Mark Leslie Lefebvre shares industry insights on the Self-Publishing World. Take advantage of knowledge gained from the largest library of Indie Published books in the Industry!
Draft2Digital has the best vantage point in the business for seeing trends in the self-publishing industry. And we want to use that insight to help indie authors and publishers do more to build and grow their publishing business.
This episode of Self Publishing Insiders continues a recurring segment, featuring Mark Leslie Lefebvre, discussing the current state of the self-publishing industry and where we see things evolving from here.
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Mark Lefebvre, Kevin Tumlinson
Kevin Tumlinson 00:02
Well, hello everybody, it says we’re live and I have to trust what the computer tells me to think. So welcome to another week of Self-Publishing Insiders, the live stream provided to you by Draft2Digital. And you may be listening to this as our podcast, Self-Publishing Insiders. If you are, welcome to you as well. You don’t get to ask questions live, though. So if you want to be able to ask questions live, what you got to do is tune into these things every Thursday at noon central on Facebook or YouTube. And you can find it if you go to D2Dlive.com. So now that you’ve been appropriately shamed for not being here live, welcome Mark Leslie Lefebvre, who is our resident expert on the self-publishing industry. You’re the Industry Insight guide, Mark.
Mark Lefebvre 00:53
Well, I’m just relying on the work of a lot of really, really smart people at Draft2Digital who are creating these amazing reports. But doing a lot of analytics, digesting tens of thousands of lines of data, which, you know, that’s so much fun, but taking a look at it, breaking it down and trying to understand, considering the fact that between Smashwords, Draft2Digital, and the Smashwords store and all the distributors, like all of the retailers and libraries that we distribute to, when we collect this data back in, we’re looking at a pretty authoritative look at the indie publishing industry. Nobody else has the kind of data. So I thought it would be really important, Kevin, you and I have talked about this a lot. It’s really important to continue that great work that Mark Coker started doing the insider reports, and he would always do a great year end summary. But trying to take some of that data a little bit closer to real time. So Q1 of 2022, breaking it down, and trying to identify trends, so we can help authors make more informed decisions about their own writing businesses. So I’m just so thrilled that we have the ability to do this now.
Kevin Tumlinson 02:03
I know, this is something, and you and I’ve talked about this before, this is something that we’ve both really wanted for the publishing industry, for what used to be called the self-publishing industry, but now we just call the publishing industry. That’s my ongoing quest right now, as I like to tell people that, you know, it used to be that there was, well, there’s publishing and then there’s self-publishing, but now it’s like there’s publishing and then there’s traditional publishing.
Mark Lefebvre 02:32
Yeah, and one of the things that looks along those same lines is, Draft2Digital is a tool that authors who are traditionally published can leverage, and there are authors who leverage it, where they work with a publisher, and they maybe sell rights to specific countries, North American rights only, for example, to a major publisher. And then they leverage Draft2Digital to publish, not in North America, but everywhere else. So it’s not just a tool for self-published authors. It’s a tool for authors. Nevermind, you know, last week’s Books2Read webinar as well, as a reminder that it doesn’t matter how your books are published, you can still use the free Books2Read tools. And I think the whole Draft2Digital ecosystem is meant to be tools for writers to help them get back to writing as much as possible, right?
Kevin Tumlinson 03:17
Exactly. Yeah, we’re trying to take all the burden of the distribution and the other pesky aspects of a writing business off your shoulders. So before we jump right into the content of the day, I do want to tell everybody, I’ve been sharing links in the comments. But if you are not seeing those, you can go to D2D.tips/insight to see not just the post for today’s show, but the past one that we did, there’s only been a couple of these so far. And we’re going to do these like once a quarter to kind of give you an insight into how this is going. Here’s our advantage by the way, we are now officially the largest distributor of self-published authors and books and small publishers on the planet. Like, we are it, like we are that big now.
Mark Lefebvre 04:12
I hear there’s one starting on a satellite station that might get close one day. The largest one that’s off this planet.
Kevin Tumlinson 04:23
Off this planet. We may actually be the largest publisher on the International Space Station at this point. I’m not sure, we’re gonna check into it. But if you go to D2D.tips/insight, that’s where you’re going to find these. So if you’re listening to this in the future, the quarter one of 2022 may be your past and may not be relevant to you any longer, but you can find whatever the current one is at that site, D2D.tips/insight. So Mark, now we have a … don’t go wandering away on me, man.
Mark Lefebvre 04:54
The garbage truck was coming, I had to close the window.
Kevin Tumlinson 04:58
Suddenly leaving me just to fend for myself. Now, this went live this morning around 8am Central. So I don’t think most people have had an opportunity to read through it yet. I’ve read through it and am impressed, as always. But why don’t you start us off? I know the very first thing that you start talking about here is actually our top selling genres for quarter one of 2022.
