still do my day job and market my book at night, plus I have began my 2nd book.

    I just wanted to let you know that I have never regretted going the route of self pub and very much enjoy the marketing and promotional side of my book.

    Look forward to your next post.

  • Jonathan Gunson says:
    August 22, 2012 at 6:14am

    David. Your story is very much appreciated – in particular because it is so encouraging for aspiring writers who visit this blog.

    Interesting also to see that the KDP select program can still be so effective. (I assume this is what you’re referring to.) 4,710 sales is indeed ‘pretty good’, and so my heartiest congratulations. I shall be tracking your progress from this point onwards.

    Here’s a link to your first book in case other blog readers would like to see them: Wrong Place Wrong Time

    Let me know if you want to proceed with film at any point. I may have some connections for you.

    • August 22, 2012 at 4:54pm

      Thank you for your reply and kind words. I would like to take you up on that regarding your connections in the film world. I look forward to hearing from you.

    • David P Perlmutter says:
      February 19, 2013 at 8:08am

      Hi Jonathan,

      Update of my book and delighted to say that overnight my book, WRONG PLACE WRONG TIME has jumped and I mean jumped to #2,089 in kindle and #3 in True Crime in US and #880 paid and #9 in True Crime in UK…..Amazed and reviews flying in. Also would love to know some of your connections in the film industry, I do have an interest but would like options.



      • Jonathan Gunson says:
        February 19, 2013 at 8:55pm

        A good place to start might be Robert Kosberg. He’s increasingly indundated, but if you take time to track him down, it could be the starting point for you. Depends on whether he’s still accepting pitches.

  • August 22, 2012 at 6:37am

    Thanks so much Jonathan for interesting post and reply comments which are also interesting and valuable… I will bookmark it. Marketing is key .. not something that writers are good at – well, I speak for myself. Perhaps a writer cld pay someone to do the marketing .. who knows.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 22, 2012 at 6:45am

      Thanks Susan. The good news is that traditional publishers will almost certainly start offering free promotional services to writers as a part of their e-publishing package. This is because editing, formatting and uploading to the Kindle will not be anywhere near a good enough deal to attract authors. Authors are already able to buy these services very inexpensively elsewhere and keep 100% of the book royalties. This means that as well as offering free promotional services, publishers will need to raise the royalty they pay from 10-15%, to northwards of 40% for the same compelling reason.

      Good times for authors.

  • August 22, 2012 at 7:19am

    Nice article and it makes a great point. As you said, we have the time to let an audience find us. The question now becomes – do writers have the patience to let that happen? So many people read about the success of indies like Amanda Hocking and don’t know the years of work and effort she put in to get there.
    I have also heard this “window of opportunity” described as the “produce model,” as if books could somehow go bad after a certain amount of time like a ripe piece of fruit. I prefer to think of my work as acorns – they are small things that, with proper care and attention, will only grow bigger over time.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 22, 2012 at 7:37am

      Mark. Re. ‘Planting the Acorn': A perfect allegory for the patience that is required when taking the Kindle eBook pathway. The result worth every waiting moment.

  • August 22, 2012 at 8:49am

    Hello Jonathan,
    Great article, and very good points too, just wanted to add that if it was still the dream of an Indie Author to see their books in print, that too is very possible, with the use of print on demand. I print my books through createspace, because much of my target audience don’t have ereaders. I do fairs and festivals, and sell my books in local bookshops and crystal shops. My print sales so far have outshone my ebook sales, though that’s now beginning to change with word of mouth :)

    To me, my books don’t feel real until I can hold the print version in my hand! I’m very glad I decided to go Indie though, because this way, my creations belong to me and my readers, and I can easily publish two books a year, and continue to write what I want.

    Better get back to my writing! My next book will be out in December!


  • Jonathan Gunson says:
    August 22, 2012 at 8:57am

    Michelle. True enough. ‘Print On Demand’ via Create Space is very much an option. The books are always ‘on the shelves’ and like eBooks, do not have a draconian ‘success or death’ time frame.

    But in an increasingly connected world the Kindle and similar devices will gradually rule all. The people who ‘like to hold a book’ because of the rich tactile sensations are of a generation. The coming genration will not see the point. And what intrigues me further is to see how it evolves – i.e. what will the Kindle and its ilk morph into? Ideas?

  • August 22, 2012 at 9:08am

    Another great article, thank you. As a new author myself, I soak up all the information like a sponge. I have been asked why I have gone the Kindle route instead of finding a publisher and you have the answer – a Kindle book will always be available – you can’t pulp a kindle book.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 23, 2012 at 6:46am

      Shirley, that should become our catch phrase – “You can’t pulp a Kindle book.”

  • August 22, 2012 at 9:30am

    Another great article, Jonathan.
    Being a novice I have so much too learn and it was wonderful to discover someone who provides such valuable insights to help me navigate the twists and turns of publishing.
    I have recently decided to self-publish the first book of my my ‘The God’s Apprentice’ fantasy series: ‘Night’s Blood’, (which is currently with a professional editor) for Kindle, and a lot of that decision was based on the facts you discussed in your “10 Simple Strategies For Best Seller Success’, & above. It’s a comforting thought to know that I am on the right track. Thanks!

  • Jonathan Gunson says:
    August 22, 2012 at 9:37am

    Hi Maggie. You’re absolutely on the right track, so press on. Re. “10 Simple Strategies For Best Seller Success’: Great to know I’ll be able to claim that I played a small part when you succeed. By the way, I’ll shortly be putting out a new free guide. You’re on the email list, so you’ll know when that appears soon enough.

  • August 22, 2012 at 9:49am

    Great article Jonathan. I so agree with your points about extending the life of your book. Having come into the Kindle world from the world of traditional. publishing I am enjoying the freedom and sheer speed of these processes. I have always been concerned at the short shelf life of my published books. It seemed against common sense. Now my publishers have just Kindled my back list. And I have Kindled six more myself. So I have a fair number out there . My self Kindled books are trickling out fairly well. I will have to wait for the half year end to find out about the publishers Kindle sales. I have an established blog and I now use Twitter and Facebook a bit. I’m not sure how much they help. Hard to prove their effect. As I said this is a great article – I will track your other advice. I am sure to learn something that will help me on this new adventure. I like the acorn analogy

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 22, 2012 at 11:21am

      Wendy … more info on Twitter, Facebook & blogging soon. Stay tuned.

  • Foong says:
    August 22, 2012 at 9:59am

    Good point you got here.
    I guess I’ll finish my manuscript and get a professional editor to edit it before I go down this route of publishing.
    I’m wondering, will it work better if I e-publish on more platforms (for iBook & other e-readers) or will Kindle just suffice?
    And I totally agree about the huge amount of work needed to create a platform and a following…it’s the same in my online marketing strategies. Looks like I’ve to start creating my platform now.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 22, 2012 at 10:33am

      Foong. Best distribute your book as widely as possible. The pathways at the moment are (1) Amazon Kindle which is about 60% of the eReader device market, and (2) Smashwords.com which reaches the remaining 40% – all the other devices collectively, such as Nook and Kobo and the iPad.

  • Miranda says:
    August 22, 2012 at 10:32am

    Hi Jonathan, I love that you dubbed the idea the ‘Phoenix Effect’. I think it should come to stay as a legit term in e-publishing, especially as I had thought of a similar idea as a marketing strategy for a book I plan to e-publish soon. I had planned that while my book is still is fresh in readers mind by at least six months, I will launch its sequel so that ‘hungry’ readers could go for it, while talking about it a lot, rather wait for it to start to fade from readers’ minds. That way, hopefully if the second book causes as much intrigue as the first, it will not only sell with the first readers, but also bring new ones.

