Somehow, it does not surprise me that a quarter of the top 100 Kindle books are self-published. These books consistently underprice the competition from traditional publishers, and are often available for free through Amazon's KDP Select program. Readers are more then willing to take a chance on a book that costs nothing.

And, of course, now that Amazon owns Goodreads, a whole new world of reviews and reader endorsements has opened up.


: The Guardian, Dec 4, 2013

As many as a quarter of the top 100 Kindle books on Amazon.com are from indie publishers, according to data revealed at a trade presentation by the retailer.

A chart detailing the 25 top-selling indie titles in 2012 was passed on by an audience member via Twitter. Though the term indie is broad, covering everything from self-published authors to publishing houses that fall outside the big six, the news has been interpreted as a victory for the go-it-alone author. However in the US the term has come to mean self-published. A spokeswoman for Amazon.com said: "This figure is referring to Kindle books on Amazon.com in 2012, with 'indie' meaning books self-published via Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). So a quarter of the top 100 bestselling Kindle books on Amazon.com in 2012 were self-published via KDP."

Writer.ly , an online marketplace that connects authors with freelance editors, book designers and marketeers, tweeted a picture of the chart on Wednesday. It displayed the top 100 books, with about a quarter of the covers highlighted, under the title "A Quarter of top 100 on Amazon.com Indie-Published".

The figure refers to Amazon's US book market but is a strong indicator of what's ahead for the UK. "If the UK isn't quite there yet then it's just a time lag – we are seeing that more and more of the top books around the world are published by authors themselves," said Orna Ross, director of the UK Alliance of Independent Authors, which represents self-published writers.

"We are in the middle of a major change. I wouldn't be at all surprised if we reached a situation where the majority of the top books are author-published. I don't see what would stop that," Ross said.

Read more HERE.

Amazon's recently released statistics are no doubt causing gray hairs to sprout all over the heads of print publishers. Why? 

For one thing, 200,000 additional authors decided to sell their books exclusively on Amazon through their KDP Select program. Not all of these authors will reach the sales of the top 150, but even if each author sold a few hundred books in 2013, Amazon made quite a profit. 

Success, for Amazon, is not measured by how many best-selling authors they produce, but by how many authors decide to throw their hats into Amazon's ring.

Of course, another reason for CEOs to go gray is the exodus of well-known authors who have decided that they would rather get a greater chunk of the profits their books generate than whatever percentage their publishers mete out to them. In some cases, this amounts to millions of dollars in royalties that would otherwise have gone to publishing houses.


Press ReleaseAmazon Media Room

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 26, 2013-- (NASDAQ: AMZN)—Amazon today announced a record-setting holiday season for Amazon Prime, the annual membership program offering unlimited Free Two-Day Shipping on millions of items. More than one million customers around the world became new Prime members in the third week of December. On Amazon’s peak shipping day, more Prime items were shipped worldwide than ever before. The entire 2013 holiday season was the best ever for Amazon, with more than 36.8 million items ordered worldwide on Cyber Monday, which is a record-breaking 426 items per second, and millions of customers unwrapped Kindle e-readers and Kindle Fire tablets this holiday season.

Kindle and Amazon Digital Media Facts:
  • Amazon’s digital media selection grew to more than 27 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines, books, audiobooks, and popular apps and games in 2013.
  • Selection in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library in 2013 grew from 250,000 books to more than 475,000 books.
  • More than 200,000 exclusive books were added to the Kindle store in 2013.
  • 150 Kindle Direct Publishing authors each sold more than 100,000 copies of their books in 2013. Top sellers this year include “Hopeless” by Colleen Hoover and “Wait for Me” by Elisabeth Naughton. (Read about Colleen Hoover HERE.)
  • The best-selling Kindle Direct Publishing author during the holiday season was H.M. Ward.
Read the rest HERE.

Nothing is quite so discouraging to an author as a dearth of reviews. After years of working on a novel, months (if not years) of trying to find an agent, and even more time spent waiting for publication, the release date arrives and poof! Nobody appears to be reading your book! It's enough to make you hang up your keyboard.

Even if you self-publish, you will spend months of preparation for a release day that may go out with a whimper, not a bang. In some respects, a lack of reviews is worse if you have self-published, because those who follow that route have to do all their own marketing and promotion, a task which requires direct involvement with readers.

