Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
Imagine hundreds or even thousands of crazed readers can’t wait for an ebook title to be available for sale. And when it finally is, they go to Amazon and other retailers to buy it. But they buy the wrong ebook instead.
When you’re Stephen King, those lost sales on an ebook edition for your print-only novel Joyland (Hard Case Crime) doesn’t make or break you. But if you’re Emily Schultz, the Canadian author of the 2006 literary fiction novel Joyland (ECW), those sales can be a huge windfall. (King’s Joyland came out in print last June and as an ebook this past April.)
In October of last year, Schultz’s Joyland ebook was seeing an unexpected bump in sales — some 200 copies the week the King book came out. Those and subsequent sales provided Schultz with a pile of pocket money and she’s chronicling how she is spending it at her new Tumblr blog stephenkingmoney.tumblr.com. So far, she has spent just over $400 on things like a fancy dinner, more books and a haircut for her husband. She wouldn’t tell me just how much she has made (but hinted that it would be revealed on the blog eventually) but her take may be higher than you expect — she has a 50% royalty on the ebook, roughly double the going rate when working with a publisher.
“I signed that contract years ago,” she said through email. “I’m sure publishers don’t do that anymore.”
The King ebook, which wasn’t originally available when the title came out in print last June, has been for sale since April of 2014. Since the King book’s release, sales of Schultz’s Joyland have slowed, she said. And that’s a good thing.
Along with the bump of sales have come several angry reviews on Amazon by readers who thought they were getting the latest King. Bad reviews can be really harmful in the long term for a work of literary fiction.
“A little extra cash is nice, but not worth the negative reviews on Amazon,” she told me.
While Schultz’s story is certainly atypical, it underscores the power and importance of metadata. Could better metadata, that is — keywords, descriptions, etc. — have saved at least some readers from finding or buying the wrong book, at least one or two of the disaffected ones who subsequently left negative reviews (residual metadata from this episode)? Is there something now that can be done in the metadata that will mitigate the effects of the negative reviews?
At DBW, we pay a lot of attention to book publishing metadata. There’s no sugarcoating it — we create a lot of content around helping publishers and authors understand metadata. So, in case you’ve missed it, here are some of our best offerings on the subject.
Courses from DBW U:
Products from the DBW Store:
Posts on DigitalBookWorld.com: