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View Diary: ebooks: Amazon and the Author Earnings Report (44 comments)

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  •  Hi Terry, There are lots of numbers being thrown (12+ / 0-)

    around right now about indie vs. traditional publishing in market share, in earnings, and how much of the market Amazon has in e-books and how much compared to e and print publishing.

    I'm not sure anyone has the real, overall numbers because Amazon keeps its numbers private and traditional publishing has it's own reasons for inflating its numbers. (Trying to keep authors publishing with traditional publishers.)

    I could write a long diary about this. In fact, I've been thinking about it. But I couldn't figure out whose numbers I wanted to use.

    (For background, I've been published by big New York traditional publishers for 20+ years and have been indie-pubbing, by choice, for the last two.) And I have ton of published author friends, and we all share information. So I know what a lot of people are doing and how they're being treated and how their books are doing.)

    Hugh's study has been criticized a good bit since it's release, but so has every other study I've seen. The publishing market is changing so much and so fast, I don't think anyone has a true picture of what's going on right now, and even if they do, it's going to change soon anyway.

    So, about Hugh's study... He admits to using a snapshot of one day's worth of Amazon sales rankings to project earnings from there. And that's a valid point, but I don't think it's a huge flaw in his study. He looked at sales of a lot of books on that one day, and it would be very, very hard to ever pick a cross section of books and look at their sales on lots of days. There's just too much movement in sales and so many books listed on Amazon.

    Hugh is working on a larger study. I'm not sure when that will come out.

    Writer's Digest released a study recently that was panned even more, showing that the vast majority of indie-pubbed authors are making next to nothing. The flaw in WD's survey is that anyone who's read WD knows the magazine is aimed toward the wanna-be writers, not published writer, so I'm not surprised they're not making any or making very little money.

    Anyway, a few things I do know:

    -Amazon's digital sales account for 65-70% of most indie authors' earnings.
      It's going to vary a lot based on how much work you put into promoting your work on various sites or even if you publish on sites other than Amazon.
      But I feel good about that percentage being accurate, based on people I know and what they tell me they're earning and where.

    -Apple is coming up in sales percentage. We all want that to happen, because someone needs to take on Amazon. (Amazon's being great to authors right now, but we know they could turn on us, one they take all the power and money they can from publishers.) I'd love to see Apple buy B&N, because together they'd be stronger and more capable of taking on Amazon. I have absolutely no info. about that happening. It's just my wish.

    -Amazon, I've always heard, has about 30% of the total book market.

     That said, Amazon is also selling a ton of indie authors' books. Print sales keep going down. I don't know what's true right now. I'm not sure anyone does.

    But if you look at Amazon's bestseller lists and click on individual titles and look at who's listed as the publisher, you can tell how much of the bestseller list is made up of Big 5 New York publisher's books and what's indie/small publisher books. (Some indie authors have incorporated and given their own company a name that looks like a small publisher you've never hear of and some of the names you see really are small publishers you've never heard of.)

    And you can see for yourself that indie authors are all over Amazon's various bestseller lists. I'm not even sure the Big 5 New York publishers have looked closely enough at the Amazon bestseller lists to see how well indie authors are doing at Amazon. I think the big publishers don't want to know. They're freaked out right now, seeing their power base dissolve, and denying it's happening. And trying to convince all author that big publishers treat everyone well and publish them beautifully, with huge advances and big print runs and huge distribution. Which all experienced authors know is a total lie. Very few authors get that kind of treatment. The vast majority are poorly paid, not always well-edited and given tiny print runs and poor distribution.

    So, I guess, all I can say is that publishing is crazy right now, but I love it and a lot of writes I know are more excited about publishing than ever before and making more money than ever by publishing themselves.

    Confession time: When I'm not ranting about politics, I write romance novels

    by teresahill on Wed Feb 19, 2014 at 12:52:08 PM PST

    •  Howey's first report was based on only 7K books (5+ / 0-)

      at Amazon. His update covers 50,000 but he hasn't completed the analysis - other than the genre %.

      Just knowing that the ebook market penetration is greater than has been reported changes my perception of the future of digital publishing. It has been said that it is holding steady between 25% and 30%, but I think it has been continuing its earlier growth. We just don't have the numbers.

      I do wish you would write a diary discussing the current state of play in the industry. My diary is written from the point of view of a reader and one who pays some attention to the industry, but not directly involved in it. I would love to hear from someone who has been there, done that.

      I would think it must be an exciting, even if frightening, time to be a writer.

      •  Susan, Yes, the updat is coming, and I do want to (5+ / 0-)

        see it.

        I can't remember now if he said his update covers one day of sales or more than one. I'd really like to see more than one day of sales, although I get how hard it is. Amazon offers so many books for sale and sales number will vary every day. It's a huge amount of numbers.

        What Hugh is doing is looking at Amazon sales rankings for individual titles, which can change many times a day for the bestselling books, and saying if Book A is ranked 5545 in Amazon sales, Book A is probably selling about 30 books a day.

        And then he's looking at where that book is on Amazon bestseller lists and comparing Book A's position on the list to Big Publisher Book B's position and then looking at what Book B's sales are on Bookscan, a service that reports sales numbers of print books, covering about 75% of sales outlets.

        And from there, Hugh's coming up with a number of indie to Big 5 publishers' sales.

        It's a lot of estimates. I'm not saying there's a better way to figure out those numbers. But there's a lot of extrapolation going on.

        I would be happy to write something or take questions about my own indie pubbing experiences, but in terms of saying what's really going on in the industry right now? I don't think anyone can do that.

        Confession time: When I'm not ranting about politics, I write romance novels

        by teresahill on Wed Feb 19, 2014 at 01:12:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Forgot to explain about the Amazon sales ranking. (6+ / 0-)

          All any author knows is his or her own numbers.

          I could tell you that on Jan 5, one of my books had an Amazon sales ranking of 5545, and I sold 30 copies of it that way.

          And if I tracked my own sales more closely and sales rankings, I could tell you about where a certain book ranked on a lot of days and how many books I sold on those days.

          But those are all the data points I have. Other authors have their own sales ranks/sales data and a few people have tried to put out charts or even websites where you can say, my Amazon sales ranking is X, so I am selling X books a day.

          Does that mean that every day anyone's book is ranked at 5545 on Amazon, they sell 30 books that day? No. Because it all change all the time, every day.

          Sales leading up to Christmas are huge, but tons of books come out then, too. So sales may be higher overall, but you can't even say individual books will sell more copies than. You can't say much of anything about sales with any degree of accuracy.

          Confession time: When I'm not ranting about politics, I write romance novels

          by teresahill on Wed Feb 19, 2014 at 01:17:08 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

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