Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Tuesday Midday Links: Sunshine Deals Making a Big Impact

I believe it was June 1 when Amazon launched its Sunshine Deals.  Sunshine Deals highlighted over 600 books that were all promotionally priced at $2.99 and under. (U.S. Residents only).  I’ve been watching these deals and the books since Sunday as well as the news articles surrounding the deals.

Dan Lubart from eBook Market Views is, among many other things, tracking the pricing of bestsellers at Amazon.  This makes sense because ordinarily bestseller lists are dominated by Agency priced books.  Tracking the pricing at Amazon probably gives a pretty good snapshot of what the market looks like in terms of pricing.  In June, Dan noticed that the Sunshine Deals have driven the average price of a bestseller down from above $8 to slightly above $6.

By promoting discoverability of cheaper titles, they have likely created a surge in sales in that price band, driving many of these titles onto the bestseller list for the first time.  Ranking doesn’t tell the whole story, but we have to wonder if this program has had a significant downward effect on sales volume of higher priced titles.  It certainly speaks to the tremendous promotional power Amazon has to influence what people are buying.

Paid Content noticed that of the Kindle bestsellers, a quarter of them were books in the Sunshine Deal promotion.  Over half are books that are $.99.  Sourcebooks is one of the publishers that is experiencing the most success from the Sunshine Deal promotion.  Remember that none of the publishers are Agency.

So what happens?  HarperCollins launches its own ebook sale.  Several Avon romances are promotionally priced between $1.99 and $4.99.  Yet, and more importantly, none of these non Sunshine Deal promotionally priced books seem to have made it onto the Kindle top 100.  For example, Hachette has Laird of the Mist priced at $.99 but it’s Kindle ranking is 764. This may change but as of noon on Tuesday it had not.

Here’s what we can draw from this:

  1. Amazon has immense power in directing attention of its Kindle readers to the books it wants to highlight.
  2. Pricing alone isn’t driving success and discoverability, it’s placement on the Amazon site.
  3. Readers are really attracted to low priced books.
  4. Amazon can affect the price of even agency books, albeit indirectly.

Dan was also the one who noted that even Harlequin, a non agency priced publisher, was slowly losing market share for its higher priced books.

But the story is much different on the Romance genre bestseller lists. Since March 1, 2011, there has been a pronounced shift on both retailers’ Romance lists away from agency titles. Looking at the second chart, you can see that the average combined share of both lists for all agency publishers is halved, from roughly 30 to 15 titles in this period.

This drop may be mostly explained by the rise in the average price of agency titles on this list, including but not limited to Random House’s changes after March 1. One item of note is that Harlequin (not an agency-model publisher) has also slowly lost share of the list as its average price climbed over the past few weeks.

Read more at Ebook MarketView: Examining Agency-Model Publishers’ Share of Bestseller Lists | Digital Book World

PW has some answers about Amazon Montlake. Harlequin has sponsored free access for the month of June so hit the login button and hit the Free Access button in the new screen to read. The most interesting item was that it appeared Amazon is accepting agented submissions only. My sources say that Amazon is trying to steal away some big time authors to provide some instant credibility to its line.


Publishers might not only have Amazon Montlake to contend with. Over at the Kindle Boards, self published phenom, Selena Kitt, recounted the following exchange with an unknown BN rep:

4) Do they have plans to start up an ‘exclusive’ line like Amazon (with Montlake)?

They can’t say right now.

If BN does start up a digital publishing line, it has an experienced fiction editor working for it. Liz Scheier is the editorial director at Barnes and Noble. More importantly Scheier was a former senior editor at Random House/Ballantine and an editor at Penguin Group.


RWA is at the end of this month and as an organization they may have to face some huge changes. Mystery Writers have decided to loosen its guidelines and allow some ebook publishers and POD publishers on to the approved membership list.

New MWA e-Book Publisher Guidelines

During the preceding year, the publisher must have paid a minimum of $500 in advances and/or royalties to at least five authors with no financial or ownership interest in the company.
a) The publisher must have paid a minimum royalty of least 25% of net revenue to authors.
b) The royalties must have been paid at least quarterly, with a detailed statement, breaking out books sold through affiliate sites, through the publisher’s own site, as well as print books if applicable.

No self published authors are permitted.


Last week, amongst all the romance reader bashing (and this week it is YA bashing) author and misogynist VS Naipaul decided to foment debate by deriding female writers. He claimed to be able to tell a female from a male writer in one paragraph. So the Guardian set up a test. Have you taken it yet?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Elizabeth L.
    Jun 07, 2011 @ 13:02:48

    I took that test the other day and got a 5 out of ten. I did get the romance novel one right, but only because I recognized it as a romance and know that, for the most part, romances are written by women.

    Proves a lot I think. Women can write like men, men can write like woman, who the hell cares who wrote what as long as it’s quality work?

  2. DS
    Jun 07, 2011 @ 13:05:17

    I looked through some of the Sunshine Deals and found that I had downloaded some of them for free between 2009 and 2010. None of the ones I read inspired me to buy more by the author though. I was pleased to see Kearsley at 9. Maybe this will inspire her publishers to put up ebook versions of some of her hard to get books.

    I have also read a couple of grumbles from self published authors who are feeling a bit threatened. Sorry, I didn’t save links, but I know one place was Konrath’s blog.

