Home » Amazon, Big Publishing » Many Questions, Few Answers in Latest Author Earnings Report

Many Questions, Few Answers in Latest Author Earnings Report

12 February 2016

From Book Business:

First published in 2014, the second edition of the controversial “Author Earnings Report” was released this week. Written by the mysterious “Data Guy,” the report claims that traditional publishers, particularly the Big 5, have experienced a significant slump in ebook sales on Amazon in 2015 while indie-published authors surged ahead. According to Data Guy, “The Big 5 now account for less than a quarter of ebook purchases on Amazon, while indies are closing in on 45%.”

The report also claims that indie authors are earning more on Amazon than traditionally published authors. These earnings are measured as daily revenue to authors from ebook bestsellers on Amazon. Data Guy reports that of the roughly $1.7M generated in author earnings from ebook bestsellers, indie authors earned 44% while traditionally published authors earned 43%. The report states: “Is it any wonder that the traditional publishing media and historic author advocacy groups are reporting declining ebook sales and shrinking author incomes for their members? We humbly submit that, for author earnings, these organizations are looking in all the wrong places.”

The report and its research methodology are problematic for a number of reasons, which Porter Anderson explained extensively in a recent article on Publishing Perspectives. The report is also clearly driven by an anti -traditional and pro self-publisher agenda.

. . . .

Simply put, the report and its results are suspect, not least because of the mysterious methodology, anonymous authorship, and the myopic understanding of indie and traditional publisher earnings based on only on Amazon sales. It would be better, which Anderson also asserts in his article, if a third party conducted this research.

. . . .

Because the Author Earnings Report focuses only on Amazon sales, it ignores publishers’ increased efforts in D2C bookselling and their purposeful participation in a greater diversity of distribution channels. So could a downtick of Amazon sales actually be an indication of a successful pivot in sales strategy? It’s worth considering.

Link to the rest at Book Business

PG was going to comment, but decided to let the visitors to TPV do so. PG has to make one exception, however: He expects that publishers’ D2C (Direct to Consumer) bookselling revenues will not merit a line on their financial statements. Ever.

Amazon, Big Publishing

79 Comments to “Many Questions, Few Answers in Latest Author Earnings Report”

  1. *curious* Is there a third party capable of doing this research who is also sufficiently impartial to meet the satisfaction of all the parties involved, I wonder? Who would qualify?

    • …and who is also sufficiently public-spirited to do it for free? Because anyone who pays them will be open to accusations of picking someone who can be ordered to produce the conclusions that the buyer wants.

      • Yep. Publishing seems steadfast in attracting people who don’t grok tech or audiences**, so the study won’t come from them. And the last article PG posted about this was written by someone who seems to think scraping and crawling websites is the equivalent of witchcraft, so if you found a techie to do this the tradpub crowd would insist the techie’s results come courtesy of a black sabbath.

        **Baen excepted. In fact, since they’ve had the free library for over a decade, and jumped first into ebooks, they would probably be the only publishing company that could credibly perform such a study. I don’t know why they’d trouble themselves, though.

    • Looks like The Bookseller is going to try to track indie sales. Are they trying to replicate Author Earnings with respect to the UK market?


      “The Bookseller has launched an independent author e-book sales tracker, inviting authors and small digital publishers whose e-book sales data currently goes unreported to complete a simple online form designed to capture their 2015 e-book sales information. The results will be used by The Bookseller to analyse the self-published digital market.

      The online form can be completed here.

      The move acknowledges that, though under-reported, the self-published e-book sector is a growing area of the overall book business. Amazon, which has by far the largest market share of this sector, does not release e-book sales numbers to any third party analytics company, or respond to media requests for such data.

      The Bookseller has pioneered the gathering of industry e-book sales data, having launched a monthly e-book ranking in 2013 with publisher-supplied e-book sales volume numbers, and an imminent weekly e-book chart, in partnership with The Sunday Times.

      Philip Jones, editor of The Bookseller, said: “We’ve long acknowledged that there is a big and growing part of this sector that we cannot track in any of the usual ways. We hope indie authors, or small digital-only publishers, will complete the simple survey, so that we can begin to understand what is happening in this market, and better reflect it in our overall coverage. Of course, there is much the survey won’t tell us, but there are some usual things it will reveal, and hopefully the results will allow us to build out a more comprehensive solution for indie writers.”

