Fiction vs. Nonfiction Sales

One of the most disappointing aspects of the eBook collapse is the lost opportunities for fiction. For some years, fiction has performed better as eBooks, supplanting mass (pulp) fiction. In the past I mentioned we published 60% fiction but 60% of our sales were nonfiction. As we shifted to a 50/50 split, you would expect sales to shift to 70/30 in favor of nonfiction. Instead, it is more like 80/20.
Yes, in recent months it seems 9 out of 10 print books we sell are nonfiction. The eBooks tend to split about 50/50. Above left is the pie chart by imprint. Sunbury Press is nonfiction as is most of Ars Metaphysica. A smaller portion of Brown Posey Press falls into this category as well. All told it is 80% plus for nonfiction.
While we have seen a strong interest in the Ars Metaphysica imprint and continued growth for the Sunbury Press imprint, Milford House and Hellbender Books have lagged. Brown Posey Press is the only good story for fiction in recent months. This brings to mind some questions:
1) Has our segmentation strategy further hurt fiction sales? In other words, were our fiction authors actually benefiting from being tagged with the Sunbury Press logo?
2) Or, is it a sorting of perceived quality? The literary fiction is doing better than it ever has with its own imprint, but the murder mysteries and horror have not.
3) Or, is it the brands themselves? Perhaps Brown Posey Press and Ars Metaphysica better identify with their target markets than Milford House or Hellbender.
4) Or, maybe we haven’t marketed the brands enough. It took quite a while for the International Thriller Writers to actually recognize the new imprints (Milford House and Hellbender Books). The others had no such restrictions.
More food for thought while chewing on your turkey! One last thing I will mention is the positive response received from independent bookstores for the Brown Posey Press email that went out to them. Maybe more direct email with the other imprints will help. And, we definitely need to leverage the Lurk character (below) for Hellbender Books a lot more!

The continuing plummet of eBook sales for publishers

This month, as I analyzed our sales, it was evident that eBooks have continued a fairly steep decline. I have been commenting on this for years and have been reading a lot of conflicting information. The chart to my left shows how much Amazon dominates the eBook marketplace worldwide. As an part-time economics professor, I know just enough to recognize a monopoly when I see one! Also evident is how dominant the US market is for eBooks. The rest of the world is not even close — the UK being a distant second.
The conflicting information I have been reading concerns some who say it is only the big publishers that are seeing a decline in eBook sales. The owner of SmashWords claims eBook sales are performing fine — IF YOU LOWER YOUR PRICE.
Meanwhile, the Amazon monopoly is a few years into the Kindle Unlimited subscription model. As this service has gained in popularity, outright sales of eBooks have continued to collapse while pages viewed in Kindles through this program have increased. However, it is evident from many sources that author incomes are DOWN SIGNIFICANTLY.
Diagnoses — Amazon took over and is now ruining the eBook marketplace by completely controlling everything. Publishers and independent authors can no longer influence how much they get paid through the service — you are at the mercy of the variable pennies paid per page. While Jeff Bezos continues to be the richest man in the world, authors and publishers are making less from eBooks.
What should we do about this? EBooks are less than 10% of our mix and they cost extra to create plus we pay higher royalties for them. It is also not profitable or sensible to try to increase our efforts on other platforms that have such a small percentage of the business. In other words, a platform that is 10% of the ebook marketplace that is a portion of our 10% of sales would only be a 1% impact. We’re looking to grow much faster than that. To paraphrase the soon-to-be Speaker of the House, “These are just crumbs!”
What shall we do?
A) Chase the crumbs — lose money and diversify among different eBook channels?
B) Drink the Kool-Aid — Go all-in with Amazon and sign everyone up for Kindle Unlimited. This means taking everything down everywhere else — yes, that is the contractual requirement!
C) Bag eBooks altogether? How many of you actually read this way anymore?
D) Protest and pull all eBooks from Amazon and only sell them on other platforms?
E) Start a class-action lawsuit charging Amazon with monopoly power. This is something the Federal Government would need to take up in an anti-trust suit.
I will be thinking about this in my spare time. I welcome your suggestions.
Martine Kalaw’s “Illegal Among Us” reigns as the Sunbury Press bestseller for October