    I’m excited to see that someone else is thinking the same thing!

    What do you think? And the six-month period, is it too short or too long?

  • Jonathan Gunson says:
    August 22, 2012 at 11:31am

    Miranda. In answer to the question about the timing of your second book: Six months is OK, as long as you have way of staying in touch with readers during that time – via your blog and social media is one way for example.

    If possible you could also put a cliff-hanger of sorts in the first book that leads to the second book. i.e. A complete story in its own right, but with an overarching idea that goes across the second as well … and a third? JK Rowling ran it out across seven stories with Harry Potter. It was a ‘serial’ across a series of complete stories. Another great tactic: At the end of the first book put the first chapter of the second book. Clever tease that.

    Also check out this series post for further ideas.

  • August 22, 2012 at 12:02pm

    Hi Jonathan, great blog post. This is exactly my thinking. I didn’t bother to go the traditional route and recently published my memoir via Kindle/Smashwords. I’m prepared to go the long haul with getting my message out there. I do know it will take a lot of patience as well. I’m looking forward to reading more blog posts. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 23, 2012 at 6:44am

      Long haul gets my vote. (Work and patience play a big part.)

  • August 22, 2012 at 12:32pm

    That truly is the beauty of the Kindle – and judging from the indie publishers that I know,
    the more you got out there the better & more powerful the effect.
    I think you can even boost that effect when you create a book series – when one person luvs one of book in the series, she’s usually inclined to read more (if not ALL) of it.

    BTW – BRILLIANT marketing choice with labeling it as the Phoenix Effect, lol, you may just set an idea virus a la Seth Godin with that one.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 22, 2012 at 12:40pm

      Thanks Mars. Maybe the ‘Phoenix Effect’ needs one of your utterly awesome graphics – I’d feature it here there and everywhere.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 21, 2012 at 8:34pm

      Mars, further thought: You’re on the money: “…the more you’ve got out there the better & more powerful the effect.” Not sure the ‘Phoenix effect’ will become an idea virus, but you know about these things and obviously got it immediately. But yes, I guess the name has a feeling of Seth Godin’s book ‘The Icarus Effect’.

  • August 22, 2012 at 1:17pm

    Thanks for another great article. Saw you on twitter with it yesterday and just got a chance to read it. I am working on editing my first book and am definitely keeping my options open. If traditional avenues fail, I have no problem publishing on kindle. I download at least seven books a week on my kindle and have seen what word of mouth and social networking can do for authors. A writer needs to keep an open mind when trying to get their book published. You work so hard on creating the story, a little hard work on promoting it shouldn’t intimidate you. Good luck to all who try this route…see you on kindle.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 23, 2012 at 6:43am

      See you on the Kindle too Renee. This week I’m buying the latest version of the Kindle to keep up to date with hidden opportunities that may arise from technology changes, and understand any new issues faced by author friends.

  • Brad Strickland says:
    August 22, 2012 at 3:29pm

    Thanks for the article! I’m a Kindle publisher, with three titles out: Atlanta Bones and Cuban Dagger by Ken McKea (Florida thrillers that have been compared to the work of John D. MacDonald) and The Dancer in the Dark, by Thomas E. Fuller and me. Sales have been progressing. This could just be the future of publishing.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 23, 2012 at 6:38am

      Assume your Florida Thrillers are a series?

      • Brad Strickland says:
        August 23, 2012 at 8:27pm

        Yes, indeed. The first is a frank homage to Travis McGee, but Jim Dallas is growing to become his own man. I have the third one, Eden Feint, underway and have plotted out a fourth and fifth.

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          August 23, 2012 at 9:52pm

          Excellent news re your character ‘Jim Dallas’ and the others in your literary cast. And a sense of excitement on hearing that you’ve plotted out the fourth and fifth books in the series. If the early titles have to work hard for admission to the sales hall of fame, remember that the ‘Phoenix effect’ will step in as you go along. Please keep me in the loop re progress Brad.

  • August 22, 2012 at 10:00pm

    These are just a few of the answers I give people when they ask why I don’t publish the traditional route. I can’t imagine feeling the insane pressure of knowing the window for my books was so short. Great article. @theedgeofwords

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 23, 2012 at 6:36am

      We’re on the same page Heather.

  • Rana says:
    August 22, 2012 at 10:13pm

    An amazing and totally convincing post Jonathon! It seems so simple and makes all the sense. I feel so relieved now and blessed that I didn’t fall into the trap of traditional publishing. I do love to hold a real book in my hand and can never underestimate their value, but when it comes to publishing your own book, things can all be too risky. Thanks and I will want to know more about Kindle publishing when my manuscript finishes.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 22, 2012 at 11:05pm

      Author career can be a long haul Rana. But if it’s your vocation / interest you have head start. The future is with eBooks yes, but it will take quite a while for the huge paper books industry to fade away, so don’t dismiss it entirely yet – they have a lot of influence, as discovered by writers John Locke, Amanda Hocking & EL James. (They jumped from eBooks back to traditional and now use a hybrid of both.)

      The traditional path that’s still highly effective is to prove a book on the Kindle, then win a print deal as well. That way you get sales in all markets, because even though paper books are declining, they’re still massively distributed. See blog post on the future of publishing.

  • August 22, 2012 at 10:46pm

    Well that certainly gives me hope for the future, and although I won’t be putting the down payment on my Porsche yet, I will keep writing.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 22, 2012 at 11:12pm

      I have in mind an Aston Martin Roger. Best we summon the muse and get back to the creative slog.

  • August 23, 2012 at 1:33am

    Another great post, Jonathan. One thing I’d like to add is that by trending sales activity for 4 books my publishing company has released in the last two years is that it takes around 6-9 months to really start to reach your audience on Amazon. Authors entering this realm need to understand that patience and daily discipline are the keys to success.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 23, 2012 at 2:10am

      Omar. Valuable feedback indeed – interesting to note that Maeve Binchy would have agreed with you re: ‘…Authors entering this realm need to understand that patience and daily discipline are the keys to success.’ . This is her mantra too. She puts it very succinctly and persuasively in this video – her ‘Writing Secrets’

  • August 23, 2012 at 1:35am

    I would NOT be where I am today if it weren’t for Amazon and the Kindle. Yes, I do get to give up my full time day job come spring and will be able to fulfill my life long dream of being a full time writer.

    My first book was published in December 2011. By February 2012 she was on Amazon’s top 100 Best Sellers List and has been there ever since. ;o) To date, I’ve sold more than 28,000 copies. I know that I would not have had such success if it weren’t for Amazon and KDP program.

    So yes, you CAN make a living at writing. IF your story is good! ;o) I believe you must start there first, with a really good story. The rest, as they say, will fall in to place accordingly.

    Thanks for the article! ;o)

    Suzan Tisdale

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 23, 2012 at 1:57am

      Suzan, this brings a smile to my face from ear to ear. Congratulations. Very encouraging for aspiring writers. I also agree with the essential point you make: You CAN make a living at writing but only if your story is good.

