Lot’s Cave would like to take a moment to personally thank Lily Weidner for participating in another of our studies. We’d like to direct readers of this post to also check out her personal experience and perspective of this experiment in her latest post titled: Elusive Money & Indie Publishers
Is the short story market dead? If you haven’t done so already, consider reading our last publishing experiment focusing on Amazon’s short story market. The experience proved so beneficial, we decided to try another! This time, Lot’s Cave wanted to test the viability of publishing short stories outside the Amazon system on all other possible publishing platforms. What we found was quite surprising, and many of our authors will find the confirmation they’ve been looking for.
With Amazon’s self published market becoming more popular through Kindle Unlimited, Lot’s Cave has found indie authors tending to shift away from indie publishers. Since we’re an indie publisher, this trend has been cause for concern. Many authors outside the Lot’s Cave family felt indie publishers provided no additional benefits to selling their eBooks. This sad opinion caused us to rethink how we advertise our eBook services directly to authors, not just readers. Putting our knowledge and experience at the forefront, we found there are in fact many benefits to publishing with indie publishers like Lot’s Cave.
Before discussing the experiment in detail, it’s important to note the need for indie publishers. Lot’s Cave is one of very few e-publishers specializing in controversial subject matter. Our experiment then, focused on short stories with this controversial subject matter in mind. While Lot’s Cave is an e-publisher, we’re also a distributor. We fully believe the best way to maximize profits is not through publishing only with Lot’s Cave, but embracing as many publishers as possible. With that in mind, Amazon’s exclusion from the experiment remained rooted in their refusal to accept controversial subject matter and their requirements for publishing exclusivity.
Our Publishing Objective
Much like our Amazon experiment, Lot’s Cave decided to do some prior research to accumulate as much data beforehand as possible. As a company, Lot’s Cave wanted to know what a new inexperienced author could expect by publishing and distributing short stories. Finding new authors writing in the 5,000 word range tend to make a monthly income of $20 a month on Amazon, we wanted to see what new authors rejecting Amazon’s exclusive high traffic website could make. To do so, we came up with the following criteria:
Rules for Lot’s Cave Short Story Experiment
- All stories are to be within the 5,000 to 6,000 word range including end matter
- eBooks must be distributed through Lot’s Cave to affiliates
- Stories must feature controversial subject matter
- The controversial subject matter chosen must remain consistent
- Prices will stay at $2.99 for single stories
- Bundles (three stories each) will be priced at $4.95
- The Collected Set (nine stories) will be sold for $9.95
- eBooks must feature a common cover design across all titles
- Author will focus solely on publishing short stories acting as a new author
- All eBooks should feature cover, front matter, formatting, and end matter standard for Lot’s Cave authors.
Before conducting the experiment, Lot’s Cave worked closely with our author to assure the overall objective remained consistent, and in line with their own goals. Letting the author choose the controversial subject matter, Lot’s Cave then designed covers with the same overall look. Our author already had an author page established, author biography, and avatar. With everything in place, we let our author write and prepared for the first week of the experiment.
Publishing the first short story on the 27th of November, the first three shorts and volume one bundle sold a total of $51.30.
After selling so well the first week, Lot’s Cave was happy to see week two sales total up to $69.93.
After week three, we were starting to notice a steady trend in sales, as the total ended up coming to $56.32.
To conclude the month’s sales, we published a complete set of all nine stories. Publishing only this one bundle set, sales still came to $55.13.
Summary of Author’s Income
In total, the author’s nine shorts and four bundles made $232.68. This is a significant amount. Remember, many authors new to publishing shorts within the same range on Amazon make a potential $20, even in their exclusive Kindle Unlimited program. By publishing outside Amazon’s exclusive program, authors can potentially make $212 more. For authors unfamiliar with Lot’s Cave, or the distribution process, lets take a look at the added benefits of publishing through Lot’s Cave contributing to this difference in overall sales potential.