Mark Lefebvre 05:22
Yeah, I wanted to highlight, now we all know romance is the number one genre because romance readers are so voracious. You know, one book a day is not enough for many voracious romance readers. So that’s obviously the number one, but what we did is a breakdown, and again, this is not based on unit sales. And I’m going to borrow this line from Erin Wright of the Wide for the Win movement and group. And she says bank over rank, because you can’t earn a living as an author off of the ego feed of seeing a number one ranking because you sold a lot of units. You need to kind of, especially if your goal as an author is to earn a living, that’s why we sorted this by revenue rather than units. So we have obviously romance number one, fantasy number two, mystery and detective number three, erotica number four, action and adventure number five, science fiction number six, women’s fiction number seven, crime fiction number eight, LGBTQ plus, but the code is LGBT, is the next one. Then, interestingly enough, it’s a lot of this genre fiction that is dominating indie author sales. But health and fitness, diet and nutrition, in Q1 was actually in that top ranking area, just below LGBTQ plus. And then you had fiction, family life fiction, coming of age. And so those are the top by revenue, the top genres for Q1. Now, I’m speculating, of course, and I didn’t write this in the article, that potentially diet and revenue always has a bit of an uptick at the beginning of the year as we all have these goals and dreams. I’m gonna exercise more, I’m gonna eat properly, all those things. But obviously, there’s some indie authors who have published some books, a good friend of ours, Roland Denzel, you know, has some great evergreen books on a healthy lifestyle as well. I believe they’re indie published now, I think they may have originally been done with a publisher.
Kevin Tumlinson 07:33
I’m not gonna shame myself by saying anything, because I know he’s got some indie published stuff. And I know he’s still got some trad pub stuff.
Mark Lefebvre 07:39
Yeah, so he’s got a bit of both. But obviously, that could be one of the reasons. So we may not see, we may see, who knows, we may see diet and nutrition in Q2 results. But it’s interesting to see it’s not always just genre fiction. And for me, it’s really important. Because if you’re an author who doesn’t write romance fiction, then you go, well, I guess I’m out of luck. I want authors to recognize that. And again, there’s thousands of categories. We only highlighted the very top of the top but didn’t go into, you know, here’s the order ranked by three thousand different codes, right? So for example, when I say romance, it’s romance and all the subcategories of romance.
Kevin Tumlinson 08:21
Yeah. Which I believe you break down in the post as well.
Mark Lefebvre 08:25
Yeah, a little bit more, I broke that down a little bit more, but we can’t get into the entire list.
Kevin Tumlinson 08:30
Yeah, this is only a 45-minute show. Yeah, but I mean, we could look at some of the lists, we could take a look at the like top two or three. I mean, it’s interesting to me, the phrase contemporary romance, what does that mean to you? When you hear that, what does that mean?
Mark Lefebvre 08:51
So contemporary romance, I’m not, you know, not trying to insult or anything, but it’s sort of like generic romance of maybe the Daniel Steele style, using big name authors to sort of illustrate it for people who are listening to it. It’s set in modern times. It’s contemporary. It’s a classic love story, as opposed to suspense, which is a combination, like I love romantic suspense novels, because they have two things I love. I love love stories. But I also really love suspense and thrillers. And so it combines that action suspense thrillers with romance. And then you get into obviously, new adult romance. So it’s, you know, of a certain age, a little bit beyond YA, and then you get into historical and Regency, which, of course, you’ve probably seen the side effect of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, or Bridgerton, or something like that. So you’re seeing the thirst in the community for that kind of historical romance is growing as well. And then, I mean, there’s always the billionaire romance that has been popular since that Gray character in 50 shades, right? From that point on, billionaire romance has just become its own wonderful sub-genre for so many indie authors.
Kevin Tumlinson 10:11
Yeah. You call out that the second highest overall category is fantasy. Which may be related to what you were just saying that, you know, we’ve got all this fantasy fiction coming at us from film and TV. Do you think that’s what’s driving that? Or is there, I don’t know. There’s a part of me that also thinks that there’s a demand for that because it is so escapist. And we could really use that right about now.
Mark Lefebvre 10:39
We really could. Well, yeah, you have, I mean, you do have the richness of such great shows, or movies that still, you know, Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and all of those, right? And they were movies, so they brought them to a lot more people than just readers. And then of course, you got Game of Thrones, a very popular television series fantasy including erotica and romance and horror, all the things. But here’s the other thing when you think about fantasy, so paranormal romance is also among the top but then when you look at fantasy, you’re also getting a lot of paranormal. And so paranormal as opposed to epic fantasy. So paranormal was the number one category. Meaning it’s not the Tolkien fantasy so much, although that is popular, the Tolkien, the epic is a higher level. Dark fantasy is one that was the fourth highest, and dark fantasy was traditionally, as a horror author, a lot of horror authors said, well, we’re not going to use the horror label, because that’s like a label we don’t want. We’ll call it dark fantasy, because that’s very literary and very highbrow. It’s really just horror. So you have paranormal and urban fantasy. I mean, I write paranormal urban fantasy thrillers as well. So I’m guilty of writing in this genre. So happy to, you know, all half dozen of my sales contributed to this. But then you get romantic fantasy as well, which is interesting. And then at the very, very … So it’s kind of interesting when you look at the categories, because there’s, you know, 3600 different subject classifications. You’ve got urban fantasy, but then you’ve got contemporary fantasy. So what’s the difference? Well, is contemporary fantasy like urban, but it’s not set in an urban setting, and it’s more of a rural setting, but it’s modern? Like that’s the interesting … although I guess, when you think about urban fantasy, it could potentially be historical urban fantasy.