  • August 23, 2012 at 1:40am

    Fantastic article. For those writers still wishing for an agent, sending around queries, and hoping for a publishing contract, there are thousands of writers out there making things happen for themselves. I am so glad I decided to go the Indie route. My book comes out in a few weeks, and this article just makes me even more sure of my decision to self publish. Thank you.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 23, 2012 at 2:12am

      Welcome to the future Molly.

  • August 23, 2012 at 2:06am

    Hi Jonathan, I took the long road back to what your talking about. Great article and now I’m trying to get my latest book back on Kindle. I have my other books, Lightning in the Tunnel series, In the beginning, Zigzagging Home, The Journey Continues…, A Place called Terra, Terror Reigns and General Tomahawk Rises all on Kindle but they all came out as paper backs first and didn’t do so well. My latest, a SiFi I just published on Smashwords called “A Stranger comes Crawling”.

    All through this I didn’t know that the author had to work at building a platform and use the social media to get anyone to even look at my books. I am grateful that the print books are now on Kindle so when I do it the word out, people (readers) can go back and pick up the series if they want to. Great article once again. I love to hear what you say about the blogging I’m doing and building the platform.

    George Moye aka A.G. Moye

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 23, 2012 at 4:00am

      George. Life becomes even simpler if the current work or past work is a series. See my article on series..

      And it takes diligent work to loft a book into visibilty – using social media tools to find your audience for example. I never like to be too prescriptive about social media, because for each author one particular angle can be a ‘natural’ for them. For example, E L James wrote fan fiction – the basis of ’50 Shades of Grey’. The Fifty Shades trilogy was developed from a Twilight fan fiction originally titled ‘Master of the Universe’ and published episodically on fan-fiction websites under the pen name “Snowqueen’s Icedragon.

      That fan fiction was her form of ‘social media’ and built up a significant base of fans, so that when she launched it with The Writers’ Coffee Shop, a virtual publisher based in Australia, it caught fire. There’s more to that story in fact, but you’ll see the point I’m making.

  • August 23, 2012 at 3:45am

    Great article Jonathan. I’ve been persuading a ‘traditional’ mature friend of mine of the same merits of epublishing. The ‘quality’ in the process will work its way through the process. It was exactly for considerable number of the reasons mentioned above that I set up Tarragon Publishing, and despite selling all h/w overnight of my first, The Changeling, and selling over 2k from one outlet of Waterstone in 1 yr, still didn’t have a publisher come forward.
    Now I’m helping others get into eform, writing about formatting in the ebook fest Edinburgh going on right now so that people understand some of the problems they’re going to come across. I put out my second in the series last year and working on the third. What can say, that I’m going to rollover and die for a traditional publisher – not likely.
    Great article.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 23, 2012 at 6:34am

      Kamal – Re the ebook festival in Edinburgh; I would love to attend that. Maybe next year.

  • August 23, 2012 at 7:44am

    It’s actually online for ebooks. There is another Edinburgh book festival, which is of course grander, bigger, and has publishers. Oops, did they possibly hold it at same time. Anyway I was asked to write a piece or two, and had a review. Have a look and let me know what you think. Cheers

  • Jonathan Gunson says:
    August 23, 2012 at 10:03am

    Kamal. The Edinburgh Book Festival. is a MUST attend! Claims to be the ‘world’s largest public celebration of the written word’, in the heart of the city of Edinburgh. The 2012 Festival runs from 11 – 27 August. (The online version runs at the same time, but is an independent, virtual festival run by enthusiasts. It has no formal association with the main festival.)

  • August 23, 2012 at 4:49pm

    I have to say social media does work if you take the time. I have been on kindle now since Dec before that I was actually doing auctions and making a great part time income from it, I still do.

    The reason I make a great income from auctions and it is not ebay it is a lesser site in that there is not as much traffic as ebay etc yet I still make a good part time income. The reason is that I had set out to create myself as the place to shop for honest down home prices and a positive experience for my shoppers.

    Now that my son is almost an adult almost 18 I have more time so I can write. I am now in the process of recreating myself as an author. I know from experience with my auctions that if you have the patience to build the online relationships you will have a following just like this article as pointed out. What the author says is true you can acquire a following and they will continue to follow you if you have the patience and the time. Your pocket book will thank you. I read a lot of articles on marketing etc and this is a great one well worth the time to listen and implement.


    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 23, 2012 at 9:43pm

      Cathy. Regarding ‘Recreating myself as an author.’ Welcome aboard the good ship ‘writing’. It all starts with well written books (that’s pivotal) and then apply all that online experience you’ve gained on ebay to build a community around your books, you should do very well.

  • August 23, 2012 at 8:13pm

    Great article. I enjoyed reading many of the comments. I saw your article on twitter and I will re-tweet it. My book “Elsie- Adventures of an Arizona Schoolteacher 1913-1916″ was in print Nov.2011. I added a KINDLE version late Dec.2011. I have sold almost double the amount of KINDLE books as print. I self published and went through Lightning source for the print copies. I have sold over 1,000 print. I think less than 1/2 of the print copies sold through Amazon. Since “Elsie” is an Arizona historical memoir I am marketing it in National parks, State park gift shops and about 24 outlets in Arizona that I approached. There are 2 National Parks that have ordered 320 copies since March. I did a book signing in one Costco in Arizona.

    I invested about an initial $3,000. and that paid off in about 4 months. Yes, it is a huge amount of work. I did not attempt to go the traditional route because I wanted the book to be ready for Arizona’s Centennial in Feb 2012. If I had known how many would eventually sell I would have gone with actual printer and not print-on-demand.

    Elsie is actually #1 in Kindle -Memoirs-West and fluctuates between #2 and #3 in Kindle Memoirs/Educators. I believe it has been #1 in Kindle -Memoirs West for months. Interesting to calculate profit wise how they compare. On Amazon Elsie sells for $14.99. For those print books I sell through National Parks and independent bookstores I make about about $4. per print book once I deduct the printing cost and the discount given to vendors. My Kindle version sells for $4.99 and they give me about $2.76 per book. So I actually only make about $1.25 more per print book than I make on Kindle books. So yes the Kindle sales are great.

    I did have a reader this week that read the e-book and and has now requested a Print copy. I have done 3 giveaways on Amazon. Last one I gave away 14,000 books in 2 days . Those definitely boost sales post free days. However the last free e-books resulted in my first two spiteful reviews. I have 59 reviews and most all have been 5 and 4 star. Not sure I will do free days again. Costco in Arizona just said they want to re-order so that is exciting. Just because you independently publish does not mean your print sales are limited to Amazon. Likely more true for regional Non-fiction books.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 23, 2012 at 9:47pm

      Barbara. Thank you for the Twitter RT. Great evidence you’ve given here, and commendably, you seem to have committed yourself to the well known success system that so many others avoid called ‘work’. Comment appreciated.

  • August 23, 2012 at 8:35pm

    You’re timing is downright eerie, Jonathan. I have just today finished formatting my first ebook. It’s called The Statuary Cats, A Trilogy. These are short stories that appeared in my first book, a micro-press print issue called Tales of Real and Dream Worlds. It racked up great reviews and won a finalist prize in the 2008 National Indie Excellence Awards, but never sold heavily due to my lack of a ten million dollar promotional budget. Your words are heartening, all the way.

