10/09/2013 10:12 am ET Updated Dec 09, 2013

Opportunities Increasing for Authors in E-Book Single Marketplace

There's good news for authors looking to break into the fast-growing e-book single market, according to an exclusive third quarter analysis conducted by Thin Reads. The number of e-book singles published in the third quarter increased a whopping 27 percent compared to the second quarter of 2013. (There is no reliable data from 2012 to make a viable year-to-year comparison.) In hard numbers, 122 titles were released compared to 96 published from April 1 to June 30, 2013. And there were only 81 e-book singles released in 2013's first quarter. In other words, the increased output means more opportunity for writers. These figure come from the Thin Reads database which is updated several times a week and features nearly 1,000 titles.

Granted, only 122 e-book singles were released in the third quarter, but when you consider that three years ago, exactly zero e-book singles were published, it's obvious that something important is taking place for authors.

And there's more good news. More publishers are entering the e-book single market. That means they are looking for more authors (mainly nonfiction) to write e-book singles, which run anywhere from 20 to 100 pages in length. Among the new publishers who popped onto the Thin Reads radar screen this summer: DAWNS Digest, which focuses on humanitarian journalism; The New New South, which only publishes stories about the South; and Fierce Ink Press, which produces short fiction and nonfiction pieces by Atlantic Canadian authors who write for young adults. And in June, Barnes & Noble began publishing e-book singles (which the company calls Snaps). BN is signing up authors to write for this market which is still in its infancy.

Another positive sign for authors in the Thin Reads Q3 report was the emergence of advertising support of e-book singles. Hip eyewear manufacturer Warby Parker sponsored the online version of Coronado High by Joshuah Bearman (the story of high school friends from southern California who become major league pot smugglers in the 70s). The unusual feature of the Warby Parker sponsorship is that the author shares in some of the ad revenue, according to the Thin Reads story. If that model works, that can be good news for authors entering the e-book single space.

If there's any gloomy note in the Thin Reads findings for the third quarter, it's the outlook for new fiction in the e-book single marketplace. There appears to be very little appetite from consumers for short fiction -- even if it's priced at $1.99 -- from unknown or relatively unknown authors. Thin Reads tracks the Kindle Single best-seller list very closely and only one fiction Kindle Single from an unknown author made the best-seller: Seismic Shift by Carolyn Nash. Otherwise, the fiction best-seller list is completely dominated by big-name authors like Stephen King, Nelson DeMille, Karin Slaughter and Lee Child. Fiction e-book singles that were published in the third quarter but failed to land in the top 10 on the Kindle Single best-seller list include: Pushover, by Roger Granelli; The Girl in Room Fourteen, by Carol Drinkwater; A Faithful Man, by Robert Elkin; and Nada, by Mike Heppner.

For the complete story on the third quarter in e-book singles, please read the exclusive Thin Reads analysis.

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