Go Read This | the left room» Blog Archive » some quick thoughts on that report on author earnings

Much to think abut in the aftermath of Hugh Howey’s data dump! Thos is just one of the many god posts on it:

The reality is that publishing anything is a unique path. If you have a book, and you’re trying to decide whether to self- or traditionally-publish, there is only the apparition of help for you in these figures. It might be that you traditionally-publish and sell 100 copies, and would financially have been better off self-publishing. It may be that you sell a million copies through traditional publishing. That doesn’t mean that you’ve left money on the table simply because those million sales if self-published would have netted you more. You can’t say what might have happened had you chosen a different route – whether you would have got those 100 or those million sales or something different. This is one problem I see with Howey’s piece (and numerous others). The number of copies a book can sell is not some intrinsic part of its make-up. The way you choose to sell it, and what happens along the way, will play a huge part and can’t be discounted.

via the left room» Blog Archive » some quick thoughts on that report on author earnings.

Go Read This | Macmillan To Publish First Novel From Swoon Reads, A Crowdsourced Romance Imprint And Online Community – Press Release – Digital Journal

Publishing is a complex ecosystem (something I wrote about nearly three years ago when I wrote about The Value Web that was emerging in trade publishing), one in which there is no ONE way to publish or be published. Here’s a very nice example of that reality in play:

Sandy Hall, a teen librarian from Hawthorne, New Jersey, posted A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT to the Swoon Reads site in November 2013. Within weeks, the manuscript was rated “Five Hearts” by the Swoon Reads Community and considered to be one of the most “Swoonworthy” on the site. This brought it to the attention of Jean Feiwel, Publisher of Swoon Reads, and the rest of the Swoon Reads Board. One e-mail and two phone calls later, Sandy Hall signed her first book deal for World rights. 

via Macmillan To Publish First Novel From Swoon Reads, A Crowdsourced Romance Imprint And Online Community – Press Release – Digital Journal.

Go Read This | Hugh Howey’s Report On Author Earnings

A smashing example of how data can both clarify and obfuscate. On balance this is a fantastic piece that brings much-needed information to the discussion and what is more provides a free download of that very data. That’s almost unheard of! On the downside, I have some misgivings about the section dealing with income estimates based on unit numbers which are themselves estimates. This is further compounded by the fact that the royalty split is never as easy to assume as the current model assumes, for instance non-US authors may not earn 70% on all sales that would appear to be 70% sales for a variety of reasons. Even allowing for these complications the data gathered is very impressive indeed.

One of the most fascinating sections though is this conclusion here:

Our first thought was that top self-published authors can put out more than one work a year, while Big Five authors are limited by non-compete clauses and a legacy publishing cycle to a single novel over that same span of time. Indie authors are most likely earning more simply because they have more books for sale. Was this skewing our results? We ran another report to find out, and to our surprise, it turns out that only the handful of extreme earners have this advantage. Most self-published authors are, on average, earning more money on fewer books:

The_Data_-_A_Look_at_Author_Earnings_pages

This suggests that the earnings discrepancy will grow greater over time, as self-published authors develop deeper catalogs.

via The Report | AuthorEarnings.com

Go Read This | Sony exits and the ebook business loses an original player – The Shatzkin Files

Worth reading mike’s thoughts on Sony’s move:

The wild card here is if some big outside player — Walmart being the most frequently mentioned — saw benefits to having the ebook business or even the whole book business in its portfolio. That’s happened in the UK, where supermarket chain Sainsbury’s bought a majority stake in Anobii a UK-publishers-backed startup, analogous to Bookish in the US and Tesco bought Mobcast because the ebook business was one that they thought fit in well with their offerings and customer base. Both Sainsbury’s and Tesco made statements about strengthening their “digital entertainment” and online retailing propositions. Tesco is investing in devices as well. Kobo has made it a pillar of their strategy to find brick-and-mortar partners all over the world.

via Sony exits and the ebook business loses an original player – The Shatzkin Files.

Go Read This | Smashwords: Farewell Sony Reader Store

More n the end of Sony’s eReading efforts in the US and it’s impact of Smashword, which in the very words of Mark Coker makes clear why this, although notable, is not that huge a deal:

Sony’s devices and ebook store predated Amazon’s, so when the history books of the indie author revolution are written I hope historians give Sony the credit they deserve as a true pioneer.  My sentiments and appreciation for Sony and their awesome people aside, the impact on Smashwords authors today will be minimal.  The Sony store, as most authors know, is one of the smaller retailers in the Smashwords distribution network.  To put this in perspective, on a typical month, less than 2% of our authors’ monthly sales come from Sony.

via Smashwords: Farewell Sony Reader Store.

Go Read This | The Future of Reader Store | Sony

This isn’t exactly surprising but it’s still something of a wow moment. n the one hand Sony is in retreat in more areas than just ereading so, what’s so newsworthy about this but on the other the fact that one of the pioneers of digital books has called it a day and is effectively pulling out is notable. And that Kobo would appear to be the emerging only viable candidate t rival Amazon is also notable:

Although we’re sorry to say goodbye to the Reader Store, we’re also glad to share the new and exciting future for our readers: Reader Store will transfer customers to Toronto-based eReading company, Kobo—an admired eBook seller with a passionate reading community. We strongly believe that this transition will allow customers to enjoy a continued high-quality e-reading experience. As a result of this change, we will close Reader Store in the U.S. and Canada on March 20, 2014 at 6 p.m. (EST).

via The Future of Reader Store | Sony.

Go Read This | How in-app purchase is not really destroying the games industry | Sealed Abstract

On the face of it this is just a piece about the gaming industry, though a fascinating one. In fact this article raises issues for all content industries from games, to books, to newspapers, magazines and music.

It covers the gamut, the explosion of content, the role of market makers (in this case Apple – though to a lesser mentioned extent, Google), the use of price as a lever and the challenges of making money in markets that have become so large, diverse and saturated.

I’m reminded of two realities most forcefully when reading it, firstly that while digital unleashes greater freedom to create and make content of all kinds available, thus empowering the creator relative to the middlemen and women of the previous era, it also (in its current guise by power of platform) shackles them to the power of another middle-person (for books, mostly Amazon) AND makes a sustainable career even less likely because of the huge increase of content such freedom unleashes. Secondly, I am reminded of just how little information is publicly available to those looking at the book trade. Consider the information in this article about the nature of games sales in the iOS store and ponder how different our conversations might be about ebooks if these facts were more openly shared (some notable exceptions on that front would be Smashwords who share quite a lot of data).

Getting people to play your game in a market of 150,000 alternatives requires a different kind of marketing. For example, if the user can choose to pay $0.99 for your app, or pay zero for another app that’s probably just as fun, they’ll pick the free one. The result follows: 90% of apps are free in 2013 when weighted by monthly average users. And when you look only at those apps that use an experiment/test/data-driven approach for their pricing, you see a strong upward trend in more free apps. So the pricing experiments that these developers are running (you know, actual flipping research, not just speculating baselessly in an HN comment) are telling them it’s better to go free.

via How in-app purchase is not really destroying the games industry | Sealed Abstract.