    I’m finally seeing the emergence of the great new publishing opportunity that I first heard predicted at the San Diego Writers Conference in 1997. A speaker yelled from the podium that someday writers won’t need to kowtow to agents and publishers but will go directly to the readers. All the writers roared their approval and the agents and publishers looked really sour. Well, here’s hoping. And bear the Statuary Cats in mind for your Halloween reading list. Yeah, they’re fairly scary.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 23, 2012 at 9:59pm

      Bart, congratulations on the finalist award for your ‘Statuary Cats’ trilogy. Let me know which genre this belongs to. Paranormal? I’m picturing I will need to board up my house during Halloween, when your frighteningly strange cats will be roaming abroad.

  • August 24, 2012 at 3:03am

    Great article.
    When I self-published my first book in the Angel Series (YA paranormal) it went to the top ten on Amazon’s Horror list and slowly climbed to #1 (August 2011) where it stayed for approximately seven weeks. It was bumped to #2 by an older book called “The Woman in Black”, which was being made into a film starring Daniel Radcliffe AKA “Harry Potter”.
    Two movie producers contacted me. I hired an entertainment lawyer (Elaine P. English) and signed with Motion Picture Pro Studios which optioned the first two books in my Angel Series. The project is already in development.
    I’ve only been self-publishing (writing and querying agents for three years) for fifteen months, putting out five books. I have two more publishing before the end of the year. A couple of my checks have had my husband seriously thinking I might be able to retire him in the next few years.

    I’m hoping my eBooks will lead to paperbacks of my series (especially with a movie project in development) through a contract with a traditional publisher.

    Either way, I’m happily writing more books, building a fan base, making money, and filled with hope for my writing career. Plus, I’m a regular on the panel for the Indie Author Web TV Show on the Hangout Network.

  • Jonathan Gunson says:
    August 24, 2012 at 3:28am

    Lisa. Regarding your eBooks being made into Movies: Congratulations. That is the type of news we all love to hear. In fact, see my recent post about Lorna Suzuki. Her books are also being made into movies.

    Needless to say, the movies are going to make it infinitely easier for you to get your books into paperback. A great angle because there’s still massive distribution available, despite declining numbers of book stores. (Another writer friend of mine, eBook author Joanna Penn, has just signed with an NY agent for the same reasons.)

    Checked out your website. Love that you use the BIC (butt in chair) method as the main writing process.

  • Steve Carter says:
    August 24, 2012 at 5:13pm

    Fantastic article with those sort of ‘obvious’ ideas which are only obvious when someone points them out to you.

  • Emmie Jae says:
    August 24, 2012 at 5:51pm

    I have just published my book with KDP and really excited! I debated whether or not to go with Amazon or go with a publisher, but I really wanted most of the control as it is my first book – Letters To You: Unposted – I wasn’t sure if self publishing was the right way to go considering the fact that I love actual books, but reading this has really made me see it in a different light and really glad that I chose to publish through KDP. Thank you :)

    • Emmie Jae says:
      August 24, 2012 at 5:53pm

      I also forgot to mention that I love the fact there is a link with KDP where you can actually get your book printed :)

      • Jonathan Gunson says:
        August 24, 2012 at 9:36pm

        Emmie. I’ll be writing articles about how to promote an eBook in the coming weeks.

        By the way, the KDP link will be to Amazon’s ‘print on demand’ division ‘Create Space’ – a company bought by Amazon so that customers can have a single copy or an infinite number of copies printed – according to demand. Most authors still like to have printed copies to hand.

  • August 25, 2012 at 6:00pm

    Great article!

    After getting screwed by several traditional publishing houses, I jumped into the self-publishing pond (ocean) August 2011and I’ve been happily swimming along. Now I have 7 novels on Kindle and Smashwords (3 brand new and 4 that I’ve gotten my rights back for) as well as two short stories. Am I breaking any sales records? Don’t know, but I’m selling more copies each month than the month before and I’m finally getting paid.

    I won’t say I’d never go with a traditional publisher again, but they’d have to offer and deliver something I couldn’t manage to get for myself.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 26, 2012 at 6:24am

      Elysa. It would pay to leave the ‘traditional’ door open.

      The ‘big six’ are having great difficulties at the moment partially because of internal resistance. But they certainly aren’t stupid. I feel they will change and jump fully into ePublishing as described in my other post. http://bestsellerlabs.com/if-printed-books-die-can-you-still-get-a-publisher

  • August 26, 2012 at 2:01am

    Great article Jonathon. I think in order to survive the Trad publishers are going to have to ake up and realize that they need to offer their authors far more lucrative royalities on ebooks. Digital books are up there forever, not just the 4-6 weeks that print books are on the store shelves. They WILL make money and lots of it, if they get with the program. Right now, with the lousy royalties they’re offering us on digital and the fact that we’ll never get our rights back, I’m going Indie on my next book.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 26, 2012 at 6:20am

      CC Cobern (CCC) Great author initials.

      Regarding your point about traditional publishers: I have no doubt that they’re already fully aware of the changes needed. I’ll also point out that unlike the likes of Joe Konrath, I’m not anti-traditional, (they looked after me very well) just pro-author.

      Fact is, the opportunity to succeed as an author has never been greater thanks to the Kindle. But a problem has arisen: Because the internet has reduced the expectations of success to about 5 minutes, it needs a reality check.

      If you have well written books, follow the right plan, and constantly pour in the work, it can still take 5-7 years to become wealthy as an author these days. But that’s an incredibly short time span compared with the previous generation of writers.

      Think about it.

  • August 26, 2012 at 10:45am

    I agree whole-heardedly with the post and have jumped on the bandwagon of indie-pubbing. It’s a slow process, but my trilogy is out there and with the ease of uploading, practically anyone with a working knowledge of word can do it and anyone with a computer or smartphone can download the books to read and they will always be there as long as the author wants them there. The author finally has more control over his/her own work.

  • EmmaK says:
    August 26, 2012 at 8:41pm

    I don’t know. I published my book on Kindle and it sold for three months and then sales went dead! Unless you are promoting it day and night on the web and elsewhere I’m not sure you can get mega sales unless you manage to write a ‘fifty shades’ tome and have housewives sell it via word of mouth! And I just can’t be bothered to promote the book 24/7 as my life is busy as it is! it is fun to have creative control on your book though.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 26, 2012 at 9:08pm

      Emma, re your book.

      I can help you with this. Firstly, it’s not about ‘promoting your book day and night’. That’s far too hard! The way to succeed is to approach it as building an author career, not ‘pushing a book’.

      First step for a writer is obviously writing good books. (No amount of promotion can help poorly written books.) In parallel, slowly and steadily build an ‘author platform’ and use it to INITIALLY find readers one by one, building up your readership at a steady rate. Guess what happens then? THEY start to spread the word. Change the lives of a few, and the ripples spread out through them, in reviews, they tell their friends, mention it on their blogs and in social media and off it goes. It’s a viral process. And it creates a very wide network over time – at an increasing rate.

      Key is to never shout out your books. Instead, engage about your genre via Twitter and blog – they’ll find your books soon enough. And when that’s on the road, spread your communications to Facebook, Pinterest and elsewhere, all of which you use to tell the stories around your stories.

      Essentially you are finding your genre community to initially gain their attention, and build their interest in you, so all the work you do in grabbing attention doesn’t have to be done over and over again. This does not take all day every day, but does take steady scheduled input month after month. Maybe an hour or two every day. It takes time for a career to catch alight, but light years faster these days than a generation ago.

      See the article on Rebecca Skloot. It took her 4 years of work after she’d finished writing to succeed with her NYT bestseller.


      And another author is Romantic fiction writer Tonya Kappes who also does this well.

