The publishing world is reeling with how well some self-published e-books are doing. Previously unknown—much less published—names are skyrocketing to the top of the book sales charts, and hundreds of people are posting reviews to Amazon and Goodreads and writing the books up on their blogs.
But—why? Why are so many self-published e-books doing this well?
Well, as it happens, there are a few intriguing elements to consider:
—Price: Most of these e-books are priced below $3, some as low as .99 cents, so there is very little to risk by taking a chance on a new-to-you author.
—Pretty: Most of the e-book covers are striking in some way, and the cover image gives an indication of the content; a shirtless muscular man clutching a female on the cover means the book is a New Adult book. An image of an object means the content is erotic these days. Sometimes there are three people on the cover, which indicates a love triangle (if they're not touching) or a menage (if they are).
—Prolific: These new authors, once they publish one book, seem to have many more to release in quick succession. So if you've gone ahead and loved that .99 cent book you just bought, chances are good you can scoop up more books by the same author for a total investment of less than ten dollars. And because self-publishing is quicker to do than traditional publishing, an overnight success can put another book out much sooner than if the overnight success were traditionally published.
—Popular: These authors are writing in a low barrier-to-entry genre. They're writing in an easily recognizable contemporary setting, not asking the reader to get engaged in world-building, whether it's paranormal or historical. Any English reader with a pop culture background can recognize the setting of the books.
And then there's the thought that many of these readers were not readers previously—they got into reading contemporary romance through Fifty Shades, and they are continuing to explore the e-book arena, but they do not self-identify as romance readers. They like to read these books, but it's only a recent obsession. So just imagine if all the people who watch reality TV, say, suddenly decided to drop .99 on a self-published title—that would make the author a billionaire overnight.
What are your thoughts? Have you been reading more self-published titles, and if so, what is it that draws you in?
Megan Frampton is the Community Manager for the HeroesandHeartbreakers site. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband and son.