Kevin Tumlinson 12:41
That’s true. I’ve actually, someone made that argument to me in another podcast. Just because it’s urban doesn’t mean it’s contemporary.
Mark Lefebvre 12:51
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Could be. And is it Victorian urban?
Kevin Tumlinson 12:58
Then there’s the country music side, the Tim Urban fantasy. Moving on very quickly.
Mark Lefebvre 13:04
That’s a very niche sub-genre.
Kevin Tumlinson 13:07
Did I get that right? I don’t even know if I got that right. I may have missed it.
Mark Lefebvre 13:11
That’s okay, I got the joke you were shooting for.
Kevin Tumlinson 13:13
So there’s, it’s disconcerting to me that I do not see thrillers on the top list. But I do see mystery and detective and action adventure, which, you know, my books do fall into those categories. That would probably highlight the necessity to make sure your book is, like, pick your top three genres, right?
Mark Lefebvre 13:37
Yeah. Well, sub-genre, as well, right? Those are those are really, really important. And so I think that’s an interesting thing. Because when a lot of, when you when you look at merchandising lists on the major retailers that we play with all the time, they’ll often mix thrillers and mystery and crime, depending on what geo location they’re in, they may mix them together in the same categories. There’s still a lot of dominance for thrillers, not that there’s not a lot of great thrillers being published and selling well in the indie author community. But I mean, I just finished reading a traditional published thriller from a Canadian friend of mine, published by Simon and Schuster, and it’s been dominating the Canadian bestseller list since the book came out over a month ago. And so obviously, there’s the, you know, the girl who, that sort of thing. Whether she was on a train in a house across the street drinking wine, whatever the case was, that’s a popular thing in that genre.
Kevin Tumlinson 14:36
Yeah, there’s like a parody series on Netflix right now that’s like the girl who saw the girl across the street who was murdered by the girl who whatever, you know?
Mark Lefebvre 14:44
From the girl in the window. Yeah, it’s a great series with Kristen Bell. She is wonderful.
Kevin Tumlinson 14:52
Yes. I haven’t watched it yet. So you kind of brought something, a similar idea up, so I’m gonna post this comment real quick. The Lady Writes on YouTube says, I was surprised to see science fiction and fantasy separate. Thank you for doing that. Not everyone does. That’s a long running kind of complaint from like bookstores.
Mark Lefebvre 15:13
Yeah, I think you got to remember, and I started in bookstores back before the big box stores existed. So typically, a typical bookstore would maybe have 5,000 to 10,000 titles, and have very, very limited retail space. Therefore, they had fiction, romance, maybe westerns, and then they would just take science fiction and fantasy and put anything that was speculative in nature, even horror sometimes, and just throw it all in there. And of course, the diehard fans who go well, I love fantasy, or epic fantasy, but I don’t read science fiction. You know, and then even within that, you say, well, I only read military science fiction, or I only read near future science fiction, or I only read dystopian. So there’s so much subtlety in sub-genres that were not possible until the big box stores came out, because then there was enough retail space to actually properly divide science fiction and fantasy properly, and then do the subcategories. But then online book selling, of course, made that even better, because you didn’t have to worry about well, I have one copy of the book, what shelf is it going on in the store? You know, it’s virtual shelves, so you can be in multiple categories at the same time. And so I really think that online bookselling helped that. So thank you so much, The Lady Writes, but we really have to thank the trends of technology in the industry that actually allow us as consumers to find the books we want to read. And of course, just as importantly, on our end as authors, allow us to place those books in those specific subcategories and not just go yeah, sci fi, fantasy, it’s all the same.
Kevin Tumlinson 16:43
Yeah, exactly. And I should point out that we have that nifty reading list tool that you can separate fantasy and sci fi as much as you want on, if you want to present people with reading lists.
Mark Lefebvre 16:55
Was that like a webinar last week or something?
Kevin Tumlinson 16:57
I think there may have been a webinar about it. So if you didn’t see that, by the way, you can find that on our blog, at draft2digital.com/blog, you can just search for that. Just search webinar and you get to see the whole series. So I’m looking at the section here on your post labeled global growth. It has nice nifty charts. Can you, I know the people listening aren’t going to be able to really, they can’t just quite visualize these charts, you can if they go to the post, but can you kind of run through this for us?