  • August 27, 2012 at 12:17am

    I’m a newcomer to your blog — my first visit, but surely not my last :). The Phoenix effect is a good one to keep in mind. Like some of the writers above, I’ve also had really great months followed by several months of nothing (or so little a trickle one wondered if the stream was dead). It’s tempting, at those times, to tweak the price or change the bookcover, but I’ve found it’s really a better use of my time to simply go write the next book instead. The more titles you have available, the better position you’re in for when the Phoenix Effect hits.

    Thanks to Ruth Kerce for pointing me in your direction!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 27, 2012 at 2:17am

      Welcome to Bestseller Labs Diana. Writing your next book in the series instead of endlessly tinkering with the first is undoubtedly the right strategy. The ‘Phoenix Effect’ awaits your books.

  • Terry Tyler says:
    August 29, 2012 at 6:37am

    Thanks for this article – I never thought of it this way! I know we tend to think of getting that publishing contract as the be all and end all, but, you’re right – you might just not sell.

    All my books have been slow taking off – my 3rd one, The Other Side, which came out in May this year, I couldn’t GIVE away at first, but now it’s outselling the other two. Thus, the reviews are starting to come in, and so it goes on. You’re so right, of course, about one’s back catalogue being instantly available.

    Now, what we need is for everyone in the world to buy Kindles…!!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 29, 2012 at 9:46am

      Apparently the Kindle boom has ‘leveled off’ according to recent reports, but will continue to grow at a slower rate. This is because people are now buying a variety of devices such as the ipad and other eReaders.

      But in fact the actual figures appear to show that sales of the Kindle have fallen off a cliff..

  • August 29, 2012 at 8:40am

    Great insightful post.

    I went it alone in May. My platform had been built over a four year period, and the support of fellow writers was wonderful. Slowly my book has been purchased by strangers, and their reviews are overwhelming. I have had two emails inquiring if I am going to expand on characters within the novel. These strangers have pushed me forward, and a sequel is in the offing. I also received messages asking for readers to be notified when my second comes out in Dec. So three novels have captured a few fans that I never dreamed

    I am the tortoise, and am enjoying the view rather than the rush past blur. I will get half way up those stairs. :)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 29, 2012 at 9:51am

      Glynis. ‘Slow and steady wins the race’ was never more true in the building of an author platfrom, a book series and an author brand. But… anything is possible with the internet. I’m referring to the ‘50 Shades Of Grey‘ phenoemenon that has outstripped all others by such a large margin, that it begins to look like the game has changed for both authors and publishers at a fundamental level. Very good for authors.

  • August 30, 2012 at 6:54am

    Really enjoyed this article. Love the slow and steady wins the race. I’ve been doing quite a bit of research into self-publishing and may look at that in the future. Having only just been contracted with new epublisher Crimson Romance, I’m going to give them a fair shot while I continue to study the market and see how things go. I’m definitely a tortoise!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      August 30, 2012 at 11:23am

      Rowena. Best give your Romance publisher a good run at it. You’re fortunate to be contracted. Congratulations. Note. Keep an eye on your digital rights. Will they be using those? There is no direct distribution cost for eBooks, so the % royalty should be far higher if they are. Your agent will advise.

  • August 31, 2012 at 12:42am

    I believe everything you’ve said is true, but I’m still hoping to see the snowball effect. My current urban fantasy novel, Glacial Eyes sees slow but steady sales–better when I promote it–and I’m looking to re-release it when I release Hollow Eyes–the second novel in the series–in the next couple of months. I’ve been a follower of J.A. Konrath’s blog and he says much the same as you–though he uses a more aggressive voice–and I’m glad you invited me to see your site.

  • Jonathan Gunson says:
    August 31, 2012 at 5:09am

    The ‘snowball effect’ is a great way to describe the breakout of a book. Inevitably, sales will increase when you take steady, repeated time to promote in a structured way with blog posts etc – instead of shouting a book title. This is true across the board for the authors I’m in touch with. As your series develops, the sales of the earlier books should increase in tandem.

    Looking forward to the success of ‘Hollow Eyes’ JKW.

  • September 13, 2012 at 12:00pm

    Absolutely fascinating! And so true. A really interesting article. Thanks Jonathan. And certainly true of my own books.

  • September 13, 2012 at 12:46pm

    The missing link for a lot of us is the marketing… how to get the eyeballs on your amazon page… still looking for ways to get that done…

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      September 16, 2012 at 11:23am

      Sam. The ‘missing link’ of book discoverability is about 90% of the whole authoring / publishing equation. It’s why most writers want a publisher to do it all for them. But it’s also why I keep pointing out that now with social media you can do it yourself steadily – if you raelly want to succeed. It’s a career thing, not just promoting one book.

      It also takes time to build an audience. But once in place it’s huge asset that keeps on growing, and keeps on giving.

  • September 15, 2012 at 1:07am

    Hi, Jonathon. Thanks for stopping by my Facebook page. I’m so glad you did so that I would find this wonderful article and your site. I’m in the process of editing a current manuscript that I believe so strongly in that I’ve got a huge dry erase board up in my office where I’m analyzing the pros and cons of my different publishing choices. Self-pub vs. trad. pub. Query agents vs. hire editors and cover designers and just go for the DIY. I’m a business person by trade, so running my own show doesn’t scare me.

    This article is a great addition to the side of the board listing the benefits of self-publishing. Thanks!!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      September 16, 2012 at 11:18am

      That belief of yours will see you through just about anything Heather. I might add that the day of the pubisher isn’t over by a long chalk. Good to meet you on Facebook.

  • Sharon Carbone Motes says:
    September 15, 2012 at 3:26pm

    Hi. I recently finished writing Nunne’hi- Immortal Secrets, book 1 in a series of 7 that follows a young girl on her epic journey into adulthood. I was leaning towards publishing through Kindle, but it sounded as if I could publish with no one else unless I paid $100 to keep the ISBN number. Is this correct or can I still publish my book with Kindle for free and go to other publishers later?

  • Jonathan Gunson says:
    September 16, 2012 at 11:20am

    You can go with another publisher later Sharon. Nothing ‘locks you in’ to Amazon.

    • Sharon Carbone Motes says:
      September 16, 2012 at 6:42pm

      Thanks for clearing that up for me!!

  • Amanda Barton says:
    September 18, 2012 at 2:34pm

    I have just helped my 14 year old daughter to publish her first short horsey novel on amazon kindle. It’s called One Last Run. She started by selling to a few friends and family. Last night I set up a Facebook page and advert for it and today she was offered an interview for a horsey website.

    It is a wonderful story for one so young and I think shows great potential. This is a whole new game for us and a bit daunting.

    • September 18, 2012 at 8:32pm

      Congratulations to your daughter. I think it is fantastic that the various self-publishing platforms (Kindle, Lulu, Smashwords, etc.) drop the barriers to getting published and allow all sorts of people in all sorts of circumstances to get their stories out into the world. I remember when I was a young writer, and how frustrating it was that aside from sending stories to editors and agents to disappear into the ether, I never really had a way to share what I was putting down on paper. The Internet coming along was a significant boon and I don’t think I would have kept writing without it. Now we have multitudes at our fingertips, without gatekeepers deciding we’re too young, old, boring, eccentric or our writing is too out of style to be marketable. The trick now is finding the market ourselves.

