In another brilliant look at the publishing industry, author Hugh Howey has crafted a list of unanswered questions, questions that are not being answered for authors but that also shouldn’t be classified, top-secret information. Despite accusations in the past that Howey is practically in Amazon’s pocket, this list fires directly at the world’s largest ebook retailer and self-publishing platform and demands information for authors. A few of the highlights are below, and the full story is HERE.
1) I would love to know how many readers borrow a book and then go on to buy a copy of the same book. I’ve done this before, and I tend to doubt my uniqueness. For Prime members especially, who only get one borrow a month, do they ever love an ebook so much that they decide to own a copy for good?
2) I would love to know how far into my books readers get. Do they finish the work? Do most who drop out do so around the same chapter? What about from those who return the ebook?
4) Why can’t I see my lifetime sales anywhere on my dashboard? This one shouldn’t be hard. You do it on the ACX homepage. Give me total sales across all titles and for each individual title.
7) I want to know why you all haven’t come out and explained that the 70% cut we make on ebooks priced in a certain range aren’t really royalties. (See #5 of this list for an example of improper usage of the term). When they’re called royalties, the 70% seems exceedingly generous. Because publishers pay a lot less. But publishers provide other services, like editing and cover art. We are handing you a finished product. As a distribution fee, you taking 30% (plus more for delivery fees) sounds less crazy-generous. It seems downright reasonable, in fact. Or even an area where you all could afford to give a little more.
8) Why the 70% price cut-off? In a recent announcement about ebook prices, you all admitted that there are occasions when ebooks deserve to be priced higher than $9.99. I agree. I’d love to package my entire Silo Series trilogy together and sell it for $12.99. That would be an amazing savings to the reader, a great value to your customers. But you all treat every ebook product the exact same, which means my royalty rate would drop from 70% to 35%. That’s not good.
Take a look at the rest of Howey’s questions and the more in-depth explanations behind his reasoning on his post.