Mark Lefebvre 17:35
Picture this. I’ll get you started. So what I did is, I took a look at the top selling territories for 2019. I went back a few years, prior to the pandemic. And then I looked at 2022. One of the reasons I did this is I just got access to the report. And so I grabbed the 2022 data. And then the other data I had was run in 2020 for 2019. I didn’t have time when I was writing this report to go back and look at all the years. So I thought well, that gives us enough of a distinction. But what we did see, when you actually look at this, is it’s a slow change. One of the key things we saw is that in 2019, the US was a larger percentage of sales. So what happened is, they went from eight point, was it sorry, I can’t even see the data in front of me. But the US sales was initially a slightly larger percentage. And it’s lower. Not to say that US sales are down because they’re not. They are still growing, we’re seeing growth. But as a percentage of overall sales, they’re a smaller percentage. What does that mean? Global growth. As we all know, the adoption of ebook selling is still limited, right? Still, most people still read print books, and so particularly in Europe, and across Europe and overseas, not in the UK so much, you’re having countries that haven’t yet fully adopted. Well, even in the US and the UK, we haven’t fully adopted ebook reading, we’re still at the cutting edge, at the early days of that. For anyone who thinks those glory days of ebook selling are over, they’re not. They’ve only just begun. I may break into song. But I think when you think about this global growth, it just increases more and more opportunities. Because when you think about, well, in the US, there’s one dominant player that shall not be named. Some river place. Right? There’s this dominant player in an existing market that people think is done and is a write-off. And that’s not the case, although they will probably always maintain a dominance in the US in the UK. But there are other countries, Kobo, for example, was one of the companies that really took the reins and said, hey, the US is spoken for, let’s go after all of these partners and all these other territories to see if we can grow. And so what you’ve seen is the combination of Kobo and Apple and Google Play, you’re seeing growth across other territories. Another reason why we’re seeing this particular growth is we recently, and I mean by recently in the last year, signed BorrowBox. And BorrowBox, for any author listening who’s not familiar is, BorrowBox is a distributor, a wholesale distributor to libraries in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and the UK. So they’re known to people in those territories. But here in North America, we go well, I’ve heard of Overdrive. I’ve heard of Baker and Taylor. I haven’t heard of too many of the other ones, right? So BorrowBox is someone we added. And obviously, we’ve seen global growth because we added a global retailer or global wholesaler who’s not available in North America. So of course, we’re going to see growth in those areas, too.
Kevin Tumlinson 20:50
Yeah. I think we have an opportunity there, by the way, as we are getting books into libraries in Australia, we should be able to monitor and see if we’re seeing actual sales growth on platforms in that region, to see how effective library distribution is for encouraging sales outside of that platform. What do you think of that idea? Hard, right?
Mark Lefebvre 21:17
I’m all for that. And I know two of our partners, two of our library partners, are very, very interested in spotlighting Australian authors for Australian libraries. So if you’re listening, you should contact us and say, hey, I’m an Australian author. We will make sure that you’re distributing your books to those library platforms so that we can send your name and your titles over to those partners and say, hey, tell your libraries about this awesome author, they should really pay more attention. And I’m in a Canadian country. And I know that’s something we take a lot of pride in. And so it’s like, the Canadian author flag is really important to retailers and in libraries here in Canada. There’s often sections in Indigo, our largest, kind of like a Barnes & Noble of Canada, large chain bookstore, often has, their slogan used to be “The world needs more Canada,” and they often have, you know, authors from the north or whatever to try and spotlight Canadian talent. So I know that as we work with partners who are looking to spotlight talent in their region, that’s really important. Vivlio, for example, in France, they’re huge in France. So if you’re an author from France, and you’re looking for opportunities, let us know. Maybe we can just point out your books to Vivlio as well, because again, there’s that hometown pride that people can often take, as, you know, as retailers, librarians, etc.
Kevin Tumlinson 22:39
Right. Yeah. The world does need more Canada. We have a question. Actually, it is a question. I might as well pop it up at this point. William Brinkman asks, “Is urban fantasy counted as fantasy on your list?”
Mark Lefebvre 22:56
Yes, William, that’s a great question. So at the high level, when I say fantasy, it’s all of the 38 or 40 subcategories of fantasy, and urban fantasy is one of them, as is contemporary, as is Arthurian, as is paranormal, etc, etc. So yeah, great question. Thanks for asking, William.
Kevin Tumlinson 23:12
Yes, okay. So now moving back to your charts, I guess. I keep grabbing … So you start talking about trends that we should pay attention to. What are those? And this is not, we’re not advising people, now go out and write books to these genres, because that’s what’s going to be hot. This is more like, these are the things that you may want to keep in mind as you write.