      The survey is focused on 2015 UK e-book sales, but if the up-take merits it, then The Bookseller will look to repeat the survey each month so that it complements its current monthly e-book ranking of traditional publisher sales.”


      • Self-selected surveys will never work. If the Bookseller wanted to track indie sales, they could start by begging Kobo, B&N, iBookstore, and Apple to give them whatever those retailers will part with.

        I’ve seen Kobo share indie breakdowns, but only in terms of sales. The Bookseller might try to get earnings data. Just a raw number. How much is going to Big 5 authors, and how much is going to self-pubbed authors?

        I think the Bookseller would be surprised by the answer they got.

      • The Bookseller has launched an independent author e-book sales tracker, inviting authors and small digital publishers whose e-book sales data currently goes unreported to complete a simple online form designed to capture their 2015 e-book sales information. The results will be used by The Bookseller to analyse the self-published digital market.

        A statistically reliable sample first needs a target set. What is the set one is trying to analyze? Is it women voters in Virginia who voted for Obama last time? Authors published by the Big-5 in the last five years? Independent authors who have uploaded at least one book to Amazon KDP?

        Then a sample of the target set is developed. It is statistically reliable only if every member of the target set had the same chance of being a member of the sample set.

        That eliminates self-selected samples. The biggest failure is it excludes anyone in the target set who does not know about the poll. There are certainly other failures, but that one is sufficient to demonstrate the sample is unreliable. No member of the target set has a chance of being in the sample set if she does not know about the poll. Hence, self-selected polls are unreliable.

        They are fun. Drudge runs them all the time. So do talk TV shows. But that’s all they are. Think Random House is going to base any decisions on a self-selected poll?

    • I would be happy to arrange a project to replicate AE’s work in a completely open and unbiased way. I work for an IT consulting company and my current team will become available in October. I would love (and my employers would be thrilled) to keep at least some of my team together to work on this project. The project would be built with open source tools and all of the code created by the project would be open sourced and made available in a public GitHub repo. This would be a clean room effort. We would be using a different technology stack and cloud provider than DG uses. Although I’ve had discussions with him about his methodology, no one on my team has seen any of his code.

      I’m not going to spend the time to estimate the number of hours required for the project unless someone is serious, but expect to pay between $300 and $500 an hour, depending on how quickly you would need this done (more developers working together costs more money).

      The most expensive part of the this project would be replicating the statistical analysis and machine learning techniques used to improve the rank-to-sales formula. I am assuming that HH and DG would be willing to share their sales data with us(in anonymized form and for a reasonable fee to be paid by the client). We would also collect our own data to use a verification step. None of the data would ever be shared publicly in any format.

      This is a strictly technical proposal and there should be no question about my team’s bias affecting our approach. All of our code and the significant decisions we make would be done completely in the open.

      There may be less expensive ways to achieve this goal and there are surely more expensive ways, but my team has solid experience with web scraping, data analysis, and project delivery. References available. Serious inquiries only may contact me via Twitter @WilliamOckhamTx

      • I don’t know how firmly your tongue is in your cheek here, but crowdsource that puppy. I’d kick in. The only way BPH are ever going to believe the numbers is if those same numbers keep coming at them from vastly different sources.

        Well. That, or they go bankrupt from the inability to read their own bottom lines. Then they’ll know. Way too late to do anybody any good.

        • Just my .02

          I find no need to doubt Hugh and Guy re this matter. Im not interested in a blind study, a longevity study, a stat registered anything.

          It’s enough to know that the theatre is on fire, that here are the exits, that the kid yelling that the dyke is breaking apart has its proof because our cellars are flooding and we HAVE TO go to higher ground…
          and other mixed metaphors

          I personally have no interest in buying into a time and money consuming challenge to shut up an addled person whose hair is on fire and he thinks it is just his angel halo lighting up, and he has decided to grow mushrooms in his flooded cellar and he aint goin’ to climb to higher ground cause he wants to practice his pitiful backstroke.

          I was born in a bad mood today.

        • If you do crowdsource it, it would raise its profile in getting it launched, and I’d also be chipping in.

