Publishing industry professionals worried that the ebook era would precipitate a bevy of $0.99 self-published best-sellers may be seeing their nightmares come true today. The Nos. 1 and 2 best-selling ebooks this week are $0.99 self-published works: Damaged by H.M. Ward and The Bet by Rachel Van Dyken.
For the fourth time in 2013, a self-published ebook is No. 1.
“This is another benchmark moment,” said publishing consultant and DBW partner Mike Shatzkin. “The number of small- and self-published books achieving real commercial success will continue to rise; the gatekeeping role of established publishers will continue — gradually and then, sooner or later, suddenly — to fade to relative irrelevance. What’s the over-under for self-published titles in the top-10 by the end of the year? Three? Six? It surely is higher than two!”
While an impressive achievement, there are a lot of things that can propel a book to No. 1. And when it’s priced at $0.99, price is likely one of those things.
Even with the low price, the sales numbers are still eye-popping. The author of Damaged, Holly Ward (who writes under H.M. Ward), told Digital Book World that since the title was released on April 2 it has sold more than 150,000 copies (many of them at $3.99 — she dropped the price last week when she noticed her title climbing the Kindle best-seller list and wanted to see if she could push it to No. 1). In ten days, Van Dyken sold 85,000 copies of The Bet — that was as of early last week and she’s surely sold many more copies since then.
Perhaps more disconcerting for publishers is that unlike Dyken, Ward has never published with a traditional publisher. She has self-published about 25 titles and is now just starting to work with an agent to sell foreign rights and movie rights for her work, New York-based literary agent Jane Dystel who reached out to Ward after her book Scandalous hit No. 32 on the New York Times best-seller list in early Feb.
“Everybody needs to have some kind of protection and help,” said Dystel. “These are very talented writers who are getting into this business very quickly and with very little knowledge. Sometimes we only help them to sell their foreign rights, audio rights and sometimes movie rights. We’re here to offer advice and when they want to be involved with a traditional publisher – and Holly [Ward] does seem to – then we see what these opportunities are.”
In the past year, Dystel has brought attention to her agency, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management, by working with rising self-published authors. She has helped more than half-a-dozen self-published authors sign deals with publishers this year, starting with Tracy Garvis Graves, who signed a seven-figure deal with Penguin in June 2012 after making On the Island an ebook best-seller. Dystel was also responsible for Tammara Webber’s two-book deal with Penguin in Oct. 2012 and Abbi Glines’ deal for her Seabreeze series with Simon & Schuster.
“She’s in sync with how I am and how I think and how I do things,” said Ward, who hasn’t yet signed a big deal with a publisher but has sold some foreign rights for Scandalous through Dystel.
As for the future of Damaged, Ward opted to keep her secrets.
“There are some things in the works but nothing’s there yet,” she said.
Ebook Prices See Sharp Drop
Driven in part by $0.99 titles capturing the top-two spots on the ebook best-seller list, the average price of a best-selling ebook hit a new low this week of $6.93, down from $7.43 last week and the previous all-time low of $7.21 two weeks ago.
“The price drop of the best-seller list is at least as ominous for the established publishers as the presence of two self-published titles on the top rungs,” said Shatzkin.
See the rest of the the best-seller lists for the week ending April 21:
– Digital Book World Best-Selling Ebooks Priced $10.00 and Above
– Digital Book World Best-Selling Ebooks Priced $8.00 – $9.99
– Digital Book World Best-Selling Ebooks Priced $3.00 – $7.99
– Digital Book World Best-Selling Ebooks Priced $0.00 – $2.99
Read and comment on our methodology.
|1 (10)||Damaged||H.M. Ward||Self-published||$ 0.99||+9|
|2 (1)||The Bet||Rachel Van Dyken||Self-published||$ 0.99||-1|
|3 (n/a)||Whiskey Beach||Nora Roberts||Penguin||$ 14.99||New|
|4 (2)||Six Years||Harlan Coben||Penguin||$ 12.99||-2|
|5 (n/a)||The Wanderer (Thunder Point)||Robyn Carr||Harlequin||$ 1.99||New|
|6 (5)||Alex Cross, Run||James Patterson||Hachette||$ 7.49||-1|
|7 (6)||Gone Girl: A Novel||Gillian Flynn||Random House||$ 12.99||-1|
|8 (n/a)||Bossypants||Tina Fey||Hachette||$ 0.99||New|
|9 (4)||The Misremembered Man||Christina McKenna||Amazon||$ 2.00||-5|
|10 (9)||The Silver Linings Playbook: A Novel||Matthew Quick||Macmillan||$ 4.99||-1|
|11 (24)||Breath of Scandal||Sandra Brown||Hachette||$ 2.49||+13|
|12 (3)||Fever (The Breathless Trilogy)||Maya Banks||Penguin||$ 9.99||-9|
|13 (8)||The Hit||David Baldacci||Hachette||$ 12.74||-5|
|14 (13)||The Forgotten||David Baldacci||Hachette||$ 4.99||-1|
|15 (n/a)||Second Chance Boyfriend (Drew + Fable)||Monica Murphy||Self-published||$ 3.99||New|
|16 (n/a)||Starting Now: A Blossom Street Novel||Debbie Macomber||Random House||$ 12.99||New|
|17 (n/a)||Catching Fire (The Hunger Games Trilogy – Book 2)||Suzanne Collins||Scholastic||$ 5.99||New|
|18 (14)||The Host: A Novel||Stephenie Meyer||Hachette||$ 3.99||-4|
|19 (21)||Unintended Consequences (Stone Barrington)||Stuart Woods||Penguin||$ 12.99||+2|
|20 (16)||Don’t Go||Lisa Scottoline||Macmillan||$ 11.08||-4|
|21 (n/a)||The Black Box (A Harry Bosch Novel)||Michael Connelly||Hachette||$ 4.99||New|
|22 (n/a)||The Great Gatsby||F.Scott Fitzgerald||Simon & Schuster||$ 8.07||New|
|23 (n/a)||Say You’re Sorry (Joe O’Loughlin)||Michael Robotham||Hachette||$ 2.99||New|
|24 (n/a)||Taking Eve (Eve Duncan)||Iris Johansen||Macmillan||$ 7.99||New|
|25 (11)||Life After Life: A Novel||Kate Atkinson||Hachette||$ 7.49||-14|
* Previous week’s list rank in parentheses.
** Price reflects minimum price across all retailers throughout the week. Price may vary between retailers and may change throughout the week. Contact Iobyte Solutions for more information on e-book pricing.
Methodology available here.
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