Mark Lefebvre 23:35
Yeah, yeah. So I mean, that’s one of the reasons why we’re just looking at, hey, you know, there’s still growth globally, there’s still opportunities for you as authors, here are the genres that are selling really, really well, here’s that breakdown to some of the sub-genres just so you can understand a little bit more about it. I’m more of a fan, I’ve been in the industry since 1992, and I know that trends will come and go. I think one of the key things, yes, writing the market is important, or at least understanding the market you’re writing to is critical. That’s critical. Actually writing to market, especially if it’s something you don’t believe in, may not be something you can sustain for a long time as a writer. You may be able to do it, but it may not feel good. So I always vote for, you know, write the stories that you’re passionate to tell, write the stories that you want to tell. If you’re passionate of writing this genre and this genre, and you see that this genre is doing really, really well, well, maybe this is a focus right now. But I’m not saying to completely say well … You know, like, for example, I’m not going to, although I did just co-author a romance novel, but I’m not going to go and write romance because that’s popular, more popular than the genre I normally write in. So I’m not suggesting you do that. But it’s good to pay attention to the trends so you understand what’s going on. Now, one trend I want authors to be completely aware of, and this Kevin is based not only on data that we’ve seen that we’ve been able to measure, but just in interactions that I know that you and Dan and myself and other members of the Draft2Digital team have had in conversations with other authors through in person and virtual networking that we’ve done. And also paying attention to, because we often do pay attention to the trends and the reports about the traditional publishing industry, because even though we are a self-publishing platform, we need to understand where we fit within the greater platform so we can help authors understand that. And one thing that we’ve seen, and we recognize this is, we’re at a point in time in our history where, two years ago, in March of 2020, we were so thrilled to see triple digit ebook growth, particularly in the library markets, because people were locking down, they were shutting themselves in and isolating and not able to go and socialize with other people. And then they also couldn’t get into bookstores. And it’s difficult because, you know, a physical book might come with a virus, ironically. They were discovering the joy of ebook reading. So ebook sales just went through the roof. We’re starting to normalize and stabilize after that growth. What we’re seeing is almost like a rebound effect. And I kind of equate it for two reasons. Right now in the world and in particular in North America, most of the lockdowns and legislations and mask mandates, and all of those things have been lifted. And for the first time in two years, people are so excited that they can go and mingle in groups and crowds. The last night was my son’s high school graduation, this is the first graduation they’ve had since 2019, in a giant room with a lot of people as opposed to the virtual ceremony. So people are out and about, especially here in North America. It’s spring, yay, we get to go out. Well, not where you live. But where I live. I’m so excited that I don’t have to put on a jacket and my galoshes and my tuque and all things to get outside, I can just go outside quickly and easily. And so reading, not as many people are buying, not as many people are reading. So if you were doing something as an author that was working really, really well in January and February, for example, and you did the exact same thing in your brand promotion with a great third party like the BookBubs or the Written Word Media, Bargain Booksy, FreeBooksy, any of those sites out there that you’re running great promos on. And you run a similar promo, and it doesn’t work, anytime between April and now, chances are you didn’t do anything wrong. And I want authors to understand that. Chances are, it’s just a side effect of the state of the world right now. And the fact that very few people, or fewer people, are buying books as they were just a few months ago. And so we’re seeing that trend across the industry. You’re even seeing reports from the traditional side of things. So it’s not you. I mean, it could be you. But it’s not something to think about, well, it worked before, why isn’t it working now? I would advise authors, if you’re cautious and worried about overspending on ads that you’re running and stuff like that, instead of doubling down and investing more, maybe just hold back a little bit. Let’s wait until we get to mid-summer. And hopefully we’re gonna get more into the, hey, I’m on vacation, I want a beach read, I want to just enjoy myself. Or as we’re getting closer to the end of the year, I want to learn, you know? I’m six months into the year, okay, now it’s time for me to do those things I thought I was gonna do in January, I still have time. So I just want people to be aware of those trends so they’re not blaming themselves. Because one of the things, you know this, Kevin, we blame ourselves as authors. We have impostor syndrome, we think, oh, I must have done something wrong. I must have annoyed my readers or whatever. And that’s not the case at all. For the most part, it’s most likely an industry trend, and you’re just suffering through that right now.
Kevin Tumlinson 28:44
Yeah. And like you said, everybody, every publisher, traditional or otherwise, is kind of dealing with that same thing. So. Yeah, too bad we don’t have like a magic bullet to get around that.
Mark Lefebvre 28:59
Yeah, I’ve been looking.
Kevin Tumlinson 29:01
Maybe one day. So this is new. This is somewhat new for us, but it’s something we’re going to start leaning into. And I’m excited about it. I know you’re excited about it. We got our brand-new promotions … What’s her official title?
Mark Lefebvre 29:19
Promotions coordinator, Megan Span. She is awesome. And so excited. She started with us, I guess a month ago, right?
Kevin Tumlinson 29:27
Yeah. Yeah, she took over for somebody.
Mark Lefebvre 29:32
From some really lovely lady that you may know. But yeah, Kara was awesome. I was worried, like, how do you replace someone as awesome as Kara? Oh my God, Megan.
Kevin Tumlinson 29:42
That’s the problem I have. I talk to myself all the time, like how do I replace someone who’s as awesome as Kara? I guess I better keep her.