  3. Liz Mc
    Jun 07, 2011 @ 13:14:23

    Most of the Sunshine Deal prices, though not all, appear to be available to Canadians too.

  4. Mike Cane
    Jun 07, 2011 @ 13:23:40

    >>>No self published authors are permitted.

    Until one kicks their asses in sales, then they’ll wonder WTF to do with their snooty attitudes. If Larsson were alive today, don’t you think his fourth book would be a Kindle exclusive self-pubbed? Of course.

  5. Angela
    Jun 07, 2011 @ 13:29:28

    I looked through the Sunshine Deals the other day and found a few things that were interesting enough to try. I’d also gotten some of them free throughout the last year.

    I didn’t know about HC/Avon/Hachette’s sales though – and I think that’s the problem. Unless I’m willing to look through all of the Kindle books I’m not going to find them. And something that I might be willing to try for a reduced price, I’ll just never know about.

    Just took the Guardian’s test. What a load of bull. I scored 8 out of 10, but I guessed all the way through.

  6. Christine Rimmer
    Jun 07, 2011 @ 13:35:47

    I think my blood pressure is spiking. Amazon. Come *on.* So is Amazon Montlake like a “real” publisher? Like with editors and quality control? So far, not seeing that.
    I think I tried to read V.S. Nepal once. Note the word “tried.”

  7. Kris
    Jun 07, 2011 @ 13:37:11

    Interesting about the Sunshine Deals. And your #1 and #2 points are reasons I think readers should be attentive to the fact that Amazon is getting into the publishing game while still being a bookseller.

  8. becca
    Jun 07, 2011 @ 14:38:00

    I shopped the Sunshine ad, and found a few things I was interested in, but I rarely go to Amazon and shop by price, so I didn’t know about the Agency sales. How do they expect people to shop their sales if they don’t tell folks about it?

  9. elaine mueller
    Jun 07, 2011 @ 15:00:41

    i think the whole epublishing thing is going to result in really radical changes in the whole book biz over the next couple of years. those companies and individuals and organizations — yeah, rwa, that means you — who are positioned to take advantage of those changes will reap huge benefits. those who drag their feet or think they can resist the change will have their blindfolds ripped very violently from their eyes.

    but what do i know?

  10. Brian
    Jun 07, 2011 @ 15:04:25

    @becca: I know what you mean. If it wasn’t for deal blogs like Books on the Knob and deal posts on MobileRead I wouldn’t find out about most of the sales/deals because the publishers don’t seem to promote them (I get plenty of other email from them, but not about sales like the Avon one).

    On a side note fans of Georgette Heyer can get a copy of her book ‘Cotillion’ as a freebie right now at Amazon, B&N, Sony and Books on Board (not sure if it’s US only or not).

  11. fairyfreak
    Jun 07, 2011 @ 15:19:24

    *Sees Brian’s post on ‘Cotillion’*
    *Runs to Amazon to download*

    :) Thanks!

    It’s good that MWA is acknowledging the epubs, they’ve been around for a long time now.

  12. MaryK
    Jun 07, 2011 @ 15:27:40

    The Kearsley book is the same one that’s on the DA/SB Bestseller List.

    “2.Pricing alone isn’t driving success and discoverability, it’s placement on the Amazon site.”

    A while back I saw some authors complaining about self-pubbed backlist ebooks not selling well, and my reaction was “who knew about them.” Amazon has quite a few books for sale. Particular books have to be brought to the attention of the right readers to sell well.

  13. Estara
    Jun 07, 2011 @ 15:27:47

    @Brian: I was able to get it at Books on Board and I’m German.

  14. Courtney
    Jun 07, 2011 @ 15:28:10

    Again, I love these midday links. I find them fascinating. Several weeks ago (I believe) when we were discussing authors signing on with Amazon as their publisher, I wondered what kind of promotional work/marketing Amazon would give to its authors and suggested that it would naturally promote its own authors more through its internal search capabilities, etc. I think this will continue to be the case and it makes me wonder what other publishers will do in response to keep their authors front and center (if they can).

    I think it also suggests that authors may see huge sales by signing with Amazon which may drive signing decisions. At the end of the day, I see writing and publishing as a business. Should an author put out the very best product s/he can? Absolutely, but you can’t live on a “brilliant book,” that no one buys.

  15. shel
    Jun 07, 2011 @ 16:05:29

    Thanks, grabbed Cotillion at Books on Board and I’m in Canada.

  16. Carly M.
    Jun 07, 2011 @ 19:37:33

    Thanks for the heads up on the Agency sales. I’ve had the Laura Lee Guhrke book on my “I’d buy it if were cheaper” list after I enjoyed it as a library e-book check out. For those looking for sales, you can always figure out what’s “discounted” by searching Amazon by publisher and format Kindle, then sorting price low to high.

  17. ElizabethN
    Jun 07, 2011 @ 22:45:44

    Between Books on the Knob and alerts from ereaderIQ, I manage to pick up quite a few free and discounted books. EreaderIQ will import your amazon kindle want list and send an email if the price drops on a title. EreaderIQ alerted me to the month long special on Tracey O’Hara’s 2 books. Eos, her publisher, also finally had a small facebook posting as well.

  18. Stumbling Over Chaos :: Linkity lacks comprehensible weather
    Jun 10, 2011 @ 02:03:52

    […] Dear Author looks at the effects of Amazon’s Sunshine Deal promotion. […]

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