Last week’s brouhaha was about Hugh Howey’s post with a survey done by a computer-expert friend who managed to take Amazon’s data and turn it into numbers that revealed self-publishing is already overtaking the Big publishers. The report is titled “Author Earnings” and is at www.authorearnings.com. Last week the survey, as well as the blog posts which copied it, were so popular that many sites crashed temporarily.
Besides the mind-boggling information, the survey author provided links to where he got his data, so others could replicate--or put their own interpretation on--what he’d done. In addition, Howey cautioned viewers that the sample used was relatively small, and that further work would be done to improve the accuracy of the results.
Nevertheless, the data shows several things which Indie authors have known or suspected for a long time, so joy spread throughout the Blogosphere.
I’m a relative newcomer to self-publishing, but, although not one of the 100 Amazon best-sellers whose statistics were used, I could relate to a lot of what was shown in those great pie charts and graphs.
1. The first thing I appreciated was Howey reminded us some people (traditional publishing insiders and their fans) keep saying very few authors who self-publish ever sell many books or make any money, especially compared to “six-figure advances” offered by the Big-Five. Yet, how many writers are offered those advances, and, even more important, how many writers who try for such contracts ever get published AT ALL. As others have pointed out recently, self-publishing is a “shadow industry” because no one, until now, had data to show how big it really is.
2. The Value Ratio was another eye-opener. This chart showed the e-books with the highest prices (Big Five publishers) received the reviewers’ lowest scores. I think Howey is right when he assumes readers resent high prices and might give low-point reviews because of perceived value for the money spent. High prices not only cause lower ratings, but may drive readers to cheaper books, namely the self-published. Are the Big Five actually empowering the Indie revolution?
3. The data surveyed was based on the three most-popular genres in Fiction: Romance, Mystery/Thriller and Science Fiction/Fantasy. Why not? They make up 70% of the Amazon top 100 best sellers. And guess what? Indie authors are outselling the Big Five. COMBINED. It turns out 92% of the 100 best-selling books are self-published, and 86% of the 2500 best-sellers are.
There’s lots more to discuss, and next week I’ll comment on the backlash the survey produced and the responses those received from top-selling Indie authors such as Hugh, Joe Konrath, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Dean Wesley Smith and others.
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CORRECTION: I was mistaken last week when I said the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo were in 1994. It was actually 1984, and, this being the 30th anniversary of the event, on February 14, 2014, Torvill and Dean returned and repeated their seven-perfect-scores performance to Ravel’s “Bolero.” Had I not been following them via the UK, I’d never have known because no one in this country--or in Sochi, Russia--mentioned it.