Why are reviews important?

Like any other product on the market, people rely on the recommendation of others when they choose a book to read. In traditional publishing, endorsements by well-known authors and public figures are a key element in marketing. In the self-publishing world, success rests on the number of readers on Goodreads, on Amazon, and on blogs who will give your book a 5-star review. Without this kind of public endorsement, it may be nearly impossible to promote your book, especially if you have enrolled in KDP Select.

Amazon KDP Select giveaways are still the reigning book promotion tool. There are dozens of sites that will post your free days, but nearly all of them require a minimum number of reviews. It's one of those chicken-and-egg dilemmas. You can't promote your book without reviews, but you can't get reviews without promotion.

Should you pay for reviews?

If you are a new self-published author, don't pay for reviews.

Traditional publishers have long-standing ties with the media which self-publishers don't. This often drives self-publishers to pay for publicity. In my experience, paid reviews don't have nearly the clout of regular reviews posted on Amazon or Goodreads. For one thing, they have limited shelf life. A paid review may get posted on Blogcritics and then picked up briefly by small publications, or it may simply get sent to you for your own use. Very rarely do these reviews make it into larger media outlets, where they will reach the maximum number of people. Of course, you can always shell out $400 for a Kirkus review, but you take your chances. A good review in Kirkus is like an endorsement from God, but a bad review is the kiss of death.

How to get free reviews

Fortunately, there are mechanisms in place for getting reviews without spending a great deal of money. Giving away copies en masse is one route, targeting individual reviewers is another.

Librarything allows authors to give away copies of their books to Librarything members. (Read their policies.) Authors of self-published ebooks can give away up to 100 copies. Reviews are not required of readers, although they are recommended, so don't expect more than a 10% return rate. But even 10 reviews will enable you to post your free days on some of the larger freebie sites if you have enrolled in Amazon KDP Select.

Bookblogs is a great site for finding reviewers and for posting your giveaways. Explore the "groups" section and join the groups that are relevant to your genre. When you give away a book, or are looking for reviews, you can post it on the group site. You also have the option of sending a message to every member of that group.

Step-by-Step Self-Publishing
This is a great resource for book review blogs. It's an alphabetical listing of individual bloggers as well as book reviewer lists. This is your one-stop shopping guide to reviewers.

Book Blogger Directory
Over a thousand book blogs, very nicely organized by subject, and alphabetically.

Best of the Web
Best of the Web book blogs organized alphabetically. Not as easy to navigate as the book blogger directory.

If you have published your book on Amazon and have signed up for the KDP Select program, you are probably wondering how you are going to let the world know that you have giveaway days coming up.

There are two steps to this process. First, you need to make sure your book has reviews. Many of the sites that advertise Kindle giveaways require a minimum number of reviews (three, five, ten or, in some cases, more than twenty).

How do you get reviews? Send out a press release, well in advance of your book's publication, to any groups, online media, and reviewers who might be interested - including everyone you have ever known or met. Offer to send them a free PDF file, and make sure you have a dynamite summary that will get them interested. (Pester the people who have promised to write a review until they do. This is not the time to be shy.)

Now choose your free days on KDP Select.

Once you have booked your free days. Send out notices to these sites. (Read their guidelines now. Many require advance notice):

Author Marketing Club (join, and then use their free marketing tool)
It’s Write Now (fill out form on Author Marketing Club Submission Tool)
Free & Discounted Books (fill out form on Author Marketing Club Submission Tool)
The Kindle Book Review (fill out form on Author Marketing Club Submission Tool)
Pixel of Ink
Ereader News Today
Ereader Utopia
Free Book Dude
Book Goodies
Kindle Book Promos
Ereader Café
Awesome Gang 
Frugal Freebies
Indie Book of the Day
Bargain Ebook Hunter
The Frugal Reader
Free Booksy
Ebooks Habit
Ebook Lister
Indie Books Promo
That Book Place
Orangeberry (3 reviews needed)
Ebook Lovers (10 reviews needed)

On the day your book is free, submit here:

Addicted to Books 

And post on these Facebook Sites:

"I have many skills ..."
First published on Blogcritics as "How Amazon Killed Barnes & Noble, and Why We Don't Care."

