Apple’s New “Breakout Books” Section Features Many Independent Authors (and me too)

| Posted in Ebook News |


Not that long ago, I posted about some of the changes Kobo has implemented to be more of a mover and shaker in the ebook world (including helping independent authors sell more books); well, Apple has been quietly making some changes too. They’ve been opening new iBookstores around the globe, and this week they added a special Breakout Books section. Numerous indie authors are being features, including yours truly.

iTunes Breakout BooksMark Coker, over at Smashwords, has a blog post explaining more about the program and why certain authors were picked to be featured in the first round (apparently, it’ll be updated as time goes on, giving more authors chances to be featured).

“Apple’s iBookstore today launched Breakout Books in the U.S., a new book merchandising feature that showcases books from popular self-published authors, including several that have already achieved New York Times bestseller status… Although the iBookstore has always carried and supported self-published ebooks, today’s launch signifies an escalated commitment on the part of Apple, whose iBookstore currently sells books in 50 countries.”

“The bulk of the titles featured in the Breakout Books promotion were distributed by Smashwords, the world’s largest distributor of self-publishers.  The books Apple selected share several common attributes such as positive reader reviews, author popularity at the store, quality cover design, sales performance across the Smashwords retail distribution network, and other data-driven factors.”

I know what you’re thinking — huh, kinda cool, but will this mean anything for authors who aren’t being featured?

Only time will tell, but I think we’ll see more indie authors doing well at Apple, if only because they’re making a push to increase their share of the ebook market. More eyeballs in the store mean more chances that people will find your books.

If you’re trying to figure out how to sell more at stores besides Amazon (and Amazon as well for that matter), you may want to check out an earlier post I did, talking about how to improve sales at Amazon UK, Kobo, and Apple. In 2011, my first year in e-publishing, I sold poorly in all of those spots, but things started to turn around in 2012, especially the latter half. Part of that was because I had more books out, along with a free Book 1, but I believe part of it, too, was due to Apple and Kobo, in particular, extending their reach. We have more people, especially international folks, shopping in these stores today. With luck, that’s a trend that will continue to grow, allowing all authors a chance to profit.

In the meantime, I’m certainly curious to see how much of a difference this makes for me personally in regard to Apple sales.

P. S. If you’ve stumbled across this post via Twitter, Google, or by some other random route, and you haven’t read my work, you can check out the first Emperor’s Edge “ibook” for free at Apple. (Yes, it’s free elsewhere too–links in the sidebar.) Thanks for taking a look!

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Comments (31)

Congratulations, Lindsay!

Off to check your earlier post–my Kobo sales could use a boost. *wry smile*

Thanks, Rabia! I stuck all my secrets in that post! You know, like make a book free and then write other books and make them affordable. 😛

Congrats Lindsay! My novel is finally (finally!) out on the ibookstore too…I’m looking forward to seeing how it shakes out. Hope you get some good exposure from this.


Congratulations on getting it out there, Maia!

Woot! That’s awesome! When I saw the announcement a while back, I wondered if you’d end up on the list. Congrats! : D

Heh, this is the first time I’ve made it onto anybody’s special list anywhere. Maybe it was a slow winter for fantasy. 😛

Congrats! Now retire to your personal vineyard and enjoy a good wine. Snobbery mandatory. 😀

Well, I think affording a bottle of good wine (you know, a high-end Trader Joe’s special!) is in order. Probably not a vineyard yet. 😛

Congratulations! Now you’ll have to tell us if it helps your popularity. 🙂

Congrats, Lindsay! May it bring you many sales. 🙂

If the ex-hubby and I ever really get this book finished, which the goal is September…. Well, what I am saying is this: I thank you for all the information you share with us. Thank you!

You’re welcome, Francesca. Good luck finishing the book and getting that puppy out there! 🙂

That is so awesome Lindsay!!! I am so happy for you! May you be blessed with many more readers and retire to the previous said vineyard:). However, the story writing must continue:)

I’d just be chained to a desk with a good view, eh? 😀

Congratulations, Lindsay!

As for the ‘Breakout Books’ section, I think it’s a great step in the right direction. In terms of visibility, it’s still ‘Amazon’ and ‘the rest’ at the moment, but moves like this (and the Kobo ones you mentioned) show the other stores moving forwards. May be small steps, but it’s better than nothing, right?


I think Amazon will continue to be the biggest player for quite some time, but it’s great to see the other stores pushing back and grabbing a share of the market. Right now Kobo is my biggest earner when it comes to international sales, and I’m tickled about it. As an author, it’s super nice to be able to get paychecks from multiple sources, so you don’t depend too heavily on any one corporation. You never know when someone will change the rules on you!