Content: One of the biggest factors in the success of going through Lot’s Cave is the fact Lot’s Cave takes taboo subject matter. When publishing in a wide market beyond Amazon, Lot’s Cave has found this to be necessary step in attaining higher sales. Readers are not only demanding taboo erotica, but they’re willing to pay for it. This competitive pricing also brings us to our next advantage.
Higher Price Points: Notice how well our author’s bundles sold, and the prices for each. Three story volumes were priced at $4.95, while the complete set sold for $9.95. Royalty rates really make a difference with these maximized price points. There’s no reason to sell quality work for less, and Lot’s Cave knows it. Even authors new to publishing short stories will discover their books sell better at the appropriate price point.
Publisher Quality: Lot’s Cave sold $72.98 out of the total $232.68. This means that as an indie publisher, Lot’s Cave sold over 30% of the author’s overall books. However Lot’s Cave also acts as a distributor, which yields our authors a unique advantage. Our books sell by author, but also by subject matter. Readers looking for taboo themed books can browse our whole catalog, increasing the likelihood of new authors selling their books. In fact, we question if such performance would have even been possible without Lot’s Cave’s prior commitment to quality.
Established Reputation: Along with publishing quality comes a benefit unique to indie publishers. Not only do authors receive a top quality book, they have access to an established customer base. Right from the start, new authors are able to present their work just as, if not better than, established authors. This goes deeper than the eBook itself, but to the company itself. Lot’s Cave has worked hard to attain the reputation as the premier publisher of controversial subject matter, and our authors see a direct benefit in their sales because of it.
Distribution Time: One of the interesting advantages Lot’s Cave learned happened to be in the time necessary for distribution. Since Lot’s Cave handles the formatting and distribution uploading, our author was free to spend the time writing. For authors this is another distinct advantage, as we’ve found many authors complain about complicated upload processes or the time investment involved. When distributing through Lot’s Cave, authors can rest assured we handle those hassles for them.
Cover Cost: Every eBook needs a cover, and Lot’s Cave recognizes the investments covers potentially pose to authors. Many authors today purchase their own photo stock, often at a minimum $40 a month. Other authors can pay an average of $25 for a quality cover. In either case, this investment comes directly out of the author’s income. Lot’s Cave has no such charge for our quality covers, making it easy for authors to not only produce their next book, but make a profit for doing so.
Quality Covers: Not only is cover cost an issue, but knowing the right design can be a challenging new step for authors. When publish to many different websites, it’s difficult to find a cover that stands out across multiple platforms. Luckily Lot’s Cave has experience in this area, and we offer all of our authors this quality cover design. As a company, we see an author’s success as part of our own success as well for new or established authors alike.
Starting out, Lot’s Cave wanted to see what new authors could expect in Amazon’s exclusive program, as well as what they could expect outside. We had our own ideas, but we lacked the numbers to prove it. After two months publishing on Amazon and elsewhere, we can back up our analysis with some figures. The process has been a long one, but the results have been well worth it. What we’ve found is still quite a new idea.
Lot’s Cave can only conclude any author wishing to make money is better off encompassing as many e-publishers as possible. Instead of investing in this process by themselves, authors stand to gain a huge advantage maximizing the potential of distribution sites like Lot’s Cave. What makes a distribution site stand out above the rest remains for individual authors to decide, but we’ve learned transparency and experience top the list of qualities.
As Amazon’s authors continue to compete in an exclusive market shying away from short stories, Lot’s Cave has found readers still desire the same lengths as before. The profit hasn’t disappeared, at least not elsewhere. Quality is key in today’s market, and we’re proud to show our authors produce the best story possible. While it might be difficult to believe, the numbers simply don’t lie. Our eBook market is shifting, and we’re here to help authors shift with it every step of the way.
While paying an indie publisher to distribute books may seem like a senseless waste of money, our results tend to direct our conclusion otherwise. What many authors lack in today’s market is experience, and time. These two factors contribute to sales greater than splitting the royalty fees involved. Often, these fees are minuscule in comparison to the profit authors make. At the end of it all, not all publishers are created equal, and indie publishers can still be a valuable asset to self-publishing authors of both short stories and longer works.