The year was 2010. Stephen Riggio, then CEO of Barnes & Noble, heralded the company's entry into the epublishing world. In a breathless announcement, Riggio euphorically proclaimed that Barnes & Noble would top the 18% mark in e-books "overnight." Not to be outdone by his own enthusiasm, Riggio predicted that Barnes & Noble would earn better margins from e-books than print books. Its booksellers would become, in his words, "e-bookevangelists."

Beware of all enterprises that require new jargon.

Today, even as I write, Barnes & Noble is crashing and burning. According to CNET, the company's earnings slumped an astonishing 63 percent, from $150 million last year to $55.5 million this year. The culprit? Nook.

Over the last quarter, Barnes & Noble watched in horror as Nook sales, their e-book division, plummeted 26%, with losses of over $190 million. It was like watching Icarus fall out of the sky. Stephen Riggio's dream of “overnight” success was so far off the mark, one had to wonder if he was high when he made his announcement two years ago.

Riggio wasn't high. In fact, Nook is a great e-book reader. Anyone who has worked with Nook's .epub files can tell you they are infinitely better than the cumbersome .mobi files used by Amazon's Kindle. Epub files produce a nice, cleanly formatted page that looks just like a book. Mobi files look just like a mess. But, as every entrepreneur knows, better products do not necessarily lead to better sales. So, where did Barnes & Noble go wrong?

Where B&N went wrong

Barnes & Noble had a better product, a better reputation, and a farther reach than anyone else in the book selling business. The problem was that Riggio misjudged – very badly – how to handle the burgeoning business of self-publishing.

With the advent of epublishing, writers who could never hope to see their books in print could get their work to readers without the time-consuming, and usually fruitless, task of trying to snare an agent, followed by the even more frustrating job of trying to hook a publisher. With epublishing, writers could simply upload a file, set a price, and voila! Instant publication. What's more they could do it anywhere, any time. No deadlines, no delays. An equal draw was that writers who epublished could completely control their work. With the elimination of pesky editors who demanded “show don't tell” and required the proper use of apostrophes, everything that went on or between an e-book's cybercovers was entirely up to the writer. To add icing to the cake, writers who epublished got to keep 70-80% of their royalties. Compared to the measly 10% (and that was on a good day) meted out by print publishing houses, it was a no-brainer.

According to Bowker, there were 211,269 self-published titles released in 2012, up from 133,036 in 2010. This surge in self-publishing, owing in large part to e-books, represents not just people “living the dream,” but an enormous business opportunity for anyone with the ability to turn other people's dreams into their hard cash. Barnes & Noble, with its gentlemanly rules of conduct and brick-and-mortar mentality, simply had no concept of how to corner the market. Amazon did.

The coup de grâce - Amazon's KDP Select

Amazon has always enjoyed the top rank in online sales. If you want to buy a book, any book, chances are you'll find it on Amazon. The “beauty part” is that, unlike brick-and-mortar stores, Amazon has minimal stocking requirements. Anybody can sell a book. Amazon merely takes a percentage.

So, when e-books came along, Amazon was already familiar with the rules. Writers could put their e-books up for sale much as they did their used print books. Amazon would take a percentage, and, additionally, provide delivery. Barnes & Noble did the same thing, but the difference – and this is crucial – was that if you enrolled in Amazon's KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Select program, you got to give your book away. The catch: You couldn't put your book up for sale on any other site for a (renewable) 90-day period.

Writers quickly discovered that giving an e-book away for free was the fastest, cheapest, and easiest way to build a readership. For the popular genre writers, such as romance and mystery/crime, it was a dream come true. Books in popular genres could rack up 20,000 to 30,000 downloads in a single weekend. Numbers like those would not only be considered a wild success in the print publishing world, they would be virtually impossible. Publishers rarely promote first-time authors.

Cottage industries have sprung up around the KDP Select phenomenon. Numerous websites will not only post which Kindle books are free on any given day, but will review them, and even send daily free titles to your inbox. There is no denying the appeal of getting something for nothing.

For writers, and for Amazon, it is a win-win situation, because free days are fantastic promotional tools. Invariably, free days lead to increased sales. And for those writers who simply must hold their precious darlings in their hands, Amazon also provides print-on-demand. Amazon’s CreateSpace took first place in the self-publishing world last year with 57,602 new titles. Amazon is happy. Writers are happy. Customers are happy. Everybody is happy.

Except Barnes & Noble. Which is dead.