        • I agree with Dana. More results from different sources can only be good. Kickstarter, or some such, it.

        • It’s not so much tongue in cheek as it is “put up or shut up”. I framed this specifically for the pricing to be understandable for the big publishers and the approach would be understandable for the techie types that will talk to them (e.g. Andrew Rhomberg).

          If I thought this was necessary, I would do it on my own dime.

      • Good luck with your proposed project, William. I really hope it works out.

      • I have this sneaky suspicion that unless the results came back to show that the only authors making money are corporation authors, Ellen Harvey and all those that doubt AE would still dismiss the results.

        As long as they keep their eyes shut, you can’t convince them sky is blue.

      • I’d fund the entire thing, but then people will just assume you’re biased.

        (Serious on both accounts)

        • Wait, what? Fund it…?

          *looks at last month’s cloud-computing bills*



        • Sigh. But then it would be another Howey effort, and everyone KNOWS he’s the poster-child (poster sailor?) for indies.

          Nice offer, though.

          No, this needs to be the Bernie Sanders approach to new data crunching. Many little contributions of $25 or less.

          Of course, I can’t imagine the New York publishing machine would ever acknowledge the results. So perhaps best to save our money and invest it in kicka$$ covers for new books?

        • I appreciate that. I really do, but I agree this needs to be funded by an AE skeptic and conducted in the open. They wouldn’t be able to cover up a confirmation of AE’s work and I wouldn’t be able to suppress any discrepancies. And anyone who can afford the cloud computing fees could run the whole thing on any day they want.

          • I suspect you might get a publisher who wants to commission his own, top-secret report. That would give a better return on investment.

            • I would think that if any of the Big 5 were smart they’d have their own project going. It would provide useful information for future negotiations with Amazon; for evaluating price elasticity threshholds for their ebook pricing; and price threshholds for their audiobook pricing. The increasing market share of indies in ebooks and growth of revenue in ebooks can be good news as it shows there is customer demand and room for growth, provided the company can successfully compete with indies when it chooses to so do.

              its interesting to me that audiobooks as a new medium for text didn’t generate the same anxiety as ebooks. I assume its because audiobooks were seen to expand the market, since readers listen to books when they are driving or doing housework; cutting into radio’s market share. Audiobooks on tapes or disks became another boxed product that physical bookstores could sell.

              That has changed with downloadable audio content; its another way to make a purchase online and displace a trip to the store. If publishers were to make audible books more appealing, they would be damaging the B&M retailers.

              • Step 1: actually admitting Indies are as successful as they are.

                As long as BP denies Indies are an issue, the longer they can keep from dealing with it. Cherry picked data will always be on their side. If they never admit Indies are an issue, they can blame other factors for failure.

  2. Considering how transparent DG and HH are about the methodology, what’s mysterious about it?

    • The newfangled scraping, that’s what. Like I said above, they think that’s witchcraft. Cows’ milk is soured because DG glances at them on his way to a black sabbath, especially when the moon is full. He uses an uncanny familiar — “computers” — to perform fell sorceries that cast evil glamour upon gude and honest folke.

      This article is just an incantation to hold him at bay. It makes sense if you read it that way 🙂

      • *snerk* 🙂

      • Jamie, LOL funny. Kudos.

      • I love that: “…Cows’ milk is soured because DG glances at them on his way to a black sabbath, especially when the moon is full.
        He uses an uncanny familiar …”

        Let’s add that USAF says:Quick get all the pregnant women inside, and lock the newborns in cages lest the evil elves of hugh and guy, steal them and leave behind their own misshapen elven babies in their places…

        Dont a-stand there a-gaping at me. This is Seriouser than cereal.

    • this is what i don’t understand. Every one of these articles start with the premise “this is a biased report” and then don’t bother to check the conclusions to see if they are valid. The numbers are all there.

      • We’ve been clear about our bias. I was going to reply about that here, but thought it should go on my blog again.


        • Regardless of any AE biases, it’s always amusing to watch a hack accuse someone else of being a hack with such righteous indignation.

          It’s amusing that sources that blithely accept and repeat industry sales figures without even a passing attempt to include self-published sales, or even an acknowledgement that they exist, are so motivated to pull out their ancient probability and statistics texts to tear apart the AE methodology.