Mark Lefebvre 29:48
You gotta keep her. But Megan has been, and it was great that Megan and Kara got to work alongside one another for a little while, and Kara did some great training, as Kara had just been learning some new reports, post-merger, of pulling data from the Smashwords system, and then also the Draft2Digital system. And so what Megan’s been doing is being able to combine these reports. So there’s been some great reports that Smashwords has historically always sent to Romantic Daily Times, sending a bestseller report to Publishers Weekly, as well, industry of indie best sellers. And now, we can merge that data. So it’s sales from all of the distributed platforms that Smashwords goes to, libraries and retailers. All of the distributed platforms that Draft2Digital goes to, library and retailers, plus sales on the Smashwords store where you make 85% as an author, if you sell through the Smashwords store. And don’t worry, we’re going to be leveraging that to your benefit, authors, in the coming … We’re gonna make it easier to earn more just by pushing a button. And again, we get to control the merchandise. And so we’ll be able to offer way more opportunities for authors there. But taking all of that combined data, and merging it. And so this is an April bestsellers report that we weren’t able to run until the end of May. And the reason is because we don’t get all the reports back from all the places right away. So we wanted to wait until we had, I think it’s like the 25th of May was when Megan could finally pull all the data because all of them had been reported. And then we pulled the data, she mashed it all together, sent the report off to Publishers Weekly. And then I took some of that data. And again, we sorted this by revenue, not unit sales. Again, because we wanted to highlight bank over rank as important. Now there’s a pretty close correlation between unit sales and revenue, although there are some cases where there are ones where the sales, it might have been maybe number 28 on the list in terms of unit sales, but it was number 25 In terms of revenue. So there was that difference there. What we did is, we wanted to share the bestseller list. And so Megan is in the process today, because we just posted this live, of emailing and congratulating the authors, because what we want to do is a couple of things. I mean, authors work in isolation, they’re always working so hard, they may not even be aware that they’re a bestseller. So what we did is, we’re contacting, we’re messaging them and saying, hey, congratulations, you’re one of the top 25 bestselling authors from April, and we’ll be doing this every month. We’re only going to be doing the quarterly breakdown, like what you and I are doing right now and talking about, but every month we’re going to be posting the top 25. And what we did with the image here is we wanted the top 10, because it was just trying to get a nice round number. There are several authors you may notice in the bestseller list who are repeated, you know. For example, Lexie Tim’s The Bunkmate, Roommates Wanted series number two, is the third bestselling book. But then Lexi Tim’s fifth, the fifth bestselling is another one by Lexi Tim. Elle Kennedy as well appears multiple times on the list. So what we wanted to do here just to kind of spotlight more authors and give more authors a spot in the sun is, we picked the top one from each of the authors. And then if that author appeared again, what we did is in the image at least, we wanted to show 10 different authors as opposed to showing three of the authors like four times or something. So again, it’s just a chance for us to try and spotlight and show some really, really great sales that we’re seeing across the board. So it’s not just one particular retailer, this is amalgamated from multiple retailers. And even in some cases, the titles are doing okay on retailers, but where they’re really knocking it out of the park is in the library market. So this is a really great start to sharing some of the bestsellers that we’re seeing to try to spotlight authors. You may notice a trend here Kevin, do you notice a trend, just judging the books by the covers there? Do you see a trend?
Kevin Tumlinson 34:02
Is it bare chested-ness? These are all romance or mostly romance, right?
Mark Lefebvre 34:10
Mostly romance. Now Alex Kava, actually, you’ll see that that looks more like action thriller.
Kevin Tumlinson 34:16
Yeah. Suspense or something.
Mark Lefebvre 34:17
Yeah. Suspense. And then, yeah, again, you’re obviously seeing a certain style of romance as well. But again, we’re just quickly judging them by the covers, but you can see and that’s why we shared the genre as well. So you’re seeing a lot of romance is dominating. But women’s fiction. So Rachel Hannah, The Beach, for example. That’s women’s fiction. And so even though when you looked at that category, women’s fiction, it was further down on the overall list for Q1, in the top 25 titles she’s still there. She’s got a title there. So just because that genre that we talked about earlier isn’t number one or isn’t at the top of the list does not mean this is not something that can be very lucrative for an author. And again, just think about how many different readers get to enjoy some of this fiction.
Kevin Tumlinson 35:10
Yeah, exactly. This is cool. Yeah, and we’re going to be kind of putting that out there and shouting out for these authors to congratulate them on our list. And over time, this is going to grow. I think one day, it is not inconceivable that people will forget all about that whole New York Times list and only care about the D2D Bestseller List. I’m gonna start putting D2D Bestseller on all my books.
Mark Lefebvre 35:40
I think maybe we need to make a little badge for authors and give it to them and say, you’re a top selling D2D author.