Congrats Lindsay! You continue to be an inspiration to indie authors!

I saw this news about the Breakout Books on Shelf Awareness, and my first thought was, “I wonder if Lindsay is one of their featured authors?”

The fact that you ARE on their featured list makes me think this idea might really work. Right now there are so many choices for readers, it’s hard for them to separate the wheat from the chaff. I think more and more readers will turn to lists like Breakout Books, which will in turn help indie authors.

Of course, indie authors have to be sure the product quality is there. Readers are going to quickly lose interest in authors whose work is sub-par. All the more reason to invest in a good freelance editor, or at least find some skilled crit partners, which is something you’ve mentioned more than once. More GOOD indie writing equals more readers willing to try new authors. A win for everyone (except traditional publishing houses).

It’s great that the new Apple program is getting attention in the community (there were articles in WSJ, NYT, and on a few of the big blogs too)–I was surprised (and pleased, of course!) at how many folks told me they’d seen EE there.

I know a lot of readers really want to love independent authors, but they’ve been burned in the past by random choices (I’ve certainly downloaded a lot of unedited dreck–thank goodness for sample chapters). It’s nice to see some of the authors with good track records (sales, reviews, etc.) being picked out, so that people have a place to go where they have a little more assurance that they’re likely to get a good product. And, of course, I’m a big fan of making a book or short story free so people can try without any financial risk — a lot of the authors on the Breakout Books list have a freebie out there.

Anyhoo, just rambling here. Thanks for following along and commenting, Elissa!

Great insights Lindsay – I wonder what your thoughts are on the fact that Apple’s new self published section adds yet another site that every self published author now needs to maintain a presence on with little differentiation in how authors find those folks who would most likely resonate with their work.

Well, we should all have ebooks on Apple anyway (unless an author is choosing to go exclusive with Amazon’s KDP Select), and there’s not really anything extra we can do to get placed in the Breakout Books section, as it’s a curated list, so I don’t think it ultimately adds more work for us.

As for being found, that’s always the hard part, and it’s why I’m such a fan of having free stuff out there (in as many places as you can be). Thousands of people will try books they wouldn’t normally have, just because they’re free, and of those thousands some are (we hope!) going to be our target audience, i.e. folks with whom our work resonates.

Great job, Lindsay! Any chance you’ll share some sales numbers down the road?

Thanks, Paul!

Sure, I don’t mind sharing, though, since I’m still going through Smashwords to get into Apple, it’ll probably be April or so before the reports are updated and I see how much of an impact this has on my sales there. I’ll try to remember to do a follow up around that time. Thanks for the interest!

Hi Lindsay – a thought inspired by yours:

Choosing Books is getting tougher than choosing wine! Apple’s not helping!

Despite Apple iBookstore’s new Breakout Books, our “Book Choosing” process continues to reflect our Wine selection process – which label do I like best?! Despite all of the developments in the publishing business, we are still relying on “the shelf” to attract buyers for our books. With self-published authors now driving so many titles into the same funnel as large publishers and celebrity authors, how is a reader to truly find the most likely products to resonate with? Surely there’s room for some exploration of a more meaningful shopping decision process. With so many self-published ebooks being given away for free or close to free, our price categorization of wine model is lost! We know we can use the $7 wine for the In-Laws dinner while saving the $50 bottle for the important date. When all the books are $1.99 we have even less criteria to use!
Any ideas?

Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Paul.

I’m not sure price has ever been a typical way to judge the merits of a book, as paperbacks have traditionally been about the same price, based largely on cost of production — it’s true that ebooks (and indies) have thrown a wrench into things of late.

I personally get a lot of mileage out surfing around the also-boughts at Amazon. I go to authors I like (or even my own book pages), figuring that readers will have common tastes. From there, it’s easy to download samples.


I’ve enjoyed all your books so far, and I look forward to reading the new ones. I’m the co-author of an ebook (SF comedy), but we’ve been complete and utter slugs about marketing it. I wish you the best of luck.

Thanks, Carol! Yea, the marketing thing isn’t a natural fit for a lot of authors (I’d die if I couldn’t do all this stuff online). Though they say the best marketing we can do is just to write more books! 🙂

This is such wonderful news!

congratulations! I’m on a tablet so I’ll make this short, but I’m really glad things are going well. your book series are the only ones that I would recommend to any or all of my friends without any hesitation. they are, without a question, my personal favorites. I am looking forward to both of your upcoming works.

J Isles

Thanks, Justin! I appreciate all your support and the time you take to comment and email! 🙂

Good to see you up on that list! I’m really glad indi authors are getting a higher profile generally.

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