Looks Like Another Romance Digitial First Line is being axed


I suspect that the popularity of KU is why trad publishing is getting out of romance. Many romance readers are voracious (I know when I binge on romance I read at least one book a day) and KU is perfect for them. The fixed subscription fee means they can plough through a large number of books for a comparative low cost. For romance authors with books in KU they price low (under $2.99) as they make money on the pages read and that’s not a model that trad can compete with.


It depends on the format.

  • ebook - 25% of net (publisher gets 70%) then 15% goes to agent so $1.49 - $2.23
  • paperback - 7.5% list of assuming a trade paperback then 15% to agent so $0.64 - $0.96


I was actually wondering what @SchuylerThorpe was thinking since he seems to have some pie in the sky figures in his head.

Incidentally, your figures prove my point. Sell a book for $2.99 at 70% and you’re potentially making more than if you had a trad ebook. And yes, marketing and other expenses, but you’re still making more and you have complete control.


Pretty much all of this. And not that I’d ever reveal my source, but there are rumblings that another digitial first imprint is in trouble and not one that I expected to hear this from. Editors there are getting antsy.


I assume that’s what they mean. When you upload a book to Kobo, they ask if you want to make your book available to libraries and you have to tick the box if you want that. My books are only in ebook format so far, so I guess it’s Overdrive they’re talking about. ¯\_(ﭢ)_/¯


I feel as if this is pretty important to remember in book pricing. I don’t see any reason that slightly longer books should be more expensive, because that would just drive authors to write massive piles of poor literature to get ahead in the market.


You may be right. Romance has always been "Killing it’ for indies and the trads don’t put their books in KU. And, yes, romance readers are extremely voracious which makes KU such an attractive proposition for them.


When was the last time–in the real world–that someone was able to make a comfortable living earning just over $2.09 a copy for royalties–from their book?


You can’t even buy a gallon of 2% milk for that much. (It fluctuates between $2.69 in my area to as much as $3.09 on average.)

Think $6.99 for my book is too much? It’s not. Not when you’re having to factor in time, effort, money, and everything else that you’ve spent the last three years doing with your editor because it’s a necessity.

But honestly, if you think my math is bad, try convincing your landlord that the rent money will “come” when you can sell about 2,000 copies in a 3 month period–based on those figures alone. And keep doing it repeatedly. (Good luck!)

They’ll be evicting you before you can even collect on your first royalty payment of $123 dollars and 26 cents. (Why do you think I have a full time job? At least, that’s more dependable than being an indie author with his first book.)

You think that selling on the cheap is going to get anyone ahead in life? Or me? The cost of living isn’t going to get any easier. Or less expensive. But selling yourself out for a cheap thrill ride either indie or trad publishing isn’t going to pay the bills.

I set my book prices higher because I’m offering more than just some pulp fiction read. Unlike some people I know in this business, I put in a lot of time, money, and effort into getting my books whipped into shape.

And I want to make some ACTUAL money off my efforts, than just get tiny amounts every three months because my royalties are set too low. (Ever live in Washington state like I do? The cost of living there or anywhere’s on the West Coast is just nuts.)

That’s more than can be said for about the 90-95% of you who actually balk at spending any damned money on editing because “it costs too much”. Or suddenly, you find out that self-publishing isn’t as cracked up as you thought it would be and you want to try–in vain–to reach the front or back door of the Big 5 publishing world…knowing that the odds of getting in aren’t going to be that great for you either.

So back to my original point? Nobody can live off scraps of paid royalties if you keep underbidding yourselves every step of the way. It just won’t work. Not if you plan on making something of yourselves as an author.

Because like it or not boys and girls, you’re going to need every red cent that comes your way through your future quarterly royalty statements.

So pricing yourselves low may sound like a better deal…until you realize everyone else is doing the same with mixed results. And you keep asking yourself why nothing is working? Welp…there you go.

Because that one author that I mentioned earlier in my post? Her next three novels in the series didn’t sell nearly as well because she priced herself way too low. Her reviews went from a little over a thousand what-star ratings to less than 225 for the next three novels.

Not only did her pricing models fuck things up, but I also suspect that she didn’t put in nearly as much effort to writing a good sequel–or series–as she did with her first book.