        • Nicely stated…

          At the end of the day, I think what we’re seeing is “their bias makes their entire interpretation of reality suspect.” That’s all well and good when discussing things that are opinion-based– like “which book is good and which is not good”– but has nothing to do with a discussion involving math.

          so: “they are interpreting reality incorrectly because they are biased” or “they made up the numbers to support their pre-existing conclusions”.

          The latter is particularly ironic.

  3. “this report on author earnings on Amazon is invalid because it’s only looking at earnings on Amazon.”


    • According to the “powers that be” Amazon is a monopoly (not true), so why wouldn’t it make sense to “only” look at Amazon.

      You can’t have it both ways. 🙂

  4. I always welcome third parties. The more data, the better for us. GOOD science welcomes replication. However, one wonders why large, multi-national corporations aren’t already doing what one Data Guy can do.

    • Maybe they do — and they don’t dare let the numbers out where they might scare off investors and slaves [I mean authors] bound for the pens …

      • This is my suspicion. I think a few in the industry have had someone look at the raw data, and they didn’t want to share what they found.

        If DG had looked on Amazon and found that indies were only doing well among the outliers, you bet your a** we would have shared those findings. Without glee, of course. But we would have shared the data and tracked things quarterly to see how it moved.

        • @ Hugh

          Heh, heh. I’d be willing to bet that the Trad Pub Powers That Be avidly pour over the AE reports every time you and DG release them… behind a locked door in a darkened room using a flashlight, of course. 🙂

        • If a publisher sees exactly what is happening, and decides there is no future in fiction, he will try to exit the market with as much cash as he can pull out of it.

          If he is doing this, he certainly won’t announce that he is losing market share to a growing independent sector. He won’t go to conferences and show PowerPoints of his declining fiction fortunes. He needs to keep employees and suppliers in line. So, anything he can do to confuse the issue enhances his chances of getting out with a big bag of cash.

          AE is a fly in the ointment.

        • I think a few in the industry have had someone look at the raw data, and they didn’t want to share what they found.

          Yes, I think this, too.

  5. Why do I feel the author of this article read less than half the report to come to their pre-determined conclusion?

    • The technique is known as “skim until offended.” 😀 There’s plenty of bias, all right–mostly visible in the article author’s mirror.

      • That’s what bugged me – I find it a little hard to stomach that DG and HH are being accused of bias (which they have freely and repeatedly brought up and been open about), while the bias of this author and their agenda to discredit AE bleeds through with every word choice.

  6. “We don’t like the numbers. We have not a single thing we can prove that is wrong with them, but we ‘question’ them because we don’t like the numbers.”

    The qig5 cheerfully boasts that their numbers are ‘down’ in both sales and profits, yet Amazon claims their e/book sales are up. If both are telling the truth, then there is another force filling in the missing sales. The so-called ‘Book Business’ does not want you to believe it’s from none trad-pub, but where else do they think it could have come from?

    And ‘Book Business’ even throws out the bit that Data Guy ignored D2C. But if D2C was making a dent in things wouldn’t the qig5 have even better reports than they did?

    And of course they ‘want’ a third party to prove these numbers wrong — yet they don’t/won’t go a pay a third party to do so. Could it possibly be because they fear it would only prove that Data Guy did such a good job and that any ‘tweaking’ by their ‘experts’ will be too easily pointed out and hurt their argument even more?

    This is too much like their ‘Amazon is the evil’ bit they keep trying — and failing to prove.


    “Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.” as Twain was to have said …

    And they figure the only thing they can do is whine that they are ‘sure’ that the numbers must be wrong.

  7. Wow. The Big 5 faithful are spilling an awful lot of ink trying to debunk the AE report. Which tells me they’re deeply worried about the AE report.

    If it’s so inaccurate and unimportant, just ignore it. No need to hire high-priced minions to publicly rail against it.

    “it ignores publishers”

    Yes! There you go. Now you’re getting it. We are indie authors. Ignoring publishers is what we’re all about. The title of the report is AUTHOR Earnings. The intended audience is AUTHORS. We don’t need “a third party” to conduct the research. We AUTHORS are perfectly happy with the party we’ve got, Hugh and Data Guy.

