Survey Says: Most Agents Don’t Want to “Peddle” Self-Pubbed Books


Author ads on Goodreads seem to be a reasonable investment according to indie authors who have given it a whirl. Goodreads recently reported that its average click-through rate is 0.05%, which means that if 10,000 people see an author’s ad, an average of five people will click on it.

This was not quite true for Jennifer Bresnick, who used Goodreads to advertise her novel Dark the Night Descending and ended up with a lower click-through rate of 0.04%. “The ad was shown to 20,000 people, but I only got nine clicks on it,” she says. That said, the campaign didn’t pose much of a financial burden—Bresnick only spent $4.50.

Indie author Melinda Clayton has advertised all six of her books on Goodreads, with her most recent campaign taking place late last year. She generally invests $25 per campaign, setting her per-click rate at $0.25 and letting the ads run until her funds have been used up. She adds that the platform works especially well for authors who write series.

If an author finds that his ads aren’t resonating, he can make changes mid-campaign. Patrick Brown, Director of Author Marketing at Goodreads, advises authors to monitor their statistics page to see how well or how poorly their ads are performing and to make changes if necessary. “This also prevents what’s known as ‘ad fatigue,’ for viewers who may have seen your ad more than once.”


Over at the blog, Agent Hunter, Harry Bingham comments on the results of “the English-speaking world’s most comprehensive survey of what authors think of the firms that publish them.”  The survey, done in conjunction with indie publishing expert Jane Friedman, “invited the views of traditionally published authors only, whether or not they had also self-published.”

Mike Shatzkin at The Shatzkin Files dove into the results (in addition to the results of their own survey conducted among agents and editors), trying to discern whether self-publishing is a useful tool to get a deal and came to some interesting conclusions:

* Of the 812 published authors that Bingham-Friedman surveyed, a third of the respondents said they had never considered self-publishing, while well over 40 percent have done it and nearly a quarter say they’ve “seriously considered it”.

* On the other hand, later in the survey 36 percent of the respondents were “horrified” at the idea of controlling every aspect of the publishing process while only 24 percent were “excited” by that idea.

* Most agents responding said they really don’t want to try to peddle a book that has already been self-published unless it has achieved pretty extraordinary success (about 100,000 copies).

* Agents are less negative about whether self-publishing might be helpful selling a next or different book to a publisher, but, even there, they are far less than enthusiastic about the help it provides.

* One agent said that publishers care about the quality of the writing and very little about the author platform.

Indie authors, what do you think of those results?


The Weinstein Co. has fallen under the spell of French writer Agnes Martin-Lugand’s debut novel Happy People Read and Drink Coffee.

TWC announced Tuesday that it has acquired film rights to the book, which was originally self-published and has gone on to become a hit in France. And Weinstein Books, a partnership between The Weinstein Co. and The Perseus Books Group, has picked up publishing rights to the novel for a release in spring 2016. A film adaptation will be produced by Maeva Gatineau and Sebastien Fechner of Source Films, who brought the material to TWC.

Happy People tells the story of Diane, who is still mired in grief after losing her husband and daughter in a car accident. Searching for a way to remain close to her husband, she takes a trip to Ireland, which he had always wanted to visit, and discovers a possible new love affair.


According to a recent post in The Guardian, Joss Whedon’s highly praised screenplay for the satirical horror movie The Cabin in the Woods was ripped straight from the pages of a 2006 self-published novel, according to a new lawsuit claiming $10 million in damages.

Writer Peter Gallagher filed a suit in the US district court in California against Whedon and film studio Lionsgate, claiming ideas that originated in his book The Little White Trip: A Night in the Pines were pilfered wholesale for the hit slasher flick.

“Comparing the book to the film, the plots, stories, characters, sequence of events, themes, dialogue, and incidents portrayed in the two works are fictional and, in many respects, the elements in the two works are virtually identical,” claims the suit, which alleges copyright infringement.


Publishers Weekly reports that events tailored to self-published authors at the London Book Fair’s Author HQ were jam-packed and among the most popular offerings. PW checked in with Smashwords founder Mark Coker about the current state of self-publishing and what the future holds.

Perhaps most interesting are Coker’s thoughts on the power of Amazon:

“I think all eyes in publishing should be on Amazon KDP Select, Amazon’s self-publishing option that requires exclusivity, and Kindle Unlimited, its new subscription service. After Amazon’s resolution with Hachette, the industry has been kind of lulled into a sense of false security. Amazon wants control over pricing. And if publishers won’t give it to them Amazon is going to take it.

This is what’s happening now. Kindle Unlimited represents Amazon’s end-run around agency pricing. With KU, Amazon decides what each qualified read is worth, irrespective of the book’s price. In recent months, Amazon has decided that each qualified read is worth about $1.40. If you’re an indie author who typically prices you e-books at $3.99 and earns almost $2.80 on a single-copy sale, that’s a 50% devaluation of your book.

I think most publishers still view KU as a problem for indie authors, since indie e-books populate the bulk of KU’s nearly one million titles thus far. But as e-books continue to gain market share, and as indies capture a greater percentage of the e-book market, non-participating publishers will feel the pinch. And that pinch becomes a vise when Amazon diverts readers to KU, KDP Select and Amazon-exclusive books, or to books where publishers have agreed to pay indulgences in the form of co-op fees. I’m afraid publishers are in a world of hurt in the next few years if they don’t quickly develop alternate distribution channels for their books. When a retailer controls 60% or more of your digital business, you have to question if you’re harming your long term viability by continuing to support that retailer.”

Have a fabulous weekend indie readers—and take those books outdoors!