But anyways, that’s been my personal observation for the past several days on Amazon.

Now I have to go make some hot lemon tea to drink before I go to bed for the day.

This cold isn’t going to fix itself. And pay day isn’t for another five days.


Hundreds (if not thousands) of authors do. Every. Single. Month. For starters you can move far more at a lower price. Then most of the authors who price low have made the business decision to be in KU and make bank on pages read. That’s how romance authors can price at 99 cents but make 5-figures a month, they earn far more from read and AllStar bonuses.

What we think of your pricing strategy is irrelevant - as you have been told repeatedly it’s what readers think that matters. Sure you can price your book high, and how’s that working out for you with sales? Are you making more than 4 or 5-figures a month like the authors you mock for pricing low?

If you want to make actual money, then you need to stop buying your own book. As you’ve been told - relying on buying your own book to make money is not a sustainable business model.

You really need to learn how publishing works. The author that you’re complaining about not making any money has earned far more than you. Let’s break it down. Most authors need 100 sales to see 1 review. If this author who is your current obsession has 1,000 reviews x 100 = 100,000 sales. At what you believe is a pitifully low sale price of $2.99 earning them just over $2 or 2 x 100,000 = $200,000.

The author you are slamming as pricing too low could have earned $200,000 on ONE book. Perhaps more if the title is in KU and they earn more from pages reads and All Star bonuses.

It’s entirely natural to have a drop in the number of reviews from book 1 to subsequent books. Which you would know if you were part of publishing author forums where people talk business. The percentage of reviews to sales drops, but for a sequel to have over 200 reviews still implies very strong sales. Ironic that you are mocking an author for having 225+ reviews on a sequel - how many does your book 2 have?

You need to stop targeting other authors and look to your own business. Stop blaming everyone else because your book isn’t selling. Look at the factors you control like cover, blurb, pricing, story.


One of my author friends, a great guy, he sells his books for $2.99 (or less when he’s running a sale). Are his books great? No. Are they good? Some of them are, but he knows how to market them. He’s got great covers and he writes what people love to read.

He has about 10 books out, at least that’s how many I saw the last time I checked. A bad month is $10K. A good month is $20K or more.

I would suggest to anyone who thinks that $2.09 a book isn’t good enough to quit writing. Go do something else with your life because if you think you’re going to get rich spending time on message boards and complaining about your writing career, you’re never going to be successful.


It happens every day. There were 1,000 authors on KDP who earned $100,000+ in 2017 and MANY of them have adopted a $0.99 and $2.99 pricing strategy. Now, that said, the prices are normally around $3.99 and $4.99 these days so I think both models work.

The price is not set by how much the author put into the book, it’s priced by what the market will bear. Is $6.99 for YOUR book too high? I don’t know, but it seems like it based on your ranking numbers (in excess of 1,000,000 - which means there are A LOT of books selling better than yours. Will a price change alter that? I don’t know. But what we can say from your rank graph is your last sale was on January 23rd.

No author should count their author income chickens before they hatch. You should not expect your book to make your rent payment.

Every book has it’s “own sweet spot” - and yes, for some books that will be a low one. But they make up for it in volume. My Age of the Myth book (usually sell for $9.99 and it sells about 400 copies a month. (about $4,000) because it’s traditionally published I make 85% of 25% of 70% or 14.9% which is $596 to me. But, they recently put it on sale and it’s monthly unit numbers jumped to 10,600 sales grossing $21,094 which netted me $3,143. So yeah, that lower price die really well for us.

I, too, put a lot of time and money in this business, but the price isn’t dictated by “my spend” it’s dictated by what price point I think will earn me the most. That’s part of what a publisher does – figures out optimum price point. But you are just picking a number out of think air, and that’s not a recipe for success.

But none of that has any bearing on the price charged for your books.

[quote=“SchuylerThorpe, post:28, topic:59404, full:true”]
That’s more than can be said for about the 90-95% of you who actually balk at spending any damned money on editing because “it costs too much”. Or suddenly, you find out that self-publishing isn’t as cracked up as you thought it would be and you want to try–in vain–to reach the front or back door of the Big 5 publishing world…knowing that the odds of getting in aren’t going to be that great for you either. [/quote]

I don’t think anyone has suggested to NOT spend money on editing. I pay the same amount for editing that my big-five publishers do: $1,200 for 135,000 words, but I CAN get it much cheaper. I used to pay two editors $350 each and then I was paying $700 for one editor for some novels that were around 100,000 words. iirc you spent way too much on editing - way above what the trads pay, and we were suggesting that you should have done more research before going that route.