Martine Kalaw’s “Illegal Among Us” reigns as the Sunbury Press bestseller for October

SUNBURY PRESS – Bestsellers for October 2018 (by Revenue)
Rank Prior Title Author Category
1 NEW Illegal Among Us Marktine Kalaw Immigration Memoir
2 21 Captain Hooter’s Guide to Amsterdam Coffeeshops Captain Hooter Travel
3 3 Well-behaved Taverns Seldom Make History Diane McCormick History
4 Raising Monarchs Sue McGovern Pets
5 6 The Marines’ Lost Squadron: The Odyssey of VMF-422 Mark Carlson Aviation History
6 7 Gettysburg Eddie Lawrence Knorr Baseball
7 14 Fifty Years in a Foxhole Charles Kniffen Military Memoir
8 13 Chasing Understanding in the Jungles of Vietnam Doug Beed Military Memoir
9 NEW Beagle Tales 8 Bob Ford Hunting
10 NEW Beagle Tales 7 Bob Ford Hunting
11 The Trevorton, Mahanoy. and Susquehanna Railroad … Steve Troutman History
12 16 Chicken Bone Beach Cheryl Woodruff-Brooks History
13 5 A Super Steelers Journey Merrill Shaffer Football
14 8 Call Sign Dracula Joe Fair Military Memoir
15 11 Freemasons at Gettysburg Sheldon Munn History
16 For Better, For Worse Carolyn Perry Hurricane Memoir
17 38 Jack the Ripper Suspect Dr. Francis Tumblety Michael Hawley True Crime
18 12 The Most Hated Man in America: Jerry Sandusky and the Rush to Judgment Mark Pendergrast Legal History
19 23 A Short Season Jake Gronsky & David Bohner Sports Memoir
20 10 Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, 2nd Ed. Mike Campbell History
21 4 Dead Center Jason Altmire Politics
22 24 Indian Villages and Place Names in Pennsylvania George Donehoo History
23 34 Tulpehocken Trail Traces Steve Troutman History
24 2 Jonathan’s Rainbow E J Benner Medical Memoir
25 Bows, Bullets, & Bears John L Moore History
26 There’s Something about Rough & Ready Lawrence Knorr, et al History
27 Forts, Forests, and Flintlocks John L Moore History
28 Cannons, Cattle, and Campfires John L Moore History
29 Settlers, Soldiers, and Scalps John L Moore History
30 Scorched Earth: General Sullivan and the Senecas John L Moore History
Sherry Knowlton’s murder mystery “Dead of Autumn” tops Milford House Press bestsellers for October

Sherry Knowlton’s murder mystery “Dead of Autumn” tops Milford House Press bestsellers for October

MILFORD HOUSE PRESS – Bestsellers for October 2018 (by Revenue)
Rank Prior Title Author Category
1 Dead of Autumn Sherry Knowlton Murder Mystery
2 10 Where Elephants Fought Bridget Smith Historical
3 16 Winter of the Metal People Dennis Herrick Historical
4 Courting Doubt & Darkness Joan West Murder Mystery
5 Shadows in the Shining City John Cressler Historical
6 2 Moon Games Shelly Frome Detective Thriller
7 14 Fortune’s Lament John Cressler Historical
8 1 Death Knell of the Caliphate Scot McCauley Spy Thriller
9 15 A Brother’s Cold Case Dennis Herrick Murder Mystery
10 13 Emeralds of the Alhambra John Cressler Historical
11 12 The Broken Lance Jess Steven Hughes Historical
12 NEW Wish to Die Robert Walton Action Adventure
13 17 The Titan Strain Virginia Soenksen Dystopian Fiction
14 4 A Lenape Legacy Doris Wilbur Historical
15 The Bartered Body J R Lindermuth Murder Mystery
Kachuba’s “Dark Entry” threepeats at #1 for Hellbender Books for October — Rommel dominates list

