All those pesky numbers

As I was trying to figure out what to blog about this morning, I took a digital walk over to the pages of Publishers Weekly. I really didn’t expect to find anything. PW, once the bastion of news for the publishing industry long ago proved to be nothing more than the mouthpiece for the traditional publishers. It has done its best, in my opinion, to ignore those authors who either go both the traditional and indie route or who choose to go only indie. For a publication dedicated to the publishing industry, it also did its best to ignore e-books until that was no longer possible. At least it has had a section of digital publishing for awhile. Not that you could tell it from the article that caught my eye.

In “What the Numbers Reveal About the 2014 Bestsellers“, PW breaks down the various bestseller lists by publisher, media tie-in and book. There is a lot of space given over to how this category increased or that one decreased and why. Heck, it even managed to mention 50 Shades and Duck Dynasty in the same sentence (and if that doesn’t bring some mind-blowing images to your imagination, you aren’t awake yet). Anyway. . .

A couple of things are very clear from the article — not that the author of the piece actually makes the connection — best sellers aren’t the books that are the most well-written. They aren’t necessarily the books with the best reviews, either from professional reviewers or from the everyday Joe who buys them. They are the books with the most push behind them. Not that it surprises anyone who follows the industry. However, the fact that the author of the article fails to make the connection, instead dancing around it, has me shaking my head and asking if she didn’t see it or if this is yet another attempt to try to play smoke and mirrors with the reading public.

An example of this is mentioned in the article. The author points out that Gone Girl made three different forms of the best seller lists and even points out that two of the editions were movie tie-ins. Think about it. Move tie-ins. That means not only were the publishers pushing the book but so was the movie industry. Ads for the movie mentioned that it was based on the best selling novel and the book editions mentioned it was soon to be a blockbuster movie. That is promotional money that most authors will never see, money that will push sales up to the best seller lists.

But something else stands out in the article, something that will leave many of us shaking our heads. After having traditional publishers fight Amazon for years over the price of e-books, of hearing them talk about how important e-books and e-book pricing is to the continued financial health of the publishing houses, we see nothing in the article about the sales of e-books. As you peruse the best seller lists contained in the article, you will find hard cover, mass market paperbacks, trade paperback but no e-books. It is as though they don’t exist.

It isn’t as if the publishers don’t have the information. They do. Every outlet has its best seller list. Several major newspapers now have e-book best seller lists. But there is nothing in the article. Bumpkiss. Crickets.

Which brings up the question of why. Why are e-books left out of the equation? I can’t say for sure but I have my suspicions and they center on the success of indie authors in the digital arena. If you check out the various Amazon digital lists, you will see a number of indie published e-books on them. Indies often break into the Top 10 lists, especially the genre fiction lists. More importantly, indies manage to break into these lists not by spending vast amount of money on promotion but through social networking and word of mouth. You know, sort of how it used to be when you asked your friend what they were reading and went off to try the book if they liked it.

Maybe the author of the article doesn’t believe e-books are “real” books. Maybe she excluded them because those best seller lists didn’t support the premise of her article. Maybe she didn’t cover them because PW is still basically focused on the traditional publishing industry. Whatever the reason, the article gives only one part of the overall story and that is a shame.

Now, because I am an indie author and I do believe in promotion — although I basically suck at it — if you are looking for something to read, I’d appreciate it if you’d check out these books:

nocturnal interludenewNocturnal Interlude (Nocturnal Lives 3)

Lt. Mackenzie Santos swears she will never take another vacation again as long as she lives. The moment she returns home, two federal agents are there to take her into custody. Then she finds out her partner, Sgt. Patricia Collins, as well as several others are missing. Several of the missing have connections to law enforcement. All are connected to Mac through one important and very secret fact — they are all shapechangers. Has someone finally discovered that the myths and bad Hollywood movies are actually based on fact or is there something else, something more insidious at work?

Mac finds herself in a race against time not only to save her partner and the others but to discover who was behind their disappearances. As she does, she finds herself dealing with Internal Affairs, dirty cops, the Feds and a possible conspiracy within the shapeshifter community that could not only bring their existence to light but cause a civil war between shifters.

hunter's homeHunter’s Home (Hunter’s Moon Book 3)

written under the pen name Ellie Ferguson

They say you can never go home. That’s something CJ Reamer has long believed. So, when her father suddenly appears on her doorstep, demanding she return home to Montana to “do her duty”, she has other plans. Montana hasn’t been home for a long time, almost as long as Benjamin Franklin Reamer quit being her father. Dallas is now her home and it’s where her heart is. The only problem is her father doesn’t like taking “no” for an answer.

When her lover and mate is shot and she learns those responsible come from her birth pride and clan, CJ has no choice but to return to the home she left so long ago. At least she won’t be going alone. Clan alphas Matt and Finn Kincade aren’t about to take any risks where their friend is concerned. Nor is her mate, Rafe Walkinghorse, going to let her go without him.

Going home means digging up painful memories and family secrets. But will it also mean death – or worse – for CJ and her friends?

coverforvfaVengeance from Ashes (Honor and Duty)

written under the pen name of Sam Schall

First, they took away her command. Then they took away her freedom. But they couldn’t take away her duty and honor. Now they want her back.

