2011 brought the beginnings of big changes. There were successes of many sorts. We got eBook and audio rights to Jack Ketchum and Lucky McGee’s The Woman. We contracted to do the first ever eBooks of the Stargate tie-in novels. The very first of the original series we created was launched with Aaron Rosenberg’s The Birth of the Dread Remora -(Book One of the Tales of the Scattered Earth), and a few of titles out for the first time in digital, like Scary Rednecks and the Other Inbred Horrors by Weston Ochse (Seal Team 666) and David Whitman, and serveral titles from International bestseller Steven Savile. We were still on the cusp of bigger things, but remember, we shared the numbers from 2010. 2100 and some change for the year. In 2011 we were over 21,000 – more than ten times the sales of the previous year.
Around this time were were getting much better and faster at scanning old paperbacks into digital. We still had to scan the odd and even pages into separate files and put them back together. This is also around the time when David Dodd put together a spreadsheet that we could input our sales numbers into, and, using a bunch of formulas and macros, create a statement for each author, splitting their shares out with the proper royalty amounts. I had never run a business, but I am a fairly quick learner. I figured out how to use the Bill Payment service through my bank, mixed with Paypal, to get money to everyone who was owed.
At this point we were partnered with narrator producer Jeffrey Kafer, who did final mastering on all of our audiobooks and assisted us in testing the sound quality of narrators and producers. ACX was starting to take off and the quality of what was available varied wildly. Also around this time, author and amazing book designer Aaron Rosenberg startedf working with us to create print editions (mostly of the new titles we were doing, like the Tales of the Scattered Earth novels. That series has never done what we’d hoped, but it’s backstory is a swepping space opera epic that I still feel has the potential for bigger things.
One thing I remember clearly through these early years. Almost no one that we didn’t know personally (and even some of them) believed we were honestly going to pay them 80% of everything we made. It’s not how publishing worked in those days (not really in these days either unless it’s us). They were always on the lookout for the other shoe to drop. We overcame that by doing what we said we would on a regular basis. That was 2011. You can see from the bestseller list in the image at the top of the post that we were having success in a large number of arenas. If I could include all the numbers from Barnes and Noble around this time, they would impress you. It’s fallen way off, but when they supported their early promotions, put us in their blog and in their e-mail bursts, we could have a day with thousands of sales (as happened once or twice for Bill Crowder, Ed Gorman and others. More on B&N and other outlets later in this history.
We had also determined early on that reprinted eBooks should be priced at $2.99. We have since raised that average price to $3.99 for several reasons. One being it’s still very reasonable. Another was that promotions have been very important to us, and if you are discounting a book to .99 for a short time, it’s easier to be selected for that promtion if the price drop is larger. Our current average is $3.99 for a book that’s been published previously, $4.99 for an original eBook, and slightly higher for certain types of eBooks, or certain authors. Jack Ketchum was one such… we moved on to pick up many of his other books in eBook and audio over the years. His was the first agent that we worked with, the first of many.
Seeing that this is running longer than expected, I’ll be stretching these out. Part 3 will cover 2012, another huge jump, and a lot of new lessons learned. Below are some of the titles that were bestsellers with us in 2011. Most are still with us. The Last Angel we only have in audio these days, and we no longer have the rights to the Stargate Tie-ins, so I can’t link those. Still, even in those early days we were starting to pull in some heavy hitters. That will be part of the focus of part 3.