Kachuba’s “Dark Entry” threepeats at #1 for Hellbender Books for October — Rommel dominates list

HELLBENDER BOOKS – Bestsellers for October 2018 (by Revenue)
Rank Prior Title Author Category
1 1 Dark Entry John Kachuba Supernatural Thriller
2 4 The Keeper of the Crows Kyle Alexander Romines Supernatural Thriller
3 Rated Z: Money Shot Brahm Stroker Horror Parody
4 Among the People Keith Rommel Supernatural Thriller
5 The Lurking Man Keith Rommel Supernatural Thriller
6 The Silent Woman Keith Rommel Supernatural Thriller
7 The Cursed Man Keith Rommel Supernatural Thriller
8 The Sinful Man Keith Rommel Supernatural Thriller
9 3 The Devil Tree II Keith Rommel Supernatural Thriller
10 2 The Devil Tree Keith Rommel Supernatural Thriller
Lebanese author Karim el Koussa dominates Ars Metaphysica bestseller list following TV deal

Lebanese author Karim el Koussa dominates Ars Metaphysica bestseller list following TV deal

ARS METAPHYSICA – Bestsellers for October 2018 (by Revenue)
Rank Prior Title Author Category
1 5 The Phoenician Code Karim el Koussa Metaphysical Fiction
2 9 Pythagoras the Mathemagician Karim el Koussa Historical Fiction
3 4 Jesus the Phoenician Karim el Koussa Religious History
4 1 Inspirational Creatures Michele Livingston Metaphysical
5 2 Living in the Afterlife Michele Livingston Metaphysical
6 Planet Jesus: Body & Soul Doug Brode Metaphysical Fiction
7 Let Me Carry You Home Susan Kiskis Spiritual Memoir
8 Planet Jesus: Flesh & Blood Doug Brode Metaphysical Fiction
9 7 Messages from Beyond Michele Livingston Metaphysical
10 8 Der Lange Verborgene Freund John George Hohman Folk Magic
Dennis Clausen’s “The Accountant’s Apprentice” is the Brown Posey Press bestseller for October

Dennis Clausen’s “The Accountant’s Apprentice” is the Brown Posey Press bestseller for October

BROWN POSEY PRESS – Bestsellers for October 2018 (by Revenue)
Rank Prior Title Author Category
1 NEW The Accountant’s Apprentice Dennis Clausen Literary Fiction
2 NEW The Blue, the Gray, and the Red Catherine Jordan, et al Literary Fiction
3 9 Hatched Robert Barsky Literary Fiction
4 5 The Sins of Rachel Sims Dennis Clausen Literary Fiction
5 1 Whispers in the Alders H A Callum Literary Fiction
6 Frost! Guy Graybill Short Stories
7 Pass the Pierogies Mike Breslin Cultural Memoir
8 2 Happiness Is in the Kitchen Giulio Alberoni Culinary History
9 6 Darker Gifts Stefan May Poetry
10 Life Signs and Fortune Cookies Melanie Simms Poetry
Matt Anderson’s “Pink Flamingos All Around” is the Speckled Egg Press bestseller for October

Matt Anderson’s “Pink Flamingos All Around” is the Speckled Egg Press bestseller for October

SPECKLED EGG PRESS – Bestsellers for October 2018 (by Revenue)
Rank Prior Title Author Category
1 5 Pink Flamingos All Around Matt Anderson Juvenile Animals
2 4 Solomon Screech Owl’s First Flight Beth Lancione Juvenile Adventure
3 The Magic Is in You Carole LaPlante Juvenile Adventure
4 1 The Mouse with the Broken Tail Dan Shutters Juvenile Christian
5 2 Colors in the Garden the Creator Made Wendy Latty Juvenile Christian