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has survived two years in a brutal military prison. Now those who betrayed her are offering the chance for freedom. All she has to do is trust them not to betray her and her people again. If she can do that, and if she can survive the war that looms on the horizon, she can reclaim her life and get the vengeance she’s dreamed of for so long.

But only if she can forget the betrayal and do her duty.

Duty from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 2)

written under the pen name of Sam Schall

Duty calls. Honor demands action.

Major Ashlyn Shaw has survived false accusations and a brutal military prison. Now free, she finds her homeworld once again at war with an enemy that will stop at nothing to destroy everything she holds dear. Duty has Ashlyn once again answering the call to serve. She has seen what the enemy is capable of and will do everything she can to prevent it from happening to the home she loves and the people she took an oath to protect.

But something has changed. It goes beyond the fact that the enemy has changed tactics they never wavered from during the previous war. It even goes beyond the fact that there is still a nagging doubt in the back of Ashlyn’s mind that those who betrayed her once before might do so again. No, there is more to the resumption of hostilities, something that seems to point at a new player in the game. But who and what are they playing at?

17 thoughts on “All those pesky numbers

  1. E-books are left out of the equation for exactly the same reason that my local school district ignores the increase in local home schooling.

  2. I’ll go ahead a recommend Duty from Ashes. I loved it. It moves quick and has a wonderfully quirky MC. It was a lot of fun. I hadn’t realized that Vengeance from Ashes was out. I’ll have to pick that up when I get home.

    1. Thanks, Jim. Vengeance is actually the first book in the series. As soon as I finish Nocturnal Challenge (Nocturnal Lives 4), I will get busy on Honor from Ashes, the third book in that series.

      1. Crap. So I got that backwards. Got to work late and didn’t have time for my coffee. At any rate, people should buy the book and enjoy it. And I should wake up a bit.

  3. Amanda, I just finished reading and reviewing Nocturnal Interludes about two days ago. I need to keep a quick reference list of which mad geniuses it is time to review, since I’m still not reaching my goal of 1 book plus 1 review per day.
    Looking at what you wrote, it seems to me that all of the stats cited are simply attempts to cling to a semblance of dominance in the marketplace by mainstream publishing houses, and the name of the periodical should be changed from “Publishers Weekly” to “Publishers, Weakly.”

    1. Pat, thanks for the review. I think you’re right about the stats being an attempt to at least make it appear like traditional publishing is holding control of the marketplace.

  4. The comments about ‘push’ are spot-on.
    Bestsellers are books that publishers spend a lot of money on. The stash big stacks of the books in bookstores and that drives sales.
    I’ve written a couple of essays about marketing. Today’s is on my blog, title Selling to Strangers. You can find it at
    If you’re going to succeed, that’s what you’ve got to do. Sell at least one book to someone you don’t know, hope they’re impressed enough to come back and buy more.
    James Patterson and WEB Griffin/William E Butterworth Jr. are both on the Times bestseller list, last time I checked. Both are now being advertised via the same email promoters we use, you and I. The books are also discounted, the same approach we take.
    I’m discounting to $0.99, the bestsellers are usually $1.99 or $2.99. So who will the reader buy, a bestselling author or a newbie? Will they pay the extra buck?
    I guess I’ll find out; I’m not willing to give my book away. I’m researching promoters now, trying to find out the ones that deliver value for the cost.
    But writing is only part one; if you’re an indie, you’ve also got to do publishing, deciding which company or companies to send your ebook to, and advertising.
    The rule is promote or perish.

    1. Wonder just how much is dependent on Patterson and the Griffin team having a huge backlist which guarantees them a healthy and growing fan base. Can’t hurt that they do write entertaining stuff as well.
      Have to believe that their publishers consider the marketing costs for them as an investment with a guaranteed return, and I suspect it wouldn’t take too many clinkers to cause them to dial the push back down considerably.

      1. James Patterson having *TV commercials* every time he has a new book come out, probably doesn’t hurt, either.

    2. I’d be interested in hearing how it goes for you. I’m going to be doing something similar when I bring Nocturnal Challenge out — unless, of course, I think of something else to try 😉

  5. Of course push alone won’t turn a loser into a champion. That recent book by Ms. Clinton comes to mind. Never came close to making back the advance as I recall, but the rules for nonfiction may be different.
    As an aside, loved the Nocturnal series, delighted to hear you’re busily working on the next one.

    1. Well, that’s because Clinton books, indeed most political books are a money laundering operation used to convert campaign cash to personal cash. The Campaign buys a ton of them to give away to donors and that purchase becomes royalties.

    2. Uncle Lar, your comment about Hillary’s book reminds me of what happened with the novel Newt Gingrich put out — an alternate history, iirc. He had been given a huge advance and the book was pushed out quicker than usual to help ride his name. Instead of selling out the first print run, it sold very little and the house took a major hit.

      Thanks for the kind words about the Nocturnal Lives series. It has a special place in my heart even though, right now, I’m ready to kill all the characters. They are NOT doing what they are supposed to do.

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