      Good luck to your daughter, hopefully this is the first of many stories she enjoys writing and showing to the world.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      September 18, 2012 at 10:09pm

      Hi Amanda. Re your daughter’s book ‘One Last Run’.

      The journey has begun, and the great advantage is that she’s arrived just at the right moment of change in the industry. She has the years to develop writing into a career / vocation if she wants at her own pace – no rush, and the passion and interest to sustain it. Reminds me of my childhood friend Bridget who used to have horsey stuff pinned all over her walls. Photos, drawings, horseshoes. She’s still mad about horses – these days she breeds them.

  • Rana says:
    September 23, 2012 at 7:53pm

    I’m still working on my FIRST book and I’m so lucky to discover the great advantages of Kindle e-publishing. I feel free in that I don’t have to get turned down a hundred times before my books get published. I hope I can consult you when my book is ready to publish.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      September 23, 2012 at 11:09pm

      Rana. Standing by.

  • Diane says:
    October 3, 2012 at 11:18pm

    Thanks for the Kindle inspiration Jonathan! The information you provided makes a lot of sense. My recent book, Twenty-Eight Snow Angels, is available in Kindle form and paperback. Royalties are higher on the Kindle than paperback. Building that platform and readership for an unknown author is a daily challenge. Wish I was a movie star or a former president with a built in platform. At least with the e-book I have some time for construction.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      October 4, 2012 at 12:01am

      Hi Diane. ‘Twenty Eight Snow Angels’ – a great title. And yes, Kindle is the bomb.

      I’m putting up a post here next week about social media and platform best practice that will be quite an eye opener. Stand by.

  • October 4, 2012 at 5:51pm

    Thanks for the inspiration Jonathan!

    With my first book ‘Genome’ finally out on Amazon, B&N and Smashwords I’ve been pounding the virtual pavement on twitter and blogging. The results are mostly finding wonderful writing friends and bloggers which is great.

    epub is the only way I could bring my stories to life like many fledging authors. I wrote ‘Genome’ as a screenplay in 2006 and of course had no luck finding an agent or movie house that would take on a novice.

    Now I’m working on a humorous Sci Fi series. I hope that by having multiple books out there I can find that ‘trigger point’ where I start developing a following.

    Thanks again!

  • October 6, 2012 at 12:19pm

    […] Why Your Amazon Kindle Book Could Be Far Bigger Than You Imagine  Jonathan Gunson talks about some of the advantages of publishing to Kindle (as opposed to traditionally publishing).  Well worth a read. […]

  • […] How ePublishing longevity solves the issues of finding a readership: http://bestsellerlabs.com/why-your-amazon-kindle-book-will-be-far-bigger-than-you-imagine/ […]

  • October 25, 2012 at 2:01am

    Jonathan, do you distinguish between genres, word length, or price when it comes to e-book publishing success? I’m concentrating on short stories and have it in my mind to publish them as Kindle books in 10,000 word chunks, at the minimum price for starters. For me this is manageable chuck of work to refine, with the time limitations of working and having children. Does success come more quickly depending on how works are “packaged” or do you believe it’s just a matter of getting one’s self out there more? Thanks, Francis Ginter.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      October 25, 2012 at 5:24am

      Francis. The best path is a ‘series’. Right now 10,000 word chunks may be a great way to get your e-books out there. It means just that – they’re out there working for you, building your brand, gathering readers. This is the new paradigm. There’s no specific length for an eBook either, no constraints, no minimums, although if the book really is too short, people can feel short changed. The key is to put out fantastic material and that will do the work. Genius James Patterson successfully does this with incredibly short books that he actually does still write. See Seeley James excellent review article of Patterson’s method.

      • October 29, 2012 at 4:07am

        Thanks Jonathan. I’ve just got the one Kindle book out, and mostly am trying to find a repeatable process that works for me, so it’s nice to get some feedback that I am in fact on track. I don’t know anything about James Patterson, except he clearly does have a repeatable process, so there is something to be learned there….See you on Twitter…FG

  • November 18, 2012 at 11:27pm

    I have read books in less time than it took to reach bottom of your comments list. You must be doing something right. I am getting ready to publish a short story on kindle. It is what I am expanding to become my fiction novel. I should say it is taken from part of the novel I am working on. Has anyone had experience trying this method.

    • BrainofMorbius says:
      November 20, 2012 at 8:38pm


      I’ve thought of trying the same thing, or doing what some authors like Stephen King have done with installment stories online. The issue with Kindle however is that they have to actually ACCEPT you into their “Kindle Singles” program to publish short stories or installments there.

      I believe you can do it on your own, but its harder. If you sell a shorter work for the minimum price of 99 cents at Kindle, Amazon takes most of that….

  • BrainofMorbius says:
    November 20, 2012 at 8:36pm


    I didn’t read all the posts here but one thing that seems absent from the theme of your article is the complication of pen names.

    I am an author that likes to write in various genres (science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, children’s books and humor) and so I have a list of pen names I intend to use for Kindle/Smashwords publishing (have not yet put any of my work out there).

    Aside from revealing my true identity across genres to readers or it being discovered, how does this complicate building readership over time and having people who read in one field discover my books in another by seemingly a different author?


    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 21, 2012 at 4:21am

      Brain. The majority of readers tend to stick to just a few genres at most, and don’t tend to cross reference different names – even if they are the same author.

      If you are able to sustain output in each genre, then the author pen name in each can build successfully, but only individually. Fact is you cannot really build up a series of different names and still have them working collectively as a single author brand somehow! There will be some rub-off of course, but essentially it is the single author name in each genre that is developed and followed.

      • BrainofMorbius says:
        November 21, 2012 at 8:29pm

        Thanks for the reply Jonathan. I suspected as much…from what you said, but wanted to get your input on it as I don’t socialize much with other writers so I know that my viewpoint gets disorted now and then… My main interest is SF/F but I like the other genres I listed as well and have several titles I’m working on.

        I read recently in an article about writer’s block, the author stating that writing is hard, and you should focus on just what you really enjoy the most. I’ve found however that I burn out on one particular field if I stick to it exclusively and I need to take a break and try something different.

        When Borders was still in business, I used to go to the local store on the weekend and pick out a book at random from their $1 discard bin (fiction or nonfiction), just to get a fresh perspective on different types of writing. Most of these books were hard to get through due to my personal preferences, but I found some that really inspired me now and again…

        Thanks again for the input. =)

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          November 21, 2012 at 8:55pm

          Brain. Yes indeed – agree. Reading other works is an excellent way to summon a reluctant muse and also improve writing quality. One could even say it’s akin to ‘sharpening the saw’.

  • November 30, 2012 at 3:37am

    Jonathan, with so many comments, I didn’t have time to review them all, but I’m wondering about the e-book devices of the future – Kindle included. Will the devices change so much that the formatting of books from years prior will no longer be viable? Your thoughts?

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 30, 2012 at 11:23pm

      Micheaelene. You’ve hit on a crucial point.

      I have a suspicion that pure black & white, text-dedicated devices such as the Kindle may disappear eventually, and the tablet style device (such as the iPad and its ever slimmer and cheaper descendants) will prevail. The way I see this happening might be for the LCD screen iPad to introduce a parallel feature that works in a similar way to the e-ink surface on the Kindle, which makes reading text easier on the eyes. You’ll be able to choose one surface or the other on the same device.

      More likely however, is that people will decide they cannot afford both and simply use a tablet for all things, including reading, despite the LCD surface not being as conducive to reading as the Kindle e-Ink surface. But the jury is out on this, and will be for some time!