    If you’re going to hire “a third party” to do research, start by having them double-check the Bowker and Nielsen and AAP reports, which completely ignore indie ebook sales and present a truly biased and inaccurate view of the industry.

    • As Konrath loves reminding us:

      First they ignore you,
      then they laugh at you,
      then they fight you,
      and then you win.

      • I’m thinking you’re somewhere in between stages three and four on that list, Hugh.

        Unfortunately, the trad pubs are akin to Monty Python’s Black Knight. They will never shut up, even after we’ve left them armless, legless, and bleeding profusely on the ground.

        “It’s just a flesh wound!”


      • “As Konrath loves reminding us: First they ignore you,
        then they laugh at you, then they fight you,
        and then you win.”

        That quote has been attributed for decades to Gandhi which fits for his movement. I think I first saw it as you wrote it HH, in about 1970.

        However, though bandied about by the internet since about 1985 on bulletin boards, it is not likely Gandhi’s. It is actually likely a spin on this famous line that was known in culture long long before anyone here wase born, but if you’ve been union, you likely might know it.

        It’s this
        “First, they ignore you.
        Then, they ridicule you.
        And then, they attack you
        and want to burn you.
        And then,
        they build monuments to you.”

        It was said by Nicholas Klein, Union Leader in a speech to the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America in 1914

        I only know it because many of the family were Union, but also I’ve written about the heinous slaughters of Union members, including locking them into their granges and burning them to death, shooting the unarmed– all ordered by ‘management’ of mines, factories, etc. and their politico pals. Fortunately authors dont usually risk their lives to live up to the bloody and death times that Nicolas and hoards of others lived in. It’s odd sometimes how tropes that were born in real blood, sometimes become pop sayings without the bloody roots attached.

  8. I realize that “we don’t understand their methodology” is the new party line, now that DG updated their algorithms and they can’t say “no one knows how many books are selling per rank”, but didn’t anyone look around in the Supr Sekret meeting to decide the new Smrt Pln and say “Wait…won’t that line make us look like a bunch of technologically illiterate luddites?”

    Apparently not.

  9. And speaking of bias, here’s a snippet from the “About Us” section of Book Business’s website:

    “Book Business reaches more than 12,000 industry executives who buy, specify, and approve services and products for book publishing management, printing, manufacturing, paper, binding, finishing, packaging, publishing systems, marketing, distribution, and interactive media.”

    The magazine is aimed at the people who buy dead trees, glue and cardboard boxes.

  10. “we don’t understand their methodology”

    Because….numbers and math…..we’re readers, not accountants….

  11. Have you ever noticed that when someone doesn’t want to take ownership of their opinion (or bias) on something, they often call the something “controversial”?

  12. . . . publishers’ increased efforts in Direct to Consumer

    That item could be a footnote in earnings reports to their investors. It has nothing to do with AE reports and Amazon sales. AE reports don’t gauge efforts and motives as far as I can tell.

    Regardless, The publishers’ own press releases indicate that their ebook sales are declining.

    From my vantage point Porter Anderson’s article was debunked here in the user comments. Anderson didn’t debunk anything.

    • Porter writes for an outlet called “Publishers’ Perspectives.” We publish our reports on a site called “Authors’ Earnings.”

      Given the history of publishers treating authors like third-rate citizens, nothing in Porter’s snark should surprise us. Publishers have been talking down to authors since before they began pirating Dickens’ work on the docks of New York City.

      No one should be bothered by what they say. Every day, publishers grow more irrelevent. Porter knows this. He’s just not being paid to say it.

      Write on, people.

      • @ Hugh

        “He’s just not being paid to say it.”

        He’s just being paid to NOT say it.

        Fixed it for you! 🙂

  13. The first line claims that “the second edition” was released this week. Where have they been for the last two years? This is the 16th report released by AuthorEarnings.com.

  14. “The Author Earnings Report was created in order to prove that self-published authors earn a significant amount from their book sales.”

    Your source for this indictment is of course evidence-based–and that would be…what would that be, again?

    • I don’t see anything wrong with that statement. Hugh has said he was bothered that what he was hearing about self-published authors from the industry did not match what he was hearing from self-published authors.

