There’s no money in ebooks

booksWithout boring you with needless details, I ended up at a craft show – something I consider akin to the seventh layer of hell. Soaps, candles, things made of wood – needless to say there was little I found interesting.

So when I came across a local author peddling his books, it stood out like a sore thumb. Great, another author to speak to, I thought.

“There’s no money in ebooks,” he told me, when I mentioned that my first ebook was due out in a month.

I decided to forgo a lengthy argument. The man was in his 60s, and said “social what?” when I talked about marketing online.

His argument? “I sell 20 print books to one ebook.”

I didn’t bother to mention the success stories like Hugh Howey. Or the plethora of authors who make decent (as in, sustainable) livings off ebook-first martketing strategies (Michael Bunker comes to mind). I also didn’t bother to mention that it’s not really about the money anyway – my goal is to break even with costs, with anything extra coming as a bonus.

I did point out that he was putting his marketing into his print books, with nary a mention of ebooks. Why it wouldn’t occur to him that was the likely reason they were selling better is beyond me. It seemed an odd comparison when he put a lot of time into his sales pitch for his print edition, but expected his kindle editions to just sell themselves.

It’s not the first time I’ve encountered people who don’t understand ebooks and indie publishing – and I can hardly blame the man (and frankly, his local history books will probably mostly appeal to an older audience, though I found them interesting myself). The takeaway is that I plan to keep doing what I’m doing.



  1. All you can do is encourage people to the extent that they will allow you. If it were me, I would have chuckled and then explained how I made money selling $0.97 downloadable comics before eReaders even existed. Kids all over the world bought them and printed them out.

    But that was then, this is now, right?

    Love Michael Bunker–nice man, too. His Surviving Off-Off Grid is one of my all-time favorite books in my library…and wouldn’t you know it, I have BOTH eBook and print versions. Woot! for Michael =)

    Thanks for sharing your experience…and keep writing!
    -Jaime Buckley

  2. There are some people you just can’t convince anyway. No need trying. I think you handled the situation well–as we can only uplift as much as others allow us.
    I do love Michael Bunker’s “Surviving Off-Off Grid” book–one of my all-time favorites. …and whaddya know! I own both an eBook AND print version (grin).

    Thanks for sharing the experience.

    • That was my thought. He was doing what was working for him, and I plan to do what works for me. I buy .99 books all the time, so I imagine others would too. Anyway, thanks for the comments!

      • Very welcome. I think it’s important to share such experiences with each other–to get minds to stretch–and if we’re lucky–develop the same definitions.

        If nothing else–we feel a bit less crazy =D.

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