As I just illustrated - with real numbers the price drop brought in MORE money and sold MORE books.

Right now indies are selling in a wide range of price points. So not “everyone” is going ‘cheap.’

While price MAY be a part of that series’ problem. There could be all kinds of reason why it’s not selling well.

If this is true, that’s probably a major more concrete answer to the fall off f sales.

But anyways, that’s been my personal observation for the past several days on Amazon.


Instead of discussing the various pricing models of Wattpad authors, i would suggest to return to the thread topic, which was about axing another outlet for Romance and what the ramifications might be for authors writing romance…


Perhaps it would help if, when that particular user hijacks a thread to post about his book, his posts could be moved to one of the multiple threads he started specifically to talk about his book? That way conversation would stay on topic and those who wanted to discuss anything related to one particular book could do so in the relevant thread about it?

Just my $0.02 :slight_smile:




I think that’s a great idea,


I feel like it has to be said.

Romance was the big kahuna for years. I remember the advent of Harlequin (pre-sexual content) and all the other ‘book clubs’ it spawned. Romance was the escape genre for millions. But tastes have changed. Beverly Cartland, who was the Grande Dame of historical romance, is no longer palatable for modern readers. Same goes for writers like Georgette Heyer. While they still have fans (love Heyer, Cartland not so much) they sell mostly in used book stores. And I don’t get tons of reads, but there is a still a small niche for my ‘clean’, non-explicit romance.

Any indie romance with sex will sell to a certain group. There is a consumer who wants sex, and more sex and as long as there is sex, plot holes and mediocre writing is OK. Now, understand that I’m not dissing sex in romance, the people who write it or those who read it. More power to them. Nor am I saying all sexytime romance is poorly written. Far from it. But if 50 Shades proved nothing else, it proved that sex is still king.

Ellora’s Cave lost it’s hold on erotica when erotic fiction mainlined. The brand has struggled ever since. It’s far too easy to drop an ebook reader on your phone and grab a title that interests you. So, writers have learn how to go with the flow.

Jack Konrath has proven over and over that a lot of the common ideas about indie / self publish are myths. He sold his stories for $.99 initially (I bought all he had back then), now he gets $4.99 for singles and $9.99 for anthologies, and I buy what I don’t have when I have a little extra cash. As an aside, he also proved that ‘piracy’ (having his book uploaded to free sharing sites) actually increased his sales.


Absolutely! When he hijacks, he spews misinformation, which if left uncontested, will give the wrong impression to new readers, which is why I respond if we could whisk these diversions from the thread, there would be no reason to respond to them.


It still is. The names of the authors may have changed, but people like Bella Andre and Colleen Hoover (both indies) do exceptionally well. And KU is particularly attractive to the voracious readers that gobble up large numbers of romance titles a year. My guess is a lot of the romance income has moved to KU and if the traditional publisher model wasn’t embracing it, they probably found it very difficult to sell books outside the KU.


this is why we have the flagging system in place folks. If you think a conversation is being hijacked, pulled off topic or trolled then please don’t respond to them, simply flag it and one of the moderators can come in and deal with it. Thanks, Gav


I think where a lot of romance publishers went wrong was that they were too late to the game. And I compare Sears to Harlequin for sort of the same reasons although they are different businesses. Both knew what was going on with the internet age. Sears had a good online foundation before all other retailers and for some reason, they didn’t pursue it and before they knew it, they fell behind.

Harlequin was in the same boat. They saw what was happening online, knew what to do, but for some reason, didn’t do it! And before they knew it, other retailers (Amazon) blew past them. And in both cases, these businesses remained in the dark ages when that didn’t have to happen.

I expect more romance digitial first retailers to disappear. As more and more authors catch on, they will opt to self-publish, make 70% royalty (providing they charge $2.99 or more) instead of whatever amount a publisher will give them once all the expenses are paid.