Kevin Tumlinson 35:46
We should do that. There you go. Everybody in the comments, you tell us. If you made that D2D bestseller list, would you want to display your badge on your website or your book cover or whatever? Let us know in the in the comments. Speaking of comments, we got a couple. A lot of these are about print. Let’s pop this one up. I think this was already answered by some of our folks in the comments. But, lord, I won’t try that name. Sorry. CM asks, “Is Amazon the only partner of D2D for print?” And the answer is no. We actually have an expanded distribution that can get you to bookstores planet wide, really, I mean, there’s no serious limit to where your book can show up. But we do distribute to Amazon. But we don’t even have to distribute to Amazon. So you can actually turn Amazon off as one of the distribution channels for your print book if you’d like. So, is that incorrect? You’re shaking your head.
Mark Lefebvre 37:07
No, you can’t.
Kevin Tumlinson 37:09
You can’t? I thought you could select whoever you want.
Mark Lefebvre 37:12
For ebooks. For print, no.
Kevin Tumlinson 37:15
Well then I’d like my comment stricken from the record.
Mark Lefebvre 37:11
I’m just gonna take out the little Men in Black thing and flash it into everyone’s ears.
Kevin Tumlinson 37:17
All right, well this is good. This is good, because I was under the impression that you could.
Mark Lefebvre 37:25
To explain it, if you’ve published directly to Amazon through KDP, and you’re using the exact same ISBN that maybe you own, it’s on Amazon directly. And then if you publish it through D2D Print, what’ll happen is, it’ll get sent to Amazon. But Amazon will ignore it, because they’ll go, we got it. We don’t need it. Got it, don’t need it. They’re like, no, we don’t want this. We already have it. So we’re good. And they prefer themselves anyways, because they make more money. They don’t have to split with the distributor.
Kevin Tumlinson 37:59
Maybe that’s why I was confused. Because you can turn that off on Amazon.
Mark Lefebvre 38:02
Yeah, it’s going to Amazon, but it’s not getting to Amazon, because of that reason. But yeah, there’s no way to deselect Amazon as a distribution platform. You’re thinking about the old system.
Kevin Tumlinson 38:06
Okay, that’s probably it. But I know that on KDP Print on Amazon, you can turn off expanded distribution, you can turn it off. You should never turn that on in the first place, and just use us for expanded distribution, we get more places anyway. But that may be what I was thinking about. Or not. You know, that’s giving me way too much credit. Let’s not give me that much credit. So, you know, this question is related to that, too. Everybody wants to know about D2D Print today. So two questions. This is question number one, “The problem I’m having and maybe others are having is Amazon either not listing the print books or saying they are out of print.” See, we were just talking about this. “Is a happy resolution anytime soon in the cards?” So since that’s not under our control, we can’t …
Mark Lefebvre 39:00
Although I do know, I do know over time, it stabilizes. It normalizes. When your book first goes live, it’s a week or two or even longer where it looks unavailable, and that’s just Amazon doing their weird stuff, where they’re trying to force you to want to publish directly to them, or whatever ingenious thing that they’re trying to do to drive you away from using distributors and owning the market. But it does normalize over time, because I do have that with a number of my books. And I’m always upset when they first go live. And they look, oh it’s gonna take 16 to 29 weeks to get the book. And then over time, here’s what’s happens. Because Amazon is very customer centric, once the book gets printed, and it gets distributed, it’s usually the turnaround is relatively quick. And then once Amazon has the actual data that shows that it’s going to be there in one to two days or whatever the case is, it normalizes. But it does take some time. So Michael, I do understand your frustration there.
Kevin Tumlinson 39:55
Yeah, my gripe with that is seeing that number, it’s going to take six months to deliver, that can discourage sales. But whatever. Alright, Michael’s follow-up question was, “If a bookstore asks me how to order print copies, what do I tell them?”
Mark Lefebvre 40:11
You can tell them oftentimes, because it will, if it’s coming through D2D Print, it will be non-returnable, which means they’ll want to order it in only if they believe they’re going to be able to sell it. Because they’re not going to be able to return it back to the wholesaler. But it should be available on their online special order and stuff like that. I know even there’s indie bookstores here in Canada in town that I love to support. And I know people can go to their website and order the book, and they’ll order it in for you or order it in for any customer. But they’re not likely to want to stock the books, because the way bookstores operate, the business of bookstores is they need the ability to be able to return them to the publisher for a credit. And with these print on demand titles, they are currently default set to non-returnable, and so that option kind of goes away. Unless you have a great relationship with a bookstore and they either want to take them directly from you on consignment or they’re willing to order them through the wholesaler. You know, through the available, through Ingram wholesale distribution, which is the world’s largest wholesaler of print books. Most bookstores in the English-speaking world have access to Ingram and use them regularly. And they may want to stock them to support you. But again, Michael, there’s no easy answer to that, because we’re talking about different people who run their businesses different ways. And we can’t state how they’re going to run their business, they make those decisions themselves. But the key thing you can do is to have a really solid relationship with your local bookstore. And maybe that solid relationship leads to them being willing to be flexible.
