Bestsellers

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

A Point Of Two On The Mike Cane And JA Konrath Thing

So I read this, and I disagreed, whereas normally I’m on board with Mike.

1) Ebooks are new and exciting, new names are making their way to the top of the pack, some of them are interesting names with back-stories in ‘traditional’ publishing, some of them are not. Some of them are loud and self promoting, some of them are not.

Should we condemn the loud ones for having had a change of heart regarding self publishing as Mike would JA Konrath (the target of his post)? Should we say that the self promotion makes his case somehow less valid? And should we call his numbers into question? I don’t think so mainly because it doesn’t really serve a purpose. The ebooks are selling, if Konrath’s taken the wrong message from those sales then soon enough the sales will drop and someone else will suck them up, if he hasn’t he’ll stay up on top.

Personally, if it works for him, I say good luck to Konrath. He’s worked hard to get where he is. I would caution writers to look at the work not the results before deciding if Konrath’s route is for them, but that’s about it, after all as Keynes said, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

2) In all of this, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that the authors who have sold over a million ebooks to date are HUGE traditionally published writers like James Patterson and Stieg Larsson. It seems to me that as ebooks become more mainstream, mainstream authors will dominate more.

There will of course still be surprises and outsiders. Digital publishing IS democratic in that it provides access for all but NOT equal in that outcomes differ very widely and often randomly for no discernible reason.

We can expect print bestsellers to be ebook bestsellers, at least until the notion of having started in print and then moved into ebooks becomes something so distant and rare that we find it novel or amusing.

Getting riled up about it won’t change it, that much is clear!
Eoin