From Digital Book World:
I have had a very positive experience in traditional publishing, but I know many authors who have not. In my research life, having a prestigious publication by a highly regarded academic publisher has made the difference between long-term career stability and unemployment. Moreover, I was lucky to work with wonderful editors who not only helped me make the book infinitely better but who also provided important guidance in building my career. Cornell University Press was committed to my book Code Green: Money-Driven Hospitals and the Dismantling of Nursing, provided a gorgeous cover, and they continue, even ten years after publication, to promote the book in their list. Should I publish another book based on my research (I’ve tended toward articles), I would be hard-pressed to consider self-publishing.
My newest fiction project is another matter entirely. Later this week, writing as D. B. Shuster, I will self-publish the first installment of my serial thriller The Kings of Brighton Beach, a Russian mafia saga set in Brooklyn, NY. This publishing experience has also been a positive one—no rejection, no wasted time in the slush pile.
. . . .
Few authors share my enthusiasm for indie publishing, according to the latest data.
I recently learned this while analyzing survey results for the 2014 Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Author Survey. Among the authors surveyed who had completed manuscripts, surprisingly few expressed a preference to indie publish their latest ones. Among traditionally published authors in the survey sample, only 7.5% expressed a preference to self-publish rather than to traditionally publish, compared to 10.1% of aspiring, 35.1% of self-published, and 29.8% of hybrid authors. While interest in self-publishing was higher among those respondents who had tried it, few authors reported that they only wanted to self-publish their next book.
. . . .
The survey sample is a non-scientific sample, since it is voluntary rather than a random sample. The authors, most of whom responded after receiving a notification from Writer’s Digest about the survey, may not be representative of the population of authors. However, the number of respondents is quite impressive and certainly represents many, many more sources than would ever be consulted even in the best investigative journalism.
Link to the rest at Digital Book World and thanks to David for the tip.
PG will add that non-scientific surveys cannot be relied upon to reflect the experiences and opinions of a population as a whole – authors in this case. Investigative journalism is most definitely not any sort of gold standard for discovering the opinions and experiences of a large group of people.
PG doesn’t know how many people still read or subscribe to Writer’s Digest, but the opinions and experiences described in the survey results only represent the 9,000 or so people who are on a Writers Digest email list who decided to spend their time filling out the online survey.
Scientifically generated random samples are expensive, but they’re the only way for the results of a survey to represent a larger population with any degree of reliability.
Somebody somewhere is bound to bring up the Author Earnings data as they have when prior results of Digital Book World’s surveys have been released. While past DBW surveys have confirmed the beliefs of many in tradpub concerning idie authors and the continuing desire of most authors to be traditionally-published, Author Earnings reports tend to cause discomfort among the denizens of legacy publishing.
Author Earnings takes its measurements from the entire population the survey covers – the 50,000 ebooks on Amazon with the highest sales rank on a particular day, for example (PG doesn’t remember the exact number that AE grabbed the last time).
The analysis Author Earnings conducts on its sample presents a completely accurate picture of those books on Amazon on that day. (This is the case with any survey, scientific or otherwise. The survey results are a picture of a population at the time when the survey was conducted.)
With each Author Earnings report, we receive another completely accurate picture of a large group of top-selling books on Amazon on a particular day. While it is theoretically possible that the days between each single-day snapshot Author Earnings analyzes are completely different than the snapshot days, it seems unlikely.
With each snapshot, we not only have another completely accurate data point for comparison with prior snapshots, but we have a basis for comparing one picture with another to discern trends and develop more reliable extrapolations of what was happening on the days between each snapshot.
Obviously sampling of any sort, scientific or non-scientific, is not as good as having all the information all the time, but sample reliability is fundamental to the reliability of any conclusions drawn from survey results. It’s yet another garbage-in/garbage-out situation.