Kevin Tumlinson 41:41
I do recommend, I use that consignment model personally, where I’ll go to a bookstore and offer to bring them some copies and check back in with them and you know, do the inventory of it, you know. And what’s great about that is, they can still order additional books. So if the thing sells out, and people are still interested, they can go ahead and order the book. But it’s a good way to kind of whet the appetite a little. That’s basically what it is. You take all the risk, but that’s kind of our shtick anyway, right? As indie authors, we’re taking all the risks, but we also get all the rewards. So last question I have bookmarked at the moment, and I’ll go searching for some more. But Tom Ray asks, “Do the big guys use an AI to read the work and classify it in their own opinion?” Not to my knowledge.
Mark Lefebvre 42:37
Not that I’m aware of. The big guys, talking about the big publishers? Is that what you mean?
Kevin Tumlinson 42:44
Yeah, or I’m guessing he means like Amazon and others, to categorize it, you know? Because they are choosing, like Amazon in particular is pretty bad about this … And I’m only guessing Tom, so you fill us in if I’m wrong on this. But you know, Amazon, you’ll put your book up and you’ll choose your BISACS, but it’ll show up in like 10 other categories based on keywords and other things. I’ve heard that’s changed.
Mark Lefebvre 43:06
That’s not AI reading the book, although that technology does exist, right? The technology to read books like that. And our good friend Alexandra Torre, she’s spearheaded a company, what’s it called, Marlowe? That can actually read a book and sort of classify the category based on the words and stuff like that, but we believe it seems like they use the metadata, and part of the metadata in the keywords, as well. So it’s the BISAC codes you put in, plus, potentially, in Amazon’s case, where they also read the keywords to reclassify it. And you can also message them, if you’re publishing to Amazon directly, you can message them and ask to be added to a bunch of other categories because they only give you two.
Kevin Tumlinson 43:50
Yeah, that’s true. We’re getting some answers on my request to if people want to do the badge, and we got a couple here. DL White wants one, The Lady Writes says a badge would be great. DL White, yes, I need a badge. I’m sure, I think there may be a certain very talented graphic designer. She didn’t have internet access today. So she may not be watching right now.
Mark Lefebvre 44:21
Yeah, so we can volunteer her for this since she can’t object.
Kevin Tumlinson 44:25
I do know that our newest member of the marketing team, Lexi Greene, is in the in the audience. And she’s amazing. And she might actually do us the favor of reminding and requesting such a badge be created. So there you go. Or getting me in trouble for bringing it up in the first place. All right. So yeah, I’m scanning through questions. I think we’ve hit all the questions, and we’re at time anyway, Mark. Is there anything you want to throw in to kind of summarize things as to what all this stuff means for the community?
Mark Lefebvre 45:04
Yeah. Don’t give up, continue to believe in yourself, continue to work on your writing, continue to work at the passion and the things that drive you to want to share stories with the world. The trends will come and go. If you’re not seeing a trend that’s working for you right now, don’t worry, stick around. Kind of like we say in certain parts of Canada, if you don’t like the weather, stick around a couple hours, it’ll change. Stick it out for the long run. Because yes, we’re looking at trends for Q1. But when you look at the long-term trends, couple things we’re seeing, we’re continuing to see ebook growth in general, we’re continuing to see global growth in general. And we’re continuing to see indie authors rocking it like the rock stars that they are.
Kevin Tumlinson 45:43
Yeah, it is pretty inspiring. I’ve been watching this business like you for years, you know, from the inside and the outside. And it’s pretty inspiring to see how things are shaping up and shifting. All right, well, that’s gonna wrap us up for this week’s Self-Publishing Insiders. I almost said something completely different. I do too many podcasts, that’s what that means.
Mark Lefebvre 46:09
Wrapping it up for Cooking Nightly with Kevin Tumlinson.
Kevin Tumlinson 46:13
No, I won’t go there. But if you would like to continue to hear more of these sorts of insights, or see the current insight-filled blog post, go to D2D.tips/insight. That leads to a landing page where all these are going to be collected. Bookmark that, because then you can come back and check that stuff. And you can also see like, when we make little predictions, you can come back and ridicule us when we get things wrong. Be sure to like and subscribe if you haven’t already. I should have asked this several times throughout, because that always seems to get a good reaction. But make sure you’re liking and subscribing on whatever platform you’re on. YouTube, Facebook, whatever podcast platform you listen to, make sure you’re checking us out and you want to go to … Where did you go? Sorry, sometimes these things disappear on me. But make sure you bookmark D2Dlive.com. Because that’s where we will count down to each week’s episode with the topics and everything. You can also find links to past episodes. So you can kind of go check us out on the blog there. That’s going to wrap us up, Mark. And for everyone paying attention, thank you so much for being a part of this industry insight stuff. We’d have no insights if there was no industry, you folks are the industry. So thank you for being a part of this amazing community of authors and publishers as we grow, as you grow. Mark, thank you for being our Sherpa in this mountain of data. And everyone else, we’ll see you all next time.