      Unfortunately, like most other things in our ever-changing e-world we as writers are going to have to constantly upgrade and reformat our content to suit new devices every few years. This means – in answer to your query – that yes, Kindle specific formatted material may end up obsolete. That will take years to happen though, and for now, the current Kindle formatting (and all the others reached through Smashwords) is the option that reaches the greatest share of the market, so we have no option.

      ~ Jonathan

  • December 3, 2012 at 7:13am

    Yes, I have an ebook on Amazon. Had only 2 reviews until recently. With active marketing I have increased reviews to 18. However, 99% of my sales have been from iTunes, not Amazon. We’ll see if that changes as the reviews grow. Also creating a book trailer for series.


    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      October 4, 2013 at 4:08am

      Keep me posted regarding your progress re iTunes V Amazon. That’s an unusual imbalance I’ve not seen before.

  • Pat Gragg says:
    December 3, 2012 at 11:15pm

    I published three nonfiction books a few years back. The publishing house was swallowed up by another house; there was no marketing and I made very little money. I have three boxes of these books in storage.
    My first ebook mystery novel made a slow rise (almost a year) and then became a best seller–#5 in Kindle books, and several #2s in mystery related genres. I sold a lot of books! Sales slowly declined but I made excellent money in 2011 and I still have some income from the book.
    I just put my 2nd thriller up on Amazon. As far as I can tell, Amazon does not do for ebooks–even if they are big sellers–what it does for print books or for print authors. No mention on lists of new releases, no emails telling readers this author’s new book is out. Nothing. I’m tweeting, posting on FB, doing everything I did before. It’s like I’m starting all over. Correction: I AM starting all over. Plus, I’m checking out all the how-to marketing material I can. Time will tell.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      December 4, 2012 at 1:58am

      Pat, for every new book you sell on Amazon I suggest collecting the email address of every e-reader, so that when you launch your next book, you’ll have a mailing list ready to notify of its release in advance. (Tempt them to sign-up by offering your next book in the series for free as a PDF or for .99c – do this at the back of the book with a link to your blog with sign-up panel.) Similarly, in book #2, ask if readers would like advance notice of when book 3 will be released.

      This is a medium-term strategy, because by the time they’ve read 2 books, they’ll pay for all your new ones as they appear, and you’ll have a growing mailing list under your control, being built by book #1 & #2.

  • January 2, 2013 at 8:57pm

    Hi Jonathan,
    This article certainly gives me hope. my book, “A Cowherd in Paradise” was published by Brindle & Glass, and the book is available on Amazon as a Kindle download. In my first Royalty Statement, way more solid books sold than the e-books – which was a disappointing surprise. However, as you say, with some more work on e-promotion, I should be able to build the e-readership. I’ll have to mention it when I travel around the province (BC) doing readings.
    Thanks for all the tips!
    BTW – we saw The Hobbit on New Year’s eve. I’d looked forward to it, as I loved LOTR. Visually stunning, but I thought this was too strung out, and the dialogue a bit too sentimental. Probably won’t stop me from seeing the sequels!
    Happy New Year!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      January 7, 2013 at 10:35pm

      May… Re ‘The Hobbit': Martin Freeman is sublime as the Hobbit. I did find the ‘Eagle Rescue Service’ amusingly cliche, but gratifying. I’m holding out for the sequels.

      Blog post for you: http://bestsellerlabs.com/the-hobbit-movie-writing-secret/

      ~ Jonathan

  • Eric Bevan says:
    January 22, 2013 at 6:32am

    Hi Jonathan. Thanks for this forum, just got onto Twitter etc and what a gold mine of info. As a Grandad of 79 I am attempting to assist my wife promote her books. N/o 1 “The Adventures of Hugh Barnaby and the Place of Shadows” now on Amazon E books etc. N/o2 ready to go. These are books for children and as adventure stories have also good mystery magic and historical aspects, which make them very good reading (comments by children who have read the 1st book).
    By the way I have just downloaded your info. books and will be right into them tonight. Thanks a heap, and for all the other very interesting comments thank you, they are all informative and very interesting, I look forward to following many of your careers.
    Best regards. Eric

  • Jeff Olah says:
    January 24, 2013 at 10:06pm

    Jonathan –

    Thanks for directing me here.

    This is bookmarked and also in my “Awesome Posts” file.

    I will keep coming back for inspiration.


    Take care


    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      January 24, 2013 at 10:46pm

      You’re welcome Jeff. PS. I’ve sent you an interesting email re Kindle, covers etc. ~ Jonathan

  • January 30, 2013 at 4:14pm

    As always, you offer great insights and encouragement. The eternal shelf-life of ebooks is a major reason why independent authors with quality books can actually be successful in the new world of publishing. I totally agree with your explanation of how the traditional paradigm of book releases is no longer valid, allowing an author to build readership over time. The race is not always to the swift . . .

    Thanks for the wise words about this–and your other post about writing a series. The first novel in my mystery series comes out this week and your words heartened me that I’m headed in the right direction. Best, Carmen

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      January 30, 2013 at 8:28pm

      As you say, ‘the race is not always to the swift . . .’
      All the best with the first novel in your series .
      ~ Jonathan

  • Wallace Cass says:
    February 10, 2013 at 2:49am

    Once again, Jonathan, you have given me much to think about. Thanks for the informative article. :)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      February 10, 2013 at 5:37am

      Wallace.. the shift is taking place, but despite media hysteria, its more like tectonic plates moving. Massive, slow, steady. But eventually the map of the publishing world will look entirely different. ~ Jonathan

  • […] By Jonathan Gunson August 21st 2012 181 Comments […]

  • […] process from the day you start writing you book, it is still possible to start promoting on or after launch day.  But it’s not what I recommend, because you’ll miss out on a substantial head […]

  • Margaret Taylor says:
    April 7, 2013 at 9:49pm

    Hi Jonathon,

    Thanks so very much for this insight. I am not new to the publishing world, I have six books out – available to the Kindle now, though they weren’t until about a year ago. My publisher had ebooks ready for download direct from the site before but unless you were into that specific genre sales suffered greatly. They were steady, yes, but not near where I wanted them to be. With Kindle/Amazon and its marketplace and some work on my part to grow my readership, I’m confident that’ll happen.

    And you’re right. My backlist is slowly picking up under that pen name, especially with me having the time on my hands and the knowledge I didn’t have before, thanks to people like you, to do the right sort of promotion. (Thanks for this: http://bestsellerlabs.com/biggest-author-social-media-mistake/ which I just discovered today and plan to put to use very quickly)

    With your articles and insight, my second pen name won’t suffer the long road to get where I want it to be and hopefully by the time my first work releases I’ll have built the following necessary to get where I want to go.

  • April 18, 2013 at 2:55pm

    A brilliant mind combined with experience – thank you! I have already started networking my new title.. would love you to take a peak as I believe it is quite unique and will hopefully raise the chances of saving Africa’s diminishing wildlife species. Any suggestions from your side would be greatly appreciated!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      October 4, 2013 at 4:07am

      I’m equally as interested as you in Wildlife defence, not just in Africa, but including India and elsewhere.

  • Deepa Agarwal says:
    May 8, 2013 at 12:08pm

    Thanks for this article. It has forced me to change my perspective of e-publishing.I am going to very seriously consider this option for my deubutant book as well.