      I think it would be better stated “the Author Earning report was started to investigate the industry claim that self-published authors could not earn any significant amount from their book sales”. And I think the project has refuted that claim very handily.

  15. They said how they did it right there in the appendix notes. Just because not everyone knows what this means, doesn’t mean it isn’t a real thing!!!

    From the Author Earnings
    Appendix Notes

    *(1) To reverse engineer Amazon’s ranking algorithm, we treated it as an engineering System Identification (SI) problem, and modeled Amazon’s ranking engine as a black-box dynamic system with a linear, time-decaying impulse response to instantaneous unit-sales inputs. We even built a two-hidden-layer neural network and trained it to predict current rank from historic sales, which informed how we structured the more classic closed-form curve-fits. We computed lowest-MSE fits to many different power-law model variants and distributions, measuring which fit our data best. We iteratively fine-tuned our models until we had the most accurate predictor. In the end, we zeroed in on a nice, clean simple formulation that yielded the best log-MSE accuracy over the full range of Amazon rankings and daily sales.

    • The publishing execs are sitting in their plush Manhattan highrises, convincing themselves that Hugh made up terms like “black-box dynamic system” and “two-hidden-layer neural network” because he writes science fiction, da****!

      “It’s fake! It’s all fake, I tell ya!” 😆

      P.S. Hugh and DG, keep up the good work!

  16. Move over, ADS & GDS. AEDS is joining you.

    (Looks like it’s a massive Derangement Syndrome season right now. What new DS’s will be offered up to the ignorant and gullible next?) 🙂

  17. ““The Bookseller has launched an independent author e-book sales tracker, inviting authors and small digital publishers whose e-book sales data currently goes unreported to complete a simple online form designed to capture their 2015 e-book sales information. The results will be used by The Bookseller to analyse the self-published digital market.”


    Let me (again) reiterate: surveys that depend on self-selected responses are utterly flawed methodologically and are therefore utterly invalid.

    Sheesh, the level of statistical and polling ignorance out there is enormous. These ignoranti can’t even be bothered to try and find anyone with a modicum of mathematical competency to do the research. It’s the unlearned leading the unaware.

    (Hey, maybe all the TPVers can have a bit of fun. We could sockpuppet multiple responses to this upcoming “survey” to skew the results. Let’s go for it!) 🙂

  18. The title of that article should be “Many Questions, Few (or No) Answers We Like.”

  19. That was funny James… to skew. I think they might already be doing a good job ‘skewing’ all on their own.

    When I got to the word ‘suspect’… in the piece, gongs went off. Why? Because this reads imo, like a piece that less reflects what the writer of it believes, than that it appears to have another motive, that is rampant in politics; to intrude the idea of ‘suspect’ so as to cause readers [of any kind] to suddenly think they ought doubt whatever is suddenly named and crowned ‘suspect.’

    This isnt about Hugh or Guy. The material being ‘made literally suspect’ could be writ by Humpty Dumpty or John’s cat’s uncle.

    The point in dirty politics is to introduce uncertainty of ‘facts’ into a public dialogue that more and more are joining the transparency demands of, rather that what the faux ‘critiquer’ holds as his/her own preciously held ideals. In actual contests, this causes panic. And the hope is, by introducing the equiv of ‘when did you stop beating your wife?’ that the suspicion will be diverted from politico who is full of s, to suspicion instead of those calling the bs, bs.

    What is hoped for, is that the burgeoning group who are pro-transparency will rise to defend their ‘candidates’ and use much energy battling back about how true and right their own candidates for transparency really are.

    But that’s not the effective counter move. The effective countermove is to start pouring more and more and more transparencies and facts, without personalities attached. Because. The attacking of the compilers/statisticians, etc. is the red herring.

    What the disrupter hopes for is a melee in the pro-transparency movement. Rather than measured response that is even more damning, for it rests on facts, not personalities.

    It is also an old old ploy to attack the whistleblower, [gd, dont we know] their creds, their entire life. “Youre not qualified’ is themost common fly-over splat that is first volley. Second volley is to also try to create defensive melees — we will bring in our paid guns who will do an honest assessment– [and find you a lying a dunce…]. Third volley is doing their ‘own study.’ You know how that goes at inter-policing on campus and in military. And if none of those work, again to misdirect the transparency seekers to lose focus in other ways– If the ‘no-transparency’ folk and their shills can get their opponents to focus on feelings instead of facts, on altruism to personalities instead of advocacy based on facts… the creepy guys make progress.

    My .02 only, you dont have to be qualified by anything except horse sense to know –and say– the emperor has no clothes. In the old tale, it was actually a child who proclaimed thusly. The child needed no degree, no credential, no vetting, nor cross questioning to say what the child clearly saw. And that others saw as well. The fact spoke for itself… once a little one said it aloud.

    • I suspect you are correct. It won’t matter. Do those sowing uncertainty expect millions of readers to read this piece and others like it, become suspicious about the relative market share of trabpub and indie ebooks, and therefore decide not to buy an indie ebook with an intriguing blurb and good reviews for $4.99 and instead buy a trabpub ebook with an intriguing blurb and good reviews for $12.99?

      Uncertainty in readers about AE information is at best trivial to purchasing decisions.

      Uncertainty about AE information among trabpubs will simply hamper their ability to adapt.

      Uncertainty about AE information among aspiring writers may drive more to chose tradpubs (if tradpubs pick them up), but new talent largely doesn’t make big bank. And it won’t drain the talent pool on the indie side.

      Uncertainty about AE information among established big money makers may lead more to remain loyal to their tradpubs. This is the only positive outcome for tradpubs that I see from sowing uncertainty.

      • This exactly. Thanks for the reality cocktail, GH. Makes a d good redbloody mary for the gray of this nonsense piece that longs ‘to be of such magnitude’ when it’s merely a mewling.

        Im an old dog, seen much. Dont rise to fierce-flank-flang-fight like i used to, to ‘disprove’ idiots. And did. Almost every time,for their logic was so loose and so easily provable wrong. lol

        But, I do believe in the old war premise: Dont shoot til ye see the whites of their eyes.

        Then would be the time, imo. Choose which hill and when. Not when the mouse cavorts over the hill to come scream at the eagles.

      • The only one of these that I care about is the authors. Signing a trad-pub deal right now is simply insane. Too much is changing too quickly to hand over lifetime rights to your art.

      • I too have been thinking about who benefits from maintaining the portrayal of the status quo. Off the top of my head:

        -Agents, because they would otherwise have no job at all. Their income relies on being between a best-selling author and a publisher and keeping both authors and publishers convinced agents are necessary.

        – The existing industry press organs, their own editors and columnists, because they need to be seen as providing accurate and useful information. They can’t afford to be exposed as wrong; as incompetent; as unskilled in managing information; as incapable of correctly collecting, interpreting, and presenting business intelligence.The Authors Earning Reports just plain make them look bad at their jobs. As time goes by it just gets worse.

        — The publisher’s own PR and industry research departments that issue the press releases about their companies’ business performance, both historically and with respect to future plans. They have a mutually reinforcing relationship with the business press and mutually reaffirm each others data collection and conclusions. They have the same vulnerabilities as the press.

        — The rating firms (Neilson) of course, who need to be seen as competent collectors of data.

        — Stock market analysts, who make recommendations to investors. They rely on the business press and company self-reporting, and their credibility with the clients relies on their ability to properly evaluate their sources.

        • The existing industry press organs, their own editors and columnists, because they need to be seen as providing accurate and useful information. They can’t afford to be exposed as wrong; as incompetent; as unskilled in managing information; as incapable of correctly collecting, interpreting, and presenting business intelligence. The Authors Earning Reports just plain make them look bad at their jobs. As time goes by it just gets worse.

          Hoo boy! Bring it, MKS!

        • Good list MKS. And this that you wrote: “The Authors Earning Reports just plain make them look bad at their jobs. As time goes by it just gets worse.”

      • Uncertainty about AE information among established big money makers may lead more to remain loyal to their tradpubs. This is the only positive outcome for tradpubs that I see from sowing uncertainty.

        Presumably it matters to shareholders and the parent company as well. But your points are good, nay, excellent. 😀

  20. “Controversial.” “Suspect.” I just remembered where I’ve seen this dynamic play out before.


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