    The most interesting perspective is that book stores send the books back to the publisher in the first 2 months of poor sales. Visibility is an important aspect in selling books.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      October 4, 2013 at 4:04am

      Definitely go with Kindle in your case.

  • June 15, 2013 at 2:02am

    Hello Jonathon,
    What a great article. I am a mature woman & live in Western Australia and haven’t years to do all the things I wanted to, but never too late. I have 9 ebooks with Smashwords (only in the last 3 months.) my 2 Stone Heart thrillers, 3 children’s books, 3 poetry and 1 How to Get Out Of a Speeding Fine book. I have since, last week uploaded my 2 thrillers to Amazon and am working on formatting the rest. I have 2 more thrillers I am writing. I am still in the early stages of learning about marketing, but will keep on.

    Thank you for all the great information, it is people like you who deserve a medal.
    Kind regards, Kaye Edwards. http://www.kayeedwards.com

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      June 15, 2013 at 9:48am

      Hi Kaye
      That’s quite an output you have. Prolific is the word. 4 Thrillers… are they a series?

  • July 4, 2013 at 3:48pm

    Just a thought as I read this post and many comments. For the faint of heart regarding so much work to do vis a vis marketing, I have hired outside contractors in the past and will be hiring others with the second book.

    There are so many excellent and inexpensive worker bees who can do the work you do not have time for. I’m using someone for the cover – did my last one myself – and for the formatting to KDP. I can copyedit, but need another pair of eyes to find something I missed that is perhaps an anachronism, or wrong usage of language. The copyeditor was found by going to another state and city, namely Manhatten, NY where I found an expert to copyedit for the sum of $30. Another, ebooklaunch, did my formatting of the last book and did an excellent job as well for $95.

    I think it means I won’t be so grumpy, feel less stress and be happy with the work that was done. I don’t do my income tax or car repair for the same reasons. It just makes sense. I like leading a happy life and this works for me.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      July 4, 2013 at 9:47pm

      Outsourcing can certainly take the pressure off. And the importance of beautiful covers that speak to the right audience cannot be understated, particularly at thumbnail size on Amazon. I used to design my own covers, but the two new covers for the courses I sell for example were both designed by a professional graphic artist.

  • Mells says:
    August 31, 2013 at 9:44pm

    You linked this year-old post on Twitter today – and I am so glad you did! Great article and this is my first (but not my last!) visit to your blog.

    I published my first book (Book 1 in a series) last April. Between now and then I published a short novella in the series and sometime in the next few days, Book 2 is going live.

    I have been diligently promoting the series – but only discovered the joys and merits of Twitter this month – so I look forward to your book with anticipation.

    What I am finding so frustrating is how much time and effort I spend trying to promote my series. It’s not that I don’t like to promote – because I do – its just that it takes so much time away from my writing. I am getting some fantastic reviews from my target audience – but its the getting people to read the book in the first place that is so hard.
    Equally as frustrating is some responses I get from venues like Bookbub and BookBlast – both of whom have rejected listing my book because they “Don’t think it would be the right fit for their readers.” But yet I see Urban Fantasies and Para-romances in their lists – some with less reviews than mine!

    Reading all the above comments has re-energized me. Perhaps I am hoping for too much too quick. I will keep plodding along and will, as per your advice, start “building an author career and not pushing a book” – advice I think I will strongly benefit from.

    J. C. Mells

  • Ruth Sims says:
    September 24, 2013 at 12:13am

    I had no idea that traditional books were trashed after such a short period in a store if they don’t sell well. Do publishers deliberately not tell authors this?
    Ruth S.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      September 24, 2013 at 12:19am

      Publishers don’t specifically go out of their way to tell authors that their chances are quite slim! Realistically, one can’t expect them to do so either. On the contrary, they make it their business to be as encouraging as possible, and they don’t do this cynically in most cases.
      There’s no question however that there’s a wide gulf separating the chances of a Kindle book finding its audience over time, and attempting to achieve the same outcome with a print book in 30 days.

  • October 4, 2013 at 3:07am

    It’s true that a server can hold a lot of data and hundreds of servers can hold trillions of bytes of data. However I fear their algorithm will one day weed out books below a certain performance standard and delete them. Of course if your book hasn’t sold in 30 or fifty years, will it ever? I do have a POD book that sell a couple of copies a year since its publication in 2000. But you are right, this is better than the brick and mortar bookstore model.

  • Jonathan Gunson says:
    October 4, 2013 at 3:25am

    Re Amazon deleting books. Unless people have repeatedly complained about the trashy quality of a book and complain they have been ripped off, that won’t happen.
    Amazon are not foolish enough to cut out the possibility of blockbuster hits coming out of nowhere. Aside from the sales guaranteed by established authors such as Tom Clancy … no wait, he’s dead, let’s try that again. Let’s choose JK Rowling. Apart from the likes of her the Amazon team know that the ‘chance hit’ is how it ALWAYS happens. And they also know it is virtually impossible to predict. For example, Colleen Hoover is selling huge numbers of copies of ‘Slammed’ and ‘Hopeless’. But this time last year was selling virtually nothing.
    Don’t worry, all is well
    ~ Jonathan

  • October 22, 2013 at 5:53pm

    I’ve recently published my first novel through kindle followed by a pod version through createspace. I always thought it would be amazing to get a ‘real publisher’ but reading your article, I have had a major rethink. I never realised that publishers only give books a few months to get noticed. Now I think I’ll stick with self publishing for my future books.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      October 22, 2013 at 10:56pm

      It’s something of a revelation for most writers. Many proceed anyway just for the sake of being able to say they are ‘published’.
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 5, 2013 at 12:28am

    Sounds like sound advice. My first book (Doctors, Lawyers, Warriors and Thieves) I published with Publish America since it didn’t cost me anything, then I found out they were just an “Author Mill” and it hasn’t made me a dime in 3 years either. I am working on rewriting it as “Warriors and Thieves” to publish it on Amazon, so I don’t have to pay them to buy my book rights back. My latest book, “The Pyramid Home Book” I published as a kindle e-book on Oct 23 so I will await the outcome and start using social media to promote it.

  • Ken says:
    November 8, 2013 at 7:14pm


    Thank you for your site and the great advice!

    Don’t hate me for nitpicking, please, but when you say ‘understated’ near the end don’t you mean ‘overstated’?

    Sorry it’s the editor in me. I can’t help it, I’ve been editing for days on end!


    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      November 9, 2013 at 2:47am

      You are 100% correct. Duly edited. (Those types of obvious errors drive me crazy too.)
      ~ Jonathan

  • November 14, 2013 at 2:38pm

    Hi Jonathan

    Thanks very much for the huge amount of practical information. I’ll be checking out all the links you’ve provided. Your answer to Jeanie’s comment (July 4, 2013), about beautiful covers is highly pertinent. The local paperback version of my ‘The 18th Variation’ came out with a detail of Renoir’s nude ‘Baigneuses’ (Bathers). It’s striking, but perhaps too much in your face to leave on your coffee table when you have guests, so Barista Books commissioned S.A. (Sam) Hunt to redo the cover for the Kindle version on Amazon. Stunning result, I’m happy to say!

    Regards, John

  • January 14, 2014 at 6:28am

    Those who don’t know how to start creating their Kindle book would do well to visit my web site at http://www.kindlesmith.com which makes it super simple to create an Amazon-ready Kindle book.

  • June 27, 2014 at 12:53am

    Je voudrai vous dire que c’est constamment un plaisir de vous